The company then forced the Mughal emperor to recognize its right to collect taxes in the northeast. By the late 1700s, it had used its great wealth to dominate most of India.

Ming China and Europe

Portuguese ships first reached China from their base in Malacca in 1514. To the Chinese, the Portuguese and all other foreigners were barbarians because they lacked the civilized ways of the Chinese. Europeans, by contrast, wrote enthusiastically about China. In 1590, a visitor described Chinese artisans “cleverly making devices out of gold, silver and other metals,” and wrote with approval: “They daily publish huge multitudes of books.”

White porcelain vase painted with colorful woodland motifs.

Europeans desired fine Ming goods, such as porcelain vases with intricate designs.

Trade with Ming China

European interest in China and other parts of East Asia continued to grow. The Ming, however, had no interest in Europe—since, as a Ming document proclaimed, “Our empire owns the world.” The Portuguese wanted Chinese silks and porcelains, but had little to offer in exchange. European textiles and metalwork were inferior to Chinese products. The Chinese therefore demanded payment in gold or silver.

The Ming eventually allowed the Portuguese a trading post at Macao near Canton, present-day Guangzhou (GWAHNG joh). Later, they let the Dutch, English, and other Europeans trade with Chinese merchants. Foreigners could trade only at Canton under the supervision of imperial officials. When each year's trading season ended, they had to sail away.

Christian Missionaries

Portuguese missionaries arrived in China along with the traders. In later years, the Jesuits—from Spain, Italy, and Portugal—arrived. Most Jesuits had a broad knowledge of many subjects, and the Chinese welcomed the chance to learn about Renaissance Europe from these scholars. A few European scholars, like the brilliant Jesuit priest Matteo Ricci (mah TAY oh REE chee) did make an impression on Ming China. In the 1580s, Ricci learned to speak Chinese and adopted Chinese clothing. His goal was to convert upper-class Chinese to Christianity. He hoped that they, in turn, would spread Christian teachings to the rest of China.

Illustration of a bearded man in robes and hat seated at a desk, holding a book containing Chinese calligraphy.

The Jesuit missionary priest Matteo Ricci impressed Chinese scholars with his knowledge and appreciation for Chinese culture.

Ricci won friends among the scholarly class in China by sharing his knowledge of the arts and sciences of Renaissance Europe. The Chinese were fascinated by new European technologies, including maps. They were also open to European discoveries in astronomy and mathematics.


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Table of Contents

World History Topic 1 Origins of Civilization (Prehistory–300 B.C.) Topic 2 The Ancient Middle East and Egypt (3200 B.C.–500 B.C.) Topic 3 Ancient India and China (2600 B.C.–A.D. 550) Topic 4 The Americas (Prehistory–A.D. 1570) Topic 5 Ancient Greece (1750 B.C.–133 B.C.) Topic 6 Ancient Rome and the Origins of Christianity (509 B.C.-A.D. 476) Topic 7 Medieval Christian Europe (330–1450) Topic 8 The Muslim World and Africa (730 B.C.-A.D. 1500) Topic 9 Civilizations of Asia (500–1650) Topic 10 The Renaissance and Reformation (1300–1650) Topic 11 New Global Connections (1415–1796) Topic 12 Absolutism and Revolution Topic 13 The Industrial Revolution Topic 14 Nationalism and the Spread of Democracy (1790–1914) Topic 15 The Age of Imperialism (1800–1914) Topic 16 World War I and the Russian Revolution (1914–1924) Topic 17 The World Between the Wars (1910–1939) Topic 18 World War II (1930–1945) Topic 19 The Cold War Era (1945–1991) Topic 20 New Nations Emerge (1945–Present) Topic 21 The World Today (1980-Present) United States Constitution Primary Sources 21st Century Skills Atlas Glossary Index Acknowledgments