The European Age of Discovery/Exploration can be interpreted based on different facts and legends. However, Messianism and Mercantilism can be cited as two apparent philosophies that pondered conquistadors, especially Spain and Portugal, to explore trade routes to Asia for Spice and other parts of the world for gold and jewels.
The pursuit of aggrandizing wealth in the European nations from across the globe for prosperity was driven by the philosophy of Mercantilism. Besides, the endeavor to conquer Islam and establish the Christian domain across the global political and economic realm was indoctrinated and envisioned based on Messianism philosophy.
In many respects, the certitudes that were reflected in the Papal Bulls, a type of public decree issued by the pope of the Catholic Church of the 15th century, can be cited as a genesis of the development of the idea of Colonialism. With their divine proclamation, Papal Bulls had indeed launched the ‘Age of Discovery’ especially to fight against Islam.
It was insatiable and inexorable passion and greed of Spice because of which European began to conquest Asia. The foundation of exploration of sea-route to America and India by Christopher Columbus and Vasco da Gama respectively in the 15th century was motivated by the economic system of Mercantilism.
K.M. Panikkar, a noted historian, in his book Asia and Western Dominance: A Survey of the Vasco Da Gama Epoch, 1490-1945, states that Gama had employed violence and coercion against the indigenous people of Calicut to amass Spice and valuable resources, thus serving the interest of the Portuguese Crown.
Being guided by the philosophy of Mercantilism, the conquistadors, Portugal and Spain, had dreamt of improving their economic prosperity. The lust of being riches existed to fulfill through resources from its colonies. In this sense, the mere exploration of sea routes to India by Vasco da Gama resulted in western dominance in Asia and Africa politically and economically.
Africa experienced slavery, a menacing act of humanity, and Asia underwent inhibition to Christendom to some extent. As per the ordain of Papal Bulls to subdue and conquer natives of newly explored lands and reduce them to perpetual slavery, Vasco da Gama had become belligerent towards Muslims and Hindus. The doctrine behind Papal Bulls was a mere reflection of Messianism Philosophy. The indulgence of Vasco da Gama and subsequent explorers after that had plagued the political and economic foundation of Africa and Asia.
While interpreting the history of the European Age of Exploration and the emergence of the idea of Colonialism, a question may arise about how the philosophy of Mercantilism and Messianism of the 15th century justify the title?
The mercantile economic system was a fillip to Portugal and Europe to explore sea routes to a different part of the world for Spice, gold, and jewels. Spice was considered a valuable product at the time then.
Europeans had minimal knowledge about its origin. Asia was thought to be the place of origin of Spice. Therefore, Europeans ventured to explore sea routes to Asia, an alternative to Arabian overland routes. Therefore, the Vasco da Gama and Christopher Columbus voyage had embarked on exploring a sea route to India and other parts of Asia. With the arrival of Gama at Calicut, India experienced brutality and extortion besides trade motif.
During his second voyage in 1502, Vasco da Gama launched terror against indigenous and Muslims. Niger Cliff described Gama’s second voyage as the beginning of the darker fate of Asia and Africa. He launched a pillage of war against Islam and Hindu, reducing them to perpetual slave and establishing a Portuguese fort backed by bristling armada. It was an horrible history of humankind that Gama had engaged in gruesome massacres of Muslim Pilgrimage of ship Meri. His culture was institutionalized against indigenous people and their political and economic system.
Subsequent Portuguese arrivals employed religious terrorism in Asia, thus establishing their forts to capture spices and valuable resources. In addition, Inquisition Court was established in Goa in 1560 to impose cruelty against Hindus in banning all Hindu ceremonies.
In this regard, the age of exploration had enumerated the idea of colonialization. Messianism had also interplayed in nurturing the concept of Colonialism. Though the European age of discovery was embarked on exploring trade routes, it was also guided against exploiting Islam, exterminating them and reducing them to perpetual slavery.
King Manuel’s direction to Vasco da Gama and his action in his second voyage reflects the conviction of the west in implementing Messianism to establish Christian domain in the world. Therefore, African Muslims being traded as slaves, a shattered history of humankind ever experienced.
The mere History of the European Age of Discovery, therefore, has bitter results in humankind’s history, which launched religious terror against religion other than Christian, emerged an idea of Colonialism, and destroyed the economic and political system of Asia and Africa. As an outcome of Colonialism, The Criminal Tribes Act of 1871 and the Murderous Outrages Act of 1867 are examples of imposed laws implemented by Britain that fanatically executed indigenous populations and governed them, imploring fear of execution, dis-integration and reducing them to perpetual slavery.
It could be the bitterest epoch of history.
Anurodh Koirala Undergraduate Law Student (currently Third Year) at Kathmandu School of Law and an Intern with Nepal Based Think Tank i.e. NIICE, Nepal.