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The Ocean Ocean Power Holland and France

europe, lands, conditions, south, dutch, land, population and traffic

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THE OCEAN : OCEAN POWER : HOLLAND AND FRANCE We have seen that the advantage which water traffic possesses over land traffic lies in the fact that goods can be carried long distances far more cheaply by the former than by the latter. Now Iberia may face the open ocean, but it is evident that the Peninsula of Iberia—almost cut off from the rest of Europe—is not a suitable landing-place for the greater part of goods intended for the continent. Behind Venice, i. e. in the plain of Lombardy, there was a land populous partly because of its own richness, partly because of the past conditions of which we already know. Behind Lisbon there was not a large population ; there is nothing like the Plain of Lombardy, and Spain is for the most part an arid plateau. Thus the bulk of the spices brought to Lisbon had to pass into the interior of the continent along ways by which goods could be carried more cheaply.

This is not the place to speak exhaustively of the causes of the Reformation, or of the Renascence of which it was one phase. Both were due in a large measure to the wider outlook on the world induced by the historical events which we have seen to have been controllea by geographical conditions. But it is to be noticed that though the Renascence affected all Europe, the area in which the Reformation took most hold was that farthest removed from the lands dominated by the Catholic Church, just as Christianity took firmest hold on lands untouched by Judaism. It was the area in habited by peoples to whom the methods of presentation of the doctrines of the Catholic Church appealed less than to those who had been under the power of Rome for long, and who were under somewhat different geo graphical conditions. The historical momentum in the north was different from that in the south of Europe. The machine was not so well adapted to the conditions, and there was more friction. By the invention of print ing in these northern lands an enormous saving of energy was effected; energy was set free which could be diverted to other uses, and in particular the new doctrines were spread far more rapidly than otherwise would have been the case. There was thus a certain latent antagonism between North Europe and South, so that when an occasion arose for the antagonism to become manifest, it is not wonderful that it was used. The Protestant Dutch revolted from the Catholic Spaniards.

Their ability as well as their inclination to free them selves depended on geographical factors. During the Middle Ages it was necessary that some communication should be held between Northern Europe, which was gradually becoming civilized, and the already' civilized lands of the South. The Strait of Gibraltar was held

by the Moors ; there were no roads, so that rivers were all-important. Now, alone of north-flowing European rivers the Rhine rises in the mountains on the south of Europe, in the Alps. Further, on a map of Western Europe its valley is seen to be cut down through the surrounding plateau to a few hundred feet above sea level. This valley was the main street of North Western Europe; wool from England—the Australia of the Middle Ages—was sent by this route to the manu facturing cities of Northern Italy such as Florence and Pisa, because in these cities there was a population which could afford to pay for the luxury of fine woollen clothing. The traffic in wool, rather a bulky article, induced traffic in other commodities. In course of time woollen factories were established in the Nether lands, the land through which a good portion of the wool was sent. These manufacturing towns were in what is now Belgium, but the importance of Holland advanced along with that of Belgium. The Belgians were not sailors ; the Dutch, to give them their modern name, had always been seamen. Inhabitants of islands along the shores of a shallow sea, they had been forced to earn a scanty livelihood by fishing. Then, as a wealthy population gradually gathered in the lands to the west, they made much profit on the fish they supplied to this community. The fishing industry increased, and with it the wealth of the Dutch and the numbers of their fishermen. This intercourse also naturally led to the employment of these fishermen as sea-carriers for the merchants of Belgium. In Spain and Portugal only a small proportion of the population were sailors : very few ships sufficed to bring all the spices or gold and silver to Iberia. So many ships belonged to Holland, however, that it was seriously proposed, when the fight for freedom seemed hopeless, to place the whole popu lation on board ship and seek a home beyond the seas. Hence in the Netherlands there were communities of merchants and traders, and southwards from this land there ran the finest waterway into the heart of continent. It was no wonder that the Belgian city of Antwerp became the principal merchant centre in Europe, and that the Dutch added to their other trade that of carriers of spices, and made much profit therefrom.

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