Second, the Ottoman Turks and the Venetians controlled commercial access to the Mediterranean and the ancient sea routes from the East.
Third, new nations on the Atlantic shores of Europe were now ready to seek overseas trade and adventure.
Portugal, initiated the first great enterprise of the Age of Discovery—the search for a sea route east by south to Cathay. He was curious about the world; he was interested in new navigational aids and better ship design and was eager to test them; he was also a Crusader and hoped that, by sailing south and then east along the coast of Africa, Arab power in North Africa could be attacked from the rear.
The promotion of profitable trade was yet another motive; he aimed to divert the Guinea trade in gold and ivory away from its routes across the Sahara to the Moors of Barbary (North Africa) and instead channel it via the sea route to Portugal.
They were some of the first people to set out and explore the world.
They took all risks in the face of danger, and a lot of times when the odds were all set against them.
Henricus Martellus, published in 1492, shows the shores of North Africa and of the Gulf of Guinea more or less correctly and was probably taken from numerous seamen’s charts.
The delineation of the west coast of southern Africa from the Guinea Gulf to the Cape suggests a knowledge of the charts of the expedition of Bartolomeu Dias.
In 1487, a Portuguese emissary, Pêro da Covilhã, successfully followed the first route; but, on returning to Cairo, he reported that, in order to travel to India, the Portuguese “could navigate by their coasts and the seas of Guinea.” In the same year, another Portuguese navigator, Cape of Storms in such bad weather that he did not see it, but he satisfied himself that the coast was now trending northeastward; before turning back, he reached the Great Fish River, in what is now South Africa.
On the return voyage, he sighted the Cape and set up a pillar upon it to mark its discovery.