16th Century Timelines Episode Six: Century of the
16th Century Timelines Episode Six: Century of the Compass (1500-1600) http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/1999/ millennium/learning/timelines / 16th Century Segments
Mexico Russia Japan India Europe The Beginning of a Modern Era The 16th century established the beginning of the Modern Era. For the
first time in human history water routes linked the seacoasts of the world. This was to have enormous consequences in human history. The center of European trade shifted from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic basin. Lisbon replaced Venice. 16th Century World
In the 16th century the world became an arena of competition between aggressively expanding empires and fiercely evangelical religions. New empires were created across oceans and continents by dynamic civilizations determined to influence cultures very different from their own.
In this Episode, European maritime imperialism is set in the context of Russian, Chinese, and Japanese empire-building. The reach of global imperialism is evoked through the content of a cabinet of curiosities. The compass was a technology that made these ambitions possible.
An all-ocean route from Portugal around Africa to India linked the Atlantic ports of Europe and Africa with the markets of India, the Indian Ocean basin, and East Asia. Global trade began when the first Spanish galleon from Acapulco reached the Philippines in 1571 with a load of American silver to be swapped for
Chinese products like silk and porcelain. Chinese merchants in Manila traded with the Spanish to meet the growing demand for silver coins at home. The result of this expanding trade was the worldwide exchange of people, ideas, technology, foods, and diseases.
World Trade This increasing volume of world trade began to change the lives of ordinary people. The discovery of trade winds and ocean currents led to the mapping of dependable water routes. Europeans gradually shed their narrow, medieval views of the world. The Portuguese
sailed a bit too far west of Africa and discovered Brazil in 1500. Their search for mythical Christian kingdom of Prester John also led them to Ethiopia, where the ruler placed an order for Portuguese guns. Around the world people were being confronted with new things. American chili
peppers came to India; tulips, to Holland; horses, to the Americas; guns, to Japan. New American crops like maize (corn) and potatoes kept hungry peasants in Africa, China, and Europe from starvation.
Peoples in Contact Many peoples came in contact with each other for the first time. The French writer Michel Montaigne recorded impressions of American Indians visiting France sometime between 1570 and 1574. After encountering the young French
king, Charles, these visitors ". . . thought it very strange that so many grown men, bearded, strong, and armed, who were around the king should. . . obey a child, and that one of them was not chosen to command instead." The American Indians also observed
that "among [the French were] men full and gorged with all sorts of good things, and their other halves were beggars at their doors, emaciated with hunger and poverty. . . they thought it strange that these needy halves could endure such an injustice, and did not take the others by the throat, or set fire to their houses."
New Religions Peoples flocked to new religions. Islam, immensely popular through the teachings of the Sufis, gained new converts in ports and along the trade routes inland from the Indian Ocean, although the divisions between Shiite and Sunni remained.
Hinduism receded as Buddhism gained support among the peoples living in the river valleys of Southeast Asia. China revived its ancient Confucian traditions when the Ming court and local gentry adopted conservative, Neoconfucian teachings and values. Some Indians began following a different path altogether, as
turbaned Sikhs combined aspects of Islam and Hinduism into a new religious synthesis. In contrast, Christians in Europe split between Catholics and Protestants. Europeans became embroiled in bitter religious controversies that would lead to many wars. Christians were less successful in their missionary efforts in
Asia and Africa than in the Americas, where the Spanish successfully converted many conquered peoples. Next, African slaves were also introduced to Christianity on the New World plantations. Then Catholic monks traveled inland to convert native populations. Half a world away,
the first Dali Lama was recognized by his followers in the late 1500's. Tibetan Buddhist monks traveled to Mongolia to convert the Mongols in mass. Global Technology By 1500, Europeans had the technological advantage in ship design, mining, metallurgy and gunpowder
weapons. Caravels were floating fortresses. These ships could withstand the recoil of heavy cannon fired from the deck and yet were agile and durable in the water. The Portuguese established a lucrative trade in gold and slaves with the west coast of Africa. In 1488 they reached the
Cape of Good Hope. By 1498 Vasco da Gama had sailed all the way to India with the help of a Muslim pilot. Columbus used the same navigational technology to sail west from Spain in 1492. These expeditions ushered in an age of European exploration and expansion. Conclusion
As the century closed, a Japanese invasion of Korea failed. Japan and Korea were to become increasingly isolated in the years to follow as trade moved to the South China Sea. Although land routes like the Silk Road continued to link regional markets, sea routes and ports were tied to an expanding network of global trade.
Muslim rulers established land based empires in Ottoman Turkey, Safavid Iran, and Moghul India with the support of large standing armies, a sophisticated bureaucracy, and gunpowder weapons. By the end of this first modern century, Spain and Portugal had established European colonial empires.
Sixteen Century People Akbar 1542 1605 Tolerant and wise, Akbar was the greatest of India's Mogul emperors. This Muslim leader realized that India's Hindus were too powerful to subjugate. During his 50 years of rule he
allowed the princes to keep their lands in return for allegiance. He offered their subjects jobs and religious freedom. He fostered architecture that melded Mogul and Hindu traditions, culminating in 1650 in the Taj Mahal, which was the
vision of Akbar's grandson Shah Jahan. Vasco Da Gama 1460 1524 His mission for Portugal was to break up the Muslim, Venetian and Genoese monopolies that controlled the lucrative trade route between
Europe and Asia. His most memorable success came on his first voyage, in 1497, when Vasco da Gama rounded Africa's Cape of Good Hope and sailed to India, opening an allwater route from Europe to Asia. Suleyman 1494 1566
The reign of sultan Suleyman (1520-66) marks the apogee of political, economic, and cultural development under the Ottomans. Known in English as "the Magnificent" because of the splendors of his court, he is usually known in Turkish as kanuni, or "lawgiver," because he issued laws that harmonized traditional Islamic and Ottoman legal codes.
His given name, the Arabic and Turkish form of Solomon, encouraged the sultan to consider himself a worthy successor to his namesake, the biblical king in the Koran and Muslim lore. One of the sultan's many architectural projects was the refurbishment of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, which was believed to stand on the site of the Jewish temple
built by King Solomon. Nicolaus Copernicus 1473 1543 The Earth was the fixed center of the universe until Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus ventured the idea that the sun is the center of the solar system, with the Earth and the
planets revolving around it. He was a a cautious, one might say a wise, man -- at a time when heretics were put to death. Copernicus didn't publish On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres, which revolutionized our concept of the world, until 1543, when he was on
his deathbed. Martin Luther 1483 1546 When Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of a Wittenberg, Germany, church in 1517 "for the purpose of eliciting truth," he began the Reformation that transformed political and religious alliances for
centuries. His early works stressed salvation by God's grace and Christian spirituality. He argued against papal authority in affairs of state, and when he refused to recant, was excommunicated by the Catholic Church -- an act that gave rise to all
Protestant churches. John Calvin 1509 1564, French-born theologian John Calvin was a significant figure of the Reformation and trained ministers who spread Protestant faith through Europe and Puritan New England.
His teachings shaped 16th century political and social customs and influence theology to this day. Thus was born the Calvinist movement, which included the concept of an elected, representative church government.
Hernan Cortes 1485 1547 Eager for fame and riches, Hernn Corts set out in 1519 for Mexico, where gold was said to be abundant. Exploiting local resentment
against the Aztecs, who used prisoners of war for human sacrifice, Corts negotiated alliances as he headed toward Tenochtitln, seat of the Aztec emperor Montezuma. Returning in 1521, Corts laid siege to Tenochtitln,
destroying the Aztecs' most splendid jewel and planting seeds of domination that would grow for the next three centuries. Elizabeth I 1533 1603 Elizabeth ascended the throne of England in 1558. A supremely skilled
diplomat, the Virgin Queen -- she never married -- fended off suitors as cleverly as she manipulated foreign negotiators and domestic factions. She was pragmatic: Although she disliked waging war, she built up England's navy and in 1588 defeated Spain's Armada,
not only staving off invasion but laying the basis for empire. She was visionary: She supported Shakespeare, the poet Edmund Spenser and Walter Raleigh, who dispatched settlers to Virginia, a colony named in her honor. The Elizabethan era: a 45-year span
of stability, growth and dazzling achievement. 16th Century Legacies Shipping lanes linked the seaports of the world. This was an era of cross cultural contact and biological exchange. Religious conversions and schisms in the Americas, the Indian Ocean Basin, China, Europe, and India during this period continue to shape present cultural landscapes.
Exchange led to the spread of infectious diseases and massive loss of life in the Americas. Peoples of the Americas would be of African, indigenous American and European origins.
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