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Atlantic World Essay

The Renaissance in Western Europe marked the end of the Middle Ages and the start of Europe rise as a global power. States in Western Europe became more centralized, and monarchs exercised more control over their subjects. Christopher Columbus voyage to America and having a successful return signaled the beginning of exploration. Likewise, Prince Henry, the Navigators expeditions along the West African coast led to increased trade with Africa. Long, and isolated from the rest of the world, the Native Americanslives were drastically changed by the presence of the European explorers, and later, colonists. Some aspects of life, such as domination by the strength in Europe, trade in Africa, and Native American ways of life in the Americas, have remained the same through the period. New contacts from Western Europe, Africa, and the Americas.

This led to interaction that has only increased with time. New contacts and increased trade went towards to the rise of a middle class in Western Europe. Throughout the feudal period, nobles had controlled government and wealth. The trade with Africa and the Americas increased, and a new merchant class came about. As the new class became wealthier, they began to trouble the political power, soon leading to conflicts such as the 1789 French Revolution. In the Americas, social transformations were huge. Deadly diseases brought by the Europeans decreased local populations, who had no resistance to smallpox, measles, etc. During Spaniard Hernan Cortez’s conquest of the Aztecs, the Spanish gave the Aztecs disease-ridden blankets- on purpose. This also led to the downfall of the Incas, who were conquered by Francisco Pizzaro.

The Native American people were reduced to serving as servants or slaves of the new conquerors. A similar trend in North America. Unlike the Aztecs or Incas, North American natives were decentralized, and not even organized by tribes any more. Columbus first forced submission of the Haitians, forcing them to mine gold. Africa was particularly affected by the slave trade. Large amounts of labor were needed on the Spanish and Portuguese sugarcane plantations, and Native American populations were often unable or unwilling to work as slaves. After a campaign against the force submission of Native Americans, the Europeans needed another source of labor. Then the Atlantic slave trade began, in the forced movement of slaves from Africa. The slave trade had both positive and negative effects on African society. While slavery was cruel, the money some empires acquired from working with the Europeans, and allowed them to build stronger empires. Some aspects of life stayed the same.

In Western Europe, the gap between the poor and the rich remained; even though a middle class had developed, the power was still concentrated. Every Western European country was a monarchy, and there was almost no popular representation, due to property ownership requirements and other standards. The period from 1492 to 1750 was still one of control. In the Americas, many tribes were still able to maintain their traditional way of life. Many tribes displaced by British settlers in North America moved west, and since the French had yet to settle the Louisiana Territory, they were free to continue with traditional methods Africa was still, for the most part, free. Not until the majority of Africa become colonized.

Though less powerful than the Western Europeans, African nations remained independent and gained wealth through trade. In conclusion, the interaction between Western Europe, Africa, and the Americas has resulted in both change and continuity. One trend was the growing interconnectedness of the global community. Columbus united the New World with the Old, creating something that has never since been broken. Recent developments such as globalization and information technology have “shrunk” the world. Interaction between 1492 and 1750 set a forgoing for future actions.


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