Flashcards in 101 Lecture 21 April 18 Deck (40):
To understand why anyone would want to sail west to go east, we need to look at some developments going on at the edges of medieval Europe
Last Years of Byzantium
Last 2 centuries of Byzantine history a story of independent principalities
Emperors paid a grudging lip service and even more grudging taxes
Even Greek Orthodox Church ignored emperor
The empire was weak militarily and economically
Lacked control of the Mediterranean
Dependent on foreign commercial trade
This meant a drain on imperial revenues
Rulers could not finance a recovery, military or otherwise
One emperor, John V, found it necessary to pawn the imperial crown jewels to the city of Venice
Several waves of military threat
1204: Fourth Crusade
Saljuq Turks and egyptian Mameluks carved up Holy Land and Anatolia
Balkans taken over by Bulgars and Serbs.
The Saljuq's declining in power
Rise of the Ottoman (Osmanli) Turks
Became an autonomous power in the wake of Saljuq disintegration
Byzantine empire had long been a buffer between worlds:
Christian and Islamic
European and Asian
Demise of Byz empire meant need for a new buffer: Eastern Europe
There was also a recognition that western Europeans needed to temporarily set aside differences to deal with the new Turkish threat
New crusade in 1396
And again in 1440
This left most of southern europe open for Ottomans to take
Mehment II the Conqueror took Constantinople on 29 May 1453
upheaval in Asia in wake of Mongols
All cut Europe off from southern and eastern Asia, to which it had had highly profitable commercial ties since 12th c.
This happened right when European economy in a depression
Impetus to secure a direct relation with the east
Mongol and Ottoman domination of eastern Mediterranean and central Asia
No hope for maintaining traditional trade routes over land.
Need for a new route
A sea route required new kinds of ships, new methods of navigation, new techniques of financing
Beginning around 1400, European traders had begun to work their way slowly along the African coastline
Traveled with gola dna silver, as well as bulk commodities traded in Africa in return for gold and silver
All that China wanted from west was precious metals
Represented a severe drain on European supplies of precious metals, leading to implications for currency
solved by New World
The shift to maritime exploration gave the advantage to Atlantic seaboard, not Mediterranean, states
Changed economic and political ordering of Europe
Story of Columbus
Impacts of the Discovery of the New World
Gold and Silver
Taken by the conquistadores from the native populations and kingdoms
Francisco Pizarro conquered Peru, which opened the way for mining gold
Silver discovered and mined in Mexico
As gold and silver came in, the price of everything began to rise steadily.
Brought about the Price Revolution
People on fixed incomes impoverished.
More advantageous to owe money than to be solvent -- money lost value the longer it stayed in your pocket
Therefore: trade the way to prosperity
Land ceased being a basis for wealth
True end of land-ownership as a mark of a dominant economic class
Medieval peasant could harvest 600 lbs of wheat per acre of land
50,000 pounds of potatoes per acre
Potatoes hard to adjust to.
Worse was corn. 1800 lbs per acre
Harder to digest. made many sick
Land can now produce more food.
Relative price of food drops.
People can now eat more.
Food variety on the whole increased, as did nutrient value.
Stronger, more nourished population
Quinine extracted from bark of chincona tree
Permitted exploration of the interior of Africa when brought into general use in 1830s
Resisted at first by medical establishment
Europe lacked any natural alkaloid stimulants.
These quickly imported
Cocoa (Aztecs): caffeine
Coffee (Near East): caffeine
Narcotics and depressants
Coca leaves (South America): cocaine
Opium (Far East): opium, morphine
Hashish (Near East): marijuana
Less dramatic than gold and silver, but perhaps more important long-term
Cloth industry always looking for dyes that would not fade or wash out.
Found in New World
Islands off Carolina coast: Indigo
Importation of wood
These raw materials made it possible for Europe to create a surplus that enabled trade
Medievals had searched through knowledge using logic
And logic was based on the manipulation of categories
The New World broke down those categories; made them useless
New species of animals: duck-billed platypus