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Significance of Mercantilism in 16th Century Europe

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Mercantilism was an economic doctrine that said government control of foreign trade was supposed to be paramount. Its importance was ensuring prosperity and security of the states that practiced it. This practice continued in Europe for almost two centuries (16th to 18th). It is known to have caused some diplomatic friction among states. This was because the practice had several characteristics that did not favor fair trade. The significance of this doctrine was favored by its policies. By implementing these policies, mercantilism controlled trade to the favor of the European states. The polices included high tariffs on manufactured goods, monopolizing of markets, exclusive trade with colonies, restricting trade in foreign ships, offering export subsidies, banning exportation of silver and gold entirely, promotion of manufacturing of goods through subsidies or research, using cheap labor, maximization on use of locally available resources, and restriction of domestic consumption of goods with non-tariff barriers to trade.

            The era of Colombus on his serial discovery of lands, mercantilism was still in play but there was a minimal degree of its use. Colombus discovered numerous lands and islands. The discovered lands and islands were made European colonies. By this, trade was not between the colonies and the European states, but it was partially utilizing cheap labor and abundant resources. Colombus discovered America; this led to colonization of America by European powers. The form of trade that existed between the colony and the colonizer in this case of America and the European states was labor-for-goods. Mercantilism and its policies had all the routes and ports secured for trade. To the advantage of the European states, mercantilism blocked trade between a colony and other states. The presence of powerful monarchs and abundance of resources enabled European nations to secure all productive lands while exploiting cheap labor through slavery.

            From South America to North America, southern Asia and almost the entire of Africa; European states had taken control of trade. Securing land and slaves provided grounds of trade and cheap labor; these were vital resources to the trade. Industrialization in America began extensively in the 17th century. However, this is not the period when decision to industrialize America took shape. It was before then that plans to develop America were decided on. The indigenous people who existed in the lands that were discovered were treated and referred to as natives. The European states using the mercantilism doctrine did not actually follow the policies filed under the doctrine. This is because the doctrine was in favor of the Europeans nations only and was not in any way favoring the colonies. For example, trade was exclusive with colonies. The interpretation of this policy has it that the European states were free to do trade with whoever they wished but constraints restricting trade between colonies and other parties.

             With the above goals by the European states, the significance of mercantilism was to control trade by channeling all the resources to their side. It was in the best interest of the 16th century Europe to acquire the necessary resources at that period. They were securing the future of industrialization and economic development by controlling the flow of resources, raw materials, and labor. By restricting ports, it is only the ships of the colonies and their own that would dock that those ports. Standardization and classification of ports as trade points was to ensure that invaders and trade rivals were kept at bay.

 

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Colombus was Both a Hero and Villain

            Christopher Colombus was one of the highly recognized and respected voyagers. In other words, he was a hero looking at one side of the picture and a villain looking at the other. During his time, Colombus was devoted to making history by discovering as many ne lands and islands as he could. His determination paid off in that he was able to discover many historic islands and continents. His effort doesn’t mean that he was taking people to live in those areas he discovered. It means that he brought the lands and the islands to the recognition of the European monarchs. This recognition led to what we can now call sophistication. Europe is one of the wealthiest continents in the world. This was an added advantage the Europeans had over the rest of the world. They would use their wealth and organized nature to conquer and retrieve land and slave for their own use.

Colombus didn’t bring sophistication to the world, but he helped those who could by incorporating determination and passion to voyaging. Many are times that he asked for funding from monarchs with conditions that upon discovery of new territories he would be incorporated in their management. Several attempts failed to yield success with winning the support of the monarchs. He did not give up with his petitions for support in exploiting his ideas. His insistence paid off in that he got the support he required. The journey towards discovery was full of challenges brought by mere estimations and wrong interpretation of data. Among the data that was interpreted wrongly involved direction and distance. The wrong interpretations and misjudgment of quantifiers led to even more discoveries that would not have been made if specificity and accuracy was observed.

As a villain, Colombus and his men were responsible for humanitarian atrocities. During the first and the second voyages, Colombus record was clean an undented. On the third and the forth voyages, his record of discovery was drawing a bad picture considering the good he had done. After discovering several territories and islands, Colombus was placed to be in charge of the Indies. His reign was controversial in that he used to take gold from the people as a means of taxation. 14 years olds were some of his victims; those who could not afford gold to pay their tax had their hand chopped off. Most of hisvictims died from bleeding in these cases.

 After being banished from throne, Colombus and his brothers were shipped back to Spain. Still confined at some prison in Spain, Colombus wrote a letter to the king at that time, claiming that he was being disrespected by being chained considering all he had done for them. This was exploitive move to get his brothers and himself out prison. As a human being, this was the period he was supposed to take responsibility for the deaths he was responsible for. However, he chose to buy himself out by laying claims that all he had done in terms of discovery was enough to exempt him from facing punishment and reinstating his leadership position.

Talking to Children about Colombus and the Appropriate Age for it

            Children can be the wrong audience when choosing who to tell about Colombus. However, we do not have the control of all sources that may find out from. Assuming that all sources that can make children discover about Colombus were rendered inactive, the decision of talking to them is a personal choice that should be thought about carefully. The truth about Colombus can have both positive and negative impacts on the lives of the children we choose to talk about it with.

            The minds of children develop relative to age. At age 6-10, that can be referred as the infantry stage. From age 13 onwards is a better stage to consider talkingto children about Colombus. At this stage, the minds of the children are able to process information that carries some weight in it. The effect that the information may have on the lives of the children is a vector entity. It can be either positive or negative, but a sure thing is that knowing the truth behind the history of their country cannot lessen the pride they have for their countries. Killing is wrong and committing atrocities because we are protected by the laws is despicable. If children understand that Colombus was an important person who turned villain; would be a lesson to them that would teach them how to be better leader when they get the age of it.

On the other hand, the good side of Colombus may have guaranteed positive effect on the lives of the children if they are motivated well enough. Striving to achieve the best and not being afraid to lose track, are some of the good qualities that a child can learn from being talked to about Colombus. Children need to know the history of their countries and some of the well known personalities behind the making of the history. This should only be done at a stage when their minds are fully developed.

Sources Used

In writing history, accountability and accuracy play a great deal in making the information valid and reliable enough. Archeological evidence and secondary data from reliable sources is crucial when compiling history. The discovery narrative about Colombus is written following research on the archeological evidence like water ways, land marks, and direction of wind. These are necessary for the accountability of time, direction, destination, and purpose. Secondary data is used from paintings and written literature. The combination of archeological evidence and secondary data is sought to ensure accuracy of the information.

 The inquiry of sources in this reading furthers my understanding in that before making my judgment, I convinced that the author took his/her time to research thoroughly before putting down the findings. Compiling information from one type and nature of source brings out biasness. Collectors of archeological data and the writers of history books when working separately, their individualopinions could be immensely flawed. The opposite is true if they join hands or if one refers to both when writing.

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