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The Pre-Modern World

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The pre-modern era lasted from the 15th through the 18th centuries. Many centralized governments were held throughout that era time, as were the beginnings of various independent countries as nation-states, and so on. 

Globalization is a 50-year-old economic system but the making of the global world has a long history of trade, migration, of people of work , the movement of capital  and many more. To understand the phases through which this world where we live has emerged.

The Pre-Modern World

Throughout history, human communities have become increasingly intertwined. Travelers, businessmen, priests, and pilgrims have traveled long distances for a variety of purposes since ancient times:

  • For gaining knowledge  
  • To look out for more opportunities  
  • For religious and spiritual fulfillment  
  • To escape from ill-treatment  

These individuals transported products, money values, talents, ideas, innovations, and even infections and sickness with them. In the early 3000 BC, bustling maritime commerce linked the Indus Valley civilization to modern-day West Asia. Cowries (the Hindi crowd or sea shells) were used as a form of currency all the way from the Maldives to China and East Africa for more than millennia. The long-term spread of disease-carrying germs may be traced as far back as the seventh century.

In the pre-Modern era there are three things that will help us to understand the making of a global world is:

  1. Silk Route
  2. Food Travels
  3. Diseases and Trade

Silk Routes Link the World  

Silk route is defined as the route taken by traders to carry silk cargoes from china to the west. The Silk Routes are an excellent illustration of pre-modern trade across different areas of the world. The name silk road also refers to the prominence of westbound Chinese silk shipments over this route.

Important features of Silk Routes are,

  • There are several more silk routes have been identified by the historian over land and by sea, knitting together vast regions of Asia which linked Asia with Europe and northern Africa, they are known to be existed since before the Christian era and thrived almost till the fifteenth century. 
  • Even Buddhist preachers, Christian missionaries, and Muslim preachers traveled along these routes. These routes proved to be a great source of trade and cultural links between distant parts of the world.
  • This route connected Asia to the Mediterranean, passing through China, India, Persia, Arabia, Greece, and Italy. Due to a large amount of silk trading from the second century B.C. until the 14th century, A.D. was called as a silk route. This silk route not only provide a link for importing and exporting goods but also became important for the export of art, literature, and philosophies between countries.
  • Through these routes, they trade textiles and spices from India and Southeast in return for precious metals Gold, and silver which flowed from Europe to Asia.

Food Travels  

  • Food offers many examples of long-distance cultural exchange, Many traders and travelers introduce new crops to the market they travel to. In distant parts of the world, even ready foodstuffs might share common origins
    • For Example, spaghetti, and noodles. Noodles traveled west from china to become spaghetti or Arab traders took pasta to Sicily an island in Italy in the fifth century.
  • Some of the trade foods like potatoes, soya, groundnuts, maize, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, etc these foods were unknown to our ancestors in India, five centuries ago. After Christopher Columbus found the enormous region that would later become the Americas, these cuisines were brought to Europe and Asia.
  • After the introduction of potatoes in Europe, the poorer have begun to start eating better and live longer. Even the poorest peasants of Ireland depended upon potatoes. In the mid-1840s around 1 million people of Ireland have been starved to death when the Irish famine struck and many had migrated in search of work. This is also clear that the introduction of the new crop can lead to making a difference between death and life.

Conquest, Disease, and Trade  

  • In the sixteenth century, the pre-modern world shrank greatly after the European sailors found a sea route to Asia and also successfully crossed the western ocean to America. For centuries Indian ocean was the central trade point but after entry of Europeans helped to expand this trade towards Europe.
  • After this discovery, America’s vast lands and abundant crops and minerals began to transform trade and lives everywhere.  
  • Silver the precious metal found in Peru and Mexico has enhanced Europe’s wealth and financed its trade with Asia. Many expeditions have started in search of EL DORADO, the fabled city of gold in South America.
  • In the mid-sixteenth century, The Spanish and Portuguese were the first Europeans to conquer America. European conquest was done not because of their gun power. In fact, their superpower or super weapon was not a conventional military weapon at all. This conquest was possible through the deadly disease smallpox that they carried on their persons because of the low immunity of America’s original inhabitants. It wiped out the whole community and proved to be a deadly killer even before reaching the European troops.  
  • Until the nineteenth century, there was food and hunger were common in Europe, and deadly diseases spread all over the city, therefore Europeans fled to America, and slaves captured in Africa were growing cotton and sugar for the European market.
  • Until the 18th century, India and China were the richest countries and the main centers of world trade, but Indian colonization and China restricted overseas contacts as a result of these.

Hence, Europe has emerged as the center of world trade.

FAQs on The Pre-Modern World

Question 1: Describe the importance of silk routes in pre-modern trade, cultural interaction, and religious exchange.


The significance of silk routes is as follows:

  1. The silk routes are excellent instances of pre-modern commerce and cultural linkages across distant sections of the world, connecting Asia with Europe and North Africa.
  2. Silk shipments from China, Indian spices and textiles, and gold and silver from Europe were transported to various regions of the world through the silk routes.
  3. These paths were used by Buddhist preachers, Christian missionaries, and, subsequently, Muslim preachers.
  4. These routes proved to be an excellent source of commercial and cultural connections across remote areas of the world.

Question 2: Give two reasons for Europeans’ interest in Africa.


The following are two reasons for attraction:

  • Africa had a lot of territory and a lot of mineral resources. It had a small population.
  • The Europeans hoped to construct plantations and mines in Africa to produce crops and minerals for export to Europe.

Question 3: What are the consequences of scraping grain laws in the United Kingdom?


  • Following the repeal of the grain restrictions, food could be imported into Britain at a lower cost than it could be produced in the country.
  • British agriculture was insufficiently steady to compete with imports. Vast swaths of land were suddenly left uncultivated, and thousands of men and women were out of employment. They moved to cities or other nations in quest of job.
  • As food costs declined, so did consumption in the United Kingdom. Faster industrial expansion in Britain began in the mid-nineteenth century, which resulted in better earnings and, as a result, more food imports.

Question 4: Who were the indentured laborers?


Indentured labourers were bound labourers who were under contract to work for an employer for a set period of time in order to pay for their journey to a new nation or home. They were recruited by employers’ agents, who were compensated with a little commission.

Question 5: What are three factors that pushed Indians and Chinese to serve as indentured servants on plantations and in mines?


The following factors pushed them to serve as indentured servants:

  1. The decline of the cottage industry.
  2. A rise in land rentals.
  3. Unemployment, poverty, and debts are all factors to consider.
  4. Because of these factors, the poor were driven to move in quest of job. Prospective migrants were enticed by the recruiters’ false promises and became indentured labourers.

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Last Updated : 15 Mar, 2023
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