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Why did the Silk Road's importance decline in the 15th century?

The Silk Road's importance declined in the 15th century due to the rise of maritime trade routes and the Ottoman Empire's restrictions.

The Silk Road, a network of trade routes connecting East and West, was a vital artery for the exchange of goods, ideas, and culture for centuries. However, its significance began to wane in the 15th century, primarily due to two key factors: the rise of maritime trade routes and the restrictions imposed by the Ottoman Empire.

The Age of Discovery, which began in the 15th century, saw European powers like Portugal and Spain exploring and establishing new sea routes to Asia. These maritime routes were faster, safer, and more cost-effective than the overland Silk Road. Ships could carry larger quantities of goods, and the risk of banditry was significantly reduced. Moreover, the control of these sea routes allowed European powers to bypass the middlemen involved in the Silk Road trade, leading to increased profits. This shift in trade dynamics led to a decline in the use and importance of the Silk Road.

Simultaneously, the political landscape was changing with the rise of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans, who controlled key regions along the Silk Road, imposed heavy taxes and restrictions on trade. This made the Silk Road less attractive for merchants, who began to favour the new maritime routes. The Ottoman Empire's policies, coupled with the advantages of sea travel, led to a significant decrease in the volume of trade along the Silk Road.

Furthermore, the spread of the Black Death in the 14th century had already disrupted trade along the Silk Road, causing a decline in its use. The rise of maritime trade and the Ottoman Empire's restrictions in the following century only served to further diminish the Silk Road's importance.

In conclusion, the 15th century marked a significant turning point in global trade. The advent of maritime trade routes and the policies of the Ottoman Empire led to a decline in the use and significance of the Silk Road, once the primary conduit for East-West trade.

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