Crusades: The Turning Point of the Rise of Western Nation-States
The selling and cultivation of pepper are directly correlated to nation-states. Nation-states are states whose citizens are mostly homogeneous. The rise of European nation-states can be attributed to three main turning points including the crusades, the plague, and Vasco Da Gama’s expedition to India. All of these events are important to the rise of Western nation-states but the most significant turning point was Vasco Da Gama’s expedition to India because it has the most prominent effects that are still visible today.
The Plague was not the most significant turning point of the rise of Western nation-states, but it is still an important part of the switch to nation-states. The plague was seen across Europe as a fresh start. Of course, it was tragic as 75 million people died, but there were many effects that the people who survived enjoyed. The church lost some of its followers because people believed that if there really was a diety, it would not allow so much death and destruction to take place. In addition to that loss, the church also gained much stronger followers because they felt as though they needed something to believe in after those devastating times. Many tried to pin the cause of the plague on people in the community who believed or acted in ways that differed from the overall population including on the Jews who ‘polluted the water’ and on witchcraft. This created a unified hatred for the Christians to go against and it united them.
This is a direct precondition to forming a nation-state because one part of being a nation-state is being unified in religion. In addition to the religious uniformity, the deaths that were a result of the plague also led to the emergence of the bourgeoisie, which is the merchant middle class. This then increased the economic demands for trade because a larger part of the population had a disposable income to spend on luxury items such as spices like pepper.
This increased interest in trade commenced the Age of Exploration as now there were many people interested in purchasing spices and other commodities as well as people seeking out spices as it was now extremely profitable. This led to the rise of mercantilism because it powered the evolution of nation-states because it put the focus on strengthening the state instead of the individual which is a major component of nation-states. The plague is certainly a precondition to the rise of nation-states and is unquestionably a major turning point in the switch to nation-states.
The rise of Western nation-states can also be attributed to the Crusades, but they were not the most significant part of the transition. The Crusades were religious wars that were fought between Christians and Muslims over both religion’s holy land, Jerusalem. The Church, more specifically Pope Urban II, spread the notion that the soldiers were fighting the Crusades for Jesus in order to take back his birthplace from the infidels, the Muslims. Pope Urban II also decided that it was not a sin to kill non-Christians and also if soldiers went to go fight in Jerusalem, they would be forgiven for all of their sins and granted a sure entrance to heaven.
This caused a lot of support for the leaders of the state, who were typically religious, and led to lesser power and support of the nobles. This overall led to the spread of nation-states because citizens were loyal to their leaders because of their religion and the things that they were promised. The Crusades also led to increased trade because it exposed Europe to many spices that they had not been accustomed to. When they went to fight these Crusade battles they encountered new spices and made money because of it. This also led to the rise of nation-states because it used Mercantilism to have the profits benefit the individual Christian states and strengthened their overall economy that way. Overall, the rise of European nation-states can most certainly be attributed to the Crusades.
Vasco da Gama’s expedition to India was the most important turning point in the rise of European nation-states. The Portuguese sponsored Vasco da Gama to find a new route to India. He achieved this by traveling around the Cape of Good Hope of the Southern tip of Africa. The spices that were from India were extremely popular throughout Europe. The issue was that the only way to travel from Europe to India was by land which was a very expensive trip.
Because of this, the King of Portugal decided to sponsor Da Gama to find a new route that was less expensive and more convenient in order to get to Calicut. This is a direct example of Mercantilism because the Portuguese government is sponsoring trade and Vasco da Gama is carrying out that expedition to benefit Portugal. The Portuguese spent about 100 years trying to gain control of the pepper trade in India and the rest of Asia. They failed and then the Dutch and English took over the trade with mercantilistic expeditions of their own.
This directly demonstrates how Da Gama’s expeditions were a significant turning point in the rise of European nation-states.
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