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World History Era 6

The Emergence of the First Global Age, 1450-1770 

Standard 1: How the transoceanic interlinking of all major regions of the world from 1450 to 1600 led to global transformations

Standard 2: How European society experienced political, economic, and cultural transformations in an age of global intercommunication, 1450-1750 

Standard 3: How large territorial empires dominated much of Eurasia between the 16th and 18th centuries 

Standard 4: Economic, political, and cultural interrelations among peoples of Africa, Europe, and the Americas, 1500-1750 

Standard 5: Transformations in Asian societies in the era of European expansion 

Standard 6: Major global trends from 1450 to 1770 

The Iberian voyages of the late 15th and early 16th centuries linked not only Europe with the Americas but laid down a communications net that ultimately joined every region of the world with every other region. As the era progressed ships became safer, bigger, and faster, and the volume of world commerce soared. The web of overland roads and trails expanded as well to carry goods and people in and out of the interior regions of Eurasia, Africa, and the American continents. The demographic, social, and cultural consequences of this great global link-up were immense. 

The deep transformations that occurred in the world during this era may be set in the context of three overarching patterns of change.

The Acceleration of Change: The most conspicuous characteristic of this era was the great acceleration of change in the way people lived, worked, and thought. In these 300 years human society became profoundly different from the way it had been in the entire 5,000 years since the emergence of civilizations. Five aspects of change were especially prominent. Though American Indian populations declined catastrophically in the aftermath of the first European intrusions, world numbers on the whole started their steep upward curve that continues to the present. The globalizing of communications produced intensified economic and cultural encounters and exchanges among diverse peoples of Eurasia, Africa, and the Americas. Capitalism emerged as the dominant system for organizing production, labor, and trade in the world. Innovations in technology and science multiplied and continuously built on one another. European thinkers, drawing on a worldwide fund of ideas, formulated revolutionary new views of nature and the cosmos, ideas that challenged older religious and philosophical perspectives.

Europe and the World; the World and Europe: Europeans came to exert greater power and influence in the world at large than any people of a single region had ever done before. In the Americas Europeans erected colonial regimes and frontiers of European settlement that drew upon various European traditions of law, religion, government, and culture. Europeans seized relatively little territory in Africa and Asia in this era, but their naval and commercial enterprises profoundly affected patterns of production and interregional trade. The trade in human beings between Africa and the Americas to provide a labor force for European commercial agriculture was a particularly catastrophic aspect of the expanding global economy. Closely linked to Europe’s far-reaching global involvement was its own internal transformation--political, social, economic, and intellectual. In this era peoples almost everywhere at some time had to come to terms with European arms and economic clout, but as of 1750 Europe by no means dominated the world scene. 

Empires of Eurasia: Indeed, the greater share of the world’s peoples, cities, agrarian wealth, and land-based military power were in this era still concentrated in the region stretching from the eastern Mediterranean to China. Between the late 14th and early 16th centuries four huge empires arose to dominate the greater part of Eurasia and Northern Africa. Effectively employing artillery and other firearms to expand territorially and maintain law and order among diverse populations, the Ming, Ottoman, Mughal, and Safavid states have sometimes been called “gunpowder empires.” They unified such large areas of Afro-Eurasia--politically, economically, and culturally--that they contributed much to processes of globalization.

Why Study This Era? 

  • All the forces that have made the world of the past 500 years “modern” were activated during this era. A grasp of the complexities of global interdependence today requires a knowledge of how the world economy arose and the ways in which it produced both enormous material advances and wider social and political inequalities. 
  • The founding of the British colonies in North America in the 17th century took place within a much wider context of events: the catastrophic decline of American Indian populations, the rise of the Spanish empire, the African slave trade, and the trans-Atlantic trade and migration of Europeans. The history of colonial America makes sense only in relation to this larger scene. 
  • Any useful understanding of American political institutions and cultural values depends on a critical grasp of the European heritage of this era. 
  • The great empires of Eurasia--Ottoman, Persian, Mughal, and Ming/Qing--all experienced cultural flowerings that paralleled the Renaissance in Europe. These achievements are an important part of our contemporary global heritage. 

Each standard was developed with historical thinking standards in mind. The relevant historical thinking standards are linked in the brackets, [ ], below. 

Standard 1

How the transoceanic interlinking of all major regions of the world from 1450-1600 led to global transformations. 

Standard 1A

The student understands the origins and consequences of European overseas expansion in the 15th and 16th centuries. 

GRADE LEVEL THEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
5-12 Explain major characteristics of the interregional trading system that linked peoples of Africa, Asia, and Europe on the eve of the European overseas voyages. [Consider multiple perspectives]
9-12 Analyze the major social, economic, political, and cultural features of European society, and in particular of Spain and Portugal, that stimulated exploration and conquest overseas. [Identify issues and problems in the past]
5-12 Identify major technological developments in shipbuilding, navigation, and naval warfare and trace the cultural origins of various innovations. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]
7-12 Analyze the motives, nature, and short-term significance of the major Iberian military and commercial expeditions to Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and the Americas. [Identify issues and problems in the past

Standard 1B

The student understands the encounters between Europeans and peoples of Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and the Americas in the late 15th and early 16th centuries.

GRADE LEVEL THEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
5-12 Analyze Portuguese maritime expansion to Africa, India, and Southeast Asia and interactions between the Portuguese and the peoples of these regions. [Formulate historical questions
7-12 Compare the success of the Ottoman, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Siamese (Thai) powers in restricting European commercial, military, and political penetration. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships
5-12 Describe the political and military collision between the Spanish and the Aztec and Inca empires and analyze why these empires collapsed. [Identify issues and problems in the past]
7-12 Explain the founding and organization of Spanish and Portuguese colonial empires in the Americas and Southeast Asia and assess the role of the Catholic Church in colonial administration and policies regarding indigenous populations. [Interrogate historical data

Standard 1C

The student understands the consequences of the worldwide exchange of flora, fauna, and pathogens.

GRADE LEVEL THEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
5-12 Assess ways in which the exchange of plants and animals around the world in the late 15th and the 16th centuries affected European, Asian, African, and American Indian societies and commerce. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships
7-12 Analyze why the introduction of new disease microorganisms in the Americas after 1492 had such devastating demographic and social effects on American Indian populations. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]
9-12 Assess the effects that knowledge of the peoples, geography, and natural environment of the Americas had on European religious and intellectual life. [Clarify information on the geographic setting

Standard 2

How European society experienced political, economic, and cultural transformations in an age of global intercommunication, 1450-1750. 

Standard 2A 

The student understands demographic, economic, and social trends in Europe. 

GRADE LEVEL THEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
5-12 Describe characteristics of the family and peasant society in early modern Europe and explain changes in institutions of serfdom in eastern and western Europe. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]
7-12 Analyze the social and economic consequences of population growth and urbanization in Europe from the 15th to the 18th centuries. [Utilize visual and mathematical data
9-12 Describe major institutions of capitalism and analyze how the emerging capitalist economy transformed agricultural production, manufacturing, and ways in which women and men worked. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships

Standard 2B 

The student understands the Renaissance, Reformation, and Catholic Reformation. 

GRADE LEVEL THEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
7-12 Analyze the social and intellectual significance of the technological innovation of printing with movable type. [Demonstrate and explain the influence of ideas]
7-12 Explain connections between the Italian Renaissance and the development of humanist ideas in Europe north of the Alps. [Compare and contrast differing sets of ideas and values]
5-12 Evaluate major achievements in literature, music, painting, sculpture, and architecture in 16th-century Europe. [Draw upon visual data and literary sources
7-12 Explain discontent among Europeans with the late medieval Church and analyze the beliefs and ideas of the leading Protestant reformers. [Marshal evidence of antecedent circumstances
7-12 Explain the aims and policies of the Catholic Reformation and assess the impact of religious reforms and divisions on European cultural values, family life, convent communities, and men’s and women’s education. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships
9-12 Analyze causes of religious wars in 16th- and 17th-century Europe and account for the rise of religious pluralism. [Marshal evidence of antecedent circumstances

Standard 2C 

The student understands the rising military and bureaucratic power of European states between the 16th and 18th centuries.

GRADE LEVEL THEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
7-12 Analyze the character, development, and sources of wealth of strong bureaucratic monarchies in the 16th century. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships
7-12 Explain how the Dutch Republic emerged as a powerful European state. [Formulate historical questions
5-12 Explain how the English civil war and the Revolution of 1688 affected government, religion, economy, and society in that country. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]
5-12 Explain the impact of the English Revolution on political institutions and attitudes in the North American colonies and on the outbreak of the American Revolution. [Examine the influence of ideas
7-12 Account for the growth of bureaucratic monarchy in Russia and analyze the significance of Peter the Great’s westernizing reforms. [Interrogate historical data]
9-12 Trace Russian expansion in the Caucasus, Central Asia, and Siberia and explain the success of the tsars in transforming the Duchy of Moscow in a Eurasian empire. [Draw comparisons across regions]

Standard 2D 

The student understands how the Scientific Revolution contributed to transformations in European society. 

GRADE LEVEL THEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
7-12 Explain connections between the Scientific Revolution and its antecedents such as Greek rationalism, medieval theology, Muslim science, Renaissance humanism, and new global knowledge. [Marshal evidence of antecedent circumstances
5-12 Explain the cultural, religious, and scientific impact of astronomical discoveries and innovations from Copernicus to Newton. [Examine the influence of ideas
7-12 Analyze the importance of discoveries in mathematics, physics, biology, and chemistry for European society. [Employ quantitative analysis
7-12 Explain the development and significance of the “scientific method.” [Examine the influence of ideas
9-12 Explain the importance of royal societies and other international networks in disseminating scientific ideas and methods. [Interrogate historical data
9-12 Account for the coexistence of the new scientific rationalism with traditional learning and practices such as astrology, magic, and witchcraft. [Formulate historical questions]  

Standard 2E

The student understands the significance of the Enlightenment in European and world history. 

GRADE LEVEL THEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
7-12 Explain connections between the Enlightenment and its antecedents such as Roman republicanism, the Renaissance, and the Scientific Revolution. [Marshal evidence of antecedent circumstances
5-12 Explain principal ideas of the Enlightenment, including rationalism, secularism, progress, toleration, empiricism, natural rights, contractual government, and new theories of education. [Examine the influence of ideas]
7-12 Assess the impact of Enlightenment ideas on the development of modern nationalism and democratic thought and institutions. [Hypothesize the influence of the past
9-12 Analyze connections between Europeans’ growing knowledge of other regions of the globe and the development of new concepts of universalism, toleration, and world history. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships
7-12 Describe ways in which Enlightenment thought contributed to reform of church and state and assess the reform programs of absolutist monarchs of Central Europe and Russia. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships
9-12 Explain how academies, salons, and popular publishing contributed to the dissemination of Enlightenment ideas. [Examine the influence of ideas

Standard 3

How large territorial empires dominated much of Eurasia between the 16th and 18th centuries.

Standard 3A 

The student understands the extent and limits of Chinese regional power under the Ming dynasty. 

GRADE LEVEL THEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
5-12 Analyze the power and limits of imperial absolutism under the Ming dynasty. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]
7-12 Explain China’s self-concept as the “middle kingdom” and the character of its political, commercial, and cultural relations with Korea, Vietnam, and other societies of East and Southeast Asia. [Interrogate historical data]
9-12 Analyze the effects of commercialization on social relations among gentry elites, urban merchants, and peasants. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships
5-12 Analyze China’s changing attitudes toward external political and commercial relations following the Zheng He voyages from 1405 to 1433. [Formulate historical questions
7-12 Assess the effects of the introduction of American food crops and importation of American silver on demographic, economic, and social change in China. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]
9-12 Compare the role of Neo-Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism in Chinese government and society. [Compare and contrast differing sets of ideas

Standard 3B 

The student understands how Southeast Europe and Southwest Asia became unified under the Ottoman Empire. 

GRADE LEVEL THEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
5-12 Analyze how the capture of Constantinople and the destruction of the Byzantine empire contributed to the expansion of Ottoman power. [Hypothesize the influence of the past
5-12 Analyze reasons for Ottoman military successes against Persia, Egypt, North African states, and Christian European kingdoms. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships
7-12 Analyze the political, institutional, and economic development of the empire in the context of its religious and ethnic diversity. [Analyze multiple causation]
5-12 Evaluate the empire’s artistic, architectural, and literary achievements. [Draw upon visual, literary, and musical sources]
9-12 Analyze how Muslim, Orthodox, Catholic, and Jewish peoples interacted in southeastern Europe under Ottoman rule. [Examine the influence of ideas, human interests, and beliefs

Standard 3C 

The student understands the rise of the Safavid and Mughal empires.

GRADE LEVEL THEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
5-12 Explain the unification of Persia under the Turkic Safavids and evaluate Safavid political and cultural achievements under Shah Abbas. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships
5-12 Explain the Mughal conquest of India and the success of the Turkic warrior class in uniting the diverse peoples of the Indian subcontinent. [Formulate a position or course of action on an issue
7-12 Analyze the relationship between Muslims and Hindus in the empire and compare Akbar’s governing methods and religious ideas with those of other Mughal emperors. [Examine the influence of ideas, human interests, and beliefs
9-12 Evaluate the interplay of indigenous Indian, Persian, and European influences in Mughal artistic, architectural, literary, and scientific achievements. [Draw upon visual and literary sources]
5-12 Assess the importance of Indian textiles, spices, and other products in the network of Afro-Eurasian trade. [Formulate historical questions

Standard 4

Economic, political, and cultural interrelations among peoples of Africa, Europe, and the Americas, 1500-1750. 

Standard 4A

The student understands how states and peoples of European descent became dominant in the Americas between the 16th and 18th centuries. 

GRADE LEVEL THEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
5-12 Define and compare four major types of European activity and control in the Americas: large territorial empires, trading-post empires, plantation colonies, and settler colonies. [Compare and contrast differing sets of ideas
9-12 Describe the administrative system of the Spanish viceroyalties of Peru and Mexico and analyze the importance of silver production and Indian agriculture in the Spanish colonial economy. [Interrogate historical data]
5-12 Analyze how the Netherlands, England, and France became naval, commercial, and political powers in the Atlantic basin. [Marshal evidence of antecedent circumstances
7-12 Assess the moral, political, and cultural role of Catholic and Protestant Christianity in the European colonies in the Americas. [Examine the influence of ideas, human interests, and beliefs
7-12 Explain why historians have called the Seven Years War the first “global war” and assess its consequences for Britain, France, Spain, and the indigenous peoples of the American colonial territories. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]

Standard 4B

The student understands the origins and consequences of the trans-Atlantic African slave trade. 

GRADE LEVEL THEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
7-12 Analyze the ways in which entrepreneurs and colonial governments exploited American Indian labor and why commercial agriculture came to rely overwhelmingly on African slave labor. [Evidence historical perspectives
7-12 Compare ways in which slavery or other forms of social bondage were practiced in the Islamic lands, Christian Europe, and West Africa. [Compare and contrast differing sets of ideas]
5-12 Explain how commercial sugar production spread from the Mediterranean to the Americas and analyze why sugar, tobacco, and other crops grown in the Americas became so important in the world economy. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships
7-12 Explain the organization of long-distance trade in West and Central Africa and analyze the circumstances under which African governments, elites, merchants, and other groups participated in the sale of slaves to Europeans. [Identify issues and problems in the past
5-12 Explain how European governments and firms organized and financed the trans-Atlantic slave trade; and describe the conditions under which slaves made the “middle passage” from Africa to the Americas. [Appreciate historical perspectives
9-12 Analyze the emergence of social hierarchies based on race and gender in the Iberian, French, and British colonies in the Americas. [Interrogate historical data
5-12 Describe conditions of slave life on plantations in the Caribbean, Brazil, and British North America and analyze ways in which slaves perpetuated aspects of African culture and resisted plantation servitude. [Appreciate historical perspectives]

Standard 4C

The student understands patterns of change in Africa in the era of the slave trade. 

GRADE LEVEL THEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
7-12 Describe the institutions and economies of Ashanti, Dahomey, Benin, Lunda, and Kongo in the period of the Atlantic slave trade. [Formulate historical questions
5-12 Analyze how the Atlantic slave trade affected population, economic life, polygynous marriage, family life, and the use of male and female slave labor in West and Central Africa. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships
9-12 Describe government, trade, cultural traditions, and urban life in the Songhay Empire in the 16th century and analyze reasons for the empire’s collapse at the end of the century. [Interrogate historical data
7-12 Analyze causes and consequences of encounters among Khoisan groups, Bantu-speaking peoples, and European settlers in South Africa in the 17th and 18th centuries. [Identify the gaps in the available records]  

Standard 5

Transformations in Asian societies in the era of European expansion. 

Standard 5A

The student understands the development of European maritime power in Asia. 

GRADE LEVEL THEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
5-12 Explain how the Netherlands, England, and France became naval and commercial powers in the Indian Ocean basin in the 17th and 18th centuries. [Evaluate the implementation of a decision
5-12 Assess the impact of British and French commercial and military initiatives on politics, economy, and society in India. [Marshal evidence of antecedent circumstances]
5-12 Analyze motives for Dutch commercial and military penetration of Indonesia and the effects of Dutch imperialism on the region’s economy and society. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]
9-12 Analyze the character and significance of contacts between Christian missionaries and peoples of India, Vietnam, and the Philippines. [Examine the influence of ideas, human interests, and beliefs]
9-12 Assess the impact of the Seven Years War on the relative power of Britain and France in Asia. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]

Standard 5B

The student understands the transformations in India, China, and Japan in an era of expanding European commercial power.

GRADE LEVEL THEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
9-12 Analyze causes of the decline of the Mughal Empire and the rise of regional powers such as the Marathas and Sikhs. [Analyze multiple causation]
7-12 Explain how the Manchus overthrew the Ming dynasty, established the multi-ethnic Qing, and doubled the size of the Chinese empire. [Identify issues and problems in the past
9-12 Evaluate China’s cultural and economic achievements during the reigns of the Kangxi and Qianlong emperors. [Examine the influence of ideas, human interests, and beliefs
7-12 Assess the extent of European commercial penetration of China and the ability of the Chinese government to control European trade. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships
5-12 Explain the character of centralized feudalism in Japan under the Tokugawa shogunate and the reasons for Japan’s political stability, economic growth, and cultural dynamism. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships
5-12 Analyze Japan’s relations with Europeans between the 16th and 18th centuries and the consequences of its policy of limiting contacts with foreigners. [Reconstruct patterns of historical succession and duration

Standard 5C

The student understands major cultural trends in Asia between the 16th and 18th centuries. 

GRADE LEVEL THEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
9-12 Assess the influence of both new currents in Confucianism and Chinese art, architecture, and literary styles on cultural life in Korea, Vietnam, and Japan. [Draw upon visual and literary sources]
9-12 Describe the varieties of Buddhist and Hindu teaching and practice in Asia and compare their influence on social and cultural life. [Demonstrate and explain the influence of ideas, human interests, and beliefs
7-12 Analyze how and why Islam continued to expand in India, Southeast Asia and China. [Demonstrate and explain the influence of ideas, human interests, and beliefs

Standard 6

Major global trends from 1450-1770. 

Standard 6A

The student understands major global trends from 1450 to 1770. 

GRADE LEVEL THEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
5-12 Describe major shifts in world demography and urbanization in this era and analyze reasons for these changes. [Utilize visual and mathematical data
7-12 Analyze ways in which expanding capitalistic enterprise and commercialization affected relations among states and contributed to changing class and race relations. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships
7-12 Assess the impact of gunpowder weaponry and other innovations in military technology on empire-building and the world balance of naval power. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships
5-12 Explain major changes in world political boundaries between 1450 and 1770 and assess the extent and limitations of European political and military power in Africa, Asia, and the Americas as of the mid-18th century. [Clarify information on the geographic setting]
5-12 Assess how the acceleration of scientific and technological innovations in this era affected social, economic, and cultural life in various parts of the world. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships
7-12 Identify regions where Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam were growing in this era and analyze why these religious and cultural traditions gained new adherents in various parts of the world. [Examine the influence of ideas]
7-12 Identify patterns of social and cultural continuity in various societies and analyze ways in which peoples maintained traditions and resisted external challenges in the context of a rapidly changing world. [Explain historical continuity and change
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