600 CE - 1450 CE

- The fall of the great empires brought political instability in various regions. Europe and South Asia experienced the most significant impact. China, however, was able to preserve some sense of unity throughout its territory.
- Global economics and trade decreased with the decline of powerful empires. Regional trade continued and prospered exceptionally well, including the Indian Ocean region and the Trans-Saharan trade routes.
- Religion became a significant factor among populations. With missionary religions, such as Christianity and Buddhism, people led more spiritual lives and dedicated their efforts to beliefs rather than politics and economics.
- Massive migrations are prevalent during this era due to the opening of frontiers left abandoned by destroyed classical empires and political units.

BYZANTINES (330-1453 CE)
- The Eastern Roman Empire, based out of Constantinople, became the Byzantine Empire several years after the fall of the Western Roman Empire.
- The Byzantine emperor ruled by DIVINE RIGHT. He ruled with absolute authority and named the PATRIARCH OF CONSTANTINOPLE, the head of the Church.
- JUSTINIAN I helped preserve Roman tradition, especially the Roman legal code (BODY OF CIVIL LAW). This allowed for Roman culture to survive the tests of time to this very day.
- The Byzantine economy depended on Constantinople. It was center of all trade and finance. However, the consolidation of resources to Constantinople prevented the outer regions from developing. While Constantinople urbanized on a massive scale, urbanization steadily declined throughout the rest of the empire. As a result, the gap between the nobility and the peasants widened and the middle class virtually disappeared.
- Christianity, specifically Orthodox Christianity in later years, dominated Byzantine society. In 1054 CE, the GREAT SCHISM led to a split in the Christian Church. The EASTERN ORTHODOX CHURCH was based out of Constantinople and the ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH was based out of Rome.
- The Christian culture led to a significant patriarchal society. Women limited to domestic duties and secluded. If women had to venture outside of the home, they must be veiled. In later years, emperor wives ruled alongside their husbands.
- Constant border conflicts, epidemics, and the underdevelopment of the outer regions led to the shrinking of the Byzantine Empire and its eventual fall to the Ottoman Turks in 1453 CE with the capture of Constantinople.
SASSANIDS (226-651 CE)
- The Sassanid Empire replaced the Parthian Empire. It was ruled by a strong monarch and was comparable to Rome's power in the post-Classical period.
- The Sassanids administered their empire akin to the Persian Empire. Adopting the concept of satrapies, the Sassanids allowed regional governors to rule with the acknowledgment of the Sassanid emperor.
- Like the Byzantine Empire, the Sassanid Empire was dominated by religion. Zoroastrinism was the official state religion and Sassanids were extremely intolerant of other religions. Religion defined Sassanid citizenship.
- Also like the Byzantines, the Sassanids secluded and veiled their women.
- The latter years of the Sassanids saw weak rulers and decentralization of the empire. It would eventually be taken over by the expanding Islamic forces.

- The Arabian Peninsula possesses a desert climate, thus some Arabs lived as nomads and traded in CARAVANS.
- There was some settlement in the Arabian Peninsula, including Mecca, which acted as a caravan city.
- Arabs were mostly polytheistic.
Muhammad and Islam
- Born into a caravan trade-based tribe, Muhammad received revelations from the Archangel Gabriel about the belief in ALLAH and he began to spread the word of ISLAM, or submission to Allah (610 CE).
- Islam is a monotheistic and Abrahamic religion, following in the footsteps of Judaism and Christianity. Islam recognizes many of the prophets of both religions, except Jesus is recognized as a prophet and not the son of God.
- Islam collects its beliefs in the QURAN, the religious text. Islam consists of the FIVE PILLARS (1. Belief in Allah and the prophet Muhammad. 2. Prayer 5 times a day facing Mecca. 3. The zakat, or annual alms to the poor. 4. Fasting during Ramadan. 5. The Hajj, or visiting Mecca at least once.). The law and traditions of Islam are collected in the SHARI'A.
- Muhammad spread his message to Arabs and was quickly accumulating followers. He fled Mecca and arrived in Medina in 622 CE (HIJRAH). In Medina he secured more followers and established the UMMA, or Islamic community. From his base in Mecca, Muhammad's Islamic forces spread throughout the region very quickly.
Islamic Empires
- ABU BAKR succeeded Muhammad as CALIPH (successor). His contribution led to the consolidation of Islamic-controlled lands and the Quran, allowing for Islamic unity among the Arabs.
- Islamic expansion was due to excellent military leadership, unity among Muslims, and the relative tolerance of Muslims toward conquered peoples such as Christians and Jews. The Islamic Arabs would expand throughout the Arabian Peninsula and Middle East, North Africa, Southeastern Europe and Spain, and Central Asia.
- Western European forces prevented the spread of Islam at the BATTLE OF TOURS in 732 CE.
- Problems with succession led to a schism in Islam. The SHIITES supported the claim of Ali, Muhammad's son-in-law, as successor. The SUNNIS supported the claim of the Uthman clan as successor. A civil war broke out and the Sunnis claimed victory and established the Ummayad Caliphate.
Ummayad Caliphate
- The Ummayads ruled more as an Arab empire rather than an Islamic empire. They followed a similar format established by the Byzantines and Sasanids. The capital was located in Damascus.
- Forced Christians and Jews to pay higher taxes, but tolerated them.
- Despite massive expansion of the Ummayad Caliphate, poor administrators, resentment among conservatives and non-Muslims, and a greedy aristocracy led to the collapse of the Ummayads in 750 CE. Surviving Ummayads re-established themselves in Spain with the Caliphate of Cordoba.

Abbasid Caliphate (750-1258 CE)
- The Abbasid Caliphate replaced the Ummayads in 750 CE and established a very successful and long-lasting empire. The capital was based in Baghdad (formerly Babylon).
- The Abbasids continued the Sassanid-based administration, but centered more on the religious aspect, which was lost by the Ummayads.
- The Abbasids went through a Golden Age. Education and literature thrived under the Abbasids. Greek texts were translated into Arabic. The Abbasids preserved many Classical works and adopted their use. The Abbasids also assimilated knowledge from South Asia and spread it throughout their territories. Baghdad became a learning and cultural center.
- Tolerance was promoted by the Abbasids and conversion to Islam increased substantially.
- Controlling the vast area, increasing revolts, higher taxes, and invasions by Turks and Mongols led to the collapse of the Abbasids. Despite the political fragmentation of the Abbasids, the region did not collapse into anarchy due to the strong unifying force of Islam.
Islamic Society and Culture
- Muslim scholars, the ULAMA, helped preserve Islamic tradition and religion which sustained the region's stability and helped spread Islam throughout the region. MADRASAS were religious colleges used for centers of Islamic education.
- Conversion to Islam spawned urbanization since cities were places of learning. Rural areas tended to discriminate against non-Muslims and new converts. Urbanization led to an increase in trade.
- Muslims assimilated knowledge from various regions and built upon them. Greek knowledge of anatomy led to developments in medicine. Indian mathematics led to the development of algebra. While Christian Europe lagged in technology and advancement, the Islamic region experienced massive learning.
- Islamic art depicts patterns rather than figures. Islam forbids the depiction of Muhammad and Allah and some believe depictions of humans is a form of idolatry. ARABESQUE dominates Islamic art with infinite geometric patterns.
- Islamic literature included great works such as THE ARABIAN NIGHTS and RUBAIYAT.
- Muslim architecture included MOSQUES (places of worship) topped with domes. MINARETS (towers surrounding mosques) allowed for the calling of prayer.
- IBN BATTUTA (1304-1368 CE) was an extraordinary Islamic traveller. He spanned Eurasia, visiting North Africa, West Africa, Spain, the Middle East, Central Asia, India, China, and Indonesia. He travelled more than his European counterpart, Marco Polo.

- The SUFI Brotherhood developed as a mystical version of Islam. Religious expression was made through meditation and poetry.
- Women had certain rights, such as property ownership, remarriage, and suffrage. However, free women must be veiled and secluded.
- Slavery was significant. However, Abrahamic believers and Zoroastrians could not be enslaved, unless they were prisoners of war. Slavery also was not based on heredity.
- MAMLUKES were a Turkish people who were enslaved by the Muslims, especially under the Abbasid Caliphate. The mamluk system captured children and converted them to Islam. Though they were considered property and could be bought, the mamluks were a step above ordinary slaves. Their loyalty and military skill was virtually unquestioned. When the Abbasid Caliphate was weakening, the mamluks revolted and temporarily took over. Some migrated to Egypt and established a kingdom c. 1250 CE.

- The Sui Dynasty (589-618 CE) allowed for the preservation of a centralized government in China. This allowed for China's future to retain a better sense of unity unlike in Europe.
Tang (618-907 CE)
- The Tang Empire ruled China through a highly centralized government using the scholar-gentry class and Confucian philosophy. Civil service exams continued China's meritocracy.
- One famous Tang ruler was XUANZONG who expanded Tang China into Central Asia and to southern China, connecting it more to the Indian Ocean trade. He also valued education and learning.
- The Tang forced a TRIBUTARY SYSTEM upon its neighbors, such as Korea, Japan, and Southeast Asia.
- During the Tang period, Buddhism became widely accepted. This led to a decrease in China's patriarchal society as women gained more privileges and recognition. EMPRESS WU helped expand Buddhism. Monasteries were built all throughout China and Buddhism gained more and more monks and nuns. Buddhism was not taxed and enjoyed many privileges.
- The Tang's promotion of Buddhism led to resentment among traditional conservatives. They believed Buddhism undermined traditional concepts such as filial piety and ancestral veneration. The Tang Empire was not generating high revenues due to more and more untaxed Buddhist converts. Toward the end of the Tang Dynasty, Buddhism became very unpopular and there was a social return to Confucianist ideas.
- NEO-CONFUCIANISM arose during the Tang Era. It resulted as a blend of Confucianism, Buddhism, and Daoism. In order to preserve the peace between traditional Chinese and Buddhist Chinese, Neo-Confucianism combined the Confucianist principles of respect for authroity and family with the spiritual aspects of Buddhism. It resulted in more distinct class distinctions and returned women to a re subjugated role in society.
- There were many economic advancements during the Tang Dynasty. The Silk Road trade routes were well-protected increasing contacts with various peoples, including Muslims. JUNKS were improved upon and sea-faring trade increased. Paper money improved economics. There was massive urbanization. Large estates were broken up and redistributed on a more fair basis (EQUAL FIELD SYSTEM).
- Canals and irrigation systems were built to increase agricultural production. The GRAND CANAL connected the Yellow Yangtze Rivers.
- GUNPOWDER was invented.
The famous Chinese poets, LI BAI and DU FU, lived during the Tang Empire.
- Despite the Great Wall's re-fortification, nomadic peoples penetrated China's borders and gained a foothold in the northern lands. Civil unrest and social disorder led to the fall of the Tang.
Song (960-1279 CE)
- The Song Dynasty was not as strong as the Han or Tang Dynasties, but there was major advancement technologically.
- In order to prevent invasions from the north, the Song paid tribute to its neighbors and was in constant concern for its stability due to foreign enemies.
- Civil service exams were reinforced and the scholar-gentry became a more significant class in society and government.
- FLYING MONEY (letters of credit) increased long-distance trade
- Song art concentrated on landscapes and the beauty of nature. WOODBLOCK PRINTING was used which most likely came from China's interaction with Korea. The celestial clock was invented telling the time of day, the day of the month, and the positions of planets, the sun, and the moon.
- FOOTBINDING of women became a tradition established among the upper class. Most lower class women avoided footbinding as a result of their necessity to work the fields. The concept of footbinding increased China's patriarchal society as it became a symbol of status.
- Warfare advanced with the introduction of catapults and explosive devices, such as grenades and bombs. Flame-throwers and rocket launchers were used by the armies and navies.
- The COMPASS was used for oceanic navigation and the ABACUS used for record-keeping and counting.
Yuan (1271-1368 CE)
- After intense struggles with the Mongols, the Song Dynasty collapsed and KUBLAI KHAN established the Yuan Empire. He moved the capital to BEIJING and continued to conquer the rest of China.
- The Mongols were foreign rulers and prevented native Chinese from participating in the government bureaucracy. Instead they imported Muslims from Central Asia and the Middle East to act as political servants. The Chinese were regulated to a lower class as the Mongols and Muslims owned elite status.
- The Mongols revitalized trade in China by promoting the Silk Road trade, making it more accessible and securing it.
- The BUBONIC PLAGUE, originating from Central Asia, infected the Chinese region and seriously affected the population. The plague would spread through trade routes infect the Eurasian continent.
- MARCO POLO, from Europe, visited Kublai Khan's China and returned with information about the Mongols and Chinese unknown for centuries of limited contact.
- The Mongols provided better treatment for women. Mongols
- The Yuan Empire would break down due to civil disorder and weak leadership. Since the plague reduced the population, the Yuan's economy was seriously affected.

- Early Japan began as clan-based civilizations, but during the reign of the YAMATO clan, or NARA Period (300-794 CE) Japan's government became centralized due to Japanese emissaries being sent to Tang China to assimilate the centralized bureaucratic government into a Japanese model. The EMPEROR was established as a political and spiritual leader.
- Japan was predominantly an agrarian society.
- Chinese culture seriously impacted Japanese art and architecture during this time.
- SHINTO, an animistic religion, dominated the culture of Japan.
Heian (794-1185 CE)
- The government rescinded political power from the emperor and made him more of an iconic figure.
- The KWAMPAKU (chancellor) assumed political power and ruled in the name of the emperor. The Kwampaku came from the most powerful noble family.
- The FUJIWARA CLAN ruled Japan most of the time period. Peace and prosperity was common during their reign. It was a golden age in Japan.
- Japanese culture thrived. Art was enhanced and became highly-skilled. Literature improved and THE TALE OF GENJI by LADY MURASAKI became the well-known Japanese epic.
- Buddhism, Confucianism, and Daoism impacted Japanese culture, but its native Shinto still prospered. Some of the belief systems blended with one another.
- Women gained notoriety with paintings and literature. Some upper class women gained some influence politically and socially.
- The Heian Period ended with the victorious Minamoto clan and the establishment of the shogunates.
- The KAMAKURA SHOGUNATE (1185-1333 CE) established a more decentralized government and was under the leadership of the SHOGUN. The shogun translated into "great general."
- The shogunate was a feudal-like system where the shogun shared power with the powerful noble class, the DAIMYO.
- A warrior class developed called the SAMURAI. The samurai included the shogun and the daimyo as well. The samurai led a life based on the code of BUSHIDO (way of the warrior).
- Japanese society transformed into a more feudal-like structure. The shogun was like a king, the daimyo like the nobility, the samurai like knights, and peasants like serfs. The daimyo controlled vast amounts of land where the samurai defended them and the peasants worked.
- Women lost their privileges since bushido culture deemed women weak and women earned little respect.
- The ASHIKAGA SHOGUNATE (1333-1573 CE) produced economic prosperity through an increase in trade. The merchant class expanded and massive urbanization resulted.
- During the Ashikaga Shogunate, ZEN BUDDHISM arrived and became very popular among the samurai. Buddhism stressed discipline. As a result, the tea ceremony, landscaping, and haiku poetry became popular.

- Korea was dominated by Chinese influence and culture throughout mo of the its early period.
- The SILLA Kingdom () became a close ally of the Tang Empire, so close that it collapsed when the Tang Empire collapsed. It was the first kingdom to unite the Korean peninsula.
- The KORYO Kingdom became associated with the Song Empire. It came under control of the Mongols and the Yuan Empire. It outlasted the Mongols, but fell soon after.
- During the Koryo period, WOODBLOCK PRINTING was invented and passed onto China.

- Muslim conquerors entered the Indus Valley c. 700 CE and began conversions to Islam. They continued their attacks into India.
Delhi Sultanate (1206-1520 CE)
- In 1206 CE, the Muslims captured Delhi and established the Delhi Sultanate.
- Despite the significant conversions of Indians to Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism retained many adherents. Islam joined the two religions as major belief systems of India.
- Islam mainly settled in the northern and western portions of India.
- The Muslims and Hindus did not get along and rising tensions led to vicious attacks between the two religions.
- Timur aka Tamerlane invaded the Delhi Sultanate in the late 1300s and captured Delhi in 1398 CE. His brutal reign enhanced tensions between Muslims and Hindus. Fortunately, his rule did not last very long.
- Over time, the Delhi Sultanate, once in charge of most of India, steadily shrank by the 1500s.
- Under Muslim rule, the Delhi Sultanate provided Indian women more opportunities and privileges. Contrasting the harsh treatment by Hindus, women earned more property rights. Muslim women could divorce and remarry if widowed. The sati was virtually outlawed by Muslim rulers.
Southern India
- Many states were established in southern India. Most benefited from and acquired power from the Indian Ocean trade network. Some include the TAMIL KINGDOM, VIJAYANAGARA EMPIRE, and the MALIBAR CITY-STATES. The city of CALICUT became a major port center in southern India.

- Most of the region is under a tropical climate and some mountainous areas. There are three geographic zones: the mainland, the Malay Peninsula, and the island chains in the Indian Ocean.
- Early Southeast Asia saw migrations from India, China, and Malays, bringing with them their cultures and ideas. Trade networks developed in the Indian Ocean and South China Sea.
- Early trade and migrations were through the seas, in canoes.
- The region traded spices for commodities from their neighbors, such as Chinese silk.
- Vietnam was influenced significantly China and had to pay tribute to various Chinese empires. At some points, Vietnam was under the direct control of China.
- ANNAM, making up northern Vietnam was mostly a Chinese province under the Tang Empire. The CHAMPA Kingdom ruled most of Vietnam from the 7th century to the 19th century.
- Vietnam's RICE-PADDY FARMING, as wet cultivation, increased rice production and spread throughout Southeast Asia, China, Korea, and Japan. It revolutionized agriculture in Southeast Asia and East Asia.
Khmer (500-1454 CE)
- Based out of present-day Cambodia, the Khmer Empire saw expansion during the ANGKOR PERIOD (889-1454 CE). The Angkor leaders were military aggressive. They expanded into parts of present-day Burma and into the Malay Peninsula.
- Its proximity to India had a cultural impact. Buddhism and Hinduism spread into the area. Many temples were built, most in the traditional Indian Hindu style.
Srivijayan (500-1100 CE)
- Based out of the Indonesian islands, the Srivijayan Empire gained wealth from the Indian Ocean trade network.
- Like most Southeast Asian areas, Srivijayan Empire became influenced by India with Hinduism and Buddhism. Buddhism became the more dominant in the region.
- The MAORI culture developed in New Zealand during this time period. It prospered based on its warrior culture.

- When the Western Roman Empire collapsed, most of Europe became politically fragmented and decentralized. The unifying force that prevented total anarchy was Christianity.
- The ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH was the center of CHRISTENDOM, or a single Christian community. The Church was based out of Rome and the Pope controlled virtually all aspects of European life. Below him were his CARDINALS (advisers in Rome) then ARCHBISHOPS (regional representatives) then BISHOPS (urban leaders) then PRIESTS (local/community representatives). Monks and nuns were a part of the clergy.
- The CLERGY assumed significant influence and leadership in Europe. Providing a sense of cohesion, the clergy amassed astounding wealth and even political power.

- By 1000 CE the PAPACY (the office of the Pope) held so much political influence, it believed kings and emperors were the subjects of the Church. Popes crowned monarchs and determined the destinies of several nations.
- The Church owned lots of land and collected TITHES (1/10th of production/revenue). This proved the Church's vast wealth and power throughout Europe.
- One example of the Church exerting its power was through EXCOMMUNICATION, or excluding members from the Church thus preventing salvation.
- MONASTICISM was the life of monks and nuns. They formed religious communities, providing support and service to towns. The BENEDICTINE ORDER stressed discipline and seclusion for the monastic lifestyle. The DOMINICAN and FRANCISCAN ORDERS lessened the discipline and ventured into the population to provide more direct support and evangelism. This would foster the spread of Christianity to other parts of Europe and eventually the world.
- MONASTERIES were essential to Europe because monks were provided education. The Classical works were studied and helped preserve the Ancient Greek and Roman traditions. Unfortunately, they were secluded from public view.
- Since there was no strong central authority in the Early Middle Ages, the monarchies of Europe were weak and insufficient to acquire power to sustain themselves much less expand their borders. Thus, the system of feudalism was born.
- FEUDALISM worked as so: A king (LIEGE) granted large estates (FIEFS) to a lord/noble (VASSAL) who pledged loyalty to the king. The vassal also pledged to govern the land properly, provide sufficient crop production, and protect the land and its inhabitants as well as serve in the military in defense of the monarchy. This system of VASSALAGE spread downward as nobles granted fiefs to lesser lords/nobles and so on.
- The nobility provided for the king's army. They recruited foot soldiers. Nobles served as KNIGHTS, or armored cavalry. The knights developed a code of honor called CHIVALRY. Knights must be loyal to their king, promote justice on all peoples, and respect women.
- The MANOR included the estate with a castle, or the lord's residence, and the peasant village. The surrounding land was used for agriculture which the peasants worked.
- The peasants were designated SERFS. Under SERFDOM, peasants were akin to slaves. They had legal protections, but limited rights. They needed permission from their lord in order to move or change jobs. Peasants paid to live on the land by giving away a significant portion of their crop yield. They also were taxed heavily for living and work expenses. Peasants were recruited as foot soldiers. The life of a peasant was considerably unbearable. Most, if not all, peasants were uneducated and illiterate.
- In general, Europe was a patriarchal society. Women were to be subservient to men. Some women could own and inherit property. Women owned legal protections, but received little rights and privileges.
- When a woman was married off, her family must provide a DOWRY to the husband's family. In most cases, women married off to enhance the social status of the woman's family.
- Women had the opportunity to enter monastic life as nuns. They were unable to become church leaders. Many women were sent to convents and monasteries since most families could afford to sustain a female child or provide dowries in marriages.
- Lower class women worked on the farms and took care of the household. Some lower class women worked as domestic servants to noble families.
- Noblewomen had better opportunities. They could inherit kingdoms and large estates. They served as managers of their husbands' estates while he was detained at court or in war. Mothers to heirs would serve as REGENTS.
Economic Factors and Urbanization
- The population of Europe experienced a growth surge in the Late Middle Ages (1000-1300s). This was due to an increased food supply based on the innovation of the THREE-FIELD SYSTEM and CROP ROTATION. Tools, such as plows, greatly improved.
- As Europe became more stabilized in the Late Middle Ages, trade improved. This led to the increase in BANKS and improved markets. Wealth was increasing and Europe was slowly but surely evolving from the feudal society.
- As a result of an improved economy, Europe experienced massive URBANIZATION. Cities grew and new ones popped up in favorable locations, especially along the coasts and rivers. Cities became trading centers. The specialization of labor increased as cities attracted the likes of artisans, merchants, laborers, and scholars.
- The HANSEATIC LEAGUE became a regional trading network among northern European cities. The League developed its own system of laws and monopolized trade. Some Germanic cities experienced complete autonomy from the Holy Roman Empire.
- Urbanization led to the GUILD SYSTEM. Guilds were work groups which controlled certain markets. Under guilds, strict guidelines were set, membership was limited, quality control was implemented, and prices were controlled.
- Unfortunately, cities tended to become overcrowded. Sanitation was poor and disease spread easily. However, cities provided opportunities to escape the bonds of feudalism.
Problems and the Black Death
- In the Late Middle Ages, Europe experienced a Little Ice Age. The cooled climate destroyed crops and famine set in leading to peasant revolts.
- Wars expanded as monarchies expanded leading to forced recruitment among the peasants. Lavish expenses and military expenditures led to an increase in taxes which were imposed upon the peasant class leading to revolts and horrible living conditions.
- The hysteria over WITCHCRAFT subjected Europe to persecutions among its population. Unfortunately, most victims came from the lower classes. After a while, the European population became very distrusting of the Church's power and influence as a result of the witchcraft paranoia.
- The BUBONIC PLAGUE aka BLACK DEATH reached Europe by 1347. By 1353, Europe lost 30 million people or 1/3 of its population. The loss of life led to panic. It also led to inflation as less taxes were collected and wages increased. Peasants saw opportunities to escape feudal contracts and earn increased wages since the Plague spawned labor shortages.

Carolingian Empire
-The KINGDOM OF THE FRANKS became a strong monarchy under CLOVIS. Clovis converted the kingdom to Catholicism which was expanded by CHARLES MARTEL and PEPIN.
- CHARLEMANGE (768-814 CE) expanded the Carolingian Kingdom and defeated the Muslims, Vikings, and other barbarians. His success led to his crowning as HOLY ROMAN EMPEROR in 800 CE. Unfortunately, Germanic custom led to the division of his empire between his sons and the region experienced more decentralization.
- Under Charlemagne's rule, he stressed education and religion.
- The British Isles were subject to numerous invasions for centuries. The Germanic Saxons invaded and ruled parts of England for centuries.
- In 1066 CE, the Normans led by WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR aka WILLIAM OF NORMANDY invaded England from France and deposed the Saxon king. As a result, through cultural diffusion, England became a more centralized state with Anglo, Saxon, and Latin cultural aspects.
- The centralization of England established political precedents in British history. COMMON LAW, or a single legal code, was established. The MAGNA CARTA (1215 CE) limited the power of the king by granting rights and privileges to the nobility. The nobles soon created PARLIAMENT and ruled as a representative body along with the king.
- The CAPETIAN DYNASTY was established in France. As time went on, France became more and more centralized especially when acquiring territories through wars.
- Unlike England, French kings ruled with ABSOLUTE power.
Hundred Years War (1337-1453 CE)
- The Hundred Years War was fought between England and France as both proclaimed rights to each others' lands.
- New military technologies were used such as the longbow and cannons, significantly altering military strategy.
- JOAN OF ARC was a female soldier who led successful campaigns and rallied the French to push for victory. Unfortunately, her respect earned her execution through heresy.
- The English scored many victories, but the French rebounded and ultimately defeated the English.
- The impact of the Hundred Years War severely depleted the nobility and strengthened the monarchies of both kingdoms. It also enhanced the rivalry between the English and the French.
Holy Roman Empire
- Established in the 900s CE, the HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE was a loose alliance of Germanic kingdoms led by an elected EMPEROR who ruled in conjunction with the Pope.
- The Holy Roman Emperor was selected by German noble families. The HRE would soon be controlled by the powerful HABSBURG DYNASTY.
- At one point, the HRE consisted of over 200 autonomous kingdoms and duchies. The GOLDEN BULL (1356 CE) helped solidify the powers of the independent princes and kings.
- The HRE was made of many diverse peoples. It included Germans, Italians, Hungarians, and Slavs.
- The Moors controlled Spain since the 700s. Beginning in 1031 CE, the Spanish and Portuguese launched the RECONQUISTA to reconquer the Iberian Peninsula from the Moors and reclaim it as a Catholic region. By 1492 CE, the Moors were finally driven out of the southern province of Granada.
- During the time of the Reconquista, the Iberian Peninsula was made up of independent kingdoms. In 1469, the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon were joined by the marriage of Isabella and Ferdinand thus creating the Kingdom of Spain.
- King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella imposed Catholicism throughout Spain. They instituted the Inquisition and persecuted heretics. Jews and Moors were exiled or they were required to convert to remain.
Italian City-States
- For centuries, the Italian Peninsula was politically fragmented, usually dominated by foreign powers and the Roman Catholic Church.
- Given the Italian Peninsula's location on the Mediterranean Sea, city-states became powerful urban centers based on trade. Its access to international markets earned city-states such as FLORENCE, MILAN, and VENICE considerable wealth. In the Late Middle Ages, the Italian city-states were the banking and trade centers of Europe. Venice itself established a thalassocracy akin to the Phoenicians and Minoans.
Vikings and Russia
- The Vikings were a Norse people who originated from the Scandinavian Peninsula.
- The Vikings were a vicious people who raided and plundered coastal communities in England, France, and other parts of northern Europe. Their attacks helped spawn the feudal structure in Europe as a means of protection.
- The Vikings expanded throughout northern Europe, but rarely permanently settled or established themselves. Their expansion was due to their expert sailing and ability to navigate the open ocean. Vikings even reached as far as North America, but never established any permanent settlements.
- Using the navigable rivers of Russia, the Vikings sailed deep into Russian lands and conquered the Slavic people who labeled them the Rus. Over time the Vikings, or VARANGIANS, became the ruling class and established the KIEVAN KINGDOM under VLADIMIR I.

- The Russians became involved in trading due to Viking influence and exchanged contact with the prosperous Byzantine Empire. It is through this relationship that the Russians acquired Orthodox Christianity and the CYRILLIC ALPHABET.

- During the Mongol invasions in the 1200s, the Russians became tributaries to the Golden Horde Empire in Central Asia. The Mongols heavily taxed the Russians and used the Russian princes as puppet rulers. As a result, Russian princes abused their powers to acquire massive wealth and the Russians became isolated from the rest of Europe.
- Religious domination by the Catholic Church, the threat of Muslim attacks, the demand for greater trade access in the Mediterranean, ambitious rulers and glory hunters, and the Papacy's quest to dominate the European political atmosphere led to the CRUSADES.
- As the Byzantine Empire was under attack by the Seljuk Turks, they called for aid from their Christian brethren in Western Europe. POPE URBAN II, seeking to spread his influence and power among European monarchs, called for a holy crusade to rescue the Byzantines and capture the Holy Land in Palestine.

- The FIRST CRUSADE resulted in a brutal victory and rule of the European Crusaders. The SECOND CRUSADE, led by a more unified and organized Muslim military, reconquered the Holy Land. Under the leadership of SALADIN, the Muslims re-took and held their lost lands in subsequent Crusades. In the FOURTH CRUSADES it became apparent the intent of the Crusades was lost as Christian armies sacked the Christian stronghold of Constantinople.
- The effects of the Crusades: deepened resentment between Christians and Muslims, increased trade between Europe and the eastern world, the European acquisition of knowledge and the Classics from the Byzantines and Muslims, devasting losses among the European nobility leading to the strengthening of European monarchies, the rise of nation-states in Europe, and the desire for eastern market access.
- Education was very limited in Europe. Most of Europe's population was illiterate, including the upper class. Some monarchs were illiterate. The absence of strong political authority and the necessity to survive in a feudal landscape contributed to Europe's low literacy rate. Education was high among the clergy and in monasteries as there was a need to interpret the Bible.
- The preservation of Classical knowledge by the Church, the Byzantines, and the Muslims led to increased education in the Late Middle Ages. The Crusades played an important role in accessing to Classical works.
- Religion dominated European culture. Art was dominated by religious figures and themes. Music was also religious with the main component being GREGORIAN CHANT. Architecture was also dominated by religious concepts. Massive cathedrals were built in ROMANESQUE style (thick walls, square design, and small windows) and GOTHIC style (tall spires, ornate sculptures, FLYING BUTTRESSES, and large stained-glass windows).
- Literature became more accessible as texts were written in the VERNACULAR, or common language.
- SCHOLASTICISM was the main philosophy of the Middle Ages. It attempted to combine reason and religion, in essence, explaining biblical themes. ST. THOMAS AQUINAS, who wrote SUMMA THEOLOGIA, was the notable Scholastic of the time.
- The influence of the guild system and the Church gave rise to UNIVERSITIES.
Printing Press and the Renaissance
- In 1437, JOHANNES GUTENBERG invented the PRINTING PRESS. It led to increased literacy rates, expanded the influence of universities, and provided more access to information and an increase in knowledge of Classical works and scientific theories.
- The RENAISSANCE ("rebirth") originated in the Italian Peninsula. It led to the re-introduction of Classical styles in art, architecture, and literature.
- HUMANISM promoted the glory, potential, and beauty of the human. It stressed education, especially the learning of the Classics. ERASMUS was a famous Humanist who sparked religious reform.
- The Italian city-states acquired Classical knowledge through their trade markets. The wealth of the Italian urban centers provided support for the revival of Classical works. Patrons of the arts, especially the MEDICI in FLORENCE, saw the Renaissance as an opportunity to glorify their cities and serve as an expression of their financial influence.
- The Renaissance promoted SECULARISM, but was not devoid of religious themes.
- Renaissance literature included authors such as Miguel de Cervantes (Don Quixote), William Shakespeare (Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet), Dante (Divine Comedy), Thomas More (Utopia), Niccolo Machiavelli (The Prince), Petrarch.
- Renaissance artists, such as LEONARDO DA VINCI, MICHELANGELO, and RAPHAEL, used new Renaissance innovations. LINEAR PERSPECTIVE, OIL PAINTS, and CIAROSCURO (shadowing) allowed artists to depict paintings in three-dimensional patterns. FILIPO BRUNELLESCHI studied Greek and Roman buildings to enhance architecture during the Renaissance.

- BERBERS dominated the region as traders. North Africa prospered from the Trans-Saharan trade system, which traded gold, salt, and slaves. The slave market increased during this time period as a result of the influx of Islam into the region.
- As Islam spread during the early part of the period, it expanded into North Africa and increased trade especially through the introduction of the CAMEL-BASED CARAVANS.
- As a result of the Muslim expansion and cultural interactions through trade, Islam would spread into the neighboring regions of West Africa and East Africa.
- The region prospered from the gold-salt trade. West Africa contained large amounts of gold and ivory and the Sahara Desert contained large deposits of salt. Through this trade, West Africa went from an agriculturally-based society to a more trade-based and centralized society.
- A common trait among West African states was the role of the monarch. The king was responsible for the welfare of his people and was more available to his people than his European counterparts. A popular and compassionate king was usually a successful king.
Ghana (c. 500-1240 CE)
- The Ghana Empire prospered from the Trans-Saharan trade system and due to its large deposits of gold. As a result, a strong centralized state was established.
- Ghana also prospered from its iron and copper deposits.
- Ghana weakened through poor harvests due to poor climate conditions and increased populations. Muslim invaders and rival neighbors soon led to the collapse of the Ghana Empire.
Mali (c. 1230-1460 CE)
- SUNDIATA KEITA founded the Mail Empire after victorious conquests and Mali soon became a powerful empire based on the region's large deposits of gold and metals.
- MANSA MUSA formally converted Mali into an Islamic state. On his journey to the hajj, he sprinkled the Sahelian region with gold to confirm his Islamic duty to provide for his people. Unfortunately, the influx of gold devalued the currencies in the areas and Mansa Musa himself needed to take out loans. However, it proved the West African tradition of a compassionate king and it attested to the popularity of Islam. Mansa Musa's efforts spearheaded rapid conversion to Islam in West Africa.
- Islam also penetrated into West Africa as a result of the importation of Muslim scholars (ULAMAS). Education improved and the literacy rate increased dramatically. Mali urbanized on a large scale.
- TIMBUKTU was established as a trading center, but with the influx of Islam, it also served as an Islamic cultural center. The architecture of the city reflected the combination of African and Muslim culture.

- East Africa developed rapidly from the Bantu migrations and the Indian Ocean trading system.
- Due to its relationship with the Indian Ocean trade, East Africa prospered through its trade of ivory and slaves. Arab traders established themselves in East Africa and an Arab migration ensued changing the cultural dynamic of the region.
- As a result of the Arab traders and migrations, East Africa nurtured a blend of Bantu and Arab creating the SWAHILI culture.
- Though Islam became a part of East Africa it did not dominate the region. Local African religions remained and the Axum/Abyssina/Ethiopia retained its Christian faith.
- City-states, based on trade, developed along the East African coast. Major cities included MOMBASA and ZANZIBAR.
- Indonesian culture made its way into the island of Madagascar through Indonesian migrations using the Indian Ocean trade routes.

- A few city-states were established in the region, including GREAT ZIMBABWE (c. 1000-1400 CE).
- Great Zimbabwe became prosperous for its gold and diamond deposits.
- The city protected itself with enormous walls surrounding the city.

- Most of southern Africa was decentralized and consisted of STATELESS SOCIETIES. There was no single powerful political unit dominating the region.
- Southern African tribes and clans sustained themselves through SUBSISTENCE FARMING by growing only what was necessary for the survival of the village.
- Various clans and tribes traded with each other and regional markets developed. Rarely did southern Africa expand into foreign markets.

- Central Asian tribes included the Mongols and Tatars. They practiced a nomadic lifestyle, moving place to place in search of resources and food. They herded livestock throughout the region.
- The Mongols practiced CULTURAL BORROWING. They assimilated concepts such as legal codes, writing systems, belief systems, and technologies.
- The Mongols were excellent horsemen and were adept at archery. This proved effective in trading and war.
- Rivalries developed among the tribes.
MONGOLS (1200s-1500s)

- In 1206 CE, TEMUJIN unified the Mongols and became GENGHIS KHAN. He expanded the military, assimilated technology from conquered peoples, and with the expert Mongol cavalry he began his Mongol conquest of Eurasia.
- The Mongols conquered the Song Empire and China, stretched throughout Central Asia, conquered Russia, reached as far as Vienna in Europe, and conquered the Abbasid Caliphate in the Middle East. The Mongol Empire was the largest land-based empire ever.
- The Mongols ruled their lands, but inexperience in political matters led to them importing foreign officials to administer the lands. The native citizens were subjugated and limited in opportunities.
- The Mongols promoted trade. Genghis Khan realized the potential of the Silk Road and noting his priority to sustain his people, he secured trade routes and moved the Silk Road farther north. The trade routes provided for increased trade networks and contacts, missionaries, and the massive and rapid spread of ideas throughout Eurasia. The era of Mongol domination and peace is known as the PAX MONGOLICA.
- After years of conquest, the vastness of the empire, and political inexperience led to the breaking up of the Mongol Empire into four major parts. KUBLAI KHAN established the YUAN EMPIRE in East Asia. The GOLDEN HORDE ruled most of Central Asia and Russia. The IL-KHANATE ruled the Middle East with the Mongols converting to Islam. The JAGADAI KHANATE ruled Central Asia.
- TIMUR aka TAMERLAME ruled the Jagadai Khanate and began a series of brutal conquests throughout Central Asia. He forced Islam upon conquered peoples. His reign ended with his death during his campaigns against the Ming Empire in China.
- The Mongols practiced toleration among its conquered peoples and usually assimilated their cultures. Most Mongols became Muslims, Buddhists, and some became Christians.
- The European traveller, MARCO POLO, visited the Mongols during the reign of Kublai Khan. He noted the customs and traditions of the Mongols and returned to Europe with knowledge of these "barbarian" people.
- Unfortunately, Mongol inexperience in governance led to their downfall as resentment built up among the over-taxed population. By the 1400s and 1500s, the Mongol states were virtually extinguished.
- The Turks were Indo-Europeans who originated from Central Asia and migrated throughout Eurasia. They were nomadic peoples. There was massive migration of Turks from the 6th to 11th centuries.
- The Turks assimilated into neighboring regions and established Turkic dialects. Most Turks converted to Islam.
- The SELJUK TURKS arrived in the Middle East and Anatolia as conquerors in the 11th century. They captured large portions of the Byzantine Empire. Their conquest of the Palestine region would lead to the influx of Europeans due to the Crusades.
- The Ottoman Turks, established in Anatolia, began to rise out of the end of the Crusades and placed pressure on the remnants of the Byzantine Empire and spread throughout the Middle East and North Africa. The Ottoman Empire would be established by OSMAN I in the late 13th century CE.

- The region was dominated by nomadic, hunter-gatherers, and sedentary farmers and herders.
- Gender divisions were loose since most of the region did not become centered on agriculture.
- The ANASAZI developed a civilization in the southwest region. They lived in PUEBLOS which were usually built into the canyons and mountain sides common in the region.
- In the Mississippi and Ohio River Valleys, the MOUNDBUILDERS established a civilization based on agriculture. Their mounds were used for religious and ceremonial purposes. Some were used as burial mounds.

Maya (c. 300-c.900 CE)
- The Maya settled in southern Mexico (i.e. Yucatan Peninsula) and parts of present day Guatemala and Honduras.
- Most of the Mayan traditions were based on the Olmec traditions. They included polytheistic religions, worshipping jaguars and snakes. The Maya also practiced HUMAN SACRIFICES as a way to please the gods.
- The Maya did not establish an empire. Its civilization was based on a network of city-states who developed trade relationships. Some of these city-states prospered through the conquest of other city-states.
- The Maya invented a hieroglyph-based writing system. They also were excellent architects, building large pyramids usually in the center of the city. They became excellent astronomers and devised an accurate calendar with 365 days in a year. Their mathematics was on par with the rest of the world, even developing the concept of zero without ever interacting with the Eurasian and African regions.
Aztec (c. 1300-1520 CE)
- Begun as a small tribe in Mexico, they avoided conquest from rival tribes and established the city of TENOCHTITLAN in central Mexico. From there, the war-like Aztec conquered neighboring city-states and tribes and established a powerful empire.
- They were a polytheistic people who worshiped gods such as QUETZALCOATL and HUITZILOPOCHTLI (the sun god). In order to appease the gods and provide them strength, the Aztecs performed human sacrifices on a large scale. Victims ranged from prisoners of war, virgins, and regular citizens.

- Most South American clans and tribes sustained themselves from a vibrant trade network.
- Another feature of the South American people was their rotational labor obligations. Some would be forcibly chosen to work in other clans in order to preserve the prosperity of the trade networks.
- In order to adapt to the rough terrain of the Andes Mountains, TERRACE FARMING was invented which involved intense labor, but it provided an agricultural surplus for sustainment.
- South American society was extremely patriarchal. Women were very limited in rights and privileges. The only fair opportunity for women was to serve in temples and perform religious duties.
Inca (c. 1300s-1536 CE)
- The Incan Empire conquered many Andean civilizations and expanded throughout the mountain region.
- In order to preserve stability, the Incas forced their captives to absolve their traditions and quickly learn the Incan culture and language.
- The Incas developed a vast network of roads to enhance trade in the region and improve communication and transportation.
- They built massive cities, including the great capital at CUZCO and the temple fortress of MACHU PICHU. Machu Pichu was effectively organized into districts such as the religious, noble, and commoner districts.
- Polytheism dominated the Incan Empire and the Incan emperor ruled by divine right. There is no evidence of human sacrifice among the Incas.
- The Incans did not develop a writing system. In its place was the QUIPU. A cord had a series of knots as way of keeping records of finances.