AP European History : European Expansion

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP European History

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : European Expansion

The British government decided to take direct control of the administration of British India following the __________.

Possible Answers:

Great Partition

Seven Years’ War

Crimean War

Congress of Vienna

Sepoy Rebellion

Correct answer:

Sepoy Rebellion

Explanation:

Although Britain acquired the territory of India as part of the peace deal that ended the Seven Years’ War, India was for the next hundred years ruled under the direct administration of the British East India Company. In the 1857 Sepoy Rebellion, Hindu and Muslim troops in the colonial army revolted and had to be forcibly put down at great cost to the company. Following this rebellion, the British government decided to take direct control of the administration of India, a period of time referred to as the British Raj. This form of British rule lasted for another ninety years until India gained independence in 1947.

Example Question #2 : European Expansion

Who commanded the first expedition to successfully circumnavigate the world?

Possible Answers:

Sir Francis Drake

Henry the Navigator

Ferdinand Magellan

Sir Walter Raleigh

Christopher Columbus

Correct answer:

Ferdinand Magellan

Explanation:

The first successful circumnavigation of the world was completed by an expedition led by the famed Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan. Magellan died during the voyage in the South Pacific and so never personally completed the quest; however, he is still remembered in popular history as the first man to circumnavigate the world.

Example Question #3 : European Expansion

Which of these civilizations was most involved in the first wave of European overseas exploration?

Possible Answers:

England.

The Netherlands.

Portugal.

Spain.

France.

Correct answer:

Portugal.

Explanation:

Whilst all of these civilizations would eventually play a significant role in European overseas exploration and expansion the first to do so was Portugal. Portuguese exploration began in the second half of the fifteenth century. They were the first to explore around the Southern tip of Africa, the first to reach India via the ocean, and one of the first to reach the New World (after the Spanish).

Example Question #2 : European Expansion

The Treaties of Tordesillas and Zaragoza __________.

Possible Answers:

established that the Spanish and Portuguese empires would promote Catholicism throughout the world

regulated trade between the Spanish and Portuguese empires

divided much of the newly discovered world between the Spanish and Portuguese empires

All of these answers

gave Spain control over British and Dutch colonies in the New World

Correct answer:

divided much of the newly discovered world between the Spanish and Portuguese empires

Explanation:

The Treaty of Tordesillas was signed in 1494 by the Spanish and Portuguese kingdoms. It was intended to divide the American continent, newly discovered to Europeans, between the two burgeoning empires. The Treaty of Zaragoza was signed in 1529 and was intended to divide the other side of the world, the Far East in particular, between the same two empires. The treaties were generally respected by the two powers themselves, but were generally ignored by the rest of the European powers once they arrived on the scene.

Example Question #3 : European Expansion

Which of these most directly affected the rapid rate of Spanish expansion in the New World?

Possible Answers:

The religious fervor of the native people and their willingness to accept Christianity

The economic prosperity of the metropole back in Spain

The Spanish economic systems of encomienda and hacienda

The superior technology of the Spanish invaders and the relatively disunified nature of American civilizations

The devastating impact of European diseases on the native population

Correct answer:

The devastating impact of European diseases on the native population

Explanation:

Although it is true that Spain was a reasonably prosperous European nation at the time of expansion into the Americas, and it is also true that the Spanish possessed superior technology that helped them to subdue the native population, the primary reason why Spanish expansion was able to proceed so quickly was the devastating impact on the native population of diseases brought from Europe to the New World. Smallpox, in particular, was almost apocalyptic in nature, killing as many as ninety percent of the native population in some areas. Essentially, the Spanish would show up, make contact, and within a few months the native people would be dying by the millions, their administrative capabilities completely neutered by the impact of death and suffering.

Example Question #4 : European Expansion

Which of these reasons best explains why England and France were much slower to respond to the allures of overseas expansion than the Spanish and the Portuguese?

Possible Answers:

Both countries lacked the funds and enthusiastic investors that were so abundant in Spain and Portugal

All of these answers are correct.

Religious and secular conflict disrupted any attempts at organized colonization in both countries

The Treaties of Tordesillas and Zaragoza gave papal authority to Spanish and Portuguese dominion over the New World

They did not possess the technological innovations of the Spanish and the Portuguese

Correct answer:

Religious and secular conflict disrupted any attempts at organized colonization in both countries

Explanation:

The Spanish and Portuguese were the primary nations involved in the first wave of European expansion in the sixteenth century. They were more politically unified than England and France and had much less religious diversity to contend with, whereas in France and England, the sixteenth century was a time of religious upheaval and civil wars. Both the English and French would start to get involved (along with the Dutch) in overseas expansion toward the end of the sixteenth century, and both had established colonies by the first couple of decades of the seventeenth century.

Example Question #5 : European Expansion

The explorations of which of the following individuals led to Portugal controlling European trade with the Far East for most of the sixteenth century?

Possible Answers:

Bartolomeu Dias

Christoper Columbus

Henry the Navigator

Vasco de Gama

Ferdinand Magellan

Correct answer:

Vasco de Gama

Explanation:

All of these individuals were notable Portuguese explorers except for Christopher Columbus, who was an Italian sailing under the patronage of the Spanish crown. While you might not have known that the answer to this question immediately, you could determine it through careful consideration of the accomplishments of each of these people. Vasco de Gama was the first person to sail around the Cape of Africa and reach India via the ocean, the longest recorded such voyage in human history at the time. This voyage allowed Portugal to control ocean trade with the Far East for much of the sixteenth century before their monopoly was broken by the excursions of the British, French, and Dutch.

Example Question #6 : European Expansion

Why did the European colonial governments begin to export slaves to the New World from the African continent?

Possible Answers:

There were too few native people left to work the plantations.

The plantation owners considered Africans to be hardier and better suited to a life of working in the fields

Once the native people converted to Christianity, the Europeans no longer felt it was morally defensible to enslave them.

The native people started to mix with the colonial governments, creating an absence of an established lower class.

All of these answers are correct.

Correct answer:

There were too few native people left to work the plantations.

Explanation:

The primary reason why the European colonial governments, particularly the Spanish and Portuguese at first, decided to start exporting slaves to the New World was the scarcity of labor caused by the massive population decreases experienced by the native people. Essentially, the Spanish and Portuguese colonists caused the death of so many native people through disease, warfare, and harsh labor conditions that they had to bring people in to provide the raw labor they needed to keep running their plantations.

Example Question #7 : European Expansion

The majority of the wealth mined by the Spanish in the New World ended up __________.

Possible Answers:

permeating down to the middle and lower classes of Spanish society

concentrated in commercial cities in England and the Netherlands

concentrated in the Vatican and other religious centers in Europe

in the hands of the Spanish monarchy and aristocracy

concentrated in commercial cities in France and the Italian city-states

Correct answer:

concentrated in commercial cities in England and the Netherlands

Explanation:

The Spanish brought more gold and silver to Europe in the space of a couple of centuries than had been mined in the rest of European history collectively. In theory, this would have made Spain immensely wealthy, but Spain was massively in debt to individual investors from England and the Netherlands, and much of the wealth mined in the New World ended up concentrated in the hands of the merchants and bankers of Northern Europe. Inflation obliterated the Spanish economy, and Spain would never again be a major world power that could compete with England, France, and the Netherlands.

Example Question #10 : European Expansion

The rise of British naval supremacy began with __________.

Possible Answers:

the defeat of the Spanish Armada

reforms implemented by James I

reforms implemented by King Henry VIII

the defeat of Napoleon and the French navy

the dominance of Parliament after the Glorious Revolution

Correct answer:

the defeat of the Spanish Armada

Explanation:

The early years of European exploration were dominated by the Portuguese. Portugal was quickly supplanted by the Spanish, who held the largest empire and the biggest navy for much of the sixteenth century. When the Spanish tried to invade England in 1588, their navy was obliterated. England’s rise to global naval supremacy began with the failure of the Spanish Armada.

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