Unit 3 Overview: Land-Based Empires
The one thing you need to know about this unit:
Ruling is Complicated
Lots of territory + diverse populations + external challenges = many different ruling styles, techniques and methods.
Contextualizing the Unit
While the Columbian Exchange and Columbus’s Voyages capture most of the attention between 1450-1750, at the same time, around the world a number of land empires centralized. These Land Empires are meant to be a topic to compare and contrast with each other and with the Maritime Empires of Unit 4.
Gunpowder technology was getting better, making it easier to use guns en masse. Intensification of trade routes also occurred on land, meaning that the new empires would have access to a larger pool of resources than their predecessors.
These empires were different, but a few continuities remained. Religion and cultural ideas continued to play a role, and even spread within empires. Empires continued to be absolute, with most maintaining strict political and economic control over their domains.
1453: Ottoman Conquest of Constantinople, Rise of the Ottoman Empire
1471: Completion of the Sun Temple in Cuzco, rise of the Inca Empire
1517: Martin Luther publishes 95 Theses, Protestant Reformation begins
1526: Guru Nanak founded the first Sikh Community
1600: Tokugawa Shogun unifies Japan
1644: Qing Dynasty is founded
1682: Palace of Versaille completed in France
1707: Death of Emperor Aurangzeb, weakening of the Mughal Empire
Major Trends Between 1450-1750
New military weapons make wars more decisive
Increase in the size and number of Empires
Administrative systems → more resources to expand
Collapse of Nomadic Empires → room for landed empires to expand
Continued spread of major religions associated with empires
Utilization of religious ideas to solidify rule.
What is a Land-Based Empire?
What is a land-based empire? By the name it may seem obvious, and it is to an extent. But there are a few key features of these empires.
1. The term land-based empire--as it explicitly applies to AP World History--refers to empires which existed during the period 1450-1750. Although some existed before and after, most are confined to this time period.
2. These empires were land-based, meaning they focused their attention predominantly on land-based expansion or administration and did not express interest in controlling overseas territory. Why? That’s complicated, and unique to each state. But some reasons include:
This rule has several notable exceptions of course: The Ottoman, Ming and French Empires all sponsored or supported major naval expeditions, and the Tokugawa Shogunate launched a major seaborne invasion of Korea. But overall, these states focused predominantly on land-based expansion. *Pointing out these exceptions in an essay would be an excellent complexity point.*
3. These were empires, and, while each empire was run slightly differently with different systems of administration or taxation or military technology, they were absolute monarchies. These should not be confused with democracies or representative governments.
Let’s meet the land-based empires (While these are the empires which are explicitly listed in the AP World Course description, you can probably think of other empires similar to these.)
The Ming and Qing Dynasty in modern China
The Tokugawa Shogunate in modern Japan
The Mughal Empire in modern India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh
The Safavid Empire in modern Iran and Iraq
The Ottoman Empire (some parts of the Ottoman Empire were in Europe) in modern Turkey, Egypt, Syria and Jordan
The Songhai Empire
In the Americas:
Aztec Empire (also known as the Mexica, for the dominant cultural group within the empire)