No event in the fourteenth century had such profound consequences as the Black Death, which halted economic growth and expansion in Europe and the Islamic world. While devastating, religious beliefs shaped Muslim and Christian responses to the plague, and underlying conditions influenced political and economic recovery in the two regions. Similarly, in Asia after the fall of Mongol rule, state building fostered the development of national states. The Islamic world found growth and recovery through the missionary work of Sufis, and the growth of the Ottoman Empire, while in Europe the Renaissance helped Europe to recover and paved the way for Atlantic exploration. All across Eurasia, international trade allowed for continued economic recovery and expansion. However, certain places, like Japan discussed in the Counterpoint of this chapter, remained mostly isolated, which led to a radically different set of social institutions and cultural values than its neighbors. In the end, the intensifying competition among national states would become one of the main motives for overseas exploration and expansion in the Atlantic world.

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