Part Four The Early Modern World 1450-1750 Chapter 14: Empires and Encounters



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I. Opening Vignette

A. The Atlantic slave trade was and is enormously significant.

B. The slave trade was only one part of the international trading networks that shaped the world between 1450 and 1750.

1. Europeans broke into the Indian Ocean spice trade

2. American silver allowed greater European participation in the commerce of East Asia

3. fur trapping and trading changed commerce and the natural environment

C. Europeans were increasingly prominent in long-distance trade, but other peoples were also important.

D. Commerce and empire were the two forces that drove globalization between 1450 and 1750.



II. Europeans and Asian Commerce

A. Europeans wanted commercial connections with Asia.

1. Columbus and Vasco da Gama both sought a route to Asia

2. motivation above all was the desire for spices (though other Eastern products were also sought)

3. European civilization had recovered from the Black Death

4. national monarchies were learning to govern more effectively

5. some cities were becoming international trade centers

6. the problems of old trade systems from the Indian Ocean network

a. Muslims controlled supply

b. Venice was chief intermediary for trade with Alexandria; other states resented it

c. desire to find Prester John and enlist his support in the Crusades

d. constant trade deficit with Asia

B. A Portuguese Empire of Commerce

1. Indian Ocean commerce was highly rich and diverse

2. Portuguese did not have goods of a quality for effective competition

3. Portuguese took to piracy on the sea lanes

a. Portuguese ships were more maneuverable, carried cannons

b. established fortified bases at key locations (Mombasa, Hormuz, Goa, Malacca, Macao)

4. Portuguese created a “trading post empire”

a. goal was to control commerce, not territories or populations

b. operated by force of arms, not economic competition

c. at height, controlled about half of the spice trade to Europe

5. Portuguese gradually assimilated to Indian Ocean trade patterns

a. carried Asian goods to Asian ports

b. many Portuguese settled in Asian or African ports

c. their trading post empire was in steep decline by 1600

C. Spain and the Philippines

1. Spain was the first to challenge Portugal’s control of Asian trade

2. establishment of a Spanish base in the Philippines

a. first encountered when Ferdinand Magellan circumnavigated the globe (1519–1521)

b. Philippines were organized in small, competitive chiefdoms

c. Spaniards established full colonial rule there (takeover occurred 1565–1650)

d. the Philippines remained a Spanish colonial territory until 1898, when the United States assumed control

3. major missionary campaign made Filipino society the only major Christian outpost in Asia

4. Spaniards introduced forced relocation, tribute, taxes, unpaid labor

a. large estates for Spanish settlers, religious orders, and Filipino elite

b. women’s ritual and healing roles were attacked

5. Manila became a major center with a diverse population

6. periodic revolts by the Chinese population; Spaniards expelled or massacred them several times

D. The East India Companies

1. Dutch and English both entered Indian Ocean commerce in the early seventeenth century

a. soon displaced the Portuguese

b. competed with each other

2. ca. 1600: both the Dutch and the English organized private trading companies to handle Indian Ocean trade

a. merchants invested, shared the risks

b. Dutch and British East India companies were chartered by their respective governments

c. had power to make war and govern conquered peoples

3. established their own trading post empires

a. Dutch empire was focused on Indonesia

b. English empire was focused on India

c. French company was also established

4. Dutch East India Company

a. controlled both shipping and production of cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mace

b. seized small spice-producing islands and forced people to sell only to the Dutch

c. destroyed the local economy of the Spice Islands; made the Dutch rich

5. British East India Company

a. was not as well financed or as commercially sophisticated as the Dutch; couldn’t break into the Spice Islands

b. established three major trade settlements in India (seventeenth century)

c. British navy gained control of Arabian Sea and Persian Gulf

d. could not compete with the Mughal Empire on land

e. negotiated with local rulers for peaceful establishment of trade bases

f. Britons traded pepper and other spices, but cotton textiles became more important

6. Dutch and English also became involved in “carrying trade” within Asia

7. both gradually evolved into typical colonial domination

E. Asian Commerce

1. European presence was much less significant in Asia than in Americas or Africa

2. Europeans were no real military threat to Asia

3. the case of Japan

a. Portuguese reached Japan in the mid-sixteenth century

b. Japan at the time was divided by constant conflict among feudal lords (daimyo) supported by samurai

c. at first, Europeans were welcome

d. but Japan unified politically under the Tokugawa shogun in the early seventeenth century

i. increasingly regarded Europeans as a threat to unity

ii. expulsion of missionaries, massive persecution of Christians

iii. Japanese were barred from travel abroad

iv. Europeans were banned, except the Dutch at a single site

e. Japan was closed off from Europe from 1650 to 1850

4. Asian merchants continued to operate, despite European presence

a. overland trade within Asia remained in Asian hands

b. tens of thousands of Indian merchants lived throughout Central Asia, Persia, and Russia



III. Silver and Global Commerce

A. The silver trade was even more important than the spice trade in creating a global exchange network.

1. enormous silver deposits were discovered in Bolivia and Japan in the mid-sixteenth century

2. in the early modern period, Spanish America produced around 85 percent of the world’s silver

B. China’s economy was huge and had a growing demand for silver.

1. 1570s: the Chinese government consolidated taxes into a single tax to be paid in silver

a. value of silver skyrocketed

b. foreigners with silver could purchase more Chinese products than before

C. Silver was central to world trade.

1. “silver drain” to Asia: bulk of the world’s silver supply ended up in China (most of the rest reached other parts of Asia)

2. Spanish silver brought to Europe was used to buy Asian goods

3. silver bought African slaves and Asian spices

4. the Spanish “piece of eight” was widely used for international exchange

5. Potosí, Bolivia, became the largest city in the Americas (population: 160,000) because it was at the world’s largest silver mine

a. the city’s wealthy European elite lived in luxury

b. Native American miners lived in horrid conditions

D. Silver vastly enriched the Spanish monarchy.

1. caused inflation, not real economic growth in Spain

a. Spanish economy was too rigid

b. Spanish aristocrats were against economic enterprise

2. Spain lost its dominance when the value of silver fell ca. 1600

E. Japanese government profited more from silver production than did Spain.

1. Tokugawa shoguns used silver revenues to defeat rivals and unify the country

2. worked with the merchant class to develop a market-based economy

3. heavy investment in agriculture and industry

4. averted ecological crisis, limited population growth

F. In China, silver further commercialized the country’s economy.

1. people needed to sell something to obtain silver to pay their taxes

2. economy became more regionally specialized

3. deforestation was a growing problem; wasn’t addressed as it was in Japan

G. Europeans were essentially middlemen in world trade.

1. funneled American silver to Asia

2. Asian commodities took market share from European products

IV. The “World Hunt”: Fur in Global Commerce

A. Europe’s supply of fur-bearing animals was sharply diminished by 1500.

B. There was intense competition for the furs of North America.

1. French were prominent in St. Lawrence valley, Great Lakes, and along the Mississippi

2. British traders moved into Hudson Bay region

3. Dutch moved into what is now New York

C. North American fur trade

1. Europeans usually traded with Indians for furs or skins, rather than hunting or trapping animals themselves

2. beaver and other furry animals were driven to near extinction

3. by the 1760s, hunters in the southeastern British colonies took around 500,000 deer every year

4. trade was profitable for the Indians

a. received many goods of real value

b. Huron chiefs enhanced their authority with control of European goods

c. but Indians fell prey to European diseases

d. fur trade generated much higher levels of inter-Indian warfare

5. Native Americans became dependent on European trade goods.

a. iron tools and cooking pots

b. gunpowder weapons

c. European textiles

d. as a result, many traditional crafts were lost

e. many animal species were depleted through overhunting

f. deeply destructive power of alcohol on Indian societies

D. Russian fur trade

1. profits of fur trade were the chief incentive for Russian expansion

2. had a similar toll on native Siberians as it had on Indians

a. dependence on Russian goods

b. depletion of fur-bearing animal populations

3. Russians didn’t have competition, so they forced Siberians to provide furs instead of negotiating commercial agreements

4. private Russian hunters and trappers competed directly with Siberians

V. Commerce in People: The Atlantic Slave Trade

A. Between the mid-fifteenth and mid-nineteenth centuries, the Atlantic slave trade took an estimated 11 million people from Africa to the Americas.

1. millions more died in the process

2. vast human tragedy

3. African slave trade transformed the societies of all participants

a. the African diaspora created racially mixed societies in the Americas

b. slave trade and slavery enriched many

c. slavery became a metaphor for many types of social oppression

B. The Slave Trade in Context

1. most human societies have had slaves

2. Africans had practiced slavery and sold slaves for centuries

a. trans-Saharan trade took slaves to the Mediterranean world

b. East African slave trade

3. slavery took many forms, depending on the region and time period

a. slaves were often assimilated into their owners’ households

b. children of slaves were sometimes free, sometimes slaves

c. Islamic world preferred female slaves; Atlantic slave trade favored males

d. not all slaves had lowly positions (in Islamic world, many slaves had military or political status)

e. most premodern slaves worked in households, farms, or shops

4. distinctiveness of slavery in the Americas

a. the scale and importance of the slave trade in the Americas was enormous

b. largely based on plantation agriculture, with slaves denied any rights at all

c. slave status was inherited

d. little hope of manumission

e. widespread slavery in society that valued human freedom and equality—unlike anywhere else except maybe ancient Greece

f. slavery was wholly identified with Africa and with “blackness”

5. origins of Atlantic slavery lay in the Mediterranean and with sugar production

a. sugar production was the first “modern” industry (major capital investment, technology, disciplined workers, mass market)

b. the work was very difficult and dangerous—slaves were ideal

c. at first, Slavs from the Black Sea region provided most slaves for Mediterranean sugar plantations

d. Portuguese found an alternative slave source in West Africa

6. Africans became the primary source of slave labor for the Americas

a. Slavs weren’t available

b. Indians died of European diseases

c. Europeans were a bad alternative: Christians from marginal lands couldn’t be enslaved; indentured servants were expensive

d. Africans were farmers, had some immunity to diseases, were not Christian, and were readily available

e. long debate on how much racism was involved

C. The Slave Trade in Practice

1. slave trade was driven by European demand

2. but Europeans didn’t raid Africa for slaves; they traded freely with African merchants and elites

a. from capture to sale on the coast, trade was in African hands

b. Africans received trade goods in return, often bought with American silver

3. destabilization of African societies

a. many smaller societies were completely disrupted by slave raids from their neighbors

b. even larger states were affected (e.g., kingdom of Kongo)

c. some African slave traders were themselves enslaved by unscrupulous Europeans

4. increasing pace of Atlantic slave trade

a. between 1450 and 1600, fewer than 4,000 slaves were shipped annually

b. in the seventeenth century, average of 10,000 slaves per year taken to the Americas

5. Who was enslaved?

a. people from West Africa (present-day Mauritania to Angola)

b. mostly people from marginal groups (prisoners of war, debtors, criminals)

c. Africans generally did not sell their own peoples

6. 80 percent of slaves ended up in Brazil and the Caribbean

a. 5–6 percent in North America

b. the rest in mainland Spanish America or in Europe

c. about 15 percent of those enslaved died during the Middle Passage

D. Comparing Consequences: The Impact of the Slave Trade in Africa

1. created new transregional linkages

2. slowed Africa’s growth, while Europe and China expanded in population

a. sub-Saharan Africa had about 18 percent of the world’s population in 1600 but only 6 percent in 1900

b. slave trade generated economic stagnation and political disruption in Africa

i. those who profited in the trade did not invest in production

ii. did not generate breakthroughs in agriculture or industry—since Europeans didn’t increase demand for Africa’s products, just for its people

3. political effects

a. some kingdoms (Kongo, Oyo) gradually disintegrated

b. some took advantage of the slave trade

c. Benin was one of the most developed states of the coastal hinterland

i. state dates back to about the eleventh century c.e.

ii. monarch (oba) controlled trade

iii. largely avoided involvement in the slave trade

iv. diversified its exports

d. Aja-speaking peoples to the west of Benin

i. slave trade disrupted several small, weak states

ii. inland kingdom of Dahomey rose in the early eighteenth century

iii. was a highly authoritarian state

iv. turned to deep involvement in the slave trade, but under royal control

v. annual slave raids by the army

vi. government depended on slave trade for revenue

VI. Reflections: Economic Globalization—Then and Now

A. A study of global commerce in the early modern period shows both how different from and how similar we are to people of the past.

B. Globalization isn’t just a twentieth-century phenomenon.

1. but early modern globalization was much slower and on a smaller scale

2. early modern globalization was not yet centered on Western civilizations

3. early modern economic life was mostly preindustrial

4. early modern globalization was tied to empire building and slavery

Key Terms



African diaspora: Name given to the spread of African peoples across the Atlantic via the slave trade.

Banda Islands: Infamous case of the Dutch forcibly taking control of the spice trade; nearly the entire population of these nutmeg-producing islands was killed or enslaved and then replaced with Dutch planters. (pron. BAHN-dah)

Benin: West African kingdom (in what is now Nigeria) whose strong kings sharply limited engagement with the slave trade. (pron. be-NEEN)

British/Dutch East India companies: Private trading companies chartered by the governments of England and the Netherlands around 1600; they were given monopolies on Indian Ocean trade, including the right to make war and to rule conquered peoples.

cartaz: A pass that the Portuguese required of all merchant vessels attempting to trade in the Indian Ocean. (pron. car-TAHZ)

Dahomey: West African kingdom that became strong through its rulers’ exploitation of the slave trade. (pron. dah-HOH-mee)

daimyo: Feudal lords of Japan who ruled with virtual independence thanks to their bands of samurai warriors. (pron. DIME-yoh)

Hurons: Native American people of northeastern North America who were heavily involved in the fur trade. (pron. HYOOR-ons)

Indian Ocean commercial network: The massive, interconnected web of commerce in premodern times between the lands that bordered on the Indian Ocean (including East Africa, India, and Southeast Asia); the network was badly disrupted by Portuguese intrusion beginning around 1500.

Little Ice Age: A period of cooling temperatures and harsh winters that lasted for much of the early modern era.

Magellan, Ferdinand: Portuguese mariner who commanded the first European (Spanish) fleet to circumnavigate the globe (1519–1521). (pron. mah-GELL-an)

Manila: Capital of the Spanish Philippines and a major multicultural trade city that already had a population of more than 40,000 by 1600.

Middle Passage: Name commonly given to the journey across the Atlantic undertaken by African slaves being shipped to the Americas.

piece of eight: Standard Spanish coin that became a medium of exchange in North America, Europe, India, Russia, and West Africa as well as in the Spanish Empire; so called because it was worth 8 reales.

Potosí: City that developed high in the Andes (in present-day Bolivia) at the site of the world’s largest silver mine and that became the largest city in the Americas, with a population of some 160,000 in the 1570s. (pron. poh-toh-SEE)

samurai: The warrior elite of medieval Japan. (pron. SAH-moo-rie)

shogun: In Japan, a supreme military commander. (pron. SHOW-gun)

silver drain”: Term often used, along with “specie drain,” to describe the siphoning of money from Europe to pay for the luxury products of the East, a process exacerbated by the fact that Europe had few trade goods that were desirable in Eastern markets; eventually, the bulk of the world’s silver supply made its way to China.

soft gold”: Nickname used in the early modern period for animal furs, highly valued for their warmth and as symbols of elite status; in several regions, the fur trade generated massive wealth for those engaged in it.

Spanish Philippines: An archipelago of Pacific islands colonized by Spain in a relatively bloodless process that extended for the century or so after 1565, a process accompanied by a major effort at evangelization; the Spanish named them the Philippine Islands in honor of King Philip II of Spain.

Tokugawa shogunate: Military rulers of Japan who successfully unified Japan politically by the early seventeenth century and established a “closed door” policy toward European encroachments. (pron. toekoo- GOW-ah SHOW-gun-at)

trading post empire: Form of imperial dominance based on control of trade rather than on control of subject peoples.

Margin Review Questions



1. What drove European involvement in the world of Asian commerce?

2. To what extent did the Portuguese realize their own goals in the Indian Ocean?

3. How did the Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, and British initiatives in Asia differ from one another?

4. To what extent did the British and Dutch trading companies change the societies they encountered in Asia?



5. What was the world historical importance of the silver trade?

6. Describe the impact of the fur trade on North American native societies.

7. How did the North American and Siberian fur trades differ from each other? What did they have

in common?

8. What was distinctive about the Atlantic slave trade? What did it share with other patterns of slave owning and slave trading?

9. What explains the rise of the Atlantic slave trade?

10. What roles did Europeans and Africans play in the unfolding of the Atlantic slave trade?

11. In what different ways did the Atlantic slave trade transform African societies?

Big Picture Questions

1. In what specific ways did trade foster change in the world of the early modern era?

2. To what extent did Europeans transform earlier patterns of commerce, and in what ways did they assimilate into those older patterns?

3. Describe and account for the differing outcomes of European expansion in the Americas (see Chapter 14), Africa, and Asia.

4. How should we distribute the moral responsibility for the Atlantic slave trade? Is this a task appropriate for historians?

5. What lasting legacies of early modern globalization are evident in the early twenty-first century? Pay particular attention to the legacies of the slave trade.

Chapter 16 Outline



I. Opening Vignette

A. The current evolution vs. “intelligent design” debate has its roots in the early modern period.

1. Christianity achieved a global presence for the first time

2. the Scientific Revolution fostered a different approach to the world

3. there is continuing tension between religion and science in the Western world

B. The early modern period was a time of cultural transformation.

1. both Christianity and scientific thought connected distant peoples

2. Scientific Revolution also caused a new cultural encounter, between science and religion

3. science became part of the definition of global modernity

C. Europeans were central players, but they did not act alone.



II. The Globalization of Christianity

A. In 1500, Christianity was mostly limited to Europe.

1. small communities in Egypt, Ethiopia, southern India, and Central Asia

2. serious divisions within Christianity (Roman Catholic vs. Eastern Orthodox)

3. on the defensive against Islam

a. loss of the Holy Land by 1300

b. fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans in 1453

c. Ottoman siege of Vienna in 1529

B. Western Christendom Fragmented: The Protestant Reformation

1. Protestant Reformation began in 1517

a. Martin Luther posted the Ninety-five Theses, asking for debate about ecclesiastical abuses

b. Luther’s was one of many criticisms of the Roman Church

c. Luther’s protest was more deeply grounded in theological difference

d. questioned the special role of the clerical hierarchy (including the pope)

2. Luther’s ideas provoked a massive schism in Catholic Christendom

a. fed on political, economic, and social tension, not just religious differences

b. some monarchs used Luther to justify independence from the papacy

c. gave a new religious legitimacy to the middle class

d. commoners were attracted to the new religious ideas as a tool for protest against the whole social order

3. many women were attracted to Protestantism, but the Reformation didn’t give them a greater role in church or society

a. Protestants ended veneration of Mary and other female saints

b. Protestants closed convents, which had given some women an alternative to marriage

c. only Quakers among the Protestants gave women an official role in their churches

d. some increase in the education of women, because of emphasis on Bible reading

4. the recently invented printing press helped Reformation thought spread rapidly

5. as the Reformation spread, it splintered into an array of competing Protestant churches

6. religious difference made Europe’s fractured political system even more volatile

a. 1562–1598: French Wars of Religion (Catholics vs. Huguenots)

b. 1618–1648: the Thirty Years’ War

7. Protestant Reformation provoked a Catholic Counter-Reformation

a. Council of Trent (1545–1563) clarified Catholic doctrines and practices

b. corrected the abuses and corruption that the Protestants had protested

c. new emphasis on education and supervision of priests

d. crackdown on dissidents

e. new attention given to individual spirituality and piety

f. new religious orders (e.g., the Society of Jesus [Jesuits]) were committed to renewal and expansion

8. the Reformation encouraged skepticism toward authority and tradition

a. fostered religious individualism

b. in the following centuries, the Protestant habit of independent thinking led to skepticism about all revealed religion

C. Christianity Outward Bound

1. Christianity motivated and benefited from European expansion

a. Spaniards and Portuguese saw overseas expansion as a continuation of the crusading tradition

b. explorers combined religious and material interests

2. imperialism made the globalization of Christianity possible

a. settlers and traders brought their religion with them

b. missionaries, mostly Catholic, actively spread Christianity

c. missionaries were most successful in Spanish America and the Philippines

D. Conversion and Adaptation in Spanish America

1. process of population collapse, conquest, and resettlement made Native Americans receptive to the conquering religion

2. Europeans claimed exclusive religious truth, tried to destroy traditional religions instead of accommodating them

a. occasional campaigns of destruction against the old religions

b. some overt resistance movements

3. blending of two religious traditions was more common

a. local gods (huacas) remained influential

b. immigrant Christianity took on patterns of pre-Christian life

c. Christian saints took on functions of precolonial gods

d. leader of the church staff (fiscal) was a prestigious native who carried on the role of earlier religious specialists

e. many rituals survived, often with some Christian influence

E. An Asian Comparison: China and the Jesuits

1. Christianity reached China in the powerful, prosperous Ming and Qing dynasties

a. called for a different missionary strategy; needed government permission for operation

b. Jesuits especially targeted the official Chinese elite

2. no mass conversion in China

a. some scholars and officials converted

b. Jesuits were appreciated for mathematical, astronomical, technological, and cartographical skills

c. missionary efforts gained 200,000–300,000 converts in 250 years

3. missionaries didn’t offer much that the Chinese needed

a. Christianity was unappealing as an “all or nothing” religion that would call for rejection of much Chinese culture

b. early eighteenth century: papacy and other missionary orders opposed Jesuit accommodation policy

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