The Europeans knew little of the world outside Europe before the 15th century. However, a new spirit of adventure and curiosity swept across the continent around the 15th century. It was a time when the people became greatly interested in science, mathematics and things that were new. Interest in the world outside Europe grew and many voyages were made to the East.
They were curious to find out about the East and heard tales of strange people who lived in faraway lands such as Asia, and wanted to know more about them. There were also reports of islands where spices of every kind grew wild, and many voyages were made to try and find these islands because there was a very profitable market for spices in Europe, since refrigerators did not exist in those days and spices were used to preserve the food and make it taste better.
The Europeans believed that the people in the East had great wealth. There were tales that the East had gold, rubies and other precious stones. Some pieces of gold were said to be the size of walnuts and eggs. They were not discouraged by the fact that the sea routes to the East were unknown and by the tales of sea monsters and terrible storms in the seas.