Margin Review Questions
1.In what ways did pastoral societies differ from their agricultural counterparts? Pastoral societies supported far smaller populations.
Pastoral societies generally lived in small and widely scattered encampments of related kinfolk. Pastoral societies generally offered women a higher status, fewer restrictions, and a greater role in public life. Pastoral societies were far more mobile.
2.In what ways did pastoral societies interact with their agricultural neighbors? Economically, nomads sought access to the foodstuffs, manufactured goods, and luxury items available only from their agricultural neighbors. Politically and militarily, pastoral peoples at times came together to extract wealth from agricultural societies through trading, raiding, or extortion. Culturally, members of some pastoral societies adopted the religions of their agricultural neighbors, including Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, and Manichaeism.
3.In what ways did the Xiongnu, Arabs, and Turks make an impact on world history? The Xiongnu effected a revolution in nomadic life, transforming earlier fragmented and egalitarian societies into a far more centralized and hierarchical political system in which power was concentrated in a divinely sanctioned ruler and differences in the status of clans were more pronounced. The Xiongnu system created a model that later Turkic and Mongol empires emulated. It was within the Arab world that Islam, the largest and most expansive religious tradition of the postclassical period, emerged. Pastoral Arabs also provided the shock troops of the Islamic expansion that carved out the Arab Empire. The Turks carried Islam to new regions, including northern India and Anatolia; played an increasingly important role in the heartland of an established Islamic civilization, as the Seljuk Turks became the de facto power behind the Abbasid caliphate in the Middle East; and carved important empires out of settled societies, including the Ottoman Empire.
4.Did the history and society of the East African Masai people parallel that of Asian nomads? Unlike Inner Asia, no large states or chiefdoms developed among pastoral or agricultural peoples in East Africa. Instead, the nomadic cattle-keeping Masai and their settled agricultural neighbors were bound together by the ties of village and clan as well as through an initiation ritual that created a profound and lasting bond among the adolescent boys of various villages and lineages. The Masai did not fully abandon cultivation until the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries C.E. However, the Masai experience did parallel that of Asian nomads in that they regularly traded with or raided agricultural peoples.
5.Identify the major steps in the rise of the Mongol Empire. Temujin, later dubbed Chinggis Khan, succeeded in bringing the Mongols together, unifying them in the Great Mongol Nation by 1206. In order to hold his alliance together, Chinggis Khan launched a series of military campaigns against the settled agricultural societies of Eurasia over the half century after 1209. Through this Mongol world war, Chinggis Khan and his successors constructed an empire that included China, Korea, Central Asia, Russia, much of the Islamic Middle East, and parts of Eastern Europe.
6.What accounts for the political and military success of the Mongols? By the end of Chinggis Khan's reign, the Mongol Empire had developed an ideology centered on a mission to unite the whole world in one empire. The Mongol army was better organized, better led, and better disciplined than the armies of its opponents. The Mongol army was organized to diminish the divisive tribalism of the pastoral clan structure, partly by spreading members of tribes among different units of the army. The Mongols made up for their small numbers by incorporating huge numbers of conquered peoples into their military forces. The Mongols quickly acquired Chinese techniques and technology of siege warfare, which allowed them to overcome the elaborate fortifications of walled cities. Mongol forces were effective in part because of their growing reputation for a ruthless brutality and utter destructiveness. Their reputation served as a form of psychological warfare, a practical inducement to surrender. The Mongols displayed an impressive ability to mobilize both the human and material resources of their growing empire through census taking, an effective system of relay stations for rapid communication, and the beginnings of a centralized bureaucracy in the capital of Karakorum. The Mongols fostered commerce.
The Mongols drew on conquered peoples to fill advisory and lower-level administrative positions. The Mongols welcomed and supported many religious traditions as long as they did not become the focus of political opposition.
7.How did Mongol rule change China? In what ways were the Mongols changed by China? The Mongols united a divided China.
The Mongols took a Chinese dynastic title, the Yuan, and moved their capital to a new capital city known as Khanbalik, the "city of the khan" (present-day Beijing). The Mongols made use of Chinese administrative practices and techniques of taxation and their postal system. Mongol khans made use of traditional Confucian rituals, supported the building of some Daoist temples, and were particularly attracted to a Tibetan form of Buddhism, which returned the favor with strong political support for the invaders.
8.How was Mongol rule in Persia different from that in China? Heavy taxation pushed Persian peasants off their land, while Mongol herds of sheep and goats and Mongol neglect of fragile underground water channels did extensive damage to Persian agricultural land. The Mongol rulers in Persia were transformed far more than their counterparts in China were, as the Mongols made extensive use of the sophisticated Persian bureaucracy. Unlike what occurred in China, the Mongols who conquered Persia converted in large numbers to the local Muslim faith. A number of Mongols turned to farming and married local people, so when their rule in Persia collapsed, they were not driven out as they had been from China. Instead, they were assimilated into Persian society.
9.What was distinctive about the Russian experience of Mongol rule? The Mongols conquered Russia but did not occupy it as they had Persia and China. Instead, Russian princes received appointment from the khan and were required to send substantial tribute to the Mongol capital at Sarai. Russia was still exploited, but the Mongol impact there was much more uneven than it had been in Persia or China. The absence of direct Mongol rule meant that the Mongols were far less influenced by or assimilated within Russian cultures than their counterparts in China and Persia had been. On the other hand, Russians were, if anything, more affected by Mongol domination than the Persians and Chinese had been. Russian princes found it useful to adopt the Mongols' weapons, diplomatic rituals, court practices, taxation system, and military draft.
10.In what ways did the Mongol Empire contribute to the globalization of the Eurasian world? The Mongols actively promoted international commerce, and the Mongol trading circuit that stretched from China to the Near East was a central element in an even larger commercial network that linked much of the Afro-Eurasian world in the thirteenth century. The Mongol Empire also prompted diplomatic relationships from one end of Eurasia to the other, especially between Western Europe and the Mongols and between Persia and China. The Mongol Empire also spurred a substantial exchange of peoples and cultures through its policy of forcibly transferring many thousands of skilled craftsmen and educated people from their homelands to distant parts of the empire. The Mongol Empire, through its religious tolerance and support of merchants, facilitated the spread of religions. The Mongol authorities actively encouraged the exchange of ideas and techniques. A great deal of Chinese technology and artistic conventions flowed westward, including painting, printing, gunpowder weapons, compass navigation, high-temperature furnaces, and medical techniques. Meanwhile, Muslim astronomers brought their skills and knowledge to China. Crops were also exchanged.
11.Disease changes societies. How might this argument apply to the plague? The loss of population due to the plague created labor shortages that provoked sharp conflict between scarce workers and the rich, which in turn undermined the practice of serfdom in Europe. Labor shortages also fostered a greater interest in technological innovation in Europe and created more employment opportunities for women. The plague contributed to the downfall of the Mongol Empire. The plague caused significant disruption to trade routes to the east, and this trade disruption, along with a desire to avoid Muslim intermediaries, provided an incentive for Europeans to take to the sea in their continuing efforts to reach the riches of Asia.