The period between 1500 and 1815 marked a significant history in the development of modern Europe. This period was characterized by great developments in science and technology, secularized politics and the nation-state.
Behind these positive developments, there was an important historical phenomenon; the many wars including the 30 years dest the active conflicts that lasted between 1618 and 1648 in Europe.
This essay, therefore, seeks to address the impacts of these conflicts on the social development between 1500 and 1815.
Ian Morris, in his book “Why the West Rules-For Now,” addresses the impact of history in shaping present events. Morris argues that the events of the day largely influence human destiny.
He states, “…..when the pressure is on, change takes on” (Morris, p. 28). While addressing the changes in social development between the East and the West, Morris argues that geography is the main determinant of social development trends.
According to Morris social development index, the West ranked high between the period 1, 4000 BC and 541 AD after which the East took the lead up to the late 1700s when the two became at par before the West reclaimed its glory in the 19th century (p. 435; p.492).
According to Morris, human social development took the form of civilizations each of which would hit unbreakable “hard ceiling” that thwarted the achievements.
This would be due to at least one of the “five horsemen of the apocalypse,” i.e., war, epidemic, migration, famine, and climate change (p. 459). Nevertheless, the question remains, did Europe’s many wars have any impact on social development during the 1500 to1815 era?
The answer is obvious. Due to its many wars, the West stroke a “hard ceiling” whenever it rose up in the social development index. It is because of Europe’s many wars that the West lagged behind the East in Social development and only caught up with the East in the early 17th century.
Nonetheless, Europe’s many wars also impacted positively on social development. Due to its many wars, Europe had advanced military technology. Europe placed all its resources on the development of military technology.
As Morris stated, human destiny is mostly influenced by history, which has taught us that “when the pressure is on, change takes off” (p. 28).
By 1500, the West capitalized on its new technologies and started global explorations hence spreading their civilization to the other parts of the world including America.
Due to its explorations, the West engaged in global trade, the most important of which was the slave trade, and accumulated resources that spearheaded its industrialization.
The West also capitalized on its military technology to colonize most parts of the world including Africa and America as well as the “East.” In Morris social development index, Europe ranked high in terms of readiness for war hence was able to capture most colonies.
Another positive aspect of war was the industrial revolution. By 1750, the industrial revolution started in Europe, though accidentally, due to the development of steam and coal.
Europe saw the emergence of gunboats, railroads, and factories that gave it an upper hand in social development and the first lead as global superpower hence explaining “why the west rules.” Wages of unskilled labor also rose due to the industrial revolution as illustrated by Morris (p.502).
War may be disastrous, but for Europe, its consequences were positive and propelled it to be a superpower in the world.
Morris, Ian. Why the West Rules- for Now: The patterns of History, and What they Reveal About the Future. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010. Print.