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Revision All about Empires Part 1. Go back to for Lesson 1. An Empire is ….

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Revision all about empires part 1

RevisionAll about EmpiresPart 1

Go back to for Lesson 1

An empire is
An Empire is ….

  • .. political control exercised by one organized political unit over another unit separate from and alien to it. It is a nation-state that rules over perceived subordinates, not equals.

  • In other words, it becomes an Empire when one group rule over others and see the others as less important or valuable than themselves.

How are empires formed
How are Empires formed?

  • Either by one army going into another country and forcing it to submit – this way you know when you are in charge, and you can make sure they pay ‘tribute’, take slaves but it costs a lot and many soldiers have to stay there to make it work.

  • By persuasion, you convince your neighbours that it is their best interests to go along with you, or else…. (a bit the way Germany did to Austria in WW2). It is much less costly and you still have soldiers free to conquer elsewhere but you get less ‘tribute’ from them and you do not rule directly as these kind of arrangements tend to allow the members of this sort of empire to run their own show.

How are most empires the same
How are most Empires the same?

  • Established and stable economic and trading systems.

  • Stable political system.

  • Military strength – this is often a key idea.

  • Often: Access to innovative technology

    • [ e.g. the British Empire happened along side the Industrial revolution]

  • Often: Whole Empires share beliefs or ways of doing things

Why do empires form in the first place
Why do Empires form in the first place?

  • Perhaps we can suggest that the three basic types of imperialism:

    • Security – keep those pesky for’ners from our door

    • assistance - we are only here to help you guys - (‘white man’s burden’), and

    • Trade – look at all this great supply of ‘stuff’ – think how much we can made selling it back home? Think how much we can make by selling it to the rest of the Empire?

Revision all about empires part 1

This covers the bones of 2(a)But it is still worth taking another look at the PP Y8HiU3A Why Empire PPwk13

2. (a) You need to know what an Empire is and how it can arise (2 ways with the advs and disadvs of both), what many Empires have that makes them work, the 3 main reasons why they arise in the first place (usually in combination)

The next part is a bit of a different story

The next part is a bit of a different story

2(b) To know the name of one Empire pre 16th century, when it existed and 5 important ideas about that one Empire – for example why it happened, what they did that was special etc – you WILL not be asked about any particular one but it will be a general question.

You all did your own empires so do use those if you like
You all did your own Empires, so do use those if you like

  • However, we did 2 as a class lesson:

  • The Roman Empire

  • The Mongals under Kubal Khan and Genghis Khan

  • Again, the bare bones only but worth exploring Y8HiU3B The Romans wk14

  • Or

  • Y8HiU3F The Monguls wk19

  • If you choose one of these

The romans
The Romans

  • The dates: 509BC was when they had had enough of the interference from the Etruscans and the Greeks who ruled over the North and the South of Italy at the time.

  • By 500 AD the whole thing had fallen apart.

  • Why did it start? Initially purely for defensive reasons – they took over the immediate regions around Rome to stop others attacking them. By 265BC they had the whole of the Italian Peninsula. After that they went after the rest of the know world, mostly because they could.


  • From 265 BC, they amassed territory and were therefore an Empire in the meaning of the term we have used so far.

  • The way it was controlled was by a very well –organised army and the Republic ran things at home.

  • This consisted of

    • the Senate (100 members of aristocracy or patricians as the Romans called them)

    • The assembly – everyone else who was free and male – who could vote by family on major decisions

    • Annually elected (2) consuls and other officials who looked after the law courts and other tasks.

The result of becoming an empire
The result of becoming an empire

  • Ex-soldiers and patricians became very rich, bought large estates and made good use of all the 1000s of slave brought in, to squeeze out the small farmers, who then left the land and became the poor and the unemployed in Rome itself. Not a good mix.

  • Before. the small farmer had spent his youth in the army, amassing wealth but campaigns could last for years as the Empire spread out further and further. He was expected to provide his own armour – which cost small fortune if it was to be effective, the lamborghini of the time.

  • But as the small farms became absorbed into the large estate, there were fewer and fewer who could afford to join. So now the landless could join as professional soldiers and legates (leader of the legions) developed their mini Empires and led to lots of squabbles and not a few assassinations.

Republic 0 empire 1
Republic 0 Empire 1

  • As a result of complicated squabbling, Julius Caesar took over running everything although the Senate and the Assembly were still there, rubber stamping their decisions – yet more murders – but what was established by Augustus (31 BC) as the first of the long line of Roman emperors was a stable government, with a single person in charge with representatives being consulted. However this was not exactly a peaceful time…

  • There were over 140 Emperors in 500 years – most of them did not die from natural causes.

The extent of the empire
The extent of the Empire

1 AD

218 BC

100 BC

100 AD

In summary
In summary

  • What was the Empire?

  • What were the dates?

  • When was the Empire at its peak?

  • It all began to go wrong when 2 things happened?

  • How were they ruled until 31 BC – and then?

The moguls

The Moguls

2(b) To know the name of one Empire pre 16th century, when it existed and 5 important ideas about that one Empire – for example why it happened, what they did that was special etc – you WILL not be asked about any particular one but it will be a general question.

The mongols
The Mongols

  • Based in modern day Mongolia, several nomadic tribes who had not cooperated in the past, were brought together by Kubal Khan in the 1130s to fight their current overlords the Chinese. They managed to oust the Chinese, but it was not until 1205 that his grandson, Temujin, who came to be known as Genghis Khan, laid the foundations of the largest empire ever created in just 60 years


  • There was a strict code of conduct called the Yasa – if you are going to do the Mongols, do look again at some of the bizarre rules it contained!

  • But there were some really good ideas – all religions were treated with equal respect.

  • It was the duty of the military leader to make sure all their soldiers were well prepared before battle

  • In summary, the Yasa states that it is essential to love one another, not to commit adultery, not to steal, not to give false witness, not to be a traitor, and to respect old people and beggars. Whoever violates these commands could be put to death.

Recall that new ideas often come into existence in empires
Recall that new ideas often come into existence in Empires?

  • They ran the first efficient postal service .

  • They had very advanced military methods

  • Despite the bad press the Mongul Empire got in Europe they did a lot of good things:

  • They created routes that joined Europe to Asia

  • All sorts of trade flourish and while the Empire lasted (only until 1300), it was people and people were prosperous.

  • The first paper money was brought into use by them.

  • They revered clever people and skilled craftsmen, moving experts in various fields around their empire to allow shared ideas.


  • 1. What was the Empire called and where was its centre?

  • 2. What are the dates of this Empire?

  • 3. How far did it extend?

  • 4. How did it all start and why? Who was the first leader?

  • 5. I think it is acknowledged that to conquer all that land in just 60 years, there were numerous battles and a lot of people would have died, although in a number of cases, their reputation went ahead of them and people gave in without a drop of blood being dropped. How far did it extend?

  • 6. But can you explain why they were such amazing military people?

  • 7. What was impressive about the way Genghis Khan ran the Empire?

  • 8. What other systems/inventions did he introduce?

If you decide on this empire
If you decide on this Empire …

  • .. Then think carefully about the 5 ideas to put in your answer.

  • Try to include as broad a range of things as possible

  • And do go through the PowerPoint to find out a bit more detail.

The indian raj

The Indian Raj

3(a) The early stages of the British East Indian Company when they went looking for spices in Bantam – why the EIC started, what the problems with getting there, what were the issues that arose about finding things to trade.

Y8HiU4A UK explores the world wk20

All found on

Revision all about empires part 1

  • Spices preserved food and made bad food taste better!

  • Portugal has discovered a way to sail around Africa to SE Asia to get spices, rather than depend on the over land route of the old Silk road established by Genghis Khan. This meant they could name the price of these precocious goofs and so the price went up.

  • England under Elizabeth I, right at the end of her reign, decided they needed a part of the action.

  • So a group of merchants got together, became the East Indies Company and got a charter from the Queen. It took a while to commission the ships and organise the trip.

  • But it was a long trip, with a while to wait for your profits.

  • It took around 3 years from leaving London to returning with the spices, and a while longer before they were sold, either at home or on the continent. Do read up on what it was like at sea!

Revision all about empires part 1

  • But there was another problem. As there was no international money, goods were bought and sold using trade – and all we had to trade was our very expensive, very high quality broadcloth (woollen fabric) – not something you needed a lot of in very hot countries!

  • So there was a lot of trading going on to get those commodities that the spice traders wanted. There were several ways in which this was achieved, including one instance where a ship carrying cotton was hijacked, their cotton removed, but just so they did not get accused of privateering (piracy), they left an equal value of broadcloth behind ‘in exchange’!

  • Hence our eyes turned to India. There we could trade cotton, initially used to trade in spices, but it then became an important commodity back home – industrial revolution? And then trading cloth within Europe, who did not have factories, certainly in the beginning.

  • Do look at the PP Y8HiU4A UK explores the world wk20 for more ways we traded.