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The world around 1600
The World around 1600
The 1600 was a time of great changes in the world. Trade and expansion dominated almost all societies. Ming China, the Songhai and Mughal Empires can be in contrast to European societies as they were ‘advanced societies’ technologically and scientifically. However these three empires collapsed due to invasions and revolts, whereas Europe, in the Middle Ages was secular, dominated by the church and the land owning nobility, whereas Europe grew in strength once the merchant class became dominant and weakening the power of the church. The merchant driven quest for new markets eventually led the colonization of Africa, China and India. Ming China had a strong civil based government within an advanced society. Mandarins ruled for 300 years by decrees who were political, economic and culturally strong. The capital was Beijing .Women in Ming China were sometimes wealthy property owners who had influence in the society but the majority of women were kept home by fathers or husbands. Rural women worked in fields among men while urban women were employed as silk weavers and embroiders. Upper class women were well educated and left a legacy of poetry for future generations. Wealthy women were frequently subjected to foot-binding for feminine beauty and high standing in society. Ships were built to trade and explore, this was led by Admiral Zheng who sailed to Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Arabia and east coast of Africa. He sent silk, porcelain and tea to western Asia and Europe along the Silk Road. Traded by sea with Japan and countries around the Indian Ocean and returned home with spices, ivory exotic animals, and prisoners of war. This influenced other countries in Asia which made people settle in South East Asia for trading purposes. The medicine, maths, and other sciences were very advanced, many books were published, and painted porcelain vases, landscape paintings and jade ornaments were very much appreciated. Education was wide and included both men and women. Ming China went through many changes after being attacked. The Great Wall of China was built for defence against the Mongols. The Empire was weakened by struggles for power between court officials coupled with economic problems with outbreaks of violence and famine in early 1600’s. The Songhai Empire in West Africa across the Sahara was a federation system, unlike the Ming China Empire. The empires capital was Gao. King Askia Muhammed had military units. tax were collected by local chiefs who the king tribute and military support. The wealthy women were well educated and had control of their property and resources, not unlike to some Ming China women who were also wealthy and well educated and were able to exhort financial and political influence. Some women were traders, they were of equal importance to men in markets. Poorer women worked as servants in wealthier households. The empire built large armies to keep order which helped trade to run more smoothly, they traded in European cloth, weapons, gold, salt and horses in exchange for slaves, leather goods, and ivory from West Africa. Trade was conducted along the Niger River with Jewish trading networks from Spain, this linked to extensive Muslim trading networks of Africa, Mediterranean and Asia. Huge caravans of trade goods would cross the Sahara desert. Timbuktu became a commercial centre where scholars, traders/ merchants came to trade. The Songhai Empire had one of the first universities in the World. Gao and Djenne, centres in learning had huge libraries. Islamic learning was brought by Arabs to Africa in the 18th century. This made Muslim learning and ideas very popular. Books were published and there were advancements in maths, medicine and science like Ming China. Astronomy was also well advanced. The empire made wells containing very sweet water to convey the flood of the Niger River to channel to the...
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