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• Ashoka, also spelled Aśoka was the last significant emperor in the Mauryan dynasty of the Indian subcontinent
• His vigorous patronage of Buddhism (269 B.C.E. - 232 B.C.E) furthered the expansion of Buddhism
• Following his successful but bloody conquest of the Kalinga, Ashoka renounced armed conquest and adopted a policy that he called "conquest by dharma" (i.e., by principles of right life)
• In order to gain wide publicity for his teachings and his work, Ashoka made them known by means of oral announcements and by engravings on rocks and pillars at suitable sites
• These inscriptions - known as the rock edicts or the Pillars of Ashoka - contain statements regarding his thoughts and actions and provide information on his life and acts
• The sufferings inflicted on the defeated people at the Battle of Kalinga moved Ashoka to such remorse that he renounced armed conquests
• It was at this time that he came in contact with Buddhism and adopted it
• Ashoka repeatedly declared that he understood dharma to be the energetic practice of the sociomoral virtues of honesty, truthfulness, compassion, mercifulness, benevolence, nonviolence, considerate behavior toward all, "little sin and many good deeds," nonextravagance, nonacquisitiveness, and noninjury to animals
• Toward all religious sects he adopted a policy of respect and guaranteed them full freedom to live according to their own principles
• Moreover, he encouraged religious toleration
• Among his works of public utility were the founding of hospitals for men and animals and the supplying of medicines, and the planting of roadside trees and groves, digging of wells, and construction of watering sheds and rest houses
• Orders were also issued for preventing cruelty to animals
• With the death of Ashoka, the Mauryan Empire disintegrated and his work was discontinued
• Most enduring were Ashoka's services to Buddhism
• He built a number of stupas (commemorative Buddhist burial mounds) and monasteries and erected pillars on which he ordered inscribed his understanding of religious doctrines
• The Sinhalese chronicle Mahavamsa says that when the order decided to send preaching missions abroad, Ashoka helped them enthusiastically and sent his own son and daughter as missionaries to Sri Lanka
• It is as a result of Ashoka's patronage that Buddhism, which until then was a small sect confined to particular localities, spread throughout India and subsequently beyond the frontiers of the country
• To give up his worldly routine in order to embrace Christ's example as fully as possible was the life of the monk
• In the Middle Ages in Western Europe, growing numbers of men and women became monks and nuns
• This way of life, called monasticism, imposed rigors and privations but offered spiritual purpose and a better hope of salvation
• Monks and nuns performed many practical services in the Middle Ages, for they housed travelers, nursed the sick, and assisted the poor; abbots and abbesses dispensed advice to secular ruler
• But monasticism also offered society a spiritual outlet and ideal with important consequences for medieval culture as a whole
• Monasteries encouraged literacy, promoted learning, and preserved the classics of ancient literature, including the works of Cicero, Virgil, Ovid, and Aristotle
• The need for books and buildings made religious houses active patrons of the arts, and the monastic obligation to perform manual work allowed many monks and nuns to serve God as creative artists
• Every monastic community consisted of men or women vowed to celibacy and bound by a set of regulations
• In a monastic setting, the very exercise of producing a book became a means of meditation on scripture, and the embellishment of the text often highlights this fact
• Only Oxford and Cambridge Universities could surpass some monasteries as centers of learning
• All monks had to read and write as these were fundamental skills for the role they had within the monastery
• An empire arose in the steppes of Mongolia in the thirteenth century that forever changed the map of the world, opened intercontinental trade, and impacted history
• At its height, the Mongol Empire was the largest contiguous empire in history, stretching from the Pacific coast to the Black Sea
• Chinggis [Genghis] Khan unified the Mongols and then proceeded to conquer a vast empire
• The Mongols were skilled warriors on horseback and engaged in psychological warfare to frighten their enemies to surrender ["Surrender and be spared. Resist and perish."]
• Chinggis Khan and his successors conquered China, Russia, and Persia
• The Mongols, however, never conquered Japan although they twice tried
• The Mongols were primarily interested in the collection of tribute from their conquered subjects
• In China, the Mongols established the Yuan Dynasty under Khubilai [Kublai] Khan
• In China, the Mongols never adopted the examination system although claimed the Mandate of Heaven and moved the capital to Beijing, closer to their homeland in the steppes of Central Asia
• In Russia, the Mongols destroyed the city of Kiev as the princes resisted but elevated the city of Moscow as Moscow became the primary tribute collector for the empire
• In Persia, the Mongols converted to Islam
• The Mongols were religiously tolerant
• The Mongols secured the Silk Roads and therefore reduced risk from bandits and reduced the number of tolls
• Thus, trade flourished on the Silk Roads during the Pax Mongolica
• Gunpowder technology travelled on the Silk Roads as did Chinese goods
• The Mongols strengthened trade routes
• The Mongols increased cultural diffusion between Asia and Europe
• The bubonic plague travelled on the Silk Roads
• The Mongol Empire greatly impacted history
• Located inside the compound of the Grand Mosque at Mecca, the Kaaba or Ka'ba (literally, "cube") is a cube-shaped structure known as the House of God
• It contains the sacred Black Stone, a meteorite that Muslims believe was placed by Abraham and Ismail in a corner of the Kaaba, a symbol of God's covenant with Abraham and Ismail and by extension with the Muslim community itself
• The Kaaba is draped with a woven black cloth embellished with Quranic verses embroidered in gold
• The Kaaba is considered the first house of worship of the one God, originally built by Adam and replicating the heavenly House of God, which contains the divine throne that is circumambulated by the angels
• This heavenly ritual is reenacted during the hajj by pilgrims, who circumambulate the Kaaba seven times
• This symbolizes their entry into the divine presence
• Muslims believe that Adam's Kaaba was destroyed by the neglect of believers and the flood, and according to the Quran (2:127) Abraham and his son Ismail rebuilt the holy house
• However, by the time of Muhammad the Kaaba was under the control of the Quraysh of Mecca, who used it as a shrine for the tribal gods and idols of Arabia
• The Quraysh held an annual pilgrimage to the Kaaba and a fair that attracted pilgrims from all over Arabia
• Muslim tradition tells us that one of the first things Muhammad did when he returned from exile and triumphantly entered Mecca was to cleanse the Kaaba of its 360 idols and restore the "religion of Abraham," the worship of the one true God
• The Middle Ages lasted a thousand years
• From 476 to 1500 C.E.
• Yet the entire period was not the same
• The early Medieval period was known for invasions and warfare
• It was a very dangerous time
• Yet the High Middle Ages was more stable and as such, trade and urbanization [movement to cities] increased
• By 1100 the decline of culture following the 9th century invasions had begun to be reversed
• The economic system based on manorialism and the political system based on feudalism was producing a small surplus
• There was a revival of trade, fairs were held, and town life was returning
• The importance of the rise of towns cannot be overemphasized
• In addition to the clergy, nobility, and serfs, a new social class of townsmen, burghers, or bourgeois - a new Middle Class of craftsmen, artisans, traders, and merchants - was making its appearance
• The culture of the High Middle Ages is in many ways a town based culture
• Gothic Cathedrals and universities were located in cities
• And even though religion remained the most important institution of society, new ideas were being nurtured
• Within towns, the Guild System developed
• Craftsmen were organized into masters, journeymen, and apprentices
• The guild [a medieval association of craftsmen or merchants] prescribed both quality and price of products
• Communal government in tows was based on these guilds
• New ideas of republican government made their reappearance
• "Town air makes free."
• This principle allowed runaway serfs to become free townspeople if they could live a year and a day on their own
• In 549 BCE, the Persians, led by Cyrus the Great of the Achaemenid family, overthrew the Median court of Western Iran
• Cyrus thus founded the first Persian Empire
• The Achaemenid kings are known to have been very pious Zoroastrians, trying to rule justly and in accordance with the Zoroastrian law of asha (truth and righteousness)
• The Avesta is the holy book of Zoroastrianism
• Zoroastrians believe there is one God called Ahura Mazda (Wise Lord) and He created the world
• They believe that the world is a cosmic battleground between good and evil and that people are free to choose to follow good or evil
• However, those who follow good will be rewarded with Heaven and evildoers will be punished in Hell
• Cyrus the Great was relatively tolerant
• While he himself ruled according to Zoroastrian beliefs, he made no attempt to impose Zoroastrianism on the people of his subject territories
• The Jews most famously benefited from this; Cyrus permitted them to return to Jerusalem from exile in Babylon, and rebuild their temple
• Darius the Great, another significant emperor, was also famously pious and showed the same general tolerance for other faiths as his predecessor Cyrus
• Under Darius the empire was stabilized, with roads for communication and a system of governors (satraps) established
• Darius initiated two major building projects: the construction of royal buildings at Susa and the creation of the new dynastic center of Persepolis
• A culturally diverse empire
• However, in 498 B.C.E., the eastern Greek Ionian cities, supported in part by Athens, revolted
• It took the Persians four years to crush the rebellion, although an attack against mainland Greece was repulsed at Marathon in 490 B.C.E.
• The Royal Road was a road of a distance of more than 1,500 miles
• The Royal Road connected the empire
• Royal messengers, who, according to the Greek historian Herodotus, were stopped by "neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night," traversed the entire road in nine days, thanks to a system of relays
• At the height of the Roman Empire, a quarter of the world's population lived under Roman law
• This made the empire one of the most culturally diverse societies ever seen
• Initially regarded as inferior, foreign citizens were eventually admitted to the highest ranks of Roman society
• Under Emperor Trajan, the Roman Empire reached its peak
• It stretched from the Middle East to northern Britain and from Egypt to Germany
• Under the "Pax Romana", meaning "the peace of Rome", inhabitants of conquered lands were not automatically considered Roman citizens
• But they were subject to Roman laws and paid Roman taxes
• Some of these paid for public utilities, like roads and waterworks - being part of the empire did have some advantages
• While local inhabitants behaved themselves and paid their taxes, they were allowed to continue with their local customs and religions, as long as these did not directly violate or compromise Roman law
• To help Rome govern its provinces, it often appointed "client kings"
• These would decide on local or religious matters that did not require Roman input
• This arrangement did not always work
• For instance, the head of the Iceni tribe in Britain was a client king, but after his death, his wife, Boudicca, led a rebellion that almost defeated the Romans in Britain
• The trial of Jesus shows how the use of client kings worked. Jesus was first brought before Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judaea, on charges of treason - a crime against Roman law
• After hearing the evidence, Pilate found no proof of treason
• He considered the case to be a religious dispute and passed it on to Herod, a client king
• Herod could rule on accusations of blasphemy against the Jewish religion
• However, the death sentence could only be used under Roman law, so Herod passed this back to Pilate, who ordered Jesus' crucifixion
• A major change in the Pax Romana came under the rule of the Emperor Claudius
• For a long time, the Senate had resisted new blood among its membership, especially foreign blood
• Claudius was much more prepared to allow conquered peoples to become Roman citizens than his predecessors had been
• In 48 C.E., he took this a step further, arguing that men from Gaul (now modern France) should be admitted to the Senate, claiming it was the smart and right thing to do
• He was opposed by the Senators
• One claimed that Claudius "was determined to see all Greeks, Gauls, Spaniards and Britons wearing the toga"
• In the end, Claudius won
• It was an important move towards integrating the many countries of the empire and one that would ultimately see Trajan, a foreign born general, take the throne
• As the first Roman emperor (though he never claimed the title for himself), Augustus led Rome's transformation from republic to empire during the tumultuous years following the assassination of his great-uncle and adoptive father Julius Caesar
• He shrewdly combined military might, institution-building and lawmaking to become Rome's sole ruler, laying the foundations of the 200-year Pax Romana (Roman Peace) and an empire that lasted, in various forms, for nearly 1,500 years
• Beginning in 26 B.C.E., the Roman Senate conferred on him the name Augustus, the august or exalted one
• His birth name was Octavius and when Julius Caesar adopted him, he was called Octavian but history knows him as Augustus Caesar
• Historians date the start of Octavian's monarchy to either 31 B.C.E. (the victory at Actium) or 27 B.C.E., when he was granted the name Augustus
• In that four-year span, Octavian secured his rule on multiple fronts
• Cleopatra's seized treasure allowed him to pay his soldiers, securing their loyalty
• To mollify Rome's Senate and ruling classes, he passed laws harkening back—at least on the surface—to the traditions of the Roman Republic
• And to win over the people, he worked to improve and beautify the city of Rome
• During his 40-years reign, Augustus nearly doubled the size of the empire, adding territories in Europe and Asia Minor and securing alliances that gave him effective rule from Britain to India
• He expanded the Roman network of roads, founded the Praetorian Guard and the Roman postal service and remade Rome with both grand (a new forum) and practical gestures (police and fire departments)
• Augustus Caesar died in 14 C.E., his empire secured and at peace
• His reported last words were twofold: to his subjects he said, "I found Rome of clay; I leave it to you of marble," but to the friends who had stayed with him in his rise to power he added, "Have I played the part well? Then applaud me as I exit."
• Soon after that acknowledgement of human frailty, the Roman Senate officially declared their departed emperor, like Julius Caesar before him, to be a god
• His reign started a period of 200 years of peace in the Roman Empire - Pax Romana
• Genetic evidence supports a theory that ancestors of Native Americans lived for 15,000 years on the Bering Land Bridge between Asia and North America until the last ice age ended
• For nearly a century now, most scholars have agreed that the ancestors of Native Americans likely hailed from Siberia, trekking across the Bering Strait to Alaska via a long-gone land bridge
• But certain aspects of the historic migration - including the settlers' specific region of origin, when exactly they left it and what drove them to seek new lands - remain matters of debate to this day
• A new DNA-based study published in the American Journal of Human Genetics offers new insight into these questions
• Russia's mountainous Altai Republic borders China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan
• Inhabited since the Paleolithic, the region is barely larger than Maine but served as a vital gateway to Siberia and the cradle of widespread human lineages found across northern Eurasia
• "It's a place where people have been coming and going for thousands and thousands of years," said study co-author Theodore Schurr, an anthropology professor at the University of Pennsylvania
• According to one prevailing theory, it is also the area where ancestral Native Americans lived before peopling the New World
• The results revealed genetic ties linking Native Americans to all Altaians, with a significantly stronger relationship connecting the migrants to residents of southern Altai
• This timeline for ancestral Native Americans' departure adds to a growing body of evidence that humans colonized the Americas earlier than previously thought
• In the past, archaeological evidence seemed to indicate that people arrived roughly 13,000 years ago, bringing the so-called Clovis culture - known for its signature spear points and associated with various sites in North America - with them
• Recent discoveries together with genetic research have made the case for an earlier wave of immigrants, Schurr said
• No matter when the first trip across the Arctic land bridge occurred, the reasons for the mass exodus are shrouded in mystery - and the submersion 10,000 years ago of Beringia and the archaeological sites it contained further complicates the issue
• One theory holds that overcrowding pushed Native Americans' ancestors to seek out new territory
• While Siberia emerged as the leading contender for Native Americans' ancestral home many decades ago, alternative hypotheses offer starkly different models
• According to one, Southeast Asians traveling by boat reached North America some 20,000 years ago.
• Another suggests that Europeans traversed ice sheets covering the North Atlantic during the last glacial maximum
• Confucius was a thinker, political figure, and educator
• His teachings, preserved in the Lunyu or Analects, form the foundation of much of subsequent Chinese speculation on the education and comportment of the ideal man, how such an individual should live his life and interact with others, and the forms of society and government in which he should participate
• Fung Yu-lan, one of the great 20th century authorities on the history of Chinese thought, compares Confucius' influence in Chinese history with that of Socrates in the West
• A hallmark of Confucius' thought is his emphasis on education and study
• He disparages those who have faith in natural understanding or intuition and argues that the only real understanding of a subject comes from long and careful study
• Study, for Confucius, means finding a good teacher and imitating his words and deeds
• A good teacher is someone older who is familiar with the ways of the past and the practices of the ancients
• "He who learns but does not think is lost. He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger" (Lunyu 2.15)
• Confucius taught his students morality, proper speech, government, and the refined arts
• Confucius' goal is to create gentlemen who carry themselves with grace, speak correctly, and demonstrate integrity in all things
• His strong dislike of the sycophantic "petty men," whose clever talk and pretentious manner win them an audience, is reflected in numerous Lunyu passages
• Confucius finds himself in an age in which values are out of joint; actions and behavior no longer correspond to the labels originally attached to them: "Rulers do not rule and subjects do not serve," he observes. (Lunyu 12.11; cf. also 13.3)
• Moral education is important to Confucius because it is the means by which one can rectify this situation and restore meaning to language and values to society
• It is true that the Mongols, in their conquest of both North and South China, did considerable damage to these territories, and that great loss of life certainly ensued
• The population of North China did decline somewhat, though earlier estimates that there was a catastrophic decline in population have subsequently been revised
• It is also true that the Mongols eliminated one of the most basic of Chinese institutions - the civil service examinations
• The examinations remained banned until 1315, and even after the ban was lifted, they were no longer the only means to officialdom for the Yuan Dynasty, the dynasty that the Mongols founded in 1271 C.E., as they had been in the past
• The Mongols perceived China as just one section of their vast empire
• And they classified the population of their domain in China into a hierarchy of four groups - with the native Chinese at the bottom
• The Mongols, of course, were at the top; then came the non-Han, mostly Islamic population that was brought to China by the Mongols to help them rule; third were the northern Chinese; and at the very bottom of the rung were the southern Chinese
• The Mongol rulers were somewhat distrustful of the Confucian scholar-officials of China because they represented a different path for China than that which they themselves had conceived. These scholars, and other native Chinese, thus were not eligible for some of the top positions in the ruling government
• Notwithstanding the aspects of their rule that were certainly negative for China, the Mongols did initiate many policies - especially under the rule of Khubilai Khan - that supported and helped the Chinese economy, as well as social and political life in China
• Khubilai Khan also founded ancestral temples for his predecessors - his father and Chinggis (Genghis) Khan (his grandfather) - in order to carry out the practices of ancestor worship that were so critical for the Chinese
• And in an even greater effort to ingratiate himself personally to the Chinese, Khubilai insisted on giving his second son, Jin Chin, a Chinese-style education. Confucian scholars tutored the young boy, and he was introduced to the tenets of both Confucianism and Buddhism
• Khubilai also set up institutions to rule China that were very familiar to the Chinese, adapting or borrowing wholesale many of the traditional governmental institutions of China
• The Chinese, therefore, found much of the Yuan Dynasty's political structures to be familiar
• Traditionally, merchants were accorded a relatively low social status in China
• The Mongols, however, had a more favorable attitude toward merchants and commerce - their nomadic way of life, which is much reliant on trade with sedentary peoples, had caused them to recognize the importance of trade from the very earliest times
• Thus, the Mongols worked to improve the social status of merchants and traders throughout their domains
• The Yuan dynasty was the Mongol dynasty of China
• Khubilai's economic policies in China promoted the interests of China
• The Aztecs, who probably originated as a nomadic tribe in northern Mexico, arrived in Mesoamerica around the beginning of the 13th century
• From their magnificent capital city, Tenochtitlán, the Aztecs emerged as the dominant force in central Mexico, developing an intricate social, political, religious and commercial organization that brought many of the region's city-states under their control by the 15th century
• Invaders led by the Spanish conquistador, Hernán Cortés, overthrew the Aztecs by force and captured Tenochtitlán in 1521, bringing an end to Mesoamerica's last great native civilization
• Many factors weakened Aztec resistance to the Spaniards
• New diseases from Europe - like smallpox - devastated the Aztecs and made it difficult for Aztec soldiers to fight
• The superior weaponry of the Spaniards harmed the Aztecs
• Military assistance from other Native American Indians who helped the Spaniards because they hated the Aztec conquerors also played a role
• In addition, the Aztecs initially believed Cortés was one of their gods gave the Spaniards an opportunity to enter the capital city without resistance
• In November 1519, Cortes and his men arrived in Tenochtitlán, where Montezuma and his people greeted them as honored guests according to Aztec custom (partially due to Cortés' physical resemblance to the light-skinned Quetzalcoatl, whose return was prophesied in Aztec legend).
• Though the Aztecs had superior numbers, their weapons were inferior, and Cortés was able to immediately take Montezuma and his entourage of lords hostage, gaining control of Tenochtitlán
• The Spaniards then murdered thousands of Aztec nobles during a ritual dance ceremony, and Montezuma died under uncertain circumstances while in custody
• Cuauhtémoc, his young nephew, took over as emperor, and the Aztecs drove the Spaniards from the city
• With the help of the Aztecs' native rivals, Cortés mounted an offensive against Tenochtitlán, finally defeating Cuauhtémoc's resistance on August 13, 1521
• In all, some 240,000 people were believed to have died in the city's conquest, which effectively ended the Aztec civilization
• After his victory, Cortés razed Tenochtitlán and built Mexico City on its ruins; it quickly became the premier European center in the "New World"
• Ibn Battuta was the great Muslim traveler who travelled 75,000 miles throughout Dar al-Islam
• Ibn Battuta started on his travels when he was 20 years old in 1325
• His main reason to travel was to go on a Hajj or a Pilgrimage to Mecca, as all good Muslims want to do
• But his traveling went on for about 29 years and he covered about 75,000 miles visiting the equivalent of 44 modern countries which were then mostly under the governments of Muslim leaders of the World of Islam, or "Dar al-Islam"
• During the life of Ibn Battuta, Islamic civilization stretched from the Atlantic coast of West Africa across northern Africa, the Middle East, and India to Southeast Asia
• This constituted the Dar al-Islam or "Abode of Islam"
• In addition, there were important communities of Muslims in cities and towns beyond the frontiers of Dar al-Islam
• People in the whole "umma," or community of people believing in one god and his sacred law ("shari'a"), shared doctrinal beliefs, religious rituals, moral values, and everyday manners
• In the early 1300s this community was expanding dramatically
• Ibn Battuta was born in Tangier, part of modern-day Morocco, on February 25, 1304
• The men in Ibn Battuta's family were legal scholars and he was raised with a focus on education; however, there was no "madrasa," or college of higher learning, in Tangier
• Thus, Ibn Battuta's urge to travel was spurred by interest in finding the best teachers and the best libraries, which were then in Alexandria, Cairo, and Damascus
• He also wanted to make the pilgrimage to Mecca, called the "hajj," as soon as possible, out of eagerness and devotion to his faith
• Ibn Battuta led a complete life while traveling
• He studied and prayed; he practiced his legal profession; he had astonishing outdoor adventures; he married at least 10 times and left children growing up all over Afro-Eurasia
• Ibn Battuta traveled to Sub-Saharan Africa and in particular, the kingdom of Mali; he traveled to Mecca and Persia and India and even China
• Even after a series of failures in the Maldive Islands and in India - having lost everything he owned to pirates and shipwrecks - Ibn Battuta resolved to go to China on his own
• Muslim travelers, such as Ibn Battuta, knew that they could find Muslim hospitality in the major sea ports
• The Prophet Muhammad had even encouraged travel and learning in China in a saying: "Seek knowledge, even as far as China."
• So traveling to China, like elsewhere Ibn Battuta had traveled, would not be difficult
• He could depend on the charity of fellow-Muslims in Malaysian ports on his way to China, as he had in every other part of the world he traveled
• After a book was written about Ibn Battuta's life, Ibn Battuta worked as a judge in Morocco
• Since he was not yet 50 when he stopped traveling, he is thought to have married again and to have had more children
• He died in 1368 or 1369; the place of his death is not known, nor the location of his grave
• Ibn Battuta was one of the world's greatest travelers
• As the Americas lacked domesticated animals, the arrival of the Europeans and their germs devastated the indigenous populations of the Americans
• Historians refer to this tragic loss of life as the "Great Dying"
• Indeed, the largest decline in global population due to disease occurred in the Americas as a result of the new diseases introduced into the Americas by the European conquerors and colonizers
• One of the most striking aspect of the period from 1400 to 1800 was the enormous extension of networks of communication and exchange that linked individuals and societies more and more tightly
• Every region of the world became intricately connected to every other region, a development that is called the Great Global Convergence
• As a result of the Columbian Exchange (the global cultural diffusion of plants, animals, and microorganisms between Afro-Eurasia and the Americas), great changes occurred
• The ecological and demographic consequences of the Great Global Convergence were huge, especially the "Great Dying" of much of the indigenous population of the Americas
• Europeans benefited from this disaster by peopling the Western Hemisphere with new immigrants, both free European settlers and Africans slaves
• Europeans also gained access to important new sources of food and fiber
• These crops included maize (corn), tobacco, and the potato, crops that were indigenous to the Americas and sugar and cotton which came from Afro-Eurasia but thrived in American soil
• As a result of the "Great Dying," the demographic composition of the Americas changed greatly as the Native American Indian population declined and the European population and African slave population increased
• 1492 was a year that greatly changed world history
• The Janissaries were Christian boys taken from conquered territories and raised as Special Forces
• The Janissaries were highly skilled soldiers in the Ottoman Empire
• The Janissary - also spelled Janizary or in Turkish, Yeniçeri - was a member of an elite corps in the standing army of the Ottoman Empire from the late 14th century to 1826
• Highly respected for their military prowess in the 15th and 16th centuries, the Janissaries became a powerful political force within the Ottoman state
• The Janissary corps was originally staffed by Christian youths from the Balkan provinces who were converted to Islām on being drafted into the Ottoman service
• The Janissary were part of the Devshirme System or the gathering or collecting of Christian boys in the Ottoman Empire
• Subject to strict rules, including celibacy, they were organized into three unequal divisions (cemaat, bölükhalkı, segban) and commanded by an ağā
• In the late 16th century the celibacy rule and other restrictions were relaxed, and by the early 18th century the original method of recruitment was abandoned
• The Janissaries frequently engineered palace coups in the 17th and 18th centuries, and in the early 19th century they resisted the adoption of European reforms by the army
• Their end came in June 1826 in the so-called Auspicious Incident
• On learning of the formation of new, westernized troops, the Janissaries revolted
• Sultan Mahmud II declared war on the rebels and, on their refusal to surrender, had cannon fire directed on their barracks
• Most of the Janissaries were killed, and those who were taken prisoner were executed
• Christians were brutally persecuted and driven into secrecy
• Before the Tokugawa shoguns came to power, in 1543 the Portuguese traders reach Japan (were actually shipwrecked there) and were soon followed by the Jesuit missionary order (established in 1540) in the person of St. Francis Xavier who arrives in Japan in 1549
• The Jesuits worked among the daimyo of the samurai class and were initially well received by leading daimyo
• However, the reunification of Japan under the Tokugawa Shogunate in 1600 brought with it an emphasis on the reestablishment of order following a century of civil war and turmoil
• Aware of the political and religious domination of the Philippines since the Spanish colonized the country in 1565, the Japanese political leaders were suspicious of the Dominican and Franciscan missionaries that arrived in Japan from the Philippines and worked among the non-samurai classes
• The Japanese daimyo moved to curtail missionary activity beginning in the 1590s
• In 1606, the new Shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu, proscribed Christianity (just at a time the Jesuits were being received at the imperial court in China), and by 1614 a concerted effort to end all Christian practice was underway
• There were an estimated 300,000 Christians in Japan at this time.)
• Apprehensive about the spread of Christianity, Ieyasu expelled all Portuguese and Spanish missionaries, among them Joao Rodrigues, and persecuted Japanese Christians thereby greatly reducing the Christian presence from Japan
• Christianity was viewed as a divisive and foreign threat that could lead to civil war or dissension in Japan
• The Hanseatic League dominated trade in the Baltic region
• The Hanseatic League, also called Hansa, German Hanse, was an organization founded by north German towns and German merchant communities abroad to protect their mutual trading interests
• The league dominated commercial activity in northern Europe from the 13th to the 15th century
• Hanse was a medieval German word for "guild," or "association," derived from a Gothic word for "troop," or "company"
• Northern German mastery of trade in the Baltic Sea was achieved with striking speed and completeness in the late 12th and early 13th centuries
• While overseas, the German merchants had tended increasingly to form associations ("hanses") with each other in order to secure common action against robbers and pirates
• From the mid-13th century this cooperation became much more extensive and regularized, and by 1265 all the north German towns having the "law of Lübeck" had agreed on common legislation for the defense of merchants and their goods
• The Hanseatic League attempted to protect its ship convoys and caravans by quelling pirates and brigands, and it fostered safe navigation by building lighthouses and training pilots
• Most importantly, it sought to organize and control trade throughout northern Europe by winning commercial privileges and monopolies and by establishing trading bases oversea
• The Hanseatic League's aggressively protectionist trading practices often aroused opposition from foreign merchants
• The league typically used gifts and loans to foreign political leaders to protect its commercial privileges, and when this proved inadequate, it threatened to withdraw its trade and occasionally became involved in embargoes and blockades
• The league died slowly as England contested with the Netherlands for dominance in northern European commerce and Sweden emerged as the chief commercial power in the Baltic Sea region
• The Hanseatic League's diet met for the last time in 1669
• The Mali Empire was the second of three West African empires to emerge in the vast savanna grasslands located between the Sahara Desert to the north and the coastal rain forest in the south
• The Mali Empire was strategically located between the West African gold mines and the agriculturally rich Niger River floodplain
• Mali's rise begins when the political leaders of Ghana could not reestablish that empire's former glory following its conquest and occupation by the Almoravids in 1076
• Consequently a number of small states vied to control the salt and gold trade that accounted for Ghana's wealth and power
• In 1235 Sundiata Keita, the leader of one of these states, Kangaba, defeated its principal rival, the neighboring kingdom of Susu, and began consolidating power in the region
• Sundiata's conquest in 1235 is considered the founding of the Malian Empire
• Under Sundiata's successors Mali extended its control west to the Atlantic, south into the rain forest region, including the Wangara gold fields, and east beyond the great bend of the Niger River
• The emperor or mansa ruled
• Trade was centered in three major cities, Timbuktu, Djenne and Gao
• Between 1324 and 1325 Mansa Musa, the most famous of the Malian Emperors, made an elaborate pilgrimage to Mecca in Arabia, bringing thousands of followers and hundreds of camels carrying gold
• Through the highly publicized pilgrimage and indirectly through an elaborate trade that sent gold to the capitals of Europe and Asia, Mali and its ruler became famous throughout the known world
• Mali's power, however, was eventually weakened by palace intrigue that prevented an orderly succession of imperial power and by the desire of smaller states to break free of its rule to reap the benefits of the salt and gold trade
• A guild is an association of crafts workers - like bakers or carpenters
• The guild sets the standards for the work and goods produced and also controls who can enter the guild - first as an apprentice then as a journeyman and finally as a master craftsman
• The medieval guilds were generally one of two types: merchant guilds or craft guilds
• Merchant guilds were associations of all or most of the merchants in a particular town or city; these men might be local or long-distance traders, wholesale or retail sellers, and might deal in various categories of goods
• Craft guilds, on the other hand, were occupational associations that usually comprised all the artisans and craftsmen in a particular branch of industry or commerce. There were, for instance, guilds of weavers, dyers, and fullers in the wool trade and of masons and architects in the building trade; and there were guilds of painters, metalsmiths, blacksmiths, bakers, butchers, leatherworkers, soapmakers, and so on
• Guilds performed a variety of important functions in the local economy
• They established a monopoly of trade in their locality or within a particular branch of industry or commerce; they set and maintained standards for the quality of goods and the integrity of trading practices in that industry; they worked to maintain stable prices for their goods and commodities; and they sought to control town or city governments in order to further the interests of the guild members and achieve their economic objectives
• Yes, organizations of merchants and craftspeople in European cities were called guilds
• The Phoenicians were a seafaring people from present-day Lebanon
• The Phoenicians established cities throughout the Mediterranean and were traders in the region
• But the most important legacy (handed down from the past) of the Phoenicians their development of an alphabetic writing system that was adapted by the Greeks
• In an alphabetic writing system, each letter represents a sound and thus fewer symbols are needed for writing than when every word has its own character - yes, to this day, when children are taught to read in English (the alphabetic writing system adopted from the Greeks who adopted it from the Phoenicians), they are taught the sounds of the letters - this method for teaching reading is called phonics after the Phoenicians
• Their major cities were Tyre, Sidon, Byblos, and Arwad - all were fiercely independent, rival cities and, unlike the neighboring inland states, the Phoenicians represented a confederation of maritime traders rather than a defined country
• The most significant Phoenician contribution was an alphabetic writing system
• The Phoenician alphabetic writing system became the root of the Western alphabets when the Greeks adopted it
• The main natural resources of the Phoenician cities in the eastern Mediterranean were the prized cedars of Lebanon and murex shells used to make the purple dye
• The name Phoenician, used to describe these people in the first millennium B.C.E., is a Greek invention, from the word phoinix, possibly signifying the color purple-red and perhaps an allusion to their production of a highly prized purple dye
Chinggis Khan or Genghis Khan
• Between 1206 and his death in 1227, the Mongol leader Genghis Khan conquered nearly 12 million square miles of territory - more than any individual in history
• Chinggis Khan was proclaimed leader of the Mongols at a tribal meeting known as a "kurultai" - while "Khan" is a traditional title meaning "leader" or "ruler," historians are still unsure of the origins of "Genghis" - it may have may have meant "ocean" or "just," but in context it is usually translated as "supreme ruler" or "universal ruler"
• Genghis Khan often gave other kingdoms a chance to peacefully submit to Mongol rule, but he didn't hesitate to bring down the sword on any society that resisted
• The Mongols were skilled warriors on horseback - their cavalry was unrivaled
• The Great Khan had a keen eye for talent, and he usually promoted his officers on skill and experience rather than class, ancestry or even past allegiances
• One famous example of this belief in meritocracy came during a 1201 battle against the rival Taijut tribe, when Genghis was nearly killed after his horse was shot out from under him with an arrow - when he later addressed the Taijut prisoners and demanded to know who was responsible, one soldier bravely stood up and admitted to being the shooter - stirred by the archer's boldness, Genghis made him an officer in his army and later nicknamed him "Jebe," or "arrow," in honor of their first meeting on the battlefield - along with the famed general Subutai, Jebe would go on to become one of the Mongols' greatest field commanders during their conquests in Asia and Europe
• Unlike many empire builders, Genghis Khan embraced the diversity of his newly conquered territories - he passed laws declaring religious freedom for all and even granted tax exemptions to places of worship - this tolerance had a political side - the Khan knew that happy subjects were less likely to rebel - but the Mongols also had an exceptionally liberal attitude towards religion
• Along with the bow and the horse, the Mongols most potent weapon may have been their vast communication network - one of his earliest decrees as Khan involved the formation of a mounted courier service known as the "Yam" - it consisted of a well-organized series of post houses and way stations strung out across the whole of the Empire - by stopping to rest or take on a fresh mount every few miles, official riders could often travel as far as 200 miles a day - the system allowed goods and information to travel with unprecedented speed, but it also acted as the eyes and ears of the Khan - the Yam also helped protect foreign dignitaries and merchants during their travels
• Sikhism is a religion that developed in northern India - a region where Hindus and Muslims lived
• The Sikh faith began in the 15th century when Guru Nanak began teaching a faith that was quite distinct from Hinduism and Islam yet influenced by both religions
• Like Hindus, Sikhs have the beliefs of karma and reincarnation
• Like Muslims, Sikhs are monotheists
• One morning, when he was twenty-eight years old, Nanak went down to the river to bathe and meditate - it was said that he was gone for three days and when he reappeared, it was believed that he was filled with the spirit of God
• It was then that Guru Nanak began his missionary work and the religion of Sikhism was born
• Sikhism is a monotheistic religion, and the basic Sikh belief is represented in the phrase Ik Onkar meaning "One God"
• Sikhism was founded in the Punjab region in India in the 15th century by Guru Nanak Dev
• Sikhism broke from Hinduism due, in part, to its rejection of the caste system
• The primary source of Scripture for Sikhs is the Guru Granth Sahib, regarded as the living Guru, after the final Guru in human form, Guru Gobind Singh, passed away
• A Sikh place of worship is known as the gurdwara - the word gurdwara means "doorway to God"
• The Five Ks are the articles of faith that Sikhs wear as ordered by the tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh
• The Five Ks are Kesh or unshorn long hair, a kangha or a small wooden comb meant to keep the hair combed twice a day, a kara or an iron bangle to be worn on the hand used most, a kachera is a specific undergarment for modesty, and a kirpan or short dagger
• Sikhs believe in defending the right of all peoples to religious freedom
• The Mongols conquered the largest contiguous empire in world history due to being highly skilled warriors on horseback and highly disciplined soldiers
• The Mongols used psychological warfare to frighten their enemies into submission
• Yes, the Mongols were successful at conquest because they adopted advanced technology quickly, they organized their armies efficiently, and they were talented cavalrymen or warriors on horseback
• Chinggis Khan's organized units of soldiers were based on the principle of ten
• He organized his people into units of ten, a hundred, a thousand, and ten thousand, and the head of a unit of ten thousand would have a strong personal relationship with Chinggis himself
• That kind of loyalty was to be extremely important in Chinggis's rise to power and in his ability to maintain authority over all the various segments of his domain
• Chinggis's military tactics showcased his superiority in warfare
• One particularly effective tactic Chinggis liked to use was the feigned withdrawal: Deep in the throes of a battle his troops would withdraw, pretending to have been defeated
• As the enemy forces pursued the troops that seemed to be fleeing, they would quickly realize that they'd fallen into a trap, as whole detachments of men in armor or cavalries would suddenly appear and overwhelm them
• Another key tactic was the use of the horse in warfare
• The Mongols were superior warriors and conquered a vast empire stretching from the Pacific Ocean to the Black Sea