Expansion of Land-Based Empires

Unit 3: c. 1450-1750

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

A Mughal soldier on horseback using a gun with gunpowder


Imperial court guards of Emperor Shah Jahan. Similar military troops were used by the Mughals to establish & maintain their rule


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