Do you like reading about history or certain events?Do you also sometimes feel like knowing about the cause of such events? Events like Independence of India or say 9/11 or any other of your liking. When I say cause, I don't mean the immediate cause but the starting trigger and the events leading after. I am sure many of you do!!
Similarly I also have a rigour to read about such events. I always wanted to understand what brought the two terrible Wars upon the whole World. I had an urge to know the trigger point of various Revolutions(be it American Revolution or French Revolution or even Russian Revolution) and its interconnection with World Wars if any. When I researched I figured out many historians have written about it. Everyone had same conclusion that it was the fall of Constantinople in 1453 A.D.
The Holy War
It all started around 10th Century when Islamic rulers had consolidated their power in the Middle East. Latin Church wanted to overthrow Islamic rule and free holy sites like Jerusalem of it. Some historians are also of the opinion that the ulterior motive was rather to control the Silk Route(major trade route through the Middle East).
This led to the Crusades or "The Holy Wars" between Latin Church and Islamic Empires. By the mid of 14th Century, the Ottoman Empire had its eye set on the City of Constantinople. This led to a war between Ottoman Empire and Byzantine Empire in 1453.
14th Century and the Evolution of Renaissance
By mid 14th Century, the Ottoman Empire had gathered a huge army. Finally, in 1453 they succeeded to defeat the Byzantium Empire and capture Constantinople. This was the end of Byzantium's Empire after a rule of over 1000 years in the city of Constantinople. This also gave Ottoman Empire a monopoly over the Middle East's trade and trade routes. After the fall of Constantinople to Turks, many Greek scholars who survived the war fled the city. Italy welcomed these refugees with an open heart. These scholars also brought many great Greek literary works and manuscripts along with them to Italy.
Amongst many works which were brought to Italy, the famous works were that of Plato's and Aristotle's. These were later even translated into Latino. Plato's philosophy of metaphysical instead of ethical speculations gained popularity among Italians. Aristotle's study of logic influenced Italian people towards scientific temperament. Scientific researches and empirical evidence replaced many old religious beliefs. This was the start of the Italian Renaissance.
A good book to refer to if one wants to understand these times better is "Sailing from Byzantium: How a Lost Empire Shaped the World"
There is a good article as well in DailyHistory about the fall of Constantinople and start of Renaissance in Europe.
The control of Turks over trade routes in Middle East along with the emergence of the Renaissance in Europe led to the search for new trade routes. This quest led to the discovery of America by Columbus in 1492 and of India by Vasco de Gama in 1498.
With the discovery of new sea routes, trade flourished in Europe. Due to its richness in resources, America became the source of raw material. Slaves from Africa were used as labour to meet the production needs.
But, the increase in demand for goods went beyond human production capacity and this was a trigger for the Industrial revolution. Machines were built and large factories were set up to increase production. England was the first country where Industrialisation grew the most. England became much more powerful and rich. It started to set up its colonies which would also serve as the market for its finished goods. This was the start of new Modern history.
Other Revolutions and World Wars
The seeds of the American, French and Russian revolutions were sown with the progress of the Industrial Revolution. American resources were used by the British to produce finished goods. These finished goods were in return sold back in America. The colonies of America were suffering at the hands of the British. The drain of resources was hurting America and its economy. Finally, the passage of The Tea Act of 1773 paved the way for the American Revolution. America gained its independence from the rule of Britain in 1783.
France's costly participation in American Revolution along with the famines made France bankrupt. The people of France were suffering and at the same time, it also saw a surge in its population. As per many historians, this increase was due to fewer people dying of diseases and wars. This caused mass unemployment in France. The food prices also increased rapidly. These factors combined forced people to demand representation in choosing their leader. In 1799, the French revolution came to an end with the rise of Napolean as the first Counsel of France. For sake of sticking to the topic, I have not covered the French revolution in detail. If you want to understand it better, you can refer to the link below
By the start of the 20th Century, Europe witnessed the rise of more powerful nations like Italy and Germany as a result of Industrialisation. One can also characterise World War 1 and 2 as the wars fought to capture more markets and prove their dominance over world trade. The World after 1945 is no mystery to anyone.
The fall of Constantinople in 1453 gave history a new turn. After which the rise of the Renaissance and the Industrial revolution shaped the entire course of the modern world that we live in today. Sometimes it makes me wonder, what if Constantinople was never captured by Turks, possibly then the World would not have ever heard of America or India.
Having said that, would like to end this article with a very famous quote from Carl Sagan
You have to know the past to understand the present.
— Carl Sagan
Keep reading guys and do share in comments your thought about the article.