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Chapter 21. Reaching Out: Cross-Cultural Interactions. Patterns of Long-Distance Trade. Silk roads Sea lanes of Indian Ocean basin Trans-Saharan caravan routes Development of trading cities, emporia Nomadic invasions cause local devastation but expand trade network

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chapter 21
Chapter 21
  • Reaching Out: Cross-Cultural Interactions

Patterns of Long-Distance Trade

  • Silk roads
  • Sea lanes of Indian Ocean basin
  • Trans-Saharan caravan routes
  • Development of trading cities, emporia
  • Nomadic invasions cause local devastation but expand trade network
    • E.g. Mongols in China, 13th c.

Marco Polo (1253-1324)

  • Traveled to China, enters
  • service of Mongol KhubilaiKhan
  • -increases European interest/contact in China

Diplomatic Travelers

  • IbnBattuta (1304-1369)
    • Islamic scholar & qadi great access to Muslim Areas
    • N. Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, SW Asia
    • Significant detailed historical records left behind

Missionary Travelers

  • Sufi missionaries travel throughout new Muslim territories, 1000-1500 CE
  • Christian missionaries accompany, follow Crusaders
    • Roman Catholic priests travel east to serve isolated communities


  • Gunpowder, navigational, paper, printing technologies spread extensively during the perio
  • Cultural Exchange -Narratives, Stories, philosophy, scientific thought

Spread of Crops

  • Citrus fruits, Asian rice, cotton
  • Sugarcane
    • Demand increases rapidly leads to the emergence of sugarcane plantation
      • Catalyst of Trans-Atlantic slave trade

Bubonic Plague

  • The Little Ice Age, c. 1300 CE
    • Decline of agricultural output leads to widespread famine
    • Bubonic Plague spreads from south-west China
  • Mongols, merchants, travelers spread disease west
  • spread across Europe (1346-1352)

Social and Economic Effects of plague on Europe

blamed stars, God’s anger, Jews etc

  • Massive labor shortage/Demand for higher wages
  • Population movements
  • Reduced power of feudal lords
  • Increased criticism of the church
hundred years war 1337 1453
Hundred Years’ War 1337-1453


French King Charles IV died in 1328 w/ no male heir.

Both England and France claim throne.

Changes in Warfare

-Longbow eliminated the advantages of armor

-cannons could blast holes in castles

-armies made up of paid common people


Feudalism comes to an end in France

People more patriotic & devoted to the monarch rather than feudal lord.

Monarchs built up huge armies w/ taxes they collected-reduced the power of nobles


Recovery in China & Western Europe

  • China: centralized Empire (Ming)
  • Europe: regional states
  • Europe develops new taxes or bonds
  • Establish large standing armies

The Ming Dynasty

  • Yuan dynasty collapses 1368, Mongols depart
  • Hongwu becomes emperor
  • Proclaims new Ming (“Brilliant”) dynasty, 1368-1644
ming centralization per 2 5
Ming Centralization per 2/5
  • Reestablishment of Confucian educational system
  • Direct rule by Emperor
  • Reliance on emissaries called mandarin & eunuchs

Economic Recovery

  • Conscripted labor to repair, rebuild irrigation systems
  • Promoted manufacturing of porcelain, silk
  • Cultural revival
    • Attempt to eradicate Mongol legacy by promoting traditional Chinese culture
    • Emperor Yongle commissions 23,000-roll Encyclopedia


  • Ferdinand of Aragon marries Isabel of Castile, 1469
  • Major political and economic alliance
  • Completes Reconquista
  • Fund Columbus’ quest for China

The Renaissance, 14th-16th centuries

  • “rebirth” of classical culture
  • Work with real human anatomy
    • Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)
  • Architecture: domed cathedrals
    • Imitation of Roman domes

Causes of the Renaissance:

  • Rise of wealth and merchant class in Italy
  • Opening up of culture via Crusades
      • Lorenzo De Medici promoted trade, banking, the arts, scholarship, and civic pride
      • Rediscovery of Roman Law and Writing

Study of Humanism:

  • The worth of the human being
  • Humankind is God’s greatest creation
  • The ability of Humankind was recognized
  • Optimism

The Humanists

  • Humanities: literature, history, moral philosophy
  • Renaissance humanists deeply devoted to Christianity
    • Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536) greatest humanist thinker
  • Also devoted to rediscovering classical Latin texts, often ignored in monastic libraries

Humanist Moral Thought

  • Rejection of monastic lifestyle in favor of morally virtuous life while engaged in the world
    • Marriage, business
  • Reconciliation of Christianity with rapidly changing European society and economy

Exploration and Colonization

  • Emp. Yongle→ Admiral Zheng He to mount seven massive naval expeditions, 1405-1433
  • Placed trade under imperial control
  • Demonstrated strength of Ming dynasty
  • Successful, but aborted as Mongols presented new threat in the north & domestic problems

European Exploration in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans

  • Motives: profit, missionary activity
  • Portuguese early leaders in Atlantic exploration
  • Search for sea route to Indian Ocean basin
  • Prince Henrique (Henry the Navigator) seizes Strait of Gibraltar, 1415
  • Begins encouragement of major Atlantic voyages

Indian Ocean Trade

  • Attempt to avoid using Muslim/ Italian middlemen in trade with east
  • 1488 Dias sails around Cape of Good Hope
    • 1497-1499 Vasco da Gama sails this route to India and back
  • Portuguese attempt to maintain trade monopoly
  • Beginnings of European imperialism in Asia

Christopher Columbus

  • Search for western sea route to Indian Ocean
  • departs in 1492
  • Makes landfall in San Salvador
    • Believed he had reached islands off coast of Asia