Chapter 20. The West and the ChangingWorld Balance OUTLINE. I. Introduction

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1 Chapter 20 The West and the ChangingWorld Balance OUTLINE I. Introduction After 1400, a new world balance was being created. The Mongol conquest caused the decline of Arab strength and opened opportunities for new participants in the Islamic trade system. At first, the Ming dynasty of China appeared poised to take over the lead in world trade. When the Ming withdrew from international leadership, the nations of western Europe began to assert themselves. The emergence of western Europe was signaled by internal changes that prepared the way for leadership. Changes outside the Eurasian network in Africa, the Americas, and Polynesia also affected the nature of international relationships. II. The Decline of the Old Order A. Introduction By 1400, both the Byzantine Empire and the Abbasid Empire were virtually defunct. B. Social and Cultural Decline in the Middle East By 1300, religious leaders began to exert greater control over Islamic culture. In the Middle East, philosophical rationalism met resistance from religious conservatives. Mysticism and Islamic legalist traditions enjoyed greater currency than did the pursuit of scientific discoveries. As the caliphate declined, landlords exercised greater authority over the peasantry. Agricultural productivity declined, as did tax revenue. European merchants began to challenge the Arabs in the Mediterranean, if not yet in the Indian Ocean. No total collapse of Islamic civilization occurred, as it did in the ancient West. The Ottomans rapidly took over most of the lands formerly held by the Abbasid caliphate. C. A Power Vacuum in International Leadership Ottoman rulers did not restore the caliphate to the same power nor make their empire the sole hub of an international trade network, as the Arab caliphs had. Science and philosophy continued to stagnate. The result was a power vacuum within Islamic civilization outside of the Ottoman Empire. The Mongols provided an alternative framework for world trade, but their decline turned attention to sea-based routes. D. Chinese ThrustandWithdrawal When the Ming dynasty successfully drove out the Mongols in 1368, China was best placed to exert leadership in the Eurasian trade system. The first Ming emperors sought expansion, both by 197

2 extending the borders of the empire and reviving the tribute system and by initiating statesponsored maritime expeditions. Voyages reached India, the Middle East, and Africa. Just as the Chinese appeared poised to capture the trade system, the Ming emperors ordered the voyages to cease in The costs of such ventures detracted from improvements in the infrastructure of China. The scholar-gentry also opposed the voyages out of rivalry with the leader of the expeditions, Cheng Ho. China s decision reflected traditional concentration on internal improvements and cultural isolation. Economic expansion in China did not depend on foreign trade. China s withdrawal cleared the path for the emergence of European dominance in the world trade network. III. The Rise of the West A. Introduction In the 15 th century, when the West began to expand its world contacts, there were important changes taking place in Europe. The Church, for long the unifying element of western culture, was under attack. Western philosophy seemed stagnant, and the military organization associated with feudalism was no longer effective. The West was also suffering from the impact of the Black Death, which eventually carried off almost one-third of Europe s population. B. Sources of Dynamism: Medieval Vitality The West enjoyed certain positive developments in the 15 th century. More powerful and centralized nations were developed, particularly in the aftermath of the Hundred Years War. New forms of military organization made greater centralization possible. Improvements in metallurgical technology made possible the construction and use of guns and munitions. Capitalism became more evident in the western economy with increased urbanization. C. Imitation and International Problems Although the Black Death temporarily reduced population levels in Europe, the overall trend between 1000 and 1700 was rapid population expansion. The establishment of the Mongol empire gave Europeans access to Asian technological developments. As a result, western technology drew closer to more advanced civilizations in Asia and the Middle East. D. Secular Directions in the Italian Renaissance The Renaissance, which began in Italy at the beginning of the 15 th century, turned away from the medieval cultural synthesis toward a more secular outlook in art and literature. The wealth of Italian cities patronized the burgeoning of Italian cultural production. The typical political unit of the Italian peninsula was the city-state. Cities competed amongst themselves for land, cultural accomplishments, and administrative innovations. E. Human Values and Renaissance Culture The Renaissance was an age of cultural innovation and individualism. Renaissance artists abandoned medieval formalism to embrace more realistic and secular styles. Classical architectural forms replaced Gothic. Initially the Renaissance was largely limited to Italy, and even there its style was not accepted everywhere. The wide range of Italian commercial and shipping techniques laid the foundation for Western expansion. The Renaissance spirit encouraged a sense of innovation and discovery. 198

3 F. The Iberian Spirit of Religious Mission Another center of European expansion was the Iberian peninsula, where Christian monarchs had slowly reconquered the region from the Muslims. Two of the most important Christian kingdoms, Castile and Aragon, were united through the marriage of their monarchs in As part of the reconquest, Spanish and Portuguese rulers had developed powerful armies and regarded the defense and expansion of Christianity as a sacred duty. The Church worked closely with the Iberian states to encourage the sense of religious mission. IV. Western Expansion: The Experimental Phase A. Introduction Early expansion in the Atlantic began in the 13 th century. Early discoveries unveiled the promise of colonialism. B. Early Explorations The Vivaldi brothers of Genoa undertook the first voyage of exploration into the Atlantic. In the 14 th century, other Genoese explorers discovered the Canary Islands. Ships from Barcelona began to explore the Atlantic coast of Africa in the same century. Development of new technology, more sea-worthy vessels, the compass, and the astrolabe enabled European discoverers to penetrate even farther into the Atlantic and along the African shore. C. Colonial Patterns Colonization rapidly followed exploration. Spanish and Portuguese settlers established large agricultural estates designed to produce commercial crops on the Atlantic islands. Sugar, cotton, and tobacco became the most popular crops. The Iberian settlers imported African slaves as a labor supply. These commercial ventures were sufficiently successful to stimulate further colonization on the plantation model of exploitation. V. Outside the World Network A. Introduction The Americas, Polynesia, and parts of sub-saharan Africa remained unaffected by early Western expansion, although they were eventually brought into a European-dominated world trade system. Some of these cultures experienced difficulties during the fifteenth century that made them vulnerable to European expansion. B. Political Issues in the Americas Both the Aztec and Inca empires of the Americas were already in disarray prior to the arrival of Europeans. It seems likely that if American history had continued in isolation, other cultures would have risen to dominance. Trade relationships with Europe were in the process of relocation from overland routes to the Mediterranean to new sites on the Atlantic coast. 199

4 C. Expansion, Migration, and Conquest in Polynesia Between the seventh and the 15 th centuries, migrations from the Society Islands populated the islands of Polynesia. One pattern of migration led to the Hawaiian islands, where an agricultural society developed. Hawaii was organized into regional kingdoms with stratified societies dominated by priests and nobles. While Hawaiian culture was complex, it lacked metallurgy and asystemofwriting. D. Isolated Achievements by the Maoris Asecond migration pattern led settlers to the islands of New Zealand. As in Hawaii, the Maori culture of New Zealand was warlike, dominated by priests and nobles, lacked metallurgy, and concentrated on the use of indigenous plants and animals. All of these developments occurred in total isolation from other civilizations. VI. Conclusion: Adding Up the Changes The 15 th century was an era of critical transitions involving world trade and the relative power of civilizations. As in the 20 th century, newly dynamic civilizations challenged those that had previously dominated. Technology played a key role. VII. Global Connections: 1450 and the World This period saw change and continuity in global networks. Old trade networks, like Middle Eastern Muslim networks, took place in a new context, such as the Mongol empire, which emphasized new land-based routes. Mongol decline shifted attention to sea-based routes. The key continuity was the interest and dependence of many regions on interregional trade. 200

5 TIMELINE Insert the following events into the timeline. This should help you to compare important historical events chronologically. fall of Constantinople to Ottoman Turks outbreak of Black Death in Europe Portugal establishes control of Azores unification of Castile and Aragon end of Ming commercial expeditions expedition of the Vivaldis into the Atlantic TERMS, PEOPLE, EVENTS The following terms, people, and events are important to your understanding of the chapter. Define each one. Ottoman Turks Ibn-Rushd Ming dynasty Cheng Ho Beijing Black Death Hundred Years War Renaissance Francesco Petrarch Giotto Christopher Columbus Marco Polo Iberian peninsula Castile Aragon Inquisition Vivaldi brothers ethnocentrism Polynesia Society Islands Hawaiian Islands Maoris 201

6 MAKING CONNECTIONS The following questions are intended to emphasize important ideas within the chapter. 1. What were the signs of decline in the Middle East and China? Were there no signs of expansion or recovery in these areas? 2. What accounts for the relative rise of the West? 3. Describe the nature of the Italian Renaissance. In what way was it a strictly Italian experience? How was it important as a foundation for Western expansion? 4. What was the nature of the early Western exploration and colonial patterns? 5. What accounts for the relative decline of civilizations outside the world network? 6. Summarize the changes taking place in the world around PUTTING LARGER CONCEPTS TOGETHER The following questions test your ability to summarize the major conclusions of the chapter. 1. Is it correct to say that the relative rise of the West after the 14 th century was not so much the result of Western innovation as the decline of civilizations in the Middle East and Asia? 2. How was the world in 1450 different than the world in 1250? 202

7 SELF-TEST OF FACTUAL INFORMATION 1. Which of the following was NOT asymptom of the decline of the Abbasid caliphate by 1300? a. the narrowing of intellectual life symbolized by the triumph of religion over literature, philosophy, and science b. landlords seizing power over peasants c. the decline of the Sufis d. the decline of tax revenues for the state 2. What was the political state of the Middle East following the fall of the Abbasid Empire and the withdrawal of the Mongols? a. The Ottoman Empire soon mastered most of the lands of the old caliphate. b. The political fragmentation of the Middle East lasted for several centuries. c. The Mongol conquests of the Middle East eliminated any form of centralized government until the 17 th century. d. The Middle East rapidly fell to the remaining Crusader states. 3. Which of the following statements concerning the Ottoman Empire is most accurate? a. Turkish rulers did not promote maritime trade as vigorously as had the Arabs. b. Scientific and philosophical investigations reached the level of innovation that they had enjoyed under the Abbasids. c. The Turks refused to patronize the traditional Persian artists and craftsmen. d. The Ottomans were more interested in cultural patronage than in military organization. 4. How long did the Ming dynasty sponsor commercial voyages in the 15 th century? a. five years b. 12 years c. 28 years d. 57 years 5. Which of the following statements concerning state-sponsored trade in China is most accurate? a. The cessation of trade severely damaged the internal economy of China. b. The end of international trade signaled a general decentralization of government in China. c. Because of Chinese dependence on imports from abroad, the decision to end the state-sponsored expeditions was particularly critical ininitiating cultural decline. d. In Chinese terms, it was the brief trading flurry that was unusual, not its cessation. 6. Which of the following was NOT adrawbacktothe West s emergence as a global power? a. lack of political coherence and organizing ability b. failure to establish key commercial and maritime links until after 1600 c. the attack on the Catholic Church, one of the organizing institutions of Western culture d. economic crises among ordinary Europeans 203

8 7. What was the attitude of Renaissance intellectuals to medieval cultural emphases? a. The Renaissance differed significantly but generally endorsed the scholastic method of the medieval universities. b. Emphasis in the Renaissance shifted from Plato to Aristotle as the primary ancient authority in all matters. c. Renaissance philosophers continued to emphasize the passion for logic. d. Renaissance writers stressed a polished style - whether in Latin, Greek, or Italian - over logic. 8. Which of the following is correctly associated with the Renaissance? a. acceptance of Aristotle as the primary authority from the classical world b. greater interest in nature and things of this world c. disinterest in classical models d. Gothic architecture 9. Why did the West have a negative balance of trade in 1400? a. The West traded only with the poorer regions of Russia and Scandinavia. b. Western elites purchased luxuries from the East, but had nothing to exchange other than gold. c. Because the West generated little demand for products from other regions, the price paid was inordinately high. d. The Mongols controlled all trade routes and charged high tariffs on all Western goods. 10. Which of the following is a common element of the Polynesian societies of Hawaii and New Zealand? a. climate b. centralized kingdoms c. lack of metallurgy d. lack of animal husbandry 204

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