Before We Begin
The Renaissance, Reformation, and European exploration and conquests occurred simultaneously. This
chapter begins by laying out the non-European empires, kingdoms, and city-states in the eastern
hemisphere. Western European had been almost completely isolated from these powerful and wealthy
areas from the time of the collapse of the Western Roman Empire until the Crusaders. Crusaders
brought back luxury goods from their adventures, and late medieval and early Renaissance Italian
merchants saw new trading opportunities. There were 3 well-established trade routes into which the
Europeans wanted to insert themselves: the so-called Silk Roads, the Indian Ocean Basin network, and
the Gold-Salt and Trans-Saharan African routes.
At the peak of the Renaissance, Europeans were receiving luxury goods, technology, and scholarship
from their newly discovered neighbors. Western European maritime explorations relied heavily on these
contributions. Merchants and consumers desired more access to luxury goods at cheaper prices, and
when access was threatened by the Ottoman Turkish conquest of the Byzantine Empire, first the
Portuguese and then everyone else began looking for a way around Ottomans to get access to the Indian
Ocean Basin and Silk Roads trade zones.
The western Europeans were the last in a long line of eastern hemisphere maritime explorers. It would
only be in the late 15th century that the western Europeans would finally join the group. Unfortunately,
the western Europeans had little to offer in terms of trade. The Chinese wanted bullion. Ming China had
one quarter of the world’s population and needed silver and gold to mint into coins to keep their
enormous economy functioning. Half the silver mined at Potosi went to Spain; the other half went
through Manila to China. Finally, the Europeans had something the Chinese wanted.
If the merchants didn’t have bullion, they used gunpowder weapons to force people to trade with them.
The first gunpowder weapons, cannons, were invented in China, and were brought to the Middle East
with the Mongol invasions of the 13th century. Cannons spread through the Middle East until the
Crusaders encountered them and brought the technology into western Europe. Europeans
manufactured the first handheld gunpowder weapons and were the first to mount cannons on ships.
With gunpowder weapons, first the Portuguese and then the Dutch forced themselves into the Indian
Ocean basin trade networks and established trading-post empires. The Spanish used gunpowder
weapons to enable their conquest of the Americas and to establish land-based empires.
I. World Contact Before Columbus
I.A. The Trade World of the Indian
 1. Pre-Columbian world trade network center: Indian
2. Since Han and Roman times, seaborne trade between
China, India, the Middle East, Africa, and Europe had
flowed across the Indian Ocean.
3. Merchants congregated in port cities with diverse
4. China played a key role in the fifteenth century revival of
Indian Ocean Trade.
5. Admiral Zheng led seven voyages of exploration between
1405 - 1433.
6. India was the crucial link between the Persian Gulf and
the South-East and East Asian trade networks.
I.B. Africa
 1. Africa played an important role in world trade before
2. Cairo = hub for Indian Ocean trade goods.
3. Most of the gold that reached Europe in the 15th
century came from Africa.
4. Slaves were another key African commodity.
5. Legends about Africa played an important role in
the European imagination about the outside world.
I.C. The Ottoman and Persian
 1. The Middle East was crucial to the late medieval
world trade system.
2. The Silk Road linked the West to the Far East.
3. The Turkish Ottomans and the Persian Safavids
dominated the region.
4. Turkish expansion badly frightened Europeans.
5. The Safavids opposed Ottoman regional ambitions.
I.D. Genoese and Venetian
 1. Europe was the western terminus of the world
trading system
2. Venice grew in importance with the creation of the
crusader kingdoms and reached the height of its
power in the 1400s.
3. Venice specialized in luxury goods and slaves.
4. Genoa was Venice’s ancient rival.
5. The Genoese focused on finance and the Western
6. The Genoese were active in the slave trade.
II. The European Voyages of
II.A. Causes of European Expansion
 1. A revival of population and economic activity
increased demand for Eastern luxury goods.
 2. Religious fervor was another important catalyst for
 3. Curiosity and a desire for glory also played a role in
European expansion.
 4. Political centralization in Spain, France, and
England helps explain their expansion.
II.B. Technological Stimuli to
 1. Developments in shipbuilding, weaponry, and
navigation provided another spur to expansion.
II.C. The Portuguese Overseas
 1. Portugal led the expansion, seeking to Christianize
Muslims, import gold from West Africa, find an overseas
route to India to obtain Indian spices, and contact the
mythical Christian ruler of Ethiopia, Prester John.
2. Prince Henry the Navigator (1394-1460) played a leading
role in the early phases of Portuguese exploration.
3. Beginning in 1415, the Portuguese sent their ships further
down the west coast of Africa until they rounded the Cape
of Good Hope and reached India in 1497-1499.
4. The Portuguese reached Brazil in 1500.
5. The Portuguese fought Muslim rulers to control the
Indian Ocean and won.
II.D. The Problem of Christopher
 1. Extremely religious man.
 2. Very knowledgeable about the sea.
 3. Aimed to find a direct route to Asia.
 4. Described the Caribbean as a Garden of Eden.
 5. When he settled the Caribbean islands and enslaved
their inhabitants, he was acting as “a man of his times.”
II.E. Later Explorers
 1. News of Columbus’s voyage quickly spread throughout Europe.
 2. The Treaty of Tordesillas (1494) divided the non-European world
between Spain and Portugal.
3. The search for profits determined the direction of Spanish
exploration and expansion.
4. In 1519 Ferdinand Magellan, working for Spain, rounded Cape Horn
and entered the Pacific Ocean, eventually circumnavigating the globe.
5. The Dutch East India Company expelled the Portuguese from many
of their East Indian holdings in the first half of the seventeenth
century. The Dutch West India Company established outposts in
Africa, Spanish colonial areas, and North America.
6. In 1497 John Cabot, working for England, explored the northeast
coast of North America.
7. From 1534-1541, Frenchman Jacques Cartier explored the St.
Lawrence River region of Canada.
II.F. New World Conquest
 1. From 1519-1522, Hernando Cortes sailed from
Hispaniola to Mexico and crushed the Aztec Empire of
central Mexico
 2. Francisco Pizarro conquered the Inca Empire of the
Andes between 1531 and 1536.
III. Europe and the World after
III.A. Spanish Settlement and
Indigenous Population Decline
 1. In the 16th century, 200,000 Spaniards immigrated to the
New World, altering the landscape and bringing with them
2. The Spanish established the encomienda system, giving
conquerors the right to employ groups of Amerindians.
3. Disease, malnutrition, overwork, and violence led to
catastrophic drops in the indigenous population.
4. Missionaries sought to convert Amerindians to
5. The decline in the Amerindian population created a
labor shortage in the Americas.
III.B. Sugar and Slavery
 1. Before the 1400s, virtually all slaves in Europe were white.
 2. The Ottoman conquest of Constantinople cut off slaves
from the Black Sea region.
3. With Portuguese voyages to West Africa and the
occupation of the Canary and Madeira islands, slavery
hooked up the sugar culture.
4. Native Americans did not survive long under conditions
of slavery and forced labor.
5. The Spaniards brought in enslaved Africans as
6. The Atlantic slave trade reached its peak in the
eighteenth century.
III.C. The Columbian Exchange
 1. The most important changes brought by the
Columbian voyages may have been biosocial in nature.
2. Flora, fauna, and diseases traveled in both directions
across the Atlantic.
3. New world foods became Old World staples.
4. Domestic animals were brought to the New World.
5. European diseases ravaged Amerindian populations.
6. Sailors and settlers brought syphilis back with them
to Europe.
III.D. Silver and the Economic
Effects of Spain’s Discoveries
 1. During the 1500s and 1600s, there was a huge influx of
precious metals into Spain from its American colonies.
2. Population increase in Spain and the establishment of
new colonies created greater demand for goods in Spain.
The economy could not meet the demands. Together with
the influx of specie, this led to inflation.
3. Inflation caused the Spanish government to go bankrupt
several times.
4. Payment of Spanish armies in bullion created inflation
throughout Europe, which greatly hurt nobles on fixed
5. Chinese demands for payment in silver for its products
and taxes shaped the world silver trade.
III.E. The Birth of the Global
 1. The new intercontinental seaborne trade brought into
being three successive commercial empires: the
Portuguese, the Spanish, and the Dutch.
2. In the sixteenth century, the Portuguese enjoyed
hegemony over the sea route to India.
3. Portuguese Brazil produced most of the sugar consumed
in Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
4. The Spanish established a land empire in the New World
and a seaborne empire in the Pacific.
5. The world experienced a commercial boom from about
1570 to 1630.
6. In the second half of the seventeenth century, the Dutch
seaborne trade predominated.
III.F. Spain’s Global Empire
 1. Spanish expansion in the New World and Asia was combined
with Spanish expansion within Europe itself.
2. Philip II inherited a vast, but unwieldy empire.
3. Philip’s intense religiosity bred political inflexibility.
4. Philip backed a plot to replace Elizabeth I with the Catholic
Mary Queen of Scots.
5. When the plot failed and Mary was executed, Philip assembled
a vast fleet to invade England. The Spanish Armada sailed on
May 9, 1588.
6. A combination of factors led to the total destruction of the
Spanish Armada.
7. While Spain quickly recovered, the defeat of the Armada
prevented Philip from reimposing religious unity on Western
Europe by force.
IV. Changing Attitudes and Beliefs
IV.A. New Ideas about Race
 1. There was no particular connection between race
and slavery in the Ancient world.
 2. European settlers brought their ideas about race
with them to the Americas.
 3. Medieval Christians and Arabs shared negative
views of blacks.
 4. Slavery in the new world contributed to the
dissemination of more rigid notions of racial
IV.B. Michel de Montaigne and
Cultural Curiosity
 1. Montaigne (1533-1592), a French nobleman, created
the essay as a means of clarifying his own thoughts.
 2. Montaigne was a skeptic; that is, he rejected the
notion that any single human being knew the absolute
truth. He also rejected the notion that any one culture
was inherently superior to any other.
IV.C. Elizabethan and Jacobean
 1. Literature and drama flowered in England during
the reigns of Elizabeth I and James I (r. 1603-1625).
 A) William Shakespeare’s plays
 B) The King James Bible
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