GROUP 2 - REASONS FOR EUROPEAN EXPANSION AND CONQUEST (ECONOMIC REASONS…
GROUP 2 - REASONS FOR EUROPEAN EXPANSION AND CONQUEST
Leadership in European political and economic life was becoming increasing dominated by Portugal, Spain, France and England and later the dutch. These nations all had monarchs that were growing in strength.
They also had Atlantic coastlines and led the way in finding new trade routes and lands, as a way of counteracting the monopoly the Italians had on eastern lands
The main reasons for all Europeans sea expeditions was the accumulation of wealth . Profitable trade between Africa, Europe and Asian powers had existed for thousands of years.
Societies throughout the Mediterranean and in Europe were dependent on this trade and various Asian Powers became very wealthy by supplying these goods.
The Ottoman leaders also extended their control to the Mediterranean coastline of North Africa.Islamic leaders forced payments of taxes and controlled the passage of people and goods
If a state could establish control of direct sea-based trades it would have direct access to goods and wealth, avoid heavy taxes, keep prices down and to end the dependancy on trade controllled by Islamic states.
During the 15th and 16th centuries their were many large improvements in sail and ship design which meant they were able to make bigger ships which could carry more goods and travel further.
In the beginning of the 15th century European ships weren't as strong or big as those used by Arab and Chinese traders but within 200 years their ships improved and became the best ships in the world.
Traveling on the sea was very dangerous before the 15th century. There was no way to tell where you were so voyages lasted no longer than 2 days. In the 15th century inventions like the compass, astrolabe and the quadrant allowed for longer voyages which meant they could travel and explore new areas.
POLITICAL AND SOCIAL STRUCTURE
In order for them to go on these voyages of exploration a state needed a good and motivated leader and enough capital to launch a sea exhibition. In order to fund a successful sea exhibition they needed established trading connections, a commercial middle class and a developed banking sector.
Not all European states could manage to launch a sea exhibition. The regions that were politically unstable due to wars did not become colonial powers. In central Europe there were ongoing wars between many German states.
Italy which was divided could not compete with Western Europe expansion. Western Europe benefited centralised governments, a strong and expanding commercial sector and a an ambitious merchant class.
Another factor influencing European expansion was the desire to spread Christianity, which dated back to the time of the Crusades. The protestant Reformation of the 16th century, as a result of competition between Catholic and Protestants, also resulted in a drive to spread Christianity and increased the urgency on the part of some rulers, to undertake these voyagers.
Vaco De Gama was said to have named "Christmas and spices" as the goals of his voyages to India.
The ability to achieve global economic and political control was not limited to these Western European states. Advances in shipbuilding and navigational technology were known to many maritime states
By the middle of the 15th century a number of other powers, including Ming China and the Ottoman Empire, were capable of these sea voyages
However, it was the Western European States that were motivated enough to seize the opportunities provided by new military technology and naval advancements.
The desire to to explore and learn more about the world influenced European expansion and later on, conquest. European nations coming out of isolation of the Middle or Dark Ages wanted to find out more about the world and there was also and interest in more accurate maps.
This desire to found out about the world as well as economic and religious goals, to motivate monarchs to fund exhibitions to foreign lands.
The state wanted to gain direct and profitable, untaxed control of important raw materials like gold, silver, ivory and salt. The desire to increase gold which was used to buy spices, silks, and other Asian goods was one of the mains reasons for the first Portuguese exhibitions.
Territories in the Americas were seized and searched for gold and then were used to grow cash crops. This lead to huge profits from the gold and silver as well as other goods like sugar, coffee tobacco. These early exhibitions established areas of territorial control which laid the foundation for later expansion and colonisation.