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AP World History

Unit 3: c. 1450-1750

Land-Based Empires

Main Ideas of the Unit:

  • Various land-based empires emerged, and they all used common themes of tax-collection, monumental art & architecture, religion, military elites, bureaucracies, and gunpowder to expand & legitimize their rule

  • Interactions between different religions led to divisions among a religion (Protestant Reformation), conflict between religions (Ottomans vs Safavids), and the creation of syncretic religions (Sikhism)


Overview of All Land-Based Empires (Outside Europe)

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Ottoman Empire


Key Ideas:

  • Located in the Middle East, capital at Istanbul (Turkey)

    • Controlled Turkey and most of the Middle East at its height

  • Believed in Sunni Islam

  • Recruited soldiers & administrators by enslaving Christian boys through a program called devshirme

  • Sultan Suleyman I (r. 1520-1566) was the "great" emperor: Conquered lots of territory & oversaw flourishing arts & literature

Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent (r. 1520-1566)


Suleymaniye mosque, a representation of monumental architecture meant to legitimize the rule of the Ottoman Sultan


Safavid Empire


Key Ideas:

  • Located in Persia

    • Capital at Tabriz then at Isfahan

  • Believed in Shi'a Islam

  • Had a strong military run by military elites called qizilbash

  • Shah Abbas (r. 1588-1629) was the "great" emperor who consolidated Safavid power & oversaw construction of large palaces

Mughal Empire


Key Ideas:

  • Located in India

    • Capital kept moving around: Agra, Fatehpur Sikri, Delhi, Lahore​

  • Believed in Islam

    • Made accommodations for its Hindu-majority population: Emperor Akbar abolished the jizya, a special tax that all non-Muslims had to pay, but Emperor Aurangzeb reinstated it

  • Had Hindu tax farmers called zamindars

  • Had 6 Great emperors before the empire's decline

    • Babur (founder), Humayun, Akbar (the "great" Mughal emperor), Jahangir, Shah Jahan (who built the Taj Mahal), Aurangzeb (who reinstated the jizya)

Akbar the Great, the greatest Mughal emperor


The Red Fort, a Mughal fort built by Shah Jahan. It represents monumental architecture meant to legitimize one's rule


Ming Dynasty


Key Ideas:

  • Sought to remain isolationist from European contact to protect Chinese culture from foreign influence

    • Restricted the activities of foreign merchants

  • Had a declining economy

    • Changed paper money to silver bullion, but that largely failed​

    • Many pirates raided the city

  • Fell in 1644 to the Manchus (from northern China, near China-Korea border)

    • Manchus came to help Ming Dynasty quell a peasant rebellion, but they instead took power after quelling the rebellion

Qing Dynasty


Key Ideas:

  • Founded by Manchus, natives of Manchuria (northern China, near China-Korea border)

    • Forbade cultural contact between ethnic Chinese & Manchus

  • Even though Manchus were foreigners, they hired Chinese to run the government through the Confucian civil service exam

  • Had a strong military that conquered lots of territory

    • Emperors Kangxi & Qianlong conquered most of Central Asia

  • Very isolationist from European influence

    • Banned Christianity in 1724

    • Restricted trade to just a few cities (until foreigners started carving spheres of influence in 1800s, more on this in Unit 6)

Tokugawa Shogunate


Key Ideas:

  • Located in Japan

    • Capital at Edo (Tokyo)

  • Originally had a feudal structure

    • Emperor at the top; Provincial rulers (daimyo) below them, warriors (samurai) below them, and peasants at the bottom

  • VERY strict in isolationism to protect their Japanese culture

    • Restricted Christianity

    • Restricted Japanese from traveling abroad

    • Restricted foreigners from trading there

    • Only the Dutch could come at the port of Nagasaki, where the Dutch taught many things to the Japanese & corrected their textbooks with correct info

Songhai Empire


Key Ideas:

  • Located in West Africa

    • Previously controlled by Mali Empire

    • Sunni Ali established autonomy of Songhai Empire in 1494

    • Capital at Gao

  • Profited from trade in West Africa & Niger River Valley

    • Had a navy patrol the Niger River

  • Promoted Islam

  • Askia the Great (1493-1528) was the "great" emperor who conquered more territory & gained more influence in West Africa

  • Fell in Battle of Tondibi (1591) against Moroccans as the Moroccans were armed with guns (given by the Europeans)

Overview of European Kingdoms

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Kingdom of Spain

Formed in 1469

Key Ideas:

Before 1469

Spain was divided into many kingdoms: Castile, Aragon, Navarre, Portugal (all Christian), Granada (Muslim)


King Ferdinand of Aragon married Queen Isabella of Castile → They united their lands into a (mostly) unified Spain


Ferdinand & Isabella launched the Spanish Inquisition, a program to suppress all non-Catholics


Conquest of Granada: Ferdinand & Isabella conquered the last remaining Muslim Kingdom in Spain (Granada)


King Charles V (ruler of Habsburg Kingdom) retires → His son, Philip II, inherits parts of Spain & Netherlands


Dutch Revolt: Calvinists in Low Countries oppose Philip II's Catholicism → Netherlands (north) gains independence; Belgium (south) remains in Spanish rule


Spanish Armada: Philip II sends navy to England to convert England (which is Protestant) to Catholicism → He fails

Kingdom of France

Formed in 1453

Key Ideas:


Hundred Years' War: England vs France → France won → France started consolidating power after this victory


Concordat of Bologna: Allowed French king to appoint church bishops in exchange for giving revenue to Pope


King Henry II died, so his 3 sons took over and fought for control. One of the sons became King Henry III


Many French Calvinists (Huguenots) were in French countryside → Lots of fights between Catholics & Huguenots


St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre: A marriage between a Catholic & Protestant in royal family → Deadly


Henry III died → Henry of Navarre (groom in St. Bartholomew's Day wedding) became King Henry IV


Edict of Nantes: Henry IV allowed Huguenots to practice their religion in 150 French cities


30 Years' War: Cardinal Richelieu was chief advisor to King Louis XIII & helped defeat Catholic Habsburgs (Austria)


Louis XIV's Reign: "Sun King"; built Palace of Versailles; Advisor Jean-Baptiste Colbert increased French size


Kingdom of England

Formed in 10th century

Key Ideas:


King Henry XIV created the Church of England (Anglican Church)


Queen Mary's reign: Was Catholic & persecuted Protestants → Many Protestants exiled in mainland Europe


Queen Elizabeth's reign: Was Protestant → Protestant exilees returned & created Puritan church ("purifying" Anglicanism of its Catholic elements)


James I's reign: Was Catholic & claimed absolute power → Hated parliament


Charles I's reign: Was Catholic; Claimed absolute power → Rarely summoned his majority-Puritan Parliament


English Civil War: Charles I fought Parliament (led by Oliver Cromwell) → Cromwell won & became king → Gave Parliament more power


Stuart Restoration: Cromwell died → Charles II became king & restored King's absolute authority


James II's reign: Was Catholic → Promoted Catholicism in gov & schools


Glorious Revolution:Parliament opposed James II's Catholic policies → Imposed William & Mary as rulers

Holy Roman Empire

Formed in 800

Key Ideas:

Before 1555

Made up of hundreds of small nation-states & very decentralized


Peace of Augsburg: Emperor Charles V allowed each nation-state to choose Catholicism or Lutheranism


Thirty Years' War: A huge war between Catholics & Protestants in the empire


Peace of Westphalia: Allowed each nation-state to choose Catholicism, Lutheranism, or Calvinism

Tsardom of Russia

Formed in 1480

Key Ideas:

Before 1480

Russia was under control of the Mongol Khanate of the Golden Horde


Tsar Ivan III (Ivan the Great) declared independence from Mongols → Established Russian Tsardom


Reign of Ivan IV ("the terrible"): Had imperial expansion but killed a lot of dissidents (including his son)


Time of Troubles: Many monarchs were competing for power


Michael Romanov became tsar, starting the Romanov Dynasty (ending in 1917)


Reign of Peter I ("the great"): Reformed Russia according to Western standards (military, culture, dress, etc.)


Reign of Catherine I ("the great"): Used Enlightenment principles in government → Less strict governance


Habsburg Empire

Formed in 1526

Key Ideas:

Early 1500s - 1556

Charles V was emperor of huge Habsburg domain (Spain, Sicily, Netherlands, Germany, etc.)


Charles V retired → His son (Philip II) got Spain, Netherlands, and Sicily; His brother (Ferdinand I) got Austria

Expansion of Land-Based Empires

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Main Ideas:

  • Empires used gunpowder and military strength to establish large empires

  • Political & religious disputes led to rivalries between various states & empires

The Use of Gunpowder

Many Land-Based Empires Used Gunpowder to Establish their Rule

Key Ideas:

  • The Ottomans, Mughals, and Safavids (known as the Gunpowder empires) used gunpowder to establish their rule & conquer more territory

    • The Russian empire also used gunpowder, but to a lesser extent​


  • Other empires used military strength to capture more territory

    • All European empires were heavily armed and engaged in wars with one another

  • Some empires in East Asia used military strength to remain isolationist from European influence

    • Ming & Qing Dynasties of China and Tokugawa Shogunate of Japan used military strength to protect their empires from European influence


Rivalries Between States

Political & Religious Disputes often led to Rivalries Between Empires

Key Ideas:

  • Empires often fought each other for territory

    • Mughals & Safavids fought each other from 1649-53 over territory in Afghanistan​

    • Russia fought Sweden in the Great Northern War (1700-1721) to gain territory on the Baltic Sea

    • The Saadi Dynasty (from Morocco) defeated the Songhai Empire in 1591 as the Moroccans wanted control of gold mines in the Songhai Empire

Administration of Land-Based Empires

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Main Ideas:

  • Empires used bureaucracies & military elites to maintain centralized control of their populations

  • Rulers used religion & monumental architecture to legitimize their rule

  • Rulers used innovative tax-collecting systems to generate revenue for their empires

The Use of Bureaucracies

Bureaucracies & Military Elites Helped Empires Maintain Centralized Rule

Key Ideas:

  • Many empires recruited bureaucracies to help run the government

    • The Ming & Qing Dynasties of China recruited a bureaucracy through a merit-based Confucian civil service exam

    • Through a program called devshirme, the Ottomans recruited Christian boys to its bureaucracy

    • The Mughals & Safavids also had a small bureaucracy


  • Most empires were run by a group of military professionals or employed a large military

    • The gunpowder empires (Ottomans, Mughals, Safavids) were military states, and the military generals had a high social status

    • In Tokugawa Shogunate (Japan), the samurai (warriors) held high status

    • European kingdoms had large armies

      • Russia (under Ivan IV) used freed serfs (called cossacks) in their army​

  • Kingdoms had large powerful bureaucracies so that they could have a more centralized rule over their population

Religion & Monumental Architecture

Rulers used Religion & Monumental Architecture to Legitimize their Rule

Key Ideas:

  • Many rulers promoted religion or even encouraged certain religious practices meant to honor their rule in order to legitimize their rule

    • Gunpowder empires (Ottomans, Safavids, Mughals) and the Songhai Empire promoted Islam to legitimize their rule

    • The Aztecs practiced human sacrifice to honor their rulers & gods

    • The Incas mummified their rulers after their death to honor them

    • European rulers used the idea of "divine right," claiming that god had allowed them to rule with absolute power​

  • Rulers commissioned art & monumental architecture to legitimize their rule: If someone sees the it, they'd realize that the person who built it must be in power

    • Mughals built the Taj Mahal & other mausoleums

    • Ottomans built Suleymaniye

    • Safavids built huge palaces

    • Qing Dynasty (China) created portraits of the emperors to put on display in their capital palace of Forbidden City

    • Europe had lots of palaces, such as the Palace of Versailles (France) & Schonbrunn Palace (Austrian Habsburgs)


Tax Collection

Rulers Created Innovative Methods of Tax Collection to Raise Revenue for their Empires

Key Ideas:

  • Rulers used tax-farming and innovative tax-collection methods to generate imperial revenue

    • Tax-farming: When ordinary people are employed by the state to collect taxes

    • Mughals employed Hindu farmers called zamindars to collect taxes through a tax-farming system

    • Ottomans also used tax-farming

    • Aztecs created special tribute lists for each of its neighboring regions (based on the specialities of each region)

    • Ming Dynasty (China) collected taxes in silver bullion

Belief Systems of Land-Based Empires

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Main Ideas:

  • Religious rivalries intensified political rivalries

  • Many syncretic religions formed due to interaction among multiple religions

Religious Rivalries

Interaction among Different Religions lead to Religious Rivalries

Key Ideas:

  • The Protestant Reformation in Europe created a huge political & religious rivalry between Protestants & Catholics

    • Martin Luther, a theology professor, believed the Catholic Church was corrupt → Created the Protestant branch of Christianity

      • He believed that the true source of religious authority is in god and the Bible, not in the Church's clergy

    • As Protestants & Catholics fought each other, they created different branches of Christianity, contributing to the growth of Christianity

    • The Catholic Counter-reformation, known as the Council of Trent (1545-63) was when the clergy reformed the Catholic church to respond to the Protestants' concerns and win back some converts

      • Also contributed to the growth of Christianity, especially through its Jesuit branch (which emphasized strict religious piety & education)​​​​​

  • There were many other religious rivalries caused by political rivalries between land-based empires

    • Ottomans were Sunni Islam, while Safavids were Shi'a Islam → Both empires fought over territory → Ottomans defeated Safavids at Battle of Chaldiran (1514)

    • Protestants fought Catholics on many occasions

      • Thirty Years' War (1618-48) → Peace of Westphalia (1648), allowing each region in Holy Roman Empire to choose its own religion​

      • Spanish Armada (1588): Spanish Catholics vs English Protestants → English won

      • Dutch Revolt (80 Years' War) (1568-1648): Spanish Catholics vs Dutch Protestants → Dutch gained independence (Netherlands)

Syncretic Religions

Interactions Between Different Religions Led to the Creation of Syncretic Religions

Key Ideas:

  • Interactions between different religions → Creation of syncretic religions

    • Interactions among Hindus & Muslims in India → Creation of Sikhism

    • Interactions among Portuguese Catholic missionaries & Native West Africans → Various syncretic religions to harmonize Christianity with African traditions

    • Interactions between different African slaves & Europeans in Americas → Syncretic slave culture (i.e. voodoo)

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