An enthralling account of the greatest adventure in European history – the discovery of the rest of the world
The Age of Reconnaissance, as J. H. Parry so aptly named it, was the period in which Europe discovered the rest of the world. It began with Henry the Navigator and the Portuguese voyages in the mid-fifteenth century and ended 250 years later when the ‘reconnaissance’ was all but complete. This book is less concerned with the voyages of discovery themselves than with an analysis of the factors that made the voyages possible in the first place. Dr Parry examines the inducements – political, economic, religious – to overseas enterprises at the time, and analyses the nature and problems of the various European settlements in the new lands.
At the beginning of the period central to this book, the middle of the fifteenth century, the normal educated man believed that the Ancients were more civilized, more elegant, wiser and, except in religious matters, better informed than his contemporaries. But gradually as the reconnaissance proceeded, the European picture became fuller and more detailed and with it the idea of continually expanding knowledge became more familiar and the links between science and practical life became closer. The unprecedented power which it produced would eventually lead Europe from reconnaissance to worldwide conquest.