History of the western civilization

The Transition of European Nations

The transition of the European nations from the medieval era's practices to modernity occurred during the period of western culture. The period was when the area surpassed other parts of the globe in terms of economic dominance.

Examining the Rise of the West

The study examines the rise of the west in the context of the dominance that European countries have over other countries around the world. In terms of their economies, European countries and those from other parts of the globe were comparable during the pre-industrial era. The paper looks into these issues and finds that Europe dominated other global regions because it was proactive and hands-on in the abandonment and achievement of the organic and mineral economies respectively.

Organizing the Document

The document is organized into several sections. First, there is the introduction which looks into the contents of the paper briefly. Secondly, there are the discussions regarding the rise of the west and the impacts that it brought to the world at large. Finally, there is the conclusion, and it summarizes all the contents of the paper in a single paragraph.

Table of Contents

Abstract 1

Introduction 2

Rise of the West 3

Background 4

Internal Causes, Changes, and Dynamics 5

External Conditions 8

The Impact upon the World 10

Politics 10

Economy 11

Cultural Implications 13

Science and Technology 14

Conclusion 16

Works Cited17


In the West, the 15th century is deemed as the passage between the late middle ages, the early modern period, and the early Renaissance. Significant social, cultural, and technological advancements achieved in this period are seen as signaling the “European Miracle” of the subsequent ages. The miracle is what is referred to as the western civilization in the modern-day allusion to the technological and social advancements that have been achieved in the region. Its origin is traced back from Rome and the ancient Greece, which in part built on the grounds laid down by the early Mesopotamia and Egypt. Civilization assumed a definite shape in the medieval Europe with the growing economic dynamism, religion, diverse power structures, and feudal societal arrangements. The western civilization commenced in the modern era; spreading Europe to America, Australia, and the other larger parts of the world. The change-over achieved a high level of economic power, way beyond that which has been accomplished by any other civilizations in the historical times. It established the adoption of technological advancements, systematic science and eventually evolved a distinctive set of individual autonomies that accorded its culture an absolutely different essence to anything that had been experienced before. The western civilization came with mixed ancestry that gave it a rich heritage on which to draw. The Greek achievements in art, philosophy, mathematics, and science as well as the Roman progressions in law, technology, and governance, had a significant effect on the civilization. There was the Christianity religion which was derived from the Middle East but was then absorbed by the Graeco-Roman civilization. The religion constituted among the greatest supporting pillars of both the modern and medieval Europe. On top of these elements were main Arabian, Indian, Persian, and Chinese developments in science and technology passed on to Europe through the Mongol empire and Islamic world.

Rise of the West


For most of the time between 1400 and 1950, both European and non-European economies were locked in the constraints of limited growth. The organic economic setting was incapable of offering sufficient access to energy sources that could facilitate industrial establishment, processes, and growth. Experiences in both periods were similar in that they both lacked advanced ways of doing things; a manner that could integrate the operations of people and corporate bodies and ease work for the human race. For example, the Dolgyne blast furnace in Wales, England was built in the year 1717. It was productively operational for approximately 15 weeks per annum due to a shortage of disposable and usable forms of energy such as fuel (Hunt et al. 440). By the commencement of the 17th century, the Danish iron production had stopped operations also, as a result of inadequate energy for operations. In the Middle and Far East, by the mid-Ming period, the woody supplies were almost depleted, and this led to a change in salt boiling methodologies in a bid to consume less timber. There were common problematic issues both in the West and other global regions in terms of the daily operation of people both in commercial and domestic activities.

In the early 18th century, regions in both of these contents were evidently developed enough to react to the problem of environmental constraints; however, none of the regions was able to tackle these menaces successfully. In this sense, until the 18th century, neither Africa, Asia, nor Europe had pulled ahead in terms of environmental conservation strategic measures (Hunt et al. 444). Looking at things as they were, it becomes necessary to look into the manner in which economic dominance was achieved in the West, leaving behind the other parts of the world. This will be well researched and put into context through finding out the manner in which the limitations of the organic economy were surpassed. The paper will discuss in details the process that took Europe to accomplish economic dominance above the other regions around the world.

By the early 15th century, Europe was not the wealthiest and most developed region in the world although the Europeans had already mastered some basic technologies and borrowed others. At the time, the Europeans were astonished by the productive skills, commerce, and wealth that they saw, when visiting centers of civilization in the Middle East and Asia at large. Asia had more agricultural productivity and highly skilled craftsmanship than Europe. The region offered a broad spectrum of products such as porcelain, silk, cotton fabrics, spices, tea, coffee, and so forth. These are goods that were not present in Europe, and the Europeans desired them. In this sense, the Middle East already had the upper hand in different sectors of the economy including manufacturing and agriculture as compared to Europe (McNeill 92).

Contrary to the present situation, it is evident that the Middle East was more advanced and had more potential for development and industrialization than Europe. However, a majority of the sub-Saharan African countries do not have the historical notion of potential success matching that of Europe. For this reason, it is necessary to look into both the internal and external factors that facilitated Europe’s dominance in the long run (McNeill 92). Also, the dominance came with diverse effects on the world in political, economic, social, and cultural contexts. The paper looks into these impacts in detail.

Internal Causes, Changes, and Dynamics

There were various internal causes and dynamic issues that facilitated the surge of Europe into economic dominance as compared to other global regions. Mainly, this happened due to the Western European agricultural workers freed up for use for other industrial purposes. The Western Europe earlier on had not seen geopolitical handicap situations like Asia and this is the reason, why Europe encouraged labor diversification as opposed to the Middle East countries and other global regions (Hunt et al. 444). Also, the west economic dominance is attributable to the self-perpetuating advancement down the track to a mineral economy.

The path assumed the Europeans in the agricultural sector allowed for its emergence from the constraints of the organic economy. In Europe, there was increased labor productivity which provided for the agricultural workers to be freed up in a bid to apply for other non-agrarian lines of career. Between the years 1600 and 1820, the number of surplus people fed by approximately 100 workers in the agricultural sector increased significantly in various European countries. For example in Wales and England, it rose from 42 to 148, in Netherlands, it went up from 119 to 177, and in France, it rose from 45 to 70 people (Hunt et al. 451). This means that the European economies were diversified in various industries and sectors that could provide the support system for the entire ecosystem. Other than focusing on agriculture alone, people did different things, hence there was more productivity through an efficient utilization of the available human resources.

The European rise to dominance in the global economy can also be attributed to the close association between scientific tradition, invention, and the market system. The market in Europe stimulated the investors to tackle various logistical and technological issues. The solution of these problems resulted in an increment in technological capacities which were beneficial to the regional economy as a whole (Hunt et al. 452). Through this thought pattern, the steam engine was developed as a reaction to the problem of coal supply, and this allowed accessibility to coal through up surging the potential depths of mines by pumping out the water in the sources.

In the spirit of innovation and enhancement of the ancient ways of doing things, the business persons decided that establishing good transport infrastructure was necessary, because the connections between urban centers and the coal mines were poor. There were logistical problems that hindered the efficient and effective movement of coal from the ore to the destination of use. This situation forced the entrepreneurs to concentrate on constructing transportation systems and this further encouraged the improvement of coal production. Consequently, between the years 1700 and 1750, the production of coal in Britain increased by about 70 percent. Between the years 1750 and 1830, it rose by another 500 percent (Parker 28). It means that the poor transportation system was initially barring efficient production and distribution of the product. Through constructing the efficient transportation links, there was the ripple effect that extended to other economic sectors with the same impact of additional productivity beyond the needed amounts of products. It is this way that Europe developed into an exporting region, hence earned from other neighboring region and dominated them in the long run.

As the steam engine technology was enhanced over time, it became more productive and was put to other economic uses. The result was that there was additional demand for coal and this prompted the technicians to make further improvements to the steam technology (Wallerstein 58). The added demand and supply of coal was established in a positive cycle that powered the regional economy out of the organic pattern as the energy-harnessing technologies spread and the utilization of coal was common in different economic sectors (Wallerstein 58). This situation culminated into a powerful and self-reinforcing technological movement, which later resulted in the mineral economy. It reflected on the distinctive dynamism of the exceptional ways of doing things in Europe. The economic dominance and western civilization were achieved through applying diversification in the economy and building on it in such a manner that the entire ecosystem is integrated and runs smoothly.

External Conditions

As Europe was diversifying on the workforce to be productive in other sectors, agricultural management in other parts of the world failed to do the same. The workers were concentrated in the fields, and hence they did not have the opportunity to explore other productive activities at that time. Contrary to the European system, the non-European economies such as those of Asia and Africa were not self-perpetuating and so did not experience an autonomous growth (Hunt et al. 464). The agriculture sector in Asia, Africa, and the larger Middle East concentrated on optimizing land productivity, rather investing in labor output. As a result, the regions’ agricultural sectors and the entire economies at large maintained the status quo and were still tied to the organic model with is growth limitations.

In the Yangzi, the situation was that there was increased productivity from the land, but it was achieved through diminishing returns to the labor force. From a 100 index in 1700, the productivity per capita went down to 74 by the year 1750 and further to 70 by the year 1800 (Hunt et al. 467). The trend resulting in a rise in labor productivity in the agriculture sector in England was exact vice-versa of the tendency of dwindling labor output as it was achieved in the Yangzi delta. The result was that the economy could grow at a much slower pace as compared to that of England and France, hence the European countries had to dominate economically.

Both Europe and other parts of the world were well-endowed with coal. However, the European nations were in a better position to exploit the natural resource because of the geographical location of the ores (Hunt et al. 467). The difference between the European countries and other parts of the world in this instance is that the former had the advantage of convenience in the locality of the mines while the latter was challenged regarding the manner in which to move the product from the source to the point of use. Although Asia and other places had enough reserves of coals and had the capacity to utilize them, Europe was one step ahead, because of the geopolitical situations that resulted in the potential of coal being surpassed by the logistical costs and challenges. Europe capitalized on the early exploitation of coal and used it in different economic activities and this resulted in a prompt dominance over other regions.

Other than Europe, other global regions had innovative ideas, but they were headed in the wrong direction in terms of development and growth. The latter mainly aimed at static efficiency by communizing the best agricultural practices. They generated and spread innovative technological advancements in the field of rice cultivation through the introduction of new and drought resistant breeds. Although these continents were technologically innovative, they mainly concentrated on the agrarian activities. On the other hand, the European nations started a self-reinforcing process towards establishing the mineral economy which is the main reason for rising into economic dominance by the mid-19th century.

Geographic and inefficient market factors are attributable to the wrong and poor innovative ideas in different parts of the world with the exception of Europe. The external markets did not seem to have adequate incentives that could stimulate the Asian and African people to engage in a diversified state of running the country’s affairs. They lacked the knowledge of the needs of other people outside their localities, hence the economic activities there were meant for the local markets. The combination of these two factors is sufficient justification to explain the reason for Europe advancing way ahead of other regions. European countries took advantage of their situation and managed to rise above other regions economically.

The Impact upon the World


The western civilization came with global impacts in the political, economic, social and technological spheres. It came with advanced ways of doing things; ahead of the ancient ages that had preceded its existence. In the political sphere, there was a tight connection with the economic prosperity of a region. The more the European countries developed in terms of economic gains, the more they sought to increase their political control around the world. They targeted the less developed regions and transformed them into their colonies in a bid to rule over the people in those places unconditionally. The Europeans were more attracted to lands that were rich in natural resources, so that they could exploit them and continue to enrich their backgrounds.

In the 1760s and 1870s, there was a difference in the global expansion of the Western Europe in various ways from the colonialism and expansionism of the medieval ages. This time, the expansion was founded on purely political and economic interests of the civilized nations. At this time, there was the launch of the British conquest of India and operations against the North American Indians from extending the British settlement in Canada. Additionally, the country’s new controlling position offered it an opportunity to explore for markets in Africa and Asia. It is during this time that the scope of Britain’s global interests increased rapidly to cover the South Pacific, South Atlantic, the Far East, and the coast of Africa.

Britain and other European energetically advocated for the suppression of slave trade in America, but the country’s efforts were not effective. However, its military and diplomatic operations for this front resulted in more engagement in African affairs. There was the acquisition of more colonies including Gambia and Sierra Leone to be the basis of combating slave trade and introducing alternative forms of commerce (Parker 28). At this time, there was an outstanding development in the empire and colonial affairs, which were lessening the conflicts between the European masters regarding the colony territories. Other than the European powers engaging each other, it was turned into a war against the people being colonized together with their societies. This situation was a result of the supremacy of the British Navy. It developed into abatement of the colonial rivalry, because the Britons were way stronger compared to other western nations, hence the weaker ones played by the rules of the superiors.

At the end of the 19th century and early 20th century, the European counties had achieved significant control of Asia. The procedures of consolidation and acquisition in the continent of Asia spread out in the Central Asia, the Far East, Siberia, and the Caucasus directions. The pursuit of theses tsarist determinations for imperialism, and warm-water sites came with several encounters and clatters along the way. In totality, the penetration in Asia was founded on purely political and economic circumstances of the expanding countries.

In the early 20th century, the European nations sought to engage in the partitioning of Africa. The continent entirely economically under-developed and lacked a definite political shape. In this sense, Britain and other western countries did not find much stake in this region. For this reason, penetration to this region was mainly to achieve a global control. There was massive resistance from the locals against the entire idea of colonization, and in the British Africa, decolonization progressed gradually, and London came to admit it as the outcome (Cooper, Frederick and Stoler 76). For example in Kenya, the British government declines to award the 20000 European settlers the while highlands political control over the majority blacks. It was the starting point of ending the idea of colonization in Africa.


The western civilization came with the emergence of new industrialized counties. Other than the emergence of new powers that sought a place in the colonial space, there came industrialized countries that were able and willing to challenge the lead of Great Britain in commerce, industry, and world trade. In the mid-nineteenth century, the economy of Britain had by far outdistanced that of the probable rivals (Wallerstein 61). By the final quarter of the century, Britain faced stiff competition from nations that were seeking a broader proportion of world trade. At this time, the industrial revolution was strong in these countries that were spurred on to added industrialization with the extension of the railway line and the realization of the integrated global markets.

The main technological innovations and inventions of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries enhanced the competitive capabilities of the newly developed countries. The added advantage of Britain as the forerunner of the pioneer industrial revolution was dwindling significantly as newer sources of energy and products started to prevail in the industrialized activities. Having comprehended the initial industrial revolution, the late beginners achieved an even footing with the Great Britain. All of these late starters were commencing somewhat from a similar base to exploit the 2nd industrial revolution (Rajan 47). The emerging industrialism at the time, such as electric energy, mass-produce steel, industrial chemicals, and so forth spread over the United States, the European nations, and later Japan.

In a bid to operate smoothly and efficiently, the emerging industries needed massive capital investments in the large-scale units. The investments fostered advocated for the establishment of banking institutions and capital markets that were flexible and large enough to fund the new business enterprises. The larger industrialized enterprises and capital markets helped in pushing forward the geographic scope of operations of the industrialized countries. At this time greater capital could be pooled for overseas investments and funds (Cooper, Frederick and Stoler 77). The new industrialism created an insatiable need for raw materials and demand for food for the ballooning urban populations, and this was sought from different parts of the world. Progressions in ship construction made possible the cheap transportation of bulky foodstuffs and raw materials over long distances. Under the opportunities and needs of the subsequent decades of the late 19th century, the larger part of the world was deemed as primary producers for the developed countries. The self-contained economic regions were absorbed into the global economy encompassing international division of labor (Goldstone 42). In this sense, the leading industrialized economies produced and traded manufactured goods while the rest of the world supplied them with foodstuffs and raw materials.

Cultural Implications

Western civilization involved a change in the ways of doing things among the people within the European countries. In this way, there was an alteration in the people beliefs, values, and norms as it regarded their daily lives. Other changing individuals and societal, cultural beliefs, the western civilization created new sets of ethics in the society (Chirot 183). It is the case, because industrialization introduced the concept of trading and doing business both at personal and global levels. Through the creation of business and economic sectors, it was inevitable that a legal system had to be established in a bid to guide people on how to go about the emerging trends of life. For this reason, people had to adapt to new and strange ways of doing things that shaped their characters and intuition in self-understanding.

On top of the European internal impacts on the western cultures, the civilization came with significant effects on the cultures of different people around the world. With the new age, there was the factor of the emigration of the European people. The influence around the world went a notch higher with every single wave of immigration from Europe. Groups of settlers in different parts of the world carried with themselves resourceful industrial and agricultural skills and the Old World cultures. The interaction between the settlers and the indigenous people resulted in the exchange of cultural ways of doing things. In the modern world, a majority of the people, especially the younger generations such as the millennials, are actively emulating the western cultures (Castells 29). They do it through copying the western languages, lifestyles, and the dressing. Additionally, Europeans could seek emigration from their native countries in a bid to escape tyrannical administrations, seeking religious freedom, and other social issues. Hence, a lot of people enjoyed both cultural gratification and diversity courtesy of the western civilization.

The European domination in certain parts of the world facilitated total change-overs in the manner in which things are done. In some of these regions, the colonizers could directly dictate a change in various aspects of the life of the people. For example, the British involvement in Africa was instrumental in the suppression of the business of slave trade. Britain engaged the locals in West Africa in ensuring that they comprehend that slave trade is an illegal business (Cooper, Frederick and Stoler 72). The colonial government could tour the coast of Africa inspecting and halting suspected slavers of other countries. Further, African chiefs were compelled to engage in antislavery agreements, and this assisted Britain in commanding a firm and strong position along the west coast of Africa. Over time, the slave trade was abolished in totality, and hence there was a significant change in a cultural belief there.

Science and Technology

In the period of western civilization, there was a disparity in technological advancements between the leading European countries and the rest of the world. This disparity was at the heart of the regional expansionism. In the early 18th century, the differences between technological levels in Europe and other regions of the world was not significantly great (Bairoch 4). Some of the vital technical know-how used in the region originated from Asia. The difference between the technologically developed and under-developed kept on increasing at an accelerating pace in the 19th and 20th centuries. It was the situation regardless of the diffusion of modern technology through colonial powers (Bairoch 6). The most vital aspect of the disparity was the technical dominance of the western weaponry because this state enabled Europe to exercise its will on the larger colonial population.

Developments in transportation and communication, especially the railways became crucial tools for consolidating alien rule over the extensive territories. There was the need to create an integrated system of operations within and among different colonies controlled by a single European power. In this sense, the colonial governments invested in their colonies in a bid to make it easy for them to carry on operations in their daily endeavors (Hall 59). At this time, it was easy to implement the technological advancements, because the colonial administrations had vast technical superiority, and the colonizing experience turned into a psychological instrument of the minority rule by the foreigners. The colonized individuals had inferiority complex issues, and the development of technological advancements in their regions did not mean much to them at that time. Currently, it is clear that exploration and colonization both played a great in the establishment of the modern technology in the then under-developed regions.

The main technological inventions and innovations of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries enhanced the competitive capacities of the new industrial countries. In this sense, it is through the added innovations that there was the creation of some sense of equality and uniformity across the global economic divide. Before the creation of the new technologies, Britain’s naval supremacy was overpowering and unchallenged (Hall 64). The country was, therefore, perceived to have a monopoly of power with regards to its military abilities at the sea. However, Britain was later obliged to develop a new navy, and other European countries with enough industrial resources devoted themselves to this purpose and could later challenge Britain’s naval abilities. In the modern context, the extensive technological advancements are built on the discoveries that were made during the western civilization period (Maddison 35). Without the pioneering ideas of that time, the current day technology could not be in existence. For this reason; the industrial revolution technology is attributable to the current state of science in the contemporary world.


The western civilization between the 15th and early 20th century was characterized by dynamic social, cultural, economic, technological, and political factors. For the better part of this period, both Europe and other parts of the world such as the Middle East were rocked by limited growth which was caused by the organic economy. The common economic conditions were prevalent in both regions because of embracing similar ways of doing things. Internally, the European dominance over the other regions economically happened due to internal factors such as optimal capitalization of labor, the establishment of the efficient transport system, and geographical advantages of the location of the coal ores. The external factors mainly included the inability of other regions to catch up with the pace of Europe in terms of development. The political effects of the western civilization included the colonization of certain parts of the world. The colonized countries were influenced and guided on the manner and structure through which to form governments that exist today. Europe conquered other regions of the world in a bid to protect the region’s economic, political, and dominant control globally. On the economic sphere, the western civilization spread the art of doing business and establishing industries in different parts of the world and hence the global economy was formed. The colonial governments established technological advancements in a bid to assist them in running their administration errands. In the modern world, those technological progressions act as the basis of the contemporary ways of doing things. Finally, western civilization resulted in dilution and spread of people’s cultures around the world.

Works Cited

Bairoch, Paul. "The main trends in national economic disparities since the industrial revolution." Disparities in economic development since the Industrial Revolution. Palgrave Macmillan, London, 1981. 3-17.

Castells, Manuel. The rise of the network society: The information age: Economy, society, and culture. Vol. 1. John Wiley & Sons, 2011.

Chirot, Daniel. "The rise of the West." American Sociological Review (1985): 181-195.

Cooper, Frederick, and Ann Laura Stoler, eds. Tensions of empire: colonial cultures in a bourgeois world. Univ of California Press, 1997.

Goldstone, Jack A. "The rise of the West—or not? A revision to socio-economic history." Sociological theory 18.2 (2000): 175-194.

Hall, John A. Powers and liberties: The causes and consequences of the rise of the West. Univ of California Press, 1986.

Hunt, Lynn, et al. "The making of the West." Volume II: Since1500 (2000): pp.437-592

Maddison, Angus. The world economy volume 1: A millennial perspective volume 2: Historical statistics. Academic Foundation, 2007.

McNeill, William H. The rise of the West: A history of the human community. University of Chicago Press, 2009.

Parker, Geoffrey. The military revolution: Military innovation and the rise of the West, 1500-1800. Cambridge University Press, 1996.

Rajan, Amin. Services--the second industrial revolution? business and jobs outlook for UK growth industries. Butterworth-Heinemann, 1987.

Wallerstein, Immanuel. Mercantilism and the consolidation of the European world-economy, 1600–1750, with a new prologue. Vol. 5. . Univ of California Press, 2011.

Wallerstein, Immanuel. The modern world-system I: Capitalist agriculture and the origins of the European world-economy in the sixteenth century, with a new prologue. Vol. 1. Univ of California Press, 2011.

Deadline is approaching?

Wait no more. Let us write you an essay from scratch

Receive Paper In 3 Hours
Calculate the Price
275 words
First order 15%
Total Price:
$38.07 $38.07
Calculating ellipsis
Hire an expert
This discount is valid only for orders of new customer and with the total more than 25$
This sample could have been used by your fellow student... Get your own unique essay on any topic and submit it by the deadline.

Find Out the Cost of Your Paper

Get Price