Why did the Great Divergence Occur

1384 WordsJul 13, 20186 Pages
The Great Divergence is term used to portray the gradual shift of dominance that Europe gained by establishing itself as the most powerful world civilization by the 19th century. While a case could be made that the Great Divergence occurred because of the pre-eminence of Europe and Britain, as well as their supposed superiority in invention and innovation above anywhere else in the world, this argument is flawed. A more compelling argument would be to state that it was rather through the geographical advantages that Europe obtained that lead it into eventually becoming the most powerful civilization after 1500 A.D., as this essay will strive to demonstrate. A case could be made that the Great Divergence ultimately grew on the basis of…show more content…
McNeil is also critical of Landes’ preoccupation in the happenings of Europe alone, while remaining dismissive of all economic and technological accomplishments of China after 1 000 A.D. While Landes dismisses the economic demise of China as a “weird pattern of isolated initiatives and Sisyphean discontinuities,” McNeil instead portrays the rapid innovations of the Sung era, and how they were damaged and disrupted by Mongol conquests and contained within the Ming dynasty, thereby showing that Europe did not surpass Europe in achievement due to their own pre-eminence. Furthermore, while Landes bestows Europe with the accountability of “invention of invention,” many of the ground-breaking inventions that the world saw in the 15th century were generated in non-European societies. In 895 A.D., China saw the invention of gunpowder. While initially used for flame throwing, it was soon used in bombs, grenades and rockets by 1231 A.D. This opposes the theory that Europe took initiative to employ gunpowder in warfare while China merely used it for leisurely purposes, including flame throwing. Printing and paper-making were also invented in China, and ultimately led to the widespread use of paper currency and the printing of literature. China also saw the innovation of printing by paving the way towards other inventions such as wallpaper, tissue paper, toilet paper and certain articles of clothing. Many of these
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