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Welcome to the Early Modern Period (1450-1750). You are about to meet some brand new empires. They will help branch the world of 1450 to the Modern world. Invest in these Empires because they will last (sorry, Safavids, Aztecs, and Incas…) for 80% of the course. Double down here. It will pay off for the rest of the course to have a good grip on these specifically (also, if you’re coming from a more Euro-centric historical background like I did; these will seem to be mostly new material/things you haven’t heard before. It’s OK. That’s a good thing. You’re learning the REAL history of the planet…). Let’s see how these Empires grew to some of the largest, longest lasting empires in all of earth’s history.

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Below are the specific KEY CONCEPTS that apply to this sub-unit:

The interconnection of the Eastern and Western Hemispheres, made possible by transoceanic voyaging, transformed trade and had a significant social impact on the world.

The interconnection of the Eastern and Western Hemispheres, made possible by transoceanic voyaging, transformed trade and had a significant social impact on the world.

  • Knowledge, scientific learning, and technology from the Classical, Islamic, and Asian worlds spread, facilitating European technological developments and innovation.

    • The developments included the production of new tools, innovations in ship designs, and an improved understanding of global wind and currents patterns— all of which made transoceanic travel and trade possible.

  • The new connections between the Eastern and Western Hemispheres resulted in the exchange of new plants, animals, and diseases, known as the Columbian Exchange.

    • American foods became staple crops in various parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa. Cash crops were grown primarily on plantations with coerced labor and were exported mostly to Europe and the Middle East.

    • Populations in Afro–Eurasia benefited nutritionally from the increased diversity of American food crops.

  • In some cases, the increase and intensification of interactions between newly connected hemispheres expanded the reach and furthered development of existing religions, and contributed to religious conflicts and the development of syncretic belief systems and practices.

    • Political rivalries between the Ottoman and Safavid empires intensified the split within Islam between Sunni and Shi’a.

    • Sikhism developed in South Asia in a context of interactions between Hinduism and Islam.

Although the world's productive systems continued to be heavily centered on agriculture, major changes occurred in agricultural labor, the systems and locations of manufacturing, gender and social structures, and environmental processes.

Although the world's productive systems continued to be heavily centered on agriculture, major changes occurred in agricultural labor, the systems and locations of manufacturing, gender and social structures, and environmental processes.

  • The demand for labor intensified as a result of the growing global demand for raw materials and finished products. Traditional peasant agriculture increased and changed in nature, plantations expanded, and the Atlantic slave trade developed and intensified. Peasant and artisan labor continued and intensified in many regions as the demand for food and consumer goods increased.

  • Enslavement in Africa continued in its traditional forms, including incorporation of enslaved persons into households and the export of enslaved persons to the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean regions.

  • Imperial conquests and widening global economic opportunities contributed to the formation of new political and economic elites, including in China with the transition to the Qing Dynasty and in the Americas with the rise of the Casta system.

  • The power of existing political and economic elites fluctuated as the elites confronted new challenges to their ability to affect the policies of the increasingly powerful monarchs and leaders.

  • Some notable gender and family restructuring occurred, including demographic changes in Africa that resulted from the trade in enslaved persons.

Empires achieved increased scope and influence around the world, shaping and being shaped by the diverse populations they incorporated.

Empires achieved increased scope and influence around the world, shaping and being shaped by the diverse populations they incorporated.

  • Rulers continued to use religious ideas, art, and monumental architecture to legitimize their rule.

  • Many states, such as the Mughal and Ottoman empires, adopted practices to accommodate the ethnic and religious diversity of their subjects or to utilize the economic, political, and military contributions of different ethnic or religious groups. In other cases, states suppressed diversity or limited certain groups’ roles in society, politics, or the economy.

  • Recruitment and use of bureaucratic elites, as well as the development of military professionals, became more common among rulers who wanted to maintain centralized control over their populations and resources.

  • Rulers used tribute collection, tax farming, and innovative tax-collection systems to generate revenue in order to forward state power and expansion. n

  • Imperial expansion relied on the increased use of gunpowder, cannons, and armed trade to establish large empires in both hemispheres.

    • Europeans established new trading posts in Africa and Asia, which proved profitable for the rulers and merchants involved in new global trade networks.

    • Some Asian states sought to limit the disruptive economic and cultural effects of European-dominated long-distance trade by adopting restrictive or isolationist trade policies.

    • The expansion of maritime trading networks fostered the growth of states in Africa, including the Asante and the Kingdom of the Kongo, whose participation in trading networks led to an increase in their influence.

    • Despite some disruption and restructuring due to the arrival of Portuguese, Spanish, and Dutch merchants, existing trade networks in the Indian Ocean continued to flourish and included intra-Asian trade and Asian merchants.

    • Land empires included the Manchu in Central and East Asia; the Mughal in South and Central Asia; Ottoman in Southern Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa; and the Safavids in the Middle East.

  • Political and religious disputes led to rivalries and conflict between states.

  • Economic disputes led to rivalries and conflict between states.

  • State expansion and centralization led to resistance from an array of social, political, and economic groups on a local level.

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CLIP #1: RISE of the OTTOMAN EMPIRE

CLIP #2: HOW THE OTTOMANS GOT THEIR NAME (It really derives from their original founder Osman. It was called the Osmanli Empire but Europeans changed it to Ottomans because they don’t talk good)

CLIP #3: FALL of CONSTANTINOPLE

CLIP #4: The Etymology of Istanbul

CLIP #4: The SAFAVIVDS ( also some Sunni vs. Shi’a… narrated by Sir Ben Kingsley)

CLIP #5: Early Mughal rulers

CLIP #6: The MUGHALS (from CRASH COURSE World History)

CLIP #7: Ming and Qing China (this goes further than you need, but just watch the first part)

CLIP #8: Manchu Conquest of the Ming

CLIP #9: Rise and Fall of the Inca empire

CLIP #10: THE SONGHAI EMPIRE


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1. SIEGE OF CONSTANTINOPLE, 1453, Niccolo Barbaro (VENICE)
2. POETRY COLLECTION, c. 1520, Shah Ismail I (SAFAVID EMPIRE)
3. BABURNAMA, c. 1530, Babur I (MUGHAL EMPIRE)
4. SEVEN GRIEVANCES, 1618, Nurhaci (JURCHEN/MANCHU TERRITORY)
5. LETTERS BETWEEN SULTAN SELIM I AND SHAH ISHMAIL, 1514, Shah Ismail & Sultan Selim I


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1. PIECE OF THE ACTUAL CHAIN DEFENDING CONSTANTINOPLE (OK. It’s not art… but it’s pretty awesome), 1453 (ISTANBUL)

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2. BLUE MOSQUE (Sultan Ahmed Mosque), 1616 (ISTANBUL)

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3. TAJ MAHAL, 1653 (AGRA, MUGHAL EMPIRE)

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4. Taking the Evening Cool by Ryōgoku Bridge (Woodblock Print), Okumura Masanobu, 1745 (EDO, TOKUGAWA SHOGUNATE)

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5. St. Basil’s Cathedral, 1561 (MOSCOW, RUSSIAN EMPIRE)

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1. A ton of big new land empires pop up in this period.
2. You need to know: Ottomans, Safavids, Mughals, Manchu Dynasty (Qing), Russian Empire.
3. Also, don’t forget about the Incas and Aztecs. They are destroyed early on, but they still count.
4. This section wants you to know about their expansions… so know their beginnings.
5. These are the big empires that will last for many units going forward. Don’t skip this section.