Age of Discovery - Resource Bibliography

Publications - Age of Discovery

The Age of Reconnaissance

By J. H. Parry
University of California (1982)
384 Pages

Discovery, Exploration, and Settlement, 1450-1650

The Age of Reconnaissance, as J. H. Parry has so aptly named it, was the period during which Europe discovered the rest of the world. It began with Henry the Navigator and the Portuguese voyages in the mid-fifteenth century and ended 250 years later when the "Reconnaissance" was all but complete. Dr. Parry examines the inducements?political, economic, religious?to overseas enterprises at the time, and analyzes the nature and problems of the various European settlements in the new lands.

New Worlds - The Great Voyages of Discovery, 1400-1600

By Ronald H. Fritze
Praeger (2003)
256 Pages

The huge expansion in trade and the acquisition of vast empires that characterize this period of European history would set the pattern for at least the next two centuries. Fritze begins with a portrait of medieval Europe, its economy, its geography, and the developments in naval architecture that made the great voyages possible. Next, he narrates the travels of Henry the Navigator, Columbus, da Gama, and Cabot. He contrasts the establishment of the Portuguese spice empires in Asia with the simultaneous rise of the Mogul Empire, and he details as well the opening up of both South and North America.

1491- New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus

By Charles C. Mann
Vintage (2006)
541 Pages

In this groundbreaking work of science, history, and archaeology, Charles Mann radically alters our understanding of the Americas before the arrival of Columbus in 1492.
Contrary to what so many Americans learn in school, the pre-Columbian Indians were not sparsely settled in a pristine wilderness; rather, there were huge numbers of Indians who actively molded and influenced the land around them. The astonishing Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan had running water and immaculately clean streets, and was larger than any contemporary European city. Mexican cultures created corn in a specialized breeding process that it has been called man’s first feat of genetic engineering. Indeed, Indians were not living lightly on the land but were landscaping and manipulating their world in ways that we are only now beginning to understand. Challenging and surprising, this a transformative new look at a rich and fascinating world we only thought we knew.

1493- Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

By Charles C. Mann
Vintage (2012)
720 Pages

A deeply engaging new history of how European settlements in the post-Colombian Americas shaped the world, from the bestselling author of 1491.

Presenting the latest research by biologists, anthropologists, archaeologists, and historians, Mann shows how the post-Columbian network of ecological and economic exchange fostered the rise of Europe, devastated imperial China, convulsed Africa, and for two centuries made Mexico City—where Asia, Europe, and the new frontier of the Americas dynamically interacted—the center of the world. In this history, Mann uncovers the germ of today's fiercest political disputes, from immigration to trade policy to culture wars. In 1493, Mann has again given readers an eye-opening scientific interpretation of our past, unequaled in its authority and fascination.

The Four Voyages

By Christopher Columbus
Penguin Classics (1992)
320 Pages

Being His Own Log-Book, Letters and Dispatches with Connecting Narratives

No gamble in history has been more momentous than the landfall of Columbus's ship the Santa Maria in the Americas in 1492 - an event that paved the way for the conquest of a 'New World'. The accounts collected here provide a vivid narrative of his voyages throughout the Caribbean and finally to the mainland of Central America, although he still believed he had reached Asia. Columbus himself is revealed as a fascinating and contradictory figure, fluctuating from awed enthusiasm to paranoia and eccentric geographical speculation. Prey to petty quarrels with his officers, his pious desire to bring Christian civilization to 'savages' matched by his rapacity for gold, Columbus was nonetheless an explorer and seaman of staggering vision and achievement.


The Great Courses - Age of Discovery


Documentaries - Age of Discovery

Magnificent Voyage of Columbus

2007 – History

Christopher Columbus changed the world, bringing together the unknown and the known. The Magnificent Voyage of Christopher Columbus recounts the history of Columbus' first Atlantic crossing, as a modern-day crew retraces Columbus' course, sailing replicas of his fleet. His voyage initiated a tremendous transoceanic migration of peoples, plants, and diseases that affected everyone on the globe.

Mayflower – Desperate Crossing

2007 – History

Filmed on location in Europe and Plymouth Plantation and featuring dialogue taken from original source material, DESPERATE CROSSING: THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE MAYFLOWER catapults viewers back to the 1600s. Actors from the Royal Shakespeare Company join members of the Massachusetts Wampanoag tribe in creating dramatic period reenactments that bring to life the Pilgrims' harrowing journey and first year of survival. 

Conquest of America

2005 - History

After Columbus came conquest--from all corners of the world, explorers reached the shores of the New World to reap untold riches, seek new routes to the Far East, and gain the most elusive glory of all--a place in history. A sweeping saga of bravery, cruelty, and pure folly, Conquest of America tells the stories of adventurers who stopped at nothing to conquer an unknown land and its peoples.

Secrets of Spanish Florida

2017 – PBS

Join a team of archaeologists, scientists and historians as they reveal the little-known history of America's Spanish colonists who settled in Florida in 1565, long before Jamestown or Plymouth. Actor Jimmy Smits narrates.

Paradise Lost - Life of Milton

2007 – ArtsMagic

This video covers not only the life of this supreme poet, but also one of the most enthralling periods in British history. Milton lived to see England torn apart by civil war. London, his capital city, was ravaged by the greatest plague since the Black Death, and was then destroyed by fire. This was the crucible from which his famous poem was created, and the program investigates not only the poem itself and its structure, but also what its true meaning was for Milton in the political and religious terms of the day.

Biography - Christopher Columbus

1995 – A&E

Christopher Columbus' explorations opened up the New World to Europe, but the determined explorer died a broken man, stripped of his rightful glory, titles and money.


2002 – History

One of the most important rulers in history, Elizabeth I came to the throne at a time when England was under threat of annexation from abroad and collapse from within. When she died after a reign of 45 years, she left behind a nation protected by the greatest navy on earth and in the midst of a cultural explosion she made possible. Hosted by the world-renowned historian David Starkey (author of Elizabeth: The Struggle for the Throne) ELIZABETH explores the life and rule of the woman who gave her name to an era.

The Conquerors

2005 – History

Former U.S. Marine Capt. Dale Dye is your host on a long walk through time in this History Channel series, presenting a documentary tour de force on the world's greatest battles and the fearless men who fought them -- from King David and El Cid to Napoleon and Julius Caesar. Moving through history, the film also chronicles the developments in man-made technology that made the conquering of foreign lands ever easier to achieve.

The Armada

2009 – Cromwell

Documentary detailing the famous drubbing received by Philip II of Spain's Armada at the hands of Sir Francis Drake. Historians such as John Tincey offer their insights into the battle, which was won through a culmination of fine seamanship by Drake and appalling weather in the English Channel. Also included are modern day reconstructions and footage of the 'Golden Hinde' and the Mary Rose museum.

Battle of Marston Moor

2009 - Cromwell

The Battle of Marston Moor on July 2nd 1644 was one of the most important of the entire English Civil War. It was here that a force of some 27,000 Parliamentarian and Scottish troops routed an army of just 18,000 Royalists. Crucially the Royalist stronghold of York was lost and King Charles cause in the north virtually collapsed. It was a defeat from which the King would never recover. 

Columbus' Lost Voyage

2007 – History

The History Channel's Columbus: The Lost Voyage details one of the lesser known voyages of Christopher Columbus. Far removed from his initial journey to North America, Columbus found himself facing challenges from his preoccupation with finding a passage to the Orient, to the deteriorating condition of his ships, and the threat of mutiny.

Galileo's Battle for the Heavens

2002 – PBS

The pioneering astronomer and condemned heretic comes to life in this fascinating film version of Dava Sobel's best-seller, Galileo's Daughter. British actor Simon Callow portrays the seventeenth-century genius who defied tradition and years of imprisonment to advance a new vision of the universe, recreated through letters from his devoted daughter Maria Celeste, a cloistered nun.

Quest for the Fountain of Youth

2006 - A&E

Was it the lure of gold or the promise of eternal youth that led explorer Ponce de Leon to embark on his doomed journey to the coast of Florida? Leonard Nimoy narrates this program in the "Ancient Mysteries" series which investigates the conflicting accounts of the Spaniard's tragic adventure and the history of mythologizing water as a miraculous substance.

The Great Inca Rebellion

2007 – PBS

History reports that the mighty Inca were swiftly wiped out by a small band of Conquistadors. But, new evidence is being unearthed that may help re-write history. Remains of those who died in battle have been discovered, and for the first time physical evidence is suggesting that Spain's conquest of the Incan Empire may have actually taken twenty years. Brought to life through CGI reconstruction and reenactments, the untold epic saga of decades of guerrilla warfare and rebellion are finally revealed as National Geographic uncovers the truth behind the Inca's last stand.

Theatrical Features


1492 - Conquest of Paradise (1992)

1492: Conquest of Paradise is adventure on a grand scale, filled with the dazzling visuals of director Ridley Scott and starring French legend Gérard Depardieu, Armand Assante and Sigourney Weaver. Depardieu plays Christopher Columbus, fearless in his vision of a new route to the East… yet not faultless in the treachery and carnage his voyage would bring. The film chronicles the first two landmark voyages of his Admiral of the Ocean Sea and takes us to the brink of his third and last.

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