A history of the world since 1300


Lecture 1:

1.1 - People and Plunderers

World Created by God(s)

Most people lived in rural villages

Painting: The Corn Harvest

Living remained constant throughout the world

Life expectancy around 30-35 years globally

Height for men: 5’5, shorter lives and shorter people

Exceptions of small elites on top of social pyramids

Adam Smith’s the Wealth of Nations in 1776

Wealth: Product of human effort above and beyond what's necessary to survive

1.2 - The Wealth of Villages

The Corn Harvest: People portrayed lived in subsistence level

Villages could produce non essential goods, weapons, cloth,

Non essential: Saffron in Spain, cinnamon in Sri Lanka, pepper in India; light and expensive

Trading for others, villages produce these preciosities for others, not for their own use

Long chain of trade

China: Powerful Hub of early globalization

Hydraulic Engineering; building dams, irrigation, land reclamation (hills), sewage

    Grand Canal from the North to South

Large scale deforestation, huge population doubling to 100 million

1.3 -Silk Roads (1000-1300)

Afro-Eurasia: The silk roads: Causeways for merchants and camels

Many commodities: Spices, saffron, drugs, silk

    All goods of high yield, low weight

Deforestation for rice, mulberry, Elephants and megafauna were dying

Buddhism and trade connected, Buddha's message appealing

Amalgamated many faiths, could connect many peoples

Caravanserais: Cities, hubs for merchants, caravan, money dealers, stench of feces

Samarkand: Prominent city

Camels: Beasts of burden used for

Moving back and forth between lines

Had special shoes, had light bottles to store water

1.4 - Sea Lanes

Dhows, Caravels: Important ships used to transport heavier goods, much more cargo

Silk Road limited to preciosities

Charts, compasses (invented in China)

Ivory, wood

Arab merchant houses helpful to connect: brokers between culture

Arabic language of trade

Now: nepotism

1.5 - Worlds of Genghis Khan

Mongols couldn't rely on local resources, also needed predation

Expansion of Mongol cultures because of Silk Road

Genghis Khan: Connected the world’s parts in 25 years \ Impediments because of Afghanistan, India, Japan failed

Genghis Khan’s conquering: first world war

Developments of Equestrian warfare

Taking of the Khwarezm bassin from sultan of Baghdad took 125 000 horses

Turkish allies, chinese allies

Relied on fear, skulls hanging as necklaces

Element of surprise: strategic attacks of fear, public desecration, subordinate the enemy

Mongols had to travel light, had to live off the conquered land

Borrowed and adapted civilisation, fealty

Mongols didn't want to clean the slate, not destroy, wanted to absorb it into tributary system

Cyclical: Economic Captors and Capturers, running through proxies, intermarriage crucial

Not in an act of revenge


Political transportation


Empire collapsed after two generations

Lecture 2: Warfare and Motion

2.1 - The Black Death

Interconnectivity: Beginning of Globalization

Movement of invisible forces, whimpers of millions of people

Portmanteau Term = combo of 2+ terms (example: smog = smoke fog)

The Black Plague devastates Afro-Asia

Population of China: 120 million to 80 million

Europe 60% Death rate of people

Unaffected areas: South, West Africa, Americas

Swahili Coast: Arabs, Buddhists, South Asians, Chinese

Build towns and coastal cities

Africa: Source of Gold

Kilawa: African Island with largest mosque made by Persians

Syncretic Cultures: Combination of different, contradictory beliefs/religions

Islam amalgamated into  local beliefs

African Tradition of Slavery

African slaves for employment outside of Africa

2.2 - Reconstruction after the Black Death

New Political Systems

Especially after the

Ottoman Empire expands and fills power vacuum

Christian States needed to look for alternative routes to Asia (Columbus)

1:Dynastic Political Systems

Complicated Systems to preserve rule, more secular form of rule

2: Warfare important to legitimize authority

3: Religion Ethnic Identity

Relate to subject people

Ming Dynasty in China: Being Non-Mongolian

Revitalized relationship/connection with God using Kings as mediators

Faith Based Model of Law

2.3 - The Ming Dynasty

1350s: Reconquest of Mongols

1368: Retake of

“Ming” = brilliant

New mechanisms

Rebuild army to legitimize

Exam System for Bureaucracies

Rebuild Forbidden City (Centre of Capital)

Clashes between Middle East and Chinese Authorities

751 Du: First person to write about encounters in Africa 8th Century

    Ivory, Turtle Shells, frankincense,

1300s: Trade between China and Africa

Chinese Demands for African Exports, after tribute and trade

Chinese Expansion: Developping tributary relations between subordinate people

1382: Chinese Army Captured 10 year old, Mah, became a eunich

Grew up to become a fearsome warrior

Had massive ships, 20x times the size of Santa Maria

Became **Zheng He**, travelled around the Indian

Brought back Giraffes, riches from Africa, Java,

Enters a harbour (Malabar, India)

Give elaborate gifts and negotiated long term partnership, could take months

Could have easily blasted Malabar

Tension between eunuchs and Confucian

Scholars wanted China to be Isolated

2.4 - Christendom and Islam

China: System of Integration

Europe: Polities could never overcome, opposite of China

Persistent feudalism, localism, militant rivalry

Hallmark of Europe until end of WW2

Tiny micro-kingdoms claiming they're more chosen by God

Middle East: Islamisation of Afro-Asia

Conversion Follow Commerse, Also Conquest Corridors

16th Century: Eastern Sprawl of Islam

Chinese Ports would be dominated by mosques

Kingdom of Mali, connecting Niger inland to Timbuktu

Mughal Empire: Process of reintegration after devastation of 14th century

Islamic Dynasty, conquest by Turks in today’s India

Timur or Tamerlane: Conqueror 15th Century: Restorer of gardure of Genghis Khan

1398: Invade South Asia, Attack Delhi Sultanate & absorb to Mughal Empire

Dehli had war elephants and set staw on camel’s back on fire, forcing elephants retreat

Delhi plundered and brought riches to Samarkand, capital

Integrate polyglot of Hindu, Muslim, Pagan, Buddhist beliefs in South Asia

Timur’s offspring, Babur founding Mughal Empire

Safavid Empire = Iran

Ottoman Empire: Longest lasting empire after

Turk Empires attacking weakened Christendom states

Failed Crusades

The slowly waning Byzantine Empire:

1453: Fall Constantinople

Crossroads but protected by fortification

Long siege of 200 000 troops

Refugees flee to Italy, Florence, Venice, to form Renaissance

Turns largest Christian Church until

1529: Siege of Vienna failed

1520s: Important decade, spanish in Mexico

Mehmed:Portrayed usually as barbarian conqueror

Largest Library in the world, Florence’s Iliterati

Bellini: Render Mehmed, Sagacious leader

Gateways of East and West Divided, Suez, blocked by Ottomans

Christian Europeans need to find a new way to Asia (Columbus?)

Lecture 3: Clashing Worlds

3.1 - Worlds Apart

Martin Behaim’s Globe

Americas are missing


Not developed large sailing

No large scale killing machines despite having large populations

Taking captive enemies and incorporate

Humans were more valuable than the land

1: No widespread warfare

2: Different pool of diseases, less immunity

Native American Population: 200 million people

City of Cahokia, 60 000 people

Incan Empire, Aztec Empire

3.2 - New Worlds

Mesoamerican people were speaking in the lower Andes

Inca: Internal Struggles from Aymara speaking people

didn't practice human sacrifice

Required immense tributes to Inca conquerors

Aztec Empire: More External Threats

Tlaxcalan neighbour, closer to Gulf to Mexico

Capturing enemy people to sacrifice them

Blood falls from the temple, symbolizing the rain of the Gods

1487:  20 000 - 80 000 people were sacrificed

Before Spanish Arrived

Civil war, Atahualpa won

Montezuma II became emperor, feuding between sucessors

3.3 - Old Worlds: 1450

Christendom facing two fronted conflict

East: Ottoman Expansion from Balkans

North: Searching for passages to Asia

Exploration North and East

Marriage of Castile and Aragon

Push muslim frontier out of Spain

Exploration of Atlantic Islands

Canary Islands and Azores Islands

Test subjects of first colonies, first sugar plantation, African slavery

European tapping African coast to buy gold and slaves

Equatorial Currents to travel west, discovery of trade winds

Columbus was not alone, pooling knowledge of African, Arab, European

Juan Caboto, Pedro Cabral were much more up to date than Columbus

Columbus was first ot reach landfall

Columbus and “Indians”

Brought a translator

Translation starts at the start of conquest

Hispaniola Island: First colonies, agrarian societies for someone else’s consuption

Tropical export to Europe,

Blurred lines between conquest and colonization

Legend of El Dorado, looking for even more riches in new land

3.4 - Europe Meets America

3.5 - The Columbian Exchange

Last update: 2023-04-24