Excerpt from Voyages of Hawkins, Frobisher and Drake: Select Narratives From the 'Principal Navigations'
Appears as the Middle Ages close was mainly due to Italian energy and sagacity. In the palmiest days Of the Papacy and Of the Italian maritime republics, Italian monks and... merchants penetrated the heart Of Asia. Italian seamen passed the Pillars of Hercules, braved the unknown dangers Of the stormy Atlantic, explored the desolate shores Of Barbary, rediscovered the Fortunate Isles of the Ancients, and increased the Ptolemaic map Of the world by the addition Of the Madeiras and the Azores. The remote regions to which they had penetrated were beyond the scope Of Italian political or mercantile interests. They thus fell under the sway Of the maritime powers Of the Spanish peninsula; and the exploration of the Atlantic was continued under the direction and at the expense of Portuguese and Castilian adventurers. It must not be supposed that the gradual exploration of the coast of Africa, which ultimately led to the passing Of the Cape of Good Hope and the establishment of a connexion by sea between Lisbon and India, was exclusively the work Of Portuguese seamen. The expeditions Of the Spanish and Portuguese were to a very great extent made under Italian captains, with Italian crews, and in vessels built by Italian Shipwrights. Italian mathematicians constructed the charts and instruments by which they sailed, and Italian bankers furnished funds for equipping them. A similar in¿uence was at Work in England: the Italian merchants of London and the Italian seamen of Bristol were the links between the great movement of maritime exploration and an insular people which at the eleventh hour began to profit by it. The Genoese were best known in Bristol.
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