In the 1400's, the feudal system became weak and national governments became stronger. People put more emphasis on humanism than on the church. This period was called the Renaissance. I believe that this period led directly to the Age of Exploration. During this time, technology became more advanced. Martin Luther started the Reformation against the Catholic church. As the effect of the Reformation, a middle class emerged making it possible for people to travel more.
During the Renaissance, technology became more advanced and more available to the common public. The printing press was invented during this time. This invention made it possible for books to be published, not hand written. Ideas of the Renaissance were spread in some of these books and common people could own a copy of the bible. Some other inventions were the astrolabe, the quadrant, and the compass. These devices were used in sailing. The astrolabe and the quadrant told a person where they were at a direct point and the compass told which direction was north. Two faster, larger ships were also invented during this time. They were called the carrack and the caravel. The weakening of the Roman Catholic Church, brought about by the Protestant Reformation, changed the way people felt about the church and it's importance in their life. Then, because the church was not so dominating, people felt free to learn about new lands. People started learning about Rome and Greece. They learned about these two countries' culture and art. This also helped the Age of Exploration to begin because the Catholic church wanted more souls. They thought they could go to America and convert Native Americans. As trade grew, a wealthy middle class of doctors, bankers and lawyers emerged. These people had more money so they became more educated and more self-sufficient. They didn't have to rely on the feudal system anymore and national government became more powerful. With more money, the middle class could fund trips across the ocean. They could also buy books, paintings and other classical things.
The Age of Exploration was caused by the Renaissance period. Technology became more advanced, the Catholic church was reformed and a middle class emerged. These new ideas encouraged people to explore and discover new things. In present life, we have a very strong middle class, religious freedom and a lot of advances in technology. If the Renaissance period wouldn't have happened, it's possible that we wouldn't have these things or that America would even have been discovered.