The Slow Beginning of Expansion

Crosby is going to look at where European colonization succeeded and where it failed.  Can ecological factors explain why they succeeded in some places and not in others.

After the domestication of the horse, Crosby says Europeans continue to develop for 4,000 years without anything dramatically new.  An exaggeration but gets at that Europe was not yet progress oriented.

What caused this to change?
What changed?
three different issues:
Crosby has a new argument about this, that Europeans learned techniques that would enable them to be successful in certain kinds of places

after the Dark Ages, around 1000 AD Europe began another leap forward, but early attempts at expansion failed

Viking ship with one square sail and steering oar
the Scandinavians placed a colony in Iceland about 870 AD
The Norse had a less successful colony in Greenland and explored the east coast of North America
map of iceland,
                  greenland, and northern North America

crusader castle
Attempt to conquer the Holy Land--the Crusades--were equally unsuccessful
However, the crusaders brought back key technologies from the near east

The roots of Western technological progress can be found in these innovations and in the Middle Ages (700-1400).  Europe became more technologically advanced than China only after about 1350,  but during the middle ages (also known as the medieval period) European technology began to progress (and Europeans came to believe that progress was possible and therefore change was good) while the Chinese increasingly believed that innovation was a bad thing.

 the four seasons, from

Medieval agriculture
All of this adds up to the same number of farmers could grow maybe twice as much food because of new technology and organization of farming

  waterwheel at 17th century ironworks
Medieval use of Water Power

In the middle ages there was a technological revolution
  • people are more enthusiastic about new technology
  • changes in the social system allowed ordinary people to benefit from new technology
  • they are coming to believe in progress

 23. Life and Miracles of Saint Louis
Christianity contributed to the new belief in progress and new attitudes towards the environment

This page written and copyright Pamela E. Mack
Hist 124
last updated 1/15/10