This page explains the assignment for the second class session of J. B. Owens's fall 2002 upper-division undergraduate and graduate course, History 360/560, The Spanish Empire. This course is part of the core curriculum in comparative and world history of the Department of History, Idaho State University. The sole purpose of this page is to provide an orientation to the reading assignments and class session for those students enrolled in History 360/560. See the source page for the complete Dublin Core standard metadata.

You may return to the course main page or to the reading assignments and lecture topics page.

Routes, Networks, and Interactions

ASSIGNMENT: You will use the Alexandria Digital Library (ADL) Gazetteer Server to determine the geographic coordinates of the location you were assigned during the 27 August class session from the list of locations. You will print two copies of your results, and you will submit one of these (put your name on the page) to me at the beginning of class on Tuesday, 3 September. During this class you will also receive instruction about how to do this part of your project.

Prior to the class on Tuesday, 3 September, you MUST read the following items and come to class prepared to discuss them:

Afroeurasia at the beginning of the First Global Age

The impact of the Mongol empire and its fragmentation on the networked interactions among the world regions of Afroeurasia. "Choke-points" and the organization of maritime commerce in the Indian Ocean Basin. The emergence of territorially-extensive polities. Many of the study questions below are designed to focus attention on significant topics for later discussion and to provide ideas about how to conceptualize your research project. Feel free to bring any of these questions to SpEmp (the Spanish Empire discussion list).

  1. What was the impact of Mongol conquests on Eurasian trade?
  2. What impact did Mongol expansion have on the important predominantly Muslim lands of Mesopotamia and Persia?
  3. What were the implications for the historical development of India of Mongol expansion?
  4. What effect did Mongol conquest have on the Chinese polity? What impact did their conquest of China have on the Mongols?
  5. What impact did the increasing integration of Europe into the Afroeurasian commercial system have on the lives of Europeans?
  6. Was the development in Europe of printing with moveable metal type a technological breakthrough capable of distinguishing between the periods often called "late medieval" and "early modern"?
  7. What factors shaped the increasing integration of the people of predominantly Christian Western Europe into the major preexisting commercial networks extending from the Mediterranean to China?
  8. How did traders from Genoa, Pisa, and Venice come to control the shipping lanes of the Mediterranean? At what major points did these Italian traders link with the Southwest Asian trading circuits?
  9. What were the crucial geographic points of Indian Ocean trade?
  10. What factors shaped the routes and timing of inter-regional trade in the Indian Ocean?
  11. Why did a system of tolerant coexistence develop among Indian Ocean merchants of different backgrounds, religions, and home countries?
  12. What impact did the great bubonic plague epidemic of the fourteenth century have on political organizations and patterns of interaction?
  13. What factors led to the reorganization of the Afroeurasian system by the sixteenth century?
  14. What is the historical significance of Asian demographic expansion, urbanization, manufacturing development, and expansion of cultivation in the period 1400-1800?
  15. What were the major characteristics of the interregional trading system that linked peoples of Africa, Asia, and Europe on the eve of the European overseas voyages?
  16. What were the strategic "choke-points" of the key trade routes between East Africa and Japan? Why did Asia's large polities appear so little interested in these "choke-points" in the fifteenth century?
  17. Why did the port cities at the "choke-points" of South and Southeast Asian trade play a major role in the spread of Islam?
  18. Why would the sultans of Aden and Aceh (Atjah [Dutch, used by Indonesia], Acheh [modern English version of Atjah], Achin [old English transliteration]; in Sumatra) at times act as monopsonists or monopolists in the trade of their ports while those of Melaka (Malacca) did not?
  19. Why would a port like Jarun (in the kingdom of Hurmuz [Hormuz, Ormuz]), on a desolate island deficient in food and drinking-water, become a major trade center larger in the fifteenth century than all but a few European cities?
  20. To what extent did "ideological" factors play a role in encouraging or inhibiting economic interaction between regions in East Africa and Asia?
  21. What was the historical significance of the inter-penetration of Asian polities through the migration (diasporas) of administrative, commercial, and "piety-minded" (quoting Marshall Hodgson) elites?
  22. What are the implications of a substantial interregional trade in food and other bulk products in the Indian Ocean basin around 1500?
  23. What was the nature of rule by the Ming dynasty of the various regions of the Middle (or Celestial) Kingdom?
  24. What were the consequences for the social and cultural environments of China of the development of cities that served as the "central places" of a hierarchy of market towns?
  25. What factors motivated the expeditions of Zheng He (Cheng He; Cheng Ho) in the early fifteenth century? Why did the Ming administration subsequently terminate these voyages and increasingly try to prohibit overseas trade by its subjects? Why did these prohibitions fail to end overseas trade by the coastal peoples of southeastern China? What does this failure indicate about the nature of the Ming dynasty's political authority?
  26. Why did Ming emperors make use of eunuchs as holders of high office in their administrations?
  27. Why did Ming leaders feel that their main security threat was from the north?
  28. Why did the Ming government abandon paper money for a silver standard of monetary value? What impact did this decision have on world trading patterns?
  29. What impact did the imperial examination system have on the social and cultural environments of Ming China?
  30. In what ways were the Ottoman ghazi warriors like the Christian fighters who attacked Muslim lands in the Iberian Peninsula? How were the two groups different?
  31. Why were the Ottoman Turks able to carve out a huge Afroeurasian empire?
  32. Why were the Ottoman sultans able to rule over a territory within which there lived Greek Orthodox and Latin Catholic Christians, Jews, and Muslims? What impact did this religious diversity have on the political, institutional, and economic development of Ottoman territories?
  33. Why were Ottoman leaders so quick to adopt gunpowder weapons for warfare?
  34. Why did the Ottomans form their New Army (Janissaries)?
  35. How important was international trade to the economy of the Ottoman empire?
  36. What are the similarities and differences between the factors that contributed to the military, political, and cultural achievements of Mehmet the Conqueror and Suleyman the Magnificent (the Law-giver)?
  37. What was the impact of integration through conquest on women and families in areas incorporated into the Ottoman empire?
  38. How do you explain the tremendous success of the Turkic Mughals of the Timurid dynasty, especially from the reign of Akbar through that of Aurangzeb, in controlling a huge part of the territory of the Indian "subcontinent"?
  39. Why did Akbar encourage religious tolerance within Mughal territory?
  40. What factors made Mughal India a consistent net importer of silver from its founding until its eighteenth-century collapse?
  41. Why was it possible for Mughal rulers to incorporate so many Persians (Iranians) into the political and religious leadership of their dominion?
  42. Why were the Turkic Safavids able to unify Persia under Ismail and Shah Abbas I?
  43. Why did the Safavids, unlike the rulers of the other great Eurasian empires, adopt a policy of religious proselytization (of Shi'a Islam)?
  44. Why did Shah Abbas I (r. 1588-1629) move away from the earlier Safavid policy of accommodation of the Turkoman qizilbash nomads?
  45. Why did men like Oda Nobunaga and his two great subordinates Toyotomi Hideyoski and Tokugawa Ieyasu become the dominant figures of late sixteenth-and early seventeenth-century Japanese politics?
  46. Why would Japan's leaders, of all Asian rulers, have been the least favorable to the use of elite migrants from other areas?
  47. Why did the importance of European traders increase in the Afroeurasian system beginning in the fifteenth century?
  48. Why were the Portuguese the first to violate the atmosphere of mutual tolerance that had largely characterized Indian Ocean trade prior to Vasco da Gama's first voyage?
  49. What impact do choices made about cultural, geographical, and chronological units of analysis have on historical understanding?

All contents copyright © 1995-2002.
J. B. Owens
All rights reserved.

Revised: 31 August 2002