In particular, the creation of more effective weapons, and the advancement of maritime equipment meant that Western Civilizations could be more easily spread to outlying regions, most of which still are marked by Western culture today.
Before it was known as Western Civilization, the culture we are familiar with now was referred to as the 'Occident', as a way of separating it from the 'Orient'. In the 16th century, Western culture was generally defined as those societies which had sprung up from Roman and Greek settlement and, to varying degrees, decided to adopt Christianity and to engage in close trade with one another. The nations participating in these activities included Italy, Greece, England, Scotland, Ireland, Portugal, France, Spain and several other Western European nations (Carrier 79).
The Western World in the 16th century was marked by radical religious ideologies, mass revolt, the exploitation of European slave markets and ultimately the unification of the Occident into a tightly-knit economic, political and religious unit. Although during that time the citizens of each individual Western country would not have imagined themselves as part of one rising dominant culture, it was the fact that these European countries were geographically forced to deal with one another than made this early Occident the basis for modern Western Civilization. ...
s own position in the region but to embrace those fundamental ideals of democracy and Christian morality and from a powerful standpoint, spread them into further reaches of Europe and eventually across the Atlantic Ocean (Ibid 85-95).
Technology and Economic Advancement
Technological advancements in early Western nations were not only fundamental to the spread of Western culture, but they were the tools by which the slave trade, the primary aspect of Western expansion (Kamen 235-250). Most European countries were involved in the slave trade to some degree, however it was the aggressive tactics of the Portuguese, the Spanish and then the English that fully opened up African countries for slave exploitation and subsequently built their economies and spread their culture. The two major technological advancements for Western Civilization in the 16th century were based on maritime equipment and weaponry.
To build a strong economy, based largely on the slave trade, Western European countries needed to update their maritime technologies for better, safer seafaring. Two inventions that helped tremendously with this effort were the mariner's astrolabe and the magnetic compass, both of which were in use for a few hundred years prior to any major Western expansion but that had not been fully adopted by European sailors. The mariner's astrolabe allowed sailors to navigate more accurately by using the stars, sun and moon, while the magnetic compass was a much more reliable version of earlier direction-seeking instruments. With these tools, as well as better ship-building techniques, sailors from Portugal, Spain, England and many other Western nations were suddenly employed in the slave trade to bring workers to their growing countries (Burwash 13-14).