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Commercial revolution of Europe

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    Commercial revolution of Europe

    The opening of sea routes to America across the Atlantic and to India through the southern tip of Africa, lead to unprecedented global changes. These discoveries changed the political, social, economic and cultural aspects of human lives, across the globe. Europe, in particular was greatly affected in terms of social and economic changes. During the16th and the 17th centuries, Europe witnessed unprecedented economic changes and upheaval of the social order. This period witnessed a commercial revolution in Europe.

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   The closing of the land routes to the Asian countries by the Ottoman rulers, blocked the              European trade with Asia. This forced the European navigators to look for alternate sea routes to Asia, through the African continent. Accidental discovery of the vast continent of America, and exploration of the sea routes of African coast, to reach the Indian shores, prompted Portugal, France, England, Spain and Netherlands establish their own colonies in these countries. As a result, these countries amassed too much of wealth.

This huge increase in the wealth is the main reason underlying the change in the economic structure of Europe. Colonization brought wealth to the European countries. The natives of the colonized nations, were however treated as slaves, and their freedom was snatched by the colonizers.

       Once the wealth was accumulated, new ways and means to deal with it had to be devised. These new methods were a direct consequence of the commercial revolution. The whole of Europe witnessed a resurgence in trade and commerce. As a result, the barter system of trade  was replaced by paper money, to facilitate trade and for the first time, Banks came into existence to help the commercial traders. Mercantilism came into existence, which compelled the subjects of colonies to work for the benefit of the mother country only. Perhaps for the first time,  private enterprises became more powerful, and capitalism was born in Europe. A stock exchange was opened at Antwerp, and the new business of insurance was also born. As a result,  the monopoly of the Italian cities as trade centers was broken, and western Europe became the                hub of  commercial activities.( The commercial revolution)

         The consequences of the commercial revolution had far reaching impact on the entire humanity and the global order. The increased wealth created a population which was not from the royal families yet very strong. The political dominance of the Roman Catholic Church almost came to an end. People became aware that they were free and had right to question. This was to give birth to Renaissance, a period of enlightenment in Europe. On the other hand, urbanization gained  momentum, and technological advances demanded massive human skilled labor force.

This led to the birth of industrial revolution. On a global scale, slavery of an unprecedented scale played havoc with the native Africans. Millions of African natives had to either sacrifice theirlives or were shipped off to America to work as laborers in farms.

       Europe witnessed heavy urbanization during the high middle age. These towns stimulated the economy and  provided an environment in which trade and economic reforms were possible. Formation of the Hanseatic League is one such example. It was during this time that the cities of central Europe like Paris had started gaining importance  as  commercial centers. (Middle ages) The growth in trade and commerce, made the tradesman wealthier, and they grew strong enough to rise against the traditional kings. The emperors succumbed to this pressure by introducing a system wherein the people of a town can pay a fix amount and become independent to rule their own city-state. The feudal system slowly came to  an  end,  and a new lobby of  powerful, wealthy tradesman became the rulers. Such towns were called ‘ boroughs’.(town life)

        Conclusively it can be  said that the commercial revolution was a direct result of colonization. It had far reaching effects on the political, social, and economic order, not only in Europe, but across the globe. It is the genesis of renaissance and the industrial revolution.


The commercial revolution, Retrieved on 15 August 2007 from:

<  http://www.historyteacher.net/EuroProjects/ExamReviewSheets/CommercialRevolReview.htm   >

2.  Middle  ages, wikipedia the free encyclopedia, Retrieved on 15 August 07 from:

    < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle_Ages  >

3.  Town life, Annenberg media, Retrieved on 15 August 2007 from:

       < http://www.learner.org/exhibits/middleages/townlife.html >

Cite this Commercial revolution of Europe

Commercial revolution of Europe. (2016, Sep 14). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/commercial-revolution-of-europe/

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