Long characterized as the Triangle Trade—a name derived by drawing straight lines between Europe, Africa, and the New World, the areas that participated in large-scale colonial era trading—it is more accurate to characterize it as a circular trade. Driven by ocean and wind currents in the Atlantic basin, the wooden, wind-powered European ships of the era found it safest and most expedient to sail to America by going south past the Bight of Benin in western Africa. They picked up trans-Atlantic currents to the vicinity of the shoulder of...
The Reconquista was the campaign undertaken by Christians in what would become Portugal and Spain to capture, or reconquer, the Iberian Peninsula from North African Muslims called Moors. This effort began in the mid-twelfth century and was successfully concluded in 1492. The struggle helped lead to unified kingdoms in both nations and in Spain provided the model for the conquest of America.
The Crusades, a three-century-long series of wars, were fought between largely European Christians and Muslims over possession of Jerusalem and other sites that were significant to Abrahamic religions. These conflicts helped to break down European provincialism by introducing new ideas and technologies as well as novel consumer goods.
Henry VIII initiated the English Reformation when Pope Clement VII refused to grant him an annulment of his marriage. Henry left the Roman Catholic church and pressed Parliament to establish the Church of England with Henry as its leader.