Chapter 14 Focus Questions

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The rise of the West from the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries involved distant explorations and conquests resulting in a heightening and redefining of relationships among world societies. During the classical era, larger regional economies and culture zones had developed, as in the Chinese Middle Kingdom and the Mediterranean basin, but international exchanges were not of fundamental importance to the societies involved. During the postclassical period, contacts increased and were more significant. Missionary religions—Buddhism and Islam—and trade influenced important changes. The new world relationships after 1450 spelled a new period of world history. The Americas and other world areas were joined to the world network, while older regions had increased contacts. Trade became so significant that new relationships emerged among societies and prompted reconsideration of existing political and cultural traditions. The West's First Outreach: Maritime Power. Europeans had become more aware of the outside world since the beginning of the twelfth century. Knowledge gained during the Crusades and from contacts with the great Mongol Empire spurred interest. European upper classes became used to imports, especially spices, brought from India and Southeast Asia to the Middle East by Arab vessels, and then carried to Europe by traders from Italian city-states. The fall of the Mongol dynasty in China, the strength of the Ottoman Empire, lack of gold to pay for imports, and poor naval technology hindered efforts for change. Europeans launched more consistent attempts for expansion from the late thirteenth century. New Technology: A Key to Power. Technological improvements during the fifteenth century changed the equation. Deep-draft, round-hulled ships were able to sail in the Atlantic’s waters. Improved metalwork techniques allowed the vessels to carry armaments far superior to the weapons aboard ships of other societies. The compass and better mapmaking improved navigational skills. Portugal and Spain Lead the Pack. The initiative for Atlantic exploration came from Portugal. Prince Henry the Navigator directed explorations motivated by Christian missionary zeal, the excitement of discovery, and a thirst for wealth. From 1434, Portuguese vessels, searching for a route to India, traveled ever farther southward along the African coast. In 1488, they passed the Cape of Good Hope. Vasco da Gama reached India in 1497. Many voyages followed. One, blown off course, reached Brazil. By 1514, the Portuguese had reached Indonesia and China. In 1542, they arrived in Japan and began Catholic missionary activity. Fortresses were established in African and Asian ports. The Spanish quickly followed the Portuguese example. Columbus reached the Americas in 1492, mistakenly calling their inhabitants Indians. Spain gained papal approval for its claims over most of Latin America; a later decision gave Brazil to Portugal. Sixteenth century expeditions brought the Spanish as far north as the southwestern United States. Ferdinand Magellan began a Spanish voyage in 1519 that circumnavigated the globe. As a result, Spain claimed the Philippines. Northern European Expeditions. In the sixteenth century, the exploratory initiative moved from the Portuguese and Spanish to strong northern European states—Britain, Holland, and France. They had improved oceanic vessel design, while Portugal and Spain were busy digesting their colonial gains. The British naval victory over Spain in 1588 left general ocean dominance to northern nations. The French first crossed the Atlantic in 1534 and soon established settlements in Canada. The British reached North America in 1497, beginning colonization of its east coast during the seventeenth century. The Dutch also had holdings in the Americas. They won control of Indonesia from the Portuguese by the early seventeenth century, and in the middle of the century established a relay settlement on the southern tip of Africa....
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