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European Moderization

After 1500 there were many signs that a new age of world

history was beginning, for example the discovery of America and the

first European enterprises in Africa. This “new age” was dominated by

the astonishing success of one civilization among many, that of

Europe. There was more and more continuous interconnection between

events in all countries, but it is to be explained by European

efforts. Europeans eventually became “masters of the globe” and they

used their mastery to make the world one. That resulted in a unity of

world history that can be detected until today. Politics,

empire-building, and military expansion were only a tiny part of what

was going on. Besides the economic integration of the globe there was

a much more important process going on: The spreading of assumptions

and ideas. The result was to be “One World.” The age of independent

civilizations has come to a close.

The history of the centuries since 1500 can be described as a

series of wars and violent struggles. Obviously men in different

countries did not like another much more than their predecessors did.

However, they were much more alike than their ancestors were, which

was an outcome of what we now call modernization. One could also say

that the world was Europeanized, for modernization was a matter of

ideas and techniques which have an European origin. It was with the

modernization of Europe that the unification of world history began. A

great change in Europe was the starting-point of modern history.

There was a continuing economic predominance of agriculture.

Agricultural progress increasingly took two main forms: Orientation

towards the market, and technical innovation. They were

interconnected. A large population in the neighborhood meant a market

and therefore an incentive. Even in the fifteenth century the

inhabitants of so called |low countriesX were already leaders in the

techniques of intensive cultivation. Better drainage opened the way to

better pasture and to a larger animal population. Agricultural

improvement favored the reorganization of land in bigger farms, the

reduction of the number of small holders, the employment of wage

labor, and high capital investment in buildings, drainage and

machinery.


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