Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Bushido-the Way of the Warrior

Bushido the Way of the Warrior is the code of honor and rules a true Samurai must follow. Bushido is similar to the code of chivalry followed by true knights of the European Middle Ages.  The code set out seven key principles that the Samurai needed to follow:

Rectitude-follow the straight path
Courage-always be brave
Benevolence-do good deeds
Respect-all according to their class
Honesty-in all dealings
Honor-maintained to the highest level
Loyalty-to your Lord and to the code of Bushido

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Ming -"the Bright" - Dynasty


The Ming or "Bright" Dynasty (1368-1644) was the last Chinese Imperial government to rule this ancient culture.  The Ming Dynasty was founded by Zhu Yuanzhang, "the Hungwu Emperor" (1368-1398), when he lead a successful rebellion against the foreign Mongol, Yuan Dynasty. Zhu Yuanzhang had the distinction of being born a common peasant and rising to the status of emperor by his own skills, cunning and bravery.
Art flourished during the Ming Dynasty and it was well known for is excellent porcelain.  Even today the term "Ming Vase," brings instant recognition as an art form of the highest value.
The Forbidden City, home to the Emperor of China from the early 15th to early 20th centuries was one of the greatest legacies of the Ming Dynasty.  Ordered built in 1406, by the Yongle Emperor (1402-1424) to consolidate his power in the restored capital of Beijing, the Forbidden Palace took fourteen years to build, contained 980 buildings and covered over 7, 800,000 square feet (720,000 square meters).
 
The Yongle Emperor was also responsible for the vast exploration fleets of Zheng He. (See Zheng He-Greatest Ming Explorer post).  After the last of these voyages in 1436, the Ming emperors chose a policy of isolationism.  For the next four centuries the Middle Kingdom attempted to retain what they had and prevent foreign concepts from contaminating the culture.  By the mid 19th century this policy would leave China vulnerable to the technological advances of the Europeans.
 
Fear of the return of the Mongols and other barbarian tribes, led the Ming's to rebuild the Great Wall into the massive brick structure that comes to mind whenever its name is mentioned.  It seceded for centuries in holding back the invaders, but in the end, weak emperors, government corruption, and peasant revolts completed the ever present life cycle of the dynasty and the Ming were destroyed and replaced by the last Imperial dynasty of China, the foreign (Manchu's) Qing Dynasty.
 
An interesting side note to the Ming Dynasty were the Kaifeng Jews, the oldest officially recognized Jewish community in Imperial China.  Kaifeng Jews may have come to this ancient city as early as the Northern Song Dynasty (10th to 12th centuries) but it was a Ming emperor who first conferred seven surnames upon the Kaifeng Jews, by which they are identifiable today: Ai, Shi, Gao, Jin, Li, Zhang, and Zhao. Today, over a thousand Kaifeng residents trace their ancestry to the Jews of the Ming Dynasty.
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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

T'ang Dynasty (618-907 CE) - a Golden Age

At its height the T'ang Dynasty ruled a vast area of Asia, that included Manchuria and Korea as tributary states. Control of almost half of the Silk Road trade routes greatly increased the coffers of the empire as well as helped spread the advances of this powerful dynasty.  The rule of the T'ang was a period of cultural advancement, social stability and creative inventions. Three of the greatest inventions during the T'ang rule would have massive effects on the rest of World history: block printing, paper money and gunpowder. T'ang ruler Wu Zetian (625-705) is the only acknowledged female Emperor of China. She attained this exalted position through sex, lies, spies and murder (very traditional ways to take power throughout history). Once in total control she was a good, benign ruler choosing the best adviser's possible to run her government. A major change in the country was when she made Buddhism the official religion over Daoism in the Empire.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Some of the Main Reasons Rome Fell Questionnaire

SPQR Student Name_______________ Class_______ Date_______ Some of the Main Causes of the Fall of Rome Is the USA is starting to follow this path taken by the Roman Empire? Mark those that you feel the USA is already doing. Political: ____-Split the Empire into Eastern & Western Empires. ____ -Defensive/isolationist mentality. ____-No peaceful way to replace leaders. ____- Citizens became more concerned about their life style and luxuries than involved in the workings of their government. ____-Massive bureaucracy/government. ____-Failed to complete the conquest of major enemy (Germany in 9 and 181 CE) Economic: ____-Inflation caused by constant devaluation of money and rapidly rising prices. (price of a peck of wheat: 150 C.E.-½ denarii, 200 C.E.-100 denarii, 350 C.E.-10,000 denarii) ____-Heavy taxation to pay for the military and public infrastructure. ____-Lack of gold & silver specie. ____-Negative balance of trade. ____-Huge public welfare expenses. Social: ____-Rich controlled 90% of the wealth. ____-Middle class shrunk to virtual non-existence. ____-Huge uneducated poor class felt little support for the state. ____-Poor class reduced to surviving on public welfare. ____-Military and Civil Service Government became the number one employers. Military: ____-Hired non-citizens for the Army, German/barbarians eventually make up 80% of the army who were loyal to their generals not the state. ____-Barbarian invasions, 300+ years of constant pressure and war from ever larger barbarian tribes. ____-Expensive military, eventually over 50% of the governmental expenses. ____-Generals become the main contenders for the throne often taking their armies from the frontier defenses as they marched on Rome. ____-Quality and loyalty of soldiers declined. Environment: ____-Lead poisoning from water pipes & goblets/dishes etc. ____-Erosion due to over farming and deforestation. ____-Overcrowded cities. ____-Pandemic Plagues from the East.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Barbarian Always More Barbarians

Seemingly endless masses of barbarian tribes attacked the Roman Empire for centuries. No sooner was one threat delt with than another would appear.
After centuries of war vs the Republic, the Celts and Gauls were Incorporated into the empire, eventually gaining full citizenship.

After more than 100 years of raids against the Northern provinces of the Empire, the Anglo & Saxons conquered and settled Britannia.






The Franks, using their deadly francisca axe from which the tribe recieved its name, overran Gaul (conquering the now "civilized" Gauls) giving a new name to their kingdom-France.




Imperial Nippon the Colonial Power

After Commodore Perry's fateful trip to Nippon in the 1850's the Nation of Nippon choose to embrace every aspect of the Modern World, including the European concept of Colonialism and over seas empires. Starting in the 1870's with dozens of Pacific islands, by the 1890's Nippon had turned its attention to the dieing Qing Dynasty of China. After a swift victorious war the Imperial Army and Navy annexed Formosa (Taiwan) and Korea (although the Europeans forced the technical return of the latter to the tender care of the Russian Empire).
By 1905, tensions had run their course between the empires of Russia and Nippon. The Imperial Navy used a lighting strike, before declaring war, on the Russian East Asia fleet in Korea. The Surprise attack destroyed Russian Naval power in Korean waters and allowed the unfettered movement of the Imperial Army as they systematically destroyed the Russian forces in Korea. The overwhelming victory of the Imperial Navy over the Russian reinforcement fleet in the Battle of Tushima sealed the Russian defeat and added Korean to the growing Empire of Nippon. By the 1930's the Imperial Staff had made plans for the dismemberment of China, starting with Manchuria. This path was to directly lead to the final expansion of the Empire with the early conquests of much of East Asia in the opening victories of World War II.
The Japanese entry into World War II began as it had in the Russo-Japanese War, with a surprise attack upon the naval forces of the Japanese enemy, before a declaration of war.

The Empire's massive victory was also its greatest mistake.  The sneak attack on this "Day of Infamy" while the two governments were engaged in peace negotiations, would so enrage the American public that only total destruction of the Empire would satisfy the cry for revenge.
The Empire Nippon had reached its zenith of size and power and yet it had but four years left to live.

Barbarians, always more Barbarians

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Samurai-to Serve


Samurai made up the ruling military class and the highest ranking social caste Nippon. While Samurai employed a range of weapons such as bows and arrows, spears and eventually European style matchlock guns, their main weapon and symbol were the dual swords-the Katana (long killing sword) and the Wakizashi (short sword).
Samurai were supposed to lead their lives according to the ethic code of Bushido ("the way of the warrior"). Strongly Confucian in nature, Bushido stressed concepts such as loyalty to one's master, self discipline and respectful, ethical behavior.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Triangular Trade Routes

Triangular Trade involved trade routes that moved in a triangle direction. One of the most popular was from the Southern Colonies (Molasses) to the North American Colonies (Rum) to Africa (Slaves).

Another popular route took cash crops (rice, indigo, cotton, sugar and tobacco) to Europe. Then manufactured goods to Africa and from Africa, slaves to the colonies.

There were many other routes and goods that traveled in triangular paths from the New World to the Old. All of the natural wealth of the colonies were turned into trade goods, fish, furs, whale oil, iron, timber, naval stores, and wheat were common goods carried. While not the great money makers as the cash crops were, these products were in abundance and therefore less expensive in the New World. The age old adage of "buy low, sell high" was the guiding principle for these trade routes. The profits made could be huge and became the foundations of much of the new wealthy elite of the English colonies.
Double click on each map to see it in a larger text.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Louis XIV-"the Sun King"


The symbol of the often Golden reign of one of the greatest monarchs of post Renaissance Europe-Louis XIV "the Sun King." He chose this title to illustrate that he was the radiant center of Europe, France and his Court.

Louis Bourbon (1638-1715), King of France from 1643-1715 as Louis XIV. Reigning for seventy-two years, Louis XIV was the longest ruling monarch in French history. In his reign France challenged the other powers of Europe for supreme mastery though a series of ever more costly wars. His early successes were tempered by the massive debt his government incurred through these conflicts.

This neoclassical painting of "the Sun King" and his family brings forth visions of the grander of the ancient empires and gods of old.  An absolute monarch, Louis thought of himself and the country as one, "L'√Čtat, c'est moi" ("I am the state").

One of the greatest and long lasting accomplishments of Louis XIV was the grand Baroque Palace of Versailles. In addition to the beauty and luxury this massive palace complex afforded the king, Versailles was also built as an enticing "flame for the moths of nobility." Louis envisioned Versailles as a palace of such opulence that none of his troublesome nobles would ever wish to leave. This allowed the king to keep a close watch on those who might have challenged his authority.

The orange territories, including the valuable Alsace and Franche-Comte, were added to France by Louis XIV.  While his territorial gains were important, the cost in lives and money was immense. He recognised this as on his death bed when he was reported to say "I have love war to much" as advice for his heir.  When he died he left France with as one of the great world powers, massive debt, and a government run by the aristocrats for the aristocrats-his great grandson Louis XVI and his people would pay the price of the seeds sown by the Sun King.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Age of Discovery & Colonial Test Study Guide for June

Age of Discovery & Colonial Test
Study Guide

Know these Key Terms:
Protestant, Roman Catholic, Guild, Dona Marina, Inflation,
Northwest Passage, Civil Service, Plantation, Louis XIV, Reformation,
Bleeding, Quetzalcoatl, Emigrate, Yin & Yang, Colony,
Shinto, Conquistador, Black Death, Labor Intensive Crops, Patron, Pax Romana, Act of Toleration, Mercenary, Cash Crops,
Crusade, Silk Road, Viceroy, Magna Carta, Colonial Trade Items,

Know five quality facts for each of the following:
Slaves & Indentured Servants, Aztec Warfare& Culture, Early English Colonies,
Conquistador Military Advantages, Inca Conquest & Culture, French Explorers,
Dynasties of China, Explorers from Portugal, Early Colonial Cities,
European Explorers, Conquest of Mexico, Triangular Trade,
Why Rome Fell, Henry VIII & Elizabeth I, Renaissance Artists

On the map know the following locations:
Atlantic Ocean, Baltic Sea, English Channel, Mediterranean Sea, North Sea, Denmark,
Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain/United Kingdom, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey.

The map on page 672 of your text book has all the correct locations of the above places.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Early English Colonies

Before the arrival of the English most of the coastal Indians of the Massachusetts to Virgina area lived is small villages such as this.


Sir Walter Raleigh tried to establish a successful English colony in North America several times. All were failures, but he is credited with introducing smoking to the court of King James. James thought smoking was a vile, disgusting and unhealthy habit (he was a few centuries ahead of the times on this thought).

The establishment of the "Lost Colony of Roanoke" in 1587, was the most famous failure of the early English colonial attempts. Established on an island off the coast of modern day North Carolina, Roanoke had the distinction of having the first European born in North America, Virginia Dare.


The last contact with the colonists was when their ship left for England in 1587, for needed supplies. The attack of the Spanish Armada delayed the return of the relief ship until 1590. What they found was that the 100+ colonists had disappeared, no sign of violence or struggle was found although much of the housing and fortifications of the colony had be dismantled. The only clue was the word "Croatan" carved on a tree post. Although both the English and the Spanish (the former to rescue the survivors and the latter to destroy the interlopers into land claimed by Spain) searched for additional clues to the colony's disappearance for many years, the mystery has never been solved to this day.

Jamestown-Virginia 1607, was the first successful English Colony in the New World. It was touch and go for several years but thanks to the strong leadership of Capt. John Smith and initial friendly relations with the local Powhatan Tribes the colony slowly grew.

The marriage of Pocahontas and John Rolfe was hoped to continue peaceful relations with the local Indians.


The peace failed with the death of Pocahontas' father, Chief Wahunsonacock (more commonly known as Chief Powhatan). Increased resentment between the colonists and Indians over cultural misunderstandings and land use rights lead to several small violent clashes. The final breach occurred in 1622, with the Jamestown Massacre, where 347 of the European colonists (25% of the Population) were killed and many captured by the Powhatan Indians under the leadership of Chief Opechancanough (the Uncle of Pocahontas).

The true saviour of the colony was the the cash crop-tobacco. Aways a money maker, tobacco earned Virginia the title "the Colony Built on Smoke."


Plymouth Plantation in 1620, was established by religious discontents, the "Pilgrims" (also known as Separatists) and some adventurers from England.

Arriving on the Mayflower, the colonists were at first dismayed to learn that they were not in Virginia where their contract for settlement gave them a legal claim.


Upon their own authority the men of the colony wrote and signed the Mayflower Compact,establishing a "Body Politic" with equality for all. These action is seen as the beginnings of American independent thought that would lead to the Revolution and US Constitution.


The first Thanksgiving was a celebration of the first harvest in the new colony and the survival of the same.


After the English Civil War of the 17th Century, the new Government of Cromwell became interested in the Caribbean and its treasures. A series of attacks led to the capture of Jamaica from Spain by the English in 1655, by troops under General Robert Venables. The new English colony was an immediate money maker with its vast sugar plantations and as a haven for pirates and privateers raiding the rich seas of the Spanish Main.


The use of sugar plantation slaves in Jamaica like these was the norm throughout the Spanish, Dutch and English colonies on the islands of the Caribbean from Cuba to Grenada.

Family crest of Sir George Calvert, Lord Baltimore, original sponsor and his son Sir Cecil, the founder of Maryland.

In the new colony of Maryland, the Act of Toleration in 1649, became the first law of religious toleration in the New World. This act was originally only for Christians that believed in the trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the concept was later expanded to all European and finally all religions that is now formalized in the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution.

French and Dutch Explorations of the New World


Jacques Cartier claiming the land of Canada for France in 1534.

The explorations of Jacques Cartier.

By 1615, Samuel de Champlain had settled future Montreal, explored the Lake Huron, Lake Ontario and Lake Champlain. All the while solidifying the French claims to what would later be the American North East.


Fr. Jacques Marquette & Louis Joliet extended the claims of France through the Great Lakes to the northern half of the Mississippi River.


A missionary as well as an explorer, Fr. Jacques Marquette converted many to the Catholic faith.

Robert de La Salle completed the exploration of the Mississippi River and claimed the Louisiana Territory for France.

Ever the explorer, La Salle pushed his men to the limits trying to extend his countries claims to the vast midlands of the unknown North American continent. In the end his own men killed him so that they could at last return to France.

Henry Hudson

On his two North American explorations he discovered and named the Hudson River (claimed for his Dutch sponsors) and Hudson Bay (claimed for his English sponsors).

As with many explorers, he died searching the unknown-in his case he was abandoned by his crew and disappeared from history on the vast unknown seas of the New World.