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1: The Changing World (1400-1600)

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    • 1.1: Introduction
      Western Europe entered the 'Age of Discovery' during the 15th to 17th centuries, a time of exploration across the oceans and intrusive colonization in other geographic areas. Western Africa developed into multiple kingdoms, each with its city-state territories. In ancient Ghana, the kings inherited rule through the mother, a matrilineal society, as opposed to the kings in Europe who were patrilineal. Asia In the 1400s, the Ming Dynasty was economically dominant, supporting huge populations.
    • 1.2: Renaissance (1400-1550 CE)
      Rinascita, Italian for "rebirth," a period marking the end of Europe's feudal systems and entering a new form of a cultural and political society built on commerce. The shift from the Middle Ages in Europe to the Renaissance was a revival act of the classical styles of Greek and Roman art, highlighting humanists' progression. Leaving medieval values behind, humanistic learning dominated philosophy and the sciences.
    • 1.3: Mannerism (1520 to 1590 CE)
      Maniera in Italian was a new style, Mannerism, moving from the classical versions of the Renaissance, bringing images less focused on the beauty of balance and perfect symmetry to elongated features with expressive and unusually positioned figures. Instead of an idealized and harmonious portrayal, Mannerism artists used dissonance, imbalance, and ambiguous figures.
    • 1.4: Kingdom of Benin (1180 CE – 1897 CE)
      In today's southern Nigeria, the Kingdom of Benin reached its artistic splendor from 1400 through 1600. The kingdom began in the 900s when the Edo people started building settlements. After continued warfare with others in the 1100s, they asked a neighboring king for help, and the king sent his son, who took command of the territory. By the 1400s, the new Oba (king) increased his army and began annexing additional lands, helping build a vast and wealthy kingdom.
    • 1.5: Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 CE)
      The Ming Dynasty was a time of growth, the population doubling supported by an extensive trade increase with the rest of the known world. Zhu Yuanzhang, who became Emperor Hongwu, lived as a beggar in a Buddhist monastery until local uprisings inspired him to join one of the military organizations. He quickly rose through the military ranks, leading the forces to drive the Mongols out of China and establishing the Ming dynasty.
    • 1.6: Muromachi and Momoyama Periods (1338-1615 CE)
      Although the Emperor of Japan was the titular head of government, the shogun (samurai military commander) was the authority that governed the country from 1185 until 1868. As the leader of the daimyo (local samurai warlords) and their samurai (warriors), the shogun had an elite army to fight, conquer, control, and manage the masses. Early shogun and daimyo were in constant warfare until the Edo period (1615-1868) when Tokugawa Shogunate unified the country.
    • 1.7: Mesoamerica – Aztecs, Mixtec, Maya (1400-1521 CE)
      When Europeans arrived in Mesoamerica, the Aztecs were one of the most powerful Empires of the Americas, ruling an extensive area in central and southern Mexico and south into Guatemala. They were known as the Mexica, a nomadic people from Aztlan who spoke the Indigenous language, Nahuatl.  We know them by the name Aztecs today due to a nineteenth-century German explorer named Alexander van Humboldt.
    • 1.8: The Inka – Early 15th Century to 1581 CE
      The Inka, based in the Andes mountains of South America, was the other great civilization of the pre-Columbian era. The term Inka referred to the ruling class or ruling family in their indigenous language, Quechua. The great Inka Empire extended along the lines of the Andean Mountains from Quito, Ecuador, to the northern part of Chile; the capital city was Cusco was the artistic capital of Peru to this day.
    • 1.9: Early Colonial Latin Americas (1521-1600 CE)
      Christopher Columbus voyaged to the Americas several times between 1492 and 1502, inspiring other explorers to seek fame and fortune. Columbus initially landed in the city of Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic. He believed he discovered the Indies and named the indigenous population "Indians." This term is controversial today; some scholars continue to use the word, especially in the discussion of history.
    • 1.10: Conclusion

    Thumbnail: Elizabeth I (ca. 1565, vellum on card, 5 cm diameter) Public Domain

    This page titled 1: The Changing World (1400-1600) is shared under a CC BY 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Deborah Gustlin & Zoe Gustlin (ASCCC Open Educational Resources Initiative) .

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