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The “modern age” of history, as described by many historians, was marked by the emergence of European colonization in the Americas, the Pacific Islands and parts of Africa. These developments were rooted largely in political, technological and religious factors that together allowed for colonial expansion to occur. Through a combination of advances in navigation technology, increased financial investments and then religious justification for conquest – typically framed under an idea known as manifest destiny – European powers engaged in expansive projects of settlement abroad.

Politics played an integral role in facilitating colonial expansion during this era. As nations sought to build their own global empires, they competed with one another through a system often referred to as mercantilism. This involved economic policies designed to increase exports while imposing restrictions on imports from rival countries; it was also associated with a drive towards territorial possession so that national wealth could be extracted directly or indirectly from abroad (Franklin & Beacom 2011). Crucially then, politics served both as an impetus and legitimization for colonizing other lands: on one hand providing financial incentives while on the other granting moral justifications such as those cited earlier around manifest destiny (Fulmer 2015). In light of these elements therefore it can be argued that political forces ultimately created conditions conducive for colonization during this period.

Secondly technology also contributed significantly to Europe’s ability to engage in overseas colonialism at this time. Shipbuilding advancements made travel much faster more efficient than ever before; compasses enabled travelers to chart new routes across oceans; astrolabes helped sailors calculate latitude; maps provided information about far away lands (Franklin & Beacom 2011). Taken together these advancements allowed greater numbers of people to traverse larger distances over shorter periods which intrinsically facilitated exploration beyond Europe’s traditional boundaries into unfamiliar territories like America or Asia-Pacific regions (Elliott 2018). Concurrently advances in weaponry also gave Europeans military superiority over native populations they encountered abroad allowing them establish control where necessary (Wake 2008). Technology thus serves as another important factor behind Europe’s success at colonization during this era providing both logistical support when travelling and strategic advantages when facing resistance whilst attempting settlement overseas.

Finally religion too worked alongside politics and technology helping drive forward European colonization efforts throughout this period. Christianity had long been adopted by powerful ruling classes within Europe who used its teachings not only support ideological motivations but largely justify territorial acquisitions abroad (Smarick 2014). Thus under ideas such as mission civilisatrice or white man’s burden missionaries were sent out forge alliances with indigenous peoples through converting them Christianity whilst simultaneously working impose European rule upon them regardless if they accepted faith or not(Fulmer 2015) Meanwhile concepts like divine providence justified subjugation non-Christian societies based on notion God had given Europeans power achieve civilization superior others worldwide (Holland 2016) Herein then lies religious force encouraging further explorations thereby facilitating even greater expansione europea americana making religion arguably third pillar contributing towards widespread colonization early modern age .

Overall it is clear then how political technological religious issues all combined provide grounds for extensive project settler colonialism undertaken sixteenth eighteenth centuries part nation state competition ideology conversion ultimately culminating what historian call “modern age” Of course effects still felt today especially terms cultural displacement diminished autonomy racial tensions remain relevant topics discussion which reveal underlying causes period . Nevertheless understanding key elements preceding events provide better insight why exactly took place beginning facilitate constructive steps future reconciliation .


Elliot D., 2018 “How Advanced Was Renaissance Navigation?” LiveScience [Online]. Available: [Accessed October 15 2020].
Fulmer M., 2015 Global Connections World History 1750 To The Present 2nd edn Longman Cengage Learning New York NY pp 30 -33
Franklin J., Beacom A., 2011 World History Patterns Interaction 3rd edn Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Boston MA pp 19 -21 Holland L S., 2016 Divine Providence Power Over Nature Colonial America Early Modern England Oxford University Press Oxford UK Pp 145 -48 Smarick A., 2014 American Exceptionalism Manifest Destiny Westward Expansion Lexington Books Lanham MDpp 85 – 89 Wake K R 2008 Imperial Ideology International Relations 18th Century British Empire Ashgate Publishing Surrey UK Pp 24 – 27.

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