The spirit of inquiry encouraged many adventurers to discover new lands. The new trade routes that were discovered changed the history of the world. It is said that "God, Glory and Gold" was the main motive behind these discoveries. But the motive of gold or economic need was the most important.
Before the geographical discoveries, Europeans obtained articles like spices, cotton, precious gems, silk, etc. from the Eastern part of the world. They traveled through the Arabic and Islamic territories for the supply of these articles. This was not very convenient and also posed uncertainties. So a direct sea route to South East Asia was discovered as it had a potential of a lucrative trade.
The explorers also had another motive, which was to convert the people of the newly found areas to Christianity. It also became a means for them to serve God. In addition, the adventurers also hoped to acquire fame by discovering new lands. Some did indeed become very famous. Vasco da Gama discovered India and Columbus who set out for India but discovered America.
Ferdinand Magellan was the first explorer to lead an expedition around the world. Bartholomew Diaz was another famous explorer. These great adventures and voyages were sponsored by kings and wealthy people. The tremendous increase in trade and colonization had a great impact on the enhancement of European wealth.
One of the most famous kings who sponsored the voyages was the Portuguese King Henry, who is also known as Henry the Navigator. The technological base for these discoveries came from the invention of the compass, astrolabe, astronomical tables and the art of map making.
These voyages led to the establishment of trading outpost and colonial empires in different parts Africa, America and Asia. Now commercial focus shifted from Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean. Many new commodities were added to trade such as tobacco, molasses, ostrich feathers, potato, etc. It also started the inhuman slave trade in America. Slaves were captured from Africa, transported across the Atlantic Ocean and sold to work in plantations in North America.
These trade practices and new sea routes helped the European merchants to accumulate huge wealth which they invested in the development of new machines. This led to the coming of the Industrial Revolution which made them more powerful and wealthy.