Fifteenth Century Empires

1427 Words6 Pages
During the fifteenth century, civilizations throughout the world experienced many expansions and contractions. The flourishing of new empires along with the revival of already existing societies caused many shifts in demographics, trade, communication and power worldwide. Western Europe experienced a period of rapid growth over only a few centuries as it became host to many powerful imperial states such as Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, France and England, all countries that grew out of small independent feudal kingdoms. In contrast to these young radically changing states was China, which had been united and broken up many times throughout its long history. The revival under the Qing Dynasty shows the China’s imperial side as it conquers…show more content…
Despite the differences of the empires in existence during the time, the early modern period held many common motivations for rulers to expand trade and connections to the rest of the world. The motives of the major empires of the early modern era were extending the range of their political power and religious influence, increasing connections through trade, and defending against neighboring forces. One common motive of empires displayed by Western Europe, Russia, China and the Ottoman Empire during the fifteenth century is the desire to establish power over new land and groups of people. Western European countries could not conquer territory on their own continent because borders were becoming concrete between the newly formed states. Instead, they used their wealth and ship building innovations to conquer land across the seas in the Americas. The Spanish encountered already existing divided groups of Aztecs and Incas in South America which they conquered and blended with, forming a hierarchical society with the Spaniards on top. The settlers in this region also had strong religious zeal, and attempted to bring their traditions to the natives by preaching and sometimes forcing…show more content…
The Russian Empire first began expanding to the grasslands to the south and east of Moscow in order to take over the nomads who frequently raided Russia and sold the citizens as slaves. Russia used the motivation of defending their frontiers to forcefully conquer pastoral groups, having them swear an oath of loyalty to the czar and requiring tribute to be paid. China similarly expanded its territory to take over the Mongolian Zunghar state to the north during the seventeenth century. The rulers of the Qing Empire insisted this was not as act of defensive imperialism, but an action to unify the Chinese state. Unlike the Russian Empire, the Chinese did not assimilate the people they conquered. When the Ottoman Empire incorporated the Arabs and transformed into a religious and political empire, it also took responsibility to defend and protect Islam. This was a major motivator to overthrow Byzantium, and cause Christians to fear a Muslim takeover by continuing to pressure the borders between European states and the Middle East. The Western European empires were unique in the way that their conquest was not defensive of their territory, it was a push into new uncharted lands. However, it could be argued that their goals to be the first to reach the new world and take power were motivated by the competition between other European states to defend the
Open Document