Global Studies I (Honors) Third Quarter

Unit 9.6 Medieval World

The creation of a new religion of Islam during a time of tension and political disorder in Southwest Asia resulted in the rapid growth of both Islam and the Arab Empire. This chapter describes the first Muslims and the basic tenets and beliefs of Islam; the creation of the Arab Empire and the growth of the caliphates; Islamic trade and society, and the achievements and contributions of Islamic civilization.

Chapter 9 – Islam and the Arab Empire, 600-1400 C.E

 Essential Questions:

  • How can religion influence the development of an empire?
    • How might religious beliefs affect society, culture, and politics?

The First Muslims

  • The domestication of the camel and political disorder in Mesopotamia and Egypt helped expand caravan trade on the Arabian Peninsula as towns developed along trade routes between the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean.
  • The revelations of Muhammad, which Muslims believe were given to him by the angel Gabriel, led to the creation of the Islamic religion.
  • Islam is a monotheistic religion and way of life that stresses the need to obey the will of Allah by practicing the Five Pillars of Islam—belief, prayer, charity, fasting, and pilgrimage—and by following the shari’ah, a set of practical laws to regulate the daily lives of Muslims.

The Arab Empire and the Caliphates

  • The death of Muhammad left his followers without an heir or a chosen successor.
  • The leadership of Abū Bakr, Muhammad’s father-in-law, expanded the Islamic Empire and unified the Arabs.
  • The Islamic Empire made many conquests under the rule of the Umayyad dynasty, including the Byzantine province of Syria, Egypt, the Persian Empire, and most of Spain.
  • Internal struggles within the empire resulted in a split in Islam into two groups: the Shia Muslims, who accept only the descendants of Ali as the true rulers of Islam, and the Sunni Muslims, who accept the Umayyads as rulers, or caliphs.
  • Under the Abbasids, a new capital city was built at Baghdad, on the Tigris River; Islam experienced prosperity and a new cultural outlook as Islamic culture was opened to the influence of the civilizations they had conquered.

Islamic Civilization

  • Trade resulted in the growth of cities—Baghdad, Cairo, and Damascus—and helped expand the reach of Islam into China, the Byzantine Empire, India, and Southeast Asia.
  • Although Islamic teaching states that all groups are equal in the eyes of Allah, all social groups were not equal in the Arab Empire. A fairly well-defined upper class existed that consisted of ruling families, senior officials, nomadic elites, and the wealthiest merchants.
  • Islamic advancements in philosophy, science, and history contributed to the world’s knowledge; Arabs translated the works of Plato and Aristotle into Arabic and an Arab mathematician developed the mathematical discipline of algebra, still taught in schools today.
  • Islam brought major changes to the culture of Southwest Asia in its literature, art, and architecture; guided by the Quran, the representation of living beings is prohibited in Islamic art and architecture.

Chapter 10 – Medieval Kingdoms of Europe, 800-1300 C.E.

The Vikings and other invaders threatened the safety of people throughout Europe. Rulers faced difficulties defending their subjects as centralized governments fell apart. This chapter describes the response to this situation in Europe. It explains the development of feudalism; the corresponding manorial system; and the eventual rise of European kingdoms as monarchs began to expand their power.

Essential Questions:

  • How can changes to political systems impact economic activities?
    • How is society influenced by changes in political and economic systems?


  • After Charlemagne’s death, the Carolingian Empire was weakened by divisions of his empire among surviving heirs and invasions by Muslims, Magyars, and Vikings.
  • European rulers found it difficult to defend their subjects and their economies without strong centralized governments.
  • Feudalism was a complicated system of relationships and obligations meant to maintain political and social order.
  • Men and women of nobility were guided by a code of ethical behavior and society’s expectations of their roles.

Peasants, Trade, and Cities

  • New inventions for farming, such as plows made of iron, and more efficient use of land contributed to population growth in Europe after 1000.
  • Under the manorial system, serfs worked the lands of nobles, paid rents, and were subject to the noble’s control.
  • The growth of trade brought about a money economy and the rise of commercial capitalism, an economic system in which people invested in trade and goods for profit.
  • Merchants and artisans settled in old Roman cities and also founded new cities in protected locations along trade routes.
  • Townspeople needed—and eventually were granted—their own unique laws separate from those of the noble whose land they occupied.

The Growth of European Kingdoms

  • In 1066, William the Conqueror’s invasion of England led to a merging of Anglo-Saxon and Norman cultures.
  • King John of England put his seal on the Magna Carta in 1215, keeping the English monarch from ever becoming an absolute ruler.
  • Philip II Augustus expanded the French Empire’s power through wars against the English for control of French territories.
  • The Germanic king Otto the Great created a new empire, eventually known as the Holy Roman Empire.
  • The western Slavs formed the Polish and Bohemian kingdoms and accepted Western Christianity, while most of the southern Slavs embraced Eastern Orthodoxy.
  • The eastern Slavs settled in present-day Russia and Ukraine and accepted Eastern Orthodoxy.

Unit 9.7 Mass Migrations

Chapter 11 – Civilizations of East Asia, 220-1500 C.E.

This chapter describes the Sui, Tang, and Song dynasties that unified China and brought about a long period of progress and prosperity; how the Mongols conquered China and created the world’s largest land empire; how Japan developed and interacted with other cultures; the early history of Korea; how different religions influenced culture in India; and how India and China affected the development of Southeast Asia

Essential Questions:

  • What qualities define power struggles and stable periods of rule?
    • How can invasion change the lives of people in conquered lands?

China Reunified

  • The Sui dynasty was the first in China since the end of the Han dynasty 300 years earlier.
  • Rulers of the Tang dynasty instituted reforms and increased China’s influence in East Asia.
  • The Song dynasty was a time of economic prosperity and cultural achievement.
  • During the nearly 700 years of the Sui, Tang, and Song dynasties, the Chinese economy grew in size and complexity, and a mature political system emerged.
  • The nature of Chinese trade changed during the time of the three dynasties and was often stimulated by technological developments.

The Mongols and Chinese Culture

  • The ruler Kublai Khan completed the Mongol conquest of the Song and established the Yuan dynasty.
  • A Mongol invasion in the thirteenth century destroyed the old Islamic Empire established by the Arabs.
  • Mongol rulers increased trade, especially along the Silk Road, by bringing the entire Eurasian landmass under a single rule.
  • Buddhism and Daoism rivaled Confucianism’s influence in the Sui and Tang governments, while the doctrine of neo-Confucianism influenced the Song government.
  • Cultural advancements in the form of printing, poetry, porcelain, and landscape painting peaked beginning with the Tang dynasty.

Early Japan and Korea

  • In his attempt to unify early Japan, Shōtoku Taishi brought the Chinese form of centralized government to the islands.
  • Power struggles between Japan’s central government and aristocrats eventually resulted in the collapse of central rule; local aristocrats turned to a new class of military servants—the samurai—for protection.
  • Minamoto Yoritomo set up a new system of government known as the shogunate to strengthen the state.
  • Trade in early Japan was slow to develop due to Japan’s isolation.
  • Shinto developed in Japan, while Buddhism was brought to Japan by Chinese monks.
  • Men viewed prose fiction as “vulgar gossip,” so women were the most productive writers of prose fiction.