- Feb 2010
- Canary Islands-Spain
I think further research is needed in this direction, because evidences are contradictory:Captains yes, but I'm also refering to crews, ships, governments, and other sponsors. There's probably a reason all of these Italian captains sailed for Portugal and other Atlantic powers - because the Italians didn't have the right ships, the experienced crews, the familiarity with long distance voyages, etc for Atlantic exploration. Some of those Italian captains, like Columbus, spent years working in the Atlantic before they became famous explorers. At that point, their experience wasn't uniquely Italian anymore. Italy provided good raw material for an Atlantic explorer, but it had to combined with experience that was unique to the Atlantic.
No argument the Italians were expericence merchants and traders. Some aspects of seafaring could be learned in the Mediterranean such as how to manage large crews of sailors and basic navigation. But other aspects of sailing were unique to the Atlantic, such as weather patterns, long distances, advanced navigation, etc. (You can't get very lost in the Mediterranean - sooner or later you will find land, but that's not true in the Atlantic.)
A. Since the 13th century, Genoese ships and sailors were heading to the west due to them being unable to overcome Venetians. They entered in good relations with Portuguese and Castilians, and laterly with French and English monarchs, investing money (the Genoese somewhat displaced Jews from this activity; their funds can be found in almost every great enterprise of the western kings) and trading in a great scale. Many Genoese trading post were stablished, and a big, powerful bussyness community was born. Other Italians, including Venetians, participated as well in this activity, to a lesser scale.
B. The Genoese employed ships and crews from the West in their activities, proving that their resources were short to do the job. Also Iberians, not Italians, did the mix between naval traditions of the north and the south of Europe. They didn't develop a comprehensive Atlantic tradition, lacking enough and adequate ships, as well as experienced crews. They sailed from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic, with round ships, but their ships were weak, and their routes just the most safe.