Britain, France and the Netherlands
With the discovery of the New World, the Atlantic Ocean replaced the Mediterranean as the only commercial route between East and West, which led to the decline of the traditional commercial cities of the Italian region and the Hanseatic League in northern Germany, and the economic rise of the Atlantic-facing countries of England, France and the Netherlands. The British first tried to open up the Eastern trade route through Russia. For this purpose, the Moscow Company was established in 1533. Soon after, the British found that Russia had no direct commercial relations with the East, so they turned to the Northwest route, trying to go to the East through northern North America. After defeating the Spanish Armada in 1588, England began to colonize North America, establishing the Hudson’s Bay Company and the Colony of New England. In 1600, British merchants established the British East India Company, which then began to expand in India. After its independence in the late 16th century, the Netherlands rapidly developed into the world’s largest maritime and commercial country. It established the Dutch East India Company in 1602 and gradually monopolized trade with China, India, Japan, Ceylon and the Spice Islands. France established New French colonies in North America and occupied several strategic sugar-rich islands in the Caribbean.
Britain’s commercial cultivation of tobacco and cotton in the North American colonies and France’s need for manpower to supply sugar plantations in the Caribbean islands increased the need for slaves in both countries. In 1526, the slave trade began in England. Soon after, the Netherlands and Denmark joined the slave trade as active transit countries, trying to gain a share of the profits. Sweden, Brandenburg, Hamburg, Courland and other countries also engaged in the slave trade during this period, for which they occupied positions on the African coast. As the local economy of West Africa was mainly based on primitive gathering and hunting, food production was limited. In order to support the food of slaves in long-distance traffic, colonists began to open up agricultural areas around these strongpoints, introducing sweet potato, yam and other food crops from Europe and America.
From the beginning of the 17th century to the middle of the 18th century, Britain and France fought four wars due to their competing interests in the European continent. Britain, with its strong naval force, captured France’s large colonies in India, Canada and east of the Mississippi River overseas, and became the world’s first-class colonial power. Moreover, it replaced the Netherlands in three wars with the Netherlands. Became a major shipping nation and built up a large merchant fleet and navy. With the signing of the Treaty of Paris between Britain and France and Spain in 1763, Britain replaced Spain as the world’s leading colonial power.
During this period, European countries managed their colonies in America in basically the same way, that is, they were treated differently from the mainland, and governors or vice-kings representing the king were sent to the colonies. The economic development of the colonies was curtailed and supervised, and they were forced to plant a single cash crop needed by the sovereign. Mining industry was highly developed, and other industries and agriculture were stagnated. Even basic consumer goods such as farm tools and clothing cannot be produced. The host country exported products from the colonies for free or at low prices, and even had to borrow other countries’ currencies (such as Austrian Maria Teresia and Spanish silver figureswere common in the British colonies) as a result. Contact between the colonies was also prevented by the colonists. In the thirteen states, mail sent from one colony to another was sent back to London.

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