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African diaspora

Name given to the spread of people from Africa across the Atlantic via the slave trade.

Banda Islands

Infamous case of the Dutch forcibly taking control of the spice trade; nearly the entire population of these nutmeg-producing islands was killed or enslaved and then replaced with Dutch planters.


West African kingdom (in what is now Nigeria) whose strong kings sharply limited engagement with the slave trade.

British/Dutch East India companies

Private trading companies chartered by the governments of England and the Netherlands around 1600; they were given monopolies on Indian Ocean trade, including the right to make war and to rule conquered peoples.


A pass that the Portuguese required of all merchant vessels attempting to trade in the Indian Ocean.


West African kingdom that became strong through its rulers' exploitation of the slave trade.


Feudal lords of Japan subject to the Shogun ruler of the state but who ruled with virtual independence thanks to their bands of samurai warriors.


Native American people of northeastern North America who were heavily involved in the fur trade.

Indian Ocean Trade Network

The massive interconnected web of commerce in premodern times between the lands that bordered on the Indian Ocean (including East Africa, India, and Southeast Asia); the network was disrupted by Portuguese intrusion beginning around 1500.

Little Ice Age

A period of cooling temperatures and harsh winters that lasted for much of the early modern era.

Ferdinand Magellan

Portuguese mariner who commanded the first European (Spanish) fleet to circumnavigate the globe (1519-1533).


Capital of the Spanish colonial Philippines and a major trade city that already had a population of more than 40,000 by 1600.

Middle Passage

Name commonly given to the journey across the Atlantic undertaken by enslaved Africans being shipped to the Americas; estimated that more than 14% died on this forced journey.

Piece of eight

Standard Spanish coin that became a medium of exchange in North America, Europe, Africa and Asia, making it the first global currency.


City that developed high in the Andes (in present-day Bolivia) at the site of the world's largest silver mine and for a time was the largest city in the Americas, with a population of some 160,000 in 1570s.


The warrior elite of medieval Japan.


In Japan, a supreme military state commander.

Silver drain

Term often used to describe the siphoning of money from Europe to pay for the luxury products of the East (tea, silk, porcelain), a process exacerbated by the fact that Europe had few trade goods that were desirable in Eastern markets other than silver.

Soft Gold

Nickname used in the early modern period for animal furs, highly valued for their warmth and as symbols of elite status; in several regions (N. America, Siberia), the fur trade generated massive wealth for those empires engaged in it.

Spanish Philippines

An archipelago of Pacific islands (over 2000 inhabited) colonized by Spain in a relatively bloodless process that lasted a century (1565-1665), a process accompanied by converting large numbers of the local population to Christianity.

Tokugawa Shogunate

Military rulers of Japan who successfully unified Japan politically and established a "closed door" policy to European encroachments that lasted from 1600-1868; first Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu.

Trading post empire

Form of imperial dominance based on control of trade rather than on control of subject peoples.

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