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Russia and East Asia. Impact of Mongolians growth of empires Russian Romanovs Ming and Qing Dynasties. What are some of the general comparisons between China, Japan, and Russia between 1500-1800 and what are their challenges?.

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Russia and East Asia

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Russia and east asia l.jpg

Russia and East Asia

Impact of Mongolians growth of empires

Russian Romanovs

Ming and Qing Dynasties


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What are some of the general comparisons between China, Japan, and Russia between 1500-1800 and what are their challenges?

  • Each has its own geographical and historical background that brings it to this timeframe yet each has to respond to the rising influence of the west and the oncoming industrial revolution in order to maintain its empire

  • China and Russia were both large land empires with diverse populations that relied on large armies to fight enemies and centralized autocratic governments, while Japan was smaller, decentralized, and had a homogenous population.


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The growth of the early Qing Empire was fueled by the desire to create an economic and demographic recovery in China. What did the Qing government do to stimulate that recovery?

  • Qing emperors repaired roads and waterworks, lowered taxes, rents, and interest rates, and resettled people into areas depopulated by earlier peasant revolts.

  • The Qing eliminated potential external military threats, making further recovery possible.

  • This new territorial control encouraged the reopening of overland trade routes, which created an influx of resources and knowledge, reinforcing Qing recovery.

  • The long-term effectiveness of this recovery was due to the Qing’s ability to incorporate and adapt the ideas and technologies of far-flung areas.

    • Examples of Qing adaptation include the Mongol system of political organization, the Tibetan practice of religious legitimation for rulers, Korean and Chinese agricultural policies, and European mapping and technology.


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How did the Russian Empire emerge to be one of the major powers of Europe by 1750?

  • consolidation of Russian power by the princes of Muscovy and their assault on the Mongol Khanate of the Golden Horde.

  • Once the Mongols were defeated by Alexis and Ivan III (first czar of Russia) the Russians led by Ivan IV expanded south and east and eventually expanded into Asia, specifically Siberia for fur trading.

  • Although the Russians thought of this empire as a “third Rome,” most of the Russian population was poor, backward, and landlocked.

  • Further expansion to the Amur River put the Russian Empire at odds with the Ming and Qing Empires.

  • This frontier border was settled between these parties with the Treaty of Nerchinsk in 1689.


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Who was Peter the Great? What were his contributions to Russian political, cultural, and social development?

  • Peter the Great (1672-1725) (r.1682 - 1725) also Peter I

    • greatest of the Romanov tsars, is famous for his many policies for Russian development issuing thousands of ukase (Russian imperial decree)

  • He worked for Russian modernization and expansion

    • acquisition of warm water ports on the Black Sea and Baltic Sea as well as in the northern Pacific

      • Building St. Petersburg as the Russian window to the west and warm water port using peasants and Swedes captured in the Great Northern War

    • His plans for westernization included

      • modeling his government on the Prussian government

      • strengthening the position of the tsar as an absolutist monarch

      • and building a modern army

        • He replaces the streltsy (family army) with a standing army

        • He builds a naval service and a fleet of ships

      • He even mandated western clothing styles and the shaving of beards by placing a tax on beards of the boyars (Russian nobles)

        • The use of tobacco was made compulsory

        • Seclusion or semi-seclusion of women was abolished as well as the practice of veiling

  • His absolutist rule was solidified as he brought the Orthodox Church under government control through the Holy Synod, requiring that all church appointments be made by the Czar

    • He resets the calendar to the western Anno Domini but uses the Julian calendar instead of the Gregorian

  • Economically he set systems in place which led to state control of the purchase of raw materials and establishment of factories.

    • These factories were mostly organized around the purchase of metals and production of armaments

    • He also increased the obligations of serfs for whom his rule was not a benefit as well as increased taxes and state obligations of the peasant and small class of merchants or gosti


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How did the Russian Empire combine different cultural elements such as the Cossacks, in their empire?

  • First Peter the Great and later Catherine the Great significantly expanded the empire’s border, mostly seeking warm water ports.

  • The Russian Empire incorporated many different people with different languages, religions, and ethnic identities making for a complex mixture that sometimes caused tensions.

  • This process of “russification” was forced as most groups were required to convert to Russian Orthodox church, schools taught only in Russian language and later these groups were forced to speak only Russian.

    • A comparison is often made between Cossacks included in this group and American Plains Indians

  • The Cossacks were a diverse group.

  • They were a combination of Turks, Poles, Hungarians, and Mongols.

  • Although the Muscovite and Romanov rulers tried to crush them, Russia desired to exploit the Cossacks’ military skills.

  • They were enrolled in special military regiments and allowed to live in autonomous villages in return.

  • The Cossacks performed valuable services for Russia by defending against the Swedish and Ottoman invasions, as well as leading campaigns for exploration, conquest, and settlement.

  • They were Russian-speaking but had the skills of Asian horsemen.

  • The Cossacks were an example of how Russia combined “Turkish” and “Russian” elements.


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How Japan face the challenges of internal and external pressures during this period of reunification?

  • Japan’s internal problems of civil war that ended with political unification under the Tokugawa Shogunate and the resulting economic growth of Japan.

  • Externally, Japan launched assaults on Korea as well as China. Japan, like much of the rest of Asia, was faced with European missionaries and traders in this era.

  • This presented Japan with new opportunities as well as problems.

  • Japan welcomed European trade and European technology such as firearms

    • however, Japan became hostile to the “foreign” ideas of Christianity which led to the “closing” of Japan to nearly all foreigners

    • the exception being a small group of Dutch traders.


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How does the European relationship with China go from first European astonishment and admiration to criticism and frustration with China?

  • The qualities of Chinese manufacturing and economic dominance as well as the misunderstanding and doggedness of European trade demands.

  • The Ming transformed the global economy with their techniques for the production of porcelain.

    • In addition to silk, lacquered furniture, jewelry, and tea, China’s markets were of enormous economic interest to Europeans.

    • They remarked with “astonishment” on the accomplishments and grandeur of Chinese society.

  • The Portuguese, Dutch, and eventually the British sought access to these products and these markets.

    • The Chinese were reluctant to give them free access to their economy and society but permitted access to Canton.

  • Other Europeans, namely the Jesuits, wanted to produce converts to Catholicism.

    • They were successful to a degree, particularly among the elite of the Ming. Their influence extended beyond religion, however.

    • Jesuits brought European ideas and technology to Asia—for instance, mapmaking and metallurgy (for cannon).

  • On the other hand, Matteo Ricci is an example of a European who was affected by Chinese thought, particularly Confucian philosophy.

  • After the British East India Company lost the American colonies and the demand for tea increased, it sought ways to have China buy British goods to balance the trade deficit and drain of English silver.

    • George Macartney’s mission to China is an example of British attempts to open a more advantageous trade with China.

  • Chinese disinterest in European goods led to a change in European attitudes towards the Chinese as stubborn, traditional, and frustrating.


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How did the Tokugawa Shogunate fall into decline and crisis?

  • The decline of the Tokugawa Shogunate was largely economic and social in its origins.

  • As population increased and economic growth continued, resources were being outstripped.

  • Japanese emperors had no political power and that they remained in virtual exile at the medieval capital, Kyoto.

    • The shoguns wielded most of the power and lived at Edo, the new capital.

    • The Tokugawa system of regional lords, who resided part of the time at Edo, required well-maintained roads, which in turn helped develop new trade and manufacturing centers.

    • The regional lords had self-contained personal domains, which included bureaucracies and military and education systems.

  • Because both the lords and their followers were paid in rice, an economy using rice as a medium of exchange blossomed.

    • Merchants and financiers converted rice into currency, lent money to samurai, and wielded increasing power as a result.

    • Tokugawa shoguns tried to limit the power of the merchant class, but the decentralized system of rule by regional lords thwarted such efforts.

    • However, the decentralized system did stimulate economic growth through agricultural mechanization, light industry, finance, and transport.

    • The Tokugawa Shogunate indirectly encouraged these advances but could not exploit them for its own purposes.

  • The government was traditional while the society had become innovative.


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