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A great number of nautical discoveries were made during the years referred to as the Renaissance. Sailors were traveling to unknown lands and making discoveries that required people to change their thoughts about the world. European people learned that they were not the only inhabitants on this earth.
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Christopher Columbus was Italian though we often think of him in conjunction with Spain. Columbus needed financing for the voyages he wanted to make. Spain was the country to provide this financing. In 1492, Columbus set sail on his first voyage eventually landing in The Bahamas. Through the course of his next three voyages, Columbus discovered several of islands along with parts of South and Central America.
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Hernando Cortes was another explorer during the days of the Renaissance. He left Europe for the New World. He went to Hispaniola and then to Cuba. It was from Cuba that he set sail toward Mexico and Central America. He landed here and eventually conquered the Aztec empire.
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Ferdinand Magellan presented to Spain a plan to sail to the Spice Islands of Indonesia by sailing westward. Spain supported Magellan and his plan. Magellan set sail with five ships. He became the first man to cross all the meridians on the globe. His voyage became known as the first successful attempt to circumnavigate the globe.
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The constant desire for better trade routes led countries and sailors to set sail in unknown destinations throughout the Renaissance and after. These explorations changed the way people saw the world. They were exposed to the ideas of new places and people. The new lands discovered by these adventurous sailors gave many people a hope for a better life.