Essay Changes in Early Modern Europe

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Early modern Europe, specifically Spain and England, was going through major growing pains in the period before discovery and settlement of the New World. Recovery from the Black Plague, religious reformation, and newly formed nation-states were on the forefront of these changes. The political environment, economy, and religion were all intertwined during the upheaval of the Old World which proved to be a driving force in the search for and eventual settlement of new lands. The Reformation and the Counter-Reformation were major motivating factors in early modern Europe leading to exploration of new lands. This began with Martin Luther’s break from Catholic doctrine in 1519. By the time the Reformation came onto the European stage, …show more content…
Because of all this religious change in England and other nations, they were slower to explore and colonize the New World. Economic changes occurred partly due to the newly formed nation-states of Spain, Portugal, France, and England. Trade at that time was limited and expensive, so the Europeans began looking for new trade routes to Asia. What they found was an altogether new place that opened up many new opportunities for food sources, money, and slave labor. A motivator for exploration was “defined primarily in terms of silver and gold and secondarily in terms of raw materials.” Another factor to consider was the population explosion that came about after the Black Plague wiped out around 30 million Europeans producing “economic disruption.” Spain was seeking gold to finance further expeditions abroad and their own war with the Muslims on the home front. Britain was seeking new trade markets for their wool with the collapse of their wool market at home. Another mitigating economic factor was the rising prices created by the flood of American silver into the European market. This caused rates to double on many goods, which benefited the farmers and the merchants, but the majority of people suffered because their wages did not rise proportionately. This increased the number of people living on the fringes of society and “thus built up pressure to immigrate to the Americas.” Intertwined with
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