Exam preparation materials

VII. PULLING IT ALL TOGETHER

In the previous section, we hope that you were able to pull a lot of the history from this time period together in some meaningful ways, especially as it relates to cultural interaction.

There’s no question that the spread and growth of religion had enormous consequences during this time period. That should be clear to you. There’s also no question that the issue of centralization verses noncentralization seems to have an impact on a civilization. Look at what it meant for Europe, or for Japan, or China, or India. But beyond the issues of interaction, centralization, and the growth of religion, there’s also something else you should be thinking about: how to organize the world in your head.

In modern times, we have clear boundaries between countries. But in addition to using those political boundaries, we talk of cultural regions all the time. We’ll say things like “the West” or “the East.” That’s fine, but where’s the dividing line? Is modern-day Russia part of the East or the West? What about Saudi Arabia? What about Japan?

In addition, we’ll split even our own country into manageable pieces that don’t have specific, exact geographic boundaries. We’ll say “the South” and what we’re referring to is a culture more than a place. Is Florida part of “the South?” Northern Florida probably is, but the rest of Florida has a very different feel.

We bring all this up because this kind of stuff is a big deal for the AP test writers. Sometimes it’s easier to think about and write about history in terms of cultural areas, rather than political boundaries. “The Muslim World,” for example, would mean not just countries that are predominately Muslim, but communities or individuals within non-Muslim countries who participate in the culture of Islam. Or think about the “Jewish community.” In the time period covered by this chapter, Jews were scattered throughout Europe, Africa, and Asia. There was no Jewish state, only a Jewish culture. Yet, the Jewish culture maintained its identity.

In terms of the era that you’ve just reviewed, you might want to think of the world in terms of major cultural divisions. Religions help. You can think of developments in the Christian sphere, the Islamic sphere, the Hindu sphere, and the Buddhist sphere. But then don’t forget that some of these spheres overlap, and some of them coexist with other religions or belief systems (Confucianism and Buddhism, for example). You can also think of developments in terms of expanding empires and feudal systems. Or even more generally, think of the world in terms of cultures that interacted and those that didn’t.

However you choose to think about the world in terms of cultural areas or structural similarities, the important thing is that you try to analyze the history. Doing so will force you to make comparisons and contrasts among the cultures. And doing that will get your brain cranking in the way the AP exam will expect you to demonstrate. The more you think about how these cultures can be organized, the more familiar you’ll be with world history.

IMPORTANT TERMS

Aristrocracy

Medieval

Bureaucrats/Bureaucracy

Meritocracy

Caliph/Caliphate

Middle Ages

Chivalry

Migration

City-State

Monetary System

Civil Service

Mosque

Credit

Muslim

Cultural Diffusion

Nation-State

Decentralized

Orthodox

Dowry

Patriarch

Eastern Orthodox

Patriarchal

Fiefs

Persecution

Garrisons

Pilgrims

Gothic

Pilgrimage

Hajj

Primogeniture

Heresy

Roman Catholic

Heretic

Schism

Hijab (veil)

Secluded

Illegitimate

Serfs

Infrastructure

Submissive

Interaction

Subordinate

Inquisition

Theocracy

Interrogation

Trans-Continental

Islam

Tribute Systems

Literate

Urbanization

Matriarch

Vassals

Matrilineal

 

PEOPLE, PLACES, AND EVENTS

Byzantium

Baghdad, Iraq

Black Death

Bubonic Plague

Chang’an (Xi’an, China)

Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey)

Crusades (1095–1291)

Empress Wu (T’ang China)

Feudalism (Japan and Europe)

Foot-Binding

Franks including Charlemagne

Ghengis Khan

Hanseatic League

Hundred Years War (1337–1453)

Indian Ocean Trade

Code of Justinian

Magna Carta (1215)

Mansa Musa

Neo-Confucianism

Sacking of Constantinople

St. Cyril and Cyrillic Alphabet

Schism in Christianity (1054)

Schism in Islam (650s)

Shintoism

Silk Road

Timbuktu

Tenochtitlan

William the Conqueror

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