Several technological developments and changes in attitude spurred the Age of Exploration, better ships, improved navigation, a new ambition to learn more about the world.
But most important, Europeans wanted exotic spices to enliven their meals and preserve their meats, which spoiled quickly without refrigeration. Since Roman times, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and pepper had been brought to Europe from the lands of the East, where most spices flourished in the warm and moist climate.
The trade route over land was long, arduous, and dangerous. Spices were carried by Arab traders through the mountains and deserts of the Middle East and transported by ship over the Mediterranean Sea to Italian ports, especially Venice.
Each time the spices were handed to another carrier, they increased in price. By the time they arrived in European cities, the spices were extremely expensive. Pepper was measured in silver and nutmeg was as valuable as gold.
To win the wealth of the trade routes for themselves, Europeans began searching for a water route to the “Indies.”