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What made classical civilizations classical?

philosophical traditions
greek philosophies (know differences b/w Aristotle and Plato; Plato was abstract, Aristotle was empirical
and modern scientific method combines the two

what went right

½ they were efficient

½ able to marshall lots of resource

½ LOTS of trade (silk roads)

½ pretty high quality of life for all people, etc.

what goes wrong in classical empires

½ they¶re too big!

½ many historians date the decline of the Roman empire from the point at which it stops
 ÿadrian changed empire from expansion to consolidation
½ many had so many different people with different languages, culture, religion traditions,
etc.²tried to consolidate into one empire, but didn¶t always work
½ expensive to maintain b/c you had to send armies out
 problem with armies: moved away from citizen soldier models to mercenaries, who
are not always loyal
 expensive D taxes go up D peasants more likely to rebel
 something else that is more important to stability: slavery. Roman empire was built
on slave labor, so when they stopped expanding/cost of slaves went up (compare to
America) there were disastrous consequences for Roman economy
½ peasants get more tied down to land, but are more or less okay with it because they need
½ [[[ is declining

½ political
 corrupt dictators
 army guys
 lessening of a sense of civic responsibility²everyone is about short term
gains/individual profits
think about the extent to which the Roman empire¶s decline matches what happened in other empires,
like the ÿan empire

ÿan was successful because:

½ prosperous economy based on trade and agriculture (internal markets/external trade)

½ meritocracy; [[[[
½ divisions in society between old-landed aristocracy and government started to go down (era
of the warring states/war lords were getting tamed)
 they also tamed nomads
 the Romans and ÿan China had trouble with nomads on the periphery
 sometimes would put them into empire, but other times nomads could take over
½ China had Confucianism²an ideology that promoted social cohesion and social loyalty
(Roman empire and China both lost that)
½ large land owners/aristocrats start getting more powerful and seizing peasant lands

½ they start marrying scholar-bureaucrats to get out of paying taxes D falls on the peasants

½ (listen)

½ this is the transition to the post-classical era

 early post-classical era: beginning of the Islamic empire, beginnings of classical
Japan (which is really post-classical compared to others), medieval Europe, Maya,
end of the Bantu migrations/beginnings of Golden-Salt kingdoms (i.e. Ghana,

post classical era subdivided into two periods:
½ as things are going down in Europe, things are going up in other places, particularly in what
becomes the Islamic world, the creation of new empires that reach their height of civilization
and power
½ Sui, Tang, Song in China (China is disunified, then unifies again into lots of glory, etc.)

½ in India, there a period of decentralization and regional states

 Gupta empire, Chola (no one could dominate the entire subcontinent)
 no kingdom can match what the Maaryans had, but still pretty big regional kingdoms
½ trade during this period
 Europe not really
 dip for 150-200 years in long distance trade, it revives. Some of the trade routes are
similar to before, but some of them are
 Silk Roads revive, but players change: Tang China is now at one end, and
they¶re trading into northern India and into Byzantine territories as well as
into Indian Ocean trading, which is right now dominated by Muslim
D trading networks now from Africa to Tang China, but not dominated
by one person
 right now trade is pretty decentralized
important dates/people:
½ Justinian

½ Charlemagne

½ à  CE: no more Rome

½ early 500s: Justinian/Byzantine

½ late 500s: Sui Dynasty

½ early 00s
 Tang Dynasty (around same time as Islam is being born) and Taika Reforms (Japan)
 Taika Reforms leads into ÿeian Period
½ 50 CE: Umayyad

½ 50 CE: Abbasid Caliphate

½ o00 CE: Charlemagne

 ÿeian²good go be at court
 but in countryside people are increasingly resenting power of the Fujiwara clan. They
end up creating own militias/mercentaries, who become professionalized as a
fighting forceDBushido to give them a code of ethics/behavior, like the knights of
western Europe (w. Europe: violence, local warlords fighting and hiring mercentaries,
those knights are increasingly unmanageable; so Christain church, which is rising in
power during Middle Ages, begins to exert more direct control through its ideas.
Eventually, they harness that same warrior spirit and desire to serve God to the
Crusades, so it helps to lessen warfare, create more anarchy and more of a hierarchy
of political/social control)
½ ´00s: Fujiwara family comes in and begins to rule behind the scenes

½ ´50 CE:
 Song Dynasty
 Delhi Sultanate begin
½ 1000 CE:
 Europe is beginning to now rebound
 integration back into trade and long-distance trade (ÿanseastic League, etc.)
 rebirth or cities/urbanization
 new techniques in agriculture (plow, 3 field system, etc)
½ 101à CE: Great Schism

½ 1100 CE: Beginning of Crusades

 much of Classical learning that wasn¶t Christian had been lost, so they got that from
Byzantines and Muslims
½ 11o5 CE: Fujiwara

½ 1300 CE: Delhi Sultanate end

½ unification of Japan under the ruling family

½ religion: Shinto

½ borrowed things from China²idea of a scholar bureaucracy