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Essay Questions

  1. How useful is the term ‘gunpowder empires’ as a descriptor for the Ottoman, Safavid and Mughal empires?
  2. How far were the empires between 1500 and 1800 dependent on slavery?
  3. Was conquest more important than commerce for the success of the early modern empires?
  4. Was American silver necessary in connecting the early modern world?
  5. How did American silver change the role played by Europe in world trade?
  6. Is it correct that China was a ‘silver sink’ in the period 1500-1800?
  7. What is the role of Potosí in global history?
  8. What were the ‘global’ consequences of the Columbian Exchange?
  9. Compare the role of disease in the European colonisation of the Americas, Africa, and Australasia.
  10. What were the ‘global’ consequences of the colonial cultivation of Old World crops (such as sugar and coffee)?
  11. What were the consequences of the global diffusion of New World plants?
  12. How were New World foodstuffs received, adapted, and consumed in Europe? Select specific examples to discuss.
  13. Trace one or more cases of a transformation of a ‘society with slaves’ to a ‘slave society’.
  14. What lasting effects have the slave trade had on West African economic development?
  15. What documents can we use to discover the gains made by Britain from its participation in the slave trade, and what do they demonstrate?
  16. How significant to the development of Atlantic slavery were sugar plantations?
  17. How crucial was violence in the establishment of maritime empires?
  18. What caused the divergent development of the Dutch and English East India Companies in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries?
  19. How was Europe shaped by the establishment of maritime links with Asia?
  20. To what extent did the European companies rely on pre-existing patterns of trade?
  21. How does material culture illustrate global connections?
  22. What role did gifts play in early modern Eurasian diplomacy?
  23. How important were the commodities traded by the East Indian Companies in changing consumer habits in Europe and the Americas?
  24. Was Western naval power the key to early modern global connections?
  25. What did warfare contribute to the making of the first industrial economies?
  26. Was Japan’s reception of Western firearms distinctive?
  27. Was war the main driver of technological innovation in seventeenth-century Eurasia?
  28. Were the great religions the driving force of war in the early modern period? Discuss two examples.
  29. To what extent did ‘useful knowledge’ need to be transferred ‘in the flesh’ before the end of the eighteenth century?
  30. How receptive were China and Japan to Western science and technology in the early modern period?
  31. To what extent did Europe’s scientific revolution of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries have its roots in the earlier world of medieval Islam?
  32. Were the Jesuits effective in transmitting Western scientific knowledge to China?
  33. What part did diasporas play in spreading knowledge and innovation in the early modern period?
  34. Why did exploration of the Pacific come so late, and why did it become a priority to European states in the eighteenth century?
  35. What did Enlightenment knowledge contribute to the incentives stimulating Cook’s explorations of the Pacific?
  36. How similar were encounters between Europeans and first peoples of the South Pacific and those of the North Pacific?