Why didn't those crazy kids get together earlier?
November 27, 2011 5:43 PM Subscribe
If the flat earth theory was unpopular in Europe, why did so few of them try to sail west before 1492?
posted by tchemgrrl to Grab Bag (40 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
The idea that people feared that Columbus was going to sail off the edge of the world seems to be a widely discredited elementary school "fact". The Greeks had done a fair job of estimating the circumference of the earth, and maps weren't great but they did exist. The technology to get over there seems to have existed from at least ~1000.
So why weren't there more voyages west from Europe? What did an educated European think was between England and Japan in the 15th century? How about a sailor? Why didn't anyone talk about sailing that way between Leif Ericson and Columbus?
(I'm focusing on Europe in this question because my knowledge of history ends at whatever point I was able to drop it in my USian high school, as you might be able to tell, so I know very little about what was going on elsewhere at around that time. Any answers involving Asian, African, Middle Eastern, or American societies would also be welcomed.)