What Is the Commercial Revolution AP World History?

The Commercial Revolution, which occurred between the 16th and 18th centuries, is a period in history that saw a significant change in the way businesses operated. During this time, trade and commerce expanded rapidly, leading to an increase in wealth for European countries such as Spain, Portugal, England, and the Netherlands. This article will explore what the Commercial Revolution is all about and its impact on world history.

What Is the Commercial Revolution?

The Commercial Revolution was a period of economic growth that took place between the 16th and 18th centuries. During this time, European countries experienced an increase in wealth as they began trading with other countries around the world. The rise of capitalism also played a major role in this revolution as merchants began to invest their money in new ventures and expand their businesses.

The Causes of the Commercial Revolution

One of the main causes of the Commercial Revolution was the Age of Exploration. European countries such as Spain, Portugal, England, and the Netherlands began exploring new territories around the world, looking for new resources to trade. They discovered new lands that were rich in natural resources such as gold, silver, spices, and textiles.

Another cause was technological advancements such as improved navigation tools like compasses and maps which made it easier for merchants to travel long distances across oceans. Additionally, innovations in manufacturing allowed for mass production of goods which helped drive down costs leading to increased trade.

The Impact of the Commercial Revolution

The Commercial Revolution had a profound impact on world history. It led to an increase in wealth for European nations which allowed them to finance exploration voyages and establish colonies around the world. These colonies became sources of raw materials such as tobacco from North America or spices from India.

The rise of capitalism during this period also paved way for modern business practices like joint-stock companies where investors could pool their money together to fund ventures, and diversification of industries.

The Role of Trade Organizations

The Commercial Revolution also saw the rise of trade organizations such as the British East India Company and the Dutch East India Company. These companies had monopolies on trade with certain regions and countries, allowing them to control prices and supply. They invested in infrastructure such as ports, warehouses, and ships, which helped facilitate trade across the globe.


In conclusion, the Commercial Revolution was a period of significant change in world history. It led to an increase in wealth for European nations, expansion of capitalism, and modern business practices. The impact of this period can still be felt today as it paved the way for international trade and globalization.