The first half of the 16th century in Japan belongs to the Muromachi period (1336-1573 C.E.) during which it had a decentralized political system allowing local lords to rule small regions of the country separately. During the mentioned period, a shogun ruled Japan through retainers, who provided military support in exchange for political rights. However, rising conflicts of interests and militarization led to constant strife. Therefore the country was in a state of civil war, which is referred to as the era of Sengoku. By the end of the sixteenth century Japan, shattered by the internecine wars and conflicts, began the process of political unification leading to the emergence of powerful states. The establishment of a military government called bakufu in 1600 strengthened unification sustainability.
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The term Gunpowder Empires refers to the period of three powerful Islamic empires, which are the Ottoman Empire, the Safavid Empire, and the Mughal Empire. The mentioned epoch lasted from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century, with the Ottoman Empire being the longest-standing Muslim empire, which existed until the early twentieth century. These three empires had Turkish ruling dynasties and represented a mixture of old traditions and culture linked to their nomadic past on the steppes and new knowledge, and agricultural city-based specifies of the conquered countries.
All three empires are referred to as Gunpowder Empires as they exploited the benefits of gunpowder weaponry exceptionally effectively. However, the Safavid and Mughal empires did not make as much use of gunpowder advantages as the Ottoman Empire. During the sixteenth century, the Islamic empires led aggressive foreign politics, conducting wars and expanding their territories. Even though expansive politics gave the empires access to valuable resources providing further possibilities to prosper, they did not attempt to explore the window of opportunities. Instead, they continued to wage costly wars, which gradually became less rewarding.
Besides, all three empires had rising domestic problems, as they did not make enough investment in social, economic, and technological development. Mentioned issues led to the collapse of the Safavid empire and the other two becoming less powerful and more influenced by European societies.
All in all, Japan in the sixteenth century and the Gunpowder Empires had several similarities as well as some differences. The main similarity is that mentioned countries depict the same period. In addition, both Japanese and Muslim societies were divided and had constant war conflicts, in which they relied on gunpowder technology. However, Japan had internal conflicts, whereas Islamic empires conducted wars with external opponents. Moreover, the 16th century led to the unification and prosperity of Japanese regions, unlike the Gunpowder Empires, which had rising domestic problems leading to the fall of these empires.
The appearance of new, improved technologies of navigation and transportation served as a background to the establishment of a new era in human history. Technological progress dramatically influenced European society as Europeans started to seek potential opportunities in commercial development and expansion of Roman Catholic Christianity boundaries. Before this period, humanity had never experienced such rapid exploration of the world.
The first steps were taken by Portuguese explorers as they were experienced mariners to build ships that could be capable of long voyages on the high seas. In 1415 Portuguese founded the Moroccan city of Ceuta as a part of a campaign to spread Christianity and enlarge its influence on the seas. As the West African coast was explored, the slave trade was established, which led to the development of huge Atlantic-wide trades. In addition, Indian Ocean trade development, as well as the Colonization of the Atlantic islands, took place, being profitable for Portuguese mariners. Moreover, in 1492 Columbus attempted an expedition in hope of paving a new trading route to India, which resulted in the discovery of the American continents.
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Increased interest in the potential commercial benefits of created trade routes, as well as the further advance of nautical technology and navigational skills, led to world exploration expeditions. In the early sixteen century explorers took numerous attempts to pace a route to the Asian shores that Columbus thought to establish. However, as time passed it became obvious, that the American continents represent valuable resources. During the same period, Asian trading routes were gaining momentum and became more profitable than ever. In 1519-1522 the first circumnavigation was completed by Magellan’s crew, becoming the crowning achievement of the time.
The transition that occurred in Europe between 1300 and 1600 is closely related to the accomplishments of European mariners in world exploration. The discovery of new lands full of resources and the establishment of economically beneficial routes caused a dramatic change in Europe’s politics. A new period of colonization and exploration began, as European countries acknowledged the potential of upcoming opportunities. These events launched the massive process of globalization and worldwide trading, revealing new economical strategies. The geographic knowledge of the western hemisphere allowed advanced countries to reevaluate their priorities and global objectives, leading to progress.