Bruce Morrison » An Age of Explorations and Isolation, 1400–1800

An Age of Explorations and Isolation, 1400–1800

Motivated by Christian faith and a desire for profit, Europeans explore distant lands, while Japanese and Chinese rulers isolate their societies from Europeans.


Section 1: Europeans Explore the East

Section 2: China Limits European Contacts

Section 3: Japan Returns to Isolation


Section 1: Europeans Explore the East

Advances in sailing technology enable Europeans to explore other parts of the world.


For “God, Glory, and Gold”


Early Contact Limited

  • New desire for contact with Asia develops inEuropein early 1400s


Europeans Seek New Trade Routes

  • Main reason for exploration is to gain wealth
  • Contact during Crusades spurs demand for Asian goods
  • Muslims and Italians control trade from East to West
  • Other European nations want to bypass these powers


The Spread of Christianity

  • Desire to spread Christianity also spurs exploration
  • Portuguese explorerBartolomeu Diaswants to serve God and king

Technology Makes Exploration Possible

  • In 1400s, thecaravelmakes it possible to sail against wind
  • Astrolabemakes navigation easier
  • Magnetic compassimproves tracking of direction


PortugalLeads the Way


The Portuguese Explore Africa

  • Prince Henry, the son ofPortugal’s king, supports exploration
  • In 1419, he founds navigation school on coast ofPortugal
  • By 1460, Portuguese have trading posts along west coast ofAfrica


Portuguese Sailors Reach Asia

  • In 1488,Diassails around southern tip of Africa
  • In 1498,Vasco da Gamasails to India
  • In 1499, da Gama returns toPortugalwith valuable cargo


SpainAlso Makes Claims


A Rival Power

  • In 1492,Christopher Columbussails for Spain
  • Convinces Spanish to support plan to reachAsiaby sailing west
  • Reaches theAmericasinstead
  • OpensAmericasto exploration and colonization
  • In 1493, pope divides these lands betweenSpainand Portugal
  • Agreement formalized byTreaty of Tordesillasin 1494


Trading Empires in the Indian Ocean


Portugal’s Trading Empire

  • In 1509,Portugaldefeats Muslims, takes over Indian Ocean trade
  • In 1510,Portugalcaptures Goa, port city in western India
  • In 1511,Portugalseizes Malacca, on Malay Peninsula
  • These gains break Muslim-Italian hold on Asian trade


Other Nations Challenge the Portuguese

  • English and Dutch begin moving intoAsiain 17th century
  • Dutch have more ships (20,000) than any other nation in 1600
  • Dutch and English weaken Portuguese control of Asian trade
  • Dutch then overpower English
  • FormDutch East India Companyfor Asian trade


European Trade Outposts

  • In 1619, Dutch set up trade headquarters atBatavia, on Java
  • Throughout 1600s, Dutch trade grows
  • Amsterdam, Dutch capital, becomes wealthy city
  • Dutch also control southern tip ofAfrica
  • England’s EastIndia Company gains strength in India
  • Francealso gains trade foothold in India


Section 2: China Limits European Contacts

Advances under the Ming and Qing dynasties leave China uninterested in European contact.


ChinaUnder the Powerful Ming Dynasty


A New Dynasty

  • Ming dynasty—rulesChina from 1368 to 1644
  • Ming rulers collect tribute from many Asian countries


The Rise of the Ming

  • Hongwu—peasant’s son who leads army that forces Mongols fromChina
  • First Ming emperor, he begins agricultural and government reforms
  • His son,Yonglo, becomes next emperor; moves royal court toBeijing
  • In 1405, he launches first of voyages of exploration


The Voyages of Zheng He

  • Chinese admiralZheng Heleads seven long voyages
  • Distributes gifts to showChina’s superiority


Ming Relations with Foreign Countries

  • In 1500s, Chinese government controls all contact with outsiders
  • High demand for Chinese goods helpsChina’s economy prosper
  • Government policies favor farming over manufacturing and merchants
  • Christian missionaries bring European ideas toChina


Manchus Found the Qing Dynasty


Another New Dynasty

  • Manchus—people of Manchuria, in northernChina
  • Qing dynasty—Manchu rulers who take control ofChina in 1644


China Under the Qing

  • Chinese resent rule by non-Chinese, often rebel
  • Manchus later gain acceptance through able rule
  • Kangxi—emperor from 1661 to 1722—reforms government, promotes arts
  • Qian-long—emperor from 1736 to 1795—expands Chinese empire


Manchus Continue Chinese Isolation

  • Chinese think themselves culturally superior to other peoples
  • Set special rules for foreign traders to follow
  • Dutch accept these rules; British do not and are blocked from trade


Korea Under the Manchus

  • In 1636, Manchus conquerKorea
  • Korean people gradually develop feelings of nationalism
  • Art reflects rejection of Chinese ways


Life in Ming and Qing China


Families and the Role of Women

  • New farming techniques produce more crops, spur population growth
  • Families favor sons over daughters
  • Some women work outside home, but most live restricted lives


Cultural Developments

  • Culture based on traditional forms
  • Dream of the Red Chamber(literary work) reveals Manchu society
  • Plays aboutChina’s history help unify Chinese people


Section 3: Japan Returns to Isolation

The Tokugawa regime unifies Japan and begins 250 years of isolation, autocracy, and economic growth.


A New Feudalism Under Strong Leaders


Local Lords Rule

  • In 1467, civil war destroys old feudal system inJapan
  • Period from 1467 to 1568 is called time of the “Warring States”
  • Daimyo—warrior-chieftains—are lords in new feudal system
  • Emperor is figurehead with no real power
  • Daimyo build armies of mounted samurai and gun-bearing infantry


New Leaders Restore Order

  • Oda Nobunaga—powerful daimyo who seizes capital ofKyoto in 1568
  • Nobunaga tries to eliminate rival daimyo and Buddhist monasteries
  • In 1582, commits suicide when an ally turns against him
  • GeneralToyotomi Hideyoshicarries on Nobunaga’s work
  • By 1590, controls most ofJapan
  • Launches invasion ofKorea, but effort ends when he dies


Tokugawa Shogunate Unites Japan

  • Tokugawa Ieyasutakes over, completes unification of Japan
  • In 1603, becomesshogun, or sole ruler
  • Sets up capital at Edo, which grows to beTokyo
  • Uses restrictions to keep daimyo under control
  • Tokugawa Shogunaterules Japan from 1603 to 1867


Life in Tokugawa Japan


Society in Tokugawa Japan

  • Long period of peace, prosperity, cultural growth
  • Structured society, with shogun as actual ruler
  • Confucian ideas influence society
  • Peasants suffer from high taxes; many leave farms for cities
  • By mid-1700s, Japan becoming urban society
  • Most women lead sheltered lives


Culture Under the Tokugawa Shogunate

  • Traditional culture thrives
  • Tragic noh dramas popular among samurai
  • Townspeople enjoy new type of realistic fiction
  • Many people enjoyhaiku—three-line poetry that presents images
  • Kabuki theater—skits with elaborate costumes, music, and dance


Contact Between Europe and Japan


Portugal Sends Ships, Merchants, and Technology to Japan

  • In 1540s, European traders begin arriving; welcomed by Japanese
  • European firearms change Japanese way of fighting


Christian Missionaries in Japan

  • In 1549, first Christian missionaries arrive
  • By 1600, about 300,000 Japanese are Christians
  • Japan’s rulers upset by this, ban Christianity
  • After 1637 rebellion, Christianity is forbidden inJapan


The Closed Country Policy


Growing Tensions

  • First Europeans arrive whenJapanhas no central authority
  • Shoguns, who later take power, dislike European ideas, ways of life


Japan in Isolation

  • Shoguns limit European trade toportof Nagasaki
  • Only Dutch and Chinese are allowed to trade; shoguns control trade
  • Japanese people are forbidden to travel abroad
• Japan develops in isolation