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HIST102: Early Globalizations - East Meets West (1200s-1600s)

Unit 11: East Asia and Its Trading World   The pre-modern world of South and East Asia was a diverse one linked together by commerce.  Most politically and culturally independent Asian states, including India, China, and Japan, were only marginally affected by the arrival of European traders in the fifteenth century.  Although the voyages of the Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama had opened up the East to Europe, the power of Asian states and commerce prevented European nations from dominating lucrative trade networks.  Still, the strength of European sea power allowed traders to influence many aspects of the Asian spice trade.

In this unit, we will begin with an examination of the Asian trading world.  We will ask what this world looked like and why Europeans were so attracted to it.  In particular, we will study how Portugal, Holland, and England extended their commercial empires to South and East Asia.  We will then turn our attention to China and Japan.  We will explore the unique characteristics of the powerful Ming state in China as well as the tumultuous era of medieval and pre-modern Japan.

Unit 11 Time Advisory
This unit will take you 11 hours to complete.
 
☐    Subunit 11.1: 6 hours

☐    Subunit 11.2: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 11.3: 3.5 hours

Unit11 Learning Outcomes
Upon completion of this unit, the student will be able to:

  • Describe the efforts of European powers to establish commercial contacts with Asian states and societies as well as the types of goods involved in the subsequent trade.
  • Identify some of the main cultural and political developments in Ming China.
  • Describe some of the key features of Japanese culture and politics as well as the efforts of rulers to meet the challenges of social change and evolving threats from abroad.

11.1 The Asian Trading World and the Arrival of the Europeans   11.1.1 The Rise of the Portuguese Trading Empire   - Reading: History World’s “History of the Portuguese Empire” Link: History World’s “History of the Portuguese Empire” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entirety of this article to get a sense of Portugal’s efforts to insert itself into Asia’s lucrative trading networks.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Fordham University Modern History Sourcebook: Paul Halsall’s version of Vasco de Gama’s “Round Africa to India, 1497-1498 CE” Link: Fordham University: Modern History Sourcebook: Paul Halsall’s version of Vasco de Gama’s “Round Africa to India, 1497-1498 CE” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read this excerpt of Vasco de Gama’s account of his voyage around the Cape of Good Hope to the port city of Calicut, in present-day India.
     
    Note on the text: In this account, the Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama describes his journey to the cosmopolitan port of Calicut. Sent by the Portuguese crown, Vasco de Gama’s discoveries opened up the east to European trading interests.
     
    Terms of Use: This resource is in the public domain.

11.1.2 The English and the Dutch in the East   - Web Media: Gresham College: Dr. Thomas Crump’s The Dutch East Indies Company—The First 100 Years” Lecture Link: Gresham College: Dr. Thomas Crump’s “The Dutch East Indies Company—The First 100 Years” (RealPlayer Video or Audio)
 
Also available in:

[mp3](http://www.gresham.ac.uk/lectures-and-events/the-dutch-east-indies-company-the-first-100-years)  
 [Transcript
(HTML)](http://www.gresham.ac.uk/lectures-and-events/the-dutch-east-indies-company-the-first-100-years)  

 Instructions: Please download the video and/or audio of the
lecture; you may also consider reading the transcript of the
lecture.    
    
 Note on the Media: You will get a sense of how the Dutch East
Indies Company operated in parts of what is today China, Japan, and
Indonesia.  Lecturer Dr. Thomas Crump is a published author of
several texts on history and science.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: Internet Archive: Shafaat Ahmed Khan’s The East India Trade in the XVIIth Century Link: Internet Archive: Shafaat Ahmed Khan’s The East India Trade in the XVIIth Century (HTML)
     
    Also available in:
    Google Books
     
    Instructions: Please read Chapter I, pages 1-92, in order to get a sense of Dutch, Portuguese, and then English efforts to cultivate trade networks with Asian merchants in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

11.2 Ming China   11.2.1 The Ming State   - Lecture: Harvard Extension School Distance Education: China: Traditions and Transformations: Lecture 18: “Social Policy and Social Practice in Ming and Qing” Link: Harvard Extension School Distance Education: China: Traditions and Transformations: Lecture 18: “Social Policy and Social Practice in Ming and Qing” (Adobe Flash)
 
Instructions: Mongol rule in China was overthrown by the founders of the Ming dynasty.  Please watch this entire lecture from a leading authority in Chinese history, which describes the values and policies prized by Ming rulers and elites, as well as some of the major developments in culture and thought from the time period.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

11.2.2 Commercial Revolution   - Reading: Asia Society: “Chinese Trade in the Indian Ocean” Link: Asia Society: “Chinese Trade in the Indian Ocean” (HTML)
 
Instructions:  Please read this article, which describes the remarkable efforts made by Ming rulers, beginning in 1403, to expand the empire’s maritime trading capacity and network.  The author provides an overview of the motivating factors as well as several of the great “voyages” that followed from these initiatives. 
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

11.2.3 Ming Culture: Kunqu Opera   - Web Media: YouTube: University of California: Professor Kenneth Pai’s “Introduction to ‘Peony Pavilion’” Link: YouTube: Professor Kenneth Pai’s “Introduction to ‘Peony Pavilion’” (YouTube)
 
Instructions: Watch this video, in which University of California Professor Kenneth Pai discusses a recent production of the Ming dramatist Tang Xianzu’s (1550-1616) “Peony Pavilion,” a premier example of Chinese Kunqu Opera. Pai’s discussion of the plot and historical context is accompanied by footage of the 2006 performance at UCLA. For an English language translation of the piece, please go to Peony Pavilion.  Proceed from here to the link for “Excerpts from famous scenes” under the heading “The Opera.”   
 
Terms of Use: This resource is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License. It is attributed to Professor Kenneth Pai and the University of California, Berkeley, and the original version can be found here.

11.2.4 Isolation and Decline   - Reading: University of Oregon: China: The Ming and Qing Dynasties: “From Ming to Qing” Link: University of Oregon: China: The Ming and Qing Dynasties: “From Ming to Qing” (HTML)
 
Instructions:  Please read this text, which provides an overview of the internal and external factors that played a role in the final crises and collapse of the Ming state.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

11.3 Japan   11.3.1 Medieval and “Warring States” Era   - Reading: Japan 101’s “Sengoku Period: Japan 1467 AD to 1615 AD” Link: Japan 101’s “Sengoku Period: Japan 1467 AD to 1615 AD” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read this short article to get a sense of the Sengoku or “warring states” era in Japan.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Web Media: Columbia University: Asian Topics: “Medieval Japan: A Time of War: Parallels with Feudal Europe” Link: Columbia University: Asian Topics: “Medieval Japan: A Time of War: Parallels with Feudal Europe” (Adobe Flash)
     
    Instructions:  Please watch these excellent video lectures, in which leading authorities on Japanese history discuss various aspects of political, social and cultural life during the medieval era.  Proceed from the first   video presentation to the links marked “Feudalism in Japan,” “Kinship Aspect of the Lord-Vassal Relationship,” “The War Tales of the Samurai,” “The Mongol Invasions,” and “Country at War: The Sengoku Age, 1467-1568.”  As you will find throughout the course of lecturers used here and in the following sections of this unit, the speakers often seek to relate developments in Japan to those occurring elsewhere.  How, for example, do some of the scholars compare Japanese and European “feudalism”? 
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

11.3.2 Buddhism in Japan   - Web Media: Columbia University: Asian Topics: “Medieval Japan: Seeking Solace in Religion: The Spread of Buddhism” Link: Columbia University: Asian Topics: “Medieval Japan: Seeking Solace in Religion: The Spread of Buddhism” (Adobe Flash)
 
Instructions:  Please watch these short presentations which describe the manner in which Buddhism spread and was practiced in Japan during the medieval era.  As you will find, the lecturers describe some of the ideas and concepts from this imported tradition of thought and spirituality that appeared to most strongly attract Japanese artists and writers.  Proceed from the opening video presentation to “Seeking Solace in Religion: The Spread of Buddhism,” “Emergence of Popular Buddhist Sects,”  “Account of My Hut” “Kenko’s Essays in Idleness” “The Desirability of Impermanence,” and “The Beauty of Simplicity.”
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

11.3.2.1 Zen Buddhism   - Web Media: Columbia University: Asian Topics: “Medieval Japan: Zen Buddhism” Link: Columbia University: Asian Topics: “Medieval Japan: Zen Buddhism” (Adobe Flash)
 
Instructions:  Please watch these short video presentations on the development and practice of Zen Buddhism in Japan.  Proceed from the introductory video to “Chanoyu: The Tea Ceremony” and “The Tea Room.”
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

11.3.3 Tokugawa Japan   - Lecture: Columbia University: "Asian Topics: Tokugawa Japan" Link: Columbia University: “Asian Topics: Tokugawa Japan” (Adobe Flash)
 
Instructions:  Please watch all of the short lectures given by Professor Carol Gluck and other eminent historians found on this site.  Give particular attention to the evolving political and social challenges faced by Tokugawa leaders, their comparison with those confronted by other Asian societies, and the actions taken to resolve them.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Assessment: Pearson Education’s World Civilizations: AP Edition: “Chapter 22, Multiple Choice Quiz” Link: Pearson Education’s World Civilizations: AP Edition: “Chapter 22, Multiple Choice(HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please take the assigned multiple choice quiz on this webpage in order to assess your understanding of the Asian trading world as well as Ming China and pre-modern Japan.  Please click on the “Submit Answers for Grading” button to link to the answer key for the quiz.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

Subunit 11.3 Assessment   - Assessment: The Saylor Foundation's "Reading Questions for Subunit 11.3" Link: The Saylor Foundation's "Reading Questions for Subunit 11.3" (PDF)
 
Instructions: Once you have worked through all of the assigned resources in the subunit above, please open the linked PDF and respond to all questions.  When you are done--or if you are stuck--please check your work against The Saylor Foundation's "Guide to Responding to Reading Questions for Subunit 11.3" (PDF).

  • Activity: The Saylor Foundation’s “Unit 11 Essay: Japanese Relations” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “Unit 11 Essay: Japanese Relations” (HTML)

    Instructions: This is an ungraded activity. If you choose to complete the activity, you may record your answer anywhere you like. You do have the option to use the link above to save your answers on Saylor.org, though you will need to create a free account in order to do so --  this will only take a minute, and you may do so here.

    • In this assignment, you will consider Japanese relations with the outside world during the Medieval and Early Modern eras. Specifically, you will focus on Japanese interactions with China and, secondly, its response to the entrance of the European maritime powers into East Asia. In doing so, please describe the nature of Japanese relations with these different “others.” How would you characterize the relations that were established with each and what kind of influence did they have on Japanese life?

      Tips for getting started: As you will find, the Japanese response to these two parts of the outside provides a number of interesting scenarios. First of all, what was the nature of the relationship between Japan and China? How would you characterize the cultural interaction between these two societies? Do you find any similarities here to the Japanese response to its early encounters with the West? Explain.