Taught by: Dr. Liam Brockey
This course will present an overview of the first European imperial cycle of the modern era, a period often called the “Age of Discovery.” The lectures, readings, and discussions in this course will have a global one: We will trace the developments that led from the conquest of North African ports by Henry the Navigator in 1415 to the arrival of the first European fleets at the Japanese archipelago in 1543. Along our route, we will stop to consider the first encounters between Europeans and Africans, Asians, and Americans; from the slave entrepôts of West Africa, to the spice markets of India, to the bustling cities of China. By the early decades of the seventeenth century, European merchants, missionaries, conquerors, and adventurers would establish colonies and trading outposts from the Pacific coasts of the Americas to the farthest shores of Maritime Asia. In some regions, these Europeans would seek to replace the civilizations they encountered with new ones made in their image, elsewhere they would seek to be recognized within existing networks of trade, politics, and culture. In this course, we will discuss how innovations in the sciences of shipbuilding and navigation facilitated these processes; as well as how news of the wider world was digested back in Europe. By the end of this course, students will know a different version of the old story of discovery, whereby these European men and women, and the people they encountered or conquered created a new world: the interconnected one that we live in today.