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In the historical period, expansionism was one of the practices of territorial expansion in the country. The practice of expansionism has been present throughout the European history. The Industrial Revolution improved the possibility of travel and ensured that people could travel further. The people’s desire for force increased their longing for more area and possession of more land was associated with more power. In this essay, a discussion will be provided on the concept of expansionism in European history.
In the European history, the age of exploration and early colonization took place between the 15th century and the early 17th century. In this period, Europeans were involved in early colonization of many areas in the world. The Europeans engaged in direct contact with regions such as Asia, Oceania and America. Historical scholar call this period the age of discovery as alternative trade route was established. The early period of exploration started in the year 1492 when Christopher Columbus discovered America. However, there is evidence for cross-continental trade and commerce much before Columbus. Countries like Africa, East Asia, Polynesia and the Middle East also gave evidence for trade and travel to the Americas. Other famous European explorers were the Vikings who arrived in North America. Some regard Leif Erikson as the first Icelandic explorer. He was the son of Erik the Red, the founder of the first Norse settlement. After the exploration of the Vikings, nearly 500 years passed before another European entered the continent.
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The European exploration continued further in the Middle Ages, which is the period between the fall of the Roman Empire and the beginning of the European Renaissance in the 14th century. In this period, Europe faced political and military discord due to the lack of a dominant centralized power. The fall of Constantinople was also one of the dominant reasons for European exploration. The trade for luxuries and spices continue to take place. In this backdrop, Christopher Columbus, a Castilian navigator submitted his plans for sailing around the world. Columbus started his voyage on August 3, 1941 and after riding westward across the Atlantic ocean, Columbus landed on the San Salvador island. Other areas that Columbus explored during this voyage included the northeast coast of Cuba and the northern coast of Hispaniola. After return from Spain, the news of the discovered land spread throughout Europe. Between the year 1493 and 1504, Columbus made three voyages to the New World. During his third voyage, he landed on the Portuguese Porto Santo Island before continuing with navigations to the coast of West Africa and many other areas. Columbus was also granted authority by the Spanish monarchy to claim land for Spain and begin settlement for trade. The increased demand for slave was also due to the expansion of European colonial powers.
Before the Industrial Revolution, European activities were confined to occupying areas that supply precious metals and tropical products, establishing white-settler colonies and setting up trade posts and forts. These changes were associated with disruptions to the societies in Africa and South America. However, the social systems over the Earth remained the same. These societies along with their small communities gave poor opportunities for mass produced goods. During Western expansionism, growing disparity in the technology of European nations and rest of the world was seen. The 18th century saw extensive gap between technologies in advanced countries and others. The most important part of the disparity was the superiority of Western armaments. Advances in communication and transportation was seen and the colonization experience further enhanced the psychological experience of the minority rule. There was a convergence of development in the year 1760s and the Treaty of Paris was associated with loss of colonial power for France and Britain turned out to be the largest colonial power in the world.
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The British conquest of India also depicted the period and practice of expansionism. The new commanding position of the seas gave the opportunity for Great Britain to further search for additional markets in Asia and Africa. In this period, the interest of the British world increased and they covered the South Pacific, the coast of Africa and the South Atlantic. The initial aim of the maritime activity was to achieve networking for trading posts and maritime bases. The path of conquest and territorial growth was orderly. The British engaged in new expansion of territory such as the areas in the Northern continent such as Florida, Canada and the area surrounding the Mississippi River and the Alleghenies. After taking over the Indians and the assimilation of the Canadians, new trade channels were created by the British government. To cope up with these problems, various new imperial policies were adapted over the mother country. The onset of the American War of Independence was also seen by two factors. The first was the reduction in need for military support from the mother country and supporting the American revolutionary forces from the French and Spanish. After this, the only challenge that confronted the British society was the shock of defeat in North America.
The effect of the American independence was that a diversion of the British imperial interest. They first started with the control of Bengal with the Battle of Plassey in 1757. The British engaged in continuous war against the Indian people. With the spread of the British sovereignty, increase in revenue was found to finance the powers of India and harmonize the British rule in India. The important addition to the British overseas possession was the addition of Indian territories and regions in New South Wales and Sierra Leone. During the war with the rival European colonial powers, an end of the Napoleonic era was seen. The British had a second empire which focused on expansions between the Canada and the Caribbean surrounding the area between India and Australia. The empire was supported by maritime activities and exceeding of powers compared to different rivals.
It can be concluded that the European and British era saw the expansion of territories and colonial expansion across the globe.
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