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APWH Part IV: The World Shrinks, 1450-1750 INTRODUCTION (p. 354) Many developments highlighted world history between 1450 and 1750, which marked a major new period ­ the early modern ­ in the global experience. As in most new world history periods, the balance of power among major civilizations shifted; western Europe became the most dynamic force worldwide. Contacts among many civilizations intensified. The world became smaller as international trade affected diverse societies and the speed and range of sailing ships increased. This growth of commerce affected western Europe and areas under its economic influence, such as Africa and the Americas, but commerce grew in China and Japan as well. Partly on the basis of innovations in weaponry, particularly gunpowder, new or revamped empires formed important regional political units in many parts of the world. These developments were especially significant in Asia. In addition to European colonial empires in various parts of the world, land-based empires formed in Russia, Persia, the Middle East and the Mediterranean, and India. The early modern period was launched during the 15th century when European countries, headed by Portugal and Spain, began new explorations and soon new colonization efforts in Africa, Asia, and the Americas. It was launched by the formation of the powerful Ottoman Empire in the Middle East, the Mughal and Ming empires in Asia, and the emergence of Russia from two centuries of Mongol control. ON THE EVE OF THE EARLY MODERN PERIOD: THE WORLD AROUND 1450 (p. 355) A number of societies had expanded during the postclassical period. Russia was one, as a Russian monarchy formed. Western Europe failed to gain political unity, but slowly recovered from the 5th century collapse of the Roman Empire. Western Europeans built important regional kingdoms while expanding the role of urban commerce and establishing an elaborate culture around Catholic Christianity. In sub-Saharan Africa, another set of regional kingdoms formed, although vital areas there were organized more loosely. African trade and artistic expression gained ground steadily. Finally, areas in contact with China built increasingly elaborate societies. Japan, like western Europe, emphasized a decentralized feudal system in politics. But it copied many aspects of Chinese culture and some social forms, including a more patriarchal approach to the status of women. Other areas of the world featured civilizations of elaborate cultures developing in isolation from any global contacts. This was true of the expanding Polynesian zone in the Pacific Islands and of the populous civilizations of the Americas, focused in Mesoamerica, under the Aztecs, and in the Andes, which by the 15th century were under the vast Inca realm. The structure of the postclassical world began to shift between the 13th and 15th centuries, setting the stage for a new period in world history. The great Aztec and Inca empires were showing signs of strain and overextension by the later 15th century. In Asia, Africa, and Europe, the key development was the decline of Arab political power and cultural dynamism. Islam continued to expand, but its political and commercial units fragmented. At the same time, there was a new round of invasions from central Asia, launched by the Mongols. In the 13th century, they attacked China, the Middle East, and eastern Europe, toppling established kingdoms and allowing new contacts between Asia and Europe. By 1400 the Mongol surge was receding, though only slowly in Russia. A new empire emerged in China. The Arab caliphate had perished. But a new Islamic political force, under the Ottoman Turks, was taking shape. The Ottomans unified much of the Middle East and positioned themselves to destroy the venerable Byzantine Empire. Using their growing commercial vigor but also terrified by the emergence of a new Islamic power, western Europeans looked for ways to gain greater control over international 1

APWH Part IV: The World Shrinks, 1450-1750 trade. The Chinese briefly experimented with a series of mighty trading expeditions across the Indian Ocean. But a shift in emperors led to a retreat, with a decision to concentrate on traditions of internal political, cultural, and commercial development. As it turned out, this left the way open for the western European overseas expeditions. Western explorers and merchants benefited from technologies newly learned from China and the Islamic world, such as the compass and triangular sail, while adding important innovations such as guns and faster oceangoing ships. THE RISE OF THE WEST (p. 356) Between 1450 and 1750, western Europe, headed initially by Spain and Portugal and then by Holland, Britain, and France, gained control of the key international trade routes. It established colonies in the Americas and, on a much more limited basis, in Africa and parts of Asia. At the same time, partly because of its new international position, the West itself changed rapidly, becoming an unusual kind of agricultural civilization. Commerce began to change the social structure and also affected basic attitudes toward family life and the natural environment. A host of new ideas, some of them springing from religious reformers, created a novel cultural climate in which scientific principles were increasingly valued. The scientific revolution gradually reshaped Western culture as a whole. More effective political structures emerged by the 17th century, as Western monarchs began to introduce bureaucratic principles similar to those pioneered long before in China. A vital facet of the early modern period, then, was the West's expansion as an international force and its internal transformation. Like the previous global civilization, Arab Islam, the West developed a diverse and dynamic culture and society, which was both a result and a cause of its rising international prominence. THE WORLD ECONOMY AND GLOBAL CONTACTS (pp. 356-357) Fed by new naval technologies, the world network intensified and took on new dimensions. The change involved more than the fact that the Europeans, not the Muslims, dominated international trade. It featured an expansion of the world network to global proportions, well beyond previous international linkages. The Americas were brought into contact with other cultures and included in global exchanges for the first time. At the end of the period, in the 18th century, Polynesian and Australian societies began to undergo the same painful integrating experience. By 1750 there were no fully isolated societies of any great size. The new globalism of human contacts had a host of consequences that ran through early modern centuries. The human disease pool became fully international for the first time, and peoples who had previously been isolated from the rest of the world suffered greatly from exposure to diseases for which they had developed no immunities. The global network also permitted a massive exchange of plants and animals. Cows and horses were introduced to the Americas, prompting significant changes in American Indian societies and economies. American food crops were spread around the world, bringing sweet potatoes, corn, and manioc to China, corn to Africa, and potatoes and tobacco to Europe. One result through most of the world, beginning in Asia as well as western Europe, was rapid population expansion. As part of this new globalization, highly unequal relationships were established among many civilizations. During the postclassical millennium, 450-1450, a few areas contributed inexpensive raw materials (including labor power in the form of slaves) to more advanced societies, notably China and the Islamic world. These supply areas have included western Europe and parts of Africa and southeast Asia. Although economic relationships in these instances were unequal, they did not affect the societies that produced raw materials too severely because international trade was not sufficient to do 2

APWH Part IV: The World Shrinks, 1450-1750 so. After 1450 or 1500, as Western commerce expanded internationally, the West began to set up unequal relationships with a number of areas. Areas such as Latin America depended heavily on sales to export merchants, on imports of processed goods, and on Western ships and merchants to handle international trade. Dependence of this sort skewed labor relations by encouraging commercial exploitation of slaves and serfs. It is vital to stress that much of the world, particularly in the great Asian civilizations, remained outside this set of relationships. But the global network spread: Western overseas expansion began to engulf India and parts of Indonesia by the 18th century. WORLD BOUNDARIES (p. 358) The period of 1450-1750 saw an unusual number of boundary changes in world history. The spread of Western colonies was the most obvious development, but the establishment or extension of a number of large land-based empires was almost as significant. Compare the two maps by tracing the areas of Western penetration. You will see the different forms this penetration took in different parts of the world. Note also what parts of the world offered particular opportunities for rivalries between the leading Western colonial powers and what parts were immune to Western expansion.

World Boundaries, c. 1700. Compare with the 1453 map. What were the main changes? What areas were most stable? Why did Western colonies spread in some parts of the world and not in others? 3

APWH Part IV: The World Shrinks, 1450-1750 THE GUNPOWDER EMPIRES (pp. 359-360) The rise of western Europe and its growing dominance of world trade was not the only major theme of early modern world history. The centuries after 1450 could also be called the age of the gunpowder empires. The development of cannons and muskets in the 15th and 16th centuries, through the combination of Western technology and previous Chinese invention, spurred the West's expansion. Ship-based artillery was fundamental to the West's mastery of international sea lanes and many ports and islands. But gunnery was picked up by other societies as well. The Ottoman Turks used huge cannons in their successful siege of Constantinople in 1453. The subsequent Ottoman Empire relied heavily on field guns to supplement trained cavalry. The rise of a new Russian economy was later reshaped to ensure the manufacture of the new military hardware. Three other key empires ­ the Mughal in India, the Safavid in Persia, and the 17th century Qing dynasty in China ­ relied on the new strength of land armies armed with guns. Guns also played a role in Japanese and African history during the period. Guns supported the forging of new land empires throughout much of Asia and eastern Europe and, to some extent, in Africa. These developments were largely independent of Western influence, and they counterbalanced the growth of Western power. The rise of the Russian empire ran through the whole period, and though not as important as the expansion of the West, it was certainly a vital theme. The rise of the Ottomans, Safavids, and Mughals was a bit short-lived but echoed through the first two centuries of the period and, in the case of the Ottomans, created one of the most durable empires in world history. THEMES (p. 360) Many of the key themes of world history changed during the early modern centuries. Most strikingly, the impact of nomadic societies ­ once vital to world history dynamics ­ declined dramatically after the Mongol incursions. The new gunpowder empires, particularly Russia and China, conquered many of the old nomad strongholds. In many areas nomadic intermediaries were replaced by more direct relations among states or merchant groups. For example, European governments began regular diplomatic contacts, recognizing the importance of consistent interchange. China had received foreign representatives for centuries. In Europe, the practice started among Italian city-states in the Renaissance and then spread more widely. Representation to governments in Africa and Asia was a bit more haphazard, but formal emissaries were sent out to negotiate on trade and other matters. Developments in the changing world economy had major effects on patterns of inequality. Gender relations did not change greatly in most areas, but labor systems were transformed throughout much of the world. The massive expansion of slavery and harsh serfdom in key parts of the world created new social hierarchies. The same developments also reduced human agency for millions of people who were captured or otherwide forced into slavery or serfdom. Growing wealth and new cultural currents, including the rise of science, created new opportunities for a small number of Europeans, and individual genius in art, trade, science, or military organization ultimately had global effects. Conquests created opportunities for human agency elsewhere as well, as with the imaginative leaders who first established the Mughal empire in India. Finally, the early modern centuries saw drastic environmental change, though more because of the exchanges of foods, animals, and diseases with the Americas than because of new technology. Imported horses, sheep, and cattle, reproducing rapidly, had great effects on American grasslands and densely settled Indian farmlands. Imported diseases such as measles and smallpox had even more devastating results. Soil conditions were changed in some places by the introduction of new crops such as sugar, 4

APWH Part IV: The World Shrinks, 1450-1750 which often replaced native vegetation. From North America to China, settlers in search of land to farm began clearing temperate forests. And in a number of regions, the clearing of the world's great rainforests began. CIVILIZATIONS AND LARGER TRENDS (pp. 360-361) As in earlier times, many developments during these early modern centuries occurred within individual civilizations, with little or no relationship to more general world trends. Only the Americas came close to being overwhelmed by outside influences. Nevertheless, the impact of the three international trends ­ Western expansion, intensification, and globalization of the world commercial network, and the military and political results of gunpowder ­ affected patterns in the separate societies in many ways. Each civilization had to respond to these trends. Reactions were diverse, ranging from the eager embrace of new international currents to forced compliance or deliberate isolation. International pressures increased with time. By 1700 western Europe's activities were looming larger, not just in key areas such as the Americas, the Asian island groups, and the coast of west Africa, but in mainland Asia and eastern Europe as well. A new Russian urge to selectively copy aspects of the West, and the establishment of growing British control in parts of India, were two facets of this shift. Even Japan, which initially responded to the new world economy by effective isolation, began to show a new but modest openness, exemplified by the end of a long-standing ban on translating Western books. The first two chapters in this section focus on changes within the West and the emergence of Western colonies and Western-dominated world trade. Then, two chapters deal with two societies that had particular links with the West: Russia, whose expansion was an important theme in its own right, and a new kind of emerging civilization in Latin America. The last three chapters deal with major societies in Asia and Africa, where contacts with the West and the new world economy were significant, particularly as the early modern period wore on, but where separate patterns of activity remained vital.



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