Why most of the civilizations were taken over by the Europeans?

May 2013
17
India
#1
Almost all the civilizations in the Medieval period were taken over by the Europeans. America, Asia, Africa etc. all were invaded by Europeans. Why is that?

Were the Europeans somehow more advanced than other civilizations at that point of time? If yes, why was that?
Or was it because of some other reason?

Thank You!
 
Aug 2012
802
Washington State, USA.
#3
Europeans were quite often manhandled during the Middle Ages by Mongols or Muslims.
I would say that the Age of the Great European empires began with the end of the Middle Ages, but it still took a great deal of time to get rolling after that, except for the Spanish who conquered vast areas of the Americas very quickly. Some even mark the end of the Middle Ages at the year Columbus first set sail for the new world. This is also what set in motion the forth coming power of Europe I believe.
The gold, resources, and even some of the great agricultural innovations adapted from Native American crops greatly empowered Europe I think. Compare the size of even the Native American maize and potato to wheat or rice, and you can see why farming in Europe after American colonization became more efficient at producing food. Great American cash crops like Tobacco, Vanilla and Chocolate helped too. Perhaps an even greater treasure was that Europeans had access to tropical or sub-tropical lands to grow things like Sugarcane, or Cotton. All this is a great foundation to build power upon, especially back then.
In Europe by the time of Columbus, firearms development outpaced the rest of the world.

With all this aside, the European empires didn't grow all at once. Most of Africa wasn't even colonized until the latter 19th century, after Britain and the US banned the slave trade and waged war upon it. Britain didn't even control Palestine until the Turks were driven out after WW1. It's a long story that spans centuries. Colonies were lost in America, and Europeans expanded elsewhere. They certainly didn't have it all under control at once.
 
Last edited:

jackydee

Ad Honorem
Jan 2013
4,569
Brigadoon
#4
Almost all the civilizations in the Medieval period were taken over by the Europeans. America, Asia, Africa etc. all were invaded by Europeans. Why is that?

Were the Europeans somehow more advanced than other civilizations at that point of time? If yes, why was that?
Or was it because of some other reason?

Thank You!
You may want to read this:

[ame="http://www.amazon.co.uk/Civilization-Killer-Apps-Western-Power/dp/0141044586"]Civilization: The Six Killer Apps of Western Power: Amazon.co.uk: Niall Ferguson: Books@@AMEPARAM@@http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41U1t6HAHOL.@@AMEPARAM@@41U1t6HAHOL[/ame]

Or for a slightly different take on the matter:

[ame="http://www.amazon.co.uk/Guns-Germs-Steel-history-everybody/dp/0099302780"]Guns, Germs and Steel: A short history of everybody for the last 13,000 years: Amazon.co.uk: Jared Diamond: Books@@AMEPARAM@@http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51qxGpKR66L.@@AMEPARAM@@51qxGpKR66L[/ame]

I would like to think Ferguson's book is correct, but I cant say for sure which book is more accurate.
 
Feb 2012
900
Iudaea
#5
European nations began taking territories overseas starting in the Early Modern Era, some mark the date 1453 as the boundary between medieval and early modern (fall of Constantinopole and end of the Hundred Years War), some mark 1492 (first voyage of Columbus). There are those who would say that in Italy medieval times ended during the 14th century and everywhere else during the 15th.

Anyway, there are many reasons for the European expansions, some of them are still studied to this day. The Renaissance coupled with the new technological advancements of the time, with the political situation created following the Mongol conquests in the east thrown into the mix. These are just a few of the events leading to the expansion overseas.
 

Lucius

Forum Staff
Jan 2007
16,363
Nebraska
#6
Medieval Sourcebook: Gibbon: The Fall of the Roman Empire

("The abuses of tyranny are restrained by the mutual influence of fear and shame; republics have acquired order and stability; monarchies have imbibed the principles of freedom, or, at least, of moderation; and some sense of honour and justice is introduced into the most defective constitutions by the general manners of the times. In peace, the progress of knowledge and industry is accelerated by the emulation of so many active rivals:")

See especially, "so many active rivals".
 
Jul 2013
393
USA
#7
Europeans were quite often manhandled during the Middle Ages by Mongols or Muslims.
I would say that the Age of the Great European empires began with the end of the Middle Ages, but it still took a great deal of time to get rolling after that, except for the Spanish who conquered vast areas of the Americas very quickly. Some even mark the end of the Middle Ages at the year Columbus first set sail for the new world. This is also what set in motion the forth coming power of Europe I believe.
The gold, resources, and even some of the great agricultural innovations adapted from Native American crops greatly empowered Europe I think. Compare the size of even the Native American maize and potato to wheat or rice, and you can see why farming in Europe after American colonization became more efficient at producing food. Great American cash crops like Tobacco, Vanilla and Chocolate helped too. Perhaps an even greater treasure was that Europeans had access to tropical or sub-tropical lands to grow things like Sugarcane, or Cotton. All this is a great foundation to build power upon, especially back then.
In Europe by the time of Columbus, firearms development outpaced the rest of the world.

With all this aside, the European empires didn't grow all at once. Most of Africa wasn't even colonized until the latter 19th century, after Britain and the US banned the slave trade and waged war upon it. Britain didn't even control Palestine until the Turks were driven out after WW1. It's a long story that spans centuries. Colonies were lost in America, and Europeans expanded elsewhere. They certainly didn't have it all under control at once.
This is an almost perfect response,

Guns, Germs, and steel by Jared Diamond, is also a good read.

It basically states that a conquering civilization, only became conquering, because of luck of location, luck of agriculture, luck of economics. It was not solely because the civilization or society was so great.
 
Jun 2013
307
Maine
#8
I disagree about the Guns, Germs and Steel suggestion. Although it is MORE accurate than Social Darwinism, it still ignores A LOT. It ignores every decision ever made by any group of people that ever existed, it ignores any individual input into history, and oversimplifies quite a bit. That being said, it is a fair but rudimentary explanation.
 

AlpinLuke

Ad Honoris
Oct 2011
25,209
Lago Maggiore, Italy
#9
Almost all the civilizations in the Medieval period were taken over by the Europeans. America, Asia, Africa etc. all were invaded by Europeans. Why is that?

Were the Europeans somehow more advanced than other civilizations at that point of time? If yes, why was that?
Or was it because of some other reason?

Thank You!
I think there is a temporal trouble at the beginning. America in the Middle Age ...

India, Islam, China, Pre-Columbian civilizations ... Europeans didn't take over them during the Middle Age.

On the contrary, in 8th century it was Islam which was taking over Europe.

A part this, I would say that in the Renaissance Europe became to get some advantage, during the confrontation with the Ottoman power.

A key factor? Sure the mention of the killing apps is correct, but probably the main one was science.

Just after the end of the Middle Age the flux of science changed. Previous Eastern superiority [in XV century China was light years forward ...] was substituted by the European development.

No way, science gave to Europeans the opportunity to dominate the world.
 
Oct 2011
3,738
the middle ground
#10
I disagree about the Guns, Germs and Steel suggestion. Although it is MORE accurate than Social Darwinism, it still ignores A LOT. It ignores every decision ever made by any group of people that ever existed, it ignores any individual input into history, and oversimplifies quite a bit. That being said, it is a fair but rudimentary explanation.
Agreed. Jared Diamond makes some important observations about long-term developments (and is not quite as deterministic about things as he is made out to be) but my go-to authors for historical perspective on this much-discussed topic are still Geoffrey Barraclough and William H. McNeill.

Edit: Just saw AlpinLuke's post. Geoffrey Barraclough (rightly IMHO) puts the seventeenth century "scientific revolution" at center stage in Turning Points in World History (Thames & Hudson, 1979)
 
Last edited:

Similar History Discussions