Major European Explorations by Sea, 1291–1610

In 1519 King Charles of Spain was crowned Holy Roman Emperor. He took for his motto the Latin phrase plus ultra . . . even further. The lines of major European sea exploration depicted on this map provide ample evidence of Europe extending its reach across the globe—going even further than it ever had before. Magellan, for example, circumnavigated the globe in 1520 (2). And Columbus encountered the New World, arriving to North America in 1492 (3). These extensive sea voyages opened up new territory and resources to European exploitation, though what European explorers discovered, in addition to raw materials and natural resources, were often well-developed civilizations that were completely different than their own. The cultural and material exchanges enabled by European sea exploration often had considerable effect back home as Europe began to reconsider the cultural and historical centrality that it had understood for so long to be its birthright.