AP World History: Period 4
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Centered in the Andes Mountains in western South America, the lnca civilization was built on previous cultures in their region. Their empire extended along the western coast, a result of both conquest and diplomacy. Its peak of influence was in the fifteenth century; it declined rapidly when Spanish conquistadors arrived in the early sixteenth century.
Seeking an increase in the trade of spices, silk, and other goods from East and Southeast Asia, kings from new European nations sent ships around Africa into the Indian Ocean and also across the Atlantic Ocean. Led by Portugal, then Spain, France, England, and Holland, these explorers initiated the first truly global contacts and ushered in the rise of European influence around the world.
Columbus’s expeditions to the Americas triggered exchanges of plants, animals, technology, and diseases on a worldwide level. This term is a key definition in the global scope of AP World History.
The Atlantic World encompasses the people, politics, religions, goods, and ideas that crossed back and forth over the Atlantic after Columbus’s journeys connected Europe, Africa, and North and South America. This term is especially important in the years c. 1450 - c. 1900.
Europe’s new worldwide power because of the Columbian Exchange included mercantilism as an example of economic nationalism. Under mercantilist policies, nations developed colonies in the Americas and Asia and used them to provide raw materials such as sugar, furs, silver, and lumber. These products were then processed and sold by companies from the owner (mercantilist) nation all over the world. Each mercantilist nation competed with the others to amass and keep as many colonies as it could as a sign of economic and political power.
Atlantic Slave Trade
European mercantilists needed many laborers to work on the large sugar plantations of the Caribbean. These laborers were found mainly in West Africa, and millions were seized and shipped across the Atlantic in the so-called middle passage. As a result, great demographic changes occurred in both Africa and the New World.
The encomienda system was a Spanish practice that was used in Spain’s American colonies and in the Philippines. Spanish settlers were granted tracts of land and were permitted to use the native people already living on that land as indentured servants.
The Mughal Empire was a Muslim empire in South Asia that lasted from the mid-sixteenth to the mid-nineteenth centuries. One of its famous leaders was Akbar. Religious tolerance was one of its features. The Taj Mahal was built during the Mughal reign. Mughal leaders claimed to be descended from the Mongols, which is where the name “Mughal” comes from.
Syncretism in Religions
A “world-class” religion must be flexible enough to adapt to local customs as it spreads. Many examples of a world-class religion exist: when Buddhism spread into Southeast Asia, the Buddha became a god-like provider of eternal salvation; as Islam spread into parts of South Asia, it adopted some Hindu features and turned toward mysticism with Sufism; some forms of Christianity in the New World adopted traditional gods and made them part of the pantheon of saints.
Developed in China c. 500 CE, printing technology moved along trade routes, arriving in Germany by the fifteenth century, where it spread rapidly into many other areas of Europe. The short structure of Western alphabets was a great benefit in printing. In contrast, the Chinese written language contained thousands of word characters, making printing more challenging.
A Muslim empire that expanded from Southwest Asia into parts of North Africa and Eastern Europe, the Ottoman Empire began in the thirteenth century and lasted until the early twentieth century. Ottoman Turks ruled this large empire. The Ottoman Empire was an important political, social, and economic conduit for Western Europe, Africa, and East Asia for many centuries.
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