1501 The world has a population of around 435 million – about one-fourteenth today's population of 6.4 billion.
1501 A military Sufi order in Persia known as the Safavids have survived Timur (Tamerlane) and have adopted the Shia branch of Islam. They have been eager to advance Shi'ism by military means. They seize Tabriz in western Iran and make it their capital. They believe in the glory of their king (shah) and in the old tradition of passing rule and religious righteousness from father to son.
1502 Christopher Columbus begins his fourth and last journey to the Caribbean. He still believes that the islands he has found lay off the coast of India.
1504 Machiavelli is in France, learning about the strength of a nation united under a single ruler rather than under various centers of power.
1506 In the city of Lisbon, on April 19, religiously empassioned Christians slaughter nearly 4,000 Portuguese Jews.
1506 May 20: Columbus dies in Spain.
1509 A Dutch humanist, Desiderius Erasmus, writes In Praise of Folly. He is a devout Catholic who has been bothered by what he calls absurd superstitions of most of the Christians of his day. He favors the translation of the Bible from Latin to local languages so that the masses can read it, and he believes that common people have the capacity to understand Christianity as well as do priests.
1510 Portuguese ships are heavily armed with cannon and dominate the Indian Ocean. Indian ships are smaller and held together with coconut fiber ropes, instead of iron nails. Portuguese Catholics establish a presence at the port at Goa on India's western coast, a point from which Muslims had been debarking for pilgrimages to Arabia. Goa begins to serve as Portugal's port and capital town in Asia. India these days has a population of around 105 million – about one-twelfth the number of people in Pakistan and India today.
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