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Social and Econmic Transformation 1492-1750

Essay by   •  April 4, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,560 Words (7 Pages)  •  2,457 Views

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The year 1492 brought about drastic change in global relations. The discovery of new land would draw in the European world with temptations of territories and luxury goods. These temptations would be the cause of great wars of European versus European, and European versus native peoples. Between the years of 1492 and 1750, the innovations of weaponry in Europe and new trade markets in America and West Africa would alter global foreign relations forever. Most of the innovations in weaponry occurred prior to the Columbian Exchange during the earlier part of the Renaissance. These new weapons utilized gun powder that had first been developed by the Chinese over centuries before. With the cultural and technological bloom of the Renaissance, the Europeans refined the use of gun powder to create weapons like cannons and flintlock rifles that were efficient in warfare. Uses of such refined weaponry would define social and economic relations between European nations as well as states in Africa and the Americas. New trade markets in America and West Africa generated the triangular trade of the Atlantic world that significantly benefited European economy after pitifully impoverished era of the Middle Ages. The bulk of revenue was generated from American cotton and sugar plantations, on which African slaves were the main source of labor. Relations with natives of the new markets and with competing Europeans set precedents for future foreign relations, both socially and economically. Remnants of these precedents were obvious in United States' policies, such as the Monroe Doctrine and in the ever-growing idea of, "manifest destiny." Developments in warfare-based technology prior to 1492 established a foundation for the competition that western European expansion would compel. Rifles production began in the 15th century, though it was mainly experimental and hardly ever implemented for military uses due to trouble with loading and with accuracy. Competition for land and trade in Africa and the Americas culminated in the invention of cannons, as well as cannon-bearing sea vessels. The latter development drastically changed the naval military's of Europe, and introduced siege warfare by means of distant bombardment. While this new artillery made archer battalions obsolete, it was not an entirely new concept. Gun powder, as well as early cannons, had been introduced to the world by the Chinese. The substance's use in refined artillery was simply a modified implication of its original use. Between the late 16th century and 1650, personal firearms were the subject of most development, though weapon manufactures still failed to solve problems involving the smoky discharge of primitive weapons as well as the accumulation of soot in the barrel. Rifling, grooves that spiral along the barrel walls, was developed but not implemented for military use until later in history. Ballistic rifles and muskets were again improved with the introduction of the cartridge, allowing for simpler loading of firearms. The cannon, which was used for military means more often that firearms, went through relatively few changes in the time period of 1570 to 1650. Its use as artillery did not require terrific accuracy, but merely the ability to inflict casualties and damage. The cannon was implemented in such exploits as Sir Francis Drake's destruction of the Spanish Armada in the Anglo-Spanish war between 1585 and 1604. Between 1650 and 1750, infantry and artillery weaponry transformed once more. Rifles and muskets adopted the French, "flintlock," mechanism. A similar mechanism was adapted to fit cannons, replacing an older mechanism that used loose powder and directly applied flames. The firearm flintlock rifle drastically changed infantry warfare, allowing for more practical uses of previously inaccurate and underdeveloped rifles. As these types of weapons became more available, they spurred an arms race between European states. The arms race bolstered economy instantly. It also established social relations between West African traders who provided materials directly, or provided labor for the acquisition of materials in the Americas. Other methods of acquisition included the conquering of Native American empires, like the Incas and Aztecs, which harvested large sums of gold. Europe was continuously developing foreign relations both socially and economically in the Atlantic world through trade and conquest. New trade markets in the Americas and Africa were perhaps the most drastic transformations to European social and economic relations. The year 1492 introduced an entirely new continent to the world, and, thus, a new market with entirely new goods and multiple endemic civilizations. The Columbian Exchange specifically details this trade in the Americas, outlining the staple crops that came from the New World as well as the technology and diseases that passed from Europe. West Africa was also an established area of trade in the time approaching

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