What is an empire?
* Empires are political systems with coercive power; typically larger and more aggressive state * They gain power by conquering other states, then use up their resources * Usually include multiple people and cultures under a single political system Eurasian empires of the classical era include:
* Persian, Greek, Roman, Chinese, and Indian Empires
Why have empires always been so fascinating?
* Size was imposing; blood and violence
* Mainly because empires were important, they stimulated exchange of ideas, cultures, and values; also peace and security encouraged development, commerce, and cultural mixing The Persian Empire
* 500 b.c.e., it was the largest and most impressive empire (pop. 35 million people) * Cyrus and Darius expanded empire from Egypt to India (absolute monarchy) * rule by will of the god Ahura Mazda (i.e. Zoroastrianism) * violent punishments by king, effective administrative system (postal system), satraps governed the empire, respect for non-Persians, standardized coinage, predictable taxes, the production of ‘royal road’ held the empire together The Greeks
* classical Greece emerged ca. 750 b.c.e. Hellenistic civilization (pop. 2-3 million people) * the geography of mountains, valleys encouraged development of hundred of city-states * shared common language and common gods
* distinctive features include: equality of all citizens before the law, citizenship, all able men fight as hoplites, tyrants emerged to support poorer class against the rich * Sparta give power to Council of Elders
The Greco-Persian Wars
* Ionian Greeks revolted against Persia with the support of Athens fought from 490-480 b.c.e. Greece = Europe, freedom
Persia = Asia, despotism
* fifty-year Golden Age of Greek culture after Persian Wars Peloponnesian War (431–404 b.c.e.)
* Sparta led resistance to Athenian imperialism (Sparta wins) * Greek states were exhausted, distrusted each other
Alexander and the Hellenistic Era
* Alexander’s expedition against Persia (333–323 b.c.e.), created a massive Greek empire that reached from Egypt and Anatolia to Afghanistan and India (defeated Persians) * Alexander died in 323 b.c.e.; empire divided into three kingdoms, ruled by Macedonian generals Comparing Empires: Roman and Chinese
* both flourished ca. 200 b.c.e.–200 c.e.
* both had 50 million to 60 million people
Rome: From City-State to Empire
* started as small, unimportant city-state in central Italy in eighth century b.c.e. * overthrew monarchy and established a republic ca. 509 b.c.e. * With military leaders(Marius, Sulla, Pompey, Julius Caesar), Rome control over western Mediterranean with its army * dominance of wealthy patricians
* rule by two consuls, with advice from Senate
* conflict with plebeians (poorer classes)
* developed into political role for the plebeians
* pride in republican values: rule of law, citizens’ rights, lack of pretension, morality—“the way of the ancestors” * establishment of pax Romana (Roman peace)
China: From Warring States to Empire (restoration rather than creation) * age of warring states: seven competing kingdoms
* unification by Shihuangdi, ruler of Qin (r. 221–210 b.c.e.) * adopted Legalism as political philosophy: clear rules and harsh punishments to enforce state authority * Chinese emperor Wudi (r. 141–87 b.c.e.) established an academy to train officials based on works of Confucius The Collapse of Empires
* excessive size, overextension, too expensive for available resources * no great technological breakthrough to enlarge resources * tax evasion by large landowning families
* tax burden fell heavily onto the poor
* provoked Yellow Turban Rebellion, peasant revolt in China in 184 c.e. * rivalry between elite factions created instability
* epidemic disease
* threat from nomadic or semi-agricultural...
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