This period begins with the fall of Constantinople to the Muslim Turks, an event which impels Europeans to find new trade routes to the East. In this pursuit, the two hemispheres of the world meet and engage in the first truly global system of trade. A major difference between this and the previous period is that Islam is divided into 3 regional empires rather than a single unified Dar al Islam. The role of nomadic people is significantly less important in this era, as only large wealthy empires can afford the large militaries armed with firearms, another characteristic of this era. Gunpowder transforms West Africa, Japan, the Muslim world, and allows the Russian empire to continue its growth. Europe undergoes a cultural transformation in which intellectuals relied on direct experience and observation rather than the presumptive authority of the past to gain knowledge. The resulting benefits in science allowed Europe to project itself into the Indian Ocean and to subjugate people in the New World as they created colonies and exploited indigenous people there. China was once again ruled by foreigners and Japan centralized its rule with the aid of gunpowder. Both of these Asia powers were able to resist the Europeans during this time period, but were not so fortunate in the next.
As you read the Key Concepts, don't just memorize individual facts (although you do need to know them.) It is important that you know how facts serve as examples of the larger concepts under which they are indexed.