1. We have added a Gift Upgrades feature that allows you to gift an account upgrade to another member, just in time for the holiday season. You can see the gift option when going to the Account Upgrades screen, or on any user profile screen.
    Dismiss Notice

Jump from Medieval to "Early Modern"

Discussion in 'Humankind by Amplitude' started by Stringer1313, Dec 15, 2020.

  1. Gwydden

    Gwydden Warlord

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2016
    Messages:
    103
    We should definitely not take periodization too seriously, though it's fun to discuss. If I had to divide all of world history, I'd first look for a common theme, and the one that jumps out at me is increasing globalization. This isn't an original argument, but if we think of world history in terms of growing interconnectedness, distinct eras emerge at least on the broadest scale:
    • The largely isolated "Cradles of Civilization" in Antiquity e.g. the Fertile Crescent, the Indus River Valley, the North Andes.
    • The relatively discreet historical theaters of the classical period e.g. the Mediterranean, the Sinosphere.
    • The mostly separate "worlds" of the Middle Ages; Afro-Eurasia and the Americas being the big ones.
    • The globalized world of the modern era.
    In this conception, the global Middle Ages would begin around the time the Silk Road and, more importantly, the Indian Ocean trade routes began in the early centuries AD.
     
    Krajzen and Atlas627 like this.
  2. Boris Gudenuf

    Boris Gudenuf Deity

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2012
    Messages:
    3,417
    Location:
    north of Steilacoom, WA
    Absolutely agree, the Need to explore new routes was there after 1453 CE. But a sea route alternative would not have even been considered if there weren't already ships in Europe capable of doing the exploration and returning safely (well, relatively safely) - and those were already in development and use long before the Need came up when Constantinople went down. The Scandinavians in Drakar or Knorrs sailed across the Atlantic around 1000 CE to Canada, and may have explored clear down the American coast to the Yucatan (I say 'may' because this is based so far on a single fresco in a Mayan site that appears to show 'white men' and a clinker-built hull on a ship, but Mayan artistic conventions make any interpretation uncertain). The Carrack hull and multiple masts appears in Genoa in the early 14th century over 100 years before the Fall of Constantinople. Chinese and Indian/Southeast Asian sailors had a large and lucrative sea trade built up since at least the Song Dynasty (10th - 13th centuries) between China, India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, the Philippines and across the open Indian Ocean to the east coast of Africa/Arabia. The problem for Europe, of course, was that all of this didn't get past Arabia/Egypt without going through a severe 'mark-up' by Islamic Middlemen before reaching Mediterranean entrepots.

    So, again, any "Renaissance" was based on already-existing or in development technologies and techniques in Europe, the product of scientific and technical progress during the Medieval Era.

    PS. There's a new book just published on Medieval Science: The Light Ages, which I just ordered earlier today, so I may be back in a couple of weeks with more examples of "Medieval Tech Tree" Developments!
     
  3. 8housesofelixir

    8housesofelixir Emperor

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2020
    Messages:
    1,358
    Location:
    無何有鄉,廣莫之野
    China's trade relationship to Indian Ocean was actually established as early as in Northern and Southern Dynasties (420-589 CE). A great many of "Hu" (胡, roughly means anything related to Inner Asia) merchants and monks arrived at Canton/Guangzhou since 5th century from the Indian Ocean naval routes. Around Tang dynasty (618-907 CE), there was already an Arabtown or Little Persia established next to the walled city of Canton, housing more than 10k Arabian, Persian, and Jewish merchants - basically a predecessor of Hong Kong, just replace the British with Arabs or Persians. When Tang dynasty tried to suppress a rebellion let by these merchants in 773, the Abbasid Caliphate even sent a fleet of warships to protect their oversea merchants and fought a naval battle with local Chinese officials.

    Besides China, there was also a Japanese prince (Imperial Prince Takaoka, 高丘親王) who tried to reach India via naval route in 865, but died somewhere in SAE around 881 on his return. His story also indicates a developed naval route between China-SAE-India before 9th century. (Tatsuhiko Shibusawa wrote a novel about this prince's voyage in 1986, which is his very last work; he died of cancer shortly after finished the novel.)

    Therefore, yeah, Indian Ocean was already fairly "international" long before the Age of Discovery.
     
    mitsho and Boris Gudenuf like this.
  4. Atlas627

    Atlas627 Deity

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2011
    Messages:
    2,853
    Fair, we can go back and keep saying "X could not have happened until Y, which needed Z first". However, those were multiple technologies developed at different times. If we have to pick an event, or a date, then 1453 seems to be the natural cutoff. The event that we would use to claim 1492 was the cutoff *directly* results from 1453, so we could claim 1453 as the cutoff (as people have done, historically). As far as I know, there is no single event or date that was a direct cause of 1453 (though if we had to pick one, then the Great Bombard would have to be it...but that doesn't feel quite momentous enough).

    I still agree that the Renaissance is not the sole cutoff of the Early Modern Era, and that those advances had been a long time coming. But if we must pick a date, 1453 should still be picked because it is a clear and direct cause of the era-defining trend: Exploration.
     
  5. Siptah

    Siptah Eternal Chieftain

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2016
    Messages:
    5,172
    Location:
    Lucerne
    I think it’s important to be clear and stay differentiated in nomenclature and context. When reading this discussion, it seems to me that a lot of conceptions about „renaissance“ and „middle ages“ are used in the wrong context. The Renaissance era in art history (that originated mostly in Italy in towards the end of the 14th Century with people like Alberti on previous bases like Giotto) is not the same as the Renaissance of science (Bologna, Bacon, Cremona, Translations in Iberia), or the renaissance of literature (where the divine comedy is usually called the last work of the Middle Ages and Petrarca‘s work is filed under Renaissance). And in terms of historiography, a book that I read recently that calls itself a post-Eurocentric history of the renaissance does away with finding a start date post 800 anyway as it is seen as a gradual process from 800-1600. I liked this line of thought and found the arguments convincing, so that the Renaissance is very much an integral part of the Middle Ages already and not a cutoff in any way, besides Art history era classification. But even without this input: Putting the renaissance at the end of the then so-called medieval era is an invention of the 19th century and can be dismissed as an out of date concept. It‘s a bit sad that it holds up in schools so much.

    After 1204, during the fragile Latin kingdoms, and the continuously shrinking Roman Empire got reduced to a shadow, much more European trade flew through Alexandria than Constantinople already btw - although the Caffa trade route had still to go through Constantinople.

    @Gwydden increasing globalization is an interesting thing to look at. But it comes very much in waves in is not linear: the Bronze Age eastern Mediterranean was very „globalized“ with trade for example, then it took centuries to reach the level again after the collapse. Similarly, the romans traded a lot with Southern India, especially after learning to use the monsoon winds to reach India from Berenice in just 40 days and again, it took several centuries to reach that level again after the collapse - although Arabic traders never lost that connection to India, the „global“ aspect grew much smaller. (And as a pedantic side note: it is not clear how independent Meluhha, the ancient Indus civilization was - ancient Beluchistan had strong trade ties to Mesopotamia already when it’s urban sprawl emerged).
     
  6. Gwydden

    Gwydden Warlord

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2016
    Messages:
    103
    Of course. Any attempt at periodization is going to bump into generalizations and oversimplifications, because ultimately we are just dividing the continuous process of human history into discrete, arbitrary chunks. In historiography, periodization is merely a convenient tool, but in games like Civilization or Humankind it has genuine gameplay effects and therefore we are forced to take it more seriously. That said, if I was somehow cursed to write a survey of all of world history, I'd need a thread to tie whole the entire disparate mess together, and I think "globalization" would work alright, because even though it hasn't been an entirely linear process the overall trend has been towards more of it.
     
    CivLuvah, Atlas627 and Siptah like this.
  7. Boris Gudenuf

    Boris Gudenuf Deity

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2012
    Messages:
    3,417
    Location:
    north of Steilacoom, WA
    In fact, there is strong archeological evidence of trade between the Indus Valley Civ and both the BMAC area (Central Asia) and the early Mesopotamian states, so it is now pretty safe to say that 'Globalization' (at least locally!) was already starting up in the chalcolithic and early Bronze Ages. A recent book was titled something like 1177: the Year Civilization Collapsed - and was talking about 1177 BCE, when the Bronze Age 'empires' of Greece and the Middle East collapsed along with most of the long distance trade and commerce. That collapse had already started well before that date, and was not as completely related to the invasions of the 'Sea Peoples' as the author implies, but his basic facts are correct: the very international, wide-trading, connected Bronze Age World from the eastern Mediterranean to the Indus imploded into smaller isolated groups very similarly to what happened after the (Western) Roman Empire collapsed, and it took several centuries to return to the same level of international connection and trade.

    And as previous Posts pointed out, while the Atlantic Ocean was a Barrier because nobody knew if there was anything on the other side to bother with, the Indian Ocean was a Highway from the Bronze Age on because people had a very good idea that there was profit to be made by reaching the 'other side'.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 3, 2021
    conorbebe, Meluhhan, mitsho and 3 others like this.

Share This Page