PART II: UNIT III: 1450 - 1750C.E.
In the previous era (600-1450 C.E.), sometimes called thepost-classical period, we explored the rise of new civilizations inboth hemispheres, the spread of major religions that created culturalareas for analysis, and an expansion of long-distance trade toinclude European and African kingdoms. However, no sustained contactoccurred between the eastern and western hemisphere. During the timeperiod between 1450 and 1750 C.E., the two hemispheres were linkedand for the first time in world history, long-distance trade becametruly worldwide. QUESTIONS OF PERIODIZATION
This era includes only 300 years, but some profound andlong-lasting changes occurred. Characteristics of the time between1450 and 1750 include: 1) The globe was encompassed - For the first time, thewestern hemisphere came into continued contact with the easternhemisphere. Technological innovations, strengthened politicalorganization, and economic prosperity all contributed to this changethat completely altered world trade patterns. 2) Sea-based trade rose in proportion to land-based trade -Technological advancements and willingness of political leadersto invest in it meant that sea-based trade became much moreimportant. As a result, old land-based empires lost relative power tothe new sea-based powers. 3) European kingdoms emerged that gained world power - Therelative power and prosperity of Europe increased dramatically duringthis time in comparison to empires in the longer-establishedcivilization areas. However, Europe did not entirely eclipse powerfulempires in Southwest Asia, Africa, and East Asia. 4) The relative power of nomadic groups declined - Nomadscontinued to play an important role in trade and cultural diffusion,and they continued to threaten the borders of the large land-basedempires. However, their power dwindled as travel and trade by waterbecame more important. 5) Labor systems were transformed - The acquisition ofcolonies in North and South America led to major changes in laborsystems. After many Amerindians died from disease transmitted bycontact with Europeans, a vigorous slave trade from Africa began andcontinued throughout most of the era. Slave labor became veryimportant all over the Americas. Other labor systems, such as themita and encomienda in South America, were adapted from previousnative traditions by the Spanish and Portuguese. 6) "Gunpowder Empires" emerged in the Middle East and Asia- Empires in older civilization areas gained new strength fromnew technologies in weaponry. Basing their new power on "gunpowder,"they still suffered from the old issues that had plagued land-basedempires for centuries: defense of borders, communication within theempire, and maintenance of an army adequate to defend the largeterritory. By the end of the era, many were less powerful than thenew sea-based kingdoms of Europe. MAJOR DEVELOPMENTS - 1450-1750C.E.
We will investigate the broad, important characteristics of thistime period outlined above by studying these major topics: • Changes in Trade, Technology, and Global Interactions - The Atlantic Ocean trade eventually led to the crossing of the Pacific Ocean. New maritime technologies made these interactions possible, and global trade patterns changed dramatically. • Major Maritime and Gunpowder Empires - Major maritime powers include Portugal, Spain, France, and England, and major Gunpowder Empires were the Ottoman, Ming and Qing China, the Mughal, Russia, Tokugawa, Songhay (Songhai), and Benin. • Slave systems and slave trade - This was the big era for slave systems and slave trade, with the new European colonies in the Americas relying on slavery very heavily. The slave trade was an important link in the Atlantic Ocean trade. • Demographic and environmental changes - The new trade patterns greatly altered habitats for plants and animals and resulted in changes in human diet and activities as well. Major migrations across the Atlantic Ocean also...
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