HIST Lecture #25 11-22

HIST Lecture #25 11-22 - European Overseas Expansion and...

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European Overseas Expansion and the Commercial Revolution This topic sums up the debate about how history ought to be taught. Should it be celebrated or regretted? This is a sign of western dynamism and progress. They now have truly superior civilizations. The cultures in the east were seen as primitive civilizations and according to the laws of Darwinian civilization, one was going to win out against the other. In the 1960’s and 1970’ people argue the narrative was constructed in a way to let Westerners off the hook for their horrible acts and portray a sense of Western superiority. A much more critical narrative appeared that highlighted the atrocities committed against the natives of these lands. It shouldn’t just celebrate expansion and progress, but should also demonstrate the problems and struggles for non-Westerners as a result. “Culture wars” about how to teach our culture and history emerged, especially when referring to Christopher Columbus. There was an economic motivation for expansion. By the 15 th century, there are people with excess wealth who would like to spend it on luxury exotic products. It was expensive to get things from Asia because land routes and middle men, so people looked for other routes. Land was scarce in Europe and the second and third sons of land owning families wanted to find land elsewhere. Primo . Rising states saw opportunities for more tax revenue and wealth through expansion and colonies. There was a lingering crusader mentality in the 15 th century in Europe. They still had an urge to spread Christianity. In Spain, Muslims were pushed out of Spain and feeling triumphant, many Catholics wanted to continue the expansion of their faith. A spirit of virtú motivated many explorers to go out and shape their own destiny. Christopher Columbus was a Renaissance Man. Feudalism is in decline and sons and members of the old feudal warrior elite are looking for an outlet for their old warrior passions. The South and North American colonies sort of resembled old feudal states. Some aristocrats found the New World as an opportunity to reestablish a feudal social system. By the end of the 15 th century, the Europeans had the technological capacity for long-term expansion. They had new sailing techniques and new boats. The caravel had a large cargo hold to hold more food and items to bring back. There were new navigation techniques. There was a revolution in cartography and mapping. The idea that they thought the world was flat at the time is a myth. Most educated people new that the world was round due to advances in cartography. What they didn’t know was the circumference of the world and how long it would take. Europeans had better weapons, but this has been overstated. The muskets and steel swords gave them a slight advantage, but their best weapon was their germs. States became interested in financing expeditions and colonization. In the 15
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This note was uploaded on 02/27/2012 for the course HIST 151 taught by Professor Hunziker during the Fall '07 term at UNC.

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HIST Lecture #25 11-22 - European Overseas Expansion and...

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