European expansion between 1492 and 1650
TOC o “1-3” h z u The spread of Islam and European influence between 1492 and 1914 PAGEREF _Toc386117397 h 2The Qing dynasty PAGEREF _Toc386117398 h 3The rise of the Qing dynasty PAGEREF _Toc386117399 h 3The fall of the dynasty PAGEREF _Toc386117400 h 4Japan’s benefits from the fall of the Qing dynasty PAGEREF _Toc386117401 h 4Effects of the French, Scientific, and Industrial Revolutions, as well as the Enlightenment on Europe. PAGEREF _Toc386117402 h 5The general development of Europe from 1650 to 1914 PAGEREF _Toc386117403 h 6Europe’s success in diffusing its cultural, political, and economic powers between 1800 and 1914 PAGEREF _Toc386117404 h 7
The fifteenth century was characterized by massive growth and expansion of European influence in the Eurasian continent and beyond. The most notable countries that experienced this unprecedented, yet sustained, growth were: Spain, Portugal and the Dutch. The French and British also tried to expand their spheres of influence but their activity remains dull in the face of what is commonly referred to as the Iberian expansion (Cook 1998). The causes of this expansion and growth were interrelated. Europe was letting go of the medieval ideologies and cultures and embracing modern trends. In addition, the Reformation had introduced overly zealous missionaries eager to spread their faith, while the Renaissance developed a keen sense of curiosity for what lay beyond European waters. However, it was the monarchs and their advisors, eager to gain new resources and wealth, who acted as the catalyst of European expansion by sending out explorers and armies.
Up to the late 1500’s, Portugal and Spain dominated the European expansion activity with their expeditious forays into the American Continent and Asia. Fueled by the ongoing war between Muslims in form of the Turks and Christians, the Portuguese and Spanish perfected their navigation skill and embraced the compass and astrolabe (Elliot 1992). In addition, their cartography skills and map drawing skills grew enabling them to take advantage of the lack of these skills among the Chinese and Muslims. These coupled with superior guns and sturdy ships enabled them to expand their spheres of influence from America, through East Africa, to parts of Western Asia. Spice trade, precious stones, cloth, and gold were their main motivating factors but they left a mark for centuries wherever they visited. The Dutch also had a short period after the revolt of 1598, when some rebels set about expanding Dutch influence in the regions surrounding Spain using naval force. However, this was snuffed out by the combined effort of French and British navies in 1674.
Although the Portuguese seemed indomitable during the early decades of the 15th century, the fast rising Spanish kingdom fueled by a growing navy and stable rule threatened its domination. In addition, their domination of the far away colonies of the Asian peninsula was also under siege from the Chinese, Burmese, and Vietnamese locals. In 1544 for example, they were banned from Chinese ports.
The spread of Islam and European influence between 1492 and 1914The spread of Islam into Europe had been halted in 1492 by Spanish monarch Ferdinand and Isabella, leaving the Islamic forces to focus their attention elsewhere. The Ottoman Empire had already initiated efforts aimed at the Balkans in the fifteenth century. Earlier invasion of European regions by Muslims had been foiled or repelled, but the Muslim faith had indeed found its mark in a few pockets of Portugal, Spain and parts of Italy’s coastline. So they focused their efforts elsewhere, particularly in regions where Christian Europeans were most likely to visit – Africa and Asia (Gross & CSIR 2007).
Islam in Africa was a relatively easy affair as the European kingdoms and states did not attach much value to the continent until late in the 1800’s during the Scramble and Partitioning. Islamists took this disinterest and started off in the Northern Part right next to where Spain had exiled the last Muslim Moor out from Granada. Most of the region was desert and Europeans, so preoccupied with wars and Enlightenment, failed to notice the great pace at which the religion spread in the region. The same was replicate in the Western part of the African continent, but some measure of confrontation was experienced. The British and French had started having an interest in the fertile lands of the area, the cash crop potential, and the natural resources, making Islam an unwanted ingredient in the mix (Montgomery 2002). Therefore, European presence in West Africa had a significant impact as is witnessed by the rapid spread of Christianity to curb the infiltration of Islam. North Africa had a significantly lesser impact as most of the region had already embraced Islam, so European presence before and during the colonial periods had little impact on the same.
Asia presented perhaps the trickiest situation for Islamist forces as they tried to spread their faith as far and wide as they could. Islam’s introduction into Central Asian territory, specifically India, was marred by violence precipitated by the differences in the Hindu religion and Islam. The former was a polytheistic form of religion while Islamic faithful believe in one God (Hussin & ISAS 2008). The tension resulting from these differences, among others, had led to the earlier Turkish invasion destroying Hindu religious shrines as they set up the Delhi Caliphate. However, British Colonialists took advantage of this situation of mistrust and antagonistic feelings to set up their influence. European influence however has little influence in the spread of Islam in this part of the world.
The Qing dynasty
The Qing dynasty ascended to power in 1644 after the fall of the Ming dynasty and ruled as the last of the 10 great dynasties to have done so before it. This successor to the Ming dynasty which had ruled China for more than 270 years was notably known for its strong adherence to the monarchic dynamics of ruling. The Qing dynasty was also known as the Manchu dynasty due to it being formed by the Manchu clan Aisin Gioro. Originally, it was referred to as the Later Jin dynasty, but the name was changed to the Qing dynasty, Qing meaning “to clear”.
The rise of the Qing dynastyIn 1644, Li Zincheng led rebel forces in overthrowing the administration of the Forbidden City. The Ming Emperor Chongzen had committed suicide and marked the end of Ming rule leaving a power vacuum in the Chinese kingdom. This presented an opportunity for the Shun dynasty under Li Zingchen to rule China, but the Manchu learnt of the demise of the Ming Emperor and organized to take over the throne. General Sangui of the Ming dynasty assisted the Manchu forces scale the walls of the Shun dynasty city and defeat them thus claiming the throne as theirs and beginning the Qing dynasty (Tanner 2010).
The Ming dynasty’s rule was initially characterized by growth in terms of infrastructure and economic state. The new Manchu and Chinese shared dynasty organized for repairs on all the cities’ infrastructure and improvement of standards of living by lowering taxes. In addition, export of porcelain and other artifacts became a significant economic activity. Politically, and in military terms, the Qing dynasty also prospered as everything was equally shared between Manchu and Chinese leaders.
The fall of the dynasty The Qing dynasty prospered and grew both in size and power up to the 20th century when internal civil unrest started threatening the dynasty’s stability (Dai 2013). In an attempt to solve the fast escalating problem, Empress Dowager Cixi instituted calls for governors to present reforms for the betterment of the dynasty. In 1905, the most extensive reforms, which included an education system, were brought forward, but the Empress’s death in 1908 left a power vacuum that precipitated the resumption of civil strife. The Qing dynasty’s death knell was the 1911 Wuchang Revolution that led to the formation of the Chinese state and the official end of the Qing dynasty.
Japan’s benefits from the fall of the Qing dynastyAt around the same time that the Chinese ruling dynasty was experiencing hardships in the form of internal and civil unrest, and trying to solve the same using reform, Meiji Japan had set its sights on the Korean territory. The disagreement and wrangles eventually culminated in the First Sino-Japanese war in 1894. Over the next five months, Japans enjoyed success buoyed by its modernly-equipped, better organized army and navy (Paine 2003).
The Japanese state had been exposed early to the Western influence and culture after enacting its reformation period. It had sent delegates and students to all parts of the world in order to learn from them and enable it compete fairly in the fast changing world back then, The policy of seclusion had ended with the deposition of the Edo regime and the Shogunate. This coupled with the weakening of the Qing dynasty next door presented Japan with the perfect opportunity to make a move in Korea. Korea had stuck to fending off any attempts from foreign parties to infiltrate its culture and land borders, to the extent of attacking ships invading its waters. But the Qing dynasty’s collapse provided a chance for Japan to move in and seize it.
The defeat of China during this war precipitated a power shift in the Asian region. For four centuries, the Qing dynasty had been the most powerful influence in the region, but the loss of the war, Korea as a vassal state, and the port of Weijai in 1895, shifted this prestigious position to Japan. This led to the arousal of interest of Japanese rulers in this large unstable region as part of its efforts at increasing access to raw materials and a labor force.
The collapse of the Qing dynasty also exposed the weaknesses of a large disunited mass of people to the Japanese rulers. China was a significant force during the prosperous period of Qing rule, but with the collapse of the dynasty, and the subsequent internal wrangles, Japan was convinced of a victory if it attempted to attack China’s territories.
Effects of the French, Scientific, and Industrial Revolutions, as well as the Enlightenment on Europe.The French Revolution opened up the minds of the inhabitants of other European regions suffering similar oppression to that the French did. The ideologies of the revolution were spread through war, some under Napoleon himself, to other regions leading to more revolutions (Ross 2002). It is no by mere coincidence that the French Revolution was later followed by the fall of other similarly oppressive regimes in Europe. Most of these revolutions occurred between 1820 and 1850. Therefore, the French Revolution transformed Europe as a state by introducing the idea of the use of mass action, sometimes violently, to transform the methods and instruments of governance.
The Scientific Revolution transformed Europe in many ways. First, the discovery of gravity and astronomical breakthroughs by Isaac Newton and Galileo, respectively, changed the beliefs the society had regarding science and religion. In addition, more discoveries in the fields of physics, biology, surgery, mechanics, and agricultural science improved the quality of life. These discoveries saw the introduction of electricity and light bulbs, motor vehicles and locomotives, fertilizer and insecticides, surgery and vaccine, as well as microscopes, radio and radar navigation equipment. In addition, air travel, thanks to the Wright Brothers’, changed the way people travelled (Cohen 1994).
Starting in the early 1700’s, The Industrial Revolution is a period characterized by fast growth in the development of mass production techniques using new source of power. This, coupled with the invention of better transportation methods made the distribution of goods around Europe better and easier (Zanden 2009). In addition, it speeded up urbanization as people moved closer to the industries looking to provide labor services. In addition, the clustering of these workers led to the formation of town and eventually cities. Most of the current European cities, such as Birmingham and Berlin, began as industrial towns.
The period of Enlightenment, also called the age of reason, was pervaded with new ideologies that change their old archaic ones. Science, Philosophy, and Politics were the main avenues the individuals used to change the mindset of European society. The discovery of gravity by Isaac Newton challenged the spiritual and religious notions of God’s control over earth and all on it, while John Locke challenged the existence of governments that were oppressive by informing the society of their responsibility in installing and deposing these rulers (Pancaldi 2005). Such individuals, and the ideologies they introduced, led to a widespread enlightenment of European societies about their roles in society, government, science, and other significant aspects of life.
The general development of Europe from 1650 to 1914Between 1550 and 1800, the most active European countries were involved in exploration. During these period, these states and kingdoms established contact with America, Africa, Asia, and the Australian regions. Following the establishment of contact, Spain, and Portugal embarked on a campaign to introduce their cultural and political influence in many of these new lands raising their profile in the global scene. Coupled with their beliefs that kings were divinely installed, these countries fought for and annexed these regions with their mother lands thus increasing their kingdoms’ power and influence.
By the late 1700’s, Spain and Portugal had lost most of the glory and power to the fast rising states of England and France. The Dutch too had come up as a potential threat in terms of naval warfare, but the combined efforts of these two states checked its progress. At the same time as the French Revolution was taking place, women’s rights became a significant aspect of society with the introduction of Mary Wollstonecraft’s ideologies. The French under Napoleon also invaded Russia, although he lost many men. The Kingdoms of Spain also combined forces with Britain and Portugal against the French in the battle for control of the Iberian Peninsula.
Between 1850 and 1900, the British influence on many parts of the world was felt with the emergence of colonization as an acceptable method of dividing the world’s resources (Art 2003). The powers of the English-speaking world were felt in the first and second world wars, between 1915 and 1945. After the fall of the Spanish empire in 1898, and the formation of Germany as a state in 1871, the influence of British powers was threatened especially in light of the period preceding the First World War. Development in the fields of science, industry and agriculture placed countries such as Britain and Germany in the top of the global arena as they were best suited to face enemies with their faster planes, larger more powerful guns, and newer weapon types.
Europe’s success in diffusing its cultural, political, and economic powers between 1800 and 1914The development of new weapons and defense systems placed European nations at an advantage when it came to spreading their cultures and ideologies. Since some regions were particularly harsh to the invasion and introduction of new religious concepts, they tried to repel them by attacking their European missionaries and emissaries. Their superior weapons and advanced strategies guaranteed the visitors their safety (Das 2007).
Better means of transport and advances in navigation as well as cartography placed European explorers at an advantage in terms of reaching far off regions of the world. Some language such as Spanish, French, and English, as well as the discovery of the importance of boiled water for drinking owe their commonality in the world to these advances in early means of maritime travel. Explorers like Christopher Columbus and Vasco Da Gama also relied on these advanced ships and navigation systems to spread their culture, language, and know-how (Hodge 2008).
Advancements in the field of academic knowledge of fields like psychology, philosophy, cultural integration, and politics placed Europeans at an advantage since they could understand new people better than the other way round. The strategies they employed in convincing many of these uncultured and illiterate people were gotten from years and centuries of study so manipulation and outwitting was an easy activity. Africa and South America provide good examples of places where European influence, culture and language were inculcated into the native people through trickery and manipulation.
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