World History AP with Mr. Duez - Learning Targets

Unit 4: THE EARLY MODERN WORLD 1450–1750

Chapter 15 Global Commerce 1450–1750



1. In what specific ways did trade foster change in the world of the early modern era?

2. To what extent did Europeans transform earlier patterns of commerce, and in what ways did they assimilate into those older patterns?

3. Describe and account for the differing outcomes of European expansion in the Americas (see Chapter 14), Africa, and Asia.

4. How should we distribute the moral responsibility for the Atlantic slave trade? Is this a task appropriate for historians?

5. What lasting legacies of early modern globalization are evident in the early twenty-first century? Pay particular attention to the legacies of the slave trade.


1. What drove European involvement in the world of Asian commerce?

2. To what extent did the Portuguese realize their own goals in the Indian Ocean?

3. How did the Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, and British initiatives in Asia differ from one another?

4. To what extent did the British and Dutch trading companies change the societies they encountered in Asia?

5. What was the world historical importance of the silver trade?

6. Describe the impact of the fur trade on North American native societies.

7. How did the North American and Siberian fur trades differ from each other? What did they have in common?

8. What was distinctive about the Atlantic slave trade? What did it share with other patterns of slave owning and slave trading?

9. What explains the rise of the Atlantic slave trade?

10. What roles did Europeans and Africans play in the unfolding of the Atlantic slave trade?

11. In what different ways did the Atlantic slave trade transform African societies?


  African diaspora: Name given to the spread of African peoples across the Atlantic via the slave trade.

  Banda Islands: Infamous case of the Dutch forcibly taking control of the spice trade; nearly the entire population of these nutmeg-producing islands was killed or enslaved and then replaced with Dutch planters. (pron. BAHN-dah)

  Benin: West African kingdom (in what is now Nigeria) whose strong kings sharply limited engagement with the slave trade. (pron. be-NEEN)

  British/Dutch East India companies: Private trading companies chartered by the governments of England and the Netherlands around 1600; they were given monopolies on Indian Ocean trade, including the right to make war and to rule conquered peoples.

  cartaz: A pass that the Portuguese required of all merchant vessels attempting to trade in the Indian Ocean. (pron. car-TAHZ)

  Dahomey: West African kingdom that became strong through its rulers’ exploitation of the slave trade. (pron. dah-HOH-mee)

  daimyo: Feudal lords of Japan who ruled with virtual independence thanks to their bands of samurai warriors. (pron. DIME-yoh)

  Hurons: Native American people of northeastern North America who were heavily involved in the fur trade. (pron. HYOOR-ons)

  Indian Ocean commercial network: The massive, interconnected web of commerce in premodern times between the lands that bordered on the Indian Ocean (including East Africa, India, and Southeast Asia); the network was badly disrupted by Portuguese intrusion beginning around 1500.

  Little Ice Age: A period of cooling temperatures and harsh winters that lasted for much of the early modern era.

  Magellan, Ferdinand: Portuguese mariner who commanded the first European (Spanish) fleet to circumnavigate the globe (1519–1521). (pron. mah-GELL-an)

  Manila: Capital of the Spanish Philippines and a major multicultural trade city that already had a population of more than 40,000 by 1600.

  Middle Passage: Name commonly given to the journey across the Atlantic undertaken by African slaves being shipped to the Americas.

  piece of eight: Standard Spanish coin that became a medium of exchange in North America, Europe, India, Russia, and West Africa as well as in the Spanish Empire; so called because it was worth 8 reales.

  Potosí: City that developed high in the Andes (in present-day Bolivia) at the site of the world’s largest silver mine and that became the largest city in the Americas, with a population of some 160,000 in the 1570s. (pron. poh-toh-SEE)

  samurai: The warrior elite of medieval Japan. (pron. SAH-moo-rie)

  shogun: In Japan, a supreme military commander. (pron. SHOW-gun)

   “silver drain”: Term often used, along with “specie drain,” to describe the siphoning of money from Europe to pay for the luxury products of the East, a process exacerbated by the fact that Europe had few trade goods that were desirable in Eastern markets; eventually, the bulk of the world’s silver supply made its way to China.

   “soft gold”: Nickname used in the early modern period for animal furs, highly valued for their warmth and as symbols of elite status; in several regions, the fur trade generated massive wealth for those engaged in it.

  Spanish Philippines: An archipelago of Pacific islands colonized by Spain in a relatively bloodless process that extended for the century or so after 1565, a process accompanied by a major effort at evangelization; the Spanish named them the Philippine Islands in honor of King Philip II of Spain.

  Tokugawa shogunate: Military rulers of Japan who successfully unified Japan politically by the early seventeenth century and established a “closed door” policy toward European encroachments. (pron. toekoo- GOW-ah SHOW-gun-at)

  trading post empire: Form of imperial dominance based on control of trade rather than on control of subject peoples.