Monday, November 29, 2010

The Gunpowder Revolution

Monday's lecture will be on the "Gunpowder Revolution," which will take us from the walls of Constantinople to the arms factories and banking houses of Bruxelles by way of the muddy fields of Agincourt.

And speaking of Agincourt, we'll take a detour into the making of national military mythologies.

With that in mind, reconsider Agincourt in the context of this recent article from the New York Times.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Tightening up our calendar for the last two weeks:


Because our final exam is not cumulative, and only "test 4," I think it works best for the majority of you to have it on the last day of class. I will entertain excuses for why you cannot take the test on Friday 12/10, but it will have to be DOCUMENTED and an actual excusable absence. Extracurricular plays and musicals are not excusable, for instance.

Week 15
M 11/29: Read Chap. 11 WTWA to p. 499 Q21 (and Q20 from Monday before Thanksgiving Break)
W 12/1: Read Chap. 11 WTWA to end Q22 + extra Q on "Gunpowder Revolution"
F 12/3: Read “Sugar” in Trading Tastes Q23

Week 16
M 12/6: Wrapping up loose ends lecture:
W 12/8: Review Day
F 12/10: Test 4 (Final Exam)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Spice Trade

The spice trade in the Islamic Era

For the sake of argument, could you answer the following?:

Detail the argument behind the assertion that the spice trade led to the formation of governments in Southeast Asia.

Detail the fundamental differences between the Islamic er of the spice trade and the new paradigm introduced by the Portuguese and Dutch.

Explain how the social position of merchants in Hindu, Confucian, Muslim, and European Christian broader outcomes in the seas of Asia.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Test 3 Questions

Here are your questions for Test 3. You will notice that there are fewer of them, but that they are more complex. As a consequence, I am going to make a change to the test. You will get only six questions on your test, and you will have to answer four. I will be expecting longer, more complex answers, but you will have fewer questions to focus upon.

1.) From the rise of Rome in the Punic Wars and wars with the Greeks to its “fall” and reconsolidation under Constantine, slavery played a large role in the affairs of the state. Describe briefly how Rome came to be a slave society, how slavery functioned as an important part of Rome’s identity, and how the system contributed to Rome’s downfall.

2.) What is the historical basis of the phrase “Phyrric victory?” Why did Rome let its opponents win Phyrric victories, and how did Rome’s warrior ethos enable it to engage in this sort of strategy?

3.) What was the fundamental issue at stake amongst the Jews that led to internal strife within Roman-occupied Judea, and that led ultimately to the Zealots occupying the mountaintop fortress at Masada? What did the defenders of Masada do when faced with defeat at the hands of the Roman Legion? Why does every modern Israeli soldier make a pilgrimage to the Masada?

4.) What sort of entertainments were common in Rome’s Flavian Amphitheater and how were they a reflection of Roman values? How did this contrast with the fundamental philosophy of entertainment in Han China?

5.) What were the “Discourses on Salt and Iron” and how were they a reflection of the debate between the governing philosophies of Legalism and Confucianism?

6.) Compare and contrast fully the methods of acquiring salt in West Africa and China and the role that which salt production and trading played in shaping these two very different societies.

7.) When the Han Dynasty took over from the Qin Dynasty, it represented a significant change in the governing philosophy of China. Explain the main differences ushered in by the Han and describe why the Han believed in the inevitability of their rule. 

8.) What empowered the rise of the Vikings? How did their conquests, both by land and sea, lead to new trading routes and avenues for the spread of culture? How did their failed conquest of Byzantium ironically lead to the preservation of Orthodox Christianity?

9.) What forces led to the collapse of the Han Dynasty? What new ideas did the “era of self-doubt” enable to flourish in China? How prolonged was this period of chaos in China?

10.) What earlier dynasty did the Tang try to emulate? Broadly considered, how successful were they in doing this? How did Confucianism help the Tang rule over such a large empire? What challenges did the Tang ultimately face that brought about its downfall?

11.) Describe fully the civil service system of Tang China, including its intellectual basis and the effect it had both on the governing of China, but also in transforming the culture of its people.

12.) What immediate changes did the Abbasids make in the Islamic empire after they had overthrown the Umayyads? How did further changes made by the Abbasids make encourage the territorial expansion and intellectual growth of Islam?

13.) Describe the transformation in the roles of women in Arabia from pre-Islamic times, through the time of Muhammed,  through the rise of the Islamic Sharia law.

14.) How did Constantine come to “convert” to Christianity? What did Constantine hope to accomplish by promoting the religion within the empire, and why was he disappointed when he took a closer look at the state of Christianity at the time of his rise to power? What did Constantine do to make Christianity more useful to Rome, and how successful was he in this?

15.) Describe as fully as possible the conditions that enabled Christianity to spread from the time of Jesus and Saint Paul through the rise of Constantine.

16.) Describe the ways in which the “fall” of the Rome was not really a “fall” but more of a transitional period between the rule of Diocletian and the emergence of early Medieval Europe. What were the key elements of this transition?

17.) What sorts of things did the Emperor Justinian do in his attempt to restore the former glory of the Roman Empire? Which of these efforts were successful? To what degree did Justinian fail?

18.) Describe fully the transition from the Vedic religions of Central Asia into what became known by outsiders as the Hindu religion. Be sure to identify the key elements that distinguish the two, including relationship to caste, deities, and ways of life.