09 Notes - The Early Modern World - Chapter 9 The Early...

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Chapter 9: The Early Modern World Part One: Eurasian Interaction and Growth With the exception of the Chapter on the Interaction and Retrenchment, we have looked at civilizations in a relatively isolated manner, one at a time. In the first half of this chapter we will examine Eurasian interaction from 1200 to 1500 CE as the early modern period of history dawns. The most obvious form of interaction was travel and travelers traveled for three reasons: trade, diplomacy and missionary activity. We will also examine the challenges of nature (Little Ice Age and Bubonic Plague) and the political, social and economic results. We will look particularly at how Ming China and Western Europe recovered from the devastation of the Bubonic Plague. We will study the European Renaissance and Russia’s emergence into the early modern world. Finally we will explore the powerful question: why did Europe so quickly outpace the rest of the world politically, technologically and militarily? A Snapshot of Early Modern Eurasia The easiest way to get a “visual” of early Modern Eurasia is through the adventures of four travelers: 1. Rabban Bar Sauma: was a Uighur – Nestorian - Christian priest, who was born in Beijing, China in the mid 13 th century. On a pilgrimage to Jerusalem he was introduced to the Ilkhan of Persia who was looking for an ambassador to the Christian nations of Europe to negotiate for allies against the Mamluke Sultans. In1287 the Ilkhan dispatched Rabban Bar Sauma as an envoy to the pope and European political leaders. Rabban Sauma had an audience with the Byzantine Emperor and gave a vivid description of Hagia Sophia. Bar Sauma then traveled westward, witnessed a violent eruption of Mt. Etna in Sicily and met with Edward I of England in his France possession of Bordeaux. He visited Paris and met with the French King; then to Rome where the pope allowed him to celebrate the Eucharist by his own Orthodox rite. Although he was well received everywhere, he could not form any alliances. He lived the rest of his life in Baghdad and died there in 1294. Although a new Ilkhan converted to Islam in 1295, Rabban Bar Sauma’s mission showed the growing complexity of international diplomacy and gives an excellent snapshot of Eurasia during the Crusading era. 2. Marco Polo was perhaps the best-known long-distance traveler of all time. He was born in 1253 in Venice, Italy. Marco’s father Niccolo and uncle Maffeo were among the first European merchants to visit China; between 1260 and 1269 they traveled and traded through Mongol lands, and they met Khubilai Khan as he was consolidating his hold on China. When they returned to China in 1271, 17- year-old Marco Polo accompanied them. The great khan took a special liking to Marco, who was a marvelous storyteller and conversationalist. Kublai allowed the Polos to pursue their mercantile interests in China and but he also sent Marco on numerous diplomatic missions, partly because Marco was so adept at reporting to the Khan stories and information about distant parts of his realm. After 17 years in
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