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By Guy Routh (auth.)

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Sample text

H. Parry has called 'The European Reconnaissance' (in a book, bearing that name, of selected documents published in New York by Harper & Row, 1968). It was a process in which seamen from Italy, Portugal and Spain, later England and the Netherlands, 'dis-covered', or drew back the curtains on, the world. Within a historically short time myth and rum our were replaced by exact measurement whose culmination is the system of satellite communication and space travel of the present day. The chronology of events was as follows: 1348-9 The Black Death 1368 Overthrow of the Mongol Empire; expulsion of Toghon Timur from China; foundation of the Ming dynasty Portuguese capture Ceuta (across the Strait of Gibraltar) from the Moors 1419 Prince Henry becomes Governor of the Algarve and Ceuta 1420 The Portuguese begin their voyages to West Africa 1441 First slave cargoes brought back 1450 Johann Gutenberg prints with movable type 1453 Constantinople captured by the Turks 1460 Death of Prince Henry; Pedro da Sintra reaches Sierra Leone 1485 End of the Wars of the Roses 1487-8 Bartholomew Diaz goes to and from the Cape of Good Hope 1492 Colombus goes on first transatlantic voyage 1497-9 Vasco da Gama goes to and from Calicut 1499 Independence of Switzerland 1501 The Spanish take Granada from the Moors 1517 Publication of Luther's 95 theses on the value of indulgences 1520 Magellan discovers the Strait; Thomfl Pires arrives in Peking 1521 Spanish capture Mexico 1531 Pizarro in Peru 1533 Henry VIII excommunicated 1534 Cartier's first voyage to the St Lawrence 1577 Drake leaves on voyage round the world 1415 26 1579 1588 1599 1602 1609 Economics: An Alternative Text The Netherlands proclaim their independence Defeat of the Spanish Armada Establishment of the British East India Company Establishment of Dutch East India Company The Pilgrim Fathers set off in the Mayflower I begin with the Black Death and the overthrow of the Mongol Empire, for they signalled the violent disruption of the longestablished trade routes between Europe and the East, thus inspiring the search for the sea-route to the East Indies.

Some of their bridges are still in use in southern Europe. As affluence increased, so did the extremes of wealth and poverty. C. with the triumvirate of Caesar, Pompey and Crassus. D. 306, Constantine, the first Christian Emperor, prudently withdrew to Constantinople. There the Eastern Empire flourished as a centre of art, science and commerce until its fall to the Turks in 1453. In 1206, while Christians and Muslims were at war in the Holy Land, Jenghiz was elected Khan of the Mongols. Within two generations the Mongols (or Tartars) had conquered most of Asia and a large piece of northern Europe.

Fortunes were made in the two countries, part of which found their way into the East India Companies that became the leading joint-stock ventures of the age. It is the joint-stock company that marks the difference between capitalism and all previous systems: the possibility of people providing nothing but capital to an enterprise of which they become ipso facto part-owners, and from which they then share in the fruits of the labours of others. 4 PRIVATE ENTERPRISE The Spanish excursions, conquests and settlements in the New World, like those of the Portuguese in the East, were the results of royal enterprise.

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