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European relations, and overall existence in the world has changed drastically since the 1500’s. Starting with the period of exploration straight after the stagnant medieval times, a new world has genuinely been discovered, and set into motion a series of events that no man could have possibly dreamed of. From scientific and religious revolution, to industrialization and capitalism; Europe has transitioned from a leading world power to that of a follower waiting for guidance with its hand out. The question is will they find there way back on top?
The era of global contact between old and new world is what changed life as we knew it forever. It is what brought the global exchange of people, food, language, culture, and customs. The encounter of these different civilizations, “1 led to conquest, forced migration, devastating population loses, and brutal exploitation”. This set the tone for how the rest of the world was going to be for generations to come. Modern versions of this world would be seen through slave trade, imperialization, and ethnic cleansing.
With the changes of culture, empire, and economy the way nations ruled now became necessary to change as well. This was pushed to further importance during the eras of revolution, specifically the industrious revolution, because empires now had to compete to modernize and produce a more efficient global market which required proficient leadership. In England to maintain commercial leadership in the changing century they deemed it necessary to increase military and private national wealth through the mercantile system of what became known as the navigation acts. These acts not only restored monarchy way of governance but demonstrated the beginning of an economic monopoly. This trend of economic warfare would set the stage for economic competition between nations only to intensify in the modern world.
Along with economic revolution came the interconnected revolution of religion and politics. The difference in religious ideologies around the world encouraged people to challenge traditional views, which in turn would change their views on how the country itself should look and be run. The debate came of how much power should be given to church and state, From there this became an argument of how much individual freedom citizens should be given, this argument would be seen up to today. In France the division of class and rule by religious order was beginning to be challenged in the 1800s as seen in Abbie Sieye’s, What is the Third Estate?, “2 If we removed the privileged order, the nation will not be something less but something more. Thus, what is the third estate? All, but an all that is free and flourishing. Noting can be done without it; everything would be infinitely better without the other two orders.”
The restructuring of national governments, competitive markets, and rising standards of living due to the industrial revolution led to what became the overall game changer and downfall of Europe as a world leader, Nationalism. Each nation felt superior to all others, “3 As Europe entered an age of increased global interaction, these powerful ideas would lead to aggression and conflict, as powerful nation-states backed by patriotic citizens competed with each other on the international stage.” These feelings of exclusion and pride began to show within states as well as out, with racism and anti-Semitism which would be leading themes in both World Wars.
The wealth and power that increased in Europe throughout the Industrial Revolution brought structure to the world economy, as well as a flow of goods and trade that set the country as dominate world leader. This would soon topple over as the developments of the previous century caused Europe to seemingly implode. The self-destruction caused by Europe through WWI gave the United States of America the in it needed to become the new world leader. This was seen in Wilson’s use of policy in his international postwar plan The Fourteen Points, which paved the way for the spread of American economic ideals, “4 3.) The removal, so far as possible, of all economic barriers and the establishment of an equality of trade conditions”. Meaning the spread of free democracy and trade between nations.
Overall I think while the development of western civilization, and Europe relations with the world were inevitable they had a negative impact on Europe. Yes they were able to modernize their way of life but this has caused a series of brutal campaigns of mass extinctions, ethnic cleansings, and significant loss of land and life of countries.
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