PinkMonkey Online Study Guide-World History
Unlimited quantities of precious metals, both gold and silver could be brought to Europe, thanks to the geographical explorations. Hoards of gold were poured into Europe from Mexico and Peru. The untapped mines of Bolivia provided Europe with plentiful supplies of silver. The precious metals were used to buy goods in Europe. As more money was circulated, there was a rise in prices and also in wages. Profits increased leading to an expansion of enterprises.
Geographical discoveries led to the introduction of colonialism, imperialism and even exploitation. While the west became prosperous, the east was increasingly brought under the domination of the west. Countries such as Portugal, Spain, England, Holland and France built large colonial empires in the lands discovered by the explorers. Soon there arose great rivalry among the imperialist powers, which participated in imperialist conflicts and wars.
Rich colonies were fully exploited economically by the imperialist powers. They were used as good markets for the sale of goods of the imperial masters and also as purchasing markets for raw materials for the imperialist industries.
In the Middle Ages, the Mediterranean and the Baltic Seas were
used as the highways of commerce. Genoa and Venice were the main
commercial centers where the merchants of Asia and Europe gathered
to exchange their goods. However the discovery of America and of
a sea-route to the east made the Atlantic, the chief highway of
commerce. Lisbon, London, Antwerp and Amsterdam were now the
centers of commercial activity. Countries like Italy and Turkey
became second-rate commercial powers, while Germany, Norway, Sweden
and Russia also suffered an economic setback.
There was an improvement in the standard of living in Europe, owing to better wages and a plentiful supply of articles. People were able to live more comfortably than before. There were far reaching changes in the social order too.
Apart form the landed aristocracy, which had dominated Europe in the past, there now arose a new nobility of merchants who had become prosperous owing to commercial transactions. A powerful middle class of immigrants also arose from the lower classes in Europe. The discovery of the New World made it possible for people to migrate and improve their social and economic status.
The geographical explorations also brought about political changes, which favored the growth of absolute monarchy. England, Spain, France and other countries had strong monarchies, which could crush the power of the feudal barons. New opportunities made some of the monarchs very rich and autocratic.
The mental outlook of the Europeans was greatly
widened as geographical horizons expanded. Owing to this broad
outlook and material prosperity, the spirit of the Renaissance in
Europe was fostered and all round human progress was thus made possible.
Europe became the leading continent owing
to the voyages of exploration and discovery. There was domination
by the west, while the east declined greatly. Attempts were made
to destroy the old civilization in India, China, Peru, Mexico and
Brazil and to impose Christianity and European superiority upon
There was a large-scale emigration to the colonies by the Europeans whose natives were treated cruelly owing to their religious beliefs. The religious revolution known as the Reformation led to the creation of the Protestant churches as distinct from the Roman Catholic Church. Rivalry between these two churches led to great persecution in Europe. Thus those who wished to escape persecution, took shelter in the colonies of the New World.
The conquest of new lands by the Europeans gave an impetus to missionary activity. However, the secular and broadened human outlook as well as the rise of a strong monarchy, were not favorable to the power of the church, which suffered a setback. As a result of the geographical discoveries, the east and the west came into close contact. The west was able to profit immensely by the gifts of widespread geographical explorations.