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<firstname.lastname@example.org> Although not having followed this discussion closely, I don't remember much emphasis being placed on the role of several European countries' control of the seas in enabling Europe to gain increasing advantage over other areas of the world. The Portuguese gained some measure of control over Indian Ocean trade in the 1500s, then successively the Dutch and the English (with competition from the French) came to dominate wider expanses of the oceans and trading routes across them. These European countries were not only in a position to control pre-existing trade routes, but able to create many new ones (among these of course were the slave trade). Aside from the obvious advantage in being able to control or broker and indeed create trade across the seas, might there also have been great significance to being able to beg/barter/borrow/steal ideas and technologies from around the world (& combine them) in a way no other region had ever been able to previously? So Western Europe's emerging advantage in naval technology in 1500 might have been enough to allow it to "rise" to dominance even if there had been no Potosi etc. in the Americas?