Ways of the World: A Brief Global History
Ways of the World: A Brief Global History with Sources
Chapter 14, Global Commerce, 1450-1750 Study Guide
Europeans and Asian Commerce
1. What motivated European involvement in the world of Asian commerce? European involvement in Asian commerce was motivated by a number of factors, including the desire for tropical spices, Chinese silk, Indian cottons, rhubarb, emeralds, rubies, and sapphires. The general recovery of European civilization following the disaster of the Black Death was a factor. Europeans were also driven by a resentment of the Muslim monopoly on the flow of Indian Ocean products to Europe, and the dislike that many European powers had for Venice’s role as intermediary in the trade. They hoped to discover and ally with the mythical Christian kingdom of Prester John to continue the Crusades and combat a common Islamic enemy. The need to secure gold and silver to pay for Asian spices and textiles also played a role.
2. To what extent did the Portuguese realize their own goals in the Indian Ocean? (What did they create? Did they get to their goal? What was the outcome?) Their original goal of creating a trading post empire that controlled the commerce of the Indian Ocean was at best only partially realized. They never succeeded in controlling much more than half the spice trade to Europe, and by 1600, their trading post empire was in steep decline. 3. The Portuguese gradually blended into the local populations of their strongholds in the Indian Ocean Basin. What was one main difference between the Spanish colonization of the Philippines and the Portuguese? The Spanish converted Filipinos to Christianity; the Portuguese often blended into the local populations. 4. To what extent did the British and Dutch trading companies change the societies they encountered in Asia? Dutch
The Dutch acted to control not only the shipping but also the production of cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mace. With much bloodshed, the Dutch seized control of a number of small spice-producing islands, forcing their people to sell only to the Dutch. On the Banda Islands, the Dutch killed, enslaved, or left to starve virtually the entire population and then replaced them with Dutch planters, using a slave labor force to produce the nutmeg crop. Ultimately, the local economy of the Spice Islands was shattered by Dutch policies, and the people there were impoverished. They established three major trading settlements in India during the seventeenth century: Bombay, Calcutta, and Madras. They secured their trading bases with the permission of Mughal authorities or local rulers.
British traders focused on specializing in Indian cotton textiles, and hundreds of villages in the interior of southern India became specialized producers for the British market.
5. What was Japan’s response to the Europeans whom they saw as a threat? They expelled Christian missionaries and suppressed the practice of Christianity. This policy included the execution, often under torture, of some sixty-two missionaries and thousands of Japanese converts. Authorities also forbade Japanese from traveling abroad and banned most European traders, permitting only the Dutch, who weren’t interested in spreading Christianity.
Silver and Global Commerce
6. Why was the silver trade so historically important?
Silver was the first commodity to be exchanged on a global scale sustaining a direct link between the Americas and Asia, and it initiated a web of Pacific commerce that grew steadily over the centuries. 7. What impact did the discovery of the world's largest silver mine at Potosi have on the Native American miners? The city’s miners worked in conditions so horrendous that some families held funeral services for men drafted to work the mines. Potosi was a portrait of hell. 8. How did the discovery of the vast silver mines in South America affect Spain's position in Europe? Spain was the envy of its European rivals during the 16th century. Spanish rulers could now pursue military and political ambitions in both Europe and the Americas far beyond the country’s own resource base. 9. In what ways did the Chinese response to the global silver economy differ from the Japanese response? Japan
▪ The shoguns allied with the merchant class to develop a market-based economy and to invest heavily in agricultural and industrial enterprises.
▪ Local and state authorities acted to protect and renew forests. ▪ Families practiced late marriages, contraception, abortion, and infanticide. ▪ The outcome was the dramatic slowing of Japan’s population growth, the easing of an impending ecological crisis, and a flourishing, highly commercialized economy.
▪ In order to obtain silver needed to pay their taxes, more and more people had to sell something—either labor or their products.
▪ Areas that devoted themselves to growing mulberry trees, on which silkworms fed, had to buy their rice from other regions. The Chinese economy became more regionally specialized. ▪ In southern China, this surging economic growth resulted in the loss of about half the area’s forest cover as more and more land was devoted to cash crops.
The “World Hunt”: Fur in Global Commerce
10. What may have increased the demand for furs in the early modern era? A period of cooling temperatures and harsh winters known as the Little Ice Age. 11. Describe the impact of the fur trade on North American native societies. Positive Impact
The fur trade did bring some benefits, including the trade of pelts for goods of real value. It enhanced influence and authority for some Native American leaders. It ensured the protection of Native Americans involved in the fur trade, for a time, from the kind of extermination, enslavement, or displacement that was the fate of some native peoples elsewhere in the Americas.
It exposed Native Americans to European diseases and generated warfare. It left Native Americans dependent on European goods without a corresponding ability to manufacture the goods themselves. It brought alcohol into Indian societies, often with destructive effects.
12. How did the North American and Siberian fur trades differ from each other? What did they have in common? a) North American fur trades—Several European nations competed in North America and generally obtained their furs through commercial negotiations with Indian societies. No such competition accompanied Russian expansion across Siberia. b) Siberian fur trades—Russian authorities imposed a tax or tribute, payable in furs, on every able-bodied Siberian male between 18 and 50 years of age. To enforce payment, they took hostages from Siberian societies with death as a possible outcome if the required furs weren’t forthcoming. Further, there was a large-scale presence of private Russian hunters and trappers, who competed directly with their Siberian counterparts. c) Both—trades were driven by the demands of the world market. Both Native Americans and Siberians suffered from new diseases and became dependent on the goods for which they traded furs. Commerce in People: The Atlantic Slave Trade
13. What was slavery like in the Islamic world?
Preference was for female slaves; some slaves acquired prominent military or political status; most slaves in the pre-modern world worked in their owners’ households, farms, or shops, with smaller numbers laboring in large-scale agricultural or industrial enterprises. 14. What was distinctive about the Atlantic slave trade in the Americas? the immense size of the traffic in slaves and its centrality to the economies of colonial America New World slavery was largely based on plantation agriculture and treated slaves as a form of dehumanized property, lacking any rights in the society of their owners. Slave status throughout the Americas was inherited across generations, and there was little hope of eventual freedom for the vast majority. most distinctive was the racial dimension—slavery came to be identified wholly with Africa and with “blackness.” 15. What caused the Atlantic slave trade to grow? Why was slavery a source of labor? The demand for sugar as a sweetener to replace honey and fruits established sugar plantations and sugar production that required huge capital investment, substantial technology, and huge amounts of labor to do the difficult work. Slaves worked for free. Because there were limitations to serf labor, and because of the immense difficulty and danger associated with the work, there was a general absence of wage workers to do the job. All of this pointed to slavery as a source of labor for sugar plantations. 16. Why did Africa become the primary source of slave labor for plantation economies of the Americas? The supply of Slavic slaves were cut-off and no longer available; Native Americans quickly perished from European diseases; marginal Europeans were Christians and therefore supposedly exempt from slavery; and indentured servants were expensive and temporary. Africans were skilled farmers; they had some immunity to both tropical and European diseases; they weren’t Christians; they were close at hand; and they were readily available in substantial numbers through African-operated commercial networks. 17. What role did the Europeans play in the unfolding of the Atlantic slave trade? Europeans demanded slaves for trade.
The entire enterprise was in the Europeans hands, from the point of sale on the African coast to the American plantations. Europeans tried to exploit rivalries to obtain slaves at the lowest possible cost, and guns they exchanged for the slaves may well have increased the warfare from which so many slaves were derived. 18. What role did the Africans play in the unfolding of the Atlantic slave trade? From the point of initial capture to sale on the coast, the slave trade was normally in African hands. African merchants and elites secured slaves and brought them to the coast for sale to Europeans waiting on ships or in fortified settlements. Africans who were transported as slaves also played and unwilling and tragic role in the trade. 19. What regions in the Americas had the largest destination of slaves in the 18th century? The Caribbean and Brazil
20. In what different ways did the Atlantic slave trade transform African societies? The Atlantic slave trade slowed Africa’s population growth at a time when the populations of Europe, China, and other regions were expanding. The slave trade stimulated little positive economic change in Africa and led to economic stagnation. It led to political disruption, particularly for small-scale societies with little central authority. Some larger kingdoms, such as Kongo and Oyo, also slowly disintegrated because of the slave trade. However, in Benin and Dahomey, those African authorities sought to take advantage of the new commercial opportunities to manage the slave trade in their own interests. Explain the significance of each of the following:
Ferdinand Magellan— Magellan & his crew were the first to travel all the way around the world British / Dutch East India Companies— The Dutch East India Co. increased Indian Ocean trade which brought in much money for the Europeans. Daimyo— Subordinate only to the shogun, they were the most powerful feudal rulers from the 10th century to the middle 19th century in Japan. Samurai— They were Japanese warriors. They were members of the important military class before Japanese society changed in 1868 Shogun— A title that was granted by the Emperor to the country's top military commander. Tokagawa Shogunate— the final period of traditional Japan, a time of internal peace, political stability, and economic growth under the shogunate (military dictatorship) founded by Tokugawa Ieyasu.