Key Concept 3.2 Continuity and Innovation of State Forms and Their Interactions

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"State formation in this era demonstrated remarkable continuity, innovation and diversity in various regions. In Afro-Eurasia, some states attempted, with differing degrees of success, to preserve or revive imperial structures, while smaller, less centralized states continued to develop. The expansion of Islam introduced a new concept — the Caliphate — to Afro-Eurasian statecraft. Pastoral peoples in Eurasia built powerful and distinctive empires that integrated people and institutions from both the pastoral and agrarian worlds. In the Americas, powerful states developed in both Mesoamerica and the Andean region." [1]


I. Empires collapsed and were reconstituted; in some regions new state forms emerged.

A. States that reformed during this time period built upon the foundations of the classical ages. Sometimes called "second wind civilizations," they found traditional sources of authority and legitimacy as reliable ground for the reconstitution of their civilizations. In such cases, these states had to combine these revived traditions with innovations in order to adapt to new circumstances. This process formed unique combinations of the old and new.



States that Combined Traditions and Innovations: Case Studies


CHINA
Tang Dynasty circa 700 CE.png
During the classical age, the Han Dynasty found that a bureaucracy of merit made of Confucian scholars was more conducive to running a centralized state than relying on local aristocrats to implement imperial rule. In the post classical age the Tang Dynasty reinstated this tradition of using a Confucian bureaucracy in China's political system. The Confucian civil service exams were brought back, and candidates studied Confucian classics with the hope of meriting an esteemed post in the Chinese government. One effect of reestablishing the civil service bureaucracy was that the cultural content of Confucianism continued to influence Chinese civilizations. For example, patriarchy continued to be a feature of Chinese society during the Tang Dynasty and traditional social hierarchies were reinforced.

The Tang did not simply copy the accomplishments of the Han. Onto these borrowed traditions they grafted their own innovations. One such innovation resulted from the Tang's attempt to address a problem that crippled the Han during the last centuries of its rule: the unequal distribution of land across society. The Tang developed the equal field system to prevent peasant land from falling into the hands of the aristocracy, which happens so often during hard economic times. In this system, the government owned all the land but periodically redistributed it to families according to their need. This provided for a fairer distribution of land and a more equitable method of taxation (although the basis for calculating the tax was an issue of intense debate during the Tang.) [2]


Another innovation of the Tang Dynasty was its policy of establishing tributary states. Although earlier Chinese dynasties collected tribute, the practice became more complex and standardized under the Tang. The Chinese tributary system was based on their belief that Chinese civilization was superior to others, but barbarian and non-Chinese people could have access to Chinese ways providing they ceremonially recognized the supremacy of China and paid tribute to the emperor. [3] Thus China could "radiate" its superior civilization to barbarian people around it. In reality, the tributary system was a means for China to control conquered lands that often proved difficult to rule. Chinese dynasties had long tried to project their control over the Korean peninsula; indeed, its long costly war with Korea did much to discredit the Sui Dynasty, the Tang's predecessor. The Tang Dynasty gave its support the the Silla family of Korea to ensure their rule over the entire Korean peninsula, but it cost the Silla their independence. The price China demanded for helping the Silla was that they become a tributary state of the Tang emperor. Each year representatives from Korea traveled to the Chinese capital to purchase their rule with payments of tribute. They returned with Chinese customs, fads, Buddhist writings, clothing fashions, and literature. Through this tributary relationship much Chinese influence made its way into Korea.[4]
In summary, the recovery of Chinese civilization in the post classical era was made possible by building on classical traditions, such as the Confucian civil service bureaucracy, and fusing them with new administrative practices such as the equal field system and the creation of tributary states.

THE BYZANTINE EMPIRE
The Byzantine Empire thought of itself as the continuation of Roman civilization, so it was only natural that it would continue and build upon the foundations of classical Rome. One of Rome's most enduring legacies was its system of law. Indeed, even the barbarians who brought down the western half of the empire in the 5th century adopted the system of Roman law to regulate their civilizations. In the surviving eastern half of the Roman Empire the task to update laws and make them relevant to the new situation of Byzantine civilization
A coin with the Byzantine Emperor Justinian
fell to the emperor Justinian. Although he technically lived before the post classical age (482-565 CE) his code of laws profoundly influenced the Byzantine empire and constitute the greatest example of the Byzantine Empire building on a tradition of Rome.

As the classical age drew to a close, many of the previous Roman laws were rendered obsolete by changing conditions of the empire. Confusing and contradictory laws hindered the functioning of courts. Moreover, Roman civil law often conflicted with the eastern empire's adopted religion of Christianity.[5] In response to this situation, Justinian commissioned the formation of several bodies of law which are collectively referred to as the Code of Justinian.

Like classical Roman Law, the Code of Justinian gave order and security to a collection of diverse peoples across the breadth of the empire. It punished dishonest tax collectors and encouraged honest trade. "Rape was punished by death and confiscation of property, and the proceeds were given to the injured woman." [6] What was entirely new about the Code was its enactment of Christianity morality into Roman civil law. It enforced the Church's views on divorce, adultery and homosexuality, and the Church's property was protected as a permanent holding. Death, torture and mutilation were common punishments. The Code of Justinian was an innovation but one built upon one of Rome's most successful traditions: law.

Byzantine Empire Themata-750-en.svg
Another of the Byzantine Empire's innovations was prompted by a pressing security issue: the advance of Islam on its eastern frontier. Protecting its borders against barbarian incursions was a significant problem for the late Roman Empire, but Islam represented a much more organized front. To counter this threat the Byzantine Empire developed a system of imperial organization called the theme system. Each theme, or province, was placed under the leadership of a general who organized its administration and defense. Each general was responsible directly to the emperor and he recruited his armies from the free peasants. In return for military service, the peasants were given land. The theme system provided incentives for increased grain production and gave the empire effective and loyal soldiers. Under this system the empire protected its eastern borders and captured additional land in Anatolia and present day Syria.[7]

Unlike most of the era of Western Rome, the Byzantine Empire had an official religion, Orthodox Christianity. To adapt to this circumstance the Empire developed a new model of authority. Beginning with Constantine and extending to the end of the empire, they operated under an ideology called Caesaropapism, the vesting of political and religious authority under a single figure. Thus the emperor, the political head of state, simultaneously acted as the head of the organized Church. Again, Byzantine civilization innovated to meet the circumstances of the empire's realities.



B. Not all states in this era were reconstituted from the classical period. Some were new and built themselves from limited connections to the past.


THE ISLAMIC STATES
A
The Umayyad Caliphate at its height.
The Abbasid Caliphate at its height.
distinctive feature of the post classical period is the rapid rise of Islamic civilization, or the Dar al-Islam. A unified civilization seemed an unlikely prospect for the area in which Islam was born. The nomads of the Arabian peninsula (Bedouins) were polytheistic and organized by powerful tribal identities. Conversion to the monotheistic teachings of Muhammad meant that these issues were less likely to hinder cooperation between tribes. One’s ancestral bloodline—once the unifying bond within a tribe—gave way to a new loyalty based on a common faith in one god that brought individuals together regardless of their tribe. As a result, Islam facilitated the rise of empires in areas once characterized by bands of feuding nomadic tribes.

Soon after the death of Mohammed a dispute erupted over who should be the leader of this new religion. Since the idea of another prophet was inconceivable, a "deputy" or Caliph was chosen to lead the Muslim community. Disagreement over the qualifications of the Caliph led to the split of Muslims into Shia and Sunni factions. Nevertheless, the Caliph--a leader who presides over the political, religious and military affairs of the Dar al-Islam--became a central feature of Islamic civilization for the majority of Muslims. By bringing these separate components of civilization under a single leader, the Caliphate (the office of the Caliph) had a unifying effect on Islamic civilization.

The Umayyad Caliphate (661-750) pushed the boundaries of Islam far outside the Arabian peninsula. Umayyad armies conquered the Middle East, spread across North Africa, and into Iberia. Their conquests in Europe were limited to Spain by the Battle of Tours (732) in which the Franks routed the Muslim armies and turned them back across the Pyrenees Mountains. Under the Umayyads the Dar al-Islam was dominated by Arab military elites, and their preferential treatment of Arab Muslims brought them into conflict with the growing non-Arab population of Islamic civilization.[8]

In 750 the Umayyads were overthrown by the Abbasids and a new Caliphate was established. Under the Abbasid Caliphate (750-1258) a wider variety of cultural influences made their way into Islamic civilization, the most prominent of which was Persian. From the Abbasid capital of Baghdad, the Caliph ruled with absolute authority which he claimed to have received directly from God.[9] Rather than depend on a Arab military aristocracy like the Umayyads, the Abbasids used a salaried bureaucracy; bureaucrats could be promoted or dismissed at the whim of the caliph. They ended the racial policies of the Umayyads; Arabs were no longer favored in the administration of the caliphate and the Arab militias were replaced by a professional Abbasid army of paid soldiers. The nature of the caliph itself was dramatically transformed during the reign of the Abbasids. Rather than the "warrior" caliph of the Umayyads, the Abbasid Caliph lived in splendor and surrounded himself with wealth and elaborate ceremonies. He was an absolute ruler presiding over a centralized bureaucratic state and supported by military force.[10]


THE MONGOL KHANATES
The Mongols built the largest land empire in the world, a remarkable feat considering they were pastoral nomads. Like the Muslims, Mongols had to overcome deep tribal divisions before they could be integrated into a large empire. In the culture of the Central Asian steppes, loyalties of kinship were so strong that they prevented any broad cooperation between people of different bloodlines. Like the
MongolEmpire.jpg
Bedouins of Arabia, Central Asia nomads seemed locked into constant tribal rivalries and warfare. Genghis Khan (1162-1227) was the man responsible for uniting these warring tribes into an empire. One of his tactics was to blur the lines between tribes by intermarriage. For example, after his defeat of the Tartars Genghis took two daughters of prominent Tartar aristocrats as his wives, and encouraged other Mongols to do the same.[11] He thus blended the Tartar bloodline with his own making tribal distinctions less relevant. So widespread was his practice of cross-contaminating tribal purity through marriage and fathering children across bloodlines that recent DNA research suggests that 16 million people today are descended from Genghis Khan.[12]

A more important method of breaking tribal loyalties was through military organization. The most basic unit of the Mongol army was a unit of 10 men called an arban. To break the power of tribal identity, the men in each arban were purposely chosen from different bloodlines. They lived together, trained together, and fought together. In battle, members of an arban could never leave one of their own behind as missing or a captive. Seniority in the arban was determined by age, just as it was in tribes; indeed, the strong bonds of loyalty that formed among members of the arban rendered the military unit a surrogate for one's tribe, the identity of which became increasingly irrelevant.

The
MongolCavalrymen.jpg
organization of the arban was projected across the entire army in multiples of 10. A group of ten arbans formed an unit of 100 called a zagun, and ten of these formed mingan, or battalion, of one thousand troops; ten of these was a tumen of ten thousand soldiers. [13] Promotion up the ranks was based on loyalty and performance with no consideration of the prestige of one's tribe. Communication across the empire depended on a postal service made up of arrow messengers. These fast riders delivered communications between stations set up approximately 20 miles apart, at which point another rider would take the message to the next station until it reached its intended destination.[14]

An efficient communication network was not the only thing that benefited from the Mongols' mastery of their horses. Their equestrian skills were most effective on the battle field. The Mongol army, which could travel up to 100 miles in a day, had a level of mobility unparalleled until modern times. [15] A Mongol soldier spent much of his day on his horse, trained on his horse, used it for food, and could deliver arrows with deadly accuracy from the horse.

Genghis Khan's armies first united the Mongol people, then began to incorporate other Asian tribes and Turks into his empire. He imposed law, called the Yassa, which codified most aspects of politics and the daily life of the empire. This law granted religious toleration and protected trade. The breadth of the Empire encompassed the Silk Roads and trade began to flow again. The Mongols sacked Baghdad and ended the Islamic Caliphate. They destroyed the Seljuk Turks and paved the way for the rise of the Ottomans. They ruled Russia as a tributary state. After taking the Song Dynasty, Genghis Khan's grandson Kublai Khan established the Yuan Dynasty and ruled China directly. The Mongol Empire had a profound impact of the development of world history.

SWAHILI COAST CITY-STATES
Not all the new political developments of this era produced centralized states. On the eastern coast of Africa, trade and Islam gave rise to powerful but independent city-states that thrived on Indian Ocean commerce. Something of this region's history can be seen from its name alone: Swahili is a language that formed through the blending of Bantu and Arabic. These African city-states were profoundly affected by Arab merchants who brought Islam to east Africa thus pulling them into the activity of Indian Ocean trade.

Sustained
Basic Map of East Africa, c.1500.png
contact with Muslim merchants of Arabia kept the practice of Islam in these city-states relatively pure. This is in contrast to the syncretic practices found inland, which looked more like African traditional beliefs the farther one moved inland from the eastern coast. Despite the strong Islamic character of the Swahili city-states, they were highly tolerant and cosmopolitan. Because of the seasonal monsoons, at any given time these cities were occupied by many merchants of many faiths waiting for the winds to favor their departure. Thus Christian, Hindu, Confucian, Jewish and Buddhist merchants were in these cities at the same time. Tolerance was good for business.

The Swahili city-states were important points for connecting inland trade into the vast Indian Ocean network. Especially important was the city of Kilwa, which was the farthest down the coast a merchant ship could sail in a typical monsoon season. For this reason it attracted trade from the southernmost part of Africa. With this outlet for gold and ivory, the powerful Great Zimbabwe formed in southern Africa. Great Zimbabwe stands as a good example of an African state that developed along Bantu lines; it was out of the reach of Islam's influence, unlike Ghana, Mali and Songhai to the north.


FEUDALISM
PiersPlowman.jpg
Another example of political decentralization in this time period is the rise of feudalism in Western Europe and Japan. Since the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476, nothing had really formed to replace the security provided by Roman civilization. The need for security was made clear when invaders such as Vikings from Scandinavia or Magyars from central Europe began to pillage settlements in the former Roman Empire. People looked to local landowners to provide them with protection and they in turn gave their labor to the landlord. These reciprocal bonds of obligation were the core of feudalism. In Europe these bonds were sealed by legal contracts between vassals and those above them. To fulfill his obligation of protection the lord supported a military class known as knights. The labor of the serfs was a form of tax to the lord and they often were obligated to form small armies of foot soldiers as well. Thus Europe was organized into a highly decentralized social and economic system in which most all considerations of existence was local.

When Japan was not able to maintain a centralized rule, they too fell into a similar situation with samurai warriors comprising the military caste. One important difference, however, was the absence of negotiated contracts between vassals and their superiors. It was honor and the fear of shame that held the bonds of obligation in the Japanese form of feudalism.



C. There were some states in this time period that blended traditions with previous or neighboring civilizations to form synthesized states. For example, the Abbasid Caliphate was heavily influenced by Persian traditions. Islam advanced into the territory of the crumbling Sassanid Empire, and the Abbasids later selected Baghdad as its administrative center. Islamic civilization readily adopted Persian cultural and political influences. The practice of veiling women was not an original Muslim practice, but rather a Persian one with roots deep in Mesopotamian culture. Islamic women began to wear veils, a practice that showed the increasing patriarchy of Muslim society. [16] The Abbasids also borrowed the "cult of the king" notion from Persia. The caliph was transformed into an absolute ruler who could only be approached through an elaborate regimen of court rituals. Rather than being a leader who commanded an army on the field, the Abbasid Caliph's authority was reinforced by a large standing army. The source of the caliph's power, and the influence of Persia, can be seen in his new title, the "Shadow of God on Earth." [17]

Another synthesized state in this era was Japan. The Japanese could not help but notice the successes and power of their Tang neighbors. Unlike Korea and Vietnam who acquired Chinese influences through invasions, the Japanese chose to emulate the Chinese. The government embarked on a course of transformation known as the Taika Reforms in which they copied many of China's successes. They attempted to centralize their state by means of a Confucian based bureaucracy. Chinese written language entered Japan, and the Japanese borrowed the Chinese equal field system of agriculture. Through Japan's connection to China, Buddhism poured into China, as it did in Korea and Vietnam.

D. In addition to the great River Valley Civilizations that emerged in Afro-eurasia, societies in Mesoamerican and the Andes region forged large complex civilizations. The most successful to arise during this period were the Mayan, the Aztecs, and the Incas. These civilizations, as with their counterparts on the other side of the world, were made possible by massive agricultural
Meso empires.png
surpluses that supported hierarchical and complex societies. In Mesoamerica, the most important crop was maize. In the Andes it was potatoes. All three had to develop highly sophisticated irrigation and agricultural techniques to farm the harsh forests, lowlands, and mountains of their terrain. So critical was the need to manage water in these civilizations that one prominent historian has labeled them "hydraulic" civilizations. [18] They did all this without the benefit of wheeled vehicles, metal tools, or large pack animals. Notwithstanding these limitations, each developed complex hierarchical societies, advanced knowledge of astronomy and calendars, and formulated religious ideologies of military conquest.

The Mayan
Borrowing heavily from their parent civilization, the Olmecs, the Mayans reached their first peak of civilization between 250 to 900 C.E., then again between 1200 and 1450 C.E. One of the most impressive aspects about their ascendancy is how they overcame "extraordinary ecological challenges to create a very sophisticated and productive agriculture that was the key to their development." [19] They learned to trap rich river silt with terraces to replenish the fertility of the thin, poorly drained topsoil of southern Mexico. [20] The increased agriculture allowed the Mayan civilization to greatly expand, driving them to find increasingly creative means of collecting and storing water during the dry seasons and as insurance against unpredictable summer rains. [21] Politically, the Mayan were not a centralized empire, but rather were organized into over fifty small city-kingdoms often competing against each other. As in ancient Greece, cities sometimes formed opposing military alliances which shifted and reformed as circumstances changed. Tikal, the most powerful of these city-kingdoms, lasted eight centuries. About fifty years before the Spanish showed up in the Americas, the Mayan civilization fell apart, probably due to civil wars between the city-states.

The Aztecs
After
The Aztec are best known for their perpetual human sacrifices which they believed prevented the end of the world.
the demise of the Toltec empire around 1200 C.E., an ethnic group called the Mexica migrated southeast and eventually settled on an island in the marshy areas of Lake Texcoco. There they built the settlement that would later become the great Aztec capital Tenochtitlan (the Mexica people came to be called Aztecs, a reference to the home of their ancestors.) By raking the muck of the lake into small islands above the surface of the water (called chinampas), they were able to produce abundant agriculture to support a thriving civilization. By the early 1400s the Mexica had defeated their neighbors and demanded tribute from them. Thus was born the Aztec empire. At times, the empire was actually a triple alliance of three major cities who combined to project their rule over most of Mesoamerica, about 12 million people. [22] The Aztec Empire was a loose collection of conquered areas from which the core at Tenochtitlan collected heavy tribute. Every year Aztec rulers demanded massive amounts of clothing, jewelry, food, animals, and other materials from locations across their vast domain. Throughout the empire there was a significant market for craft goods and most all cities and villages had thriving markets. The expansion of the empire was motivated in part by its religious belief. The Aztec believed that their gods were engaged in an ongoing struggle against the stars. The keep the fight going, and keep the sun moving across the sky, the gods needed human blood that was provided by an elaborate ritual of mass human sacrifice.

The Inca
In the 14th and 15th centuries, the Incas built the most centralized empire in the Americas during this time. Building on the base of the Chavin and Moche civilizations, they spread their civilization along the 2500 mile spine of the Andes Mountains on the western side of South America. Extensive terracing allowed them to practice agriculture in these high altitude and mountainous regions where they grew potatoes, maize, beans and peppers. There was a small merchant class, but trade was controlled by the government. Unlike the diverse societies of the Mayan and Aztec civilizations, the Incas practiced cultural imperialism, forcing their language and religion on conquered people. The Incas centralized their rule through a complex bureaucracy and an extensive network of roads and bridges. [23] Their ruler (originally called the "Inca") was believed to be a god. A large professional army was supported by peasants who owed compulsory labor to the state.




II. Interregional contacts and conflicts between states and empires encouraged significant technological and cultural transfers, including transfers between Tang China and the Abbasids, transfers across the Mongol empires, transfers during the Crusades, and transfers during Chinese maritime activity led by ming Admiral zheng He.

Tang China and the Abbasids
As
Chinese paper-making.
Tang China expanded westward they came in contact with the Dar al Islam. Tang and Abbasid armies fought near the Talas River in what became known as the Battle of Talas in 751. The Muslim Armies routed the Chinese and ended their westward advancement into Central Asia. The major cultural result of this battle is that Central Asia would be primarily Islamic; Buddhism would decline. Another significant result was the transferal of technology from the Chinese to the Muslims. According to legends, knowledgeable Chinese prisoners of war were forced to teach the Muslim Abbasids the secrets of paper-making. Within a few decades, the Abbasid capital of Baghdad was producing quality paper. This led to an increase in education, the transferal of knowledge, more efficient accounting, and the preservation of religion. The Muslims tried to prevent Christian Europe from gaining this technology for as long as they could.

Across the Mongol Empires
The Mongol Empire was the largest land-based empire in history and brought together the breadth of most of Eurasia under a single rule. This facilitated substantial technological and cultural exchange through the medium of trade. Through the Mongols, Islamic mathematics and astronomy spread from the Dar la Islam into China where they found a receptive audience. Kublai Khan was very interested in mathematics, such as algebra, which the Muslims had developed in Baghdad. Accurate readings of the heavens were very important to Daoism and Shamanism, both of which depended on astrological readings to plan weddings, feasts and agriculture. The Chinese made advanced calculations in these areas which then made their way back to the Muslim world. Other areas of exchange were knowledge of geography and cartography. Most instrumental in this exchange was Rashid al-Din, the scholarly connection between the great Mongol courts in Iran and China. Scholars combined geographic information from China to the Middle East into the most accurate maps in the world at that time thus enabling the later Ming Dynasty to initiate its famous explorations (Zeng He and Ma Huan). In the world of food and agriculture, the Pax Mongolia allowed for the transfer of grapes and fruit trees to China. In return, luxury items of Chinese cuisine, such as pepper, cinnamon and tea, were introduced into the Muslim world. Perhaps the most important technological transfers during the Pax Mongolia were block printing and gunpowder. Through the Mongols, block printing, which had developed during China's Song Dynasty, was transferred to the Muslim world. Copying the Song Dynasty, the Mongol Ilkhanate in Persia even issued paper money for a brief time. The best known technological exchange facilitated by the Mongols was gunpowder. Developed in China as early as the Han Dynasty, gunpowder would transform warfare and realign the centers of power in the world. With it Europeans would develop advanced firearms and dominate the Americas, the Byzantine Empire would fall to the Ottoman Turks, and Mongol rule over China, ironically, would come to an end. [24]

The Crusades
The Crusades were a series of religious wars
Crusades1.jpg
launched initially to route Muslims from the Holy Land (Jerusalem). Although militarily unsuccessful in the long run, they introduced Europeans to new and exotic lands and initiated a cultural and technological exchange. This exchange was almost exclusively a one-way transfer from the Dar al Islam to Western Europe. Muslim science and medicine was shown to be superior to that in Europe. Always looking for better ways to make war, Europeans borrowed the practice of making damascene swords from the Muslims. European monarchs improved their methods of building military fortifications based on Muslim techniques, as can be seen in castles built by William the Conqueror in Normandy. [25] An important cultural transfer were Arabic numerals and the decimal system which helped Europeans develop advanced mathematics and more efficient accounting systems for trade. The game of chess as well as foods such as yogurt, coffee, sugar and dates were introduced in Europe because of the Crusades. Europeans gained a desire for items of trade such as Persian carpets, silk, and cotton textiles. Europeans were also introduced to their own cultural and intellectual past. Classical writers such as Aristotle, lost to Europeans during the invasions after the fall of Rome, had been preserved in Muslim schools. Contacts with Muslims through the Crusades and in Spain, reintroduced Europe to its own intellectual and cultural heritage. This renewed interest in its classical past would culminate in the late 15th century as the Renaissance, a cultural flowering that would not have been possible without contact with the Dar al Islam.

Zheng He
The Voyages of Admiral Zheng He
The most extravagant maritime outreach early in this period was that of the Chinese. After the peasant revolt that threw out the Mongols and established the Ming Dynasty, the Chinese commissioned 7 major voyages under the leadership of admiral Zheng He. With an estimated 317 ships and a staff of 27,000 men, [26] Zheng He set out to establish the reputation of the Ming in the Indian Ocean. He sailed initially to southeast Asia and India but his final three voyages reached as far as the Swahili coast of east Africa. Unlike the European voyages that began a few decades later, these Chinese expeditions were not driven by attempts to conquer or win converts. They were
The Galle stele gives praise to Buddha, the local Hindu incarnation of Vishnu, and Allah in an attempt to create peaceful relations between China and the diverse cultures of the Indian Ocean.
diplomatic in nature, intended to impress upon others the prestige, wealth and superiority of Chinese civilization. Once other societies saw this, they would be willing to pay tribute to China for the right to purchase costly Chinese luxury products such as silk and porcelain. On his two year voyage of 1431-1433 alone, Zheng He established for China 20 tributary and diplomatic relations across the rim of the Indian Ocean. [27]

The Chinese strategy in the Indian Ocean could not have been farther from that of the Portuguese a few decades later. In 1911 a stele, shown on the left, was discovered in Galle, south of India (present day Sri Lanka). It is inscribed not only in Chinese, but in Tamil and Persian, the primary languages of the inhabitants of that area. This stele was placed by Zheng He in 1409 as a gift to the people of Galle; its inscriptions list the extravagant gifts made by Zheng He in honor of the inhabitants' gods, in their own languages, to demonstrate China's good will. This is to be contrasted with Vasco da Gama, who cut apart the bodies of captured merchants and fishermen and sent their heads to the leader of Calcutta to show he meant business. [28]

Unfortunately for Zheng He, a change of power in imperial China brought these voyages to an end. A new emperor, under the influence of powerful Confucians long suspicious of these voyages, withdrew funds for these diplomatic missions. The official records of Zheng's voyages were destroyed and the large treasure ships of the Chinese were banned. China began to focus instead on establishing internal stability over reaching out to the world.






References

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  17. Strayer, p. 313-314.
  18. The scholar was Karl Wittfogel, cited in The History of Latin America: Collision of Cultures, (2007), Marshall C. Eakin, pp. 31-32.
  19. The History of Latin America: Collision of Cultures, (2007), Marshall C. Eakin, pp. 31-32.
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  24. "Pax Mongolica and Cultural Exchange", The Barbarian Empires of the Steppes, Kenneth W. Harl, The Great Courses.
  25. World Civilizations: The Global Experience., 4th ed., (2006) Peter N. Stearns, p. 153.
  26. China: A New History. (2006) John K. Fairbank and Merle Goldman, p.138.
  27. The Discoverers. Boorstin, p.191.
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