The major change that occurred after 1000 AD was a major increase in population in Europe. This came about for a number of reasons. Some of the most important of these reasons include:
- A slight increase in temperature in Northern Europe. This allowed for longer growing seasons and more food.
- A reduction in the number of invasions of Europe. Invasions like those by the Vikings and Magyars stopped, thus allowing for more settled and less violent conditions.
- Most importantly, there were major changes in agricultural practices. The most important of these were changes like the invention of the heavy iron plow and the horse collar and horseshoe. These innovations allowed farmers to use heavier, more fertile soils and allowed them to be more efficient. This also allowed for the growing of more food.
These factors allowed the population of Europe to increase, bringing with it increased urbanization and increased trade.
After 1000 A.D., several factors altered European life. A cycle of overpopulation, massive reduction due to plagues, and subsequent overpopulation caused great hardship, dislocation, death, and distress. The Crusades stimulated European development, opening up new horizons in commerce and knowledge. In addition, Europe experienced the Renaissance.
Expansionist tendencies were heightened by advances in geographic knowledge and naval science that made sea travel less hazardous. Other stimuli included the printing press and the publication of Marco Polo’s adventures, which captured the imaginations of many Europeans, including Christopher Columbus. The rise of monarchical nation-states during the fifteenth century created a favorable
environment for exploration. In Portugal, Prince Henry “The Navigator” sponsored voyages that increased knowledge of the sea while opening new trade routes to Africa and India. The Portuguese success led Spain to sponsor the voyage by Christopher Columbus that resulted in the European discovery of the Americas.