The expansion took place largely in the period of the
fifteenth through the eighteenth centuries, although it cannot be
bound strictly at either end of the time scale. Movement outward
from the western European peninsula took varied forms and shapes
as it proceeded by land and by sea throughout Europe, Asia, and
America. The result was a vast increase in power, wealth, and
knowledge for the tiny nation states of western Europe.

Spices were so important in the middle ages that they were a driving force in the age of discovery.

The diet of the average European in the middle ages was bland at best. The lack of refrigeration and poor quality meats required
some spices to make them edible. When the crusaders returned to Europe they brought a flavor for the exotic oriental goods
with them. Spices were available to European through trade routes that they did not control. Additionally, much of the profits of
the spice trade went to the hated infidels, the Muslims who did control much of the trade to the far east. The Spanish and
Portuguese, the leaders in the age of discovery, were both trying to find a new route to the Indies with thoughts of establishing
their own trade with those markets.
Spices were also used as a means of exchange. There was no international currency exchange at this time. All payments
between countries were made in gold and silver. Spices could also be used to pay fines and mortgages, to buy land, to buy a
coat of arms or to pay taxes.


Spices were essential in the middle ages. the were used for flavor, for medicines, and for magic. They were so valuable that
people used spices as a medium of exchange. The search for spices and the wealth and power that came with them encouraged
many men to venture on journeys of exploration. Among the great explorers, Columbus, Magellan, and DaGama were all in
search of a new route to the valuable commodities of the East.