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These trade routes would in later centuries characterize much of the development of the world. Goods from the east -- jewels, spices and other goods -- that had trickled westward into Europe were so prized that Europeans after the Middle Ages sought to find sailing routes to Asia. These attempts resulted in the discovery of America, the colonization of sub-Saharan Africa and course the conquest of large parts of Asia. The culture and economic exchange from east to west that became specifically associated with Venetians because of Polo's writing would eventually come to shape the geopolitical map as we know it today.
These examples illustrate how the activities of the world before 1500 shaped the world we live in today. This era was rich with cultural interaction, both violent and non-violent. These interactions brought more than just products and ideas. These exchange brought inspiration and motivation to the people of Europe. This led the Europeans, in the years following 1500, to take a leadership role in the world.
There are other examples where the meeting of cultures has had an impact on today's world. Russians still remember Genghis Khan's incursions into Europe and they still have the ethnic mix to show for it. An extension of the Crusades occurred with the conflict between the Moors and the Spanish. Vikings and French helped to shape the British Isles. But these cultural meetings -- the Crusades that can be said to still be ongoing today and the global trade between East and West that is also still a major driving force in the world today, both had their antecedents in the interactions between cultures during the Middle Ages.
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