The Post Classical Era

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					                              The Post Classical Era
                                 Chapters 13-16


With the split of the Roman Empire in 395 A.D. the eastern half flourished as the
Byzantine Empire, even as the western fell in 476.

Constantinople became a major trading center between the Black and Mediterranean
Seas, the crossroads of Europe and Asia. Also served as a preserver of Christianity in
eastern Europe and Middle East.
        It became a cultural center. Under the Emperor Justinian from 527 to 565 the
city boomed. His goals were to glorify the city, collect and save all Roman laws, and to
retake old Roman lands to the west.

Hagia Sophia was built, becoming the largest Christian church in existence. The city
practiced the Justinian Code, which kept old Roman legal principals alive.
        Religious art, the icon, began and spread throughout Europe. Byzantium also was
led by a patriarch, who was the religious leader. During this time arguments over the
use of icons in the church, sacrament of communion, and God as a trinity, created a split
between Constantinople and Rome. Followers in the east became known as Eastern
Orthodox, and Roman Catholic in the west.
        The secular empire was more centralized in the east except for religions. BIG
comparison: The East was a secular empire with an official church religion attached. The
West would become a religious empire with subservient political units.

In the 800s the Slavic people began to increase interaction with Byzantium. This lead to
large conversions of people to Orthodox Christianity. The kingdom of Russia (Kiev)
renounced Paganism when Prince Vladimir converted. Russia’s culture was patterned
after Byzantine instead of Rome, separating them from most of Europe.

Byzantium began to merge with Persian culture. They spoke Greek and learned, then
monopolized the silk trade. After Justinian the Byzantine Empire began to lose land,
mostly to the advance of Islam. It remained a regional power past 1000 A.D.

The Rise and Spread of Islam

Arabian peninsula was homeland for nomadic tribes: Bedouins
       Mecca was the economic center and religious

Born in Mecca in 570 A.D. Muhammad was a trader in Arabia who dealt with many
Christian and Jews. Claimed the angel Gabriel spoke to him. He returned to Mecca as a
prophet but was run out for his beliefs.
        Fleeing to Medina, he gained a religious following
               Est. community-umma
               The first year of Muslim calendar- hijrah
Marched into Mecca where he converted the city to his new faith.

Islam means to submit.-Muslim
Many parallels with Christian and Jewish principals. Believe Abraham’s son, Ishmael, to
be their direct ancestor. Recognize many of the same prophets. Created Five Pillars of
    - faith-declare to the one god of Allah
    - prayer- 5 times a day towards Mecca
    - fasting- Ramadan
    - alms to the poor-zakat
    - pilgrimage to Mecca-hajj

Teachings are in Quran

Islam linked the Muslims together. The umma (Muslim community) linked the political
and social community. By Mohammad’s death in 632 Most of Arabia had converted to

        The umma’s successor was the caliph Abu Bakar
After the reign of the first three caliphs, dispute began over new leader, Mohammad’s
son-in-law Ali.
On Ali’s death split occurred
        Shia-only member of the family of Muhammad, “Party of Ali.”
        Sunni-chose by umma. Most (80%)Muslims

Early Expansion

By Muhammad’s death most of Arabia
By the end of the 700s Muslims had conquered Persia (651), most of the Middle East,
north Africa, and central Asia.
       Later in entered NW India and Iberian peninsula.

Early conquerors were more concerned for power than religion. Later Dar Al-rule by
Islam, dominant

Eventually the Muslims were stopped by the Franks under Charles Martel.

Umayyad Caliphate
  - est. capital in Damascus, Syria
  - converts had inferior status
  - respect for “People of the Book”
  - ruling families lived in luxury-led to riots
  - 750 AD riot overthrew them, led by Abbasid
Abbasids Caliphate
  - 750 to 1258 capital in Baghdad.
  - During this time arts and sciences flourished: steel weapons, massive medical
  - Algebra, improved geometry and trigonometry
  - Astrolabe invented
  - Most detailed maps ever
  - The Qur’an helped promote some equality and eventually led to the abandonment
     of infanticide.
  - Indian numbers were labeled “Arabic”
  - New architecture-minarets
  - Institutions created in Baghdad, Cairo, and Córdoba
  - Preserved Greco-Roman culture
  - Literature-The Arabian Nights
  - Designs called arabesques
  - Sufis-mystics wanting emotional union with Allah began missionary work to
     spread Islam

        Abbasid rule began to decline for several reasons: overextension, disruption of
societies by nomadic groups, religious feuds and wars between the Sunnis and Shiites,
high taxes

Al-Andalus-flowering of Islamic culture in Spain. Much cultural diffusion.

Persian group called the “sultan” took over Bagdad, then it fell to outsiders called Seljuk
Turks-Mongol invasion later dominated and executed Abbasid caliph

Islam and Asia

Muslims conquered northern India, set up gov’t in Delhi, the Delhi Sultanate
  - never very popular
  - some Buddhists and lower caste members converted

Trade brought Islam to SE Asia. Most popular in Malaysia, Indonesia, and southern

Islam and Africa
As Islam entered northern Africa it began to develop in the Sub-Saharan. Some
kingdoms remained Christian such as Nubian, Ethiopia, and the Coptics in Egypt.
However, many converted to Islam. In north Africa it was conquest (jihad), in most
cases it was a peaceful process brought over by Arabs engaged in trade, including

Commercial activity brought Islam down the coast of east Africa and led to many Swahili
city-states becoming Muslim centers.
Some societies resisted Islam as did women because their structure offered women more
freedom than Islam.
        Controlling the Niger River Basin, Mali established itself as the economic power
in north Africa. Because of Muslim leadership it prospered with good relations with
Arab states to the north.
        Primary resources included gold, salt, skins, iron, and slaves. Chief outpost was
Timbuktu, which also became the center of religious study under the monarch Mansa
Musa. In this area oral tradition was an important method of artistic culture.

The fusion of Islam with African societies brought it into closer contact with the
Mediterranean world. However other agrarian kingdoms were forming in Africa, such as
Great Zimbabwe, Benin, and Yoruba city-states.
        Many sub-Saharan tribes emerged from the Bantu-speaking people from the Niger
Basin. Many groups shifted from hunting and gathering to agriculture. Measure of
wealth was based on cattle. This determined land ownership and political authority.
        Nubia emerged as a powerful kingdom partially due to its large deposits of iron
ore and timber. Ghana also prospered due to gold. Changing demographics and trade
patterns led to their downfall.

Mamluk-Islamic dynasties in Egypt, very strict observance of Islam. Allowed Egypt to
prosper until the arrival of the Ottomans

Islamic Culture
The Abbasid caliphate ruled over the golden age of Islamic culture, which was far
superior to medieval Europe at the time of the 700s thru the 1200s. The only cultural and
academic rivals at that time were India and China.
       Arabic, as the holy language, became the principal language for the Islamic
community just as Latin would for Christians.
       Could not enslave other Muslims, children born to slaves were free.

Women in Islamic Societies:
         Use of veil after contact middle eastern (Persian), harem-men could have 4 wives
if treated equally, very little rights and were considered property themselves, roles were
to tend the family.
         Still had more privileges than many others at same time, equal before Allah,
female infanticide was forbidden, women could own property before and after marriage,
sometimes could divorce,
         Overtime became more secluded from public (esp. urban elite)

Indian Ocean Trade-controlled by monsoons, 6 mos. Each, Calicut to Gujarati to
Indonesia and Malaysia,

Trans-Sahara Trade-West Africa (Mali, Ghana, Songhai), gold/salt/slaves, “middle man
trade”, Islam to upper class and merchants,
Overview: Between 200-1000 AD many classical civilizations had fallen or were on the
decline. The “Golden Ages” left a legacy for new states to rise up and left a cultural
legacy. The classical period represented a high level of advancement and increased
connection among different cultures as global interaction was emerging (except
        Growing trade made merchant class larger and more important. Important trade
routes were: Great Silk Road, Med, Indian Ocean network, and caravan routes in Africa.

Chinese Reunification

China was reunified after the fall of the Han in 589 under the Sui Dynasty. (589-
618)This dynasty was seen as harsh and did not last long before peasant revolt replaced it
with the Tang.

The Tang (618-907) made China larger than ever before. They expanded China all the
way to the southeastern coastline, Korea, Vietnam, and Tibet. All of these regions were
forced to pay tribute to China.
        Very strong economy and increased sea trade stimulated growth. Great Silk Road
remained an important trade route to the Middle East.

Buddhism began to gain acceptance in China. Endorsed by later Tang rulers-esp.
Emperor Wu. Grew so much rulers began to fear it and then started to restrict its growth.

Promoted Confucian teachings, scholar-gentry, and civil service exams.
Tang Accomplishments:
   - silk roads protected
   - junks dominated Indian Ocean trade
   - paper money
   - gunpowder
   - poetry was popular
   - tea imported from Vietnam

Peasant revolts and military defeats on the frontier led to decay around 906 and China
split into many different states and empires.

Song (Sung) Empire began in east central China.

Song Dynasty was impressive economically. Its population growth led to some of the
largest cities in the world. Increased trade in the Pacific areas.

Saw a revival of Confucius’s teachings, Neo-Confucianism. This led to obedience and a
premium on education, scholar gentry. Blended with Buddhist values. Reinforced gender
and class distinctions.
Also saw a new form of Buddhism emerge called Chan or Zen, which simplified worship
stressing meditation. Strong revival of Confucianism led to an anti-Buddhist backlash.
Thousands of monasteries were destroyed and Buddhist lands were taken and
         This resurgence of religion led to greater subordination of women. Marriages
were arranged to benefit the groom. Women of the upper class had more restriction than
those in the lower. Women did have inheritance and property rights.
Other Song accomplishments:
    - landscape paintings
    - catapults with bombs and grenades
    - moveable type
    - Skilled mathematicians developed the first accurate clocks and working compass.
    - Abacus for taxes
    - Footbinding for upper class

Spread of Chinese Civilization

Many of China’s neighbors were heavily influenced by them. Buddhism served as a key
force in transmitting Chinese civilization.

Japan--In Japan the Taika Dynasty worked at creating an administration based on
Chinese culture.

Buddhism mixed with Shinto

Emperor abandoned Taika reform and restored the power of aristocratic families.
Aristocratic rank was determined at birth with little chance of social mobility. Local
lords began to run own tiny kingdoms.

Buddhist monks and aristocrats brought down the power of the emperor and placed it
with local lords. These warrior leaders (bushi) governed and taxed for themselves. They
created individual armies of samurai. Serfs became bound to land and treated as lord’s


After major civil war in 1180s the Minamoto family emerged as the leading military
gov’t and established Japanese feudalism.

Late twelfth century peasants fought again samurai-Gempei Wars. Uprising crushed.
Minamoto family becomes dominant, creates bakufu-military gov’t.

Emperor becomes figurehead, not a power. Japanese begin to distance themselves from
Chinese Confucian ways.
Culture at the Heian court flourished with strict behavioral codes. Poetry was a valued
form of art. First novel written was Tale of the Genji.

Buddhism and Shintoism were reflected in Japanese art: tea ceremonies (Kyoto-Shinto),
decorative gardens.

Over time Chinese influence declined and Buddhism developed into a distinct Japanese
religion as it merged with Shintoism. By 838 Japan had cut its ties with China.
   After many power struggles between bushi lords Japan became divided into 300 states
ruled by warlords (daimyo) who were served by military leaders (shoguns), with the
emperor losing almost all power.

Peasants were forced into the armies of the daimyo. Despite large suffering due to war
there were advances in farming and public works. A new and wealthy merchant class
emerged. Women had almost no rights.

Feudalism Comparison: developed in Japan and western Europe during postclassical
age. No centralized gov’t. Used elite militaristic values. Based on honor and oaths that
held it together. Probably fueled their later tendencies towards industrial development,
imperialism, and rise of right-wing militarist regimes.

Silk Road Trade-Beijing to Iran to India to Damascus, porcelain/silk, later jade/pearls,
oranges(India), gunpowder, tulips, Disease(Black Death China to Italy)-smallpox,
Spanish Influenza,

Korea was heavily influenced by China with Buddhism being the main medium for
transfer. In 668 Korea became a vassal state under the Silla gov’t to the Tang and
through tribute, maintained its independence until the 1900s.
    Aristocrats controlled manufacturing and commerce forcing the “low born” into
virtual slavery. This caused periodic revolts. This led to the eventual downfall of the
Silla and the rise of the Yi dynasty in 1392. Continued tribute to China and lasted until

Confucian works were read by Korean scholars, involved in Chinese trade, lead to
celadon bowl, imitated kowtow (ritual bow to Chinese emperor)

To the south the Viets retained more of their own cultural identity. Spoke own language.

 During the Han times they did give tribute to China and incorporated Chinese
     Their AG was most productive in SE Asia as a rice growing region. Adopted
Chinese political (civil service exams) and military system. Used Chinese irrigation

Viet women had more rights than Chinese. Preferred living in rural villages than large
urban centers

    Han conquered them in 111 BC. When China declined in 939 the Viets gained their
independence. Even though the Le dynasty began, more power rested in the hands of
village leaders. Buddhist monks also held strong links with the common people.

Differences in culture began as people in the south merged with others (Cambodia). The
ruling dynasty had their capitol in the north at Hanoi. A rival dynasty grew in the south
and they established their capitol at Hue. These two dynasties fought for control over the
next 200 years.

Sinicization or Sinification-absorbing of culture, mostly China (Vietnam-least/Korea-

Conclusion: China influenced the formation of 3 main satellite states: Japan, Korea, and
Vietnam. Each developed wet rice cultivation. Common forms of culture were: writing,
bureaucratic organization, religion, and art. Of the three, only Japan escaped direct
Chinese rule, and Korea was the most dependent due to close proximity.
     Their preoccupation left them with limited awareness of other major civilizations.


Other issues to explore:
How did each affect shifts in trade, technology, and cultural exchange
        Trans-Sahara Trade
        Indian Ocean Trade
        Silk Road Trade
        Turquoise Road

What led some from nomadic migrations to urban growth?
What were some opportunities available and constraints placed on elite women in this
Was there a world economic network during this period?

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