Trade Becomes More Difficult
In the 1300s A.D., trade had become more costly and more difficult. The Mongol Empire had offered protection to travelers who carried trade goods. As the Mongol Empire collapsed, it became too dangerous to travel between Asia and Western Europe using overland routes. This meant that spices from Asia could only reach Europe by going around Asia, and through the Italian Peninsula.
These spices were in high demand. They were used by Europeans to flavor their food, to preserve their meats, to make medicines, and even in perfumes. Yet, the cost of transporting these spices to Europe made them very expensive and difficult for the struggling nations of Western Europe to afford.
These nations began to look at other ways of transporting spices into Western Europe. Many adventurous businessmen began to look at the sea. If they could find a way to sail from Europe to Asia over the sea, they could make a fortune.