History of the Middle East
The rise of the Ottoman Empire in the East blocked ready European access to the fabled riches of the East, inducing first the Portuguese and then the Spanish to take advantage of advances in mathematics, navigation and shipbuilding to explore new routes via the African coast to India (1498) and to the Western Hemisphere. New nation states, many of them seafaring such as England, Holland and France, arose in the West and were enriched by the Atlantic trade. Lapidus says "the crucial common factor in the decline of Muslim regimes was the rising power of Europe . . . from the late Middle Ages to modern times, European societies were developing an unprecedented technological inventiveness and an unrivalled capacity to generate economic wealth and military power" (268). He says that "now Europe could prosper on the captured gold and silver, spices and other products of the new world . . . The Baltic and the Atlantic replaced the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean as the most important centers of world trade" (273).

The enormous wealth generated by the Ottoman Empire enabled it to remain dominant for another two centuries; however, its society, except for its military dynamism was somewhat static by comparison with Europe's. According to Lapidus, after the 14th century, the emphasis in the West was increasingly was on individualism, the scientific spirit and the

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