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Zeller & Scheidell 1

Thea Zeller & Stephen Scheidell
Dr. Yamamoto
HIST 105
6 February 2009
Medieval and Early Modern Societies
After the Black Plague, many new rulers started to establish empires throughout
the world, including the Ming Dynasty and three Islamic Empires, the Ottomans, the
Safavid Empire, and the Mughals. Though a person may only agree with one empire’s
ways of existing and thriving, it is valuable to look at all of them with the intentions of
understanding why each empire existed in the way it did.
Relations to transcendent reality
By performing multiple rituals and sacrifices, the state used religion to create
community. The Ming emperor also made official cults that were distinguished into civil
or military, great, middle, or minor, and celestial, terrestrial or human. Yet, these cults
often clashed with traditional faiths, which led to problems between the people and the
government. However, state religion always trumped local religion, according to state
law. It is understandable how rulers would want a state religion to bond people, because it
brings an overall feeling of community to the empire.
Though the Safavid Empire in Persia rested its legitimacy on the Islamic faith,
there was a big difference in how religion was enforced between the Ottoman Empire and
the Safavid Empire. Shiism was the official religion of the area, and it was enforced in a
very single-mindedly way. Those who did not follow were persecuted, and Islam
assumed an extreme, militant form. Leaders ruled directly with theocratic authority and a
sacred purpose. Safavids did not tolerate diversity, unlike the Ottomans; therefore, their

Both the Ottoman Empire and the Ming dynasty needed their heads from which to control their respective organisms. controlling and guiding the empire. government officials.Zeller & Scheidell 2 empire was never much expanded. the empire thrived. At this point. the following can be more explained more succinctly in discussing the two simultaneously. warriors. the emperor pursues the advancement and well-being of the empire. many religious revivals followed. Therefore. the Mughal Empire began to rule the area. your empire may die off! As Timur’s conquests fragmented the Delhi Sultanate area. while all subjects become in way or another utilized for the health of this larger organism. As each class worked as commanded. he succeeded in part because of the weakened structure by the many religions. in other words. in I I will be combining the discussion of the individual in relation to self and the individual in relation to broader society. Likewise. They were much more lenient with religion than other rulers before. The emperor serves as the brain. Thus. sultans broke from their former role among the warriors and only left the palace for high ceremonies. spending their time administrating the bureaucrats who now effectively ran the empire under direct orders. and once it was completed. This may provide for Christians a good example that without forgiveness and loving others. Mehmed II ordered construction on Topkapi Palace in Istanbul. I found that much of the understanding of self came via understanding of society. and most likely had to be because of the many religions in the area Treatment of the individual and her relation to broader society The individual person in both the Ottoman Empire and Ming ChinaI becomes part of systematic unit. when Babur attacked Delhi. . the peasants and merchants provide the blood – the labor force and economic structure. In preparing for this. finally. and bureaucrats carry out the emperor's orders and constitute the government's structure – the central nervous and skeletal systems. Religious dissent stood in the way of creating powerful state structures.

No polity lasts without revenue. brought horsemanship. the Ottoman. Porcelains. cotton textiles. As these merchants gained income. Agriculture and handicraft production also became very important. income flowed steadily from crops sold in local markets and luxury goods sold at home and abroad. The Ottoman Empire and Ming China both strategized to balance local and imperial rule through a hierarchy of official – from direct contact with the ruler to the village official. The bureaucrats. Chinese silk. Babur. The Ming were technologically advanced compared to other empires during their time. and used the sea and land for trade. silk. then. China began to regain its economic stability lost during the Black Plague mostly through production and trade. In these primarily agricultural societies. and a cotton boom made spinning and weaving cottons a large industry a century later. The three Islamic post-Mongol empires. trade. They obviously put importance in continually advancing whether it be in agriculture. trained . the empires also gained in taxes. Maritime trade surged in the fifteenth century because of China’s improvements and new technology in boat construction. or technology. which served many of the same functions of the Topkapi Palace. Safavid. and Mughal Empires all developed the rich agrarian resources of the land. and fine porcelains were the most coveted for trade. enter the peasants and merchants. needed merchants to move from sellers to buyers. which aided trade and showed their power. For example. and other goods. became the central structure feature for the two empires. however. the founder of the Mughal Empire. The Ming dynasty also reconstructed the Grand Canal. Engagement of the natural world In the fourteenth century.Zeller & Scheidell 3 China Zhu Di moved the capital from Nanjing to Beijing and ordered the construction of the Forbidden City.

For these cultures. we find in these cultures a certain understanding of the hierarchy as found in Genesis: humankind governs the natural world. they were engaging the land to achieve better travel and trade. societies govern humans as individuals. These empires operate. the transcendent reality governs the affairs of societies. gun powder and field cannons from central Asia and integrated them heavily into his own Empire. Last but certainly not least. The Ming emperors and the Islamic Sultans assumed roles beyond their actual grasp. nature existed to serve humankind's interests. not for human thriving. They also used land routes and rivers to trade many things with other lands. political or religious leader. they are not themselves in communion with God. In conclusion. can function as a sole mediator between the spiritual and natural realms. We do not see in these cultures stewardship of the natural world. No one human. but for imperial strength.Zeller & Scheidell 4 artillerymen. These however are distorted. .