New Empires and Common Cultures, 600-1000 CE
∙ al-Mansur (Muslim caliph ruler relocated the capital city of Islam away from Damascus to signal its new dawn in Baghdad, soon became known as “round city”.
∙ Building as Baghdad reaffirmed Mesopotamia’s centrality in the world. ∙ New capital of Islam became a crossroads for commerce. ∙ Baghdad became the center of the Islamic world.
∙ The two imperial powerhouses during this time were Islam and Tang China.
∙ The Islamic state mission was to bring humankind under the authority of Prophet Muhammad.
∙ The Tang rulers expected their neighbor to pay tribute as symbols of respect to the empire.
∙ China would follow a different path by maintaining past traditions. Don't forget about the age old question of In northern france on the north sea, where war ii (1940), 330,000 allied troops had to be evacuated from the beaches in a desperate retreat under enemy fire?
THE ORIGINS AND SPREAD OF ISLAM
- Islam began inside Arabia
- Mecca’s, in the Hijaz, inhabitants were caretakers of a revered sanctuary called the Kaaba.
- Kaaba- a collection of unmortared rocks seen as a dwelling place of deities. Here a Muhammad was born.
- Muhammad was born in Mecca
- Muhammad proclaims that when he was on a spiritual retreat, God came to him in a vision.
- Muhammad’s preaching included all his followers to act righteously, set aside false deities, submit themselves to the only one and true God, and to care for the less fortunate (Believed in Day of Judgement). Complied all into the Quran.
- Muhammad believed he was a prophet of Moses and Jesus. - City of Yathrib, called Medina, held a large Jewish community - Mecca’s leaders saw Muhammad and his followers as radical religion
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and thought they were a challenge to the ruling elite’s authority). o Muhammad and his followers in response, escaped to Medina. Known as “hijra” (breaking off of relations) and formed the “uuma” (band of the faithful).
- Earlier, Medina had been facing tensions and hoped Muhammad’s leadership would bring peace to their city.
o Muhammad created the Constitution of Medina, requiring all to refer all disputes to God and him.
o Medina became the birthplace of a new faith called Islam and a new community called Muslims.
- When Muhammad passed away, Muhammad’s first four successors “rightly guided caliphs” set the new religion to imperial greatness and
created territorial expansion, empire building and an appeal to everyone.
- Muslim soldiers embarked on military conquests in a desire to acquire the wealth of conquered territories. We also discuss several other topics like What is the master controlling and communicating system of the body?
- Muslim leaders divided the world into two units: the world of Islam and the world of warfare.
- Muslim’s have mastered desert warfare as did the exhaustion of the Byzantine and Sasanian empire.
o Byzantines saved their core, but the Sasanians hurled their remaining military resources only to be crushed.
The Sasanian Empire passed out of existence.
- After Ali (last rightly guided caliph) was assassinated, the Umayyad’s moved the core of Islam out of Arabia to the Syrian city of Damascus and introduced a hereditary monarchy.
- The Abbasids overthrew the Umayyad’s in 750CE
- The five pillars of Islam found in the Quran held the core practices and beliefs of every Muslim and gave the imperial system a doctrinal and legal structure.
o 1. Repeat that there is no God but God and that Muhammad was his Prophet. If you want to learn more check out What are the aspects of cultural convergence?
o 2. Pray five times a day towards Mecca
o 3. Fast during the month of Ramadan
o 4. Make a pilgrimage to Mecca
o 5. Pay alms that would alleviate the hardships of the poor - Umayyad dynasts did not permit non-Arabic-speaking converts to hold high political office. When the Umayyad got over thrown, the “Arabs Only” empire came to an end.
- The Abbasids moved the center of Islam to Mesopotamia. - The Khurasan resented the Umayyad ruler’s high-handed ways. o The Khurasan’s stressed doctrines of religious purity and depicted the Umayyad’s as irreligious and politically repressive. - A coalition emerged, individuals had embraces Islam and learned Arabic only to discover that they were still second-class citizens. - The Abbasid coalition trounced the Umayyad ruler. We also discuss several other topics like What refers to the price at which one currency exchanges for another?
- The center of the caliphate shifted to Iraq to represent a success for non-Arab groups within Islam. Without eliminating Arab influence. - During the conversion to Islam, some turned seeking reduced taxes or enhanced power while others welcomes the message of a single God. - The Abbasids open Islam to Persian peoples and they also embraced Greek and Hellenistic learned, Indian Science, and Chinese innovations became a faith with a universalist message and appeal. - The challenge for the Abbasid rulers was to see how “Arab”/traditional they could be and still rule so big of an empire. We also discuss several other topics like Who are george keppel and underwood?
o Decided to keep the institution of the early Islamic state, the Caliphate.
Institution had arisen as the successor to Muhammad’s shinning leadership.
Caliphs exercised authority over the Muslim community, but did not inherit prophetic powers from Muhammad. That power was for religious scholars “ulama”.
- The caliphates’ leadership style was a mix of Persian absolute authority and the royal seclusion of the Byzantine emperors.
o Islam mingled absolute authority with decentralized power - The Abbasids relied on forceful military power to integrate their empire.
- The Abbasid rulers turned to professional soldiers
o Their reliance on foreign “non-Arab” military personnel represented a major shift in the Islamic world.
- The Abbasid now incorporated a strong Persian influence, embracing Turkish elements.
- The sharia stands as the crucial foundation of Islam. It covers all aspects of practical and spiritual life, marriage contracts, trade regulations, pilgrimage rites etc.
- Early Muslim communities used the sharia to handle legal matters - al-Shafi’i (legal scholar) wanted to make the empire’s laws entirely Islamic.
- Muslim scholars become the heart of Islam becoming the lawmakers. - The ulama’s (Muslim scholars) opened a division within Islam: secular realm is where caliphs and their representatives exercised power and the religious sphere is where religious officials and scholars exercised their authority.
- Pre-Islamic Arabia patriarchy had not triumphed, for women engaged in a variety of occupations.
o Muhammad’s relations with women reflected these changes, he married a woman Khadija, she was his first convert. Later, he took younger wives, but his favorite was Aisha who is an important figure in early Islam because she was the daughter of Abu Bakr who became the first caliph after Muhammad’s death.
Muslim men could divorce freely; women could not. Men had to treat eat wife with respect, women could inherit
o The result was a legal system that reinforced men’s dominance over women but to oversee the definition of male honor and proper behavior.
- Arabic has superseded Greek as the Muslim world’s preferred language.
o It spread to become the language used of the educated class - Scholars at Baghdad translated great philosopher and medicine works and opened magnificent libraries.
o The intense diffusing of written works brought worlds together.
- When Islam spread, it decentralized and it generated competitive dynasties in Spain, North Africa, and points far east.
- Islam’s political structures could not hold its widely dispersed believers under a single regime.
o Islam was deeply divided
- Muslim state arose in Spain under Abd al-Rahman III, he brought peace to a violent frontier region.
o He also expanded the capital city of Cordoba and his successor made the Great Mosque of Cordoba.
- The Great Mosque of Cordoba is the oldest standing Muslim building on the Iberian Peninsula.
- Competition among rival rulers spurred artistic creativity - Abd al-Rahman III build an extravagant city, Madinat al-Zahra, next to Cordoba, goal was to overshadow the splendor of Islam’s most fabled cities.
o Was meant to be paradise on earth
- The Barmaki family held high administrative offices under the Abbasids, came from Balkh.
o They prospered under Islam and enjoyed remarkable influence in Baghdad. They made sure that all wealth and talent from the crossroads of Asia found their way to Baghdad.
- The Barmakis were devoted patrons of the arts and promoted/collected Arabic translations of Persian, Greek, and Sanskrit manuscripts. - al-Bukhari was Islam’s most dedicated collector of hadith, provide vital knowledge about the prophet’s life.
- Al-Khwarizmi considered himself Muslim, believed that societies would succeed if their rulers implemented political tenets espoused in Plato’s Republic.
o He began to decline, weakening under overextension - Islam also crossed the Sahara Desert and penetrated well into Africa. - Trade joined West Africa to North Africa and it also generated wealth… most celebrated was Ghana.
o Baghdadi scholar described it as a “land of gold”
o Although Muslim traders frequented the state, its rulers were not Muslims.
- East African coast featured a mixed African-Arab culture. o Bantu language absorbed Arabic words called Swahili - Once Muhammad died, believers disagreed over who should take his place, selecting the first four caliphs after Muhammad’s death left a legacy of protests.
- Majority of Muslims today are Sunnis- they accept the four rightly guided caliphs.
- Shiites- believed that the proper successors should have been Ali. They believe that Ali’s descendants have religious and prophetic power. This appealed to groups who the Umayyad’s and Abbasids had excluded from power.
- Shiites finally seized power, Shiite leader Abu Abdallah overthrew the Sunni ruler thus began the Fatimid regime.
- After conquering Egypt, the Fatimid’s set themselves against the Abbasid caliphs of Baghdad, refusing to acknowledge their legitimacy. They then established their capital in the old Umayyad capital, Cairo.
- The Fatimid regime lasted until the late twelfth century, even though rulers persuaded the Egyptian population to embrace their Shiite beliefs, the population remained Sunnis.
- Muhammad and his early followers created an empire to facilitate the expansion of their faith while their Christian counterparts inherited an empire.
- Muslims were no longer the minority within their own lands. THE TANG STATE
- Eurasian and African worlds had drawn much closer through trade and conversion.
- Two powerhouses competed for dominance in central Asia. - The Tang dynasty promoted a cosmopolitan culture. Buddhist monks, Geeks, Armenians and Jews rubbed elbows in the streets of Chang’an and Luoyang.
- Chinese statecraft and Confucian classics, struck the early Koreans and Japanese as the best model for state building.
- Tang rulers restored Han models of empire building.
- The Tang dynasty expanded the boundaries and reestablished its dominance in East and Central Asia.
- Chang in the course of the Yellow River set the stage for the emergence of the Tang dynasty.
o Population faced starvation
o Li Yuan promptly established the Tang dynasty, doubling the number of government offices.
o His son, Li Shimin took over the thrown
- Tang state required a large trained army in which they regularly clashed on the northern steppes with nomadic peoples.
- Tang’s frontier armies relied on pastoral nomadic soldiers from the Inner Eurasian steppe.
o Uighurs, Turkish-speaking peoples
- The Tang military pushed the state into Tiber, the Red River valley, Manchuria, and Bohai.
- Islamic armies were moving toward central Asia, the Tang were already the region’s new colossus.
- Once the Tang brought South China’s farmlands under cultivation the state was able to collect taxes.
- China in 750CE was the most powerful, advanced and best administered empire in the world.
- The capital of the Tang fell to invading Tibetans and Sogdians. - The heart of the Tang state was Chang’an
o Internal security made it one of the safest urban locales for its age.
o Gates were closed monitored day in and out
- Chang’an had diverse religious life and foreign population o Nestorian Christians from Syria found a welcoming community - The Tang’s required an efficient and loyal civil service. o Produced an empire-wide political culture based on Confucian teachings
- Entry into the ruling group required knowledge of Confucian ideas, all of the commentaries on the Confucian classics and also required skill in classical Chinese language.
- Most important in reinforcing the Tang State was first fully written civil service examinations.
o Tested literary skills and Confucian classics
o Candidates gathered in the capital to take qualifying exams o This system gave rise in china to the perennial belief in the value of classically trained meritocracy.
- Tang rulers and their supporters sought to establish a code of moral values
- Tang amalgamated this range of texts, codes, and tests into a common intellectual and moral credo for the governing classes.
- Official careers were in theory open to anyone of proven talent, in practice they were closed to certain groups.
o Women, those who couldn’t afford an education and sons of merchants were not permitted to serve.
- The Buddhists extended education across society as part of their charitable mission and introduced children to classical texts. - Wives and mothers of emperors influence in the court. - Empress Wu, dominated the court and exploited the examination system.
- She was recruited to Li Shimin’s court and fell in love with his son. Li Shimin died and his son assumed power (emperor Gaozong). Wu became the new emperor’s favorite and gave birth to the sons to
succeed him. She took the place of Gaozong’s empress Wang by accusing her of killing Wu’s newborn daughter. Gaozong believed Wu and married her. Gaozong suffered a stroke and Wu became administrator of the court. She created a secret police force to spy of her opposition.
- Wu expanded the military and recruited her administrators from the civil examination candidates.
o Moved her court to Luoyang
o Chinese Buddhism achieved its highest officially sponsored development in this period.
- Tang rulers protected themselves, possessions, and their women with eunuchs
- Eunuchs- castrated as youths and thus sexually impotent served as an extra eye to watch over their loved things/ones.
- The Chief Eunuch controlled the military
- Under emperor Xianzong, Eunuchs acted as a third pillar of the government.
- Eunuchs became an unruly political force and their competition for influence produced political instability.
- China’s success was rising agricultural production. Earlier dynasty, the Sui started this economic progress by reunifying China and building canals.
- The Tang continued the Grand Canal and the Yangzi River, these water ways aided communication and helped raise living standards. o the south grew richer through labor of immigrants from the north - Chinese merchants worked alongside the Silk Road trading with India and the Islamic world.
o Rebellions jeopardized the land route “silk road by sea” became the avenue of choice.
o Chang’an became the richest city in the world
- Chinese luxuries dominated the Silk Road
- Early Tang emperors tolerated remarkable religious diversity. - Nestorian Christianity, Zoroastrianism, and Manicheanism had entered China from Persia during this time of the Sasanian Empire. - Buddhism thrived under Tang rule.
- Buddhism gained acceptance as one of the “three ways” of learning joining Daoism and Confucianism.
- Influence of Buddhist monks threatened China’s Confucian and Daoist leaders. So, they attacked Buddhism its values conflicted with native traditions.
- Han Yu protested the emperor’s plan to bring a relic of the Buddha to the capital
o Attacked Buddhism as a foreign doctrine of barbarian peoples. Earned him exile
- Emperor Wuzong closed monasteries and destroyed temples and shrines. Buddhist monks were forced to returned to secular life. - Tang era represented homegrown ideologies (Confucianism and Daoism) over a foreign universalizing religion (Buddhism). - Peasant uprisings eventually brought down the dynasty. China fragmented into regional states.
o The Song dynasty that emerged could not unify the Tang territories (even the Mongols couldn’t unify them for long). EARLY KOREA AND JAPAN
- Korea divided into the “Three Kingdoms”- one of these states, Silla, prevent Chinese domination control over the entire peninsula and unified it.
- Koreans opposed the Chinese, yet modeled their government on the Tang imperial state. Chinese became the written language of Korean elites.
o Capital city of Kumsong
- Koreans believed that birth should be the source of influence in religious and political life. Holy men and women ‘shamans’ became entwined with the Tang’s.
- The Tang declined, Silla also fragmented.
- Wang Kon absorbed Silla into the Koryo kingdom.
o They began to construct a bureaucratic system and it replaced the archaic tribal system that the Silla had maintained.
- The Koryo fully established Tang-style examinations to select officials. - Korea suffered continual harassment from northern tribes such as the Khitan, a group exploited the fall of the Tang dynasty.
- Korean artisans anxiously carved wooden scriptures as an offering to the Buddha to protect them from invading enemies.
- Japan also felt influences emanating from China, a warlike group arrived by sea from Korea and imposed military and social power on southern Japan. These conquerors were known as the “Tomb Culture”- unified Japan by extolling their imperial ancestors.
o Introduced a belief in the power of female shamans
- Early Japanese economy consisted of rice and fishing - Tomb Culture gave rise to a Japanese state on the Yamato plain in the region now known as Nara.
o Incorporated native Japanese and Korean migrants.
o National religion known as Shinto- held that after death a person’s soul became a Shinto.
Primary Shinto deity, Amaterasu, creator of the sacred islands of Japan.
- After 587CE the Soga kinship group became Japan’s leading family. - Prince Shotoku, direct descendant of the Soga
o Introduced Buddhism to Japan and promoted both Buddhism and Confucianism. Accommodating to numerous religions
o Shotoku introduced these faiths into the native religious culture, Shinto
- Nakatomi kinship group seized the throne and became the new spokesmen for the Yamato tradition.
o Enacted a series of reforms, the Taika Reform enhanced the power of the ruler and now depicted as an exalted “emperor”, exercised absolute authority.
- Although Prince Shotoku turned to Confucian models they also dabbled in Daoist purification rituals.
- The Taika edicts promoted Buddhism
- Introduction of Confucianism and Buddhism motivated Shinto to assemble their diverse religious practices into a well-organized belief system.
o Gained recognition in the official Department of Religion - Japanese did not fully accept the traditional Buddhist view- instead the Japanese saw their emperor as an object of worship.
THE CHRISTIAN WEST
- Charlemagne, the king of the Franks controlled much of western Europe, he was a political lightweight.
o Charlemagne’s palace at Aachen was just 330 by 655 feet - The massive sale of prisoners of war financed the Frankish empire. - Seemingly uncivilized, this zone offered fertile ground for Christianity. - Charlemagne’s empire was significant for its location. Far removed from the old centers of high culture.
- Christians of the west felt that there was only one truly universal religion.
o Their goal was to bring rival groups into a single ‘catholic’ church.
- The Christian bishop Augustine of Hippo, his book ‘the city of God’ assured contemporary Christians that the barbarian takeover was not the end of the world.
- The catholic church was not just for Romans
- Only one organization would bring them all to paradise: the catholic church
- Several developments gave rise to this attitude.
o Frist, arrival of Christianity in northern Europe provoked a cultural revolution.
Encountered a sacred text- the bible
Latin became a sacred language
The few parchment texts that circulated were far more like a textbook than older books.
o Second, those who produced the Bibles were monks and nuns. Monasticism had originated in Egypt, but it suited the missionary tendencies of Christianity.
- Laypersons (common believers) gave gifts to the monasteries. In return, the monks’ and nuns would keep them from going to hell. - In Muslim (as in Jewish) societies, were married men. In Christian West, honored small groups were unmarried, unfit for warfare, and very literate.
- Monasteries became powerhouses of prayer that kept the regions safe. - Charlemagne acclaimed Pope Leo III as the new “emperor” of the West - Harun’s elephant died, the Franks viewed it as an omen of coming disasters.
- Vikings from Scandinavia exposed the weakness of Charlemagne’s self confident regime.
- The Vikings sough to loot the now-wealthy Franks
o They succeeded because of technological advantage of sophisticated ships
- They emptied northern Europe, sacking the great monasteries along the coasts. They even reached the New World.
- Vikings created an avenue of commerce that linked Scandinavia and the Baltic to Constantinople and Baghdad known as “The Highway of the Slaves”.
- Constantinople had a deadly technological naval warfare. o The Vikings raid was a great failure
- Constantinople and Justinian’s church (Hagia Sophia) had survived. o Here was the central church of a Christian empire.
- Charlemagne’s empire collapsed in western Europe, large areas of eastern Europe became Greek orthodox, not catholic.
o Greek Christianity gained a spiritual empire
- There were two Christianity’s, Roman Catholicism and Greek Orthodoxy.
- Together, the realm of Christendom: the entire portion of the world in which Christianity is prevailed.
- The Christian world was divided, differences in heritage, customs, and levels of civilization.