Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Tenochtitlan under attack (painted in the 1600s)

Tenochtitlan under attack (painted in the 1600s)

Ships and sailing improve

Beginning about 1450 AD, Europeans took advantage of new advances in sail technolog. They invaded and took over most of the world beyond Europe. Their colonization had disastrous effects for the people they conquered.

Medieval ships and sailing
Europe in the 1500s
All our modern Europe articles

Europeans seize control of the world’s oceans

The Europeans began by sailing down the Atlantic coast of Africa. They went around Africa to India. Soon they started to build forts and trading cities in India. They stopped all the ships from other countries and burned them or sank them. Everyone had to use European ships for shipping.

History of Kongo
History of Mozambique
Deccan Kingdoms in India
The Mughal Empire

Europeans in Africa, India, and China

The Europeans began to buy pepper, cinnamon, steel, pearls, porcelain, and silk directly from India and China. They didn’t go through the old Silk Road and the Islamic empire‘s traders. So the Ottoman Empire in Iraq, the Safavids in Iran, and Russia became poorer than they had been before.

What is the Silk Road?
The Ottoman Empire
Ottoman and Safavid Economy

A white man beating an enslaved African man in Brazil

A white man beating an enslaved African man in Brazil

Europeans in the Americas

Soon the Europeans also invaded South America. They accidentally infected the IncasAztecs, and Maya with diseases. So millions of Americans died of  smallpox and measles and dysentery, malaria and yellow fever.

Mexico and colonization
History of Brazil
What was smallpox?
History of slavery
All our American history articles

Most of the people of North and South America died. So the Europeans were able to take over as rulers in both continents. To replace the people who had died, the Europeans bought people in Africa and enslaved them. They brought Africans over to North America and Brazil. The Africans had to work as slaves.

Giant green machine with many teeth

Cotton picking machine


In the last 150 years, more big changes came to the world. First, scientists invented motorized machines. Now most people didn’t have to work on farms.

Mechanization of cloth
The cotton gin and cotton
European economy in the 1900s

Most people could live in cities while only a few people worked on farms. Second, the native people of most of the conquered countries got back control of their countries.

The Republic of China
India and Pakistan
Modern Paraguay

They are just beginning to rebuild their countries. But they have the disadvantage that the Europeans still have most of the money and are still writing most of the rules.

More about Brazil
The British in India
The Opium Wars

Bibliography and further reading for a world history timeline:


The Sioux and Sitting Bull home