Transatlantic Economies12 minutes read


Mercantilism- is the economic theory in which a countries’ main goal is to maximize exports while minimizing imports. This practice dominated Europe from the 16th to 18th centuries.

Sugar- was a profitable commodity during the 18th century. Sugar was extracted from the sugar cane plant’s juice. During the Middle Ages sugar was expensive, and rare, but after the increase of sugar plantations in the New World, and parts of Indonesia, sugar became less of a commodity and was sold in bulk in Europe.

East India Company- is a English trading company founded in 1600. It was formed to compete in the East Indian spice trade. Previously before the East India Company was formed, Spain and Portugal monopolized trade in the East Indies. In 1588 after the defeat of the Spanish Armada, England had a chance at increasing trade in India.

Compagnie des Indes- is the French East India Company. King Louis XIV created the company with the purpose of expanding trade into the Eastern Hemisphere.

Casa de Contratacion- Casa de Contracion was a sector of the Spanish government whose sole purpose was to oversee the exploration and colonization of oversea territories. It existed from the 16th to 18th centuries and was located in Seville, Castile.

Flota- the Spanish Treasure Fleet. During the 16th century, the Spanish created a convoy system to transport goods from the Spanish Empire back to Spain. Goods brought back to Spain included, gold, sliver, lumber, gems, pearls, spices, tobacco, and silk.

Peninsulares- were people who were Spanish born and lived in territories of Spain. They were the first generation colonists who were born in Spain but traveled to Spanish territories to live.

Olaudah Equiano- (1745-1797) was a freed slave who lived in London during the 18th century. He began and supported a movement to end slavery in the New World territories.

War of Jenkins’ Ear- was a conflict between Great Britain and Spain. The name of the war refers to the incident in which a Spanish vessel boarded the ship of Robert Jenkins. Jenkins’ ear was severed off as a warning to Britain not to try to compete with the Spanish. The war lasted from 1739-1748. The War of Jenkins’ ear was then followed by the War of Austrian Succession.

Treaty of Utrecht 1713- was a treaty signed by several European states, Great Britain, Spain, France, Portugal, and the Dutch republic. The treaty ended the War of Spanish Succession.

The War of the Austrian Succession 1740-1748- was a war fought on the basis that Maria Theresa of Austria was ineligible to succeed to the Habsburg thrones of her father Charles VI. The war ended with the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748. The war of the Austrian Succession was the first intercontinental war as it was fought in many different areas.

Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle 1748- was a treaty which ended the War of Austrian Succession. The treaty was signed on in April of 1748, by Great Britain, France, and the Dutch Republic. During the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, Great Britain becomes allies with Prussia whereas France becomes allies with Austria.

This treaty is part of what is known as the “Diplomatic Revolution” in which the main powers of Europe switched allies.

The Seven Years’ War 1756-1763- was a war between the main great powers of Europe. It affected Europe, North America, Central America, India, and the West African Coast. The Seven Years War was as a result of the switching allies during the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748. The Seven Years war is known as the French and Indian War in the United States. The war was caused by the ever increasing power of Prussia and Great Britain.

The Treaty of Paris 1763- was a treaty signed February 10, 1763 by Great Britain, France, and Spain after the Seven Years War. The treaty marked the end of French domination in North America. The Treaty of Paris temporarily ended hostilities between Great Britain, France, and Spain. The Treaty of Hubertusburg was signed after the Seven Years War between Saxony, Austria, and Prussia.

Stamp Act Congress 1765- was a tax imposed on the British colonies in North America. It required many printed materials in the colonies to be produced using stamped paper that was manufactured in London. This was one of several taxes imposed on the British colonies in North America in order to help pay for the large sum of debt Britain accumulated during the Seven Years War.

Declaratory Act of Parliament 1766- was the nullification of the Stamp Act of 1765 and the lowering of sugar taxes in the British colonies in North America. Parliament decided to lower taxes because several boycotts had hurt trade with the colonies.

Charles Townshend 1767- Charles Townshend (1725-1767) was a British politician. Townshend passed an act increasing taxes on glass, paint, paper, and tea which were being exported to America. These taxes were known as the Townshend Acts.

Boston Massacre- was an incident which occurred on March 5, 1770 in which several British infantry men fired upon a crowd of protesters. Five people were killed in the incident. The soldiers were stationed in Boston in order to protect and impose the unpopular taxes.

Boston Tea Party 1773- was a political protest in which protestors disguised as American Indians destroyed an entire shipment of tea sent by the British East India company. The British government responded with more taxes and harsh legislation which soon escalated into the American Revolution.

Intolerable Acts 1774- was the name given to the harsh laws imposed on the British colonies in North America by Great Britain after the Boston Tea Party in 1773.

Battles of Lexington and Concord 1775- were the first military conflicts of the American Revolutionary War. The two battles were fought the the towns of Lexington and Concord.

Thomas Paine’s Common Sense- Thomas Paine (1737-1809) was an English American political philosopher. His book Common Sense helped inspire many colonists in the British colonies to fight against the British rule.

“Wilkes & Liberty”- John Wilkes was a British politician. He published a newspaper called The North Briton. In one of his issues he highly criticized Earl of Bute’s peace negotiations with France. He later fled the Britain after his work had been outlawed. In 1768, Wilkes was reelected to British Parliament but was denied his parliamentary seat even after being reelected three more times. The chant “Wilkes and Liberty” was used chanted in areas of Britain and the British colonies because it showed how unfair the British Parliament was.

Articles of Confederation 1788- was a document signed by the thirteen British colonies which established the United States of America as a confederation of sovereign states. It was signed on March 1, 1777. The original document now resides in the National Archives in Washington, D.C.


1. What were the fundamental ideas associated with mercantile theory? Did they work? Which European country was most successful in establishing a mercantilist empire? Least successful? Why?

Mercantilism is the economic theory in which a countries’ main goal is to maximize exports while minimizing imports. This practice dominated Europe from the 16th to 18th centuries. Many countries participated in this economic theory. Many countries which followed the theory of mercantilism became wealthy, powerful states in Europe. Mercantilism helped nations grow and prosper but it did not make them powerful. Only with the money gained could a country then invest it into its military. Mercantilism was soon replaced by the more modern capitalistic economic theory. Spain was the most successful country at procuring the ideal of mercantilism. Spain had a large powerful navy to help conquer territories. Spain also created the Flota. The Flota was an efficient way of transporting the rare commodities and valuable metals and stones gathered from Spanish territories. The least successful country at establishing mercantilistic economic theory was Russia. Peter the Great attempted to install mercantilism into the Russian economy but ended up failing. Russia’s large class divide between peasants and nobles, and lack of a large merchant class made it difficult to establish mercantilism. Russia also lacked the necessary industrial base for mercantilism to work successfully.

2. What were the main points of conflict between Britain and France in North America, the West Indies, and India? How did the triangles of trade function between the Americas, Europe, and Africa?

The main points of conflict between Great Britain and France during the Seven Years War were in North America, the West Indies, and India. In North America, areas of conflict were near the cities of Montreal and Quebec. Other areas included the Ohio River Valley. In the West Indies, France and Britain fought over trade. The main areas of conflict in the West Indies were the small trading islands in the Caribbean off of the northern coast of Brazil. In India, the cities of Madras and Calcutta were the most heated areas of conflict. The triangular trade was a series of trade routes between Europe, the Americas and Africa. Manufactured goods from Europe would be sent south to Africa in exchange for slaves. The slaves would be sent to the Americas. The cheap labor force in the Americas allowed for the greater production of raw goods such as sugar, tobacco, and cotton to be sent to Europe. The triangular trade route was also shaped by the prevailing winds. The triangular trade route went hand in hand with the mercantilistic theory in Europe.

3. How was the Spanish colonial empire in the Americas organized and managed? What changes did the Bourbon monarchs institute in the Spanish Empire?

The colonization and exploration of the territories of Spain was managed by the Casa de Contracion. The Casa de Contracion was a sector of the Spanish government whose sole purpose was to oversee the exploration and colonization of oversea territories. It existed from the 16th to 18th centuries and was located in Seville, Castile. The Casa de Contracion would also create highly detailed and accurate maps of their territories. The Bourbon monarchs of Spain kept close ties with France. The reforms of the Bourbon monarchs hindered the mercantile economy of Spain and shrunk the middle class. Spain also experienced the separation of the lower and upper classes during the rule of the Bourbon. The Bourbon Monarchs also made the Spanish government more secular. The Bourbon reformed the Spanish Empire but it still this was not enough to save it. This ultimately led to the decline of the Spanish Empire, which had once been a very powerful nation.

4. What was the nature of slavery in the Americas? How was it linked to the economies of the Americas, Europe, and Africa? In what respects was the plantation system unprecedented? What was the plantation system, and how did it contribute to the inhumane treatment of slaves?

Slaves were sold in the Americas as a commodity. African slaves were used on plantations as a cheap labor force in order produce raw goods which would be eventually sold to Europe. Slaves were not seen as humans. African slaves were chosen over the Native Americans because the African slaves were immune to the European diseases and were seen as stronger. The sale of African slaves was linked to the Triangular trade which encompassed Europe, Africa, and America. Manufactured goods from Europe would be sent south to Africa in exchange for slaves. The slaves would be sent to the Americas. The cheap labor force in the Americas allowed for the greater production of raw goods such as sugar, tobacco, and cotton to be sent to Europe. The plantation system was unprecedented because it had never existed previously in Europe. The closest model to the plantation system was the existence of serfdom in Europe in which the serfs worked the land for their local lord. The plantation system was the division of captured territory which were then given to private owners. Plantations produced the necessary raw materials for Europe’s manufactured goods. Slaves were necessary for the operation of a plantation. The cheap labor force allowed plantations to produce large amounts of raw goods and make substantial profits on them. The plantations would overwork the slaves and mistreat them. The Triangular Trade fed the need for more slaves in the Americas.

5. The Seven Years’ War was a major conflict with battles fought around the globe. What were the results of this war? Which countries emerged in a stronger position and why?

The result of the Seven Years War was a shift in power in Europe. New alliances were formed between Great Britain and Prussia. France and England struggled for power but eventually England won and ended up gaining more power and territory in the Americas. The Treaty of Paris ended the Seven Years War, and this marked the end of French domination in the New World. The pendulum of power swung away from France into Great Britain’s direction.

The winners of the Seven Years War were Great Britain, Prussia, and their several allies. The main losers of the Seven Years War were France, Austria, Russia, Spain, and Saxony. England and Prussia emerged stronger because of their increased power in Europe and abroad. England now controlled the vast majority of trade in the Americas and India.

6. Discuss the American Revolution in the context of European history. To what extent were the colonists influenced by European ideas and political developments? To what extent did their actions in turn influence Europe?

The American Revolution was the uprising of a smaller much less powerful colony against the powerful Great Britain. The American colonies were influenced by the prevailing European thought of the period. European writers such as Adam Smith, and John Wilkes, heavily influenced the American Revolution. Adam Smith introduced the theory of Capitalism to the thirteen colonies, a new different approach to the mercantilistic British Empire. John Wilkes exposed the British Parliament as an unfair, undemocratic, corrupted institution to the colonists. These are just a few of the ideas and political developments the Americas were influenced by. The success of the American Revolution changed the way Europeans looked at Great Britain. The revolution undermined Britain’s credibility as a dominant world power. The end of the American Revolution marked the peak of the British Empire’s rule.


Kagan, Donald, Steven Ozment E., Frank Turner M., and A. Frankforter Daniel. The Western Heritage. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2004. Print.

Kagan, Donald, Steven E. Ozment, and Frank M. Turner. The Western Heritage: Since 1300. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2007. Print.

Ramírez, Susan E., Peter N. Stearns, Samuel S. Wineburg, and Steven A. Goldberg.Holt World History: Human Legacy. Austin, TX: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 2008. Print.

One thought on “Transatlantic Economies12 minutes read

  1. Tabitha

    This helps, but I’ve been on this site for only a few minutes and I keep getting the feedback pop-up. Otherwise, this was the exact wording for the Kagan textbook questions. 🙂


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