Why did Elizabethans voyage overseas and were they successful?
During the middle ages Europeans know little about the rest of the world. Silks, spices were brought overland to Europe from India and china, but sailors didn’t dare to sail the unknown seas. In this essay I will be discussing why Elizabethans were made to go on over sea voyages in the 1550s during the time of the cloth trade collapse. What did England achieve from these successful voyages over sea and what new markets did they find to sell their goods also how did Britain become the most powerful country in the world .
In addition to who were the sailors that helped England claim power and wealth? Between 1430-1530 European sailors began making voyages across the oceans. In 1550 the cloth trade collapsed . Merchants need to find new markets in which to sell their goods. Markets such as the Muscovy company which traded with Russia in timber and lurs also the East Incia Company which traded with India and the Far East in silks, spices, cotton and tea in addition to The Levant company which traded with countries around the eastern Mediterranean in currents and dyes.
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They went across the world to sell their English cloth and at the same time giving people in other countries a chance for ‘All savages, so soon as they began to taste of civilisation ‘which was said by Richard Hakluyt in his book ‘The Principle navigations, voyages and discoveries of the English Nation ‘in order to encourage overseas voyages . This encouraged English sailors and more people become interested in these voyages over sea.
Richard Hakluyt thought that from these voyages over see the navy would be enlarged making England more powerful and become the greater country as he says ‘By these voyages our navy shall be enlarged ‘it was stated in his book. In addition the fact that the navy will become bigger just like Spain and Portugal’s, men and women shall work there will be more employment opportunities available which means that more money will be coming in to the nation ‘it will prove general benefit into our country ‘ .
They would also gain more money as they would be going overseas and selling spices , which links into the trade markets especially The East Incia company which traded silks and spices . There were monopolies on the trade companies. Monopolies is when you have control over a given market, you are given a legal piece of paper (warrant)telling you that you could trade with that company , but that warrant didn’t come free you had to bid for it in order to get it . The companies paid Elizabeth money so that they could get their warrant and trade with the country that they wanted to trade with.
The money which was used to pay for the warrants goes to Elizabeth so she can then deal with her economical problems and the debt that her sister Mary put her in of ?250,000. After the monopolies expired you would have to pay again for them and get it renewed or else you could no longer trade in that area. Merchants, nobles, and even the queen invested in these voyages . They made large profits from captured cargoes like gold and silver. Francis Drake stole silver, gold and jewels from Spanish ships coming from Mexico. This gold and silver benefited the economy as it made them more money.
Gold was brought by the rich, who had to pay tax which helped Elizabeth pay her debt as she was the government and received the money. Drake’s successful battles against the Spanish helped England become a major sea power. He was the First Englishman to sail around the world. On the way round the world, Drake landed in what is now California, naming it Nova Albion (New England) and claiming it for his queen. Drake returned from his voyage with his ship packed full of spices from the Indies, and plundered Spanish silver and treasure.
Drake was knighted by Queen Elizabeth l for his courage, and for the treasures he brought back with him. He brought back enough treasure to pay off the entire national debt. John Hawkins was a cousin of Drake. He was the first Englishman to trade in slaves. He bought slaves in West Africa and sold them to the Spanish colonies in the West Indies, often raiding Spanish ships as he went. After retirement he built ships for the navy. Sir Walter Raleigh led many expeditions to America and introduced tobacco and the potato into England. He chose the name of the first English colony in America. He named it Virginia after Queen Elizabeth.
However some sailors were unsuccessful like Sir Humphrey Gilbert who explored the north coast of America but was never seen again. Also Sir Walter Raleigh of 1595 who set to sail for south America hoping to find El Dorado , a legendary city full of gold . He never found the city and never returned with any gold making him useless to the country as he did not benefit it. England had more power, defence and a stronger navy than before as British sailors improved their skills in sailing and fighting at sea. New and faster ships were built by Hawkins. These ships helped in the Spanish armada in 1558.
By 1603 England had become the greatest sea-power in the world. In conclusion the Elizabethans were successful on their voyages overseas as Britain became the most powerful and richest country in the world by 1803. The trading companies became very wealthy in the seventeenth century. England had the greatest sea-power in the world which lasted until the twentieth century. They were encouraged to go on voyages overseas so that they could trade with other companies as they needed new markets to trade with after the cloth collapse and become wealthier as I stated in the essay. Sailors like Francis Drake helped gain success on voyages overseas.