Chapter 15 PP

Chapter 15
The West and the Changing Balance of Power
A World in Transition (#1)
Two events signaled a profound transition in
the balance of world power by the year
◦ 1) The downfall of the last Arab caliphate in 1258.
The Arabs had been a source of stability for over
600 years.
◦ 2) Mongols invasions had caused severe
disruption to the stability of Asia and Eastern
Europe. With their empire all but gone, these
regions began to regain their own economic and
cultural ways.
Decline in the Middle East
Along with Mongol invasion, there were
other setbacks that led to the decline of
Muslim culture and economy.
◦ 1) Intellectually, works of literature, art, and
philosophy were replaced by strictly religious
themes. This stifled the ingenuity and
creativeness of many Muslim thinkers.
◦ 2)Economically, the landlord classes seized
power over the peasantry and neglected to
create any new agricultural techniques. Tax
revenues steadily declined as well.
Averroes (Ibn
Rahud) was a
Spanish Muslim
scholar who wrote
extensively on
Aristotle’s works.
He is considered to
be the “founding
father of secular
thought in Western
This statue in
Cordoba, Spain is a
testament to his
impact in Europe.
The Ottoman Rise
Though the caliphate’s
fall was detrimental to
Islam, it was not fatal.
Roughly 30 years after
Baghdad was sacked,
Ottoman Turkish
soldiers would create
a new Muslim state in
the region that
engulfed most of the
lands of the Middle
East and of the
Byzantine Empire.
Ottoman Impact on Trade
Though the Ottomans continued to trade
actively in the Mediterranean zones, they
did not promote long distance maritime
trade like their preceding Muslim empires.
 As a result, Muslim influence in Indian
Ocean trade had declined significantly by
1400, allowing new powers (Chinese and
Europeans) to take hold in that region.
Mongol Trading Network (#2)
Their holdings
throughout the Far
East, central Asia, the
Middle East, and
Eastern Europe
connected far reaching
areas together. This
empire encouraged
interregional travelers
and provided great
opportunities for trade
and exchange of
technology and ideas.
Chinese are the first to challenge for
power after Mongol fall.
Western Europeans arrived in the
Indian Ocean in the late 1400s.
Who’s next??? (#3)
Chinese expansion (at least briefly!)
After expelling the Mongols in 1368, the
Ming gov’t begins reforming China.
The Ming government begins to fund huge
state-sponsored trading expeditions to
southern Asia and beyond. (#4)
These fleets numbered nearly 3,000 shipping
vessels, 400 armed naval ships, and longdistance ships. Nine great treasure ships
(junks) monitored the Indian Ocean from
China all the way to the Persian Gulf and the
Red Sea. (#5)
Admiral Zheng He (#6)
An imperial eunuch and
admiral who led great
trading expeditions on
behalf of the Ming emperor
from 1405-1433. He was
also a Muslim, therefore, he
could establish lasting
trade contacts with the
Arab world. His
expeditions took Chinese
goods to the Middle East,
Africa, and India, and also
brought back luxury and
exotic goods.
A Chinese Recall (#7)
In 1433, Zheng He’s fleets
were called back to China.
 Bureaucrats, jealous of his
growing power, argued that
the expeditions were too
expensive and that the
money could be better
used elsewhere, like
fighting nomadic threats
and the ongoing
construction of Beijing.
 Also, the new Ming
emperor wanted to
distance himself from the
policies of his predecessor.
Zheng He’s Voyages
Leading to his tomb a 4 sets of stairs with 7 steps
each, totaling 28 steps. Zheng He made 7 voyages
with his imperial fleet over his 28 year naval career.
Back to the Norm (#8)
For the Chinese, a withdrawal from
international trade was simply a return to
the status quo.
 Never ones for foreign dependence, the
cancelling of Zheng He’s expeditions in
1433, reaffirmed the Chinese policy of
isolationism that had been the norm
throughout their history.
Rise of the West (#10)
For western Europe, who had been mired in
the Middle Ages, their location in relation to
the Mongol Empire was actually perfect.
 They were:
◦ A) Close enough so as to benefit from trade and
exchange (printing, the compass, and explosive
powder) due to the Mongols tolerant policy of
free trade.
◦ B) Spared from the wrath of destruction that so
many other cultures experienced from the
Mongol raids.
Rise of the West (#9)
These advantages helped European economy slowly
pick back up. But, Europe was facing tough problems in
other areas:
◦ A) Church- The Church’s influence was weakening in
the face of divisions and no theological explanations
for the Bubonic plague. People began to question its
authority and seek their own gains instead.
◦ B) Famine – Recurring famine in the 1300’s due to
increased population and no new agricultural
inventions to increase food supply FORCED
Europeans to look for new agricultural methods to
feed its people.
Rise of the West cont’d (#9)
◦ C)Plague – Ironically, the plague helped solve
the problem of food shortage by killing 1/3 of
Europe’s population. Also, with fewer workers,
wages went up and investments in business
and commerce increased.
* Believe it or not, the plague eventually
led to economic growth. Famine (fear of
starvation) proved to be a great
motivator for Europeans to find
solutions to their problems.
Medieval manuscript depicting plague victims
being buried.
European Map highlighting the path of the plague
An Asian Obsession (#11)
Of course, another issue encouraged Europeans to
branch out: Asian goods!!!
 The elite, upper classes of western Europe had
become obsessed with the more refined products of
Asia like spices, silks, perfumes, and jewels. The cruder
European goods such as wool, copper, tin, honey, and
salt could not make up the discrepancy in value. The
balance had to be made up in gold shipments to Asia.
 This created a gold famine in Europe which
threatened to collapse the entire European economy.
 The solution to this problem was to find more
gold!!! So, Europeans began exploring (more on that
Asian goods
European goods
Renaissance (#12)
The Renaissance was a cultural and political
movement in Western Europe that began in
Italy in the 1400’s.
 There was an emphasis on artistic and
architectural output. As a result, not only
were paintings and sculptures created, but
cathedrals, bridges, plazas, etc.
 This created jobs and higher incomes,
making the Renaissance not just a cultural,
but an economic revolution as well.
Florence, Italy
Genoa, Italy
Cities began competing with one another
over trade and commercial rights as well
as artistic superiority.
Medieval art (Religiously focused)
Renaissance art (Human emphasis)
While Renaissance art and culture remained religiously
dominated, there was more of an emphasis on realistic
portrayals of humans and nature.This was known as
humanism and was more secular than medieval art.
As the subject matter of
art moved more towards
humans and nature,
painters began focusing less
on the religious and more
on the worldly.
The Florentine painter
Giotto led the way in this
Adoration of the Magi by Giotto
Experimenting with Exploration
Along with Italy, key developments were taking place in the
Iberian peninsula (Portugal and Spain).
In 1469, Ferdinand of Castille (a Spanish province) and
Isabella of Aragon (another Spanish province) wed to create
the famous dual monarchy of Ferdinand and Isabella.
Devout Catholics, they began a military campaign to expel
Arabs and Jews from their regions and eventually all of Spain.
In this way, they clearly brought state affairs and religious
affairs together. The government had a duty to promote and
protect religion according to these rulers.
Eventually, they would look to expand their power beyond
Spain through exploration.
Spain and Portugal developed governments willing to actively
support religious mission and spread.
Nautical Shortcomings (#15)
European nations such as Spain, Portugal, and
Italy began searching for routes to the
“Indies” by the late 1200’s.
However, Europeans lacked adequate
navigational techniques which prohibited
them from venturing into the Atlantic. Their
ships, designed for the Mediterranean, were
shallow-drafted and oar-driven.
Eventually, through trade with Arabs and
Chinese, Europeans acquired the compass
and astrolabe as well as improved maps to
aid their quests.
Direct route to the “Indies”
As navigation
improved, European
nations began
looking for
alternative routes to
Asia that could help
them bypass Muslim
realms in the Middle
Henry the Navigator – an
exploration entrepreneur (#16)
Henry the Navigator was a
Portuguese prince with a
fascination for exploration.
A student of astronomy
and nautical science
himself, he funded about a
third of all Portuguese
voyages before his death in
1460. His motivations were
scientific, intellectual,
economic and religious.
 He also built a school of
navigation in Portugal to
train prospective
Commercial Agriculture begins
By 1439, the Portuguese
had control of the
Azores Islands and the
Spanish soon took the
Madeira and Canary
They began growing cash
crops like sugar and
tobacco on these islands,
and more importantly,
imported African slaves
for the first time to aid
in this plantation style
labor system.
Canary Is.
European impacts in West Africa
As Europeans made more significant
contacts with sub-Saharan African cultures of
west Africa, they profoundly shaped that
◦ 1) European weapons were introduced and
played a leading role in tribal conflicts in that
◦ 2) These weapons were used to seize large
numbers of African slaves for European use.
◦ 3) Trade shifted more to the Atlantic coast of
Africa and away from the Mediterranean. It was,
therefore, controlled more by Europeans than
European Arrival in the Americas
When Europeans arrived in the late
1400’s to the lands of the Aztec and Inca,
both New World empires were already in
 The Aztec had many enemies due to
enslavement and religious sacrifice while
the Inca were over expanded and in the
midst of a civil war. These factors (along
with guns, steel weapons, and germs)
made Spanish conquest very easy.
Polynesian Cultures
Another area that
was developing
independently in this
period was Polynesia,
particularly Hawaii
and New Zealand.
Hawaiian Culture
The first Polynesians arrived in Hawaii via
war canoes in the 7th century. Most
Hawaiians lived in agricultural clusters and
fishing villages.
 They imported pigs from Polynesian
islands for a vital source of meat.
 The islands were divided into regional
kingdoms that were very warlike with
one another. Society was divided into
different castes of priests, nobles, and
New Zealand culture
New Zealand’s culture
centered around a native
group of people known as
the Maori.
 Like Hawaii, they were very
warlike and divided along
similar social lines.
 Their climate was
considerably colder and
more harsh.
 The Polynesian cultures
were the last of the major
cultures to be encountered
by larger cultures.

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