What motivated the European commercial and colonial expansion in Asia in the late 15th
through the 17th centuries?
The motivations were a mixture of political, religious and economic. Politically speaking
the Asians were in general more complicated, proud of their own r ich and sophisticated
civilizations, whereas the Europeans realized early on that their development lagged
behind, so they decided to expand their ways into Asia, in order to increase their
reputation and home front. All in all, motivation to be the f irst to do better than the
counterparts that lied ahead was the real motivat ion. The Europeans just wanted to get
ahead politically and economically of course. Religiously they believed t hey could once
again spread Christianity across the South East Asia, failing to comprehend that it had
already came and left, but they felt like it was their calling to help spread and widen the
Chr istian world.
Matteo Ricci and Jesuit Missionaries – Matteo Ricci was a Missionary to the Ming Court
(1582-1610) • Ricci’s background was an accomplished man of learning • His move north
to Beijing and acceptance at cour t; was an example of the adaptation of Ricci’s message
to China; • Chinese interest in Western science and technology; • The “Rites
Controversy” - controversy and expulsion; feedback and renewed Western interest in
China. He was basically the first man to be admitted as a missionary in Beijing.
The Portuguese Maritime Empire in Asia – was part of the Portuguese Maritime Empire
in Asia, is took place in 1415, from the capture of Ceuta in Afr ica, by Henr y t he
Navigator. The Portugal kings, who were author ized by the pope to conquer and preach
Chr istianity, were those who went on these missions. Chr istopher Columbus, for example
was the man who discovered t he New World for the Spanish King. Vasco da Gama,
reached Calicut in 1498, and returned to Portugal in 1502, he established an
administrative centre in Goa to start the com mercial empire of Portugal. Eventually
competition was what led to the decline of the empire. The Por tuguese legacy was t hat is
basically created new trading routes, new-world crops, had a steady f low of silver and
gold, and preached religion.