The 16th-Century Contest that Shaped the Modern World
Roger Crowley is a best-selling narrative historian, focused on writing page-turning history based on first-hand eyewitness accounts. As the child of a naval family, early experiences of life in Malta gave him a deep interest in the history and culture of the Mediterranean. He is the author of a trilogy of books on the Mediterranean world and the contest between Islam and Christianity: 1453, Empires of the Sea – a Sunday Times History Book of the Year and a New York Times Bestseller – and City o...
Expected April 2024
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Columbus and Magellan didn't aim to discover the Americas or circumnavigate the world, respectively. Influenced by Marco Polo, they sought the Indies to directly access spice sources and bypass Islamic trade routes, as spices were pivotal in the global economy. By 1511, the Portuguese identified the Moluccas as the exclusive source of highly prized cloves and nutmeg.
The Moluccas sparked intense rivalry in the spice trade, initially between Portugal and Spain and later involving other European powers, leading to conflicts with the Ottoman empires and connections with China and Japan. These endeavors, fueled by advanced ships, navigation skills, and cannons, shaped the world's seas and continents, proving its spherical nature and connecting oceans.
From the Portuguese conquest of Malacca to the founding of Manila (1511-1571), this period marked a global shift. It created maritime empires and established Europe as a dominant force for centuries. Spice, covering vast geographical regions, narrates epic tales, from European competition and cultural encounters to maritime feats, battles, and scientific advancements.
Roger Crowley's well-researched narrative history explores this defining era, capturing its significance in every aspect of our lives and its impact on the East, particularly China.