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Tag Archives: Tamerlane

The Growth of Civilization in Early India

early india

Two hundred years before Columbus discovered America, a certain Marco Polo told strange, exciting stories to his friends and neighbours in Venice, a city in northern Italy. He had travelled, he said, to distant lands in Asia and had become rich. Europeans at that time had some general knowledge of eastern Asia and of its products, but Polo furnished detailed and colourful descriptions of magnificent cities, of strange customs and of powerful rulers who owned many palaces and lived in unheard of luxury. Marco Polo had visited the court of the khan, or ruler, of an empire that included most of east Asia as well as great islands in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Polo had been made a public official. He had been sent on errands to the cold wastes of present day Siberia and the green Spice Islands where it was always warm. He had seen civilizations of many kinds — some primitive, some more magnificent than those in Europe. Marco Polo’s stories were so amazing that not until long after his death did most people believe them. “How,” thought Europeans, “could Asians have travelled so far on the long road from savagery without our help?” Today we know that Marco Polo’s stories were true, atleast in all important respects. We know that while Egyptians were building their pyramids and the Sumerians their temple towers in Mesopotamia, civilization was growing in India. We know also that while the Greeks and Romans were creating “the glory that was Greece and the grandeur that was Rome,” the Chinese were developing their own civilization and way of life. You will not find the empire of Alexander or the Roman Empire on a modern map of the world, as you know, but India and China still exist. Many changes have taken place …

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Christian Knights and Mongol Horsemen A. D. 099-1404

genghis khan

THROUGHOUT THE eleventh century, the divided Arab Empire became weaker in all its parts. Meanwhile, the Christian lands to the north became stronger. Adventures from northern France snatched Sicily and Southern Italy from the Arabs. The pope called on the rulers of Europe for a united Christian attack on the Moslems. By the end of the century, European knights in chain-mail armour were streaming into Syria by land and sea, determined to recapture the holy places of their religion. This campaign was the first of many. The Crusades dragged on for two centuries, with long periods of peace coming between bouts of fighting. Christian kings and noblemen carved small states out of Moslem territory, only to lose them. In 1099, Frankish troops seized Jerusalem, the Christians’ holy city, and made it the capital of a kingdom. In 1187 Saladin reconquered the country for Islam. After the Moslems forced the last Crusaders to leave Syria in 1291, only the island of Cyprus remained under the Christian flag. So, in the end, although the Crusades did not change the balance of power between Christianity and Islam, they left behind bitter memories which were to poison Moslem-Christian relations for centuries. Not all of the results were bad, however. The Crusaders, who came to the Near East convinced of their own superiority, found that their despised enemies knew more than they did about a great many things. They took the knowledge they had gained home to Europe. The brave deeds of the warriors on both sides gave rise to thousands of poems, songs and tales which enriched the literatures of Europe and Islam. The Christian heroes included two kings — Richard the Lion Hearted of England and Louis IX of France, who was made a saint. Among the Moslem heroes, the most famous were …

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