Early Modern Empires: Formation of World Systems

  1. Beginnings of Oceanic Imperialism

    1. Long distance ocean trade viable only in monsoonal systems (ex: Indian Ocean) prior to 1500s

    2. In 1400s, Europeans begin to build foundations of new maritime trade routes

      1. Method

        1. gained access to navigation technologies like the quadrant

        2. gained access to naval techniques like lateen sail, which enable tacking

        3. developed boats appropriate for long seas voyages, like the caravel

      2. Motive

        1. originally motivated by short term goals, such as more direct trade routes with West Africa

        2. push establish trade routes with India, China, and Japan develops over time

        3. also sought allies against the growing Ottoman threat

        4. somewhat motivated by desire to spread Christianity

      3. Opportunity

        1. Some regions, like India and China, had the needed technology, but no motivation to build these trade routes

        2. Other peoples who might have benefited from doing this. like West Africa or the Amerindians, lacked the needed technology

        3. Only the Europeans had both the technology and the need, given the relative weakness of the European economy

  2. Early European Maritime Empires

    1. The Portuguese

      1. Portuguese were first Europeans in the Indian Ocean (Vasco de Gama - 1498)

      2. Sought trade because of the enormous wealth of the region

      3. Portuguese, and Europeans in general, had little to offer as trade goods

      4. Instead, Portuguese gained wealth by grafting themselves onto existing trade systems

        1. muscled their way into and took over existing trade routes and ports

        2. sought to force established trade to go through their trading posts

        3. only able to do this in areas where central authorities were relatively weak

        4. Many fully integrated into local economies, working for local rulers, trading only in the Indian Ocean

    2. The Dutch

      1. In the 1600s, as Portuguese power waned, the Dutch gained more influence in the region

      2. Unlike Portuguese, were able to divert much of the spice trade away from the Silk Road

      3. Also began to move toward control of production, which meant building a land empire in Indonesia

    3. An Asian Counterexample - Japan

      1. Japan also sought maritime dominance in E. Asian trade in 1500s and 1600s

      2. Abundance of cheap silver and military tradition enables Japan to control more islands and begin to dominate some trade routes

      3. Openness to trade with Europeans brought wealth to both, but was also disruptive

        1. competition between Spanish and Portuguese missionaries brought disorder and conflict

        2. All Europeans except the Dutch would be kept out, and Christianity was banned

        3. Japan retreats into semi-isolation

      4. Development of silver mines in Peru/Bolivia and Mexico also weakened Japan's position

  3. Expanding Land Empires of the Early Modern Era

    1. The "Gunpowder" Empires

      1. Mughal Empire in India

        1. founded by Barbur (1483-1530)

        2. Turkic Muslims from Central Asia

        3. expanded by Akbar (1556-1605)

        4. depended in part on use of gunpowder technology to succeed

        5. largely a tribute empire

          1. war machine funded by tribute from the conquered

          2. Conquest enabled expansion of army, and thus more conquests

          3. little was ruled directly by Mughals, but held hostage to the threat of the army

      2. The Ottoman Empire

        1. Like Mughals, Turkic-speaking Muslims from Central Asia

        2. Gained control of Anatolia (roughly modern Turkey) in wake of Mongol collapse

        3. Quickly seized what was left of the Byzantine Empire, taking Constantinople in 1453

        4. wealth of Anatolia and ability to quickly adopt new technologies led to rapid expansion

        5. take control of Balkans, Middle East, and North Africa

        6. Gained loyalty of locals by enabling them to join in conquest campaigns (like the Romans did)

        7. allowed local ethnic and religious leaders to administer law within their local communities

        8. Janissaries

          1. developed an elite corps of soldiers and bureaucrats loyal only to the Sultan

          2. Christian boys would be taken from families at seven years old

          3. raised as Muslims, trained fro war and government service

        9. Expansion peters out by 1700

          1. unable to escape bottleneck of the Mediterranean

          2. distant province become harder to control

          3. general decline of royal family

    2. The Spanish in the Americas

      1. Spanish conquest (Mexico-1521; Peru-1532) a partial conquest

      2. Depended on ability to exploit local rivalries, find local allies to help fight the major powers (Aztecs, Incas)

      3. Gunpowder helped in this, but disease was even more important in enabling Spanish to establish control

      4. Spanish established cities that they controlled directly, and where most Spanish lived

      5. Rural areas were left to largely to the control of local leaders who were prepared to cooperate and supply tribute

      6. Colonists were largely autonomous of distant Spain, especially those who lived away from the cites and the mines

      7. Silver mines in Mexico and Peru/Bolivia become centerpiece of economy

      8. Colonies exchanged silver and some agricultural products for European and Asian goods