The international role of Europe underwent many changes from the Post-Classical to the Early Modern era. 1)First, in the early Post-Classical era (450-1000) Europe’s international role was constrained mainly to trading in the Mediterranean Sea while Christianity spread to places such as Russia, and overall the role of Europeans internationally was rather isolated; then, in the late Post-Classical era (1000-1450) the international role of Europe was heightened as trading through the Silk Road was increased and the crusades brought European Christians to new locations such as the Middle East and Asia, however, maritime technology had still not come far enough to allow long sea voyages for trading and exploration; finally in the Early Modern era (1450-1750) Europe’s international role reached new limits as new technologies allowed it to sail to and colonize new lands such as the Americas, parts of Africa, and Asia, and Europe underwent many revolutions such as the Renaissance that allowed it to take advantage of the “power vacuum” that China had left behind and become the next great world power. 2)In the early years of the Post-Classical era (450-1000) Europe’s international role was not very significant and the little trading that it did take part in, was mainly handled by Italians who were in control of the Mediterranean Sea. (3)International interaction was also shown through the conversion of the Russian prince, Vladimir I, to Christianity around the end of the 10th century. This widened the global connections of Europe because it intertwined Russia into European culture. (2)For the most part however, Europe kept mostly to themselves in the early Post-Classical. (3)They promoted increased trading between northern and southern Europe, but maritime technology was not advanced enough to support long sea voyages to places such as India or Africa.
In comparison to other civilizations, such as the Chinese and the Arabs, Europeans were considered to be a backward civilization of this time period. (4)Europe was in a period of recovery after the fall of the Roman Empire. They were in what was also called the “Medieval Age” where much philosophy and trade had decreased form the Classical period. The role of merchants in China and the Middle East were far greater than those of Europe. (5)The trading habits of Post-Classical Europe are very much like those of the Early-Modern Chinese. Both had limitations on trading and were rather isolated from the larger world network that was going on at that time. 2)In the late years of Post-Classical Europe (1000-1450), the international role of the Europe heightened. Trade grew immensely with Asia and the Middle East through the Silk Road, and the crusades enabled Christians to experience new distant locations in the Middle East. (3)The rise of Mongol power in the 13th century increased trade throughout much of Eurasia. (5)This had many positive effects such as the adoption of paper manufacturing. This was an invention of the Chinese, which was then passed on to the Middle East, and finally adopted by Italians in the 13th century. Europe’s expanding international presence also led to cultural and intellectual exchanges.
Europe adopted mathematics (which includes the number system) from Arabs, which they had learned previously from the Indians. Europeans also expanded on their philosophical thoughts by reacting to Arab philosophies. The role of Mediterranean trade continued to increase and Italian merchants began trading European cloth in exchange for more refined goods from the East. As international contacts were becoming increasingly important in Europe, commercial alliances such as the Hanseatic League were developed to promote trade. However, there were also negative aspects of Europe’s increased international role like the spread of diseases such as the bubonic plague in the 14th century. This ended up wiping out nearly one third of Europe’s population. 4)In comparison to the early Post-Classical era, the late Post-Classical era fostered increased over-land trade. This brought an increasing amount of inventions and innovations from places such as China and India to Europe. However, some things did not change from the early to the late Post-Classical. One of these was that maritime technology was still not at a level that would allow for long sea voyages. This continued to keep Europeans from undertaking quicker trade routes to India and colonizing lands overseas such as the Americas. (2)In the Early Modern Era (1450-1750), Europe reached new limits in its international role as new maritime technologies allowed it to cross seas such as the Atlantic and colonize new lands. 3)The Early-Modern Period began with the launch of Spanish and Portuguese explorations in the Americas, Africa and Asia. These initial explorations and colonizations cleared the path for France, England, and Holland to begin their own explorations in the 16th century. Along with the colonization of new lands, Europe also underwent many revolutions including the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and the Scientific Revolution. (5)This along with the new wealth that Europe was earning from its colonies set Europe on the right path to becoming the next world power. European merchants had increased their trade tremendously and were at the point of overtaking Muslim merchants.
Chinese merchants also lost their role as significant international traders when in 1433 the Chinese emperors called to the halt of international expeditions. After this, the Chinese became an isolated country for the most part and left the world in a sort of “power vacuum”. (5)This left the door open for Europe to become the most dynamic new force of the world. The Spanish and Portuguese conquered much of South America and also places in Indonesia. (4)Europe had become and extremely global society and had contacts everywhere from the Americas to Japan. In fact, Europeans set up trading ports along the west coast of Africa, several parts of the Indian subcontinent, and islands of Southeast Asia in the 17th century.
They also set up Western Enclaves in important trading cities such as Moscow in Russia and the Dutch even got access to Nagasaki in Japan. This new authority in trade shows how Europe’s international role has increased in the Early Modern era. (4)The role of Europe changed tremendously from the Post-Classical period to the Early-Modern period. Many revolutions in Europe going on between these two time periods, such as the Renaissance, the Scientific Revolution, and the Enlightenment provided Europeans with new innovations that allowed them to expand their empire beyond Eurasia. (5)The expansion to places such as the Americas, Indonesia, East Asia and Africa allowed for the spread of European culture around the globe.
For the first time in history the world has become a truly “global trade network” due to Europe’s incorporation of Polynesia and the Americas. (4)Europe came from being a backward society in the early Post-Classical still recovering from the fall of the Roman empire, to becoming more involved in over-land trade in the late Post-Classical to becoming one of the most influential world powers in the Early-Modern period. (5)This is a trend that is still seen in present-time. The Western world of this age has one of the world’s most stable governments and wealthiest economies. This can all traced back through history to the eras where Europe increased its international role, thereby increasing its power.