（初めに右欄で英語を１つ選び、続いて選択肢から１つを選んでください。やり直すときは、英語を選び直すことから始めてください。右の［単語帳］を参考にすることもできます。）About ten hundred, Europe was beginning a period of great change. One reason was the religious wars known as the crusades. These wars were efforts by Europeans who were mainly Roman Catholic Christians. They wanted to force Muslims out of what is now the Middle East. The crusades began at the end of the eleventh century. They continued for about two hundred years.
The presence of European armies in the Middle East increased trade, which was controlled by businessmen in Venice and other Italian city-states. The businessmen were earning large profits by transporting and supplying the warring armies.
When the European crusaders returned home, they brought with them some new and useful products. The products included spices, perfumes, silk cloth, steel products and drugs. Such products became highly valued all over Europe. Increased trade resulted which led to the growth of towns. It also created a large number of rich European businessmen.
The European nations were growing. They developed armies and governments. These had to be paid for by taxes from the people. By the fifteenth century, European countries were ready to explore new parts of the world.
The first explorers were the Portuguese. By fourteen hundred, they wanted to control the Eastern spice trade. European businessmen did not want to continue paying Venetian and Arab traders for their costly spices. They wanted to set up trade themselves. If they could sail to Asia directly for these products, the resulting trade would bring huge profits.
The leader of Portugal's exploration efforts was Prince Henry, a son of King John the first. He was interested in sea travel and exploration. So he became known as Henry the Navigator.
Prince Henry brought experts to his country and studied the sciences involved in exploration. He built an observatory to study the stars. Portuguese sea captains led their ships around the west coast of Africa hoping to find a path to India and East Asia. They finally found the end of the African continent, the area called the Cape of Good Hope.