This is the 2019 DBQ prompt that the CB AP World review made. Could you give me feedback on whether my thesis & outside evidence are good? Thanks.
2019 DBQ Documents
Evaluate the extent to which the Portuguese transformed maritime
trade in the Indian Ocean in the sixteenth century.
After the Renaissance, which arose around the 14th century, Europe became more and more connected to the outside Afro-Eurasian world and was able to competitively innovate amongst each other. As a result, they were able to get their hands on and widely use or develop advanced Asian maritime technology such as the compass, the astrolabe, lateen sails, and the stern rudder. Moreover, they innovated off of these technologies, especially the Portuguese who developed small, maneuverable ships with large cargo capacity, called caravels, which use lateen sails too to help them sail efficiently and quickly. With these maritime technological developments, the Portuguese were able to travel all the way to the Indian Ocean, establishing new, increasingly global connections between Europe and the Indian Ocean as well as bringing the use of violence, guns, and war into Indian Ocean trade.
By sailing from Portugal to the Indian Ocean, the Portuguese forged a connection between the Indian Ocean trade networks and Europe that would play an important role in the rise of more global networks. A picture of a decorative teak and ebony box made in India for export to Portugal exemplifies the development of this global network of exchange where people/artisans produced goods for distant markets (5). Furthermore, the fact that the materials that the box was made from, like ivory and hardwood, were mostly imported to India from Africa, further demonstrates this global interconnectivity. In a letter from a Portuguese court official to his King, he is discussing the monopoly that Portuguese had on pepper and spices and the conflict they were in with the Ottomans in the Indian Ocean, which shows that Portugal’s arrival and connection actually has been significant, such as with the Portuguese spice monopoly, where the Portuguese were actually bringing spices along new routes to European markets (2). Since the court official’s audience is the King, who he is giving advice to, he is likely providing an accurate account of Portuguese involvements since he is dealing with serious business like treaties.
Besides these connections, the Portuguese also brought the use of violence, war, and gunpowder weapons to the Indian Ocean trade networks, which had previously involved completely peaceful trade. As for the guns and cannons themselves, gunpowder from China had made its way to the Portuguese by then, and the Portuguese evidently used it as weaponry on their ships. Actually, since the Portuguese had long been involved in Mediterranean trade, which did often involve use of violence and force in trade or against pirates, they were used to the idea of armed ships and trade. In the advice given by merchants to the ruler of Calicut, there is a warning that the Portuguese are looking not just to participate in trade, but to control it and establish a forts around the Indian Ocean for this purpose (1). Then, from an account by a Muslim scholar/historian, it turned out that the Portuguese had used their ships armed with cannon to make war against Calicut and force its prince to allow them to build a fort there and instill their system of safe conduct passes, or the cartaz system (4). Since this account is of scholar and historian, it is probably a reasonably accurate account of Portuguese use of violence and forts, even though as a Muslim, the historian probably would have disliked the Portuguese. Similarly, the ruler of a Muslim state in Sumatra tells the Ottomans of how the Portuguese have attacked and seized many ships, including Ottoman ones, using their cannon-carrying caravels, and so is pleading for the Ottomans to give them the weapons and resources to defend themselves against the armed Portuguese (3). This now, clearly shows that most peoples along the Indian Ocean hadn’t much weaponry or use of violence in trade, and so were unprepared to thwart the violence and force of Portuguese ships.