World History – Chapter Fifteen
Aztecs and Mongols
Plus Russia, Imperial China, and the great African Empires
From the year 409 to 711 a tribe called the Visigoths dominated Spain. This period is bracketed by two invasions. The first was of the Alans, Sueves, and Vandals who crossed the Pyrenees, the mountains that separate Spain and Portugal, called the Iberian Peninsula, and virtually ended Roman Imperial rule there. Taking from the article by Roger Collins called “Visigothic Spain” in the book Spain, a History, edited by Raymond Carr, I learned that the Visigoths didn’t complete their conquest of the last imperial holdouts until the 470’s. These events started a series of monarchies that were of Germanic origin ruling Spain. At the other end of this period was the invasion by Arabs and Berbers from North Africa that toppled the Visigothic kingdom ending the existence of a united state over the entire peninsula which would last until the Habsburg Kings of Spain would also rule Portugal between 1580 and 1640.
The Visigoths were said to be of the Christian persuasion called Arian which denied the equality of God the Son, Jesus Christ, with God the Father. The reading in John 1:18 of “only begotten God” in some manuscripts was said to be a favorite of theirs implying that Jesus was a lesser, begotten God to the Father. The Visigoths had been converted to Christianity while in the Balkans, north of Greece, and had carried this heresy with them. However, unlike the Vandals of North Africa, who were also Arians, the Visigoths did not make war on their Roman Catholic subjects like the Vandals did when they invaded North Africa as described in Thomas Hodgkin’s Huns, Vandals, and the Fall of the Roman Empire. The Vandals had also converted to Arian Christianity, according to secular historians. Then, in the late sixth century the divide between Arian and Catholic was erased. Spain was now Roman Catholic.
In the book on the history of Spain, an article by Richard Fletcher tells of how the Muslim invasions of the 8th century gave the country a mix of three religions; Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, along with their cultures. The Muslims were politically dominant until the 11th century.
Islam itself went through a golden age of science and culture during the early Middle Ages that was unheard of in Europe. The Muslim conquerors of Samarkand in the Central Asian steppes learned the art of making paper from the Chinese and the first paper manufacturing plant opened at Baghdad in 794. They brought it to Sicily and Spain, where it moved into France and Italy. It was reported at one time that Baghdad had over 100 booksellers. Mosul, in present day Iraq, had by 950 a library and supplied students with paper. Princes in Islamic lands were said to have libraries more extensive than all the libraries of Europe combined.
Muslim scholars learned Syriac and Greek and delved into scientific studies, including even the study of Sanskrit. The Islamic world excelled in every science, from astronomy to medicine, and gave us the name for the mathematical science, algebra. Muslims traveled around the known world and mapmaking was a great endeavor. Many of their
scientific achievements, copied from and improved upon from the ancient Greeks, Persians, Indians, and Romans were then copied by the Europeans. In many ways, without saying it in these words, Durant, in his The Age of Faith makes it clear that medieval Islam was a bridge of science and knowledge between the ancient world and modern Europe.
At first, Islam’s sole art had been poetry, as Muhammad had forbidden sculpture and painting as idolatrous. Eventually, though, Islamic art and architecture became majestic from the Alhambra in Spain to the Taj Mahal in India. Music at first had been a sin in Islam but became distinctive and unique, however, is hardly understandable to the Western ear.
The Islamic empire stretched from Spain to India. It was rich with architecture, science, literature, and the countries it dominated were usually ruled well and places of tolerance for religions other than Islam. As all things created by man and not God tend to do, it started to fall apart. The great Seljuq Sultan, or King, Malik Shah, who ruled from 1072 to 1092 was blessed with a great prime minister named Nizam al-Mulk, who ruled for the sultan in Baghdad. He by all accounts was a beneficent leader to his people and even wrote a manual called Book of the Art of Rule or Siyasat-Nama. He was assassinated by a member of the religious sect of murderers called Hashasheen, who enticed their young disciples with earthly scenes of the Islamic paradise consisting of drugs and women, and demanded obedience to kill whomever the leaders required. We get our word, assassin, from this group who, legend has it, were even hired by Richard the Lion Hearted, crusader and king of England, to kill one of his European enemies while on a crusade. While we will cover the Crusades in our next class, let me say that the Islamic world had to deal with this invasion and conquest of the Holy Land by Europeans fighting at the behest of the Pope and then were forced to deal with another threat, the Mongols.
The sultans after Malik Shah had allowed the empire to break down into autonomous kingdoms that were culturally strong but militarily weak. Religious fanaticism and racial hatreds had weakened the ability to fight the Europeans in the Crusades.
The Mongols, on the other hand, lived in the plains and deserts of northwestern Asia. While the Islamic world was becoming weak with ease of living, fabulous wealth, and the benefits of science and medicine, the Mongols thrived on hardship and primitive fertility. Living in tents in the open and following their herds they loved the art of war. Like their ancestors, the Huns before them, eight centuries previous, they were experts at firing arrows while riding their horses at full speed. One Catholic missionary said they would eat anything edible, even lice. They were known to eat rats, cats, dogs, and to drink human blood. Their great king, Jenghiz Khan, or Genghis Khan, who ruled them from 1167 to 1227, disciplined them brutally. His name means, according to Durant, The Great King. He conquered an empire from Eastern Europe and the Middle East to the Great Wall of China.
The Mongol invasion of Islam began in 1219. They annihilated the great trading cities of Central Asia, a bridge between China and the West. One source indicates that Genghis ordered as many as a million people executed on the same day. Some cities were left only as tombs for thousands of corpses. His armies were so brutal, and even for a brutal era, thought to be so inhuman, that legends have arose that at the end of time, he and his bloodthirsty Mongol hordes, now demons, will arise out of Hell to ravage the world.
The writer, Baabar (Bat-Erdene Batbayar), in his book, Twentieth Century Mongolia, makes this statement; “the primitive nomadic herders, strangers to everyone but the Chinese, suddenly swept the world scene in the thirteenth century and won notoriety by perpetuating a bloodbath of extraordinary scale.”
The infamous leader, whose birth name was Temujin, grew up to be the Great King, Genghis Khan. As a child he was much abused and abandoned and grew up in poverty, humiliation, and hunger so that he reached adulthood with a burning desire for revenge or so reports Baabar. After having suffered the abduction of his wife by a rival tribe, he got his revenge and eventually became supreme leader over all the Mongols. In order to control a warlike people one must always be making war and just as, in one respect, Rome built an empire by attempting to expand its defensible borders, Genghis built an empire first by expanding his control over rival clans, and then over rival ethnic groups, and then over rival countries and empires.
In the first great battle with Islam, Genghis’ son and general, Juji, killed 160,000 Muslim troops and began destroying cities. A second Mongol army under another son, Jagatai captured and destroyed more cities. Then, as Durant puts it, “A third Army, under Jenghiz himself, burned Bokhara to the ground, raped thousands of women, and massacred 30,000 men.” Samarkand surrendered but was destroyed anyway and remained so for centuries. Islamic libraries were burned and the inhabitants of its cities were massacred. In some cities, every man, woman, and child was murdered. Genghiz eventually died in bed, enjoying his 500 wives and concubines, having struck terror in the world. The assassin sect named earlier was destroyed by one of his successors and the entire Middle East was invaded until a Mongolian army was finally defeated at the battle of Ain Jalut by Egyptian Mamluks in 1260.
Durant says that never in history had a civilization suffered so devastating a blow. Rome suffered over many centuries but in one fell swoop, the pride, prestige, and power of Islam was nearly destroyed. Within forty years, the Mongols came to rape, pillage, burn, and destroy. Islam never recovered from the total destruction and depopulation of its great centers of culture and power. “For five centuries”, Durant says, “from 700 to 1200, it led the world in power, order, and extent of government, in refinement of manners, in standards of living, in humane legislation and religious toleration, in literature, scholarship, medicine, and philosophy.” Catholic Europe received foods, drink, drugs, and medicine, armor, art, industry, naval expertise, and words for things such as
orange, lemon, sugar, syrup, sherbet, julep, elizir, jar, azure, arabesque, mattress, sofa, muslin, satin, fustian, bazaar, caravan, check, tariff, traffic, magazine, risk, sloop, barge, cable, and admiral as well as the game of chess from India via Islam with its checkmate or shah mat, meaning the king is dead. Words like lute, guitar, and tambourine came from Islam, as well.
Islamic culture and civilization never recovered from the deprivations of the Mongols. We will save a discussion of the next great wave of conquest over the Islamic world, the Turks, for another class.
Moving north of the Islamic lands, let’s move to Russia. Russia, before the Russians, according to Nicholas V. Riasanovsky’s A History of Russia, was first written about with references to the Slavic tribes by the classical writers of the Christian era, particularly Pliny the Elder and the historian, Tacitus. In the 6th century the Byzantine (Eastern Roman Empire) historian Procopius wrote about them as did the Gothic Jordanes. The terms most frequently used to designate them were “Venedi” and “Antes” with the first word often referring to the Eastern Slavs and the latter (last) title sometimes referring to pre-Slavic Iranian inhabitants of southern Russia or Goths. Most historians now assume that the Slavs consisted of the bulk of the inhabitants of Southern Russia at the time of the Biblical Scythians.
“Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.” Colossians 3:11
Notice how the Bible gives the southern Russians a brief mention as it does China in Isaiah 49:12;
“Behold, these shall come from far: and, lo, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim.”
Many Bible students, particularly during the “Cold War” with Soviet Russia, say that words like Gog, Magog, and Meshech in Ezekiel 38:2 and other places refer to Russia which is to invade Israel from the North at the end of history.
“Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him,”
J.M. Roberts in A History of Europe refers to the Scythians Russians as trading with the Greeks in the middle of the first millennium BC. By the 9th century AD East Slavic economy and culture was well developed and advanced. However, we don’t get our name for this area from the Slavic people according to western historians. The Rus, from which we derive the name Russia, according to Gwyn Jones’ A History of the Vikings, were a tribe, mostly Swedish, of commercial and military adventurers who created the first great
Russian republics of Novgorod and Kiev, which started out as armed trading posts. There is actually, though, a great controversy surrounding the influence and significance of the
Viking settlement among the Slavic people. While some writers tend to attribute leaps forward in Slavic culture to the influence of the Scandinavian adventurers others tend to dismiss their influence as being of minor importance. The traditional histories you will read dismiss the Slavic people as mere benefactors of the superior and more energetic Vikings while many Russian historians, Riasonovsky included, state their evidence for the absorption of the Viking settlers into Slavic culture claiming that all attempts to credit Russia’s civilization to the Vikings have been vastly overblown.
Nevertheless, we have two contenders, at least, for the founding of the great Russian city state of Kiev; the first were men of Scandinavian stock or what were called Varangians (the Eastern Roman/Byzantine Emperor had a Varangian Guard at one time) led by their greatest ruler, Rurik, which Jones says has overwhelming evidence, both literary and archaeological, to support them and the second, as Riasonovsky would suggest were Gothic/Slavic people who were only slightly influenced by Viking visitors who were absorbed into their own culture. Durant even admits to the controversy and the legendary accounts of Russia’s founding that have been taught as factual. So, what does that mean to normal people like you and me, that is, non-scholars? What it means is that when you read that historians are divided over an issue, any issue, it is wise, if you are interested, in searching out all sides and deciding for yourself and when, if you go on to college, your teacher says that Russia owes its cultural heritage and its name in a large part to Vikings, particularly Swedish Vikings, you can let him know that you know that this is based on legend, selective interpretation of historical documents, and assumption, and while it may be true, it is a topic not without controversy.
The important thing is that Kiev became an important trading city and center of power that was actually able to send a fleet of 200 ships to attack Constantinople in 860 and remained the commercial and political focus of Russia and it ruled nearly all of the Eastern Slavonic tribes. Kiev made six attempts between 860 and 1043 to take Constantinople for itself, part of an ongoing attempt by Russians to secure a post on the Mediterranean Sea. It is said that the Russians adopted Christianity because the established church permitted them to drink alcohol while Islam did not, which doesn’t say much for either the Russian leaders or the established church of Constantinople or Rome. The Turkic speaking Khazar kingdom of Southern Russia that so dominated the crossroad cities of trade between Europe and Asia was also an influential factor in what we consider to be the history of Russia. They adopted Judaism in the 9th century and were a bulwark against the spread of Islam in Russian territory as well.
Russia became Christian under Vladimir, 5th Grand Duke of Kiev, who ruled from 972 until 1015. He married the sister of the Byzantine Emperor Basil II and from that point on until the revolution of 1917 Russia, in religion, art, alphabet, and coinage, Durant tells us, was a “daughter of Byzantium”. The Kievan state grew to its greatest under Vladimir’s son, Yaroslav from 1036 to 1054, the year of the great schism between the Roman
Catholic Church in the west and its eastern counterpart. Kiev then suffered under bitter civil wars and blood feuds between uncles and nephews vying for power. It was sacked
once in 1203 and finally destroyed by the Mongol hordes (a mean sounding name for a large group of invaders attacking you) in 1240.
Novgorod, under the rule of Kiev, became an independent principality as the Kievan state began to collapse in on itself. It is most significant to our general study for its defense of Russian lands from foreign invaders. The greatest name associated with these epic battles for freedom from foreign occupation was Alexander Nevsky. He was Prince Alexander, known as Nevsky for his victory over a Swedish force at the Neva River. He was born in 1219 and died in 1263 according to Riasanovksy and had to face the Mongol invasion and major assaults on Russia from Europe. The European assaults came mostly from Swedes and Teutonic Knights with an added dose of Finnish and Lithuanian pressure. The German Teutonic Knights’ attack is most significant because it represents a continual German ideal of “the drive to the east” which culminated in Hitler’s attempt to take Russia six hundred years later. .
In the year that Kiev fell to the Mongols, Prince Alexander, only 21 years old, defeated the Swedes. He then turned to face the Teutonic Knights and drove them backwards until the famous battle of frozen Lake Chud, also called Peipus, on April 5, 1242. It has been called “the massacre on ice” and is the subject of many songs and poems plus an epic movie by the Soviet film maker Eisenstein, Alexander Nevskii. Between 1142 and 1446 Novgorod fought the Swedes 26 times, German knights 11 times, Lithuanians 14 times, and Norwegians 5 times. The Mongol invasion failed to reach as far as Novgorod but Alexander chose to pay tribute and acknowledge co-operation with the Mongols, becoming the Grand Prince of Russia under them until his death, wisely realizing that resistance to them was absolutely hopeless. For his patriotic actions and wise diplomacy he was made a saint by the Russian version of the Greek Orthodox Church. Finally, in 1471 the city surrendered to Ivan III, and became absorbed into the Moscow state.
Moscow first appeared in writing in 1147. The entire walled city was destroyed by the Mongols in 1237. Daniel, Alexander Nevsky’s youngest son, became the rebuilt town’s ruler in the second half of that century, called the 13th century. It’s important to remember that the years of a century, say 1200 to 1299, are referred to as the 13th century in history (even though it should be 1201 to 1300 but that’s another story). It’s like saying once you’ve had your 15th birthday you are working on your 16th year. In any event, Daniel’s son, George, began expanding Moscow territory and controlled the entire flow of the Moscow River. He married the sister of the great khan of the Golden Horde, first a part of the Mongol Empire, then finally a separate state, and became Grand Prince. Moscow grew in influence through the attempted invasion of the great Turkic conqueror, Tamerlane, in the late 14th century, through to the disintegration of the Golden Horde, and the rise of the Turkish Empire, whose success isolated Russia from Greek culture and church, thereby establishing its own unique identity.
Ivan III and Basil III, ruling from 1462 to 1505, asserted complete independence of Muscovite (Moscow dominated) Russia from the Mongols who had “swarmed over” (like a horde of wasps) much of the world and were now disappearing into history. Territory was increased by conquest and Ivan III became known as Ivan the Great.
Now, I’d like to talk about what is happening to the Jews outside of Europe during this time. Having failed in their attempts at revolt under Bar Cochba in 135 and again under Antoninus Pius in 161, they were forbidden to enter Jerusalem except on the anniversary of its destruction when they were allowed to come in and mourn by the destroyed wall of the Temple. In Palestine, where nearly 1,000 villages and towns had been eliminated and well over half a million men and women had been slain the population had dwindled to half its former number. Soon, though, the Jewish National Council, or Beth Din, a group of 71 rabbinical scholars, was established at Tiberias promoting the teaching of their religion.
After the Emperor Constantine accepted his form of Christianity the Jews received added humiliation of being forbidden to have any association with Christians. Constantius banned rabbi’s (teachers) in 337 and made the marriage of a Jew with a Christian woman, a capital crime, or one punishable by death. The Jews were taxed so heavily that some sold their children to meet the demand. In 352 they rebelled and were brutally defeated again. Thousands of Jews were killed and enslaved. The condition of Palestinian Jews had sunk so low that in 359 Hillel II composed a calendar still in use today for all Jews to determine the dates of their festivals so they would not forget.
The Emperor Julian (aka The Apostate) lifted them up again and acknowledged their right to their faith and even ordered the Temple to be rebuilt from state funds so that they could once again conduct sacrifices in obedience to the Old Testament Law. Therefore, about 361, Jews poured in from everywhere to Jerusalem and gave of their personal wealth to rebuild the Temple. However, as the foundations were being dug, Durant relates, flames burst from the ground killing several workmen. This was repeated a second time. Although, Durant insists that this was probably due to their hitting a natural gas deposit (as any good atheist would), this situation and the death of Julian, the withdrawal of state funds, and the return of the old persecutions sent them back into their previous condition of mourning.
Many moved into Persia and reinvigorated the Babylonian Jewish population which had continuously lived there since the Babylonian Captivity nearly a thousand years previous.In Persia, the Jews were excluded from state office but so was anyone else who wasn’t in the nobility so the rule didn’t sting as much. Taxation was less severe, as well, and the government was pretty co-operative, even to recognizing the head of the Jewish exiles, the exilarch, as being an important person in the eyes of the Persian kings. Curiously, Persian law permitted polygamy and important traveling rabbis would even advertise for temporary wives in each city. Schools of higher education arose and
Babylonian Jewish scholarship was recognized by Jews everywhere as valuable and noteworthy.
The Dispersion, as it is called, continued throughout the lands around the Mediterranean and Arabia, preparing the idolatrous Arab mind for the introduction of Mohammed’s belief system. In Abyssinia, or Ethiopia, eventually half the population became Jewish. All of the North African cities had large populations of Jews.
In Palestine and Babylon, the scribes and the rabbis composed enormous bodies of law and commentary known as the Palestinian and Babylonian Talmud. This was justified under the argument that God had not only given the Jews a written law in the Pentateuch, or first five books of the Bible, called the ‘First Book of Moses called Genesis’, ‘The Second Book of Moses called Exodus’, etc. etc. in The Holy Bible but also an oral law which was alleged to have been handed down from generation to generation, teacher to teacher. This was spoken of as their tradition by Jesus and roundly condemned.
Matthew 15:3 –
But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?
Matthew 15:6 -
And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.
Mark 7:9 –
And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.
Mark 7:13 –
Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.
Peter, as well, referred to this oral tradition.
1Peter 1:18 –
Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;
The main issue of contention between the Pharisees and the Sadducees was whether or not this oral law was divine and therefore binding, or not. When the Sadduccees disappeared after the destruction of the Temple, the Pharisees belief that the oral law was divine became the standard for all orthodox Jews. For a thousand years, they debated and wrote until finally the oral law was given the written form called the Mishna with two Gemaras as commentaries on the Mishna. The shorter Gemara and the Mishna made up
the Palestinian Talmud and the longer one united with the Mishna for the Babylonian Talmud.
It is of interest to note that when Peter announced his greetings from the small Jewish Christian community at Babylon, that is probably exactly where he was, not Rome, as the Roman Catholic Church has insisted. Paul does not mention him in the list of the Christians at Rome at the end of his letter to the Romans.
1Peter 5:13 -
“The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you; and so doth Marcus my son. “
The Mishna or oral law plus the Pentateuch or written law becomes the Torah, by which the Jews lived throughout the Medieval period, the Middle Ages.
The rabbinical colleges at Sura and Pumbeditha provided religious and intellectual leadership for the Jews of Islam from the 7th to the 11th century led by a group of men who assumed the title of Gaon, or Excellency. This institution of leadership is called the Gaonate, or the period of the Geonim. In 762 a rabbi who had been denied his hereditary role as Gaon, named Anan ben David, fled to Palestine and set up his own synagogue that insisted that only the written law, the first five books of the Bible, the Pentateuch, should be followed, not the Talmud. This return to the Bible was considered a heresy. His followers received the name of Qaraites or Karaites, meaning followers of the text.
The Crusades further isolated the Babylonian Jews from European Jewry. They finally disappeared from history when the Mongols sacked Baghdad in 1258. Long before this, however, Jews had migrated all over the world. It is said that there were over 20,000 in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) in 1165. The next power center of Jewish learning and influence became Egypt, where they experienced relative freedom. There were persecutions but little equaled what the Jews faced in Europe during the time we will save for a different class.
Now, we’ll move east to China. Following the Han Dynasty, and after a further century of weak governing, a long period of division into Northern and Southern Dynasties from 317 to 589 led finally to a new unification. The Sui accomplished this reunification, ruling from 581 to 618 Reading from F.W. Mote’s book, Imperial China, we learn that the Chinese civilization had experienced a golden age of culture under the Tang dynasty that existed from 618 to 907. The T’ang dynasty, founded by Kao-tsu, experienced its greatest emperor under his son, T’ai Tsung from 627 to 650. By greatest, the historians mean to say that he murdered his brothers who were rivals for his throne and drove the barbarians back and re-established Chinese authority over territories that had been lost since the collapse of the Han dynasty.
Suddenly, he is said to have grown tired of war and retired to study, read, and publish the writings of Confucius. His capital of Ch’ang-an became so beautiful that Durant says that tourists flocked to it from India and Europe. Buddhist monks arrived in great numbers as did missionaries preaching Zoroastrianism and Nestorian Christianity, which is a version of the Christian faith condemned at the Council of Ephesus in 431 that said that Christ was two distinct persons, the man Jesus and the Son of God, which resulted in the Assyrian Church splitting from the Greek Orthodox. Oddly enough, Nestorius, its so called founder, a fifth century Patriarch of Constantinople, denied holding the belief. Theological debates aside, T’ai Tsung held a very modern view toward crime, law, and order. He said;
“If I diminish expenses, lighten the taxes, employ only honest officials, so that the people have clothing enough, this will do more to abolish robbery than the employment of the severest punishments.” The unscriptural idea that only external conditions are the basis for crime is held today, as well.
Compare the emotional outburst reported when he died;
“When he died the grief of the people knew no bounds, and even the foreign envoys cut themselves with knives and lancets and sprinkled the dead emperor’s bier with their self shed blood.”
to the state of Baal worship in 1 Kings 18:28;
“And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them.”
Durant quotes Arthur Waley, writing in the 14th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica as saying, “In the T’ang dynasty, China was without doubt the greatest and most civilized power in the world.” At the height of it ruled Ming Huang, “The Brilliant Emperor”, who ruled for 40 years from 713 to 756AD with some breaks in his reign, the kind of which the Bible believer will find in the descriptions of Ahaziah’s reign in 2 Kings 8 and 2 Chronicles 22. This can also be found in the history of Vlad Tepes, history’s Dracula, who reigned on two separate occasions over the same people and other various monarchs and princes throughout history.
Ming Huang was a complicated ruler who wrote poetry and attacked lands far from home even exacting tribute from Turkey, Persia, and Samarkand. He fell in love with a courtesan, Yang Kwei-fei, formerly the concubine of his 18th son (courtesan and concubine are two genteel words describing a not so genteel type of woman). Eventually there was one of his ministers, Lu-shan, the Tatar (read that; barbarian) northern provincial governor, who also fell in lust with the woman. He declared himself emperor and a civil war was fought. Lu-shan called on his barbarian allies and they sacked Ch’ang-an and China, and out of China’s already vast population Durant tells us that 36
million people lost their lives in the rebellion. Ming Huang won but died a broken hearted old man.
This was the era of the great Chinese poet, Li Po, whose mother was said to have had a dream of Venus, in China called Tai-po Hsing or Great White Star, at his birth. The T’ang dynasty, however, never recovered from Lu-shan’s rebellion or the massive destruction left in its wake.
The great Silk Roads, the avenues across Asia that brought silk from China and goods from Europe, reached the height of their importance connecting the T’ang capital to what the Chinese called the Western Regions. Next came the era of the Five Dynasties and the Liao dynasty. Amid all of this chaos, one soldier emerged to create the Sung Dynasty. His name was T’ai Tsu.
The most interesting emperor of the Sung was Wang An-shih (1021-1086). Wang believed that government must hold itself accountable for the welfare of all its citizens. The state should oversee all matters of commerce and industry, as well as government, to keep the working class from “being ground into dust by the rich”. He abolished the forced labor that the Chinese governments had always enacted from the people to build everything from the Great Wall to roads. Like the Inca Empire, the government owned everything and distributed everything. Pensions were provided for the aged and the poor. To fight corruption he had a Budget Commission that tightly controlled all money the government received. He put in place universal conscription where every family was responsible for providing one soldier for the defense of the country. His experiment at socialist government failed due to the universal objection to high taxes and absolute government control.
In 950, paper money was first used in China. In 970, the first great Chinese encyclopedia was printed. In 1041, this was enhanced by the invention of movable type by Pi Sheng. 1161 brought the first known use of gunpowder. Then, in 1212, Genghis Khan invaded China and destroyed the Sung, creating the Yuan or Mongol dynasty, whose most notable emperor was Kublai Khan. The Mongol Yuan lasted until 1368 when the Mongol control finally ended and the Ming dynasty arose which lasted until 1644.
During Kublai Khan’s reign, in the latter part of the 1200’s or the 13th century, a Venetian adventurer, Marco Polo, his father and his uncle, visited all of the East that they could. They stayed in China for a quarter century and were very successful under the great Khan. Marco even rose to be the governor of Hangchow under the Khan, a city he later claimed was more beautiful and further ahead of any European city in its hospitals, buildings, bridges, manners, and refinement. His travels are some of the most famous in history and a study of his statements on the eastern world through the eyes of a medieval European are fascinating.
The Mongols were better warriors than administrators. And although Kublai Khan was no barbarian by any standards, it is a fact of history that it is easier to conquer a country than it is to occupy it for long. Once again, the Chinese married their conquerors, as they did each time the Huns, the Tatars, or any warriors from the steppes of Asia invaded
them, then they civilized them, and finally overthrew them. In 1368, an ex-Buddhist priest led a revolt and entering Peking in triumph proclaimed himself first emperor of the Ming Dynasty. This dynasty, too, finally ended in chaos and rebellion and was overthrown by the Manchu invaders from what is now called Manchuria.
Now, let’s move to sub-Saharan Africa, that is, the part of Africa below the Sahara Desert. By the early part of the first millennium after Christ people of African origin could be found all over the world due to trade with China, India, and Europe. Some had been sold as slaves in Europe and Asia. By the beginning of the Islamic era Africans had been a not uncommon sight in Europe and Asia as both merchants and merchandise. Remember the character, Othello, in Shakespeare’s play, is considered by most to represent an African operating as a general in the service of Venice against Turkey.
Three powerful states emerged in Africa during the time period we are discussing; Ghana, Mali, and Songhay. These empires were advanced cultures by any standard. The economic life of these African nations revolved around agriculture, manufacturing, and international trade with rulers exercising their authority through powerful standing armies.
The wealth of Ghana, Mali, and Songhay came from the trans-Saharan trade whose basis was gold. While goods and luxury items flowed south from the Islamic countries to the north, gold was sent the other way. Ghana is first mentioned by Arabs in 800AD and for three centuries, reaching the peak of its power in the 11th. The rulers of Ghana were the main suppliers of gold for North Africa and Europe and it was said by Al-Bakri, an Arab geographer in 1067 that their king owned a nugget of gold so large he could tether his horse to it.
Tenkamenin ruled Ghana in the middle of the 11th century and had an army of 200,000 men and lived in a castle decorated with sculpture and painted windows. Finally, Ghana fell to Mali, which started out as a small state of the Mandingo tribe on the Niger River. Two men made Mali famous in history. Sundiata Keita and Mansa Musa. Keita made the small state a great empire. Musa, who came to power in 1307, produced one of the greatest countries in the medieval world. The most famous event in his reign was his pilgrimage to Mecca, something Muslims are expected to attempt to do at least once in their lives if they are able. He had an entourage of 60,000 persons including 12,000 servants. 500 servants, each carrying a 6 pound gold staff, walked in front of him. 80 camels bore 24,000 pounds of gold which the black king distributed as alms for the poor and gifts. It is said that his generous contributions of gold wreaked havoc in Egypt’s economic system for a while. He is also credited with building great buildings in Timbuktu. Mali declined in importance in the 15th century and in its place, the Songhay
arose. Askia Muhammed was their greatest leader. He took power in 1493 and ruled for nineteen years ruling a realm or kingdom larger than all of Europe and including most of West Africa.
Timbuktu, during Askia’s reign, was a city of a hundred thousand. The Sankore Mosque and the attached Sankore University were the center of intellectual life. Arab and African chroniclers, Christian and Muslim, like Leo Africanus, wrote extensively of the wonders of this city. People supposedly came from all over the Muslim world to study law and surgery at the University of Sankore. Es Sadi, a Timbuktu scholar, said that his brother came from the city of Jenne’ to have cataract surgery on his eyes at Timbuktu. It was successful. By the way, Es Sadi was supposed to have had a library of over 1600 books.
Leo Africanus, writing in the 1500’s, said that there were numerous judges, doctors, and clerics (religious leaders such as priests in Catholic Christianity or Imams in Islam) who received good salaries from the king. He went on to say that there was a big demand for books imported from North Africa. He makes a very curious statement for the world of Africa based on the western prejudice concerning what was going on in that continent, at least south of the Sahara, at that or any other time. He says that more profit was made from the book trade than any other business. Greek and Latin manuscripts were so prevalent in Timbuktu that hundreds of years later a traveler named Heinrich Barth reported meeting an old man in that area and having a conversation with him about Plato, which he had a manuscript of that had been translated into Arabic from Greek.
Timbuktu, like all great cities, was also a place of vice and pleasure. Musical orchestras consisting of male and female singers were present, men and women were fond of jewels, and dramatic displays of dancing, fencing, and gymnastics were common. Chess was so popular that it is said that a Songhay general admitted to losing a battle because he was so engrossed in a game that he ignored the reports of his scouts. Askia was disturbed by the licentious and often drunken lifestyle of the city but was unable to curb its excesses. Social dissolution and growing fat and soft on good living were part of the reason for the decline of the West African states in the 17th century. I suspect, though, and this is just my own conjecture, that the transfer of the source of gold for Europe from Africa to the Americas provides an economic reason for the fall of Africa. The slave trade and European colonization finished the process.
On the eastern side of Africa, the city of Aksum struggled for control of its Arabian provinces, particularly Yemen on the Arabian Peninsula, against the native Arabians. This struggle consumed the years 400 to 525. King Ella-Abeha appointed Abraha viceroy of Himyar in southwest Yemen about 545. He was successful in retaking most of Yemen for Aksum but was in conflict with the Persian Empire from the north. Along the Nile River, the kingdoms of the Sudan; Nobatia, Maquarrah, and ‘Alwah all adopted Christianity as their state religion between 543 and 575. Abraha finally tried to extend Aksumite dominion over Mecca itself but his attack was repulsed in 570. Despite military
aid from the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire, Aksum was unable to hold onto its Arabian provinces by 585 due to Persian intervention.
Small kingdoms developed along the Red Sea coast from Ethiopia to Egypt. Among them were Qata, Jarin, Baza, Baqlin, and Naqis. Further south, the Bantu tribe’s kingdom of Zanj occupied much of what is now Kenya and southern Somalia. What was left of Aksum after the great plague of the sixth century waned between 800 and 1000. By then, Arab Moslems had conquered territory down the coast and set up small settlements. In southwestern Ethiopia, the black Jewish Damot Kingdom under Queen Esato (Judith) devastated Aksum up to the city gates in 976.
Early in the 11th century, reading the Harper Encyclopedia of Military History, the Zagwe Dynasty of central Ethiopia took over what was left of Aksum. This kingdom became a refuge for Christian monks running from persecution in Muslim Egypt. The growth and power of Islam isolated Ethiopia except for a few patches of territory on the Arabian Peninsula’s coast with the Red Sea, which they ruled as late as 1200. Islamic traders continued to expand their influence on the coast of East Africa and Mogadishu began to arise as an important trading settlement.
Between 1075 and 1200 the Somali Muslim’s destroyed the Bantu kingdom of Zanj and alongside the pagan Galla tribe fought against the Christian kingdom of Ethiopia.
In West Africa, the wealthy empire of Ghana, which had made so much from the “silent trade” of salt for gold was forcibly converted to Islam between 1054 and 1076 by the Almoravid Berbers. Salt, from which (through the Roman Army) we get the world salary and the phrase, “worth his salt”, was left for those who mined gold and was replaced with an equal value of gold. This kept potentially hostile tribes from confrontation and made the great wealth of West African kingdoms possible.
During the 11th century there were built in Zimbabwe great stone structures. Zimbabwe itself means “stone dwellings” in Bantu. It became a ceremonial and religious center for a large inland kingdom called Karanga which traded with Arab merchants on the coast for glass and porcelain from China.
Between 1200 and 1230, the Soso temporarily took over the ancient Ghanaian capital of Kumbi and conquered Mali under Sumanguru. This dominance was ended by Sundiata, previously mentioned, the founder of the Mali Empire. The Benin kingdom of modern southwestern Nigeria rose to prominence in the late 1200’s under the great Oba, or king, Ewedo.
Moving forward between 1340 and 1360 several city states arose in modern Nigeria of the Hausa ethnic group including Yoruba, a language found today in Nigeria. The Kongo Kingdom first took form in or about 1350 around modern day Songolo and was ruled by
the Manikongo or king. West of Lake Chad was the kingdom of Kanem-Bornu which developed in the late 1300’s.
The Bantu ethnic group’s language and culture of Swahili developed over this period drawing, like English, loan words from other cultures, including Arabic, and later English.
The Zagwe Dynasty in Ethiopia ended around 1270 and Arab raids destroyed the Christian kingdom of Maqurrah. The Mamelukes of Egypt also contributed to its fall. Finally, between 1314 and 1344 the great king of Ethiopia, Amda Tseyon defeated four coalitions of Muslims and conquered much territory, even intervening on behalf of Egyptian Coptic Christians with the Mamelukes of Egypt. It would be over two hundred years before the Portuguese would form an alliance with Ethiopia to fight the Muslims.
As you approach Africa south of the Sahara in the 1400’s you notice that the European starts to make inroads into it. Spain conquered the Canary Islands between 1402 and 1404. The Portuguese explored the coast of Africa extensively between 1434 and 1498 and they and the Spanish fought over possession of the Canaries.
I knew nothing of Africa before the Europeans from my classes in high school. It wasn’t until I went to college and by chance took an African history class that my eyes were opened to the rich history of that continent. I must also credit Lerone Bennett, Jr.’s controversial book, Before the Mayflower. The wicked slave trade will be saved for a couple of classes from now.
Early in the 14th century, that is the 1300’s, the Mexica or Aztecs, a nomadic warlike tribe from northern Mexico arrived in what is called the Valley of Mexico and settled on two islands called Tenochitlan and Tlatilulco in Lake Texcoco. This natural fortress connected by only three causeways to the mainland with removable bridges gave them a secure base to operate from and successful wars combined with smart alliances helped them to conquer the Valley of Mexico. The era of 1427 to 1440 saw the rise of their Emperor Itzacoatl, the “Black Serpent”, who defeated the Tepanaca who tried to destroy them in fear of their growing mastery of the area. But it was his nephew, Tlacaelel, who lived for 82 years from 1398 to 1480 who was the real genius of the Aztecs.
He was twice offered the leadership but turned it down twice, preferring to be the influential head of internal affairs and truly ruling behind the scenes for much of his life. He was responsible for destroying the Aztec history that showed their humble beginnings as wanderers so he could instill a new kind of heroic patriotism in them. With his prompting the Aztec would think that he was always great and that empire was his heritage. This instilled a superpatriotic loyalty in the members of what was called the Triple Alliance. Tlacaelel served as a general under Itzcoatl and believed that the Mexica or Aztecs were destined to be a great empire.
Tlacaelel created an ideology based on the notion that Huitzilopochtli, the god who wore a hummingbird head shaped helmet and carried a fire breathing serpent as a weapon, the Mexica’s patron deity, was not just their god, but he was THE god. The fate of humankind was in his hands and he was one of the four sons of the sustainer of the universe, Ometeotl. He became the sun in one story and supervised its workings in others. In either one there was only one way to sustain his energy and receive his blessings, human sacrifice We know this god, like other gods of the pagan peoples of the
world under his Biblical names; Satan, Lucifer, Baal, the Enemy (Matthew 13:39; Luke 10:19), the Adversary (1 Peter 5:8), the Accuser (Revelation 12:10), and the Devil. In other cultures he is in reality Jupiter, Zeus, Odin, Viracocha or in his feminine form Ishtar, Venus, Diana, Cybele, or the Roman Catholic version of Mary (without sin, having never died, co-redemptrix with the Lord Jesus Christ), under these names and others called the “celestial virgin”, “the mother of god”, and “the holy virgin” by every Satanist from Madame Blavatsky back to the priests of Babylon.
Human sacrifice, also a cornerstone of Baalite religion in the Ancient Near East, was made possible by conquest, using the captured in war as the victims or rather the offerings to the god. To obtain prisoners for sacrifice to this Mesoamerican version of the sun god the Triple Alliance’s destiny was to, in Tlacaelel’s ideology, take over the world. Mexican anthropologist, Miguel Leon-Portilla, has said that the Aztecs viewed imperial conquest as “a moral combat against evil”. This is simple evidence at how twisted manmade religions are at the outset and how Satan, the enemy of mankind and rebel against God, is often served by man’s most faithful and pious efforts. He goes on to say that they believed that “the survival of the universe depended on them.” His two books on the subject are Aztec Thought and Culture; A Study of the Ancient Nahuatl Mind and The Broken Spears, The Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico.
Of course, many modern historical revisionists claim that the Aztecs never practiced human sacrifice, in order to uplift this Central American version of the Near Eastern Assyrians to the “heights” of modern man’s moral standards. You know which ones these are, the moral standards that have allowed us to murder 100 million of our own kind in the 20th century in wars and genocides. The Aztecs were not much different from our European ancestors in their lack of regard for the lives of anyone considered “the others”. Criminals beheaded, heretics burned, assassins drawn and quartered, were free entertainment that drew huge crowds in Catholic and Protestant Europe. The English diplomat, Samuel Pepys, in 1664, wrote of one hanging that drew a crowd of 12 to 14,000 people who came to watch the victim beg for mercy and paid a shilling for a good view. In most cities of Catholic Europe bodies were impaled upon city walls and left along highways to deter crime. Bodies hung from trees were so much backdrop in life according to one chronicler of medieval and later Europe. France and Spain were the most bloodthirsty of the nations of Europe and the percentage of population they publicly executed in this way far outshone the brutality of the Aztecs.
When we read Luke 4:5-7; 16:15; 2 Corinthians 4:4; and Daniel 4:17 let us think about these remarks in the book 1491, New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann;
“In their penchant for ceremonial public slaughter, the Alliance and Europe were more alike than either side grasped. In both places the public death was accompanied by the reading of ritual scripts. And in both the goal was to create a cathartic paroxysm of loyalty to the government – in the Mexica case, by recalling the spiritual justification for
the empire; in the European case, to reassert the sovereign’s divine power after it had been injured by a criminal act. Most important, neither society should be judged-or in the event judged each other- entirely by its brutality. Who today would want to live in the Greece of Plato or Socrates with its slavery, constant warfare, institutionalized pederasty, and relentless culling of excess population? Yet Athens had a coruscating tradition of rhetoric, lyric drama, and philosophy. So did Tenochitlan and the other cities in the Triple Alliance. In fact, the corpus of writings in classical Nahuatl, the language of the Alliance, is even larger than the corpus of texts in classical Greek.”
The fact is that all societies should be judged by God’s word alone and by that word they fall far short of God’s standard, and by the Bible’s clear words and by the study of history one can easily see who is leading mankind forward to that final rebellion against our Creator. Read Revelation 11:15 and Zephaniah 3:8 for the future of the world system as it currently stands and the nations of the earth.
Richard Adams in his book, Ancient Civilizations of the New World, claims that while human sacrifice was the most notorious practice of the Aztecs, they didn’t invent it. He reports that human sacrifice was common also in Olmec times. He does confirm that it was Tlacaelel who gave the Aztecs the practice as a religious expression and psychological terror tool to spark fear in the enemies of the Triple Alliance.
The Oxford History of Mexico edited by Michael Myer and William Beezeley has a chapter in it entitled “The Mexico that Spain Encountered” by Susan Schroeder that gives us some light on the claims in 1491 of the Aztecs literary achievements. She says,
“Without doubt, the highest Aztec aesthetic expression came in literature and music. Each Nahua altepetl (smallest independent political group similar, but not the same as, a clan) had its own literary tradition derived from annals; philosophical, theological, and astronomical treatises; dynastic genealogies; and oral histories. Moreover, it exalted its own heritage and accomplishments to the exclusion of almost everyone else’s. In tlilli in tlapalli (the black the red) was the Nahuatl metaphor for writing, but in truth their books were filled with brightly colored pictorial images. Recorded on paper made from the bark of a native tree (the amaquabuitl, or “paper tree”), the Nahuas stored their precious books, along with maps, tribute records, and other official and personal accounts, in royal libraries.
But notwithstanding their other literary accomplishments, the Aztecs became masters of history and oratory. Among the population at large, the prevailing wisdom of their sages was presumed to to supersede that of everyone else. Rulers, priests, scholars, scribes, and artists collaborated to create an Aztec literary canon. Success in war, the installation of a new king on the throne, festivities in honor of a particular deity, and events called for by the ceremonial calendar were all occasions when books were brought before the public and the privileged information contained therein was revealed. The images in the texts were memorized and in concert with instrumental music, dancing, and burning incense, the Nahuatl song liturgy repeatedly brought to life the full pageant of Aztec culture.”
From 1440 to 1468 Moctezuma (Montezuma I) Ilhuicamina, or “Frowns Like a Lord”, helped the Aztecs expand with his conquests to the south. From 1468 to 1481 Axayactl moved eastward all the way to the Gulf of Mexico and west to the Pacific. A civil war occurred between the two cities in 1473 and Tenochitlan proved supreme, crushing Tlatilulco and their allies. The disastrous battle of Zamacuyahuac in 1478 resulted in a terrible defeat for the Aztecs but in the reigns of Emperor Tizoc and Ahuitzotol the empire was secured.
After the “discovery” or rather, re-discovery, of the Americas (as if somehow the two continents had been lost) by Europe in 1492 Spain and Portugal signed the Treaty of Tordesillas which divided the world between them. Many of the events leading up to this will be covered in the next class so I want to concern myself with the conquest of the Aztecs here. After taking Puerto Rico and Hispaniola, the island that holds Haiti and the Dominican Republic today, the Spanish went on to capture Cuba and Nicaragua.
Moctezuma Xocoyotl, meaning Moctezuma the Younger, whom we call Montezuma II, ruled from 1502 to 1520, conquering much territory for the Aztecs to the southwest and the east of what is now called Mexico City. His expeditions met with mixed success and he left many enemies of the Triple Alliance unconquered. He also created many enemies, as his ancestors had done. These cities and tribes were looking for someone to unite them against what they viewed as a religio-political monster. That someone came in the form of dreams that Montezuma had of floating temples in the Gulf of Mexico. That was the fleet of Hernando Cortez.
Cortez was supposedly under the command of Diego de Velazquez but against the commander’s orders he led an expedition of 600 men, 17 horses, and 10 cannon from Hispaniola. In August of 1519 he burned his ships to prevent desertion of his men after landing at what is now Veracruz and subjugating the Mexican Indian Kingdom of Tabasco. He also opened negotiations with Montezuma. The next month he invaded Central Mexico. The Totonac tribe allied with him against the Triple Alliance, as did the Tlaxacala. In spite of this Montezuma let the Spanish into Tenochitlan, modern day Mexico City, as friends on November 8, 1519. In December, Cortez took Montezuma prisoner.
Velazquez sent a force of 1500 men to defeat Cortez and punish him for disobedience. The conqueror of Mexico left his captured city and marched to the coast with his soldiers and Indian allies and defeated his fellow Spaniards, enlisting the vanquished into his own army. When they returned to Tenochitlan they found that the commander he had left behind, named Alvarado, had been so harsh that the Aztecs had revolted. Montezuma was murdered in the fighting that resulted. After suffering several defeats and having his force nearly annihilated in his attempt to retake the capital of the Triple Alliance, the
Aztec Empire, all looked lost for the Conquistador, or conquerer. As he built a small fleet to retake the city protected by water his fortunes turned when Montezuma’s successor and a great many of his soldiers were killed by smallpox, brought by the Spanish, who had some immunity to it. Cortez then laid siege to the city for approximately two months and the European soldiers, many now equipped only with bows, arrows, and javelins like their many thousands of Indian allies, many of which joined them after the smallpox epidemic was seen as the judgment of the gods, fought their way to the center of the city in an epic battle. It is estimated that more than 100,000 people died in this battle and the epidemic. Cortez is one of the most highly regarded generals of his era for this brilliant siege. The destruction of the Aztec empire that had lasted for 152 years was no cakewalk but a true contest in arms rivaling the greatest battles of the “old world”.
The Spanish also used their literary skills to justify their conquest of the Aztecs and other people in religious and political tones with the kind of justification that all conquerors have used to explain cruelty and destruction.
Moving west and south out into the Pacific Ocean west of the modern day country of Chile’ I want to briefly touch on a mystery before we sum up what we have discussed. Easter Island is one of the most isolated pieces of land in the world. Easter Island was once covered by tropical plant and animal life. Now, it’s a barren wasteland. 1600 years ago settlers began arriving from the western part of the Pacific as the islands of that ocean began to be populated and earlier peoples were pushed further and further out to make room for new populations or population surpluses. The massive stone heads that stand on that island and which have given it a great air of mystery were carved, it is thought, as stone representations of spiritual power by these people. The great forests were cut down starting in the 800’s and by the 1400’s as the people cleared land for gardens, to build the canoes, and to transport the stone heads carved by the various clans on the island. Each generation tried to out do the previous in the size of these heads to show their own superiority. But, like the Mayans, the Easter Islanders were headed toward ecological disaster.
Taking from a 1995 Discover Magazine article by Jared Diamond;
“After a few centuries, they began erecting stone statues on platforms, like the ones their Polynesian forebears had carved. With passing years, the statues and platforms became larger and larger, and the statues began sporting ten-ton red crowns-probably in an escalating spiral of one-upmanship, as rival clans tried to surpass each other with
shows of wealth and power. (In the same way, successive Egyptian pharaohs built ever-larger pyramids. Today Hollywood movie moguls near my home in Los Angeles are displaying their wealth and power by building ever more ostentatious mansions. Tycoon Marvin Davis topped previous moguls with plans for a 50,000-square-foot house, so now Aaron Spelling has topped Davis with a 56,000-square-foot house. All that those buildings lack to make the message explicit are ten-ton red crowns.) On Easter, as in modern America, society was held together by a complex political system to redistribute locally available resources and to integrate the economies of different areas. Eventually Easter’s growing population was cutting the forest more rapidly than the forest was regenerating. The people used the land for gardens and the wood for fuel, canoes, and houses-and, of course, for lugging statues. As forest disappeared, the islanders ran out of timber and rope to transport and erect their statues. Life became more uncomfortable-springs and streams dried up, and wood was no longer available for fires. People also found it harder to fill their stomachs, as land birds, large sea snails, and many seabirds disappeared. Because timber for building seagoing canoes vanished, fish catches declined and porpoises disappeared from the table. Crop yields also declined, since deforestation allowed the soil to be eroded by rain and wind, dried by the sun, and its nutrients to be leeched from it. Intensified chicken production and cannibalism replaced only part of all those lost foods. Preserved statuettes with sunken cheeks and visible ribs suggest that people were starving.
With the disappearance of food surpluses, Easter Island could no longer feed the chiefs, bureaucrats, and priests who had kept a complex society running. Surviving islanders described to early European visitors how local chaos replaced centralized government and a warrior class took over from the hereditary chiefs. The stone points of spears and daggers, made by the warriors during their heyday in the 1600s and 1700s, still litter the ground of Easter today. By around 1700, the population began to crash toward between one-quarter and one-tenth of its former number. People took to living in caves for protection against their enemies. Around 1770 rival clans started to topple each other’s statues, breaking the heads off.”
Now, outside of aliens or people from the lost continent of Atlantis erecting these stone heads, this is the best explanation for them I could find. I bring up Easter Island because of its heyday during the period we have covered. The history of the rest of Polynesia and Australia we will cover in coming classes.
So, we have now covered the period of the Dark and Middle Ages outside of Europe. We have briefly discussed many issues and peoples, any one of which could be the subject of an entire 30 class series. There are many things we didn’t cover and as a history class can only be a springboard to your own personal study I leave that effort up to you. Get plenty of sources, not just one textbook, and judge everything by the Bible, the only sure and absolutely truthful word you have, as it is from God Himself. From the Mongols, who the book Warriors of the Steppes by Erik Hildinger says were equaled by no people in history as being “naturally” expert in war to the Aztecs, whose brief empire
may have ruled or influenced tens of millions of people in Central America according to the book 1491 we have seen that there was a big world out there that was about to be changed forever by people from Europe. Next we will examine that swirling cauldron of nations that arose in Europe after the era that saw the Battle of Hastings in 1066 and the great schism in the Roman Catholic and Greek churches in 1054.