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Sunday, January 29, 2017

Worlds Collide History

Worlds Collide
Increasing contact between cultures brought new trade goods and new ways of thinking to many peoples. This contact, however, also brought conflict.

One important conflict arose between the people of Europe and the Seljuk (SELjook) Turks, a Muslim people from southwestern Asia. Even though western Europe was no longer part of a single empire, most Europeans still felt connected to one another. They shared the same religion Christianity. Beginning in 1095, Christian Europeans joined together to fight the Muslim Seljuk Turks, who had captured the city of Jerusalem. This city was holy to Christians, Muslims, and Jews. The battles that were fought to free Jerusalem from Muslim control are known as the crusades.

The crusades caused much loss of life for both Christians and Muslims. Yet they also brought the two peoples closer together. During the crusades the Christians and the Muslims learned about each other's ways of life and resources. Europeans returned from the crusades with spices, silks, and other goods from Asia. A demand for these goods developed, and trade began between Europe and Asia.

As trade continued, Europeans began to look for new water routes to Asia. Christopher Columbus was sure that he could reach Asia by sailing west across the Atlantic Ocean. On October 12,1492, he landed on the island of San Salvador in the Caribbean Sea. Columbus believed that he had reached the Indies, in Asia, so he called the island's people Indians. Columbus made three more trips, never realizing that he had reached the Americas.

After Columbus's voyages several other Europeans traveled to, explored, and settled in the Americas. The Europeans and the native peoples introduced each other to new foods, animals, ideas, and ways of doing things. For example, the Europeans learned about corn, beans, and potatoes.

The peoples of the Americas saw cattle and horses for the first time. Today, historians call the movement of people, animals, plants, and ideas between Europe and the Americas the Columbian exchange.

In the Americas some Europeans created huge farms called plantations. Others started gold and silver mines. Plantation and mine owners turned to the continent of Africa for the many workers they needed. Africans were enslaved and brought to the Americas to work.

Slavery had long been known in Africa. Enemies captured in wars between rival African peoples were often enslaved. They usually regained their freedom at a later time. Slavery in the Americas was different. Slaves in America were thought of as property, to be bought and sold as their owners wished. A slave in the Americas had little hope of ever becoming free.

The sale of human life was part of a system called the triangle trade. First, traders sailed from Europe to Africa with iron, cloth, guns, and liquor. In Africa the traders exchanged these goods for enslaved people. Next, during what is sometimes called the Middle Passage, the enslaved people were carried across the Atlantic to the Americas. There the traders sold the Africans for products from the plantations. The traders took these goods back to Europe, completing the triangle.

In time many people in the Americas began to feel that slavery was cruel and wrong. However, it was not until the 1860s that slavery ended in much of the Americas.

How did European settlement in the Americas affect the peoples of Africa?


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