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An Enhanced Global Trade: the Portuguese Empire vs. the Mughal Dynasty

During the sixteenth century, European powers such as Portugal were simply in no position to challenge non-European powers for supremacy within a Eurasian sphere of influence. The Portuguese Empire was based on a “trading post” model – meaning that advancements within the Indian Ocean were a direct result of the control Portugal had over various key ports, versus large territorial claims. Portuguese supremacy was asserted in various ways to include intimidation and taxation. The wealth that maritime trade generated was meant for the Portuguese crown. Trade was worth fighting for especially when the role of Vasco da Gama, notably one of the most successful in the European Age of Discovery, is taken into account.

Conversely, the Mughal Dynasty expanded via territorial claims in South Asia – land acquisition as well as taxation resulted in vast power and wealth. The Mughals lacked an ocean navy, which prompted their merchants to use rivers and overland routes for exchange. And, they encouraged greater commerce both internally and with foreigners, including the Portuguese. Both the Mughals and Portuguese were successful and each saw their influence increase in the sixteenth century.

Based on your reading from Worlds Together Worlds Apart, and other appropriates sources discuss the following questions:

What types of influences were necessary in order for Portugal to be referred to as a seaborne empire?
How did the Portuguese exploit Asian commercial and trading networks?
Why is the Mughal Dynasty still considered one of Islam’s greatest regimes?
What types of restrictions did the Mughals place on the Portuguese?
Were the Mughals successful in ending the Portuguese monopoly on trade within the European world – why or why not?

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