Unit 8 Key Concepts

  • Tokugawa Shogunate—The Tokugawa Family ruled Japan from 1603–1854. Their rule constituted a period of isolation. Fearing European conquest, the Tokugawa shut their doors in the early 17th century, restricting trade to only China, Korea, and the Netherlands on an extremely limited basis.  During this time Japanese feudalism ruled the land.

    hierarchy graph    

    Bushido was the code of conduct for Samurai Warriors and was similar to the European Knights code of conduct, known as Chivalry.

    Mongol Empire—The Mongol Empire was founded by Temujin, later known as Genghis Khan, which meant "Great Leader." Genghis Khan united the nomadic Mongol people in northern and central Asia. He and his followers created a military machine that excelled in horsemanship and archery.  The Mongols developed a highly organized military that often used terror to conquer their enemies.  They built the world's largest unified land empire, stretching from the Pacific to Europe and the Middle East. Included in this empire were China (ruled by Kublai Khan) and Russia.

    The Mongols played a large role in the rejuvenation of the Silk Roads, establishing military outposts to protect travelers. Marco Polo was said to have visited the court of Kublai Khan in modern day China. A book based on his experiences became a best seller in Europe and led to increased European demand of Chinese products.

    Ming Dynasty—After ousting the Mongols, the Ming reinforced the Chinese concept of ethnocentrism. They built a vast navy, the world's most powerful at the time, and traveled extensively throughout Asia and possibly beyond. The navy was led by Zheng He. External pressure from the Manchu people north of China and economic unrest within their borders led to the destruction of the navy and any official records of their exploration in an attempt to conserve resources.

    West African Trading States—Ghana, Mali, and Songhai (Songhay) all established consecutive trading states in west Africa. They were connected to the Muslim lands in the east through the Trans-Saharan trade network across the Sahara Desert. While there were many products exchanged, the are best known for their trade in ivory, gold, and salt (an excellent natural preservative in the African heat). 

    Mansa Musa—Famous leader of the Mali empire who ruled from Timbuktu. He converted to Islam and made the Hajj to Mecca. His conversion helped to spread Islam to north and west Africa. Most Africans saw the economic benefit of sharing a faith with their trade partners.

    Mesoamerican Empires -

    Maya—Located on the Yucatan Peninsula of present day Mexico. The Maya created a 365-day calendar and built large pyramids and ceremonial centers. Reasons for their decline remain a mystery today, but there were likely numerous factors contributing to their fall.

    Aztec—The Aztec (Mexica) people were located in central Mexico. Like the Maya, they built massive pyramids. They were a violent empire, often using warfare to bring neighbors under their control. They are famously known for their sacrificial practices.

    Inca—The Inca called the Andes Mountains in South America their home, largely in modern day Peru. The Inca created a vast network of roads that is often compared to those of the Romans and Persians. Due to their location in the Andes Mountains, the Inca practiced terrace farming similar to that of Japan.

    * The Regents likes to ask how all of these empires are related. The answer that you are looking for should mention how organized they were even before European arrival.

    Ottoman Empire—The Ottoman Empire played a significant role in world history. In 1453 they captured the Byzantine capital of Constantinople. This effectively cut-off European overland trade routes to Asia (Ottomans were Muslim and Europeans were Christian... they were not friends). This forced Europeans to look for maritime (water) routes to Asia and ushered in the "Age of Exploration."  This was a critical turning point in history. Under Suleiman the Magnificent the Ottomans pushed all the way to Vienna in Austria.  Ultimately, the Ottoman Empire gradually declined over time and was finally dismantled by the allies after World War I.