The World from 1450 to 1700

By John E. Wills Jr. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 7
Toward an Early Modern
World, 1670–1700

In 1528 Cabeza de Vaca, a product of a rapidly transforming Spanish-American world, was watching the hunter-gatherers of the Texas coast, who were following one of the oldest human ways of life. By 1700 those peoples, the Karankawa and others, were almost invisible in the historical record; the diseases brought by the Spaniards had taken a dreadful toll, and some remnants were disappearing into the northern frontier of the Spanish-surname, creole society. By 1700 there were not many peoples left in the world whose lives had not been drastically changed by the web of interaction and exchange; the few who remained included the peoples of Australia and New Guinea, the Maori of New Zealand, and the peoples of Hawaii and other Pacific islands. By 1700 Manchu cavalrymen were winning great victories far out in Mongolia, Russian frontiersmen had fur-trading posts all the way to the Pacific, and European fur traders and their Native American allies were following the rivers across the plains of North America.

These new connections opened up a bigger world in people’s minds; Jesuits made a fine map of the world for the Kangxi emperor, and a rich man in Amsterdam named Nicolas Witsen collected sources on the Russian advances in Asia and compiled a detailed map of Siberia. A widening world of European power may have made some Muslims more determined in defense of their faith, as when Aurangzeb broke with the tolerant practices of his Mughal ancestors, but it made others, especially in Istanbul, uneasily aware that they had to respond somehow to the new European skills and powers. And those new skills and powers were not only on maps but in people’s minds, not just great minds like Isaac Newton’s, but those of the people who read travel books, simple explanations of new scientific ideas, and arguments for religious toleration after centuries of religious war. Chinese writers about practical problems of government and Japanese writers of guidebooks to their country’s rapidly growing cities also were changing people’s values and understandings of the world. Our modern interconnected world had indeed begun to take shape by 1700, with “early modern” trends

-140-

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The World from 1450 to 1700
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Editors’ Preface xi
  • Prologue- Texas - And the World 1
  • Chapter 1 - Islam and a Wider World, 1450–1490 7
  • Chapter 2 - Columbian Exchanges, 1490–1530 26
  • Chapter 3 - Old Ways Made New, 1530–1570 49
  • Chapter 4 - New Shapes of Power, 1570–1610 72
  • Chapter 5 - Settlers and Diasporas, 1610–1640 96
  • Chapter 6 - Time of Troubles, 1640–1670 119
  • Chapter 7 - Toward an Early Modern World, 1670–1700 140
  • Chronology 155
  • Notes 157
  • Further Reading 160
  • Web Sites 164
  • Acknowledgments 166
  • Index 168
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