European expansion
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European Expansion. 1450 - 1700. The Big Questions. Why do nations expand? What impact does exploration and expansion have on economics ? What impact does exploration have on society's values and ideals?. Portugal. Not a wealthy country  but had a history of seafaring

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European Expansion

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European expansion

European Expansion

1450 - 1700

The big questions

The Big Questions

Why do nations expand?

What impact does exploration and expansion have on economics?

What impact does exploration have on society's values and ideals?



  • Not a wealthy country  but had a history of seafaring

  • Prince Henry played a major role in the early phases of exploration

  • Objectives:

    • Military glory

    • Christianize Muslims

    • Gold, slaves, and overseas route to India for spices



Established trading posts on the African coast

Diaz – Cape of Good Hope

Vasco da Gama – succeeded in going around the Cape of Good Hope to India  failed to establish any trading alliances

Lisbon  capital for import of Asian goods

1511  Defeated Muslim controlled port city-states in India – laid the foundation for Portuguese imperialism (16th and 17th cent.)



  • Columbus embodied the goals of Spanish exploration

    • Spread of Christianity (converting Muslims and others)

    • “The Enterprise of the Indies”  direct westward route to Asia

    • Glory (for himself, Spanish dominance)

  • Over the next decades the Spanish would follow a policy of conquest and colonization in the New World, rather than equal exchange

Spanish explorers

Spanish Explorers

Columbus  Hispaniola and Cuba

AmerigoVespucci  South America (modern day Venezuela)

Ferdinand Magellan  circumnavigated the globe, took 3 years (he died in the Philippines on the way)

Hernado Cortes  Mexica Empire (interior Mexico)

Francisco Pizarro  Incan Empire (interior Peru)

Spanish conquests

Spanish Conquests

  • Columbus  Forcibly subjugated the island of Hispaniola

  • Cortes  Conquered Tenochtitlan and killed Montezuma II

    • Tenochtitlan was a sophisticated civilization with advanced math, astronomy, engineering, complex social system, and with oral poetry and historical traditions

    • Led to Spanish subjugation of Mexico, widespread disease, and a decrease in population

  • Pizarro  Conquered Cuzco (city) and Atahualpa (leader)

    • Incan Empire was highly sophisticated

    • The defeat led to decades of violence and disease and ultimate Spanish rule

Treaty of tordesillas

Treaty of Tordesillas

Both Spain and Portugal have claims in the Atlantic

Treaty was signed to settle competing claims to Atlantic discoveries between Spain and Portugal

Spain got the west

Portugal got the east

Treaty of tordesillas1

Treaty of Tordesillas



  • Established the encomienda system

    • System whereby the Spanish crown granted the conquerors the right to forcibly employ groups of Indians; it was a disguised form of slavery

  • Columbian Exchange

    • Exchange of animals, plants, and diseases between the Old and New Worlds

Columbian exchange

Columbian Exchange

  • Europe brought over:

    • Sugar, rice, bananas, wheat, grapes, olives

    • Domesticated animals  horses, cattle, sheep, dogs, pigs, chickens, goats

    • Smallpox, measles, bubonic plague, influenza, typhus, diphtheria, scarlet fever

  • Europeans brought back:

    • Corn, tomatoes, pineapples, potatoes, beans, ect.

    • Turkeys

    • Syphilis (possibly)

Columbian exchange1

Columbian Exchange



  • First colony  Roanoke in 1585, vanished

  • Jamestown  1607

  • Later competed with the Dutch for territory (N.E. to Virginia)

  • English settlements hugged the coastline  did not explore into the mainland

  • English Expansion Objectives:

    • Religious freedom for radical Protestants

    • Production of tobacco (growing market in Europe)



  • French Objective  Trade

  • Samuel de Champlain  founded Quebec 1608

  • Explored:

    • Waterways of the St. Lawrence

    • Great Lakes

    • Mississippi

    • Canada

    • Gulf of Mexico

  • French territory stretched from Canada down to Louisiana



  • Also had territories in the West Indies (Caribbean)

  • Originally were bases for plundering Spanish shipping  eventually some areas became French colonies

  • Also competed with England for over a century

    • Seven Years War (1756-1763)

    • France lost Canada and Louisiana

      • Regained Louisiana in 1800 and sold it to the U.S. in 1803

The netherlands dutch

The Netherlands (Dutch)

  • Traveled east and west, objective was to trade

  • West:

    • Henry Hudson  traveled to the U.S.

    • South America

  • East

    • Established the Dutch East India Company  dominant trading company in Europe

    • Australia

    • Africa – traded in slaves

Exploration and the economy

Exploration and the Economy

  • Exploration brings Europe new lands and resources

    • Changes in business & trade, money & economic life

    • 1450-1700 = Commercial Revolution

  • Mercantilism

    • National economic policy aimed at accumulating monetary reserves through a positive balance of trade, especially of finished goods

  • Manor centered  town centered  now state centered

  • Exploration leads to European rulers rise in power



  • 1. Accumulation of Wealth

    • State is building wealth  gold and silver

    • 1600s  ruler’s power judged by luxury of royal court and size of the army

  • 2. Trade with Colonies

    • Colonies = source of profit for home country

      • Colonies supply wealth (gold, silver, raw material) to home country

      • Colonies buy goods from home country



  • Rise of Joint-Stock Companies

    • Shipping from Europe to Asia or America  dangerous, time-consuming, expensive

    • To pay for trading voyages 

      • Individuals bought stock shares – investors/part-owners

      • Increase in money, decrease in risk to individual investors

    • Dutch East India Company, English East India Company

Economy and changing society

Economy and Changing Society

  • Wealth now means money and good NOT land

  • Rich middle class merchants  spend money to make money  lack of luxury or savings

  • Rulers and aristocrats looked down on money-makers  remember, power is judged by excess in luxury and money!!

  • Huge competition between nations for gold and silver!

    • Lots of attacks on other nations’ ships!!

Economy and changing society1

Economy and Changing Society

  • Most of the gold and silver went to Spain and Portugal

    • Wealthy Europeans bought the increase in goods & food BUT products become scarce and prices rise!

    • Because of an increase in European population there is a need for more food and goods

  • This leads to INFLATION

    • A sharp, steady rise in prices caused by excess demand

  • This will cause social changes across Europe

Economy and changing society2

Economy and Changing Society

  • Inflation affects different groups:

    • Landowning nobles needed money to buy the same goods  got fixed rent from peasants

      • Not good for the peasants  many lose their land, forced to work for low wages

    • Merchants profited by charging high prices for goods sold

  • Demand for goods is higher than European supply  causes an increase in foreign trade for goods



Capitalism – economic system based on private ownership and use of capital

Capital – wealth in the form of property/money used to make more money (land, tools, machinery, ships, shops, ect.)



  • During the Late Middle Ages  new business practices led to capitalism (in Italy)

    • Profits from trade and interest on loans  Italian merchants built up their capital

    • They used it to reinvest in their business or other enterprises

    • They pooled money and expanded business

    • As business activity increase, merchants developed book keeping system to track money flow

    • Banking and use of credit made business dealing much easier



  • 1. Private Ownership = Free Enterprise

    • People free to do what they want with their money

    • Bank for interest, start a business, invest in a company, ect.

  • 2. Profit Motive – Desire to make a profit

    • Law of Supply and Demand

      • Demand is greater than supply = price increase

      • Supply is greater than demand = price decrease

    • Company produces goods to make a profit for its investors or owners



  • 3. Markey Economy

    • Money value placed on all property – land, goods, time, labor

    • Because price and quantity decisions are made in a free market  people must adhere to the law of supply and demand

  • NOTE: Mercantile Capitalism of 1600-1700s differ from modern capitalism!

    • No large corporations which made modern capitalism possible

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