13 lucky questions:
1.) What is the concept of “the cockpit of Europe,” and how did it allow the West to emerge as a much more powerful part of the globe both militarily and economically? Be sure to consider the gunpowder revolution in all of its manifestations.
2.) There were a lot of reasons why slavery was important to the development of the sugar trade, and why sugar was important to the development of the Atlantic slave trade. Describe this relationship on both the “macro” (big picture) and “micro” (detailed) level.
3.) What measures did Emperor Hongwu put in place to ensure the stability of the Ming Empire? How did the fleet of Zheng He reflect a deviation from this policy? What ultimately happened to this fleet?
4.) Describe how the Mongol invasions toppled the old Abbasid empire and led to the emergence of three distinct empires representing significant divisions in the Islamic faith.
5.) How do most people “know what they know” about the legendary English victory at the Battle of Agincourt, and what do they presume to be keys of victory? How did this misconception ultimately hurt the military fortunes of England?
6.) With respect to its ability to conquer, the Mongol Army should remind us of the exploits of Alexander the Great (except that the Mongols conquered even more ground.) Yet the Mongols did not leave behind an enduring culture like Alexander. Describe the conquering style and characteristics of the Mongols that destined their culture to be so fleeting.
7.) Describe fully the agricultural revolution in Medieval Europe. Why did it make sense for this transformation to take place on monastery lands or on manors? What consequences did this revolution have?
8.) The Ottomans emerged as a powerful and particularly well-run empire. What were some of the key elements to the Ottomans’ system of conquest and governance that lent it stability? What was the empire’s greatest period? At what point did the empire begin to weaken?
9.) How did Greek classics retrieved out of Constantinople and spread about Western Europe during the “Renaissance” fuel both civic humanism and criticism of the Catholic Church while undermining the traditional devotion to Scholasticism?
10.) Describe some of the motivations behind the Crusades. Why were they ultimately a failure? In what ways did they aid Western Europe?
11.) When it came to the spice trade in Asia, in what ways did the arrival of the Portuguese represent a fundamental departure from the way that the spice trade had been conducted since the time of the Roman Empire? What enabled the Portuguese to get away with this sort of trade? How did the Dutch ultimately challenge them?
12.) What was it about the spice trade that made it such a convenient calling for Muslim traders? Describe the symbiotic relationship between the spice trade and the spread of Islam.
13.) In what ways was Martin Luther an “accidental man” who did not intend to start a theological revolution? How unusual was he in the Germany of his era? What was the nature of the relationship between German principalities and the Catholic Church, and how did it allow Luther to avoid being burned at the stake? How was Luther aided by technology, and what intellectual currents helped fuel his “Reformation?”