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Continuity and Innovation of State Forms and Their Interactions (600-1450 CE)


I. Empires collapsed and were reconstituted; in some regions new state forms emerged.


A.1 The Persian Empire reconstitutes into the Safavid Empire.
Caused by the Muslim conquest!

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A.2. The Han reconstitutes into the Jin and the Sui. The Timurid Empire emerges in the Middle East.
The Jin dynasty had unified areas of China along the Yellow River that came to an end when Emperor Gong favored Liu Yu in 420, ushering in the Song Dynasty. Which caused the collapse of the recently unified areas, they fell to the Sui who united China through military campaigns which ultimately led to their down fall.

A.3. The Islamic caliphate emerges into a new state. The Toltec empire emerges into the Aztec empire. The Incan empire flourishes.
The Successor of Muhammad resides in the new caliphate state.
The Toltec Empire emerges in Meso-America after the Aztec Empire as the epitome of civilization.



Portrait of young Kublai Khan
Portrait of young Kublai Khan

A.4. Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan and the Mongols begin a conquest of East Asia, Russia, Persia and the Middle East starting in 1206-1337. Genghis Khan seceded by Mongke Khan and then Kublai Khan. The form Khantes to divide large empire. Kublai khan later fails, Vietnam, Japan and Java invasion.

rotating gif.gifFor more on role of the Mongols and the rise and fall of the Moghul Empire see, World History I.37

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 11.31.08 AM.pngChinese Dynasties and Mongol Invasions

A.5. The Roman empire falls and emerges into the Byzantine Empire.

Due to internal tension, over expansion. financial trouble, and pressure from outside forces, the Roman Empire split into an East and West. The East is recognized as the Byzantine Empire by historians.

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A.6. Following the collapse of empires, most reconstituted governments, including the Byzantine Empire and the Chinese dynasties — Sui, Tang, and Song — combined traditional sources of power and legitimacy with innovations better suited to the current circumstances.


[Teach one illustrative example of traditional sources of power and legitimacy, either from the list that follows or an example of your choice: Patriarchy, Religion, Land-owning elites]

[Teach one illustrative example of innovations, either from the list that follows or an example of your choice: New methods of taxation, Tributary systems, Adaptation of religious institutions.]

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The Byzantine Empire in 1355. Map provided by Boise State University.


For more information on Byzantium and its Empire, and how changes in religion in the region influenced traditions and governments, visit Metropolitan Museum of Arts: Byzantium (ca. 330-1453)

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Also, watch a YouTube video of the geographical transitions of the Byzantine Empire. See The Byzantine Empire


B. In some places, new forms of governance emerged, including those developed in various Islamic states, the Mongol Khanates, city-states, and decentralized government (feudalism) in Europe and Japan.






Age of the Caliphs.  Map by the United States Government
Age of the Caliphs. Map by the United States Government









Iberia was overtaken by Muslims in 711 C.E. It immediately took off as one of the most successful states the Muslim had seen.

Islamic Caliphate

1. The Islamic Caliphate was the leader of the Islamic Community who governed under the Shoria, or set of Islamic Rules. The Caliphs were supposed to be Imams, men chosen by God. All were supposed to be disciples of God as well. The Caliphs were the leaders of the community.

2. The first Caliph was Abu Bakr, and he was followed by three other Caliphs. Unfortunately, after the first four, rivals began to try to take the Caliphate which would lead to battles over whom had the Caliphate. The Caliphate would go through dynasties such as the Umayyads, Abbasids, and the Ottoman dynasties. At one point or another all of these Empires claimed that they had the Caliphate.

external image The_Prophet%2C_%27Ali%2C_Husayn_and_Hasan_in_Paradise%3B_%27Uthman%2C_%27Umar_and_Abu_Bakr_are_in_the_foreground._Miniature_from_a_17th_century_manuscript_of_Khavarnama%2C_a_poem_on_the_deeds_of_%27Ali%3B_Punjab%2C_1686_%28BL%29.jpg

Image to the right shows the Prophet, 'Ali, Husayn and Hasan in Paradise; 'Uthman, 'Umar and Abu Bakr are in the foreground. Miniature from a 17th century manuscript of Khavarnama, a poem on the deeds of 'Ali

Click here for a Table of Caliphs, 632-861 from course readings for Professor Kenneth Ward, Tulane University.

3. These Empires all collapsed because of corruption within the Caliphate. The third Caliph Uthman was thought to have ruled the most like a King, and controversy then occurred as to what the proper way to elect a Caliphate was. It was this controversy that would lead to the collapse of many different Empires within the Islamic community.

4. As the map to the right shows, the Islamic Caliphate expanded as Islam expanded. With more debate on who the Caliph should be, people from new territories attempted to claim it, meaning when one person got the Caliph, they now were in charge of the Islamic world.

5. The Islamic Caliphate was in charge of everything in Islamic Society. They determined the rights of minorities, the religious freedom people within the region, the treatment of Christians and Jews, as well as the economy. There is a great short lecture by Sheikh Anwar al-Awlaki who discusses what the Caliphate entailed, what it decided and how it shaped the Islamic World.

Multimedia.pngSheikh Anwar al-Awlaki-- Great video on the Caliphate

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  • For background on Muslim rule on the Iberian Peninsula and its decline by 1492, see World History I.11

  • For background on the Golden Age of Islamic Empire, see World History I.5



[Teach one illustrative example of city-states, either from the list that follows or an example of your choice: In the Italian peninsula, In East Africa, In Southeast Asia, In the Americas]

C. Some states synthesized local and borrowed traditions.


[Teach one illustrative example of such synthesis by states, either from the list that follows or an example of your choice: Persian traditions that influenced Islamic states, Chinese traditions that influenced states in Japan]

D. In the Americas, as in Afro-Eurasia, state systems expanded in scope and reach: Networks of city-states flourished in the Maya region and, at the end of this period, imperial systems were created by the Mexica ("Aztecs") and Inca.


rotating gif.gifFor more on pre-Columbian civilizations, see

See the research of Lane F. Fargher, et al. to see how the Tlaxcallan people, who resisted incorporation within the Aztec empire, developed an egalitarian, republican form of rule, distinct from the more aristocratic system of rule in the rest of the Aztec Empire.

II. Interregional contacts and conflicts between states and empires encouraged significant technological and cultural transfers.


[Required examples of technological and cultural transfers: Between Tang China and the Abbasids, Across the Mongol empires, During the Crusades]

1. Al Andalus- From this region in the Islamic Empire came immigrants who were called Mozarb immigrants. They began migrating to Spain in which they translate Arabic works, and shared new technologies with each other.

2. The Mozarbs brought ideas of architecture and agriculture, which at first was viewed with skepticism by Europe. But after a series of defeats during the Crusades, Europe took Islamic technological advances more seriously, and began practicing them. For more information on these various inter-regional contacts visit Contact.

As Europe was considered to be technologically behind the Middle East during the Crusades, the positive effect made was only on Europe.
  • To read more about the events and transferal effects from the Crusades, see The Crusades
rotating gif.gifFor more information on the Crusades, see World History I.9