The Postclassical Period

Topics: Roman Empire, Byzantine Empire, Islam Pages: 6 (2238 words) Published: November 11, 2013

CCOT 2012
Changes and continuities from the classical to the post-classical cover a wide range of political, cultural, religious and economic shifts as populations grew and societies became more complex. The classical empires of Rome, Han China, Gupta India and Archaemenid Persia fell due to external and internal forces and were replaced by the larger empires of the post classical Byzantine; Tsui, Tang and Song in China and the Caliphates in Persia. Only India did not return to an over reaching centralized empire. During the post-classical Dar el-Islam united much of Eurasia with a single religious adherence to Islam. Also, the largest empire the world was ever to see, the Mongols, rose during the post classical period. These large, complex empires altered governments and economies, more by scale than bringing about any revolutionary changes. Culturally people became more urban and with that urbanization the trends toward the loss of freedom for women and the gulf between rich and poor continued to widen. Religions that started in the Axis Age, the period of turmoil during the collapse of empires, such as Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism, found new adherents as their followers traveled the increasingly global land and maritime trade networks. Islam arose at the beginning of the post-classical period and in a short 200 hundred years enveloped all of southern Eurasia and north and east coastal Africa. From the classical to the post classical new larger empires arose. In China the new post-classical empires of the Tsui, Tang and Song looked to their past classical empire, the Han, in which to recast themselves. China returned to the political and cultural practices abandoned during the Warring States Period. In China we see continuities in political, cultural, and religious practices. Imperial structure is restored and the examination process for hiring bureaucrats is expanded to include any male who can pass the local, district and imperial exams. This merit system based on education in the “classics” created an intellectually homogeneous society. It also created bureaucrats who were well educated and loyal to the government that had educated them and provided them with prestigious employment. Culturally and philosophically the examination process tied people together in knowledge of their literary and philosophical heritage. A thorough and in-depth knowledge of Confucianism was of course the heart of that knowledge, as were the lists of classics, authors and poets that men of knowledge should all know. Changes and continuities in political institutions from the classical to the post-classical arise from larger empires and the diverse populations found within new boundaries. The Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphates ruled over a population of Persians who resented the Caliphates’ preference for appointing Muslim Arabs over Persians, whether Muslim or not. The Arab Muslim Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphates borrowed from the classical Archaemenid and later Sassanid political institutions. Under the Archaemenid money came to the imperial court through a system of satrapies. Satraps (governors) paid a set tribute to the imperial center in exchange for the security of a massive army to protect them. Satraps were appointed by the king and answered to him directly. Satraps had no military duties and could not have an army. The aristocracy was kept in check through a cult of personality which made the emperor the center of all things, grantor of all rights and all titles. Continuities in political institutions were also seen in the Byzantine Empire, which continued from the classical period under the Roman emperor Constantine through the post classical period, ending only in the fifteenth century when it was defeated by the Ottoman Turks. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire the Byzantine Empire continued for another thousand years. The Byzantine Empire used Roman law, which it codified...
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