In the Middle Ages, Europeans began to look beyond their own borders in the hopes of increasing their trade with Asia and gathering wealth.
Muslims controlled trade routes through the Middle East, which led some nations to search for different routes. After Christopher Columbus landed in North America and conquistadors gained wealth for Spain by conquering Native American empires, other European nations launched expeditions to the Americas.
Europeans developed new ways of raising money to finance trade, which were the origins of capitalism. Nations competed to set up colonies in the Americas in the hopes of increasing national wealth.
Expanded trade led to a worldwide exchange of products, people, and ideas. At the same time, new ideas were sweeping Europe, which changed religious life there and brought new emphasis on science and reason.