15th Century European Geography

1430 Words6 Pages
The main factors that are especially important in understanding the 15th century European views of geography and their attitudes toward other people are religion, trade and commerce, and a curiosity about the world. Religion is incredibly important in this time period, because it helped to drive expansion and exploration, expanding European views of the globe and its people. Trade and commerce are important as well for similar reasons, in which European countries were driven by the quest for new trade routes, trading partners, and great profit, which also helped to shape their understanding of their expanding world. Finally, a smaller number of people were driven by a curiosity about and a desire to see the world, which helped shaped their…show more content…
One case is Marco Polo, who was taken to China at eighteen years old, and continued to travel after serving as a bureaucrat at the court of Kublai Khan. The majority of Europeans at this time did not share this motive, as most were concerned with just getting by, but a small number, like Marco Polo himself, were driven to explore and expand by other factors. This desire for exploration, although not quite as important as the other factors, remains important in understanding how the attitudes toward the world and different people developed among some 15th century Europeans. Since some like Marco Polo were driven by curiosity and a need to explore, their attitudes developed differently from those primarily driven by religion or commerce. In the case of Marco Polo, his writings reveal that he felt both respect and superiority toward the Chinese. In “The Glories of Kinsay” he describes the city as “beyond dispute the finest and noblest in the world.” He discusses the greatness of the city in regards to its size, amenities, and wealth. His attitude toward the city is clearly one of awe and respect, with descriptions such as “the richest and most exquisite (structure) you can imagine,” in reference to the palaces. In the case of a European traveler like Marco Polo, it seems that his driving factor of desire to explore was beneficial in shaping his attitude toward the world, or at least some parts of it. His attitude toward different people though, may not have received the same benefit. Although he calls the Chinese women comely, he also described the people in a negative way, with his description of the Chinese as idolators and says that they eat “unclean beasts” that no Christian could ever be induced to eat. This reflects an air of superiority that many

More about 15th Century European Geography

Open Document