The ties between the
Canaries and the Mediterranean world which had existed since antiquity were interrupted by the decline and fall of the
Western Roman Empire. Although these linkages were weakened, they were not totally severed, and the Canaries' isolation was not total. During the Middle Ages, the first reports on the Canaries come from Arabic sources, which refer to some Atlantic islands which may have been the Canaries. What does seem clear is that this knowledge of the islands did not signify the end of the cultural isolation of the native inhabitants.
Visits to the archipelago began to increase after the end of the 13th century for reasons including:
- The economic expansion of some regions of Europe, such as
Kingdom of Castille, and Portugal, and their need to establish secure routes to the Orient to obtain silk and spices, as well as to Africa to obtain gold and slaves, while avoiding the territories controlled by the Ottoman Turks in the eastern Mediterranean.
- Development of new navigation techniques (
caravel) and the development of cartography, as well as the atlases, one of which, the
Atlas Catalán by
Abraham de Cresques of
Mallorca, in 1375, shows the Canary Islands with their modern names.
- Ideological and political motives: the monarchies of Southern Europe entered an expansive phase. In the case of the Iberian royalty, their territorial expansion was spurred by the
Reconquista against the Moors in Spain. For this reason, territorial expansion represented a reinforcement of royal power, imbued with a crusader spirit in defense of Christianity.