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According to Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel, one of the first steps from a hunter-gatherer society towards civilization is agriculture. While agricultural societies appeared all over the world, the old world had a more suitable environment, especially with regards to the grains and large animals that lived there. The old world had wheat, which is ...


14

Columbus sailed the ocean blue in fourteen hundred and ninety two; a full 55 years before Henry died in 1547. Henry was not known for his chaste ways, so it is quite conceivable that he would have been an early contractor of a new venereal disease. The most recent excavations at Pompeii have revealed remains two twin teen-aged sisters, apparently in a ...


13

This is, in fact, the big question of history. Subquestion 1 here: Why didn't Native North Americans (let's say the Mound Builders, for the sake of argument) conquer the world? The problem here, by the very logic you go over in your own question, is that the MB's were inhabiting a continent that was relatively biologically deprived. By comparison to ...


11

Interesting. I'd never heard this before, so I went digging myself. It appears that Michigan's prehistory of copper working really fired some people's imaginations. If you look there are even fanciful stories about Phonecians crossing the Atlantic to get at Great Lakes copper! There's a great paper online by what appears to be a very frustrated ...


10

The most important "paradigm shift" of the early 19th century was the Industrial Revolution. That was the harnessing of the steam, and later, internal combustion engines, for manufacturing advances that led to an "order of magnitude" gains (five to ten times) in the standard of living. The great powers of the time were also among the earliest beneficiaries ...


8

"The nail that sticks out gets hammer down" While a Japanese saying, it holds true for all the super powers. Be their outside enemies, inside corruption, or just economic bad luck, the hammers are numerous indeed. Spain in particular, was cripple by mega inflation due to all the gold coming from the Indies. Portugal was assimilated into Spain and then ...


7

They didn't try because it wasn't politically relevant to them (i.e. The Emperor wasn't interested). Chinese dynasties preferred a tributary network instead of European or Pan-Arabic style colonisation. This reasoning worked well enough considering the key motivation for Europeans traders to sail beyond Europe was to bypass Arabic tariffs on the Silk Road ...


7

The currently accepted theory for this is that he didn't. Although there is some debate as to what his exact problem was, it doesn't appear to have been Syphilis. The theory that Henry suffered from syphilis has been dismissed by most historians. A more recent theory suggests that Henry's medical symptoms are characteristic of untreated Type II ...


6

Depends on what you mean by advanced. If you mean in terms of metalworking, the lack of easily exploited tin deposits in the Americas means that a bronze age never took off. There was a copper-working culture surrounding the Great Lakes, and it pre-dated the chalcolithic in the old world by a few thousand years, but this lasted only as long as the accessible ...


5

After the voyages of Columbus, who sailed for Spain, the Portuguese and Spanish divided up the new world in the Treaty of Tordesillas (1494). The later pattern of colonization followed this treaty in general outline. Your question has an incorrect assumption, that the Portuguese were only traders. They had a global empire that included Brazil, islands in ...


5

For many years, the Extremadura region was the border region between Christian and Moorish Spain. As a result, their inhabitants were quite literally "living at the edge." Hence they produced the largest number of "desperado" type conquerors. It's like saying that America's most renowned Indian fighters (e.g. Buffalo Bill Cody or George A. Custer) were ...


5

I think this is a valid question. But the answer is a rather resounding no. For one thing, we have no shred of evidence for such a conjecture. For another, this conjecture cannot be squared at all with the fact that Columbus to his dying day insisted on having actually landed in India - had he been dissimulating about his knowledge of the existence of ...


5

Europe was pretty much a poor smelly underdeveloped backwater in global terms for most of history, although the culture and civilization of the middle east and Africa often reached across the Mediterranean and especially into the areas near the middle east. The change from poor backwater to rulers of the world started with the conquering of the Americas, ...


4

These are both good answers but I think I can offer some extra points not included in them (after I have +1ed them both)! This is all cloaked in the wool of human history (there is always a counter example somewhere and a lot of this deals only in the general cases): The driver seems to be (as stated previously) the multiple states of almost equal power ...


3

Europeans conquered "almost the whole world" (as we know it today), because the technology in use at the time of their ascendency (steamships and artillery), made it physically possible for them to do so. The Mongolians conquered "almost the whole world" as THEY knew it (most of modern Asia), based on the physical limits of their "technology" (mounted ...


3

It's a much more complicated process than saying "Let's do it.", to provision a sea voyage of (at that time) likely 12+ months, return trip. Accurate maps didn't exist at the requisite scale, and pilots "chart's" were patentable; so a European pilot (or three) would have been advised.


3

I have been travelling in Extremadura for the past 5 days. What strikes me is the large number of rivers, some surprisingly large in June, most navigable. ALS remember the Romans took the trouble to come here overland and of course the Moors and the Castilians marched and counter marched this terrain for centuries. A theory I will advance is that after the ...


3

Historically, civilizations have developed best along peninsulas: mostly surrounded by water, but with one land bridge. Egypt was a peninsula (between the Nile River, Red Sea, and Mediterranean). So was Babylon (between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers). India is one large peninsula, as was ancient China (between the Yellow and Yangtze Rivers). Greece and ...


2

Well, Africa is in the Old World, but most of sub-Saharan Africa was developed less than the Maesoamerican civilizations. Pre-Christian North-East Europe was also at the stage comparable with American cultures. Siberia and North Asia were less developed also. That is, only the European civilization developed from Classic Antiquity had significant advantage ...


2

From the OED under Tithingman we find a usage evidenced in the 1677 Laws of Massachusetts 23 May: To prevent ... Prophanation of the Sabbath ... Tithing-man or -men shall ... have power in the absence of the Constable to apprehend all Sabbath breakers. and again 1895 A.B. Hart Forums(NY) May 377: The interference with Sunday travel of the ...


2

Supreme energy and intelligence. The best way to gauge a people's energy and intelligence is by looking at their intellectual achievements, not by testing what's-so-called IQ. One glimpse of art, science, literature text books will show who is extremely superior in terms of energy and intelligence. Why the Europeans acquired such supreme intelligence is ...


1

Spain and Portugal controlled their colonies differently because they developed differently during the 15th century. By the 15th century, Portugal was already a "complete" country. The century was characterized by seagoing voyages under Prince Henry the Navigator, around the coast of Africa. The end result was Vasco da Gama's sailing totally around Africa, ...


1

I believe (although I can't cite a source right now), that Spain and Portugal's colonies were organized around resource extraction - the Spanish grants didn't even specify land, but rather the labor. The English Colonies were organized around building new infrastructure. Although they didn't have the terminology to discuss it, England and France performed ...



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