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Sheridan Davis Dr. William K. Jackson HIS 1510 1 December 2013

The Five Ages of Earth, Fire, Air, Water & Aether

The Five Elements are a recurring theme throughout history. In most cultures there are versions of the philosophy that all things revolve around the elements. The elements form the connection between microcosm and macrocosm (human and world). If the elements become unbalanced disease, stress, violence, and destruction overflow. There are four ancient or classical elements: Earth, Fire, Water, and Air. Each element in turn is used to create the next element, with earth being created using all of the other elements. In India and Greece there is often included a fifth element, Akasa or Aether. The elements in Hinduism are referred to as Pancha Mahbhta meaning the great or gross elements. The Greek classical elements date from preSocratic, throughout the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance which influenced European thought and beliefs. History is often organized into ages, eras, or epochs to provide a means of remembering the significance and the impact of a certain time period. The classical five elements of water, earth, fire, air, and aether is the basis for the following ages beginning with the sixteenth century and concluding with modern day history. Water The first is the Age of Water. Water is a huge force of life, holds infinite energy and power. For thousands of years river systems, canals, lakes, and the sea have provided a way to transport people and goods, establish new trade and explore new worlds, used for land navigation and agricultural purposes, and also as a means to wage war and fight battles. By the late fifteenth

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century exploration had taken its hold. In 1519-1522 Ferdinand Magellan set out on a transoceanic voyage that successfully circumnavigated the world. This voyage brought the world together. Spain, Portugal, and other Europeans sent explorers to sail across the Atlantic Ocean in search of new trade routes and riches, which brought the discovery of new lands, cultures and peoples, along with precious metals - gold and silver. New World silver soon became the preferred method of currency throughout the world. Britain established the English East India Company (1600-1858) to try and surpass the Portuguese and Spanish. The EIC eventually became the rule over much of India. Overseas trade enabled huge amounts of raw materials and goods to be transported at one time. The Dutch East India Company or VOC was established in 1602 with the intent to secure a trade monopoly wherever it could. In 1621 they founded the Dutch West India Company to regulate, promote, and maintain the flow of slaves from the Caribbean; however, by 1674 the company was bankrupt. Before the Atlantic slave trade started, Muslim and Hindu merchants had already been involved in African slave trade for some time. They had already been shipping slaves around ports in the Indian Ocean before Europeans got involved. As more colonists arrived in the Americas to settle and start plantations, the need for labor increased. The first direct shipment of African slaves to the Americas was in 1525. During 1600 to 1800 a massive expansion happened in the slave trade. In all twelve and a half million Africans, through forced enslavement, were shipped to the Americas (Robert Tignor 495). By 1867 the last slave shipment took place and the Atlantic Slave Trade was abolished. In the period of the late eighteenth century to the late nineteenth century Captain James Cook underwent scientific voyages, funded by the English crown from 1768-1779, that opened up the Pacific and Australia to European colonization. Robert Fulton launched the first commercial steam ship in 1807. The American naval officer Commodore Matthew Perry in 1853 entered Edo

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Bay with a fleet of steam ships. This act forced Japan to open and left an impression on the younger Japanese elites and military. They felt that Japan should accept western ideas and practices. And lastly in 1869 the Suez Canal opened. This channel connected the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea, which enabled a more direct route and lowered international trade costs. Many empires built up powerful naval forces to defend and to conquer territory: the Ottomans, the Spanish, the Portuguese, the French, the British, America, Germany and many others. In 1588 the Spanish Armada tried to invade England. With the blessing of the pope, King Phillip II of Spain, wanting to overthrow Elizabeth I and return England to the Roman Catholic faith, sent the Spanish Armada against the British fleet. They were humiliatingly defeated. The Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895 dealt a huge blow to Chinas fleet by the Japanese Navy. Japan had set its sight on Korea, which was part of Chinas sphere of influence. This sparked the war and ended with China ceding the province of Taiwan and Japan annexing Korea in 1910. This event accelerated Japans transformation into a nation-state and a new colonial power. On December 7, 1941 the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked Pear Harbor. The U.S. had established its Pacific Fleet on the island of Oahu. The Japanese Navy launched fighters, bombers, torpedo planes and midget submarines from six aircraft carriers. They had developed aerial torpedoes with anti-roll mechanisms and rudders to allow operation in shallow water. All eight of the U.S. battleships stationed in the shallow harbor were damaged with four being sunk; three cruisers, three destroyers, many other vessels and more than 180 aircraft were all destroyed (Pearl Harbor); 2,402 people were killed and 1,282 were injured (Pearl The surprise attack on Pearl Harbor was the catalyst that brought the United States into World War II. Earth The second is the Age of Earth. Earth is the most powerful of the elements, provides stability, has a commanding nature, and provides material wealth and abundance. The quest to

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expand and conquer territory makes up this age. In 1508-1511 the Portuguese established bases throughout the Indian Ocean and in 1557 they showed up in Macao where the first permanent base and settlement were founded. The Mughal Empire, founded by Babur in 1526, was expanded and consolidated during the reign of Akbar 1556-1605, continued during the reign of Aurangzeb 1658-1707, and encompassed almost all of India. Within the New World Cortes conquered the Aztecs 1519-1522, and Pizarro conquered the Incas in 1533. The never-ending search for gold almost completely decimated the peoples of South America and Mexico, those who survived were exploited and enslaved to mine precious metals or work on plantations. This was the start of the rush to conquer, inhabit and colonize New World lands. The first European colonies in the Americas were St. Augustine in 1565, Ponce De Leon of Spain, and Roanoke in 1587, Sir Walter Raleigh of England. In 1607 the English founded Jamestown, 1608 the French founded New France, and 1624 the Dutch settled New Amsterdam. As the European Empires were conquering and colonizing the Americas, Russian territory had reached into Siberia and in 1590 authorities had built forts and trading posts along the Siberian rivers, the Romanov Dynasty was established in Russia in 1613. By 1639 the Russian states frontier had reached the Pacific. Under Peter the Great the Russian territory was expanded to parts of Europe, a great part of northern Asia, North Pacific islands and a corner of North America (Alaska) which was later sold to America in 1867. In central Europe the Habsburg prince Charles V was elected Holy Roman Emperor in 1519. He had control of Spain and its New World territories, and all of the Habsburg central European territories for decades. Eventually in 1556 Charles abdicated after trying to keep such a vast empire together. He divided the empire between Ferdinand, his younger brother, and Phillip I, his son. Ferdinand became Holy Roman Emperor in 1556, ruled the Austrian, German, central European territories. This kept the Austrian Habsburgs dominant in central Europe. Philip I was

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given Spain, southern Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Spains New World territories. In addition he also inherited Portugal and its possessions from his mother, which allowed control over the Atlantic trade market. During the reign of Napoleon he was determined to extend French control. He extended his empire from the Iberian Peninsula to the Austrian and Prussian borders; he also tried to invade Russia and Egypt, but was defeated. At the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 his army was vanquished. Although much of his empire was returned and thrones were restored, the changes Napoleon introduced remained in place (Robert Tignor 572). In the mid-1730s to 1796 the Chinese empire expanded under the Qianglong Emperor. The British took over Lucknow in India 1856, The Raj era began in 1858, expansion started in the 1870s-1880s in Southeast Asia, 1882 they occupied Egypt, and in 1905 Britain partitioned Bengal. French occupation of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos happened in 1860s-1890s, and Japan took over the Ryukyus in 1872. After the end of World War I in 1918 the German, Ottoman, and Austro-Hungarian Empires were dissolved. With the end of World War II Germany was divided into East and West with a wall separating each, however in 1989 the Berlin Wall fell and Germany was once again united in 1990. Fire The third is the Age of Fire. Fire is a great generator of heat, with just one spark it will grow and consume everything in its path, and if not tended properly it leads to devastation and destruction. This age is about rebellion, revolution, and war. The Thirty Years War, 1618-1648, began with a religious conflict in Germany involving the Protestant princes and the Catholic emperor in the Habsburg Empire. It escalated into a general European war fought against the Holy Roman Empire. This war changed the way war was waged: small scale struggles became grand campaigns with states holding standing armies that now used gunpowder, cannons and

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handguns (Robert Tignor 517). The soldiers ranks also changed, enlisted men gave way to hired mercenaries and criminals. The officers no longer purchased their commission; they had to earn their rank. The French Revolution (1789-1799) and the American Revolution (1776-1783) were each influential in changing the world. Both of these revolutions were inspired by Enlightenment ideas. The American Revolution weakened Britains colonial power and shaped the country to become one of the most influential world powers. It also proved that Enlightenment ideas could shape a Democratic government. America had become a melting pot of colonists from many countries and cultures; they wanted to be able to come together as a collective country free from colonial dominance. The Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights were written with this in mind. The French followed with their own more radical version in 1789, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen. This revolution shook all of Europe and inspired rebels around the world. Many of the bourgeoisie wanted more involvement in political decisions, the peasants were not willing to support the feudal system, participation in the American Revolution and the massive amount of money Louis XVI spent nearly bankrupted the country. These along with new philosophies, crop failure, and economic difficulties made the people agitated and ripe to rise up and bring reform. In 1830 and 1848 there were two more French revolts. The late eighteenth century into the early nineteenth century people throughout the world wanted freedom from foreign colonial possession, oppressive monarchies, and corrupt regimes. They wanted self-rule and to become recognized as nation-states. The Haitian Revolution in 1791-1804 was spurred by the French Revolution. The French colony of Saint Dominguezs considerable slave population successfully carried out a revolt that led to Frances loss of the colony and eventually the slaves won emancipation. There were revolutions in South America, 1810-1824, the Yucatan Caste war in Mexico, 1847-1901, and the Mexican Revolution from

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1910-1920. In Russia 1825 there was the Decemberist Revolt, the Crimean War in 1853-1856, the Russo-Japanese War 1904-1905, 1918-1921 brought the Russian Civil War and the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. From 1821-1848 revolutions were going on in Greece, Belgium, Rhineland, Poland, Austria, Prussia, with France and Italy experiencing two revolutions during this time. China experienced many rebellions, revolts and uprisings during the mid-nineteenth century into the twentieth century and saw the decline and fall of its last dynastic rule the Qing Empire. In 1839-1842 the first of the Opium Wars between China and the British led to the opening of China to five new trade ports and the ceding of Hong Kong. The Taiping Rebellion 1851-1864, was a revolt against the Qing government caused by economic and social unrest from the Opium War. The Sino-Japanese War was in 1894-1895. The Boxer Uprising of 1899-1900 opposed foreign influence and western ideas, especially the spread of Christianity. Both the Boxer uprising and the Taiping Rebellion were put down by foreign intervention. 1911 brought the Chinese Republican Revolution, 1937 Japan invaded China, 1945-1949 the Nationalist and Communist parties were fighting for control of China. The Communist Party under Mao Zedongs leadership defeated the Nationalists. Mao encouraged the Cultural Revolution in 1966 that led to the destruction of temples, libraries, books, artwork and monuments, and violence toward anyone who did not prove their loyalty to Chairman Mao. The world was thrown into the Great War in 1914 and then again in 1939 with World War II. Both of these wars had major consequences and effects on nations, people and their cultures. The devastation and destruction of land and of people changed the world order forever. New powers emerged in the First, Second and Third Worlds, with the United States reigning supreme. Air The fourth is the Age of Air. The most basic connection to life is air, which we need to breathe. It has a powerful cosmic energy, is peaceful yet mighty, and associated with the mind.

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By mastering the mind one can gain the capacity to handle the other four elements. For some, new philosophies brought reforms to tradition and revitalized empires. The Ottoman scientists, Chinese scholars, and European intellectuals enriched their cultures through artistic works, new philosophies literature, architecture, scientific discoveries and technologies. In the 1600s books and ideas circulated throughout China and the first Kabuki Theater appeared in Japan. The Oyo and Asante kingdoms in Africa produced vibrant works of art, and hybrid cultures were emerging in the Americas. The Taj Mahal was built in Agra India (1630-1650), the palace in Isfahan Iran was built 1598-1629, and outside Paris building on Versailles began in 1661. As new ideas were taking shape there was a Scientific Revolution that saw the emergence of modern science and developments in mathematics, physics, astronomy, biology, medicine, and chemistry. The major contributors were Nicolaus Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, Johannes Keplar, Galileo Galilei, Francis Bacon, Rene Decartes, Isaac Newton, Carolus Linnaeus, Denis Diderot, and Charles Darwin. Some of these advances helped to improve technological manufacturing. The Industrial Revolution started around 1760 and lasted until the mid-nineteenth century. In Britain, northwestern Europe and North America there was a gradual increase of old and new technologies. It led to major economic changes that raised the standard of living for many and set these countries ahead of the rest of the world in agricultural output and manufacturing processes. The intellectual movement of the Enlightenment in the mid-eighteenth century had a huge impact that changed world views from religious to factual. These new ways of thinking and natural laws of reason became the basis for the enlightened absolutist monarchs, who claimed to rule through logic in the best interest of their citizens. It also changed the way people viewed their world and the outside world. They were able to voice these new opinions and ways of expression. In the 1700s Enlightenment philosophy was introduced to the American colonies and influenced Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine and Adam Smith.

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Many states went through intellectual movements, civil rights and social movements. In 1728 Japan began a Native Learning movement, 1832 Young Italy was founded, 1839-1848 Chartism in England which was democratic movement to the Peoples Charter, the Great Reforms began in Russia 1860s, and Self-strengthening in China 1860-1890s. Social Welfare laws were enacted in Germany 1883-1884, 1904 in France and 1906 in Great Britain. By 1900 the British Labor Party was formed, women were voting in Finland in 1906, and the NAACP was founded in 1910. 1950-1960s American saw the civil rights movement for equal rights and the end of racial segregation that ended in1964 with the passing of the Civil Rights Act. Aether The fifth and final age is Aether. This is the unlimited, beyond the material world, the connection to all Creation which encompasses all. The religious or spiritual beliefs are the basis of many ideologies within cultures and movements. The Safavid, Ottoman, and Mughal Empires all practiced Islam. The Safavids were strong religious orthodox Shiite or Shia, supported Ali as the first caliph and believed that Muhammads descendants should rule. The Ottomans were Sunni Orthodox Muslims and supported consensus over family descent for succession of the caliphate. The Mughals were Sunni, but ruled over a large non-Muslim population. Several Islamic movements called for a return to purified Islam of Muhammad such as Wahhabism in the early eighteenth century, the Muslim Brotherhood was formed in 1928 in Egypt, and the National Muslim League in 1906 in India. Hinduism is said to be the oldest worldwide religions. It is the main religion in India and religious tradition in South Asia. During the British occupation of India, the western culture had a huge influence, and the Hindu religion went through a period of reform and modernization by religious leaders. In China there is not one main religion, but a combination of Chinese folk religion, Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. They also believed in the Mandate of Heaven,

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which was an ideology that communicated the moral transfer of power. Many other states underwent pan movements that linked ethnic and religious communities: pan-Islamism, pan-Asianism, pan-Africanism, pan-Germanism, and Zionism. From 1910-1939 Zionism was the restoration of the Jewish homeland in Palestine. In Europe the Protestant Reformation began in Western Europe in the sixteenth century. Martin Luther, a monk and theologian, nailed his ninety-five Thesis to the door of a church. It criticized the Catholic Church for its corruption of money and power. Luther held the belief that everyone should be able to study the Bible and speak to God for themselves. The Reformation forever changed religious unity in Europe and caused different religious factions. The Catholic Church responded with its own Counter-Reformation and held the Council of Trent in 1545. Reforms against clerical corruption were enacted and individual spirituality was stressed. The Jesuit missionaries were formed during this reform period. As exploration and trade expanded, people carried their belief systems with them. This helped in the spread of Islam and Christianity, with missionaries often accompanying merchant ships and traders. The spread of Christianity saw many hybrid cultures and religions form, such as Santera, an African-based religion that blended Christian influences and practiced by slaves in Cuba. Many movements and cultures called for return to traditional ideologies, and some united new ideals with old. Conclusion There is a substantial amount of material within 1500 to modern history to cover and too vast to mention everything. The momentous events that have shaped our world have also led into other events, many of which would not have happened without interaction between events. In each of these five ages there is overlap and each corresponds to the other. The idea of the five elements seems basic, yet it is very complex, one cannot be present without the other.

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Works Cited
"Nature's Five Elemments." 2008. Freelance Commentaries. 3 December 2013 <>. "Pearl Harbor." 2013. Encyclopedia Britannica Online. 3 December 2013 <>. Pearl 2013. 3 December 2013 <>. Robert Tignor, Jeremy Adelman, Stephen Aron, Stephen Kotkin, Suzanne Marchand, Gyan Prakash, Michael Tsin. Worlds Together, Worlds Apart: A History of the World. third. Vol. two. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2011.