| The Earth and Its Peoples: A Global History, Second Edition
|Southwest Asia and the Indian Ocean, 1500-1750
Islamic World, 1500
This site's map places the Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal
Empires in a global context. The map also contains several hyper
links for obtaining further information about certain kingdoms.
of the Islamic World
This site offers several maps relating to the Ottoman
and Safavid Empires.
Ottoman Empire, 1600
This map illustrates the growth and decline of the Ottoman
Empire from the fourteenth through the twentieth centuries.
of the Ottoman Empire
Empire Expansion Map
This map allows you to compare the Ottoman Empire with
the borders of the older Arab Caliphate.
Ottoman Empire and Afro-Eurasian Trade Routes
This map places the Ottoman Empire within the context
of the older Afro-Eurasian trading system that existed before European
explorers opened up direct trade from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean.
Ottoman and Safavid Empires, 1600
Mughal Empire at Akbar's Death, 1605
Click on "Map" in the top left-hand corner.
Ocean Trade Routes, 1500
Portuguese Maritime Empire in Asia
Portuguese in the Moluccas and in the Lesser Sunda Islands of Modern Day
VOC's Routes to Asia
This map shows the sea routes from Holland to the VOC's
holdings in Asia. It also uses Shockwave technology that allows
you to zoom in to specific areas.
Spread of Islam in Southeast Asia
Malacca Sultanate, 1500
Islamic World to 1600: The Rise of Great Islamic Empires
This excellent site contains, among many other visuals,
numerous images from the Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal Empires.
Art: Late Islamic Art
This comprehensive site contains many images from the
Ottoman and Safavid periods.
This comprehensive site contains numerous images of Ottoman
soldiers, including Janissaries, as well as sultans. Click on "Khalifa"
for images of the sultans.
Study images of this famous mosque in Istanbul.
Quicktime technology allows for several panoramic views.
Tour the remains of this famous Istanbul palace build
by the Ottomans. Safavid Dynasty
This site contains several images of art from this period
in Iranian history.
Art through the Centuries: The Safavid Dynasty
This site contains numerous images of Safavid artwork.
Take a virtual tour of the capital of the Safavid Dynasty
View several images relating to Mughal architecture.
This site contains one image and two drawing plans of
one of the world's most famous buildings, which was constructed during
the Mughal Empire.
VOC: A Seventeenth Century Dutch Trading Giant
This site contains a nice essay as well as numerous images
relating to the VOC's activities in the Indian Ocean and East Asia.
VOC Ship Batavia
This site contains images and artifacts from this eighteenth-century
Dutch sailing ship.
Danish East India
Observe several historical illustrations of this Danish
trading factory in India.
This site contains several images and a useful demographic
chart relating to Dutch control of this famous Southeast Asian port.
View many historical illustrations of this city founded
by the Dutch, which is now Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia.
Like the emerging nation-states of Europe, during the
sixteenth century the Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal Empires were all new,
dynamic, and expansive domains. Go to The
World, 1500-1800 and compare and contrast the geographical scale and
scope of the European nation-states with the extent of these Islamic empires.
Don't forget to include the Europeans' overseas possessions. All
three Islamic empires were more multiethnic and multireligious than the
European nation-states. Although this situation posed specific problems
for the Islamic central governments, during most of the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries, the rulers of all three empires were nevertheless able to create
strong central governments that promoted stability and order. In
the process of doing so, they each developed innovative and unique governing
Begin exploring the Ottoman style of government by studying
Ottoman Empire, 1600, which shows the scale and scope of this empire
at its height of power in the seventeenth century. Notice that the empire
spanned three continents: Asia, Africa, and Europe. Within its borders
lived Turks, Arabs, Berbers, and Slavs, although none of these ethnic groups
was predominant throughout the empire. Most subjects of the Ottoman sultans
were Muslims, but there were also significant numbers of Jews and Christians,
with Christians comprising the majority of the population in the empire's
Southeast European provinces. Next, go to The
Ottomans: Origins and read the sections titled "The Ottoman State"
and "The Structure of Government." According to this site, what role did
the sultan play in governing the empire? (Consider both secular and religious
matters.) What other groups exercised political power within the empire?
Discuss the major principles that guided the Ottoman government and determine
whether the goal was to enrich only Ottoman Turks or only wealthy landowners?
To carry out the state's functions, Suleiman the Magnificent, who reigned
from 1520 to 1566, developed an important legal code. Go to The
Ottomans: Suleyman and read the introduction and sections entitled
"Suleyman the Just" and "Suleyman the Lawgiver." What influence did the
Islamic faith have on the laws of the empire? What is the Shari'ah?
How does kanun differ from the Shari'ah? What other legal
traditions does kanun reflect? After reviewing these sites and contemplating
these questions, analyze your feelings about the Ottoman system of government
and the laws it used to maintain order and stability among the empire's
subjects. You might want to go to Jewish
History Sourcebook: Islam and the Jews: The Status of Jews and Christians
in Muslim Lands, 1772 CE to learn what the Shari'ah says about
nonbelievers. (You only need to read the section entitled "The Answer.")
The Safavid Empire was less ethnically diverse than the
Ottoman Empire. Although a majority of the people in the kingdom were Iranians,
there were also some Arabs, Turks, and Armenians. The empire's rulers,
like the Ottoman rulers, were Muslim, yet the Safavid Empire used religion
differently to promote order and stability within its realm. For more information,
go to a site on the Safavid Dynasty and
read the section entitled "1501 - 1524 Shah Ismail I." According to this
site, Shah Ismail I succeeded in establishing religious unity among most
of his subjects by encouraging their conversion to the Shi'a sect of Islam.
To learn more about Shi'ism, go to Shi'ism and then read the section entitled "Isma'il" at Safavids.
How, according to this site, did Shi'ite Islam promote the authority of
the Safavid Empire and strengthen loyalty to the state? What has been its
legacy in this region of the world? What other traditions did the Safavid
Empire use to buttress its authority?
The Mughal Empire faced a different challenge than either
the Ottoman or the Safavid Empire did. Like the other two, the Mughals
ruled over a vast territory that included ethnically diverse people, yet
they were both a religious and an ethnic minority group within their own
kingdom. The Mughals were Muslim Turks from Central Asia whereas the majority
of the Indians whom they ruled were Hindu or members of other religions.
This situation forced the Mughal rulers to establish a different style
of government than that used by either of their counterparts. To investigate
the Mughal government, go to The
Mughals: Akbar, which focuses on the innovations of Akbar, the Mughal
ruler of India from 1556 to 1605. According to this site, there were many
similarities between Akbar's government and that of the Ottomans. What
were these similarities? On the other hand, Akbar's rule differed from
those of the Ottomans and Safavids in the area of religion. Analyze his
policies toward the state and Islam and discuss the ones that he pursued
to promote harmony between his Muslim and Hindu subjects. How did these
policies differ from those of the Safavids and Ottomans? Now go to The
Mughal Empire. Read this brief essay, paying close attention to the
reign of one of Akbar's successors, Aurangzeb (1658-1707). How did Aurangzeb's
government differ from Akbar's? What impact did these differences have
on Mughal authority in India?
After completing these exercises, discuss the similarities
and differences of the governing styles of these three Islamic empires.
How do they compare with the governing styles of the Western European nation-states
of the time? You might want to review Chapter 18, The Transformation
of Europe, 1500-1750 in Bulliet, et al., The Earth and Its Peoples
(Second Edition). Also, refer to the first web activity for Chapter
18. Did the European or the Islamic governments promote more religious
tolerance? Which had the strongest and most just legal systems?
As the first activity demonstrates, in the sixteenth
and seventeenth centuries, the Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal Empires were
among the world's most powerful and enlightened kingdoms. It was
not preordained that they would lose power relative to the Europeans by
the middle of the eighteenth century. Rather, the Islamic empires
emerged and evolved at a time when the world economy was being reshaped
by European capitalism. To understand the nature of commerce during
the early sixteenth century, study the Map
of Marco Polo's Asia. This map shows the travel routes of the
Polo family, who were thirteenth-century Venetian merchants. The
paths they had taken as they traveled across the Eurasian continent were
well-worn and established trade routes at the time; these roads and sea
lanes were all still thriving with commerce at the beginning of the sixteenth
century. Next, review Hyperhistory:
Map of the World 1500-1800. Then go back to Map
of Marco Polo's Asia and try to identify the areas controlled by the
Ottomans, Safavids, and Mughals. Notice how the Islamic empires all
controlled vital links in this Eurasian trading system. All three
were at the center of a vast trading network that connected Western Europe,
the Indian Ocean world, and China, providing trade routes for manufactured
goods, spices, and decorative art. All three of these empires benefited
from this trade, whether by exporting goods or by taxing the commerce passing
through their borders. During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries,
new players joined this trading system - European joint-stock companies.
You might want to look at the first web activity for Chapter 20, The Atlantic
System and Africa, 1500-1800, to review European capitalism's dynamic new
creation. To gain insight into the role these institutions played
in the Indian Ocean trade, read the brief essays at East
India Company. When were these joint-stock companies formed,
and what was their purpose? What support did they have from their
governments? Did they automatically seize control and dominate commerce
in the Indian Ocean? The arrival of the joint-stock companies did
not automatically alter the commercial status quo in the Indian Ocean,
but their long-term impact was devastating to the Ottoman, Safavid, and
Mughal Empires. To understand the reasons behind this development,
go to The Ottoman
Empire and Afro Eurasian Trade Routes. This map shows the trade
routes that ran through the Ottoman Empire. As you can tell, this
empire controlled most of the trade between Europe and the Indian Ocean
region before the emergence of the strong European joint-stock companies.
Now review the map at The
Dutch East India Company, which shows the new, direct ocean-based routes
that the European joint-stock companies were able to use after 1498.
As these entities grew stronger and directed more trade from the Indian
Ocean region to Europe via this ocean-based route, what was the effect
on the Ottomans, Safavids, and Mughals? What impact do you think
these changes had on state revenue and wealth in both the Islamic Empires
and the European nation-states? What were the advantages and disadvantages
of being a land empire, as the Islamic empires were, as opposed to being
a maritime empire, as the Europeans nation-states were?
The reconfiguration of the global economy analyzed in
activity two did not only affect the Islamic powers of South and Southwest
Asia; it also greatly influenced the Indian Ocean world. For a map
of the area and the trade routes that crisscrossed the ocean, see Indian
Ocean Trade Routes, 1500 then go to PORTUGAL'S
ECUMENICAL TRADE ZONE and The
Sea Route to Indian and the Red Sea Trade (only read the first
section at the second site for now). Describe the trading system
that existed in the Indian Ocean at the time of the arrival of the Portuguese.
Who participated in the trading, and what kinds of goods were being transferred
across the area? What kinds of rules and conventions governed this
vast trading zone? What religions were practiced, and which were
dominant? After 1500, the arrival of the Portuguese and the later
entry of other European nation-states began to alter the status quo.
Go to PORTUGAL'S
ENTRY INTO THE INDIAN OCEAN TRADE COMMUNITY. Also, finish reading
the essay at The
Sea Route to Indian and the Red Sea Trade up to "Initial Contacts with
China and Japan. How did the Portuguese alter the balance of power
in the Indian Ocean? Describe the maritime empire that they established
there. What technological advantages and cultural values allowed
them to do this? How different was the Indian Ocean world after the
arrival of the Portuguese? Who participated in trade, and what items
were bartered back and forth? What religions were present, and which
were dominant? What kinds of rules and conventions governed this
vast trading zone? The Portuguese were essentially a new player in
the Indian Ocean trade, but they did not completely alter the system.
Soon other Europeans, notably the Dutch and the English, arrived.
For the Dutch influence, see History
of Indonesia: The Beginning of Dutch Colonialism (read only this section).
For the English influence, see From
Trade to Colonization: Historic Dynamics of the East India Companies.
How did the Dutch and English maritime empires in the Indian Ocean differ
from that of the Portuguese? (Hint: Think in terms of the territory
controlled and of who governed these empires.) How did the Dutch
and the English alter the Indian Ocean region's economy? How did
they use their power to affect the situation, and what changes did they
bring about? Describe the Indian Ocean world of 1750 and compare
it to the same region in 1500. What major powers functioned there,
and what items were traded? What kinds of rules and conventions governed
the vast trading zone? What religions were present, and which were
dominant? (See The
Islamic World to 1600: Southeast Asia for clues.) As you can
now tell, the main changes that the Europeans made to the Indian Ocean
world were in the rules and conventions that governed this trading zone.
Culturally and economically, much remained the same.
The changes that occurred during this period of history
in Southwest Asia and the Indian Ocean still affect the world today.
For example, go to The
Islamic World to 1600: The Islamification of Bosnia and U.S.
News and World Report: Neighborly bloodshed, Trouble in the islands formerly
known as Spice. Describe the nature of these contemporary conflicts
and explain their historical roots. Both Bosnia and the Moluccas
in many ways represent the frontiers of Islam and Christianity that date
back to the period covered in this chapter. Can you trace any of
today's other religious or ethnic conflicts back to this era in world history?
Go to U.S.
News and World Report: Joy in the Jungle, at last: After years of war,
East Timor finally may win autonomy. and Serbia
gives Europe one more nightmare for some suggestions.