The first contacts between the prehistoric cultures of the Canary Islands and western civilization occurred in the European expansion of the late Middle Ages. Their ultimate colonization was intimately related to this expansion, driven by new economic forms, including ‘commercial capitalism’ or ‘pre-capitalism’, which affected economic and intellectual structures throughout Europe, the economic characterized from then on by innovation, risk and increasing turnover; and the intellectual by the concept of ‘profit’ in place of ‘service’.
The practical transition can be seen in the technology that supported expansion: transport (new types of ships, cartography, systems of navigation, etc.); financial systems (nonmonetary payment, insurance, commercial credit, etc.); and mercantile institutions (commercial societies, consulates, postal services, etc.).