Sunday, August 30, 2015
Saturday, August 29, 2015
During the late nineteenth century, the Ottoman Empire started to decline and to lose its territory closest to Europe. Sometimes, European powers meddled in the affairs of the Ottoman Empire in cooperation with the rivals of the Ottoman Empire. The young Turks conspired to force a constitution on the Sultan, advocate centralized rule and the Turkification of minorities, and carry out modernizing reforms. Looking for assistance, they turned to German, and they hired a German general to modernize Turkey’s military. Alliances such as this will soon play a role in what is now known as World War I. Other causes include Nationalism, Imperialism and Militarism. As many countries acquire territory and build their military, suspicions will rise among their neighboring countries. There would be a decrease in trust and an increase in setting up defense mechanisms, just in case one country declares war on the other. This Great War will last from 1914 to 1918, and it will begin with Serbia and Austria-Hungary. These two nations will manage to pull many countries, and their colonies, into the war. However, will the war deem profitable? Will America maintain is isolation foreign policy? Russia will join the war, but will leave the war to fight for the Russian Revolution. Will Russia fight for communism or for democracy?
Nationalism is a country’s want to take control other countries due to the idea of being superior (hegemony). It is deeply rooted in European culture, as it served to unite individual nations while undermining large multiethnic empires. Because of the spread of nationalism, most people viewed war as a crusade for liberty or as revenge for past injustices. Others believed that war could heal the class divisions in their societies. Alliances, agreements, were formed between countries. These agreements stipulated that one country will help the other in times of war. The major European countries were organized into two alliances: the Triple Alliance, Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy, and the Triple Entente, Britain, France, and Russia. The military alliance system was accompanied by inflexible mobilization plans that depended on railroads to move troops according to precise schedules. Imperialism was the source of tension and completion among countries because they all wanted to acquire the maximum amount of territory possible: territory equals power. Last but not the least, militarism is the building up of a country’s military unit, and it caused suspicion among the alliances. These four main acts led to World War I in 1914.
Furthermore, on July 28, 1914 the alliances finally had a reason to go to war. The Archduke Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary, with his wife, goes to Bosnia, the city of Sarajevo, to visit. This upsets the Serbians because they wanted to annex Bosnia, since they were Slavs. Most importantly, the Serbians felt oppressed by the Austrian-Hungarian people. Thus, the Black Hand, a secret association of Serbia plots to assassinate the Archduke once he arrived to visit. “The Black Hand movement wanted Serbia to be free from Austro-Hungarian rule. The movement was founded by Captain Dragutin Dimitrijevic, better known as ‘Apis’. Gavrilo Princip, the assassin of Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie at Sarajevo on June 28th 1914, was a member of the Black Hand movement.” This assassination sparks great tension between Serbia and Austria-Hungary. Both country pull alliances to fight for justice. Austria-Hungary’s alliance comprised of Germany, the Ottoman Empire, and Bulgaria. They had the upper hand because Germany had the best army, and also because the Ottoman Empire had the largest territory. Serbia’s alliance comprised of Russia, who wasn’t quite as industrialized as the other European countries, France, Britain, Japan, China, and later the United States of America. “The nations of Europe entered the war in high spirits, confident of victory. German victory at first seemed assured, but as the German advance faltered in September, both sides spread out until they formed an unbroken line of trenches (the Western Front) from the North Sea to Switzerland. The generals on each side tried to take enemy positions by ordering their troops to charge across the open fields, they were killed by machine gun fire. For four years the war was inconclusive on both land and at sea”. The demands of trench warfare led governments to impose stringent controls, such as food rationing, over all aspects of their economies. Africans, Indians, Chinese, and women were hired to work in factories to help support the war and economy. This glory for women was only temporary, as they were made to vacate their jobs when the men came back from war. German civilians paid a high price for the war as the British naval blockade cut off access to essential food imports. As the need for laborers and troops increased, the Europeans turned to their African colonies. There, they requisitioned food, imposed heavy taxes, forced Africans to grow cash crops and sell them at low prices, and recruited African men to serves and porters and soldiers in the Great War. This of course, took a toll on the African nation once again. The United Stated grew rich during the war by selling good to Britain and France. What happened to staying neutral? After several threats form the German government, the United States abandoned its neutrality, and it engaged in the Great War in 1917. Prior to that, the Turks had signed a secret alliance with Germany in 1914. They engaged in unsuccessful campaigns against Russia, deported the Armenians (causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands, and closed the Dardanelles Straits. At the end of the war, the Treaty of Versailles was issued. Its purpose was to weaken Germany. The Treaty blamed Germany for the war and ordered it to pay reparations. It also broke up the Ottoman Empire, and it gave mandates to the British and French. This led to the creation of new countries such as the modern Middle East. The unfair Treaty of Versailles, and the ineffectiveness of the League of Nations, will lead to WWII.
World War I is considered to be the first modern war. It certainly changed warfare forever. How? It introduced many Advances in Science and technology into modern warfare, which changed the battle tactics and strategies. World War I was the first war where the airplane was used. “Initially, airplanes were used to observe enemy troops. However, by the end of the war they were used to drop bombs on troops and cities. They also had mounted machine guns that were used to shoot down other planes”. Much of the war was fought using Trench Warfare. Both Sides dug long trenches that helped protect the soldiers from artillery. The areas between the trenches of two enemies was known as No Man’s Land. This strategy of fighting resulted in log stalemates with high casualties. Tanks, armored vehicles, were used to cross “No Man’s Land” between the trenches. Although the first tanks were hard to steer, they became quite effective by the end of the war. “The most dangerous ships during World War I were large metal-armored battleships called dreadnoughts. These ships had powerful long-range guns, allowing them to attack other ships and land targets from a long distance. The main naval battle in World War I was the Battle of Jutland. Besides this battle, Allied naval ships were used to blockade Germany to prevent supplies and food from reaching the country. World War I also introduced submarines as a naval weapon in warfare. Germany used submarines to sneak up on ships and sink them with torpedoes. They even attacked Allied passenger ships such as the Lusitania.” Ultimately, new weapons such as large guns, machine guns, flame throwers, and chemical weapons were used for the first time in war.
By the late 1916 the larger but incompetent and poorly equipped Russian Army is forced to abandon the Great War, as they had experienced numerous defeats and they had run out of ammunition and other essential supplies. The Russian economy was in a state of collapse, as they faced fuel and food shortages. Czar Nicholas II had proved to be an ineffective leader. Czar was married to a German lady, who was greatly influenced by Rasputin. Most Russian folks felt uneasy about this because Rasputin led a reckless life in town. They found it despicable that such as man had great influence on their Queen. In March 1917, the Czar is overthrown and replaced with a Provisional Government led by Alexander Kerensky. On November 6, 1917, Vladimir Lenin’s Bolsheviks staged an uprising in Petrograd and overthrew the Provisional Government. This is considered the first phase of the Russian Revolution: the formation of the provisional government. In the fall of 1917, the second phase starts. Lenin, a Marxist, believed in communism. However, he changed the ideas of Karl Marx. He believed in the creation of a vanguard party and a group of professional revolutionaries. The Bolsheviks gain the support of many people, as they take over the government. However, their power isn’t solid because of the opposition from groups like the Mensheviks, who didn’t believe in radical change. This leads to the Russian civil war in the 1920’s. The world, US, France and Germany, support the Mensheviks because they opposed communism and advocated for democracy. The Bolsheviks defeats the Mensheviks, and the USSR (Union of Socialist Soviet Republics) is formed. This is considered a turning point in history because it establishes the first communist country in the world. Years of warfare, revolution, and mismanagement had ruined the Russian economy. Beginning in 1921 Lenin’s New Economic Policy helped to restore production by relaxing government controls and allowing a return of market economics. This policy was regarded as a temporary measure that would be superseded as the Soviet Union built a modern socialist industrial economy by extracting resources from the peasants in order to pay for industrialization. When Lenin dies in 1924, his associates struggled for power. Trotsky, Lenin’s preference, was expelled and forced to flee the country by Joseph Stalin, who took over the government. Stalin, a very self-centered man, focuses on power, dictatorship, and on himself. He corrupts many of Lenin’s ideas, and he creates a totalitarian government. Brutal, he executes anyone who deems a threat to his government, position, and ideologies. Approximately, 20 million people were killed under his reign.
Stalin goes ahead to set up the Five Year plan to increase agriculture and industrial output in Russia. In the name of Communism, Stalin seized assets, including farms and factories, and reorganized the economy. However, these efforts often led to less efficient production, ensuring that mass starvation swept the countryside. “The first Five Year Plan (1928-1932) was declared completed a year early and the second Five Year Plan (1933-1937) was launched with equally disastrous results. A third Five Year began in 1938, but was interrupted by World War II in 1941. While all of these plans were unmitigated disasters, Stalin’s policy forbidding any negative publicity led the full consequences of these upheavals to remain hidden for decades. To many who were not directly impacted, the Five Year Plans appeared to exemplify Stalin's proactive leadership” (McKinney, 3). Stalin also set up collectives, which proved ineffective because the more people work on one job, the less output is produced. The Russian Revolution is now depicted the George Orwell’s Animal Farm. This novel parallel the events in the Russian Revolution. Old Major’s vision of a farm where animals ruled, where there were no human oppressors, is a direct match to Marx’s vision of a communist society. In his Communist Manifesto, Marx envisions a world where everyone is equal, and where those on the lower rungs of society have as much say as those on the upper rungs. Although both concepts are nice in theory, “Animal Farm” shows that too much power can corrupt anyone. When Old Major’s vision, later called “Animalism,” was put into practice, the pigs in charge took over and became selfish and violent, twisting the philosophy until it barely contained an echo of the original intent. The same thing happened with communism, as Stalin left much of the country penniless and helpless, and put people to death if they showed the slightest resistance to his regime.
Pen ultimate, in the 1920s women enjoyed more personal freedoms than ever before, and women won the right to vote in some countries between 1915 and 1934. This did not have a significant effect on politics because women tended to vote like their male relatives. Class distinctions faded after the war as the role of the aristocracy (many of whom had died in battle) declined and displays of wealth came to be regarded as unpatriotic. The expanded role of government during and after the war led to an increase in the numbers of white collar workers. The working class did not expand because the introduction of new machinery and new ways of organizing work made it possible to increase production without expanding the labor force. WWI resulted in stalemates with huge casualties and no profit. The unfair Treaty of Versailles together with the ineffectiveness of the League of Nations will lead to WWII. Russia, the underdeveloped European nation, will start a revolution in attempt to industrialize. Stalin would later drag the Russian economy through mud, with his 5 year plan. WWI and the Russian Revolution are turning points in history. Both events change people’s perspective on government and war. The Revolution established communism, while WWI established better and more effective war tactics.
 "World War I for Kids: Changes in Modern Warfare." Ducksters. Technological Solutions, Inc. (TSI), Mar. 2015. Web. 29 Mar. 2015. <http://www.ducksters.com/history/world_war_i/ww1_changes_in_modern_warfare.php>.
 "World War I for Kids: Changes in Modern Warfare." Ducksters. Technological Solutions, Inc. (TSI), Mar. 2015. Web. 29 Mar. 2015. <http://www.ducksters.com/history/world_war_i/ww1_changes_in_modern_warfare.php>.
Tuesday, August 25, 2015
From the 17th century to the mid-19th century, Europeans had come to regard their continent as the only great power and the center of the universe. The rest of the world was either ignored or exploited. The world economy, international politics, even cultural and social issues revolved around a handful of countries; the “great powers” that believed that they controlled the destiny of the world. As crazy as it may sound, they did just that. However, in defense of Western imperialism and the force of nationalism, some countries began to not only strengthen, but go on the offensive and join the ranks of the great powers. Mounting tensions in Europe led to the Great War as Russia and China erupted in revolution. The Ottoman Empire became modern Turkey, and the Arab lands were taken over by France and Britain. While the capitalistic nations fell into depression, the Soviet Union industrialized. World War II led to the destruction of many cities and people. Most of all, it weakened Europe’s overseas empires. The new shift in power is lead to what historians now call the Second Industrial Revolution.
While the first Industrial Revolution gave rise to textiles, railroads, iron, and coal, the second Industrial Revolution introduced steel, electricity, chemicals, and petroleum. These new technologies revolutionized everyday life and transformed the world economy. By 1890, Germany and the U.S. surpassed Britain as the world’s leading industrial powers. Shipbuilding developments included the use of iron (and then steel) for hulls, propellers, and more efficient engines. Shipping lines also used the growing system of submarine telegraph cables in order to coordinate the movements of their ships around the globe. Steel is an especially hard and elastic form of iron that could be made only in small quantities by skilled blacksmiths before the eighteenth century. The nineteenth century brought large-scale manufacture of chemicals and the invention of synthetic dyes and other new organic chemicals. Nineteenth century advances in explosives (including Alfred Nobel’s invention of dynamite) had significant effects on both civil engineering and on the development of more powerful and more accurate firearms. The complexity of industrial chemistry made it one of the first fields in which science and technology interacted on a daily basis. In the 1870s inventors devised efficient generators that turned mechanical energy into electricity that could be used to power arc lamps, incandescent lamps, streetcars, subways, and electric motors for industry. Electricity helped to alleviate the urban pollution caused by horse-drawn vehicles.
Between 1850 and 1914 Europe saw very rapid population growth, while emigration from Europe spurred population growth in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Argentina. As a result, the proportion of people of European ancestry in the world’s population rose from one-fifth to one-third. Reasons for the increase in European population include a drop in the death rate, improved crop yields, the provision of grain from newly opened agricultural land in North America, and the provision of a more abundant year-round diet as a result of canning and refrigeration. In the latter half of the nineteenth century European, North American, and Japanese cities grew tremendously both in terms of population and of size. Technologies that changed the quality of urban life for the rich (and later for the working class as well) included mass transportation networks, sewage and water supply systems, gas and electric lighting, police and fire departments, sanitation and garbage removal, building and health inspection, schools, parks, and other amenities. New neighborhoods and cities were built (and older areas often rebuilt) on a rectangular grid pattern with broad boulevards and modern apartment buildings. While urban environments improved in many ways, air quality worsened. Coal used as fuel polluted the air, while the waste of the thousands of horses that pulled carts and carriages lay stinking in the streets until horses were replaced by streetcars and automobiles in the early twentieth century. The term “Victorian Age” refers not only to the reign of Queen Victoria (r.1837–1901), but also to the rules of behavior and the ideology surrounding the family and relations between men and women. Men and women were thought to belong in “separate spheres,” the men in the workplace, the women in the home. Before electrical appliances, a middle-class home demanded lots of work; the advent of modern technology in the nineteenth century eliminated some tasks and made others easier. The most important duty of middle-class women was to raise their children. Women were excluded from jobs that required higher education; teaching was a permissible career, but women teachers were expected to resign when they got married. Some middle-class women were not satisfied with home life and became involved in volunteer work or in the women’s suffrage movement. Working-class women led lives of toil and pain. Many became domestic servants, facing long hours, hard physical labor, and sexual abuse from their masters or their masters’ sons. Many more young women worked in factories, where they were relegated to poorly paid work in the textiles and clothing trades. Married women were expected to stay home, raise children, do housework, and contribute to the family income.
Socialism began as an intellectual movement. The best-known socialist was Karl Marx (1818–1883) who, along with Friedrich Engles (1820–1895) wrote the Communist Manifesto (1848) and Das Kapital (1867). Marx saw history as a long series of clashes between social classes. Marx's theories provided an intellectual framework for general dissatisfaction with unregulated industrial capitalism. Labor unions were organizations formed by industrial workers to defend their interests in negotiations with employers. During the nineteenth century workers were brought into electoral politics as the right to vote was extended to all adult males in Europe and North America. Instead of seeking the violent overthrow of the bourgeois class, socialists used their voting power in order to force concessions from the government and even to win elections; the classic case of socialist electoral politics is the Social Democratic Party of Germany. Working-class women had little time for politics and were not welcome in the male dominated trade unions or in the radical political parties. By the mid-nineteenth century, popular sentiment favored Italian unification. Unification was opposed by Pope Pius IX and Austria. Count Cavour, the prime minister of Piedmont-Sardinia, used the rivalry between France and Austria to gain the help of France in pushing the Austrians out of northern Italy. In the south, Giuseppe Garibaldi led a revolutionary army in 1860 that defeated the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. A new Kingdom of Italy, headed by Victor Emmanuel (the former king of Piedmont-Sardinia) was formed in 1860. In time, Venetia (1866) and the Papal States (1870) were added to Italy. Until the 1860s the German-speaking people were divided among Prussia, the western half of the Austrian Empire, and numerous smaller states. Prussia took the lead in the movement for German unity because it had a strong industrial base in the Rhineland and an army that was equipped with the latest military, transportation, and communications technology. During the reign of Wilhelm I (r. 1861–1888) the Prussian chancellor Otto von Bismarck achieved the unification of Germany through a combination of diplomacy and the Franco-Prussian War. Victory over France in the Franco-Prussian War completed the unification of Germany, but it also resulted in German control over the French provinces of Alsace and Lorraine and thus in the long-term enmity between France and Germany.
After the Franco-Prussian War all politicians tried to manipulate public opinion in order to bolster their governments by using the press and public education in order to foster nationalistic loyalties. In many countries the dominant group used nationalism to justify the imposition of its language, religion, or customs on minority populations. Herbert Spencer (1820–1903) and others took up Charles Darwin’s ideas of “natural selection” and “survival of the fittest” and applied them to human societies in such a way as to justify European conquest of foreign nations and the social and gender hierarchies of Western society. International relations revolved around a united Germany, which, under Bismarck’s leadership, isolated France and forged a loose coalition with Austria-Hungary and Russia. At home, Bismarck used mass politics and social legislation to gain popular support and to develop a strong sense of national unity and pride amongst the German people. Wilhelm II (r. 1888–1918) dismissed Bismarck and initiated a German foreign policy that placed emphasis on the acquisition of colonies. France was now a second-rate power in Europe, its population and army being smaller than those of Germany, and its rate of industrial growth lower than that of the Germans. In Britain, a stable government and a narrowing in the disparity of wealth were accompanied by a number of problems. Particularly notable were Irish resentment of English rule, an economy that was lagging behind those of the United States and Germany, and an enormous empire that was very expensive to administer and to defend. For most of the nineteenth century Britain pursued a policy of “splendid isolation” toward Europe; preoccupation with India led the British to exaggerate the Russian threat to the Ottoman Empire and to the Central Asian approaches to India while they ignored the rise of Germany. The forces of nationalism weakened Russia and Austria-Hungary. Austria had alienated its Slavic-speaking minorities by renaming itself the “Austro-Hungarian Empire. Ethnic diversity also contributed to instability in Russia. In 1861 Tsar Alexander II emancipated the peasants from serfdom, but did so in such a way that it only turned them into communal farmers with few skills and little capital. Russian industrialization was carried out by the state, and thus the middle-class remained small and weak while the land-owning aristocracy dominated the court and administration. Defeat in the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905) and the Revolution of 1905 demonstrated Russia’s weakness and caused Tsar Nicholas to introduce a constitution and a parliament (the Duma), but he soon reverted to the traditional despotism of his forefathers.
In the late nineteenth century China resisted Western influence and became weaker; Japan transformed itself into a major industrial and military power. The difference can be explained partly by the difference between Chinese and Japanese elites and their attitudes toward foreign cultures. In China a “self-strengthening movement” tried to bring about reforms, but the Empress Dowager Cixi and other officials opposed railways or other technologies that would carry foreign influences into the interior. In the early nineteenth century, Japan was ruled by the Tokugawa shogunate and local lords had significant autonomy. In 1853, the American Commodore Matthew C. Perry arrived in Japan with a fleet of steam-powered warships and demanded that the Japanese open their ports to trade and American ships. Dissatisfaction with the shogunate's capitulation to American and European demands led to a civil war and the overthrow of the shogunate in 1868. The new rulers of Japan were known as the Meiji oligarchs. The Meiji oligarchs were willing to change their institutions and their society in order to help transform their country into a world-class industrial and military power. The Japanese government encouraged industrialization, funding industrial development with tax revenue extracted from the rural sector and then selling state-owned enterprises to private entrepreneurs. Industrialization was accompanied by the development of an authoritarian constitutional monarchy and a foreign policy that defined Japan’s “sphere of influence” to include Korea, Manchuria, and part of China. Japan defeated China in a war that began in 1894, thus precipitating an abortive Chinese reform effort (the Hundred Days Reform) in 1898 and setting the stage for Japanese competition with Russia for influence in the Chinese province of Manchuria. Japanese power was further demonstrated when Japan defeated Russia in 1905 and annexed Korea in 1910.
Tuesday, August 18, 2015
According to Roman mythology, twin brothers played an important part in the founding of Rome. These brothers, named Romulus and Remus, were the sons of Mars, the Roman god of war. Abandoned at birth, the twins were raised by a wolf. When they became older, they decided to found a city along the Tiber River near the spot where they had been abandoned. Each chose a hill upon which to begin a settlement. As often happens among brothers, disputes led to quarreling and fighting. Angered by Remus's taunting, Romulus killed his brother in a fit of rage. Romulus went on to build the city that eventually became. As it turned out, Romulus chose a very good spot for his city. Rome was located on the Tiber River about 15 miles inland from the Mediterranean Sea. The Romans had easy access to the sea, and were somewhat protected from seaborne invasion. Also, Rome lay in the middle of the Italian peninsula, the boot-shaped landmass to the west of Greece. From this central position, the Romans could easily access and control all of what is today the modern country of Italy. The Italian peninsula's central location within the Mediterranean Sea made it possible for the Romans to trade and communicate with every part of the Mediterranean world. The romans went ahead to form a system of government known as a republic. This system of government has been adapted by many nations today.
It all began when the Romans overthrew their Etruscan conquerors in 509 B.C.E. Centered north of Rome, the Etruscans had ruled over the Romans for hundreds of years. Once free, the Romans established a republic, a government in which citizens elected representatives to rule on their behalf. A republic is quite different from a democracy, in which every citizen is expected to play an active role in governing the state. The aristocracy (wealthy class) dominated the early Roman Republic. In Roman society, the aristocrats were known as patricians. The highest positions in the government were held by two consuls, or leaders, who ruled the Roman Republic. A senate composed of patricians elected these consuls. At this time, lower-class citizens, or plebeians, had virtually no say in the government. Both men and women were citizens in the Roman Republic, but only men could vote. Tradition dictated that patricians and plebeians should be strictly separated; marriage between the two classes was even prohibited. Over time, the plebeians elected their own representatives, called tribunes, who gained the power to veto measures passed by the senate. Gradually, the plebeians obtained even more power and eventually could hold the position of consul. Despite these changes, though, the patricians were still able to use their wealth to buy control and influence over elected leaders. The Romans went ahead to create the 12 tables. This was the earliest attempt of the Romans to create a code of law to guide society. The Twelve Tables allegedly were written by 10 commissioners at the insistence of the plebeians, who felt their legal rights were hampered by the fact that court judgments were rendered according to unwritten custom preserved only within a small group of learned patricians. Beginning work in 451, the first set of commissioners produced 10 tables, which were later supplemented by 2 additional tables. In 450 the code was formally posted, likely on bronze tablets, in the Roman Forum. The written recording of the law in the Twelve Tables enabled the plebeians both to become acquainted with the law and to protect themselves against patricians’ abuses of power.
Furthermore, Rome often found herself in warfare against other civilizations. The people of Carthage (a city in what is today Tunisia in North Africa) were a successful trading civilization whose interests began to conflict with those of the Romans. The Romans and the Carthaginians fought three bloody wars known as the Punic wars, over the control of trade in the western Mediterranean Sea. In the second war, Hannibal, a Carthaginian general, successfully invaded Italy by leading an army — complete with elephants — across the Alps. He handed the Roman army a crushing defeat but was unable to sack the city of Rome itself. After occupying and ravaging Italy for more than a decade, Hannibal was finally defeated by the Roman general Scipio at the Battle of Zama in 202 B.C.E. By the Third Punic War, Rome was ready to end the Carthaginian threat for good. After a successful several-year siege of Carthage, the Romans burned the city to the ground. Legend has it that the Romans then poured salt into the soil so that nothing would ever grow there again. Carthage was finally defeated, and the Roman Republic was safe.
Long before Julius Caesar became a dictator and subsequently stabbed to death, the Roman economy was in tremendous decline. Slavery was on the rise as the rich got richer, and the poor got poorer. Attempts to reform the situation by two brothers, Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus, were met with opposition that eventually resulted in their deaths. A new practice developed in which the army was paid with gold and land. Soldiers no longer fought for the good of the Republic but fought instead for tangible rewards. Gradually, soldiers became more loyal to the generals who could pay them than to the Roman Republic itself. It was within this changing atmosphere that military leaders such as Julius Caesar were able to seize control of and put an end to the Roman Republic. Caesar made himself dictator and absolute ruler of Rome and its territories. During his rule, he enacted several reforms. Caesar founded many colonies in newly conquered territories and provided land and opportunity for poor Romans who chose to migrate there. He reduced the number of slaves and opened citizenship up to people living in the provinces. Finally, he created a new calendar named the Julian calendar. This very calendar, with a few minor adjustments, is the same one used around the world today. In 44 B.C.E., Julius Caesar ordered the Senate to make him dictator for life. Typically, dictators served for a limited time (usually six months), then stepped down. Caesar's actions threatened to end the Republic once and for all. Fearing this change, a group of senators plotted and executed the murder of Caesar on the Ides of March. Although the senators succeeded in ending Caesar's life, they did not realize at that time that the Republic had died with him. Rome would now become an empire. The Pax Romana was a state of comparative tranquility throughout the Mediterranean world from the reign of Augustus (27 bc–ad 14) to that of Marcus Aurelius (ad 161–180). Augustus laid the foundation for this period of concord, which also extended to North Africa and Persia. The empire protected and governed individual provinces, permitting each to make and administer its own laws while accepting Roman taxation and military control.
The quality of life in the Roman Empire depended upon where one fell within society. During the Pax Romana, the wealthy built huge, lavishly decorated houses and usually had servants or slaves to tend to their every need. Roman family life was a patriarchy — that is, the oldest male wielded considerable power over the rest of the family. The patriarch made all of the major decisions for the family. He had the power to divorce his wife or even kill her if she committed adultery. The wife of the patriarch was expected to manage the household and to remain loyal and obedient to her husband. Women could not hold political office, but in later years of the Empire women gained more rights, such as the right to own property. One of the many factors that contributed to the fall of the Roman Empire was the rise of a new religion, Christianity. The Christian religion, which was monotheistic ran counter to the traditional Roman religion, which was polytheistic. At different times, the Romans persecuted the Christians because of their beliefs, which were popular among the poor. In 313 C.E., Roman emperor Constantine the Great declared toleration for Christianity. Later that century, Christianity became the official state religion of the Empire. This drastic change in policy spread this relatively new religion to every corner of the Empire. Romans considered their emperor a god. But the Christian belief in one god — who was not the emperor — weakened the authority and credibility of the emperor. The split of the Roman Empire into east and west also led to the fall of the Roman Empire. Over time, the east thrived, while the west declined. In fact, after the western part of the Roman Empire fell, the eastern half continued to exist as the Byzantine Empire for hundreds of years. Therefore, the "fall of Rome" really refers only to the fall of the western half of the Empire. The military was transformed into a mercenary army with no real loyalty to Rome. As money grew tight, the government hired the cheaper and less reliable Germanic soldiers to fight in Roman armies. By the end, these armies were defending Rome against their fellow Germanic tribesmen.
In addition, after the fall of the Shang dynasty in 1111 B.C.E., the succeeding dynasties of the Chou (1111-221 B.C.E.) and the Ch'in (221-206 B.C.E.) continued the great advances made by the early Chinese. Building techniques improved, and the use of iron became common. A system of hydraulics was used to dig riverbeds deeper, reducing the number of floods that destroyed farmland and endangered lives. However, during these dynasties there were also times of great disunity. Feudalism became popular during the Chou dynasty, a practice in which the king shared his power with lords, who in turn paid the king for their lands and titles. As the Chou dynasty weakened, lords fought among themselves. This Warring States period (403-221 B.C.E.) only ended when all of northern China was united under the Ch'in regime. The Han dynasty immediately restored feudal lords to their positions of power. The Chinese people prospered in peace once again. Paper and porcelain were invented during the Han dynasty, as was the wheelbarrow. Legend states that paper was first created in 105 C.E., but archaeological evidence suggests that it was in use up to 200 years earlier. In comparison, paper was not widely circulated in the West until 1150 C.E., over one thousand years later. Wu Ti had heard rumors of powerful and wealthy lands to the west. In 138 B.C.E. the emperor sent the explorer Chang Ch'ien with a party of 100 men to search the western frontier. Thirteen years later, Chang Ch'ien returned with only one of the original 100 men and told amazing stories of capture and imprisonment in central Asia. Although he did not succeed in reaching the lands of Persia, Arabia, or the Roman Empire, Chang Ch'ien did learn plenty about them. Wu Ti sent Chang Ch'ien to central Asia again a few years later, this time to make alliances using gifts of cattle, gold, and silk. Wu Ti's chief historian, Ssu-ma Ch'ien, later kept a record of these journeys and much more in his work called the Shiji (Records of the Historian). The Shiji chronicles the history of China from the Xia dynasty up to the reign of Wu Ti. Chang Ch'ien's journeys began the widespread use of the trade route known as the Silk Road. Reaching as far west as the Caspian Sea, goods such as ivory, glass, wool, tapestries, exotic fruits and vegetables, precious metals and stones, even animals such as elephants and lions were imported into China. In return, foreign traders received furs, spices, jade, iron, ceramic, and bronze objects, as well as the much sought after silk. By the 1st century C.E., silk clothing became the style and obsession of Roman citizens. Arguably the greatest achievement in all of Chinese history continued during the Han dynasty — the construction of the Great Wall of China. Originally begun during the Ch'in dynasty, Wu Ti restored the wall, and continued it another 300 miles into the Gobi Desert to protect against attacks from central Asia. Acupuncture, the piercing of needles into the skin, became popular in the 2nd century C.E. along with herbal medicine as a treatment for common illnesses. The Han also studied in astronomical matters. They believed comets, eclipses, and other unusual celestial events were ominous signs that could be used to predict future disasters. They created atlases depicting the shapes of 29 different types of comets as well as the accurate positions of Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn. Sunspots and exploding stars called nova were also first discovered during the Han dynasty. With only a short interruption by the reformer Wang Mang from 9-24 C.E., the Han dynasty lasted for well over 400 years. But by the beginning of the 3rd century C.E., the corruption in government that signaled the decline of nearly every Chinese dynasty had taken its toll. This corruption combined with political struggles and an increasing population, making a unified China impossible. The Han dynasty of China finally lost its Heavenly Mandate in 220 C.E., beginning nearly 400 years of political chaos.
ushistory.org, The Roman Republic, Ancient Civilizations Online Textbook, http://www.ushistory.org/civ/6a.asp, Monday, October 13, 2014, COPYRIGHT 2014 WORKS CITED
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Sunday, August 2, 2015
Ancient Iran, also known as Persia, a historic region of southwestern Asia that is only roughly coterminous with modern Iran. The term Persia was used for centuries, chiefly in the West, to mark regions where Persian language and culture dominated, but it more correctly refers to a region of southern Iran formerly known as Persis, alternatively as Parsa. Parsa was the name of an Indo-European nomadic people who migrated into the region about 1000 BC. The first mention of Parsa occurs in the annals of Shalmanesar II, an Assyrian king, in 844 BC. During the rule of the Persian Achaemenian dynasty (559–330 BC), the ancient Greeks first encountered the inhabitants of Persis on the Iranian plateau, when the Achaemenids, natives of Persis, were expanding their political sphere. The Achaemenids were the dominant dynasty during Greek history until the time of Alexander the Great, and the use of the name Persia was gradually extended by the Greeks and other peoples to apply to the whole Iranian plateau. This tendency was reinforced with the rise of the Sāsānian dynasty, also native to Persis, whose culture dominated the Iranian plateau until the 7th century ad.
Persia was surrounded by mountains, deserts, and Persian Gulf. They were open to attack from the Central Asian nomads. Persian had a limited amount of natural resources, and water was scarce. This caused the people of Persia to create an underground irrigation network for water supply. They also created an extensive road system for transportation. Persia was blessed with copper, tin, iron, gold, silver, and timber. Between 546 and 539 BC Cyrus, (580-529 BC) was the first Achaemenes Emperor: he founded Persia by uniting the two original Iranian Tribes- the Medes and the Persians, captured Anatolia, and Mesopotamia. Darius I, king of Persia in 522–486 BC: one of the greatest rulers of the Achaemenid dynasty, who was noted for his administrative genius and for his great building projects, extended his empire to the Indus Valley and European Thrace. After Darius I, the empire was divided into 20 provinces. Each of these provinces was administered by Satrap. Satrap was related or connected to the royal family, and the Satrap position was almost hereditary. In the distant provinces, satraps had more autonomy, the provinces were required to pay annual tribute of gold and silver to the satrap. Kings were an important part of the Persian society. They were seen as aloof and majestic. They were the masters of all subjects and nobles, and they owned vast tracts of land around the empire. They acted as lawgivers, and managed the administration at the capital Susa. Occasionally they performed ceremonies at Persepolis.
The people of Persia believed in a religion known as Zoroastrianism. Today only a few amount of people practice this religion. The originator of this religion was known as Zoroaster. He lived between 1700–500 B.C.E. He wrote the Gathas, holy books, or hymns of Zoroastrianism. He believed that the universe was dualistic. There was good and evil. The god of good, Ahuramazda, was locked in epic battle with the god of evil, Angra Mainyu. This religion is said to be the earliest form of monotheism. Many of its beliefs influenced Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Beliefs such as heaven and hell, good and evil, and judgment day.
Furthermore, the fact that geography plays an important role in shaping a country can be seen in the ancient Greek civilization. The Greek peninsula has two distinctive geographic features that influenced the development of Greek society. First, Greece has easy access to water. The land contains countless scattered islands, deep harbors, and a network of small rivers. This easy access to water meant that the Greek people might naturally become explorers and traders. Second, Greece's mountainous terrain led to the development of the polis (city-state), beginning about 750 B.C.E. The high mountains made it very difficult for people to travel or communicate. Therefore, each polis developed independently and, often, very differently from one another. Eventually, the polis became the structure by which people organized themselves. Athens and Sparta are two good examples of city-states that contrasted greatly with each other.
The city-state of Athens was the birthplace of many significant ideas. Ancient Athenians were a thoughtful people who enjoyed the systematic study of subjects such as science, philosophy, and history, to name a few.
Athenians placed a heavy emphasis on the arts, architecture, and literature. The Athenians built thousands of temples and statues that embodied their understanding of beauty. Today the term "classical" is used to describe their enduring style of art and architecture. Athenians also enjoyed a democratic form of government in which some of the people shared power. Life in Sparta was vastly different from life in Athens. Located in the southern part of Greece on the Peloponnisos peninsula, the city-state of Sparta developed a militaristic society ruled by two kings and an oligarchy, or small group that exercised political control. Early in their history, a violent and bloody slave revolt caused the Spartans to change their society. A Spartan, Lycurgus, drafted a harsh set of laws that required total dedication to the state from its people. The laws' goal was to train citizens to become hardened soldiers so that they could fight off potential enemies or slave revolts. The result was a rigid lifestyle unlike any seen in Greece at the time. The devotion of Spartans to developing a military state left little time for the arts or literature. A Spartan baby had to be hardy and healthy. To test a baby's strength, parents would leave their child on a mountain overnight to see if it could survive on its own until the next morning. By age seven, Spartan boys were taken from their families and underwent severe military training. They wore uniforms at all times, ate small meals of bland foods, exercised barefoot to toughen their feet, and were punished severely for disobedient behavior. Boys lived away from their families in barracks until the age of 30, even after they were married. Men were expected to be ready to serve in the army until they were 60 years old. Women, too, were expected to be loyal and dedicated to the state. Like men, women followed a strict exercise program and contributed actively to Spartan society. Although they were not allowed to vote, Spartan women typically had more rights and independence than women in other Greek city-states.
The “Dark Age” occurred after the Mycenaean period between 1150 – 800 B.C.E. It ended when contact and trade with Mediterranean lands reestablished. The Phoenicians supplied Greeks with alphabetic writing system, which made trading easier for the Greeks. Learning the alphabetic system was easier and faster than leaning the cuneiform or hieroglyphic systems. The Archaic period began in 800 BCE and ended in 480 BCE. During this period, there was explosive population growth, and a shift to agricultural economy, in which food and materials were imported. Urbanization developed in Greece, and this led to the development of the polis. Frequent wars were fought between the city-states. They used the hoplites, a close formation of heavily armoires infantrymen to break enemy’s line of defense, anytime they were at war. Unlike other military systems, the Greek soldiers were farmer-citizens who served for short periods of time when they needed. The wars usually lasted only a couple of hours. As time went on the Greek population started to increase greatly. There were not enough resources to support the surplus population. Thus, Greeks sent excess population to colonies in the Mediterranean and Black Sea to acquire territory. This brought the Greeks into contact with different kinds of people with different ideas. This helped sharpen the Greek identity, and this spurred the invention of the coinage system in Lydia during the sixth century BCE. The emergence of middle class in Archaic Greek society led to the one-man rule by tyrants in the mid-seventh and sixth centuries B.C.E. This reduced the power of the traditional elites. Eventually, the tyrants were rejected and the government developed into two forms: oligarchy and democracy. In Athenian democracy, every citizen was required to participate or suffer punishment. This practice stands in stark contrast to modern democratic governments in which citizens can choose whether or not they wish to participate. In Athenian democracy, all citizens pulled their weight. Not everyone in Athens was considered a citizen. Only free, adult men enjoyed the rights and responsibility of citizenship. Only about 20 percent of the population of Athens were citizens. Women were not citizens and therefore could not vote or have any say in the political process. They were rarely permitted out in public and were even restricted as to where they could be within their own homes. Slaves and foreigners were not citizens and also could not participate in the democracy. In the end, democracy existed only for the free men who were originally from Athens.
In addition, the Greek cities in Anatolia revolted against the Persian rule. They were aided by Eretria and Athens. This 5 year revolt led to the Persian Wars. In the first Persian war the generals of Darius I captured Eretria, and attacked the Athens in 490 BCE. The attack on the Athens resolved when the Athenian forces defeated the Persians at Marathon. A messenger named Philippidès ran from Marathon to Athens to tell of the victory. He died from exhaustion. Today, the marathon, 26 miles, is run to celebrate his heroism. The second Persian war was fought in 480 B.C.E. In this war, Xerxes led a large army, and fleet against the Greeks. Many Greek city states submitted to his domination. This led Sparta to organize the Hellenic League to defeat the Persians. The Athens organized the Delian League to go on offense, and drive the Persians out of eastern Mediterranean (except Cyprus). During the classical period, the Athens had the dominant power in Greece. Their power was based on the Athenian navy. They created the trireme, a 170 oar boat in which lower class men were rowers. Due to the fact that the rowers were so important, they demanded full rights of citizenship in Greece. The Athens used their power and wealth to carry out profitable trade, and extract tribute from subject states. The wealth of Athens allowed them to construct massive public works project, put on grand festivals, and support arts and science. One of the most influential philosophers of this time was Socrates. He focused on ethics and the precise meaning of words. He created the Socratic method of question and answer. He was later charged with corrupting the youth, and not believing in the gods of the city. Socrates was sentenced to death, and he was forced to drink hemlock. Another philosopher by the name of Plato was a man who explored justice, excellence, and wisdom. He taught that the world is a pale reflection of a higher, ideal reality. He read and wrote many books, and he founded a school called “The Academy”. The Peloponnesian war emerged when Imperial Athens upset the other city-states. In 431 BCE the Athenian and Spartan alliances went to war. With the aid of the Persian navy, the Spartans defeated the Athens in 404 BCE.
In the Northern Greek Northern Greek Kingdom of Macedonia, King Philip developed Macedonia into a great military power. He strengthened the army by giving soldier longer spears, using cavalry and infantry forces, and developing new siege equipment like catapults. Alexander the Great, king of the Ancient Greek kingdom of Macedon, invaded Persia in 336 B.C.E. and was victorious, his goal was to conquer the known world, build his own empire as far as Pakistan, and use Persian, Greek, and Macedonian officials in his empire. When Alexander died, his empire broke into 3 kingdoms, each ruled by a Macedonian dynasty. This period is known as the Hellenistic Age (323-30 B.C.E.). Alexandria was the greatest city during the Hellenistic age. It had a population of 500,000. They had significant Jewish population that dominated 2 of 5 of their residential districts. The most important aspect of the Hellenization was the intermarriage between the Greeks and the non-Greeks. The Greek language, lifestyle and culture spread across the world. There was a synthesis of indigenous and Greek culture.
Ultimately, the ancient Greeks were polytheistic- that is, they worshipped many gods. Their major gods and goddesses lived at the top of Mount Olympus, the highest mountain in Greece, and myths described their lives and actions. In myths, gods often actively intervened in the day-to-day lives of humans. Myths were used to help explain the unknown and sometimes teach a lesson. For example, Zeus, the king of the gods, carried his favorite weapon, the thunderbolt. When it rained and there was thunder and lightning, the ancient Greeks believed that Zeus was venting his anger. Many stories about how the Greek gods behaved and interacted with humans are found in the works of Homer. He created two epic poems: the Iliad, which related the events of the Trojan War, and the Odyssey, which detailed the travels of the hero Odysseus. These two poems were passed down orally over many generations.
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