Age of Exploration
During the Renaissance, Europe underwent many changes. Among them was an advancement in technology. With better maps and sturdier vessels, Europe began a quest to find a trade route to Asia. The Italian Christopher Columbus, working for the Spanish crown, sailed west hoping to circumnavigate the globe and arrive in Asia to establish trade. However, he unexpectedly bumped into two continents Europe later dubbed "The New World." The race for empire began. All of the major powers of Europe carved out territories throughout North and South America. For the next three hundred years, wars, disease, alliances, and slavery would set the stage for the world's next democracy.
The New World
For centuries, merchants from Europe, the Middle East, and Asia had used the Silk Road to transfer goods between the Atlantic and the Pacific. Unfortunately, by the Middle Ages, travel on the Silk Road became too dangerous to safely guarantee goods could be bought and sold. Many European nations began to seek a faster, more direct trade route to Asia. Portugal, the leading seafaring nation, began sailing south along the African coast in search of trade and China. The journey was long and dangerous, but the rewards too great to ignore. Then an Italian, Christopher Columbus, had an idea....
Between 1545 and 1590, Friar Bernardino de Sahagún studied and wrote about Aztec culture. He believed that knowing more about the Aztecs would allow Spain to more easily convert the Aztecs to Christianity. This collection of writings and pictures is known as the Florentine Codex.