The Age of Exploration: Crash Course European History #4

Hi I’m John Green and this is Crash Course
European History. So, remember back in May of 1453 when the
Ottomans smashed the thick walls of Constantinople, captured the city, and beheaded the Byzantine
emperor? You probably don’t remember May of 1453,
come to think of it, but you remember learning about it. It was a bit of a footnote in our first episode,
but you never know when the footnotes are going to be very important, but that one really
did change the world. With the Ottomans now also controlling much
of southeastern Europe, they established a navy, which they used in the Black, Adriatic,
and other seas in the region. Ottoman domination meant that European kingdoms
and empires needed to find different paths to Afroeurasian trading routes–which ultimately
helped spark the voyages of explorers from the Iberian peninsula. INTRO
So we’ve talked already in this series about the importance of shifting perspective when
looking at history, and today we’re going to ask you to shift perspective several times,
but let’s begin with the perspective of the Portuguese. In the fifteenth century, Portugal was poor,
and it became more so as the Ottomans contested their access to overland trade. But luckily for Portugal, the fourth son of
their king was Prince Henry, who came to be called The Navigator because he funded and
encouraged exploration, the study of navigation, and the development of new tools to aid in
navigation. The Portuguese began to increase their travels
along the Mediterranean’s southern shore. And by the mid-15th century, they were venturing
southward along the Atlantic coast of Africa, where they expected to find vast wealth. In those days, Africa was rich in food, salt,
gold, and slaves. Mansa Musa, the Malian king who made a spectacular
hajj to Mecca in 1324-1325, was legendary and very inspiring to the Portuguese. He had an entourage of 60,000 people including
12,000 slaves and huge quantities of gold. He seemed like the model of what the Portuguese
hoped to become by traveling to Africa: that is, rich beyond imagining. In this pursuit of food, slaves, and gold,
the Portuguese gradually made their way down the African coast, locating island clusters
like the Canaries. And they kidnapped local people to sell into
European slave markets and began dotting the coast with stone fortresses that doubled as
trading stations. And there, many European men partnered with
African women and started families. These women were often themselves traders
and would be crucial for all European nations; because they were the main force behind local
markets and regional trade networks, and they provided essential connections to trade. Again, most of the Portuguese explorers were
poor, and many of these female traders were wealthy and successful. From their perspective, Portuguese traders
offered them access to new markets and access to new goods. I know we’re all very accustomed to thinking
of Europe as rich and Africa as poor, but that frame is both relatively new and way
too essentializing–the truth as always resists simplicity. So in 1488, Bartolomeu Dias rounded the Cape
of Good Hope, or, as it was called at the time, the Cape of Storms. And then the Portuguese ventured further afield
into the Indian Ocean. When we talk about explorers and exploring,
we often conjure up images of intrepid groups wearing hats trekking through empty lands
in search of hidden treasures, but that was certainly not the reality when, for instance,
Vasco De Gama reached India in 1498 and found a highly developed Indian Ocean commerce with
trading posts run by sophisticated Muslim merchants. Da Gama’s instincts were to menace and fight
them and he did. And when the Portuguese reached Southeast
Asia and China, they found a cornucopia of goods that Europeans came to crave and about
whose production they hadn’t the slightest knowledge: colorful, washable cottons, and
finely crafted porcelain, also tea. Where would we be without Tea? Well, I’d be fine, actually. I’d just drink coffee. What’s that? Oh, Stan informs me that coffee also isn’t
from Europe. By the seventeenth century, the Portuguese
were importing millions of pieces of porcelain into Europe along with lots of delicious spices. And spices were not only important for flavouring,
but also for food preservation. Which I suppose is a kind of flavouring if
you like your food not-mouldy tasting. Let’s go to the Thought Bubble. The Portuguese “empire” was, at first
anyway, a trading empire, with small and agile ships known as caravels
patrolling ports and collecting large fees. The wealth would be extracted from controlling
shipping and trading routes, as the Ottomans were doing in the eastern
Mediterranean. In contrast, the Spanish empire, which began
in 1492 with the exploratory voyages of Genoese ship captain Christopher Columbus,
was based on colonies– that is, rather than controlling trade routes,
the empire would control the land itself and the people who lived there,
and extract wealth from them to enrich the empire. Columbus was a student of geography and maps
and he’d lobbied the Portuguese king to back his voyages. But when that didn’t go to plan, he headed
for Spain to petition its devoutly Catholic rulers,
Queen Isabella of Castile and King Ferdinand of Aragon. These two monarchs were finishing up the drive
to expel Muslims from Spain and to force Spanish Jews to convert to Christianity. But religious persecution wasn’t cheap. The motto of the Iberian pathfinders—God,
gold, and glory—perfectly described their ambitions. Although perhaps not in that order. Hopping the islands along the African coast
and using the trade winds, Columbus’s ships made it to the Caribbean
islands, and his crews, which tellingly included both
clergy and bankers, found signs of gold but not great quantities
of it. However, they did find people to enslave,
and because no one knew the size or shape of the Americas,
there was the perpetual hope that gold or other riches
might lie just on the other side of this river, or that mountain. Thanks Thought Bubble. So I want to stop here to shift perspective:
From the perspective of European explorers, these lands were new, and potentially very
lucrative, and the colonization model that Spain adopted, and that Portugal began using
in Brazil, and that the rest of Europe’s empires would eventually use, was built on
the idea that colonies existed for the benefit and enrichment of the colonizers–and secondarily
to convert human souls to Christianity. Much of the wealth that was generated by these
empires was done so by claiming human beings as a form of property–both through the slave
trade and through forcing colonized people to work. And the systems that were built to support
the colonies–from roads and bridges to churches–were built to extract wealth and convert people
to Christianity. So from the perspective of indigenous people
living in colonized communities, colonization meant impoverishment in many forms–the loss
of land for use, the loss of life itself at an unprecedented scale, the loss of long-held
religious beliefs, and the loss of all sorts of community assets. But from the colonziers’ perspective, it
meant the possibility of getting rich, and so waves of ambitious sailors followed Columbus,
searching both North and South America for extractable wealth. OK. Another breakthrough occurred in 1519-22,
when Ferdinand Magellan’s Spanish ships circumnavigated the globe. Magellan had alienated members of the Portuguese
court and like Columbus he found no backing for his proposed trip there. Also like Columbus, he went to Spain to fund
his voyage. If you were going to be somewhere between
1519 and 1522, on one of Magellan’s ships was not necessarily the best place.The conditions
and Magellan’s no-nonsense discipline caused mutinies and other problems which Magellan
also handled harshly, executing or marooning mutineering captains in the fleet. But after finding the straits at the tip of
South America, the fleet set out across the Pacific, eventually returning to Spain despite
Magellan’s death at the hands of local leaders in the Philippines in 1521. Of the 237 original voyagers and five ships,
only eighteen men and one ship returned to Spain in 1522. But, the voyage arranged and headed by Magellan
was a revelation, it opened the world up to global transportation, exchange, settlement,
and yes, global slavery, warfare, pandemics, and conquest. The Spanish could now stock their new world
settlements with Chinese and Indian luxuries by crossing the Pacific and fill their coffers
from profits in New World goods by crossing the Atlantic. In 1519, Spanish invader Hernan Cortés came
in contact with indigenous people in present-day Mexico, landing on its Mayan eastern coast
with several hundred soldiers and making his way inland, starting battles and forging alliances. He eventually reached the center of the Aztec
empire at Tenochtitlan, the Spaniards were astonished at the wealth of this civilization
and Cortes bowed before its king, Montezuma II, who led a vast empire that stretched to
present-day Honduras and Nicaragua. The capital had tens of thousands of inhabitants,
perhaps hundreds of thousands. Markets overflowed with luscious produce and
crafts, and the city had a sophistication that, like the wealth itself, was foreign
to Europeans, even if the Aztec practice of human sacrifice was also foreign. A similar awe filled Francisco Pizarro when
he saw the superb textiles and silver and gold objects crafted by the Incas, who’d
also created thousands of miles of roads and efficient institutions to hold their vast
empire together along the west coast of present-day South America. Both Pizarro and Cortes relied on help from
rival indigenous communities to help them take control from the Incas and Aztecs. The conquerors also married the princesses
and other noble women they had raped as a ritual of domination. And marriage gave them access to insider information,
local networks, and the wealth that such women possessed—including wealth in enslaved peoples. So, Iberians were incentivized to set sail
by their poverty and by their Catholic faith, but they were disadvantaged by a comparative
lack of manufacturing skills when it came to trade. What they did have, at least at first, was
sailing prowess and weaponry on their side. Iberian caravels were nimble and they could
be loaded with cannons. The Portuguese borrowed the use of triangular
sails from the Arabs, often combining them with square-rigged ones to make better use
of the winds. And Iberians also employed a range of navigational
instruments—technology generally taken from other cultures—in determining latitude,
while their on-board cartographers created portolan charts–literally, charts related
to ports–indicating coastal dangers, good harbors, and other details important to seafarers. Astrolabes, quadrants, compasses, and other
instruments gave good indications of location and direction but you know what you really
needed? A clock. That’s right, there’s a clock in the center
of the world. This six dollar clock is an astonishing piece
of technology. Stan would like me to point out that it was
actually eight dollars. Thank you for your support on
it wasn’t until the eighteenth century development of the chronometer that sailors could chart
longitudinal location, and even now, GPS relies on an extremely precise knowledge of the time. In short when it comes to history and also
everything else, it’s not just a question of where you are, it’s a question of when
you are. Early European explorers almost always had
to enlist local people to advise them how to navigate the seas, especially the Indian
ocean, and local, non-European traders served as intermediaries for the artisans in porcelain,
cotton, and other crafted products. Through them, Europeans slowly learned about
trading procedures, sources of goods, and the means of judging quality, as initially
the Iberians were not well acquainted with the goods available in these trading ports. And there were other go-betweens, like translators,
connecting Europeans and local people. One example is Malinche (or Doña Maria, as
the Spanish called her). She facilitated the passage of Hernan Cortes
and his small army across Mexico and into the capital of the Aztec empire, gathering
allies for him and warning him of impending danger along the way. Because of the hostility among different groups,
go-betweens who knew about the animosities and warfare among them could help mobilize
support for the Europeans, so that one local group would lead the charge against another. That happened in the conquest of both Central
America in the 1520s and the Inca Empire in the 1530s. In Europe meanwhile, all of this voyaging
and conquering produced chaos between the Iberian kingdoms–what land would be Spain’s,
and what land would be Portugal’s? A treaty sponsored by the Church eventually
settled disputes between Spain and Portugal over territory that each was claiming. I mean, who do you call about property disputes,
if not the pope? The Treaty of Tordesillas, which was signed
in 1494, provided a permanent line of demarcation 370 leagues west of the Cape Verde islands
off the Atlantic coast of Africa. In 1529, another treaty set bounds for each
country in the Indian Ocean and Pacific regions. But treaties of course did not prevent the
death at the hands of European weaponry and diseases that contact entailed. In the Western Hemisphere, the local inhabitants’
lack of resistance to European diseases was probably a more important factor than in conquest
than weaponry was. In the long run, violence, enslavement, and
European diseases like smallpox and measles led to the death of perhaps as much as ninety
percent of the indigenous American population. Diseases spread and killed so quickly that
entire communities ceased to exist almost — at once, and with them their traditions,
stories, and values. Meanwhile, colonization proved extremely lucrative
for Spain and Portugal, which within a century went from being poor kingdoms to astonishingly
rich ones, especially after 1545, when the Spanish uncovered a huge deposit of silver
in Potosi, in present day Bolivia, and began conscripting indigenous people to do the most
dangerous work in the mines. Migration to both regions swelled, and ships
now criss-crossed both Atlantic and the Pacific. And this huge influx of wealth to Spain and
Portugal would reshape power in Europe and also life everywhere else, as everything from
microbes to ideas suddenly had a truly global reach. Thanks for watching. I’ll see you next time.

Comments 100

  • Purple is the noblest of shrouds 😥

  • Those who Loot and exploit I have learned a lot in the last 500 years.

  • My gosh, John sounds like he has the flu. Hope he’s feeling better. 🙂

  • Hey John, you guys are doing a great job. If you can could please run a segment on African history ? but in the perspective of Africans, that would really interesting to see.

  • thanks for making this video, I have a test on this tomorrow

  • come on, cheer up John, wheres the happy and engaging you??

  • So Africa was rich and Europe was poor – so what did the Africans do with their wealth? How much aid did Africa provide to the poor Europeans? How much medical assistance was provided with the terrible health situation in Europe e.g. the black death killed at least 35% of Europeans. Seem to be some asymmetry here.

  • Is John sick or what?

  • John, it sounds like this history is bumming you out.

  • Very educative…and sad

  • Guys, I sent a translation of this video in Portuguese so that others could see the video with tranquility, but you never accepted it, not that of the video of Marx, it is very sad to put time and effort to do a translation and not see it as an option for others to watch the video even with the job ready DONE.

  • John did you not get enough sleep or do you just have a cold?

  • Exam tomorrow, yeet 🤠

  • You really think the folks aboard Columbus's ship were merchants and bankers? Could they have been folks trying to escape the Inquisition and the decrees of 1492. What middle class people would risk and unknown captain, to an unknown place, for an unknown outcome?

  • Now I'm just wondering if stan is even there at this point and that that's not just part of your script.

  • These descriptions of the Early Spanish and Portuguese exploration deeply leave out so many details – Likely because John is operating from a US history curriculum which demonizes and leaves out important details in Hispanic history.
    The Black Legend is still very prevalent in American History courses and I wish John took the time to update his curriculum with the fact that it has been discredited in mind

  • John you became a potato, where's all that energy bro? Ponle guevos como antes vali oh te dejo la vieja? Saludos!

  • More energy Tom ! Idk the world history episodes were better but still love everything u do keep it up

  • I have a feeling Tom used to take adderal and now he doesn't . Or he had Stan next to him in the world history episodes and for these episodes he's home alone in front of a camera so maybe it's hard to get excited like that

  • Age of Exploitation aka the rise of Imperialism and the pillaging and "reprogramming" of native citizens and invading lands that don't belong to them.

  • I feel like he isnt as excited as he was in the other crash course stuff

  • Constantine XI died courageously in battle whilst defending the city, which were nearly the words uttered by the Ottoman Sultan. He wasn’t some conquered monarch who suffered the fate of conquered lords or such – he was the Roman Emperor and died in the manner that every Roman from the late Republic to the early days would’ve wished: defending the sanctity of (one of the) holy cities. And though Constantinople and Rome may very well be distinguishable, it’s the ideal that counts, not the location or the time.

  • I like that Gorillaz reference at 1:26

  • Did Prince Henry just bring it with some Gorillaz lyrics?? I love it!


  • The consequences on the local population by colonizers is horrific. I never understand how the natives in South America are so proud of their Spanish heritage when you consider all the horrible things that were done. Very weird.

  • John seems less energetic in this series than the original world history and American history series

  • Great video! However, her name is Doña Marina, given when Hernán Cortés baptised her. Additionally, the indigenous version of the name is Malintzin — derived from the adaptation of the mane plus the suffix «tzin» that, in this case, served as a royalty mark.
    Certainly, she was not only a crucial figure in the Spanish conquest, but also the first empowered woman in the New Spain.

  • "Who do you call?"
    Ghostbusters is always the correct answer.

  • Actually I like this speed. I don't have to replay to catch everything.

  • Damn.. All of these colonizations are sickening

  • why does johns voice sound uhhhhh very very different

  • A correction Columbus did go to both of the monarchs but it was Isabela that sent him not Ferdinand. Ferdinand owned the land around Barcelona which was a prosperous region due to Mediterranean sailing. when that trading moved to the west his kingdom was not allowed rights to the new world. all in all they might have been married but they were very separate.

  • Hippity Hoppity you are now my property

  • Portugal: [rejects explorer]
    Spain: [accepts explorer, gets rich]
    Portugal: wait that's illegal

  • Why this european history is so pessimistic and "Europe bad" " rest of the world good" logic. Not good, not good.

  • Mr. Green! Mr. Green! Are you OK?
    Shut up me from the past, I'm just a dad now and I have a lot of responsibilities.

  • If you speed up the video x 1.25 it sounds exactly like old john green

  • Everyone wants the Pope as their real estate agent.

  • Goddam I just saw a video from 2012 and John looks much older.

  • Bestest 💖🤗

  • At 9:39 or so … I know that John is not the first person to call Aztec religious murders "human sacrifice" and Catholic religious murders back in Spain an "Inquisition," but can we acknowledge at long last that both cultures spilt blood regularly on behalf of their gods? The only difference seems to be that the Aztecs were killing people who, maybe, more or less shared their religion, whereas the Catholics were killing the people for NOT sharing their religion–and that the Catholics maybe preferred roasting people alive to cutting out their beating hearts. The Catholics may not have considered their murders to be sacrifices TO God, but rather FOR God. But as an atheist, I fail to see the distinction.

  • Wait an Islamic African with 12,000 slaves! How are we going to pin this on white Europeans? Can't be right! We all know how slavery was invented by those uniquely evil white, Southern plantation owners!

  • Crash Course hates southern europeans

  • When Bartolomeu Dias sailed around the cape of good hope, it was not called the cape of storms. This was because no one knew it existed. Bartolomeu called it the cape of storms, but then the king of portugal (D. João II at the time) changed it to good hope, since it fulfilled his hopes of finding a route to Asia through south Africa.

  • Proud European here!

  • CrashCourse is not objective when in comes to History.

    He combined left wing ideology with History. I am left wing myself but i am not biased like CrashCourse

    The idea Medieval and Early Modern Portuguese traders are poor and black female african traders were rich is total garbage.

    If Portuguese traders were poor how on earth could they travel far away with advanced sailing ships and sell goods ?

    The development of labor saving technology like watermills in early middle ages created economic booming in High Middle Ages. Medieval Portugal was rich thanks to this development of labor saving technology.

    We should be objective when it comes to History. Pay attention to academic sources and scholars

  • John, the Ottomans did not behead the Byzantine emperor! He got lost during the battle and no one knows what became of him. He was probably killed in combat.

  • People who aren't used to calm, slow speaking John clearly need to check out Anthropocene Reviewed!

  • the daddy Yankees

  • whose here studying for ap euro

  • Who made John talk slow? I am looking at you standardized history exam.

  • Columbus was a con man and fool.

  • There weren't many aztecs in Honduras or Nicaragua, thinking of mayans and other mayense people perhaps ?

  • great video, but a bit fast.

  • Good video. just a point not Ferdinand Magellan but Fernão de Magalhães a Portuguese sailor.

  • Crash course geography please ??

  • 9:15 Dude. Did you say "syphillization?" I love Columbian Exchange jokes!

  • So, I can blame the Ottomans for the colonialisation of Africa, Asia, and America? Neat.

  • You can tell they're cutting corners. Transitions are off. Speech over text is often drags on with real substance, as if the text is being used to shake things up rather than underline key points. Much fewer notes and illustrations on the sides than there used to be. They're really plugging the patreon, too. The overall content is good but feels very dumbed down from before.

    Clear dip in quality but I do still enjoy them, so greatful they exist

  • Omg ur old now

  • Tenochtitlan had a pop. of 300,000, bigger than Paris and London at the time IIRC.

  • The anti-white racism is on full display in this


  • I don't think they ever found the body of the last emperor of the Byzantine (Roman) empire Constantine XI. They have a King Authur-like legend that whenever he is needed he will return etc.

  • Try it on O.75 speed

  • Lapu-Lapu killed Magellan. I ate lapu-lapu

  • eyyyy peep that Gorillaz lyric

  • Finally an American Historian says Columbus is originally Italian.

  • Over time, John and Hank are clearly becoming more old.

  • Please
    Where is the arabic translation ?

  • aye coolio bruhs

  • Yes I like the phrase "truth resists simplicity" but the claim that the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottomans stimulated European exploration is not a valid theory actually. The Ottomans like any other territorial empire – like the Mongols – which benefited from transit trade in its own lands were happy and did not prefer to stop international commercial activity. This is well explained in a passage of Wallerstein's Modern Word System.

  • Bruh I had that EXACT clock

  • Was this an episode about exploration or an episode about Spain and Portugal?

  • Why continue to perpetuate the lie that the Spanish Explorers/Colonizers were forcibly converting people to Christianity?? They were forcibly converting people to CATHOLICISM…… NOT even close to the same thing. Catholicism and Christianity are not interchangeable terms. The Catholics were responsible for the crusades, for the persecution of the Waldensians and many others who were the actual Christ-followers.

  • You misspelled Portuguese (it's not Portugese).

  • It’s really interesting to hear that the Europeans started their voyages to the Americas and globally due to the Ottomans taking rule of Constantinople

  • I saw this in my Modern World History class this morning. I'm a sophomore at Atholton High school but this is an 11th grade class.

  • 8:49 "… by crossing the Pacific"??? You keep on calling the Indian Ocean the Pacific Ocean.

  • Crash course feels a lot less energetic now

  • How isn't this video taken down? I mean, it shows full blown nude parts LOL

  • Nice and well constructed video. Thanks

  • “Magellan died at the hands of the local leaders”

    I recently read a biography about Magellan and just wanted to share: I learned that when he came to Indonesia he quickly impressed the natives and they were down to be allies. He then proceeded to try to forcefully convert them despite only being there for a day and not speaking their language! Some did but he became infuriated that they still kept their “pagan gods”. Other leaders started to get concerned. Magellan went to war with them, with something like natives for every 1 of his soldiers. He turned down help from the allies he did make because he wanted them to see that God would help them. He also parked his ships and cannons too far away to help.

    He promptly was poisoned and died 😬

    It’s hard to feel sorry for the dude after reading that. Definitely check it out if you are interested in biographies.

  • Portugal in that period was poor it is a traditional view. Braudel emphasizes that Portugal was not such a poor region in the late 15th century as has been depicted, nor completely was cut- off from the rest of Europe. Her economy was neither primitive no elementary.
    1) The Mediterranean type of climate enabled her to produce variety of products like olil, cork, fruit, wax and honey, corn from outside.
    2) The external trade helped in the development of navigational activities an promoted shipping interests.

  • Hey John….big fan of your videos….this one is excellent for my grade eight social class. Thank you for slowing down your videos a bit…makes them much easier for the kids to follow. Keep up the great work!!

  • Quiz 10 questions for teachers…

    1. Why did other European kingdoms and empires need to find alternative routes for trade?
    2. Why was Prince Henry called the Navigator?
    3. Who is Mansa Musa?
    4. What were three things were the Portuguese were looking for in Africa?
    5. What did Vasco de Game find in the Indian Ocean?
    6. What trade goods were being imported to Europe from Asia?
    7. What were the Spanish looking for in the Americas?
    8. What were the two goals of Spanish colonies according to John Green
    9. What advantages allowed the Iberians (Spanish/Portuguese) to achieve their conquests?
    10. How were native populations, especially women, effected by Europeans Exploration?

  • What happened to hype John

  • I still doesn't understand why european colonized the world ? I mean how they have that idea?

  • I have a history test tomorrow.. wish me luck

  • history of native Americans, or indigenous people, is so sad.

  • This episode isn't eurocentric enough

  • I think calling what the spanish created in South America a 'colonial system' is a gross misunderstanding. Yes, the spaniard's first goal was to find riches but if it was a colonial system they wouldn't have build all those hospitals and universities. Take a look at the british colonial empire (which I would argue is the one people's mind turn to when we talk about colonialism) and you'll see no infraestructure building (meaning hospitals, universities, etc.) and no miscegenations whereas while in the spanish viceroyalties there was plenty of

  • oi oi what happened 2 the jokes and open letters from world history

  • after magellan found the straits, John says spain could get chinese and indian luxuries across the pacific, but the map shows the old way along the coast of africa and the indian ocean. i'm confused.

  • It is has facts but it is boring

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