THE END OF THE CLASSICAL ERA A REVIEW The three great classical civilizations, Rome, Han China, and Gupta India either collapsed or declined. All three suffered from invasions by nomads from Asia who took advantage of internal imperial weakness. Rome also endured invasions by Germanic tribes The western portion of the Roman Empire lost more of its earlier achievements than other civilizations. The general collapse forms a significant break in world history Many components of classical achievement survived the period of decline, and new forms appeared as civilizations altered to meet the changes. New periods in history are infrequent; they must be defined carefully At the close of the Classical Period the decline of empires and the rise of religions marks a new periodization. Three shifts, or changes, must occur to mark a new period in world history. #1 Some civilizations will divide in new ways, altering the world map: Cultural and political boundaries shifted in India and the Mediterranean world. #2 Different kinds of contacts must be established among civilization areas: Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam spread quickly. #3 New parallels must arise in the patterns displayed by major civilizations: The Islamic world replaced India as the most expansive civilization. The major world religions, Christianity, Buddhism, and Islam, rose or expanded as the great empires declined. UPHEAVALS IN EASTERN AND SOUTHERN ASIA The key transition in Asian civilizations came with the decline of the Han in China, the Gupta in India, and nomadic pressures. DECLINE AND FALL IN HAN CHINA The Han Dynasty appeared to recover vitality during the 2nd century C.E. However, poor rulers and popular unrest fueled by landlord exploitation culminated in revolution. Daoist leaders, the Yellow Turbans, began a period of disorder ending with the fall of the Han in 220 C.E. China split into three unstable kingdoms The landowning class operated beyond government control. There were no firm dynasties for 350 years The instability turned interest toward the spiritual calm and order of Buddhism Brought from India by merchants and missionaries, Buddhism overcame Daoist attacks and spread throughout China by the 5th century. In the process, Chinese cultural values, including the subordination of women, were incorporated into Buddhism The growing influence of Buddhism influenced Daoists… They formalized their religion Adopted beliefs about achieving immortality through good works Political revival occurred at the end of the 6th century when the Sui Dynasty reunited China. They collapsed in 618 and were replaced by the Tang During these troubled years old values survived and China retained greater homogeneity than other civilizations. DECLINE IN INDIA Chandragupta II brought the Gupta Dynasty to the high point of its rule in the early 5th century. Under his successors the decentralized Gupta could not repel Hun invasions By 500 the Huns controlled northwestern India The Gupta collapsed in 550 Despite the attempts of Gupta descendants to rebuild the dynasty, India divided into regional dynasties ruled by princes called rajput Buddhism declined in favor of Hinduism Worship of the mother goddess Devi spread widely. The caste system strengthened, assimilating invaders, and extending through southern India The economy flourished, with new trade links opening southern India and southeast Asia. An important threat to Indian cultural continuity came from the 7th century expansion of Islam as Muslim invaders entered northwest India and won converts. By the 8th century, Arab traders gained control of Indian commerce. THE DECLINE OF ROME The decline of Rome was much more disruptive than the fall of the Gupta and Han For many reasons, the Roman Empire was in decline from the late 2nd century C.E. REASONS A shrinking population hindered army recruiting Emperors had less ability Disputes over succession led to continual army intervention Tax revenues fell during hard economic times. REASONS (continued) Pervasive despondency meant a loss of meaning in life Expansion ended in 180, thus closing a source of slave labor The economic system lost vitality Environmental deterioration diminished grain imports Plague was recurring REASONS (continued) Germanic soldiers had to be hired to protect the frontiers… from Germanic tribes! In the midst of these problems Rome’s upper classes turned from political service to pleasure seeking lives Cultural activity, except for works by Christian writers, decayed. As cultural authority declined, farmers seeking protection, clustered around large landlords Political decentralization was most pronounced in the western empire Political power passed to landlords and the economy contracted. Tax revenues declined, cities fell in size and trade declined Some emperors tried to restore central authority. Diocletian (r 284305) improved administration and tax collecting, and increased controls on the economy. Constantine (r 312337) established a second capital at Constantinople and accepted Christianity. The measures did not restore vitality to the empire as a whole The eastern half flourished, the western half did not Economic regulation curbed initiative and lowered production. Many overburdened peasants welcomed the changes brought by the Germanic invasions The last Roman emperor was removed in 476. RESULTS OF THE FALL OF ROME Rome’s collapse ended Mediterranean unity Three Zones emerged, each would later produce distinct civilizations. ZONE 1 The northeastern part of the Roman Empire did not fall The vibrant, artistically creative and commercially active Byzantine Empire incorporated Hellenistic and Roman patterns. ZONE 2 North Africa and the shores of the southeastern Mediterranean suffered serious disruption Temporary regional kingdoms emerged Although Christianity spread, differing interpretations split its unity Eventually, North Africa would fall to Islam. ZONE 3 In the 3rd zone, the western and northern portions of the empire, the level of civilization declined Regional Germanic kingdoms appeared The only vital force was Christianity, but it was not able to prevent the decline of civilization DEVELOPMENT AND SPREAD OF WORLD RELIGIONS Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam became the only religions spreading far beyond a single region Hinduism and Daoism, remained regional religions, but gained new followers CHRISTIANITY AND BUDDHISM COMPARED SIMILARITIES Both religions stressed otherworldliness; the possibility of an afterlife Both produced important monastic movements Chinese Buddhism, called Mahayana, emphasized Buddha as a savior god similar to Christ. SIMILARITIES (continued) Each religion accepted the role for holy men – among Buddhists called bodhisattvas – aiding believers in gaining holiness. DIFFERENCES Christianity, the heir to Mediterranean religions and Roman traditions, emphasized: Church organization Gave more value to missionary activity Claimed possession of exclusive truth Christianity began as a Jewish reform movement only gradually turning to missionary activity. DIFFERENCES (continued) Christianity believed that there was a single god who loved humanity A virtuous life would be devoted to his worship Under Paul, Christianity became a separate religion open to all. Despite competition from Eastern mystery religions and government persecution, Christianity won over 10% of the Roman Empires population. There were doctrinal controversies during the time of Constantine. The Council of Nicea in 325, demonstrated the importance of unified doctrine to Christianity It ruled in favor of the Nicene Creed This interpretation holds that one Christian god had three personas This belief was called transubstantiation Shortly afterwards, Pope Leo I clearly established the papacy as the supreme religious authority in western Europe. Christianity continued to appeal to all classes, especially the poor and women. Christianity promoted a new culture different from that of the classical world by its beliefs in spiritual quality and otherworldly emphasis. The state was accepted but made secondary to religion Greater emphasis was awarded to disciplined work Classical values retained were: Philosophical themes Architectural styles Latin language in the west Greek language in the east Monastic libraries preserved classical literature The world religions, a new force in world history, provoked beliefs that transcended political entities. CONCLUSION By 600, the major civilizations had altered in permanent ways China maintained political cohesion; along with India it preserved much cultural cohesion as well. In contrast, the Roman Empire disintegrated and successor civilizations did not restore geographical unity or a unified classical culture. Nomadic invaders toppled empires and spread new ideas and techniques Missionaries brought Buddhism, Christianity, and, as you will see, Islam into new regions.