The fifteenth and sixteenth centuries constituted an era of Western global expansion. Among the motives, economics ranked first, followed by religion, and adventure or fame, or, as the text quotes,  God, glory, and gold. It occurred when it did because of the emergence of centralized monarchies, sufficient wealth to finance such endeavors, and new technologies such better maps and charts, more seaworthy ships, the compass and astrolabe, and knowledge of Atlantic winds.

The first to venture forth were Portugal and Spain. Portuguese ships were exploring and trading along Africa s west coast by the mid-fifteenth century, bringing back slaves and gold. Southern Africa was rounded in 1488, and India was reached in 1498, followed by the Malay Peninsula and the Spice Islands (Indonesia). The Portuguese empire was one of trade, as its population was too small to establish large colonies, but Spain had greater resources. Seeking the same Asian goal as Portugal, the Italian Christopher Columbus (d.1506), sailing for Spain, reached the Caribbean West Indies in 1492, believing it was part of Asia. It was not, and the new found land became known as the New World or America, after Amerigo Vespucci, an early geographer. Spanish conquistadors arrived on the mainland of Mesoamerica in 1519. Aztec resistance was quickly overcome thanks to assistance from other native states, gunpowder and horses, and European diseases such as smallpox, for which the native population had no immunity. In South America, the Incas were conquered by the 1530s. The natives became Spanish subjects, but were often exploited by Spanish settlers. Two viceroys ruled in Mexico City and Lima, Peru; Catholic missionaries, under the control of the Spanish crown, brought Christianity, including cathedrals, schools, and the Inquisition, to the native population.

Although originally less prized than gold and spices, slaves became a major object of trade, and by the nineteenth century ten million African slaves had been shipped to America. Slavery was common in Africa, and the African terminus of the trade was in the hands of the Africans, but the insatiable demand for slaves led to increased warfare on that continent. It was not until the late 1700s that slavery came under criticism in Europe.

The Dutch expelled Portugal from the Spice Islands by 1600, and in India, the British East India Company controlled the Mughal Empire by the mid-1700s. Trade with China was limited, its rulers believing the West offered nothing that China needed, and Japan gave only the Dutch even minimal trading rights. In the New World, the Dutch, French, and the British also established colonies. Eventually British North America consisted of thirteen colonies. France established an empire in Canada, but its French population remained small.

In Europe, a commercial revolution led to integrated markets, joint-stock trading companies, and banking and stock exchange facilities. Mercantilist theory posited that a nation should acquire as much gold and silver as possible, there must be a favorable balance of trade, or more exports than imports, and the state would provide subsidies to manufactures, grant monopolies to traders, build roads and canals, and impose high tariffs to limit imports.

The impact of European expansion was mixed. In the Americas, the native culture was largely destroyed, and a new multiracial society evolved. That was less true in British America, which became mainly European in population and culture. The Columbian exchange saw Europeans bringing horses, cattle, sugarcane, wheat as well as disease and gunpowder to the New World and adopting the potato, maize (corn), and chocolate in turn. Native cultures were least affected in Asia, particularly in Japan and China. Missionaries, mostly Catholic, were mainly successful in the New World, and within Europe, imperial rivalries could lead to war.

  1. Explain the technological factors that facilitated European exploration and expansion from 1450 to 1648.
    1. Advances in navigation, cartography, and military technology enabled Europeans to establish overseas colonies and empires.
      • Illustrative Examples: compass, sternpost rudder, portolani, quadrant and sextant, lateen rig
      • Illustrative Examples: gunpowder, guns
  2. Explain the motivations for and effects of European exploration and expansion from 1450 to 1648.
    1. European states sought direct access to gold, spices, and luxury goods to enhance personal wealth and state power.
      • Illustrative Examples: Spanish in the New World, Portuguese in Indian Ocean World, Dutch in the East Indies/Asia
    2. The rise of mercantilism gave the state a new role in promoting commercial development and the acquisition of colonies overseas.
      • Illustrative Example: Jean-Baptiste Colbert in France
    3. Christianity was a stimulus for exploration as governments and religious authorities sought to spread the faith, and for some it served as a justification for the subjugation of indigenous civilizations.
      • Illustrative Example Jesuit activities
  3. Explain how and why trading networks and colonial expansion affected relations between and among European states.
    1. Europeans established overseas empires and trade networks through coercion and negotiation.
      1. The Spanish established colonies across the Americas, the Caribbean, and the Pacific, which made Spain a dominant state in Europe in the 16th century.
      2. The Atlantic nations of France, England, and the Netherlands followed by establishing their own colonies and trading networks to compete with Portuguese and Spanish dominance in the 17th century.
      3. The competition for trade led to conflicts and rivalries among European powers in the 17th and 18th centuries.
        • Illustrative Examples: Treaty of Tordesillas, asiento, War of Spanish Succession, Seven Years’ War
  4. Explain the economic impact of European colonial expansion and development of trade networks.
    1. The Portuguese established a commercial network along the African coast, in South and East Asia, and in South America in the late 15th and throughout the 16th centuries.
    2. Europe s colonial expansion led to a global exchange of goods, flora, and fauna; a shift toward European dominance; and the expansion of the slave trade.
      • Illustrative Examples: sugar, tea, silks and other fabrics, rum, coffee
    3. The exchange of goods shifted the center of economic power in Europe from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic states and brought the latter into an expanding world economy.
    4. The exchange of new plants, animals, and diseases – the Columbian Exchange – created economic opportunities for Europeans.
  5. Explain the social and cultural impact of European colonial expansion and development of trade networks.
    1. Europe s colonial expansion led to a global exchange of goods, flora, fauna, cultural practices, and diseases, resulting in the destruction of some indigenous civilizations, a shift toward European dominance, and the expansion of the slave trade.
    2. The exchange of new plants, animals, and diseases – the Columbian Exchange – in some cases facilitated European subjugation and destruction of indigenous peoples, particularly in the Americas.
  6. Explain the social and cultural impact of European colonial expansion and development of trade networks.
    1. Europe’s colonial expansion led to a global exchange of goods, flora, fauna, cultural practices, and diseases, resulting in the destruction of some indigenous civilizations, a shift toward European dominance, and the expansion of the slave trade.
    2. The exchange of new plants, animals, and diseases – the Columbian Exchange – in some cases facilitated European subjugation and destruction of indigenous peoples, particularly in the Americas.
  7. Explain the causes for and the development of the slave trade.
    1. Europeans expanded the African slave trade in response to the establishment of a plantation economy in the Americas and demographic catastrophes among indigenous peoples.
      • Illustrative Examples: Middle Passage, Triangular Trade
  8. Explain European commercial and agricultural developments and their economic effects from 1450 to 1648.
    1. Innovations in banking and finance promoted the growth of urban financial centers and a money economy.
      • Illustrative Examples: double-entry bookkeeping, Bank of Amsterdam, Dutch East India Company, British East India Company
    2. Most Europeans derived their livelihood from agriculture and oriented their lives around the seasons, the village, or the manor, although economic changes began to alter rural production and power.
      1. Subsistence agriculture was the rule in most areas, with three-crop field rotation in the north and two-crop rotation in the Mediterranean; in many cases, farmers paid rent and labor services for their lands.
      2. The price revolution contributed to the accumulation of capital and the expansion of the market economy through the commercialization of agriculture, which bene ted large landowners in western Europe.
      3. Population recovered to its pre-Great Plague level in the 16th century, and continuing population pressures contributed to uneven price increases; agricultural commodities increased more sharply than wages, reducing living standards for some.
    3. Economic change produced new social patterns, while traditions of hierarchy and status continued.
      1. The growth of commerce produced a new economic elite, which related to traditional land-holding elites in different ways in Europe s various geographic regions.
    4. As western Europe moved toward a free peasantry and commercial agriculture, serfdom was codified in the east, where nobles continued to dominate economic life on large estates.
    5. The attempts of landlords to increase their revenues by restricting or abolishing the traditional rights of peasants led to revolt.
      • Illustrative Examples: enclosure movement, restricted use of village common, freehold tenure
    6. Migrants to the cities challenged the ability of merchant elites and craft guilds to govern, and strained resources.
      • Illustrative Examples: sanitation problems, employment, poverty, crime
    7. From the late 16th century on, Europeans responded to economic and environmental challenges, such as the Little Ice Age, by delaying marriage and childbearing. This European marriage pattern restrained population growth and ultimately improved the economic condition of families.
  9. Explain the causes and consequences of the Renaissance and Age of Discovery
    1. The rediscovery of works from ancient Greece and Rome and observation of the natural world changed many Europeans view of their world.
      1. A revival of classical texts led to new methods of scholarship and new values in both society and religion.
      2. The visual arts incorporated the new ideas of the Renaissance and were used to promote personal, political, and religious goals.
    2. Europeans explored and settled overseas territories, encountering and interacting with indigenous populations.
      1. European nations were driven by commercial and religious motives to explore overseas European society and the experiences of everyday life were increasingly shaped by commercial and agricultural capitalism, notwithstanding the continued existence of medieval social and economic structures.
    3. European society and the experiences ofeveryday life were increasingly shaped by commercial and agricultural capitalism, notwithstanding the continued existence
      1. Economic change produced new social patterns, while traditions of hierarchy and status continued.
      2. Most Europeans derived their livelihood from agriculture and oriented their lives around the seasons, the village, or the manor, although economic changes began to alter rural production and power.
    4. The struggle for sovereignty within and among states resulted in varying degrees of political centralization.
      1. The new concept of the sovereign state and secular systems of law played a central role in the creation of new political institutions.

Reading 1: Pages 403-407

On the Brink of a New World:
  The Motives for Expansion
  The Means for Expansion

Reading 2: Pages 407-410

New Horizons: Portuguese and Spanish Empires:
  The Portuguese Maritime Empire
  Voyages to the New World

Reading 3: Pages 410-416

New Horizons: Portuguese and Spanish Empires:
  Spanish Empire in the New World
  Disease in the New World

Reading 4: Pages 416-419

New Rivals on the World Stage:
  Africa: The Slave Trade


Reading 5: Pages 419-427

New Rivals on the World Stage:
  The West in Southeast Asia
  The French and British in India
  China
  Japan
  The Americas

Reading 6: Pages 427-433

The Impact of World Expansion:
  The Conquered
  The Conquerors
Toward a World Economy:
  Economic Conditions in the 16th Century
  The Growth of Commercial Capitalism
  Mercantilism
  Overseas Trade and Colonies: Movement Toward Globalization