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Global Commerce: Maritime Empires in Asia. AP World History Notes Time Period: 1450 - 1750. Europeans and Asian Commerce. European countries that got involved in Asian commerce = first the Portuguese, then the Spanish, French, Dutch, and British

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global commerce maritime empires in asia

Global Commerce:Maritime Empires in Asia

AP World History Notes

Time Period: 1450 - 1750

europeans and asian commerce
Europeans and Asian Commerce
  • European countries that got involved in Asian commerce = first the Portuguese, then the Spanish, French, Dutch, and British
  • Motivations for European involvement in Asian commerce:
    • Exotic spices = cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, cloves, and pepper
    • Chinese silk
    • Indian cotton and rhubarb
    • Precious gems = emeralds, rubies, and sapphires
europeans and asian commerce1
Europeans and Asian Commerce
  • At the time = Eastern goods came into the Mediterranean through the Middle East from the Indian Ocean
  • Europeans’ problems with this:
    • Source of supply of goods = Muslim merchants who charged heavy taxes
    • Once it got to Europe = Italian merchants (especially from Venice) had a monopoly over trade of these Asian products
    • They had no valuable products to trade in return  so they had to pay in gold or silver for Asian goods
europeans and asian commerce2
Europeans and Asian Commerce

Goal of Europeans in Asia = trade, not empire-building

a portuguese empire of commerce
A Portuguese Empire of Commerce
  • Portugal had to use its military to secure trade bases within the Indian Ocean  did not have attractive goods that it could use to establish itself within the trade network
  • Easy to do because:
    • They had more advanced technology and weapons
    • Merchant ships in the Indian Ocean weren’t heavily armed
    • Portuguese ships had cannons; merchant ships did not
a portuguese empire of commerce1
A Portuguese Empire of Commerce
  • Portugal set up fortified trade bases in:
    • Mombasa in East Africa
    • Hormuz at the entrance to the Persian Gulf
    • Goa on the west coast of India
    • Malacca in Southeast Asia
    • Macao on the south coast of China
a portuguese empire of commerce2
A Portuguese Empire of Commerce
  • Portugal created a “trading post empire” within the Indian Ocean
    • Goal = control commerce, not large territories or populations
    • Goal = control trading posts by force of arms, not by economic competition
  • Major thing Portugal controlled = the spice trade
portuguese policies in the indian ocean
Portuguese Policies in the Indian Ocean
  • Required all merchant vessels to purchase a cartaz (pass) to sail throughout the region
  • Charged merchant vessels taxes of 6-10% of their cargoes
  • Blocked the Red Sea route to the Mediterranean Sea
  • Monopolized the trade route around Africa to Europe
portuguese control in the long run
Portuguese Control in the Long-Run
  • Portugal never succeeded in controlling more than half of the spice trade to Europe
  • By 1600 = the Portuguese trading post empire was in steep decline
    • Competition from other European powers
    • Competition from rising Asian states like Japan and Mughal India
portuguese control in the long run1
Portuguese Control in the Long-Run
  • Portuguese just assimilated themselves into the old, traditional patterns of the Indian Ocean trade network
    • Carried Asian goods to Asian ports
    • Sold their shipping services
    • Many settled in permanently in Asian or African ports  married native women, learned local languages, converted to Islam, etc.
spain and the philippines
Spain and the Philippines
  • Spain was the first to follow in Portugal’s footsteps
  • Established itself on the Philippine islands
    • Named after King Philip II of Spain
  • Spain set up outright colonial rule  because:
    • Close to China and the spice islands
    • Small and militarily weak societies on the Philippines
    • No competing claims for the islands
spain and the philippines1
Spain and the Philippines
  • Spanish takeover of the Philippines = easy and relatively bloodless
  • Used:
    • Small-scale military operations
    • Gunpowder weapons
    • Local alliances
    • Gifts and favors to native chiefs
    • Pageantry of Catholic rituals
  • Remained a Spanish colony until 1898
spain and the philippines2
Spain and the Philippines
  • With Spanish rule came:
    • Mass conversion to Christianity
    • Relocation from scattered settlements to permanent, concentrated Christian communities
    • Taxes, tribute, and unpaid labor
    • Large estates owned by Spanish settlers or prominent Filipinos
  • Responses to colonial oppression = short-lived revolts; flight to the interior mountains or bustling capital of Manila
the east india companies
The East India Companies
  • British and Dutch East India Companies
  • Both militarily and economically stronger than Portugal  quickly overtook Portugal within the Indian Ocean network in the early 1600s
  • Established their own parallel and competing trading post empires
    • Dutch = focused on Indonesia
    • British = focused on India
the east india companies1
The East India Companies
  • East India Companies = private trading companies that use merchant investors to raise money and share risks
  • These companies were granted charters by their governments that allowed them to:
    • Make war
    • Govern conquered peoples
    • Hold trading monopolies
dutch east india company
Dutch East India Company
  • Trading posts = in Indonesia
  • Controlled production and shipping of: cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mace (all spices)
  • Seized control of spice-producing islands with force and bloodshed
british east india company
British East India Company
  • Trading posts = in India
  • Did not practice “trade by warfare” like the Dutch  were no match for the Mughal Empire in India
  • Secured their trading bases on the coast with the permission of Mughal authorities
      • Usually took substantial payments and bribes
  • Focus = Indian cotton textiles
asian commerce
Asian Commerce
  • Impact of European involvement in Asian commerce = not very big on the major powers of South and East Asia (Mughal India, China, and Japan)
  • Europe posed no real military or economic threat to them
  • Were able to get rid of European intruders if need be
japan and the europeans
Japan and the Europeans
  • When European merchants first arrived in Japan (1500s)  Japan = tied down with interior conflicts between competing daimyos (feudal lords), each with his own band of samurai
  • Result = it was easy for the Europeans to stay there
  • European ideas taken by the Japanese = shipbuilding skills, military technology, geographic knowledge, commercial opportunities, and religious ideas
japan and the europeans1
Japan and the Europeans
  • Early 1600s = Japan unified politically by military commanders
    • Now led by the lead commander = shogun
      • From the Tokugawa clan
    • Set up the Tokugawa Shogunate
  • Shoguns began to see Europeans as a threat to Japan’s new unity

Tokugawa Ieyasu

japan and the europeans2
Japan and the Europeans
  • Result = Japan did the following:
    • Expelled Christian missionaries
    • Violently suppressed the practice of Christianity
      • Included: Torture and execution of missionaries and converts
    • Forbade Japanese people from travelling abroad
    • Banned European traders from entering Japan
  • Result = Japan became isolated from the world of European commerce for 2 centuries (1650-1850)
    • Maintained trading ties with only China and Korea

Painting of Japanese authorities

asian commerce1
Asian Commerce
  • Despite European naval dominance, Asian merchants did not disappear
  • Many commercial networks (run by Asians) continued to operate successfully
  • Chinese merchants = carried spices from Southeast Asia to China
  • Christian merchants from Armenia = active in overland trade linking Europe, the Middle East, and Central Asia
  • Indian merchants and moneylenders = lived throughout Central Asia, Persia, and Russia & connected these regions to markets in India
what drove european involvement in the world of asian commerce

Motivating factors, including the desire for

  • tropical spices
  • Chinese silk
  • Indian cottons
  • rhubarb
  • emeralds
  • rubies
  • sapphires

Recovery of European civilization following the disaster of the Black Death was a factor.

Europeans were also driven by a resentment of the Muslim monopolyon the flow of Indian Ocean products to Europe, & the dislike that many European powers had for Venice’s role as intermediary in the trade.

Hoped to discover & ally with the mythical Christian kingdom of Prester John to continue the Crusades & combat a common Islamic enemy.

The need to secure gold & silver to pay for Asian spices and textilesalso played a role.

What drove European involvement

in the world of Asiancommerce?


A Portuguese Empire of Commerce: To what extent did the Portuguese realize their own goals in the Indian Ocean?

Original goal = creating a trading post empire that controlled the commerce of the Indian Ocean (at best only partially realized)

They never succeeded in controlling much more than 1/2 the spice trade to Europe, & by 1600, their trading post empire was in steep decline.

Overall, Europeans created a network that became just one among a number of thriving Asian commercial networks that had already existed.

Spice Trade: 1000s of years - spices were a major trade item in the Indian Ocean commercial network, as this 15th century French depiction of the gathering of pepper in southern India illustrates. In the early modern era, Europeans gained direct access to this ancient network for the 1st time.

what powers were given to the east india companies
What powers were given to the East India Companies?

During colonial expansion, the major joint-stock companies who sought to do business in Asia were known as the East India Companies. These companies were given unprecedented political authorities by their home countries. Within their territories, they had power to pass legislation, wage war, negotiate treaties, issue their own currency, & administer own justice.


How did Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, and British initiatives in Asia differ?

Portuguesesought to set up a trading post (or "Ports") empire that controlled the trade routes of the Indian Ocean. Later blended into local populations - assimilating to the culture.

Spanishestablished colonial rule over the Philippine Islands. Drew on their experience in the Americas, converting most of the population to Christianity, ruling over the islands directly, & setting up large landed estates owned by Spanish settlers.


How did Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, and British initiatives in Asia differ?

The Dutch& Britishorganized their Indian Ocean ventures through private trading companies, which were able to raise money & share risks among a substantial number of merchant investors.

Trading companies obtained government charters granting them trading monopolies, the power to make war, & the right to govern conquered peoples.

Established their own parallel & competing trading post empires; the Dutch seized control of some of the Spice Islands through violent & deadly force. While the Britishset up trading centers in India by securing the support of the Mughal Empire or of local authorities with treaties.


What foreign trade items can you identify in this image?

Note the European houses on the tea cup at the bottom left.

What does this indicate about Chinese willingness to cater to the tastes of their European customers?

What social class is this depicting?

Foreign Trade items?

• tea

• porcelain cups, saucers, teapot, and bowl

• a silk tablecloth

• perhaps silk clothing on the figures in the painting

Social Class?

• Her dress and surroundings indicate that she most likely comes from the upper class.

• However, it is possible that she came from a prosperous family engaged in trade or one of the professions.

silver and global commerce world historical importance of the silver trade

Silver trade: 1st direct & sustained link between the Americas & Asia

It initiated a web of Pacific commerce that grew steadily over the centuries.

Transformed Spain & Japan: states that controlled the principal new sources of silver.

Deepened already substantial commercialization of China’s economy, which fueled global commerce.

Became a key commodity driving long-distance trade & offered the Europeans a product that they could produce that was also in demand elsewhere in the world.

Silver and Global Commerce

World historical importance of the silver trade?


Mankind: The story of all of us.

Potosi Silver Mine

Potosi: Colonial-era painting above shows the enormously rich silver mines of Potosí, then a major global source of the precious metal and the largest city in the Americas.

Brutally hard work & poisonous exposure to mercury, which was used in the refining process, led to the deaths of many thousands of workers, even as the silver itself contributed to European splendor in the early modern era.