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The Gunpowder Empires and Russia

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Lyndsey Randall

on 11 January 2015

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Transcript of The Gunpowder Empires and Russia

Centralized rule had not been seen in India for over a thousand years when the Mughals began establishing their empire
A group, known as the Timurids (Mongol-Turkish) led by Timur, were able to sweep down into India from central Asia and displace the Delhi Sultanate in 1526.
Akbar, one of the greatest rulers of the empire established centralized control
He and his 3 successors would united all of India (except the southernmost tip)

The Mughal Empire

Akbar maintained economic growth by trading cotton cloth with European merchants
Promoted cultural blending and innovation in the arts
Demonstrated true genius in creating a well-organized central bureaucracy and strong military
Ensured the loyalty of officials by granting lifetime (not hereditary) land grants
Greatest challenge was dealing with various Hindu kings, who resented centuries of Muslim domination

The Mughal Empire

By incorporating Rajputs, Hindu warriors from the north, into the Mughal military and government, Akbar set a tone of religious tolerance that largely freed him and his initial successors from enduring conflict with the Hindus
Akbar went on to create a new “Divine Faith” that mixed Muslim, Hindu, Christian, and other beliefs
Another, more enduring religion that blended Muslim and Hindu elements also emerged during the Mughal period: the Sikhs

Mughal Empire

The Sikhs initially focused on the peaceful attainment of enlightenment, but transformed dramatically into a militant group opposing Mughal rule after Akbar’s great-grandson, Aurangzeb beheaded their guru for refusing to convert to Islam
Aurangzeb also broke with the Mughal policy of religious tolerance by imposing a number of limitations on Hindu rights in the late 1600s
As the 1700s began, the Mughals faced challenges to their authority from both the Sikhs and Hindus
This internal strife, combined with the invasion of Nadir Shah of Iran to bring an end to
Mughal rule in 1739
The empire disintegrated into a number of regional powers, just as the French, Dutch, and British began turning their attention away from the coastal Indian Ocean trade to seek new opportunities on the subcontinent itself

Mughal India

Largest Islamic Empire since the Abbasids
Constantinople was crucial for the Ottomans: solidified their control over trade between the Mediterranean and Black Seas (and hence between Europe and Asia)
Also brought about the final demise of the Byzantine Empire and clearly marked the ascendance of a new regional power

The Ottoman Empire: 1299-1923

Safavid Dynasty: 1501-1736
Sultan Mehmed
conquered Constantinople
Sultan Selim

prevented the expansion of the Safavids
in Iran (created a border, which still holds firm today). Selim also
captured Egypt and Syria by conquering the Mamluks
Suleiman the Magnificent
(also known as the “Lawgiver”)
expanded toward Europe
, but was
stopped at the Siege of Vienna

Ottoman Empire: Multiple Powerful Rulers

From the mid-15th to the mid-17th centuries, various sultans battled the Italian city-state of Venice for trade control without ever managing to vanquish their Venetian rivals completely;
instead, they settled for a tribute relationship and allowed Venetians and other foreign traders to conduct business in Ottoman ports

Ottoman Empire

Janissaries: Christians used as military slaves…infantry fighters with guns
Devshirme system: Young Christian boys from the Balkans who were taught to speak Turkish and given military training. Some were selected to study Islam, liberal arts, and military strategy at the sultan’s palace in Istanbul, in effect being groomed to become high-ranking military commanders and government officials

*Ottoman slavery was different from European and New World Slavery…how?

Ottoman Navy: composed of Greeks, Turks, Algerians, and Tunisians who patrolled the Mediterranean in galleys.
“Virtual Mosaic” of cultural influences

Ottoman Empire: Military, Political, and Economic Structures

Osmanli: language blended Arabic, Turkish, and Persian
Population combined Muslims, Christians, and Jews (who fled in large numbers to Ottoman territory after their expulsion from Spain in 1492)
Dhimmi System:
Non-Muslims had limited freedoms in the Ottoman Empire (could worship own religion), but were treated like second-class citizens: had to pay a special tax and had fewer rights legally

Ottoman Empire: Culturally Diverse

Ottomans culture: women veiled, both men and women covered their hair (scarves for women and turbans for men)
Muslim Ottoman women had more freedoms and rights than their Christian counterparts in Europe
Important royal women were kept in the imperial harem (including family members and domestic slaves. The women of the royal harem sometimes had significant power because of the influence that they held over sultans


The Ottoman Harem exemplifies the complex, sometimes bewildering role of women in Muslim societies
While women were largely sequestered from the outside world and confined to their separate household quarters, they were allowed to participate in certain business activities independent of their husbands and appear in court to attend to legal matters if necessary
In some ways, this is the direct opposite of the status of European women of the time, who faced fewer restrictions on their participation in public activities but were usually forced to turn over any wages or inheritances to their fathers or husbands

Women: Ottoman Empire

The expense of maintaining a military large and versatile enough to defend a land-based empire such as the Ottoman was rapidly becoming untenable.
Taxes from agricultural production would fail to generate the wealth necessary to compete with the growing economic might of the Europeans
While cultural achievements in poetry, arts, and craft production remained a source of justifiable pride, the Muslim rulers of the Ottoman Empire simply did not foresee the vast change that the world economy was about to undergo
Their centuries-old traditions of territorial conquest and expansion as a means of amassing-and displaying- power would become relics in the new era of sea-based trade empires that was set to begin.

Ottoman End Remarks

Early Modern Land-based Empires
The Gunpowder Empires and Russia
Safavid Dynasty
Established by Turkish nomadic Muslims
Initially, the government was controlled by warriors
Eventually, a centralized, bureaucratic government was established
Safavid Dynasty
Abbas the Great
Like Peter the Great of Russia, Abbas the Great worked to strengthen centralized government power and his military
He created a professional standing army that could protect against the encroaching Ottomans
They still lacked a navy
Safavid Dynasty
An early Safavid ruler, Ismail I, forcibly converted the population of Persia to Shi'a Islam (though most had been Sunni).
Those who wouldn't convert were often executed
Why did they want this? How did the Safavids use Shi'ism?
Safavid Empire
As the Safavid continued to force Shi'ism on others, there developed the Ottoman-Safavid Conflict
From 1534-1639, periodic military battles broke out between the two empires
An Ottoman Sultan wrote to a Safavid ruler:
"You have denied the sanctity of divine law...you have deserted the path of salvation and the sacred commandments...you have opened to Muslims the gates of tyranny and oppression...you have raised the standard of irreligion and heresy...[Therefore] the ulama (community of scholars) and our doctors have pronounced a sentence of death against you, perjurer and blasphemer
Safavid Dynasty
Eventually, superior Ottoman military power defeated the Safavids
By the start of the eighteenth century, it had become clear that the empire had weakened considerably.
Problems were everywhere; epidemics, famine, insurrections, invasions, corruption.
The army itself ceased to be reliable and began to loot and plunder the empire
A form of monarchical power that is unrestrained by any other institutions such as churches, legislatures, or social elites
Consolidation of power by the monarch
Rise of state power
Unification of the state
Decreased influence of the nobility


While Germany remained decentralized, the monarchs of Spain, France, Russia and England steadily increased their nations’ unity at the expense of the authority of the church and nobility.
Absolutism especially powerful from the 17th to the 19th centuries


By late 1400s the Mongols had long been in decline
Prince of Moscow, Ivan II, declared himself Tsar and ushered in a return of native Russian Rule
Ivan IV expanded Russia’s borders to the south and east
By the early 1700s Siberia belonged to Russia, with it’s wealth of natural resources (particularly animal pelts); brought Russia into trade, but were still mostly agricultural


Peter the Great brought Russia into a new period
Peter concerned himself with Westernizing Russia by developing industry and trade, reducing the influence of the Boyars, modernizing the Russian army and navy, and forcing European fashions and social traditions onto the Russian elite


He built a new capital at St. Petersburg, which served as a valuable link between Russia and the West
His empire still struggled with issues of religion and ethnic diversity
Most of the population were serfs
Much of Russia’s land and population retained the feudal structure that Europe had shrugged off after Middle Ages


Tying them all together
All were land-based empires, either had no navy or smaller, weak navies
All participated in trade with Europe, but struggled economically when Europe began trading more through maritime routes
All rose to power thanks to the rise and fall of Mongolian Khanates
Muslim Majority
Muslim Rulers
Land-based Empire
Muslim minority
Harsh ruler
who targeted
Women in Harem
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