When we read about the history of Scientific Revolution during the Enlightenment, we come to know that the roots of Scientific Revolution first started in Europe during the Renaissance. But can you enlighten me why did this happen in Europe instead of Asia? Did other countries not face the same problems or they were suppressed by some strong laws?

  • @RazieMah, thank you but it seems somewhat different.
    – L.K.
    Jun 14, 2014 at 12:42
  • @RazieMah, You are probably right. I was thinking about Asia, and nearby continents scenario.
    – L.K.
    Jun 14, 2014 at 12:46
  • 3
    Are you asking about the Renaissance (15th century) or the Enlightenment (18th century)? They are two different things. The scientific revolution is the Enlightenment. Jun 14, 2014 at 14:36

1 Answer 1


The Renaissance occurred in Europe from the 14th-17th centuries. The main difference to me compared to Asia is that Western Europe at this time experienced relative peace and government stability after centuries of constant warfare and invasion in the so-called "Dark Ages." Europe did not however experience religious stability, which allowed new secular ideas to flourish. The Black Plague, rumblings of the Reformation and the Aviognon Papacy (anti-pope) occurred in the 14th century all undermined a central religious authority.

Other parts of the world were still experiencing internal warfare and many parts of Asia did not have access to enough outside ideas due to policies of isolationism.

In Asia, the largest powers were China and Japan. In the 13th century Japan and Western Europe repelled invasion by the Mongol Empire, but China was conquered by them until establishment of the Ming Dynasty in the 14th century. The stress of warfare with the Mongols caused the government of Japan to become deeply endebted and it was overthrown, starting a period of internal strife.

Influenced by Confucianism, the Ming Dynasty in China started a long period of isolationism in the 14th century, which hurt its ability to include outside ideas in cultural and technological progress.

Due to the collapse of the Kamakura government, this time period until contact with Europeans in the 16th century in Japan was an Age of Civil Wars. Feudal lords fought to control the Kyoto court. The instability in the country likely contributed to an inability to have a "Renaissance." Japan then entered a period of isolationism in the 17th century.

From 1641 to 1853, the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan enforced a policy which it called kaikin.

Korea was also an important power but it was subjected to constant invasion and wars with the Mongols, China and Japan. It also had a policy of isolationism.

Korea was under Mongolian occupation from 1231 until the early 14th century and was repeatedly ravaged by Chinese (government and rebel) armies. Beginning in 1592, the Japanese warlord, Hideyoshi, launched several military campaigns to take the peninsula. The Choseon Kingdom managed to repel Hideyoshi's armies with the aid of Ming China. However, the experience impelled the Yi court to choose a policy of foreign isolation, with the exception of China. It was this period of isolationism from which Korea earned the name "The Hermit Kingdom" in the 19th century.

Other nations were feudal kingdoms fighting for control of territory, such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Burma and Thailand and thus did not have the stability yet.

  • 1
    How are you quantifying this "relative peace"? 14th century Europe does not seem particularly more peaceful based on wikipedia. As for your Asian examples, Japan's Nanboku-chō period started in the 14th century, and its Sakoku Edit was issued in the 16th century. Neither explains why Renaissance was first in Europe when it started, according to this answer, also the 14th century.
    – Semaphore
    Jun 14, 2014 at 15:17
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    @Semaphore There are still wars, but it is nations fighting each other. There is mostly peace within the nations themselves.
    – Razie Mah
    Jun 14, 2014 at 15:30
  • @Semaphore I don't understand the criticism about Japan...since yes, I compared the time periods. Do you think it should go earlier in history
    – Razie Mah
    Jun 14, 2014 at 15:33
  • My point (which also applies to Ming China) is that it doesn't make sense to talk about why the Renaissance happened in Europe first by citing things from after that had happened. Also, I feel the distinction you're making about the wars is quite arbitrary.
    – Semaphore
    Jun 14, 2014 at 15:46
  • @Semaphore The wars is a well accepted theory, so we will have to agree to disagree. But yes, I will have to include the time period prior to this.
    – Razie Mah
    Jun 14, 2014 at 16:00

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