Colonial expansion under the crown of Castile was initiated by the Spanish conquistadores and developed by the Monarchy of Spain through its administrators and missionaries. The motivations for colonial expansion were trade and the spread of the Christian faith through indigenous conversions. It lasted for over four hundred years, from 1492 to 1898.
Since the early 15th century, Portuguese explorers, sailing in caravels, had established new southward routes to Asia, by travelling along the coast of West Africa. In 1488, they rounded the Cape of Good Hope and explored East Africa; later, they discovered rich trading regions in Indonesia, and established trading ports on the western coast of Indonesia, and later India. In 1485, Christopher Columbus unsuccessfully tried to persuade King John II of Portugal (João II) to sponsor an expedition to Asia, meant to be reached by sailing westwards, across the Atlantic Ocean. That alternative route, different from the theoretical eastward route, was based on calculations of the Earth's circumference made by Columbus which showed the measurement to be substantially less than the classic 10,000 mile figure given by Eratosthenes in the 3rd century BC. The Portuguese Court, which agreed with the figure provided by Eratosthenes, rejected Columbus' proposal because they believed that the distance to Asia over the open Western Ocean was too great for the ship's crews to survive the journey without being able to make port and resupply. In 1488, Columbus re-presented his plan to John II of Portugal, who refused him. This refusal was based on the recent discovery, by Bartholomeu Dias, of the eastward route to Asia along the African coast and across the Indian Ocean.
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