The Conrad-Demarest Model of Empire: Basic Principles for the Roman, Han Chinese, and Gupta Empires
Necessary preconditions for the rise of empires:
Rome: republic then empire with emperor
Han: kept most of Qin centralized government in place
Gupta: decentralized; regionalism
High agricultural potential in the area:
Rome: wheat, grapes, cattle
Han: wheat, millet, pigs
Gupta: cotton, wool, calico (chief revenue – tax on agriculture) An environmental mosaic
Rome: Alps, Mediterranean Sea, forests, Tiber and other rivers, hills Han: Tianshan mountains, Yellow and Yangtze Rivers, loess soil, Pacific Ocean. Gupta: Indus and Ganges Rivers, Thar Desert, Deccan Plateau, Himalayas Several small states with no clearly dominant state (power vacuum) Rome and other city-states on Italian peninsula; surrounding states in Mediterranean (Greek states, Egypt, Judea, Syria, Cyprus, Gaul, Romania, Spain, Sicily, Sardinia, Carthage, etc.) Han: Qin broke into smaller states
Gupta: regional leadership/rule.
Mutual antagonisms among those states:
Rome: rivalry between pastoralists in hills and agriculturalists in plains Han: Warring States period before Qin unification
Gupta: Hinduism vs. Buddhism; women losing rights.
Adequate military resources:
Rome: soldiers first recruited only from peasant class on Italian peninsula; population inexhaustible. Han: Soldiers recruited from peasant class within the entire empire; population inexhaustible. Gupta: ability to make metal weapons; social system extremely strict, therefore military was particular in choosing (relatively peaceful time). Powerful army maintained tight control. The primary reason a state succeeded in empire building was: An ideology supporting personal identification with the state, empire, conquest and militarism: Rome: “republic” based on citizenship of free men; citizenship ensured loyalty to the state and brought taxes into the state treasury; emperor-dictators had to support the idea of the republic and pretend to follow what the Senate, council of elder wealthy men, decreed. Development of bureaucracy helped run empire.
Han: Militaristic Legalism developed by Qin continued, then softened by Confucian system of government based on ethics, meritocracy, and concept of the Mandate of Heaven. Development of bureaucracy helped run empire. Tribute system for foreign relations. Gupta: Hinduism is uniting force. Enforcing strict social system “Caste System” The Major Rewards of Empire:
Economic rewards, reaped especially in the early years and redistributed to the elite and often to all levels of the citizenry. Rome: citizenship led to recognition of place in society, possible government and military positions of leadership, opportunities for merchants, Roman-style urbanism for new towns and cities. Han: land for supporters, expansion of established cities, creation of new capital storehouses of food when supplies fell. Gupta: advances in arts and sciences, mathematics, iron use, trade increased. Population increase, often supported by the government and its ideology Rome: population increased as new lands with more people were conquered. Han: population increased as new land was colonized by Chinese farmers. Gupta: increased with prosperity and young marriage of women. Empires Fall because:
The ideology of expansion and conquest fueled attempts at conquest beyond practical limits. Rome: military service became less desirable as soldiers lost land; recruits of “foreigners” to keep numbers of soldiers up led to dissatisfaction; tax revenues fell, so government failed to pay soldiers fully; safety within empire and on borders declined. Han: “barbarians” continued to demand more concessions in the tribute system; recruits of “foreigners” to keep numbers of soldiers up led to dissatisfaction; tax revenues fell, so government failed to pay soldiers fully; safety within empire and on borders declined. Gupta:...
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