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*the joke inspired by the novel "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert.
In an important but neglected essay, M. N. Pearson argues that Europeans were unusual not in their capacities as colonizers but in their very desire to colonize: Asian states tended to focus on overland expansion rather than overseas expansion, leaving the oceans open to Europeans. His nuanced argument can be distilled to one basic hypothesis: States that gain the great majority of their revenue from agriculture act differently from states that rely upon trade for a significant portion of their revenues. According to Pearson, during the early modern period most large Asian states belonged to the first category (that is, they derived most of their revenue from agriculture) and therefore tended to be indifferent to oceangoing trade. By contrast, the colonizing Western European states belonged to the second category and therefore tended to focus on oceangoing trade.6
Pearson supports his hypothesis with cases drawn primarily from his area of expertise: Indian history. When the Portuguese arrived in the Indian Ocean in the late fifteenth century, they found it remarkably easy to impose their control over the most valuable maritime trade routes. According to Pearson, this was because Indian states, being bound to agricultural rather than commercial revenues, tended to ignore the prospects for revenue from oceangoing trade. Gujarat was the most sea-oriented of these states, and its merchants dominated routes throughout the Indian Ocean region, from the Persian Gulf to the Strait of Melaka. Even so, one of Gujarat's kings felt that "wars by sea are merchants' affairs and of no concern to the prestige of kings."7 Its government gained only 6 percent of its income from maritime trade, and it was therefore not in the business of maritime adventurism.8 Later in the sixteenth century, the Mughals established their rule over India, founding a state an order of magnitude richer and more populous than the largest Western European states. They certainly could have challenged the Portuguese and their successors, but the Mughals, too, were focused on agricultural production as the basis of their tax revenues, and so they made little effort to subject the Indian Ocean region to their rule. Adages expressed by the elite of the Mughal era indicate this anti-oceanic perspective: "Merchants who travel by sea are like silly worms clinging to logs."9 And so, when the Portuguese arrived in the Indian Ocean, they found the seas open to naval power. The Asian traders of the Indian Ocean were accustomed to peaceful trade, and it appears that, in the century preceding the arrival of the Portuguese, no Asian state had tried to establish hegemony over the seas. The Portuguese, then, benefiting from strong state support as well as the absence of serious competition, were able to establish control over large sectors of the Indian Ocean trade.
To be sure, Portuguese incursions provoked reactions. Early in the sixteenth century, Gujarat and Egypt formed an alliance to reclaim sea routes from the Portuguese. They constructed an armed fleet, which was defeated by the Portuguese in a battle at Diu in 1509. This battle shows the importance of Portuguese naval technologies and strategies, but it is also telling that the arrival of the Portuguese provoked so few such naval reactions. The Ottomans made a half-hearted and desultory attempt to drive the Portuguese out of the Indian Ocean, but they too were more concerned with affairs on land.10 And in the seventeenth century, the Omanis succeeded in driving the Portuguese from Muscat and other coastal enclaves.11 The Omanis' success demonstrates how easy it might have been for a major Asian power to remove the Portuguese altogether. The surprising thing is that, as Pearson points out, no major Asian state seriously tried. According to Pearson's statist hypothesis, the Portuguese were able to convert a naval advantage into oceanic hegemony because they had the strong support of their state whereas Asian states were relatively uninterested in overseas mercantile expansion. The same was true of the Dutch, who arrived a century after the Portuguese.
Pearson's hypothesis appears reasonable: Asian states do appear to have been less likely than European states to foster overseas aggression for commercial purposes, leaving Asian seas open to European control. Thus, Europeans were simply able to exploit a maritime power vacuum. But many questions remain. For example, there were plenty of Asian states that did emphasize overseas trade. Perhaps the most important are the maritime states of Southeast Asia, such as Macassar and Aceh. These were quite dependent upon revenues from overseas trade and were also at times effective in challenging Portuguese and Dutch expansion. Yet they did not engage in overseas colonialism like the western European states, so there must be other factors at play. We must study these states, and the others throughout the world that might serve as counter examples. Source :[link]
Hetalia, England aph, Spain aph, Egypt aph, Italy aph, Macau aph & Netherlands aph belonged to Himaruya H.
Spice Islands is Maluku Islands in Indonesia.
Indonesia aph, Malaysia aph & Portugal aph based on Himaruya's sketch. ([link]
India OC & Mughal OC design by dinosaurusgede
Philippines OC design by
Brunei Darussalam OC design by
Japan 17th century design by