Introduction This chapter discusses how the different nations of Europe took form after the fall of the Roman Empire and the time of massive European expansion that turned many regions of the world into colonies that supplied Europe with new sources of wealth in precious metals, raw materials, agricultural products and human slaves. He discusses general patterns in political wars and commerce and the different ways in which the Portuguese, Spanish, French, Dutch and English built kingdoms that required continued expansion and that warred with each other for control of oratories and commercial networks.
An important theme of the chapter is the growing role of merchants who got rich by partnering with the warlord of Europe for their mutual benefit. Read this guide and the chapter with an eyes to identifying the five major forces we are using in our class to interpret the rise of Europe: Predatory State = political government that uses force and legal systems to extract wealth from its own people while making war on other kingdoms, big and small Conquest Ideology = Not a lot of it in this chapter, but it is any ideology that Justifies he conquest, colonization and exploitation of other peoples and also the exploitation of one’s own.
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Liberated Capitalism = Making money and accumulating wealth with only the profit motive in mind at the cost of both humans and the environment. Wolf considers the merchants of this period as pre-capitalist who did not yet own the meaner of production. They made their money by taking the profits from the trade of goods made by others. Unleashed individualism = Individuals who seek power and wealth for themselves, also regardless of the cost to other people and the environment.
There are not a lot of specific individuals named in the chapter, but the main types are the warlords who invented the State and the merchants who grew their commercial power. Misapplied Technology = Not mentioned a lot, but it involves the invention of deadlier weapons and war strategies, and bigger and faster ships as well as technology to make agriculture produce more. Technology is both material and intellectual. The invention and operation of the political state and the organization of vast trade networks involve a lot of intellectual energy.
According to Wolf, after the Roman Empire collapsed in Europe around 500 AD, the land was controlled by many small warlords who collected tribute from their peoples. Between 1400 and 1492, the winners of the military conflicts created large kingdoms with the collaboration of the merchants who made trade important again. The Shift in Patterns of Long-Distance Trade Wolf summarizes the changes in the trade networks in the regions surrounding the Mediterranean that was once consolidated by Rome. When Rome collapsed, so did urban life in Europe as the local lords established the yester of feudalism to control the peasants.
The Eastern half of the Roman Empire survived with its capital of Byzantium/ Constantinople. The Muslims rose as the other great power in North Africa and the Middle East. Europe became an underdeveloped frontier area that supplied the rich empires with European slaves, timber and furs. This trade was handled by a few Jewish merchants. Europe started to make a commercial comeback with the rise of the Italian port cities of Venice, Genoa and Pisa that were favorably located along sea trade routes. Venice unfitted by acting as the commercial agent for the Byzantium empire.
Wolf then turns to the theme of Political Consolidation The warlords who divided Europe into competing tiny kingdoms established the system of Feudalism by which they protected the agriculturalists and small towns form attacked by other warlords in exchange for tribute in goods and services. They also found was of making agriculture more productive with the new technologies of the horse drawn plow and the rotation of crop fields three times a year. They also expanded production by chopping more of the forests and plowing up areas that were plains.
Part of their profits were spent to buy war horses and armor to fight each other and The conflict among the “knights” over land and people led to the rise of the strongest among them and the formation of larger kingdoms that became monarchies, states ruled by big kings. Wolf notes that the lords of the land used three methods to create states: war, commerce enlarging the royal domain = internal political consolidation of power over the lords of the land and the rising commercial towns In reality, all states must use all of these methods, but some use one methods more Han others.