No other era is as easy to summarize as the EARLY MODERN (1450-1750) era.  This is the era the Europeans "wake-up", expand, and build empires.  I'm not talking about Charlemagne here.  I'm talking about the British Empire.  I'm talking about the Dutch East India Trading Company.  I'm talking about the Spanish Empire. This is a new Europe.  This isn't Marco Polo.  These Europeans will come to your land and stay there. They will take over most of the world in this era (if not, in the next).  Beyond the Maritime empires (and the effect of their establishment), many huge land empires emerged (most notably the Islamic Mughal and Ottoman Empires.  Of course, China is important... It always is.  So, here is the Early Modern Period...

No other era is as easy to summarize as the EARLY MODERN (1450-1750) era.  This is the era the Europeans "wake-up", expand, and build empires.  I'm not talking about Charlemagne here.  I'm talking about the British Empire.  I'm talking about the Dutch East India Trading Company.  I'm talking about the Spanish Empire. This is a new Europe.  This isn't Marco Polo.  These Europeans will come to your land and stay there. They will take over most of the world in this era (if not, in the next).  Beyond the Maritime empires (and the effect of their establishment), many huge land empires emerged (most notably the Islamic Mughal and Ottoman Empires.  Of course, China is important... It always is.  So, here is the Early Modern Period...

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The above map was created using the geographic references from this era in the AP World History curriculum. Every geographic reference for this unit appears on this map.


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The interconnection of the Eastern and Western hemispheres made possible by transoceanic voyaging marked a key transformation of this period. Technological innovations helped to make transoceanic connections possible. Changing patterns of long-distance trade included the global circulation of some commodities and the formation of new regional markets and financial centers. Increased trans-regional and global trade networks facilitated the spread of religion and other elements of culture as well as the migration of large numbers of people. Germs carried to the Americas ravaged the indigenous peoples, while the global exchange of crops and animals altered agriculture, diets, and populations around the planet.

I. Existing regional patterns of trade intensified in the context of the new global circulation of goods.

A. The intensification of trade brought prosperity and economic disruption to the mercnahts and goverenments in the trading region of the Indian OCean, Mediterranean, the Sahara, and overland Eurasia. 

A. The intensification of trade brought prosperity and economic disruption to the mercnahts and goverenments in the trading region of the Indian OCean, Mediterranean, the Sahara, and overland Eurasia. 

II. European technological developments in cartography and navigation built on previous knowledge developed in the Classical, Islamic, and Asian worlds.

A. The developments included the production of new tools, innovations in ship designs, and an improved understanding of global wind and current patterns--all of which made transoceanic travel and trade possible. 

A. The developments included the production of new tools, innovations in ship designs, and an improved understanding of global wind and current patterns--all of which made transoceanic travel and trade possible. 

IV.  The new global circulation of goods was facilitated by royal chartered European monopoly companies and the flow of silver from the Spanish colonies in the Amerias to purchase Asian goods for the Atlantic markets. Regional markets continued to flourish in Afro-Eurasia by using established commercial practices and new transoceanic shipping services developed by European Merchants. 

A. European merchants’ role in Asian trade was characterized mostly by transporting goods from one Asian country to another market in Asia or the Indian Ocean region.

A. European merchants’ role in Asian trade was characterized mostly by transporting goods from one Asian country to another market in Asia or the Indian Ocean region.

B. Commercialization and the creation of a global economy were intimately connected to new global circulation of silver from the Americas. (SEE CRASH COURSE BELOW)

B. Commercialization and the creation of a global economy were intimately connected to new global circulation of silver from the Americas. (SEE CRASH COURSE BELOW)

(John Green explores how Spain went from being a middling European power to one of the most powerful empires on Earth, thanks to their plunder ((silver)) of the New World in the 16th and 17th centuries.)

C. Mercantilist policies and practices were used by European rulers to expand and control their economies and claim overseas territories, and joint-stock companies, influenced by these mercantilist principles, were used by rulers and merchants to finance exploration and compete against one another in global trade. 

C. Mercantilist policies and practices were used by European rulers to expand and control their economies and claim overseas territories, and joint-stock companies, influenced by these mercantilist principles, were used by rulers and merchants to finance exploration and compete against one another in global trade. 

V. The new connections between the Eastern and Western hemispheres resulted in the Columbian Exchange.  

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A. European colonization of the Americas led to the spread of diseases— including smallpox, measles, and influenza — that were endemic in the Eastern Hemisphere among Amerindian populations and the unintentional transfer of disease vectors, including mosquitoes and rats.

A. European colonization of the Americas led to the spread of diseases— including smallpox, measles, and influenza — that were endemic in the Eastern Hemisphere among Amerindian populations and the unintentional transfer of disease vectors, including mosquitoes and rats.

B. American foods (potatoes, maize, manioc) became staple crops in various parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa. Cash crops (sugar, tobacco) were grown primarily on plantations with coerced labor and were exported mostly to Europe and the Middle East in this period.

B. American foods (potatoesmaizemaniocbecame staple crops in various parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa. Cash crops (sugartobaccowere grown primarily on plantations with coerced labor and were exported mostly to Europe and the Middle East in this period.

C. Afro-Eurasian fruit trees, grains, sugar, and domesticated animals (horses, cattle, pigs) were brought by Europeans to the Americas, while other foods were brought by African slaves (okra, rice)

C. Afro-Eurasian fruit trees, grains, sugar, and domesticated animals (horses, cattle, pigswere brought by Europeans to the Americas, while other foods were brought by African slaves (okra, rice)

E. European colonization and the introduction of European agriculture and settlements practices in the Americas often affected the physical environment through deforestation and soil depletion.

E. European colonization and the introduction of European agriculture and settlements practices in the Americas often affected the physical environment through deforestation and soil depletion.

VI. The increase in interactions between newly connected hemispheres and intensification of connections within hemispheres expanded the spread and reform of existing religions and contributed to both religious conflicts and the creation of syncretic belief systems and practices.

VII. As merchants' profits increased and governments collected more taxes, funding for the visual and performing arts, even for popular audiences, increased along with an expansion of literacy and increased focus on innovation and scientific inquiry. 

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(CLICK THIS LINK TO GO TO THE VIRGINIA SOL PAGE DEVOTED TO THE RENAISSANCE)

(CLICK THIS LINK TO GO TO THE VIRGINIA SOL PAGE DEVOTED TO THE RENAISSANCE)

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Although the world’s productive systems continued to be heavily centered on agricultural production throughout this period, major changes occurred in agricultural labor, the systems and locations of manufacturing, gender and social structures, and environmental processes. A surge in agricultural productivity resulted from new methods in crop and field rotation and the introduction of new crops. Economic growth also depended on new forms of manufacturing and new commercial patterns, especially in long-distance trade. Political and economic centers within regions shifted, and merchants’ social status tended to rise in various states. Demographic growth — even in areas such as the Americas, where disease had ravaged the population — was restored by the eighteenth century and surged in many regions, especially with the introduction of American food crops throughout the Eastern Hemisphere. The Columbian Exchange led to new ways of humans interacting with their environments. New forms of coerced and semi-coerced labor emerged in Europe, Africa, and the Americas, and affected ethnic and racial classifications and gender roles.

I. Beginning in the 14th Century, there was a decrease in mean temperatures, often referred to as the Little Ice Age, around the world that lasted until the 19th century, contributing to changes in agricultural practices and the contraction of settlement in parts of the Northern Hemisphere.

In which John Green teaches you about the Little Ice Age. The Little Ice Age was a period of global cooling that occurred from the 13th to the 19th centuries. This cooling was likely caused by a number of factors, including unusual solar activity and volcanic eruptions.

II. Traditional peasant agriculture increased and changed, plantations expanded, and demand for labor increased. These changes both fed and responded to growing global demand for raw materials and finished products.

A. Peasant and arisan labor intensified in many regions (Frontier settlements in Siberia Russia, Cotton textiles in India, Silk production in China)

A. Peasant and arisan labor intensified in many regions (Frontier settlements in Siberia RussiaCotton textiles in India, Silk production in China)

B. Slavery in Africa continued both the traditional incorporation of mainly female slaves into households AND the export of slaves to the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean.

C. The growth of the plantation economy increased the demand for slaves in the Americas.

The Atlantic Slave Trade 

D. Colonial economies in the Americas depended on a range of coerced labor. 

III. As new social and political elites changed, they also restructured new ethnic, racial, and gender hierarchies.

A. Both imperial conquests and widening global economic opportunities contributed to the formation of new political and economic elites.

A. Both imperial conquests and widening global economic opportunities contributed to the formation of new political and economic elites.

B. The power of existing political and economic elites (Zamindars in the Mughal Empire, Nobility in Europe, Daimyo in Japan) fluctuated as they confronted new challenges to their ability to affect the policies of the increasingly powerful monarchs and leaders.

B. The power of existing political and economic elites (Zamindars in the Mughal Empire, Nobility in Europe, Daimyo in Japanfluctuated as they confronted new challenges to their ability to affect the policies of the increasingly powerful monarchs and leaders.

C. Some notable gender and family restructuring (The dependence of European men on Southeast Asian women for conducting trade, smaller family size in Europe) occurred, including the demographic changes in Africa that resulted from the slave trades.

C. Some notable gender and family restructuring (The dependence of European men on Southeast Asian women for conducting trade, smaller family size in Europe) occurred, including the demographic changes in Africa that resulted from the slave trades.


Empires expanded and conquered new peoples around the world, but they often had difficulties incorporating culturally, ethnically, and religiously diverse subjects, and administrating widely dispersed territories. Agents of the European powers moved into existing trade networks around the world. In Africa and the greater Indian Ocean, nascent European empires consisted mainly of interconnected trading posts and enclaves. In the Americas, European empires moved more quickly to settlement and territorial control, responding to local demographic and commercial conditions. Moreover, the creation of European empires in the Americas quickly fostered a new Atlantic trade system that included the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Around the world, empires and states of varying sizes pursued strategies of centralization, including more efficient taxation systems that placed strains on peasant producers, sometimes prompting local rebellions. Rulers used public displays of art and architecture to legitimize state power. African states shared certain characteristics with larger Eurasian empires. Changes in African and global trading patterns strengthened some West and Central African states — especially on the coast; this led to the rise of new states and contributed to the decline of states on both the coast and in the interior.

I. Rulers used a variety of methods to legitimize and consolidate their power

A. Rules continued to use religious ideas, art, and monumental architecture to legitimize their rule:

B. Many states adopted practices to accommodate the different ethnic and religious diversity of their subjects or to utilize the economic, political and military contributions of different ethnic or religious groups. 

C. Recruitment and use of bureaucratic elites, as well as the development of military professionals, (Ottoman devshirme, Chinese examination system, Salaried samarai) became more common among rulers who wanted to maintain centralized control over their populations and resources.

C. Recruitment and use of bureaucratic elitesas well as the development of military professionals, (Ottoman devshirmeChinese examination systemSalaried samarai) became more common among rulers who wanted to maintain centralized control over their populations and resources.

D. Rulers used tribute collection and tax farming to generate revenue for territorial expansion

D. Rulers used tribute collection and tax farming to generate revenue for territorial expansion

II. Imperial expansion relied on the increased use of gunpowder, cannons, and armed trade to establish large empires in both hemispheres.

A.  Europeans established new trading-post empires in Africa and Asia, which proved profitable for the rulers and merchants involved in new global trade networks, but these empires also affected the power of the states in interior West and Central Africa.

A.  Europeans established new trading-post empires in Africa and Asia, which proved profitable for the rulers and merchants involved in new global trade networks, but these empires also affected the power of the states in interior West and Central Africa.


Although the AP doesn't specifically mention the Safavid or Tokugawa as Empires, they do show up at other points in the curriculum.

Although the AP doesn't specifically mention the Safavid or Tokugawa as Empires, they do show up at other points in the curriculum.



III. Competition over trade routes (Omani-European rivalry in the Indian Ocean, Piracy in the Caribbean) , state rivalries (Thirty Years War, Ottoman-Safavid conflict), and local resistance (food riots, samurai revolts, peasant uprisings) all provided significant challenges to state consolidation and expansion.

III. Competition over trade routes (Omani-European rivalry in the Indian OceanPiracy in the Caribbeanstate rivalries (Thirty Years WarOttoman-Safavid conflict), and local resistance (food riots, samurai revolts, peasant uprisingsall provided significant challenges to state consolidation and expansion.


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The information that follows is not specifically mentioned by the College Board.  However, it will make you a more culturally well-rounded person; so... you're welcome.

The information that follows is not specifically mentioned by the College Board.  However, it will make you a more culturally well-rounded person; so... you're welcome.


There is nothing more renaissance than Raphael's school of Athens.  This is a painting of Classical era figures painted by an Italian during the Renaissance. It's almost redundant.  Here's a key to who is who in this painting.  The central figures are Plato and Aristotle.  My favorite part? Raphael painted himself into the painting! Hes in the red robe in the upper right.  

There is nothing more renaissance than Raphael's school of Athens.  This is a painting of Classical era figures painted by an Italian during the Renaissance. It's almost redundant.  Here's a key to who is who in this painting.  The central figures are Plato and Aristotle.  My favorite part? Raphael painted himself into the painting! Hes in the red robe in the upper right.  

This colorful building looks completely out of place in Moscow, Russia (not exactly Disneyland).  Plus, this beautiful building was ordered to be built by a guy named Ivan the Terrible! So, the background may not be what you think.  The most common question about this cathedral is, "Didn't they blind the dude that built this so that he could never recreate its beauty?" No one knows for sure but the architect kept designing and building for another 10 years. So, if they did blind him; they did a terrible job.

This colorful building looks completely out of place in Moscow, Russia (not exactly Disneyland).  Plus, this beautiful building was ordered to be built by a guy named Ivan the Terrible! So, the background may not be what you think.  The most common question about this cathedral is, "Didn't they blind the dude that built this so that he could never recreate its beauty?" No one knows for sure but the architect kept designing and building for another 10 years. So, if they did blind him; they did a terrible job.

Maybe the most famous building on earth not named the Pyramids.  Built by Shah Jahan as a mausoleum for his wife,Mumtaz Mahal. Mumtaz Mahal died giving birth to her 14th child.  It took over 21 years to complete and remains one of the true marvels of architecture on the planet.

Maybe the most famous building on earth not named the Pyramids.  Built by Shah Jahan as a mausoleum for his wife,Mumtaz Mahal. Mumtaz Mahal died giving birth to her 14th child.  It took over 21 years to complete and remains one of the true marvels of architecture on the planet.

Castas (Castes) were paintings that were used in Latin America to delineate between the new groups of people that were being born when Europeans, Africans, and Americans intermarried.  The whiter you were, the higher your class in society.  

Castas (Castes) were paintings that were used in Latin America to delineate between the new groups of people that were being born when Europeans, Africans, and Americans intermarried.  The whiter you were, the higher your class in society.  

Versailles was originally the hunting lodge for Louis XIII.  It was located roughly 12 miles outside of Paris and served as an home away from home for the king.  Louis XIV, the absolutist Absolute Monarch ever, decided to build an entire city around it.  This was the home of the king for around 100 years until the French Revolution.  

Versailles was originally the hunting lodge for Louis XIII.  It was located roughly 12 miles outside of Paris and served as an home away from home for the king.  Louis XIV, the absolutist Absolute Monarch ever, decided to build an entire city around it.  This was the home of the king for around 100 years until the French Revolution.  


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  1. GUTENBERG BIBLE, 1450, Johannes Gutenberg (GERMANY)
  2. EPIC OF SUNDIATA, c. 1450 (MALI)
  3. 95 THESES, 1517, Martin Luther (GERMANY)
  4. A SHORT ACCOUNT OF THE DESTRUCTION OF THE WEST INDIES, 1542, Bartolome de las Casas (SPANISH AMERICA)
  5. SLAVE TRADER, 1700, WILLIAM BOSMAN (AFRICAN COAST)


  1. STARTING WITH PRINCE HENRY, EUROPEANS ARE GOING TO TRAVEL THE WORLD AND BE IN EVERYBODY's BUSINESS.

  2. THIS IS GOING TO MAKE THEM INCREDIBLY WEALTHY AND BUILD THEM HUGE EMPIRES.

  3. ALONG WITH THIS, COMES DISEASE, SLAVERY, and HORRIBLE CONDITIONS FOR NATIVE AMERICANS.

  4. THERE ARE ALSO HUGE LAND EMPIRES FROM THE OTTOMANS AND RUSSIANS OVER TO THE CHINESE.

  5. THE COLOMBIAN EXCHANGE IS ARGUABLY THE MOST IMPORTANT THING EVER. THE AP LOVES IT. THEY ASK ABOUT IT ALL THE TIME. THERE WILL BE SOMETHING ON THE COLUMBIAN EXCHANGE ON THE AP TEST... I GUARANTEE IT.