histroy discussion

Grandeur at Center Innovation on Periphery

Questions for Discussion:

1) Why did not Chinese and Muslim cultures see a “scientific revolution” in this era on the scale as we see in Europe?

2) How did the competitive European state system compel each ruler to innovate and transform their societies?

3) Why did Japan achieve great economic and entrepreneurial dynamism in spite of (or because) of its isolation?

Grandeur at Center Innovation on Periphery

Muslim Empires Apogee and Anxiety

Note Genius and Resilience of Islam in assimilating and harnessing the energies of the peoples of the Eurasian Steppes

The Ottoman Empire 1301-1922

Rise of the Ottoman Turks

Expansion of Empire, how did this empire make use of many types of technologies and military strategies?

What were their main innovations in warfare?

What was the nature of Turkish rule?

What role did religion and art play in this vast empire?

Why did it go into decline?

Safavids of Iran 1501-1722

How did this empire build on the imperial tradition of this ancient land?

How did Islam develop a distinctive culture in this region between The Ottoman and Mughal Empires?

Grandeur and Wisdom of the Mughals 1526-1757

Multicultural Origins common for dynasties in India

Akbar and Indo-Muslim Civilization—compare and contrast with Europe in the Age of Reformations in Religion

Mughal Empire in Crisis

Western Penetration

Why was the capture of Port Hoogly important?

China: From Ming to Qing Dynasty 1600-1800

Why did both these dynasties view the greatest threat to China as coming from the the Asian Steppes rather than from the Pacific Ocean?

After the 1644 conquest of China by the Manchu’s (from Manchuria) this largest economy in the world saw dramatic population increase and sustained periods of population growth and political stability. By 1800 the population had doubled (from 150 to 300 million) in part due to the use of corn, potatoes, and other New World Crops. (Note too that a large percentage of gold and silver from the mines of the Americas also wound up in China because Europe wanted to the silk, tea, and porcelain of this “central kingdom”).

Japan as economic and educational dynamo

During these same centuries as Confucian bureaucrats ensured a steady increase in food production to grapple with a growing population, off the coast Japan underwent agricultural rationalization and innovation, commercial expansion, urban growth and the emergence of mass literacy.

While largely focusing on its own concerns this island , by 1800, was about to assume in Asia the role that Britain was playing at the other end of Eurasia: as entrepreneurs.

France emergence as Dominant Europe Power at end of Thirty Year’s War

Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand not only united Spain and sent Columbus to the West but also married their children off to the Courts of Europe.

The most consequential marriage was to the Hapsburg family who ruled the Holy Roman Empire. The transience of life of this age is attested by the fact that one of the grandchildren Charles V would inherit both the throne of Spain and the title of Holy Roman Emperor.

These events occur at the same time as Martin Luther is starting the Reformation. There was no “Germany” at this time just a collection of states that spoke German across Central Europe. The Holy Roman Empire had never been a centralized state that imposed uniform government over either the economy or religion.

Germany princes, especially in the north, fear that Charles V would try to centralize his domains by using the Spanish army (then the best in Europe). This is one reason why Luther found protection among German princes.

The potential of a Catholic-Protestant war loomed large across Europe but did not erupt until 1618 in central Europe.

The Thirty Years War (1618-1648) saw roughly one third of the population of central Europe wiped out.

Not only did such carnage and devastation cause many among the European elite to doubt the wisdom of putting religion at the center of government policy, we also see important cracks emerge in Catholic Europe.

In particular France under Cardinal Richelieu feared that Hapsburg ruling not only in Spain but also in a united set of German states might try to crush his nation.

That is why Richelieu would side with the Protestants against the Hapsburgs. Especially was the French victory over the Spanish army at the Battle of Rocroi (19 May 1643). From this date the French army would be the most powerful upon the European continent until the Battle of Sedan in 1870.

By 1661 a young Louis XIV assumed power both as King and Prime Minister. He would rule until his death in 1715. Though a fervent Catholic The Sun King would promote science and industry in his kingdom and do all that he could to expand his domain. HIs last great conflict was The War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1713) when he tried to unite the thrones of France and Spain and thus gain Spain’s Latin American empire.

What is key for our purposes is that Louis XIV had the most sophisticated bureaucracy of his era and use the scientific method wherever possible to improve his military or the birth rate of his kingdom (then the large population in Europe–including Russia).

Under Louis XIV the modern state under went a major development becoming more secular and rational and dedicated to expanding the resources of both is population and its domains.

In Europe, Louis XIV of France (ruled 1661-1715) dominated the military, cultural, and artistic life of the continent. Yes, his decision to keep his nobility wealthy but out of government was just the reverse of that English solution. (In essence the French aristocracy accepted no representation in The Sun King’s government because they were largely tax exempt).

Nevertheless, as patrons of the arts and sciences Louis XIV made France, with a larger population than even Russia, the most powerful force on the continent.

Seemingly sober and subdued England, however with its Glorious Revolution (1688-89) and the creation of the Bank of England (1693) would find an unsurpassed means by which to tap into the growing wealth of its empire (issuing government bonds overseen by the various group that issued them) to expand it global empire.

But for the moment The Sun King reigned supreme. Note that the Qing Dynasty had two illustrious emperors (whom Louis XIV would have been jealous)

Kangxi (1654-1722)

Qianlong (1736-1796)

No revolution would sweep them away. But the 19th century would bring stagnation to China as compared to a reenergized France after the Age of Napoleon.


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