European Exploration

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During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries small groups financed by private businesses carried out the first phase of European exploration. Members of the noble or merchant class typically funded these early expeditions. Over time, as it became clear that global exploration was extremely profitable, European states took on a primary role. The next phase of exploration involved voyages taken in the name of a particular empire and monarch (e.g., France or Spain). The Iberian empires of Spain and Portugal were some of the earliest states to embark on new voyages of exploration. In addition to seeking luxury goods, the Spanish empire was driven by its quest for American silver. The age of European exploration and discovery represented a new period

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