Science in the post-renaissance period (1540- 1760):
We have seen above that improved techniques as well as growing trade had led to great voyages to many lands. These were made in search of spices, silver, fur, sugar plantations, slaves, gold and other commodities. The one to have very far reaching effects was the voyage undertaken by Columbus in 1492, which, eventually, resulted in a lot of Europeans going to America. There they cleared the land, settled down and started plantations of sugar and tobacco exploiting the hard labour of African people. The Africans were forcibly taken on board west-bound ships to be transported to the new country and were sold there as slaves. The stealing, selling and exploitation of people as slaves caused terrible suffering. Yet, it was done unashamedly because there was great profit to be made from the new colonies. Money was being piled up for investment in shipbuilding, mining acd manufacturing other articles in Europe.
These developments greatly strengthened the merchant class and over the next two or three centuries they were able to replace the feudal lords and landowners in authority over their regions. Society tensions, peasant revolts, religious wars and the race to acquire colonies were all playing a role in changing the feudal society of the Middle Ages into a capitalist society of the eighteenth century in some areas of Europe. The development of capitalism as a leading method ofproduction was accompanied by the birth of a new method of natural science, that of experiment and observation.
In science, this period from the mid-sixteenth century to the mid-eighteenth century includes ;he first great triumphs of the new observational, experimental approach. This new approach together with'the development in science and technology during tne Renaissance, amounted to a "Scientific Revolution". Technically, this period was of steady advance without any revolutionary inventions. The increasing demand for iron led to development of new blast furnaces. The shortage of wood for iron-smelting led to widespread use of coal. From then on. the centre of industry was to move towards the coal fields. With time, the demand for limited resources increased, forcing the search for new resources and techniques. Thisalso altered the attitudes towards change and novelty, which could not be shunned anymore. You may recall that in the regimented feudal society, new ideas and change were resisted.