The Enlightenment Era and The Ottoman Empire

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The motivations that drove the forces of both colonialism in the 15th and 16th centuries as well as imperial expansion in the 19th and 20th centuries overlap in several key ways. One of the major factors that initially drove the expansion of empire abroad was the desire to spread religion and bring enlightenment and salvation to the 'savages' of the world. This became evident in the Spanish conquest of Mesoamerica, in which the efforts of missionaries to convert and teach that native people played a large part in the success of their expansion into those territories. In many ways, the power of religion was very closely tied to the power of the state in the colonial era, and it was often the case that increased control in one sphere would be mirrored in the other. In the centuries that followed, religion became in some ways a less significant motivation for colonialism, however it did remain a prominent factor.

The presence of European missionaries continued to be felt in many corners of the world throughout the colonial era and continuing into the Imperial era, creating new forms of interaction and often conflicts between Christianity and other world religions. The Ottoman Empire engaged in a prolonged conflict of this nature, as did the dynasties of China. These conflicts continued into the Imperial era as Christianity began to take hold in Africa and India. In many of these countries, religion came to be associated with education, which took on an increasingly important role thanks to the ideas introduced by the Enlightenment. As the world came to place a higher value on reason, logic, and learning, the presence of religion in conquered territories took on the dual purposes of converting and teaching the native people. In th...

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...ent made leaps and bounds in terms of human freedom and equality and contributed greatly to the demise of the world slave trade, in many instances it merely changed the overall definition of how forced labor was carried out. This abuse of labor came to take on many forms between these two eras. What began as slave trade in the Americas was phased out by the mid 19th century. In its place, systems such as indentured servitude, which was prevalent worldwide, forced labor on public projects in French Africa, or the cultivation system enforced by the British in the East Indies sprung up. While the conditions of this type of labor were greatly improved due to increasing concern with human equality as well as a newly intense focus on the relationship between the working class and society, such forms of abusive labor exploitation persisted despite increasing public protest.
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