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AP World History

Unit 1: c. 1200-1450

The Global Tapestry

Main Ideas of the Unit:

  • Throughout the world, religion played an important role in politically unifying certain regions and kingdoms

  • As kingdoms grew larger & started bordering each other, they fostered cultural & trade relations with each other

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Developments in East Asia

Main Ideas:

  • Song Dynasty used traditional Confucian methods to create an imperial bureaucracy to maintain its rule

  • Chinese culture flourished & shaped neighboring regions' cultures (Korea, Japan, Vietnam, etc.)

  • Buddhism spread to East Asia & influenced a variety of schools & practices

  • Song Dynasty's economy flourished & became more commercialized → More trade with South & Southeast Asia

Song Dynasty


Key Ideas:

  • Confucian merit-based bureaucracy allowed the empire to maintain its rule

  • Economy flourished

    • Naval technology → Song merchants could reach Indian Ocean trade route

    • Specialized in iron, gunpowder, mechanical clocks, & other exotic goods

    • Population increase → More people could participate in commercial activities

  • Spread its cultural influence to Korea, Japan, and Vietnam

    • Adopted similar cultural practices & built palaces in a similar style to Song China

  • Buddhism developed into different schools & practices

    • Zen (Chan) Buddhism: Emphasized meditation & personal intuition​

    • Pure Land School: Emphasized devotion to the Buddha to reach salvation

    • Mahayana Buddhism: Emphasized following Buddha's teachings to advance in the cycle of samsara but saying in the cycle to help others


Yuan Dynasty


Key Ideas:

  • Ruled by Mongols, established by Khubilai Khan

  • Did not embrace Chinese cultural traditions & forbade Chinese people from learning Mongol culture


Ming Dynasty


Key Ideas:

  • Revived Chinese cultural traditions (e.g. Confucian bureaucracy) after they were lost in the Yuan Dynasty

  • Just like Song Dynasty, the Ming Dynasty promoted trade

    • Emperor Yongle sent Zheng He on 7 overseas trading voyages to establish Chinese dominance in the Indian Ocean


Developments in Dar al-Islam

Main Ideas:

  • Muslim empires (such as Abbasid Caliphate) had many intellectual innovations (especially in science & math)

  • Islam spread throughout Afro-Eurasia via to merchants & missionaries (especially Sufis)

  • Trade flourished due to Middle East's prime location

  • Many commercial innovations helped boost trade

Abbasid Caliphate


Key Ideas:

  • Had many innovations in science, math, and literature

    • House of Wisdom: Ancient university with many STEM innovations (e.g. algebra)

  • Spread Islam via merchants, missionaries, and military

    • Islamic merchants traveled throughout Afro-Eurasia → Spread Islam everywhere

    • Missionaries of Sufi Islam were most successful due to Sufism's emotional appeal

    • As Islamic empires expanded militarily, they brought more people into their Islamic rule

  • Trade flourished due to Middle East's prime location

    • Islamic merchants engaged in trade with West Africa, East Africa, India, China, Southeast Asia, and Europe

  • Increase in trade → Commercial innovations made trade easier

    • Letters of credit: Merchants deposit money in one place & get a letter of credit to pick up the money in another place → Decreases risk of robbery

    • Caravanserai: Roadside inns where merchants could rest for the night


Developments in South & Southeast Asia

Main Ideas:

  • States in South & Southeast Asia remained stable based on their state religion and the Indian Ocean Trade Route

  • Indian cultural traditions & religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam) shaped Southeast Asian kingdoms

Northern India

Delhi Sultanate: 1206-1526

Key Ideas:

  • Islam as state religion → Unstable while ruling over Hindu-majority population

    • Struggled to maintain rule & convert local Hindus to Islam → Relied on alliances with local Hindu rulers → Very unstable

  • Could not benefit from Indian Ocean Trade Route

    • Largely economically isolated from South India

    • Economy didn't flourish as much since it wasn't on Indian Ocean Trade Route


Southern India

Chola Empire: 3rd century BCE - 1279 CE
Kingdom of Vijayanagara: 1336-1646 CE

Key Ideas:

  • Hinduism as state religion → Very stable since most of population was Hindu

    • Hindu caste system helped the region maintain social stability

    • Hindu temples were centers of society

  • Benefited significantly from Indian Ocean Trade Route

    • Allowed the region to economically and politically prosper​


Southeast Asia

Kingdoms of Funan, Srivijaya, Malacca, and Angkor

Key Ideas:

  • Indian cultural traditions shaped Southeast Asian Kingdoms

    • Funan adopted Indian administrative structure & the term raja for king

    • Angkor built Angkor Wat, a huge Hindu & Buddhist temple

    • Malacca adopted Islam

  • Southeast Asian Kingdoms profited from Indian Ocean Trade

    • Merchants passed through Southeast Asia en route from Indian Ocean to China

    • Malacca taxed trade through the Strait of Malacca


Developments in the Americas

Main Ideas:

  • Kingdoms used religion to unify their population

  • Had social hierarchies with religious and political rulers at the top, and agricultural laborers at the bottom

  • Developed unique ways to maintain control of their empires

Aztec Empire

c. 1345 - 1521 CE

Key Ideas:

  • Major emphasis on religion → Helped unify their population

    • Aztecs practiced extreme religious practices such as bloodletting & human sacrifices

    • Rulers used such religious beliefs to unify their populations

  • Social hierarchy with the king & priest at the top

    • The priest had very high social status, often acting as advisors to the king​

  • Developed a unique tribute system to maintain control of distant lands

    • Had a customized tribute list for each neighboring kingdom, based on each kingdom's local goods → Allowed Aztecs to maintain control of a large empire


Inca Empire

1438 - 1533 CE

Key Ideas:

  • Religion was very important & helped unify the Kingdom

    • Incas worshiped the sun god, Inti

  • Rulers & priests had very high social status

    • Believed rulers become intermediaries with gods when they die​ → People mummified rulers & worshipped them

    • Priests conducted religious ceremonies and had high social status

  • Huge road network → Helped maintain rule over the huge empire

    • 25,000 miles of roads: Runners traverse the roads quickly, relaying information throughout the empire → Allowed Incas to maintain control of their empire


Native Americans

Cultures of Chaco, Pueblo, and Cahokia

Key Ideas:

  • Native American cultures had unique religious beliefs → Unified the population

    • Cahokia built a huge mound for ceremonial purposes

    • Pueblo and Chaco cultures built Kivas (underground circular rooms) for religious purposes


Developments in Africa

Main Ideas:

  • Kingdoms & merchants adopted Islam (but still retained their indigenous beliefs) to have better relations with Islamic merchants

  • Religion was defined on a local scale and supported the kinship model of African society

Mali Empire

1235 - c. 1600 CE

Key Ideas:

  • Merchants converted to Islam to forge better relations with Islamic merchants (from North Africa) but retained their indigenous beliefs → Religious syncretism

    • Islamic merchants from North Africa traded with Mali via trans-Saharan Trade Route

    • Mansa Musa (King of Mali) was inspired by Islam during a hajj → Spread Islam to the Kingdom of Mali and built Islamic schools & mosques

    • Those who converted to Islam retained some indigenous African religious beliefs → Didn't strictly follow Islamic sharia law


Swahili City-States

City-States on East African Coast

Key Ideas:

  • Merchants converted to Islam to forge better relations with Islamic merchants but still retained some indigenous religious beliefs → Religious syncretism

    • Many East Africans converted to Islam but didn't follow strict Islamic ideals of women subordination → Muslim traveler Ibn Battuta got surprised by this

  • African society was based on a kinship model, and African religion supported this societal model

    • African society was divided into clans made up of different family units → Social structure was based on familial relationships

    • African religion was localized and involved a creator god, and ancestors would become intermediaries with the gods


Developments in Europe

Main Ideas:

  • Western Europe was politically fragmented with feudalism and decentralized monarchies

  • The Catholic Church (centered in Rome) was the main source of unity throughout Western Europe

  • As monarchies started centralizing, more people moved to the cities, sparking a commercial revolution

Western Europe

All of Europe West of the Byzantine Empire

Key Ideas:

  • Very politically fragmented and decentralized

    • Feudalism: Peasants lived on large rural land plots and worked on the land under the supervision of their lords

    • Monarchies were very decentralized and relied on local feudal lords for stability

  • The Catholic Church was the main source of centralized power

    • Nearly all Western Europeans were Catholic and were under the discretion of the Roman Catholic Church

    • Even though Western Europe was politically decentralized, the Catholic Church helped maintain unity

  • Monarchies started centralizing power → People moved to the cities → Commercial Revolution

    • In mid 1400s, monarchies (Spain, France, England, etc.) started consolidating their power, causing peasants to move from the countryside to the cities

    • With more people in the cities, they engaged in commercial activities & traded with other European cities

      • One group of commercial cities is the Hanseatic League in Northern Europe​

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