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East Asia during the GLOBAL TAPESTRY period of 1200-1450 is dominated by the Mongol Invasions. Depending on what you consider “CHINA”, the Mongols arrive in 1205 (against the Western Xia). Normally, East Asia is the story of China and how much influence they exert in the region. However, for the GLOBAL TAPESTRY period, it’s the story of the Fall and Rise of China along with how the other areas like Korea, Japan, and Vietnam handled these invasions.


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  • Improved commercial practices led to an increased volume of trade and expanded the geographical range of existing trade routes—including the Silk Roads, Trans-Saharan trade network, and Indian Ocean—promoting the growth of powerful new trading cities

  • The growth of inter-regional trade in luxury goods was encouraged by innovations in previously existing transportation and commercial technologies, including the Caravanserai, forms of credit, and the development of money economies as well as the use of the compass, the astrolabe and larger ship designs.

  • The economy of Song China flourished as a result of increased productive capacity, expanding trade networks, and innovations in agriculture and manufacturing.

  • The expansion of empires—including the Mongols—facilitated Afro-Eurasian trade and communication as new people were drawn into their conquerors’ economies and trade networks.

  • In key places along important trade routes, merchants set up diasporic communities where they introduced their own cultural traditions into the indigenous cultures and, in turn, indigenous cultures influenced merchant cultures.

  • As exchange networks intensified, an increasing number of travelers within Afro–Eurasia wrote about their travels.

  • Increased cross-cultural interactions resulted in the diffusion of literary, artistic, and cultural traditions, as well as scientific and technological innovation.

    • Chinese cultural traditions continued, and they influenced neighboring regions.

    • Buddhism and its core beliefs continued to shape societies in Asia and included a variety of branches, schools, and practices.

    • There was continued diffusion of crops and pathogens, with epidemic diseases, including the bubonic plague, along trade routes.


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  • Empires and states in Afro-Eurasia and the Americas demonstrated continuity, innovation, and diversity in the 13th century. This included the Song Dynasty of China, which utilized traditional methods of Confucianism and an imperial bureaucracy to maintain and justify its rule.

  • Empires collapsed in different regions of the world and in some areas were replaced by new imperial states, including the Mongol khanates.

  • In the Americas and in Africa, as in Eurasia, state systems demonstrated continuity, innovation, and diversity, and expanded in scope and reach.

  • Inter-regional contacts and conflicts between states and empires, including the Mongols, encouraged significant technological and cultural transfers, including during Chinese maritime activity led by Ming Admiral Zheng He.


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  • Demand for luxury goods increased in Afro–Eurasia. Chinese, Persian, and Indian artisans and merchants expanded their production of textiles and porcelains for export; manufacture of iron and steel expanded in China.

  • The fate of cities varied greatly, with periods of significant decline and periods of increased urbanization buoyed by rising productivity and expanding trade networks.

  • The economy of Song China became increasingly commercialized while continuing to depend on free peasant and artisanal labor.


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CLIP #1: HOW TO MEMORIZE THE CHINESE DYNASTIES

CLIP #2: THE SONG DYNASTY (960-1279)

CLIP #3: GUNPOWDER

CLIP #4: THE THREE TEACHINGS of CHINA (TAOISM, CONFUCIANISM, & BUDDHISM)

CLIP #5: VOYAGES of ADMIRAL ZHENGHE (from Crash Course World History #21)

CLIP #6: MEDIEVAL CHINESE SCIENCE (from CRASH COURSE HISTORY OF SCIENCE MEDIEVAL CHINA #8)

CLIP #7: MARCO POLO (from BIOGRAPHY)

CLIP #8: HISTORY of the COMPASS

CLIP #9: SILK ROAD (from CRASH COURSE WORLD HISTORY #9)

CLIP #10: THE MONGOLS (from CRASH COURSE WORLD HISTORY #17)

CLIP #11: THE GREAT WALL (from NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC)

CLIP #12: THE SHOGUNATE SYSTEM (only watch for a few minutes as this goes well past our 1200-1450 time constraints)


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  1. SECRET HISTORY OF THE MONGOLS, c. 1230, Anon (MONGOLIA)

  2. TRAVELS OF MARCO POLO, c. 1300, Marco Polo (VENICE)

  3. HAIJIN EDICTS, c. 1371, Hongwu Emperor (MING CHINA)

  4. JIKJI, c. 1372, Baegun (GORYEO)

  5. GALLE TRILINGUAL INSCRIPTION, c. 1409, Zhenghe (SRI LANKA)


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1. JAMI’ al-TAWARIKH (Mongols fighting Jin China), Ilkhanate (c. 1211 CE)

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2. WATER-MOON AVALOKITESVARA, GORYEO (c. 1350)

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3. THE DEATH OF BUDDHA, Kamakura Japan (c. 1350)

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4. THE MING GREAT WALL, Ming China (c. 1420)

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5. THE FORBIDDEN CITY, Beijing (1420 CE)


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  1. The “Global Tapestry” picks up East Asia in transition. China is divided in 3 (Xia, Jin, & Song). Japan has just united under the Kamakura Shogunate. Korea is arguably the most stable in this period being ruled by the Goryeo.

  2. Everyone in East Asia (like the rest of Afro-Eurasia) is dealing with the Mongol invasions and rule of the Mongol Khanates.

  3. Japan just began, and will continue to be ruled by different Shogunates until the middle of the 1800s.

  4. Trade is of the utmost important to the region as it is the source of the Silk Road and Zhenghe’s voyages (which are over by 1450 as China turns to isolation).

  5. East Asia is fully dominated by the Three Beliefs (CONFUCIANISM, BUDDHISM, TAOISM) (add Shinto if you’re in Japan). A mixture of these beliefs will remain the main belief in the region going forward.