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 Detailed Timeline of European History
Renaissance (1350-1505) << Exploration Age (1505-1650) >> Enlightenment (1650-1789)

Age of Exploration (1505 - 1650)
Colonization, Rise of Nation-States and Global Powers in Europe

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Europe 1650 AD

First Spanish settlement in the Caribbean (1508): Spain would proceed to settle several islands, bringing in black slaves and killing off most of indigenous populations (primarily through disease). As a result, many former European colonies in Latin America have a primarily Black African lineage, as opposed to pre-Columbian native.

Venice Liberated from Ottoman Empire (1509): Frees itself from Ottoman control in 1509, but loses the island of Cyprus to the Ottomans. Continues to expand northward deeper into Northern Italy, as Holy Roman Empire control in the region weakens.

First Spanish settlement on American mainland in Panama (1510).

Spain 1650 ADSpain Absorbs Kingdom of Navarre (1513): The small kingdom located at the north of the Iberian peninsula (Hispania) is finally assimilated into the Kingdom of Spain, consolidating Spain's rule over all of the peninsula, with the exception of Portugal on the west coast.

Protestant Reformation (1517): Begins with Martin Luther in Germany and John Calvin in Switzerland, who question the authority and some of the points of doctrine in the Catholic Church.

 Further Understanding:  The Protestant Reformation

Origins. Originates with the Black Death Plague of the 14th century, which undermined Catholic authority, as prayers and Catholic worship were of no help. The Church also supported the aristocrats in forcing the peasant class to continue to work for pittance, despite the fact that labor became a scarcity, and therefore should have commanded a much higher price under a fair economic system.
Renaissance. As troubles deepened during the plague and its aftermath, and questioning of the Catholic Church became more common, there was an increase in philosophical reasoning along with a desire for education among the masses.
Printing Press. Created a desire to have the Bible translated in one’s own language. The Church prohibited the Bible in any language other than Latin, but the movement could not be stopped, and the Bible was mass- produced in a variety of languages. Their worst fears were confirmed as readership increased, and interpretations along with it. When Martin Luther drafted his grievances with the Church, he was able to economically circulate his point of view to a mass, far-flung audience thanks to the printing press.
Martin Luther. The father of Protestantism. As a Catholic monk, he was appalled with the practice of selling indulgences, where the Church would offer a remission of sins for a price. He also questioned the authority of the pope and his priests, bishops, etc., asserting that worship and sin could be between taken up with God personally, by the individual. Therefore, the Church’s authority/rituals were not necessary for the salvation of one’s soul, but instead for the purpose of maintaining power over the people. Luther produced a long list of grievances/disagreements with the Church (95 Theses), which were distributed far and wide, gaining support, while also sparking other Protestant movements.
Religious Wars. By the time the Catholic Church decided to respond, it was too late. Protestantism could not be put back in the bag. It spread throughout Europe, changing the religious affiliation of entire nations. Protestantism compelled the Dutch Protestants to revolt against its master Spain, a Catholic nation that attempted to enforce Catholicism upon those under its rule. The Dutch (Netherlands) would achieve independence from Spain. The German states splintered according to religious lines, sparking the Thirty Years’ War pitting Catholics against Protestants. Protestant England and Sweden came to the aid of the Protestants, helping them to victory, forcing the Catholics to allow German princes to select a religion for their respective principalities. Protestantism was now and forever more a competing force in Christianity.


(Timeline Continued Below)

Austria-Spain Connection (1519): King Charles I of Spain inherits Austria, bringing Spain, Netherlands, Austria and overseas possessions under one crown. Austria still remains part of Holy Roman Empire. As a result, Spain and the Holy Roman Empire cooperate on several occasions to maintain the supremacy of Catholicism, and to promote Spanish-German dominance. The Habsburg Empire is divided by Charles in 1556 between his son and brother, with the Netherlands and Northern Italy going to Spain.

Cortez leads Spanish conquest of Mexico (1519): From there, Spain expands throughout Central America.

Portuguese Discover Straight of Magellan (1520): Portuguese explorer Magellan discovers a pass through southern tip of South America, connecting the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. It is named the Straight of Magellan.

Hungary Conquered by Ottoman Empire (1521).

First Spanish Colonization in South America (1522): Spain establishes the first settlement in South America (Venezuela), expanding south from there into most of the rest of the continent, except Brazil, which was dominated by the Portuguese.

Dissolution of Kalmar Union (1523): Sweden withdraws from the union that binded it with Denmark and Norway, primarily over dissatisfaction with Denmark domination. Sweden becomes independent, while Denmark & Norway combine to form Denmark-Norway.

Peasant’s War in Germany (1524): Sparked by “Humanism” (individual rights) as inspired by the Protestant movement. A forerunner to the revolutionary and enlightenment ideals that transform Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries. - The World's Largest Maps Store!

Eastern Prussia Conquered by Poland (1525): Poland conquers from Teutonic Knights in 1525. The Knights, who are responsible for Christianizing the area, are expelled to Germany, ending their presence in Prussia. Most of the inhabitants in the area have been Germanized, paving the way for German conquest of the area in 1618.

Holy Roman EmpireAustrian Expansion (1526): Austria conquers Bohemia and part of Hungary, entering into ongoing battles with the Ottoman Turks for territorial control. Bohemians maintain Czech as primary language, which has survived to this day. Czechs rebel, while Moravians (modern east Czech Rep.) submit peacefully. Habsburgs deal harshly with the Czechs, forcibly submitting them to direct rule (accustomed to autonomy within Holy Roman Empire).

Austria Conquers Western Hungary From Ottoman Empire (1526): Austria conquers the western portion of Hungary from the Ottomans. The Austrians and Ottomans would continue to battle one another for control of Hungary, resulting in a stalemate, with Ottomans maintaining control over Eastern Hungary, and Austria over Western Hungary.

Ottoman Empire Conquers Former Mongol States (1526): Ottomans conquer Mongol successor states in southern Ukraine, consisting primarily of Turkish people formerly under Mongol rule.

In brief war with Spain, France loses territory to Spanish Netherlands (1528).

Genoa (Italy) Independence (1528): Came under French control in 1499. With the help of the Spanish, became independent from French rule in 1528. It was officially sovereign after this point, but subordinate to Spain, who oversaw foreign policy and offered protection.

Portugal begins colonizing Brazil (1530).

Pizzaro leads Spanish conquest of Incas in Peru (1532).

Brittany Gained by FranceFrance Gains Possession of Brittany (1532): Brittany is finally annexed into France, after years of fighting to resist annexation. Brittany was settled by Bretons (ancient Britain inhabitants) after the Roman withdrawal from Britannia and Gaul (France) in the 5th century. They had maintained a separate sense of nationhood since the beginning of the Frankish Kingdom. Brittany becomes completely assimilated into France from a cultural, language and genetic standpoint.

 Further Understanding:  Further Development of France

France is forced into cohesion over centuries of England & German invasions. This unlocks the potential of a large and decentralized populace with a common sense of identity going back to the Frankish-Gaulic assimilation, the origin of the concept of "French" as a people, language and culture. The formation of the super power of France is the natural consequence of the consolidation of those who consider themselves "French", as they occupy an expansive and strategic region in Western Europe. As a result, France continues to remain a power throughout history even when weakened by war on their own land, and even when they lose the war.

France Claims Possession of Canada (1534).

England conquers Ireland and WalesWales Absorbed into England (1535): Fully incorporated into England, so no more legal separation.

Ireland Conquered by England (1536): England conquers Ireland, to bring it fully under its control. A decentralized Ireland had continued to act with hostility toward England, inviting foreign powers to threaten England, ultimately eliciting a conquest by England.

Spain explores and claims large tracts of land in southern U.S. (1539).

Spanish Colonies Begin to Pay Dividends (1546): Spain’s American Empire finally begins paying off large dividends, primarily thanks to precious metals being mined in central/south America.

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Consolidation of Russia (1547): Ivan IV becomes the first Tsar of Russia (still Grand Duchy ofRussia expansion Moscow), and the first to consolidate previously semi-independent principalities. It marks the first time that the East Slavs of the former Kievan Rus are truly consolidated. As a result, they are able to take advantage of the now loosely-organized Turks to the south and east, assimilating them into Russia. With vast amounts of land under its control, yet restricted sea access (especially warm-water ports), and a large yet spread out population, Russia is largely dictated by its geopolitical situation throughout history. That is, it will generally be a formidable land-based power that dominates its immediate region. However, it will struggle to project power abroad due to insufficient naval capability. It's spread out population will cause it to largely lag behind the western world socially, economically and technologically.

Russian Conquests of Turkish Muslim Territories (1552): Russia conquers and annexes Khanate of Kazan and Astrakhan, adding a significant Turkish/Muslim population. Russia becomes a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-religious state with its new acquisitions.

France Loses Savoy, Italy (1553): This petty kingdom became the object of territorial ambition for both France and Spain, which inherited much of Northern Italy through marriage. Savoy remained in France's hands until 1553, when Spain pried it away. From that point forward, it would alternative between being an independent kingdom to a semi-autonomous possession of Spain.

Peace of Augsburg - Religious Choice for German Princes (1555): Catholics forced to concede a degree of religious freedom, by allowing German princes to determine the official religion for their respective states (Catholicism or Lutheranism).

Netherlands Transferred to Spain (1556): Charles I of Spain, a Habsburg who inherited the Austrian Empire in 1519, divides his massive empire, assigning the Netherlands to Spain, away from Austria.

Sweden ExpansionLivonian War (1558-82): Pits Russia against Denmark, Sweden, Lithuania and Poland, for control of Greater Livonia (modern Estonia, Latvia). Russia's objective was to gain access to the Baltic Sea, but these other nations had claims in area as well, triggering a war over the territory. Russia loses in 1582, losing access to the Baltic Sea. Sweden gains Estonia.

French Wars of Religion (1562-89): Between Catholics and Protestant Huguenots. After years of fighting, the Huguenots finally compel the Catholic monarchy to arrive at a settlement, ensuring a degree of religious tolderance in France. Protestant revolts would continue to rise throughout time, as various kings would restrict freedoms. Catholicism would forever remain more prominent than Protestantism in France.

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Nordic Seven Years’ War (1563-70): Between Sweden and an alliance of Denmark-Norway and Poland-Lithuania, over the domination of regional trade routes, especially in the North and Baltic Seas. In addtion, tensions between Sweden and Denmark-Norway were still high due to the bloody break up of the Kalmar Union. Sweden wins, becoming the leading military power in Northern Europe.

Spain Conquers Florida from France (1565): Spain sacks French settlement in Florida, reconstituting it as St. Augustine.

Beginning of Dutch War of Independence vs Spain (1568): Also known as Eighty Years’ War. Between Spain and the Dutch, as the primarily-Protestant Dutch rebel against Catholic Spain, due to religious oppression and dissatisfaction with foreign rule.

Establishment of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (1569): Covered modern Poland, Lithuania, Belarus and Latvia, along with large parts of Ukraine, and parts of Russia. Poland would be the dominant entity. The nation would flourish for the first 100 years. Lithuania was forced to combine with Poland to protect itself from an expanding Russian threat. Domestically, Poland and Lithuania would continue to operate under a separate set of laws, but foreign policy and military actions would be coordinated under Polish control.

Spain Takes Control of Mediterranean Sea From Ottoman Empire (1571): Spain defeats the Ottoman navy, ending its dominance of the Med. Sea.

Basis for Modern Netherlands (1579): The “Southern Netherlands” (roughly modern Belgium and Luxembourg - shaded) is conquered by Spain in the Eighty Years’ War, while the “Northern Netherlands” (highlighted) continues the fight for independence. The "North" forms the "United Provinces” (roughly modern Netherlands).

Portugal Falls Under Spanish Rule (1580-1640): In 1578, Portugal King Sebastian dies without a direct heir, while aiding Morocco against Ottomans. Philip II of Spain is the closest heir. In 1580, Philip II of Spain conquers Portugal to assert his claim for the throne, forming the Iberian Union. Beginning of decline of Portuguese colonial empire, as Portugal is unable to properly administer to and defend its overseas possessions (also neglected by Spain) while under Spanish control.

England's First Colonization Attempt in North America (1583): England claims Newfoundland (Canada), first overseas possession. Attempts first colony in 1584 (Roanoke, NC), but fails.

Latvia Conquered by Poland (1583): Russia attempted to take possession of the lands bordering the Baltic Sea upon the collapse of the Teutonic Knights. But a coalition of Poland-Lithuania, Denmark and Sweden thwarted their designs. As part of the victorious party, Poland-Lithuania Commonwealth absorbs Latvia, which becomes the Duchy of Livonia.

Failed Spanish Naval Invasion of England (1588): As part of Eighty Years’ War, England attacks Spanish ships in Atlantic, and Spanish colonies in the Americas. Spain sends a failed armada (naval invasion) to England.

Note: English rise to dominance corresponds to its increase in naval power, marked by the Spanish Armada victory. At the time, it was thought that no one could stand up to the Spanish navy. Victory in the Battle of Swally (India) against Portugal, establishes England as the new dominant player in the Asian spice trade, drastically increasing its wealth and power.

Croatia Freed from Ottoman Rule (1593): Austria drives Ottoman Turks out of all of Croatia.

Russia Conquers Siberia (1598): Russia's conquest of Siberia (Khanate of Siberia). Consists of a mixture of Turkish and other Central Asian peoples native to the region, further adding to the cultural and ethnic diversity of the Slavic empire. By 1640, Russians expand the territory of Siberia across the sparsely-populated forests and frozen lands to the Pacific Ocean.

Spain claims/gains control of much of southwest U.S. (1598).

Austria Gains Control Over Transylvania from Ottoman Empire (1599): Austria gains control over Transylvania, brutally forcing Roman Catholicism upon the largely Protestant population, imposing a reign of terror lasting until 1604. The Protestants would then revolt, forcing a peace with Austria, where religious tolerance prevailed. Ottomans still technically possesses region, but not exerting control.

Ottoman Empire

Transylvania, Romania (1599): Austria gains control over Transylvania, while the region remains part of the Ottoman Empire in name only.

British East India Company (1600): Creation of British East India Company, which would come to dominate Asian Spice Trade, establishing several colonies in India.

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France begins colonizing New France, aka Canada (1605).

First Successful English Colony in North America (1607): First permanent English colony overseas: Jamestown VA. The beginning of North American colonization. Attracts English settlers in search of religious freedom from the Church of England, as well as economic freedom and adventure.

English Naval Victory Over Portugal in India (1612): Battle of Swally off the western coast of India. England defeats Portugal, overtaking them as the dominant force in the Asian Spice Trade.

Romanov Dynasty in Russia (1613): Lasts until the Communist Revolution in 1917. From 1603 to 1613, Russia experienced famine, then subsequent civil wars which lured the Polish to invade and take the throne. The Polish were ousted in 1613, and a Romanov was elected to the throne, establishing the long-lived Russian Empire.

Beginning of Dutch Colonial Empire (1614): The Dutch begin their American colonial empire, with New Amsterdam (NY) followed by Virgin Islands. It is the golden age for the Netherlands, which gains many new colonies, while becoming a leader in the transatlantic slave trade.

Duchy of Prussia (1618): Eastern Prussia is inherited by Brandenburg (state within Holy Roman Empire), removing it from Poland rule, forming the Duchy of Bradenburg-Prussia, eventually simplifying its name to the Duchy of Prussia. It would eventually expand to dominate all the German states, leading the way to the establishment of the German Empire in the 19th century.

Thirty Years’ War Pitting Catholics vs. Protestants in Holy Roman Empire/Germany (1618-48): The Austrian Holy Roman Emperor institutes strict Catholic policies, reversing the Peace of Augsburg, resulting in a Protestant revolt. Catholic side led by Austria, joined by other German Catholic princes and Spain. Protestant England and Sweden provide support to the Protestant German princes, as does Catholic France, which is more interested in harming Spain than bolstering Catholicism outside of its own borders. The war ends with only Austria under Catholic control, creating further German fragmentation, decentralization.

Dutch Invasion of Portugal Colonies (1619-63): Dutch (Netherlands) systematically invade and conquer a substantial portion of Portuguese colonies, as part of Eighty Years’ War (or Dutch Wars of Independence) against Spain. Spain, which had annexed Portugal, prohibits it from trading with the Dutch. The Dutch then proceed to overtake Portuguese possessions as a necessity to obtain Asian goods. Due to the weakened condition of Portuguese colonies (not properly administered to or protected under Spanish rule), the Netherlands are frequently successful in their conquests, overtaking various colonies in Africa and Asia.

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Note: Dutch Geopolitical Advantage of the Atlantic. Like other nations with easy access to the Atlantic Ocean, the Dutch adopt the naval technology and culture necessary to gain their share of the vast riches and power awaiting them, helping to transform them from a mere outpost in the Spanish Empire (Austrian and Holy Roman before that), into a global power.

France colonizes French Guiana in South America (1624).

English Begin Colonization of the Caribbean (1625): English settle Barbados in Caribbean, beginning colonization of region, where they would develop a substantial presence. They created the highly successful sugar cane industry, which was built largely upon the backs of black slaves from Africa. The French gain foothold on nearby island of Tortuga, and also share St. Kitts with the British.

Polish-Swedish War Ending in Sweden Victory (1625–29): Battle for supremacy along the southern Baltic coast. Sweden captures Baltic territories, including large parts of Latvia and Estonia.

Note: Sweden Rise to Power. Sweden had consolidated more effectively than its northern neighbors (through Christianity). They had become centralized and organized to the point that they were able to create a professional army, requiring all villages/families to provide a certain number of soldiers. This enabled it to establish military dominance in the north.

Portugal Regains Independence From Spain (1640): Portugal regains independence as Spain is bogged down by multiple wars in the Netherlands and Germany. Spain is not in a position to prevent Portugal from asserting independence.

First English Civil War (1642): Pitted King Charles I versus parliament, as the parliament was not in agreement with his close ties to the French, and ambitions to keep England in multiple military conflicts throughout Europe, which were expensive. Resulted in Civil War between Parliamentarians and Royalists, with Parliamentarians eventually rising to victory. The subsequent government would descend into chaos and conflict, resulting in the restoration of a king. However, powers of the king would be limited, constituting a parliamentary monarchy, forming the basis for the first semi-democratic government, a predecessor to true democracies later in history.

Dutch Wins Independence From Spain (1648): End of Eighty Years’ War. Netherlands (United Provinces) defeats Spain, as fellow Protestant nations of England and Sweden come to their aid. Despite being a Catholic nation, France also helps the Dutch, since supporting Catholicism becomes less important than diminishing its primary rival of Spain. Spain was also bogged down by its involvement in the religiously-driven 30-Years' War in Germany.

Note: Rise & Fall of Spain. Becomes dominant continental/world power in 16th century, being dogged by constant warfare as other European nations fight to contain Spain, resulting in decline of Spanish continental dominance in 17th century.

France Gains Small Territory from Netherlands (1648): Gains territory lost to Spanish Netherlands in 1528 after helping Dutch to gain victory in their war of independence with Spain.

Turkish Cossack Uprising in Poland-Lithuania (1648): Cossacks revolt against Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, resulting in an independent state that became a client state to Russia. As part of their uprising, the Cossacks slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Jews due to suspicions that they were cooperating with Poland to keep the Cossacks under Polish control.

Note: Grand Duchy of Tuscany (Italy). Became completely independent from foreign rule, forming into an independent Republic.

Note: Spanish Italy. Spain inherits a large chunk of Northern Italy through marriage. The territory is an afterthought to Spain, causing it to descend into economic decline by imposing heavy taxes to support its continuous involvement in wars. Southern Italy remains under Spanish control, as a neglected backwater of the Spanish Empire.

Note: Papal States. Still ruled by the pope, which struggles to control its subordinate principalities, which commonly attempt to operate with autonomy.

Further Understanding of the Age of Exploration:

Protestantism: Protestantism spreads, becoming state religions in England and Netherlands. Basis for 80 Years War and 30 Years War (Largely Catholic vs. Protestants) as Catholicism tries to maintain dominance in Europe. It serves as major basis for separation of modern Netherlands (Northern) and Belguim (Southern), as the predominantly-Catholic "Southern" Dutch are not as determined in escaping Spanish rule as the "Northern" Dutch. The Protestant cause also attracts the all-critical aid of English and Swedish toward the Dutch fight for independence.

Dominance Then Fall of Portugal. Ultimately, Portugal's population was insufficient to resist the ambitions of rising super powers with much greater populations. Portugal took advantage of its strategic niche, based on its geopolitical position of having several ideal ports along its long Atlantic coastline, giving it easy access to the riches that were there for the taking in less developed regions of the world. They maintained this advantage as long as they could, but their fall was inevitable after their inherently stronger (i.e. more numerous) rivals piggy-backed upon their successes and discoveries. The secession crisis in 1578 gave Spain the excuse to finally annex and conquer Portugal. Portugal has never been able to resist invasion from super power from the east (Spain, then later France during Napoleonic Wars), but their resiliency, along with neglect by their conquerors in each case enabled it to regain independence, after a period of foreign rule. Portugal was able to escape Spanish rule when Spain became consumed by massive, debilitating wars in central Europe. Portugal was not fully integrated into Spanish Kingdom, due to the fact that Spain’s attention was turned elsewhere. The downside to this neglect was that Spain did not have the will or wherewithal to properly upkeep Portugal and its colonial empire, enabling England and Netherlands to weaken it through the conquest of many of Portugal's overseas possessions. By the time Portugal became sovereign again in 1640, it was too late to restore dominance, but it still maintained a profitable niche as a second-rate colonial power for a few more centuries. For example, Portugal no longer monopolized the Asian Spice Trade or African Atlantic Slave Trade (no longer even close to the dominant player in either case), but still managed enough share of each industry to bring significant profits back home. In a sense, the aftermath of their fall from preeminence restored the natural order, with Portugal able to remain sovereign, and certainly in a position to benefit from easy Atlantic access, but not to be dominant.

Rise of England: England takes a cue from Portugal, using Atlantic access plus continental insulation (previously a geopolitical disadvantage in the land-based world) to their advantage. Advances in naval technology compliments their geopolitical position to dominate overseas lands, resources and trade routes.

Naval Revolution: In a way, naval technology that developed in this time period (larger payloads, ability to sail longer distances) represent one of the world’s major revolutions, perhaps similar to the industrial revolution, or the oil-powered machine revolution. It enabled the distribution/exchange of resources between far-off places much more economically, giving peoples access to a much wider array of goods. Overseas settlements could be supported in distant lands. More than anything, it boosted economies, significantly raising the standard of life for the common person, as they could procure goods that were not previously available, or affordable (due to lack of economic transportation). Thus, economies were boosted, creating a merchant middle class, which paved the way for capitalism.

Geopolitics of Black African Slave Trade:
1. The All-Important Sahara Desert Effect. Ancient civilizations began to flourish around the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea between 3000 BC and 1000 BC, as the geography creates a confluence of diverse cultures and continents. Plus, these lands were fertile, supporting larger populations and prosperity. Interaction among large groups of diverse peoples is a key to the progression of society, as it facilitates the free flow of information and ideas, while opening economic opportunities. Thus, the most advanced ancient cultures are those that were in proximity to this convergence, such as Egypt, Mesopotamia, Phoenicia and Greece. From this base, technological and sociological advances spread through Europe, Asia and North Africa throughout the centuries. However, the vast and inhospitable Sahara Desert, stretching across the northern portion of Africa from east coast to west coast, impeded this process of conductivity into most of Africa. South of the Sahara Desert, Africa also features dense jungles, rugged mountain ranges, the treacherous Conge River Basin, the untamable Serengeti and expansive deserts. So, not only is Sub-Saharan Africa unable to easily connect to the world beyond Africa, but its inhabitants were essentially compartmentalized from one another due to the many natural barriers. This segregation is conducive to tribal societies, lower populations (especially since farming is difficult) and consequently a lower rate of progression. Consequently, Sub-Saharan Africans were largely at the mercy of technologically-superior European slave traders when they began to arrive in the 1400s.
2. Proximity to Europe. Despite the Dark Ages, Europe becomes much more advanced than Sub-Saharan Africa, due to a more favorable geopolitical position, as explained above. As the Asian powers (such as the Ottoman Empire) hem Europeans within their own continent, an advancing Europe naturally develops naval capability to circumvent West Asians in order to reach the riches of South Asia in particular. In doing so, they discover a large continent just south of them in the 15th century. Before naval advances, Europe would have had to pass through hostile Muslim empires/kingdoms and the daunting Sahara Desert to reach such a place, which is why it was never even attempted. Now, Sub-Saharan Africa is a fairly pedestrian boat-ride away. Naval advances along with superior weaponry (much of it learned from the Asians) give the Europeans a decisive advantage over the tribal peoples found throughout Africa, south of the Sahara Desert. Thus, the close proximity and the technological/organizational advantages made the Europeans easily capable of exploiting the natives they encounter. Europe was not able to exploit North Africa, as they were too powerful to be so easily enslaved.
3. Profit Motive. When Europeans begin settling the Americas, they found the climate and land to be well-suited for agriculture, resulting in spacious plantations. A need then arose for cheap labor. The native populations were difficult to submit (since it was their homeland), and susceptible to European disease. Neither problem was an issue with Sub-Saharan Black Africans. Plus, the Europeans did not have to capture slaves themselves. They were able to establish fortified slave-trading posts along the coast, and purchase prisoners of war from local tribal chiefs.
4. Justification. Slavery is clearly a morally abhorrent practice. To overcome this, those being enslaved must be dehumanized in the minds of the captors. For Europeans, this came in the form of an endorsement from the pope, who declared that pagan heathens in Africa and Asia could be enslaved, as long as they were Christianized while in bondage. The Biblical Curse of Canaan served as the justification for the white Christian Europeans, which insinuated that the descendents of Canaan were cursed to be servants to their brethren on earth. It was mistakenly believed that the Black Africans were descendents of Canaan, and even that the dark skin of Africans was a God-given mark. As we now know, humans originated out of Africa with brown skin, and those that eventually settled in the northern lands, such as Europe, gradually developed lighter skin due to a lowered biological need for skin pigmentation as a result of less sunlight and UV exposure.


Spain's Missteps: Despite wealth flowing from colonies, the massive expenditures are consumed by ongoing continental war efforts, which are primarily religious in nature. The economic and political toll was heavy, as the wars did not go well, as Spain fought against Protestants in the Netherlands and Germany, along with the Protestant nations of England and Sweden. In addition, France sided against them as well, despite being a Catholic nation like Spain. France was more interested in diminishing Spanish dominance rather than fighting for the Catholic cause outside its own borders. Spain's expenseive and ineffectual war efforts result in economic decline, and the subsequent decline of Spain, which would fall from its position as the preeminent continental super power, falling behind England, France and even the Netherlands. This underscores the importance of factoring the cost of victory and war compared to the likely benefits. Especially in a long, protracted conflict where there is not a clear benefit to victory, other than prestige in this case for Spanish, which did not want to lose its Dutch territories, although they were not particularly profitable. Plus, Spain desired to be recognized as the protector of Catholicism, believing that it would prove advantageous. Spain never had a chance to attain political victory, which was imperative. Even if they had subdued the Dutch and their supporters militarily, the Protestants would never remain pacified, unless major concessions were awarded. So there was not an end in sight for Spain even if they won, unless there was a dramatic shift in policy (such as religious freedom). So in large part, Spain’s ideology of carrying the Catholic banner contributed to their downfall from dominance.

Next: Expansionism/Enlightenment (1650 - 1789)

Previous: Renaissance (1350 - 1505)

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Comments (116)

what benefits do you think the age of exploration had on the world at that particular point in time?
#1 - fatima - 07/20/2012 - 03:12
is there an answer to this question?
#2 - anonymous - 10/22/2012 - 16:52
What legacies were left as a result of Historical Globalization?
#3 - Janelle - 12/03/2012 - 16:05
I can\'t find anything about Germany!!!
#4 - BoogyBoo - 02/04/2013 - 09:35
Denmark and Norway had already been joined as one Kingdom; it was the Kingdom of Denmark-Norway combining with the Kingdom of Sweden-Finland to create the Kalmar Union, which was dissolved in 1523 after Sweden (and thus Finland) decided they'd had enough.
#5 - Haku - 03/19/2013 - 20:43
There was no St. Petersburg in 1582
#6 - Elliott - 07/26/2013 - 19:31
This is stupid and should be updated :I
#7 - Name - 04/29/2014 - 16:00
This is awesome i absolutely love social studies it is so interesting
#8 - love school - 05/28/2014 - 17:15
Lots of info
#9 - ann - 09/08/2014 - 17:51
Thanks, this helped a lot with my history paper, especially the ending paragraphs
#10 - Hannah - 11/01/2014 - 21:02
Teehee. Thanks for putting in the effort of making this timeline. It really helped me.
#11 - Arashi - 11/05/2014 - 07:43
lol ok
#12 - HI - 01/15/2015 - 11:45
did not explain anything
#13 - lamia forcopna - 01/25/2015 - 22:45
Very interesting timeline, over the next century further travels will be made, namely in the Pacific through James Cook and other navigators.

Michael B.
#14 - Michael Baynes - 02/18/2015 - 08:35
had nothing about denmark or norway. this sucks.
#15 - none of your beeswax - 04/06/2015 - 13:26
had nothing about denmark or norway. this sucks
#16 - none of your beeswax - 04/06/2015 - 13:27
I dont get this
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