NCERT Textbook Chapter 2 - Empires, History(Theme in World History), Class 11 UPSC Notes | EduRev

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UPSC : NCERT Textbook Chapter 2 - Empires, History(Theme in World History), Class 11 UPSC Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


49
ii
An Empire Across Three Continents
The Central Islamic Lands
Nomadic Empires
 empires
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 2


49
ii
An Empire Across Three Continents
The Central Islamic Lands
Nomadic Empires
 empires
© NCERT
not to be republished
50 THEMES IN WORLD HISTORY
O
VER the two millennia that followed the establishment
of empires in Mesopotamia, various attempts at empire-
building took place across the region and in the area to the
west and east of it.
By the sixth century BCE, Iranians had established control over
major parts of the Assyrian empire.  Networks of trade developed
overland, as well as along the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea.
In the eastern Mediterranean, Greek cities and their colonies benefited
from improvements in trade that were the result of these changes.
They also benefited from close trade with nomadic people to the north
of the Black Sea. In Greece, for the most part, city-states such as
Athens and Sparta were the focus of civic life. From among the Greek
states, in the late fourth century BCE, the ruler of the kingdom of
Macedon, Alexander, undertook a series of military campaigns and
conquered parts of North Africa, West Asia and Iran, reaching up to
the Beas. Here, his soldiers refused to proceed further east. Alexander’s
troops retreated, though many Greeks stayed behind.
Throughout the area under Alexander’s control, ideals and cultural
traditions were shared amongst the Greeks and the local population.
The region on the whole became ‘Hellenised’ (the Greeks were called
Hellenes), and Greek became a well-known language throughout. The
political unity of Alexander’s empire disintegrated quickly after his
death, but for almost three centuries after, Hellenistic culture remained
important in the area. The period is often referred to as the ‘Hellenistic
period’ in the history of the region, but this ignores the way in which
other cultures (especially Iranian culture associated with the old empire
of Iran) were as important as – if not often more important than –
Hellenistic notions and ideas.
This section deals with important aspects of what happened after
this.
Small but well-organised military forces of the central Italian city-
state of Rome took advantage of the political discord that followed the
disintegration of Alexander’s empire and established control over North
Africa and the eastern Mediterranean from the second century BCE.
empires
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 3


49
ii
An Empire Across Three Continents
The Central Islamic Lands
Nomadic Empires
 empires
© NCERT
not to be republished
50 THEMES IN WORLD HISTORY
O
VER the two millennia that followed the establishment
of empires in Mesopotamia, various attempts at empire-
building took place across the region and in the area to the
west and east of it.
By the sixth century BCE, Iranians had established control over
major parts of the Assyrian empire.  Networks of trade developed
overland, as well as along the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea.
In the eastern Mediterranean, Greek cities and their colonies benefited
from improvements in trade that were the result of these changes.
They also benefited from close trade with nomadic people to the north
of the Black Sea. In Greece, for the most part, city-states such as
Athens and Sparta were the focus of civic life. From among the Greek
states, in the late fourth century BCE, the ruler of the kingdom of
Macedon, Alexander, undertook a series of military campaigns and
conquered parts of North Africa, West Asia and Iran, reaching up to
the Beas. Here, his soldiers refused to proceed further east. Alexander’s
troops retreated, though many Greeks stayed behind.
Throughout the area under Alexander’s control, ideals and cultural
traditions were shared amongst the Greeks and the local population.
The region on the whole became ‘Hellenised’ (the Greeks were called
Hellenes), and Greek became a well-known language throughout. The
political unity of Alexander’s empire disintegrated quickly after his
death, but for almost three centuries after, Hellenistic culture remained
important in the area. The period is often referred to as the ‘Hellenistic
period’ in the history of the region, but this ignores the way in which
other cultures (especially Iranian culture associated with the old empire
of Iran) were as important as – if not often more important than –
Hellenistic notions and ideas.
This section deals with important aspects of what happened after
this.
Small but well-organised military forces of the central Italian city-
state of Rome took advantage of the political discord that followed the
disintegration of Alexander’s empire and established control over North
Africa and the eastern Mediterranean from the second century BCE.
empires
© NCERT
not to be republished
51
At the time, Rome was a republic. Government was based on a complex
system of election, but its political institutions gave some importance
to birth and wealth and society benefited from slavery. The forces of
Rome established a network for trade between the states that had
once been part of Alexander’s empire. In the middle of the first century
BCE, under Julius Caesar, a high-born military commander, this
‘Roman Empire’ was extended to present-day Britain and Germany.
 Latin (spoken in Rome) was the main language of the empire,
though many in the east continued to use Greek, and the Romans
had a great respect for Hellenic culture.  There were changes in the
political structure of the empire from the late first century BCE, and it
was substantially Christianised after the emperor Constantine became
a Christian in the fourth century ce.
To make government easier, the Roman Empire was divided into
eastern and western halves in the fourth century CE. But in the west,
there was a breakdown of the arrangements that existed between Rome
and the tribes in frontier areas (Goths, Visigoths, Vandals and others).
These arrangements dealt with trade, military recruitment and
EMPIRES
Ruins at Greek city of
Corinth.
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 4


49
ii
An Empire Across Three Continents
The Central Islamic Lands
Nomadic Empires
 empires
© NCERT
not to be republished
50 THEMES IN WORLD HISTORY
O
VER the two millennia that followed the establishment
of empires in Mesopotamia, various attempts at empire-
building took place across the region and in the area to the
west and east of it.
By the sixth century BCE, Iranians had established control over
major parts of the Assyrian empire.  Networks of trade developed
overland, as well as along the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea.
In the eastern Mediterranean, Greek cities and their colonies benefited
from improvements in trade that were the result of these changes.
They also benefited from close trade with nomadic people to the north
of the Black Sea. In Greece, for the most part, city-states such as
Athens and Sparta were the focus of civic life. From among the Greek
states, in the late fourth century BCE, the ruler of the kingdom of
Macedon, Alexander, undertook a series of military campaigns and
conquered parts of North Africa, West Asia and Iran, reaching up to
the Beas. Here, his soldiers refused to proceed further east. Alexander’s
troops retreated, though many Greeks stayed behind.
Throughout the area under Alexander’s control, ideals and cultural
traditions were shared amongst the Greeks and the local population.
The region on the whole became ‘Hellenised’ (the Greeks were called
Hellenes), and Greek became a well-known language throughout. The
political unity of Alexander’s empire disintegrated quickly after his
death, but for almost three centuries after, Hellenistic culture remained
important in the area. The period is often referred to as the ‘Hellenistic
period’ in the history of the region, but this ignores the way in which
other cultures (especially Iranian culture associated with the old empire
of Iran) were as important as – if not often more important than –
Hellenistic notions and ideas.
This section deals with important aspects of what happened after
this.
Small but well-organised military forces of the central Italian city-
state of Rome took advantage of the political discord that followed the
disintegration of Alexander’s empire and established control over North
Africa and the eastern Mediterranean from the second century BCE.
empires
© NCERT
not to be republished
51
At the time, Rome was a republic. Government was based on a complex
system of election, but its political institutions gave some importance
to birth and wealth and society benefited from slavery. The forces of
Rome established a network for trade between the states that had
once been part of Alexander’s empire. In the middle of the first century
BCE, under Julius Caesar, a high-born military commander, this
‘Roman Empire’ was extended to present-day Britain and Germany.
 Latin (spoken in Rome) was the main language of the empire,
though many in the east continued to use Greek, and the Romans
had a great respect for Hellenic culture.  There were changes in the
political structure of the empire from the late first century BCE, and it
was substantially Christianised after the emperor Constantine became
a Christian in the fourth century ce.
To make government easier, the Roman Empire was divided into
eastern and western halves in the fourth century CE. But in the west,
there was a breakdown of the arrangements that existed between Rome
and the tribes in frontier areas (Goths, Visigoths, Vandals and others).
These arrangements dealt with trade, military recruitment and
EMPIRES
Ruins at Greek city of
Corinth.
© NCERT
not to be republished
52 THEMES IN WORLD HISTORY
settlement, and the tribes increasingly attacked the Roman
administration. Conflicts increased in scale, and coincided with internal
dissensions in the empire, leading the collapse of the empire in the
west by the fifth century CE. Tribes established their own kingdoms
within the former empire, though, with the prompting of the Christian
Church, a Holy Roman Empire was formed from some of these
kingdoms from the ninth century CE. This claimed some continuity
with the Roman Empire.
Between the seventh century and the fifteenth century, almost all
the lands of the eastern Roman Empire (centred on Constantinople)
came to be taken over by the Arab empire – created by the followers of
the Prophet Muhammad (who founded the faith of Islam in the seventh
century) and centred on Damascus – or by its successors (who ruled
from Baghdad initially). There was a close interaction between Greek
and Islamic traditions in the region.  The trading networks of the area
and its prosperity attracted the attention of pastoral peoples to the
north including various Turkic tribes, who often attacked the cities of
the region and established control. The last of these peoples to attack
the area and attempt to control it were the Mongols, under Genghis
Khan and his successors, who moved into West Asia, Europe, Central
Asia and China in the thirteenth century.
All these attempts to make and maintain empires were driven by
the search to control the resources of the trading networks that existed
in the region as a whole, and to derive benefit from the links of the
region with other areas such as India or China. All the empires evolved
administrative systems to give stability to trade. They also evolved
The Great Mosque,
Damascus, completed
in 714.
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 5


49
ii
An Empire Across Three Continents
The Central Islamic Lands
Nomadic Empires
 empires
© NCERT
not to be republished
50 THEMES IN WORLD HISTORY
O
VER the two millennia that followed the establishment
of empires in Mesopotamia, various attempts at empire-
building took place across the region and in the area to the
west and east of it.
By the sixth century BCE, Iranians had established control over
major parts of the Assyrian empire.  Networks of trade developed
overland, as well as along the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea.
In the eastern Mediterranean, Greek cities and their colonies benefited
from improvements in trade that were the result of these changes.
They also benefited from close trade with nomadic people to the north
of the Black Sea. In Greece, for the most part, city-states such as
Athens and Sparta were the focus of civic life. From among the Greek
states, in the late fourth century BCE, the ruler of the kingdom of
Macedon, Alexander, undertook a series of military campaigns and
conquered parts of North Africa, West Asia and Iran, reaching up to
the Beas. Here, his soldiers refused to proceed further east. Alexander’s
troops retreated, though many Greeks stayed behind.
Throughout the area under Alexander’s control, ideals and cultural
traditions were shared amongst the Greeks and the local population.
The region on the whole became ‘Hellenised’ (the Greeks were called
Hellenes), and Greek became a well-known language throughout. The
political unity of Alexander’s empire disintegrated quickly after his
death, but for almost three centuries after, Hellenistic culture remained
important in the area. The period is often referred to as the ‘Hellenistic
period’ in the history of the region, but this ignores the way in which
other cultures (especially Iranian culture associated with the old empire
of Iran) were as important as – if not often more important than –
Hellenistic notions and ideas.
This section deals with important aspects of what happened after
this.
Small but well-organised military forces of the central Italian city-
state of Rome took advantage of the political discord that followed the
disintegration of Alexander’s empire and established control over North
Africa and the eastern Mediterranean from the second century BCE.
empires
© NCERT
not to be republished
51
At the time, Rome was a republic. Government was based on a complex
system of election, but its political institutions gave some importance
to birth and wealth and society benefited from slavery. The forces of
Rome established a network for trade between the states that had
once been part of Alexander’s empire. In the middle of the first century
BCE, under Julius Caesar, a high-born military commander, this
‘Roman Empire’ was extended to present-day Britain and Germany.
 Latin (spoken in Rome) was the main language of the empire,
though many in the east continued to use Greek, and the Romans
had a great respect for Hellenic culture.  There were changes in the
political structure of the empire from the late first century BCE, and it
was substantially Christianised after the emperor Constantine became
a Christian in the fourth century ce.
To make government easier, the Roman Empire was divided into
eastern and western halves in the fourth century CE. But in the west,
there was a breakdown of the arrangements that existed between Rome
and the tribes in frontier areas (Goths, Visigoths, Vandals and others).
These arrangements dealt with trade, military recruitment and
EMPIRES
Ruins at Greek city of
Corinth.
© NCERT
not to be republished
52 THEMES IN WORLD HISTORY
settlement, and the tribes increasingly attacked the Roman
administration. Conflicts increased in scale, and coincided with internal
dissensions in the empire, leading the collapse of the empire in the
west by the fifth century CE. Tribes established their own kingdoms
within the former empire, though, with the prompting of the Christian
Church, a Holy Roman Empire was formed from some of these
kingdoms from the ninth century CE. This claimed some continuity
with the Roman Empire.
Between the seventh century and the fifteenth century, almost all
the lands of the eastern Roman Empire (centred on Constantinople)
came to be taken over by the Arab empire – created by the followers of
the Prophet Muhammad (who founded the faith of Islam in the seventh
century) and centred on Damascus – or by its successors (who ruled
from Baghdad initially). There was a close interaction between Greek
and Islamic traditions in the region.  The trading networks of the area
and its prosperity attracted the attention of pastoral peoples to the
north including various Turkic tribes, who often attacked the cities of
the region and established control. The last of these peoples to attack
the area and attempt to control it were the Mongols, under Genghis
Khan and his successors, who moved into West Asia, Europe, Central
Asia and China in the thirteenth century.
All these attempts to make and maintain empires were driven by
the search to control the resources of the trading networks that existed
in the region as a whole, and to derive benefit from the links of the
region with other areas such as India or China. All the empires evolved
administrative systems to give stability to trade. They also evolved
The Great Mosque,
Damascus, completed
in 714.
© NCERT
not to be republished
53 EMPIRES
different types of military organisation. The  achievements of one empire
were often taken up by its successor. Over time, the area came to be
marked by Persian, Greek, Latin and Arabic above many other languages
that were spoken and written.
The empires were not very stable. This was partly due to disputes
and conflict over resources in various regions. It was also due to the
crisis that developed in relations between empires and pastoral peoples
to the north – from whom empires derived support both for their trade
and to provide them with labour for production of manufactures and
for their armies. It is worth noting that not all empires were city-
centric. The Mongol empire of Genghis Khan and his successors is a
good example of how an empire could be maintained by pastoral people
for a long time and with success.
Religions that appealed to peoples of different ethnic origins, who
often spoke different languages, were important in the making of large
empires. This was true in the case of Christianity (which originated in
Palestine in the early first century CE) and Islam (which originated in
the seventh century CE).
© NCERT
not to be republished
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