How did the medieval age end? We use the term Renaissance, or more academically the early modern period, but what divides them? I’ve talked a little previously about Columbus, and his voyage to find Asia by sailing west. What I want to answer today is, why was he trying that? There are several ingredients we must consider to understand what drove Columbus to look for Asia. The first is about what he intended to do when he got there. For centuries, spices, silks, and china from India and China would travel across a long overland trade route to get to Europe. We call this the silk road. It was the reason big Mediterranean trade cities such as Alexandria, and Venice were insanely rich. Through much of the medieval age, one of the big gates that Asian goods took to get into Europe was through the Roman Empire. Wait, Roman Empire? Not as collapsed as we like to think. While the western, catholic roman empire was clinging to existence in modern Germany, a powerful Greek speaking, Orthodox worshiping Roman Empire ruled from the imperial capital of Constantinople. To distinguish it, we typically call it the Byzantine Empire, but to them they were Romans, with a Caesar and everything. This is the next ingredient pushing Columbus. The Roman empire was long past its prime. Turkish tribes migrated into Anatolia over a period of centuries, and conquest by conquest shrunk the Roman Empire. The most famous tribe, led by Osman I, was especially deadly. He would be the first Sultan or Bey of the Ottomans. Mongol invasions, and the decline of Seljuk power drove a lot of the Turkish speaking people in Anatolia under his rule. Skipping forward a few generations, the Ottomans had been on a successful campaign in Europe, conquering a vast amount of territory. In 1453, the Ottomans used early cannons to blast down the mighty walls that protected the Roman capital for centuries, and the Roman Empire finally collapsed. The Hagia Sophia, a giant Orthodox church was turned into a mosque, and the Ottomans made it the seat of their mighty empire that would persist until the end of the First World War. This severely closed down the flow of goods into Europe from Asia. There was no buying these goods from Christians. Europe began to dream of finding alternate routes to Asia that would bypass the long arm of the Ottoman Empire. The first would be the Portuguese. They had already spent decades invading and conquering African trade. The Portuguese pushed exploration further and further down the western coast of Africa looking for its southernmost point. Other European countries wanted to establish their own routes to Asia, and Columbus had his own theories as to how to get there. What I like about this story is it shows how something like the fall of Constantinople can have massive ripple effects across the world. If you know of any other really cool butterfly effect type events in history, tell me about them below. Like and share if you want to support the video, and as always subscribe for more Step Back.