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Essay about Ap World History Dbq Empires

From the 1200’s BCE to 1300 AD, empires grew into existence and fell to destruction. They changed the systems of politics and warfare, shifting through different styles of warfare and uses for the armies they built. Most empires had some sort of military force used to conquer, expand and protect their lands from “barbarians” or certain nomadic people groups. Some empires though, such as the Mongols, Chinese, and those that were apart of the Islamic Empire had specific and vast changes to their military’s role and origin over time. In 1206 AD, the Mongols set out to conquer pasturelands and settled people to meet their needs of iron and grain.

They began as a few groups of people with the same desire. Over the next 100 years, these people expanded and spread to all four corners of Asia, reaching as far as Afghanistan and the Pacific Ocean (Pollard, pg. 369). As described in Elizabeth Pollard’s Companion Reader casebook, the Mongols saw themselves as one of the best military systems in the known world. Because the empire had originated from nomadic people groups, everyone was needed to participate in the social structure. Everyone in the military was a peasant, bound to provide their services to their communities.

If men were at war, women would take up the men’s jobs to keep the empire running. Leaders in the military were peasants chosen for the job, keeping power from being isolated in one man. There were many levels of leadership in the military, but there was always an equality among the men (pg. 286). The men were all equally bound to the same rules and when faced with war, no one was allowed to run away from the troops. Disciplinary actions were done in front of the men so as to teach a lesson that no one would be treated as a favorite (Companion Reader pg. 287).

This type of military was very unique to the Mongol army. Because everyone in the Mongol army came from a peasant background, there was a unity among the men that gave them the ability to become a strong military, crushing almost everyone in their path. At the beginning of the Mongols existence, the military side of the empire was the sole source of provision. They needed to conquer other people to provide the grain and iron needed to feed their live stocks and create weapons and tools. One of the unique traits the army had was the crossbow horse riders.

As shown in the picture in the Companion Reader, the Mongols used the crossbow, which was a weapon that gave them much advantage over other armies as they could attack from a farther distance than the usual, curved bow (pg. 284). The military power that the Mongols had was less focused on expansion and more so on protecting the resources they got from conquered neighbors. As the empire reached to the far ends of Asia, it established many trading routes that required guards to protect the merchants that traveled on the roads. As the empire expanded, the government was stretched thin, eventually being turned over to governing surrogates.

This goes to show how the Mongol Empire was more concerned about military advantage and conquering other people groups than it was about establishing a stable government. The Islamic empire had similar traits to the Mongol Empire, but they had a passion that pushed their military expansion. Unlike the Mongols, the Islamic empire originated out of a religion. Muhammad was born in Mecca around 570 AD. He had a small group of followers in his radically different religion and with them, he created the now known religion of Islam (Pollard pg. 304).

The vibrant passion of the believers of Islam is what helped to spread it so far and so fast. Within a hundred years, Islam had spread as far as North Africa, sweeping down the east coast of Africa, into southern Europe, and finally into present day India and central Asia (Pollard pg. 306-307) The Islamic empire contained so many vastly different peoples that the leading rulers, the Abbasids, started to conscript local Arab men into their armies to help keep control. As time went by though, the empire continued to grow and eventually, the Abbasid turned to nomadic groups to be hired out as mercenaries (Pollard pg. 09).

This was a shift in how empires created armies. Different from the Mongols that relied entirely on their own strength for all military purposes, the Islamic empire chose to focus on spreading their religion and knowledge and leave the fighting to their hired soldiers. One of the people groups that the empire hired was the Turks. Their inclusion into the empire led to a shift in politics. As the Turks gained status in the military, they began to hold positions in office and influence the Islamic culture.

The Turks were what spread Islam into India and when they conquered those lands, they set up a Muslim regime, called the Delhi Sultanate. The Delhi Sultanate was known for its many skirmishes with the Mongol armies. As time passed, the skirmishes leaned in the Sultanate’s favor, leaving thousands of Mongols dead and their armies defeated and pushed out of the Delhi land (Companion Reader pg. 293). One thing that the Islamic government, specifically the Delhi Sulatun, did to assist the training and preparation of their armies was to lower the cost of daily provisions such as grain.

In doing so, the government was able to save a lot of money and still provide the necessities it needed It also helped raise support from the civilians because they saw a positive outcome from the military aspect the government had and thus they passionately supported the warfare and campaigns. The The Han dynasty came into power because the previous Qin dynasty had already integrated much of China and laid a foundation for a government to be formed on. The Qin dynasty had been a very military focused regime and had used those forces to invade and conquer neighbor lands that were filled with mineral resources and fertile soils (Pollard pg. 35).

Unfortunately, the Qin dynasty’s love for war was their ultimate downfall. The fighting brought the economy down due to taxation and finally conscripted workers rebelled and defeated the Qin emperor (Pollard pg. 237). Under the new Han emperor, Emperor Wu, armies grew quickly. Emperor Wu became known for his military expansion. Different from the Islamic empire and even the Mongols, the Han dynasty had to use their military to crush more internal rebellions, due to the unrest set in motion by local princes (Pollard pg. 239).

Once these rebellions were dispersed, expansion took place and China started to take over nomadic groups. As the empire expanded, more goods and merchandise were brought into the country via the Silk Roads. The army, which was mostly made up of enlisted men from China, soon became a group of public workers. They built a new wall in the North with gates that opened from time to time with more traded goods. The more time passed, the more the army ame less of an army. The empire continued to expand, but it soon became too strained to support the government’s wishes.

Many centuries later, the Song dynasty came to exist in China. By that time, the army had become weak and almost useless. The government no longer gave training for the farmers and so when recruiting officers went out to find men to join the army, they only measured height and tested their strength (Companion Reader pg. 289). In a memorial written by Fan Zhen, he says, “I venture to predict that the only defenders of our cities north of the Yellow River would be found to be composed of women and girls” (Companion Reader pg. 290).

The decline of the army goes to show how the Chinese, though starting out with empires that depended on military forces, ended up not being able to sustain the men in their army. China’s military slowly degraded, unlike the Islamic empire’s army that grew because of their passion for their religion. Throughout the many empires that have stretched across the earth’s lands, many relied on military force to expand and conquer other lands. Between the Islamic Empire, the Han dynasty and the Mongol Empire, they all had an army but how they used it and how the army’s role changed over time varied for each government.

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