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The Worlds of the 15th Century
Major turning point in human history…
Human Communities
 Paleolithic:
 Australia, Siberia, parts of Africa and the Americas
 Australia and Northwest coast of North America
 Both – very different
 Agricultural Village Societies:
 North America, Africa (south of equator), South America, SE
 Avoided oppressive authority
 Herding Peoples
 Turkic warrior Timur (Timerlane) tried to restore the Mongol
Empire ca. 1400
 His army devastated Russia, Persia, and India
 Died in 1405 while preparing invasion of China
 His successors kept control of area b/t Persia and Afghanistan
for 100 years
 Timur’s conquest was the LAST great military success of
Central Asian nomads
1500s – China and Europe
 Ming Dynasty
Disrupted by Mongol rule and plague
Recovery 1368-1644
Confucian learning
Yongle = Encyclopedia (wisdom of past)
Reestablished civil service examination
Highly centralized government
Court eunuchs
Planted 1 billion trees
Yongle commissioned massive maritime fleet
Possibly the most prosperous civilizations of it time
 Europe
 Pop began to rise again in 1450
 State building BUT fragmented with many independent states
 The Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453)
 Renaissance – reclamation of classical Greece
 Began in Italy (1350-1500)
 Greater naturalism in art – daVinci, Raphael, Michelangelo
 “humanist” scholars to explore secular topics
 Europe cont…
 Maritime voyaging
 1415 – Portuguese voyages
 1492 – Columbus
 1497-1498 Vasco da Gama
 Small in comparison to Chinese voyages
 Europeans were seeking wealth, converts, and allies
 Used violence to carve out empires
 Chinese voyages ended – European ones increased
 Rivalry b/t states increased competition
 China had everything it needed/Europeans wanted more
 China’s food produced internally
Islamic World
 4 major states or empires
 Islamic Heartland: Ottoman and Safavid Empires
1. Ottoman Empire lasted from 14th to 20th century
Huge territory
Anatolia, eastern Europe, Middle East, North African coast
Sultans claimed the title “caliph” and the legacy of the Abbasids
Attempted to bring unity to Islamic world
Aggressive towards Christian lands = Constantinople in 1453, siege
of Vienna in 1529, Europeans feared Turkish expansion
 2. Safavid Empire emerged in Persia from a Sufi religious order
 Established after 1500 and imposed Shia Islam as official religion
 Sunni Ottoman Empire and Shia Safavid Empire fought periodically
between 1534-1639
 Islamic Heartland cont..
 3. The Songhay Empire – rose in West Africa
 Islam was limited to urban elites
 Sonni Ali followed Muslim practices but was also regarded as a
magician with much charm
 Major center of Islamic learning/trade
 4. Mughal Empire – India, created by a Turkic group that
invaded India in 1526
 Gained control over most of India
 Tried to create partnership between Hindus and Muslims
 Hindu kingdom of Vijayanagara continued to flourish in south
 The age of these 4 great Muslim empires is sometimes called
a “second flowering of Islam”
 Energy, prosperity, cultural brilliance
 Spread of Islam to SE Asia
 Malacca – major Muslim port city in fifteenth century
 Mulaccan Islam blended with Hindu/Buddhist traditions
The Americas - Aztecs
 Seminomadic people who migrated southward from N.
Mexico and est. themselves on an island in Lake Texcoco by
Capital = Tenochtitlan
Loosely structured
5-6 million people
Trade included slaves – sacrifice
 Andes mountains – 2500 miles long
 Emperor was absolute ruler
 80 provinces with an Inca governor
 Quipus recorded population data
 Quechua – language
 Cuzco – capital
 Everyone performed labor (mita)
 Both practiced “gender parallelism”
 Christendom = divided into RC and Eastern Orthodoxy
 Buddhism linked people in China, Korea, Tibet, Japan, and
parts of the Southeast Asia
 Islam brought people together through the annual hajj, yet
conflict still existed.
 Trade was almost everywhere
 Silk Road network was contracting
 Ocean trade pick up in the West Atlantic/Indian Ocean
Looking to the Modern Era 1500-2000
 Modern human society emerged first in Europe in the
nineteenth century and then throughout the world
Core feature – industrialization
Massive pop increase
Favor urban wealth over rural landowning elites
States become more powerful
The Modern Revolution was just as important as the A.R.
 Revealed new economic inequalities
Western Europe
 After 1500, Western Europe became the most innovative,
prosperous, powerful part of the world
Spread of European languages and Christian religion
throughout the world
Initiated the Scientific Revolution and the Industrial
Isms: liberalism, nationalism, feminism, socialism
Rest of the world was confronted by powerful, intrusive