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Classical Empires. Alexander the Great Gupta India Han China Rome. Alexander’s Father. Philip II of Macedonia became king at the age of 23. Conquered Greece: Allowed for state control in local matters, but under the umbrella of Macedonia. Killed at his daughter’s wedding.

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classical empires

Classical Empires

Alexander the Great

Gupta India

Han China


alexander s father
Alexander’s Father
  • Philip II of Macedonia became king at the age of 23.
    • Conquered Greece: Allowed for state control in local matters, but under the umbrella of Macedonia.
    • Killed at his daughter’s wedding.
    • His son Alexander established his control with the support of the army. (age:20)
  • Student of Aristotle: learned science, geography and literature.
  • 334 BCE invaded Persia to complete his father’s plan.
  • Persian king, Darius III, raised an army to defeat Alexander.
  • Alexander attacked and eventually defeated Darius III.
    • Darius III was scared and offered a truce and 1/3rd of his Empire.
    • Alexander refused, he believed he could conquer it all.

He moved into Egypt, a territory of Persia, and was welcomed as a liberator.

  • Eventually Alexander controlled and occupied the capitals of Babylon, Susa, and Persepolis.
  • Tried to kill Darius and followed him east, where he found him already dead.
  • Alexander then decided to try and conquer to the farthest edge of the Asian continent.
  • 327 BCE Alexander crossed into Indus Valley.
    • They met the large Indian Army, including 200 elephants.
    • Alexander defeated the army and proceeded to march 200 miles farther.
downfall of alexander s empire
Downfall of Alexander’s Empire
  • After the victory in the Indus Valley Alexander’s army had low morale.
  • They had been fighting for 11 years and had marched almost 11,000 miles. They wanted to go home.
  • Alexander reluctantly turned back to Babylon.
  • One year after his return he died of a fever before being able to organize and unify his Empire.
gupta india1
Gupta India
  • Soon after Alexander took control of India he left and a military leader named Chandragupta Maurya seized control.
  • Chandragupta Maurya grew up in the Magadha kingdom which was ruled by the Nanda family.
  • Chandragupta Maurya killed the king and took control which began the Mauryan Empire.

By 303 BCE the Mauryan Empire stretched for more than 2000 miles and pushed the last of the Greeks out of India and also united north India for the first time.

  • In order to maintain the large army for battle the government had to levy high taxes
    • Farmers had to pay the government the value of up to half of their crops.
  • Chandragupta Maurya created a highly bureaucratic government.
  • Divided the Empire into four provinces and appointed a royal prince.
  • Each province was also divided into local districts which had officials to collect taxes and enforce the laws.
  • Asoka was Chandragupta Maurya’s grandson, and it was under his rule that the Empire was brought to its height.
  • 269 BCE Asoka became king. He waged war to expand his empire much the same way his grandfather did.
  • After the slaughter of 100,000 soldiers Asoka felt guilt and began to study Buddhism.
buddhism and asoka
Buddhism and Asoka
  • Asoka had large stone pillars with the teachings of nonviolence and religious tolerance placed throughout the empire.
  • Asoka had an extensive road system built so that he could travel to the far corners of India.
  • Also he improved the conditions along these roads to make traveling easier and improve communication in the Empire.

After Asoka’s death the empire could not be held together.

  • It fell into a period of turmoil and regional kings began to challenge the imperial government.
  • After 500 years of turmoil a strong leader emerged, Chandra Gupta.
    • He is not related to Chandragupta Maurya.
    • He did not come to power by military conquest, but by marrying the daughter of an influential family.
gupta empire
Gupta Empire
  • Most people live in small villages.
  • Craftspeople and merchants lived in certain districts and had shops on street level and lived in the area above.
  • Most people were farmers.
  • Patriarchal families headed by the eldest male.
  • Family groups all worked together to farm.
  • Droughts were common so people had to irrigate their crops.
  • Tax on water and every month people had to work one day to maintain wells and irrigation ditches.

Southern India was different than the north. Some groups were matriarchal.

  • Property and sometimes the throne could be passed through the female line.
height of the empire
Height of the Empire
  • Chandra Gupta II was viewed as the best prince among the Guptas.
  • He defeated the Shakas and added their western coast to the empire.
  • This allowed for trade with the rest of India and the Mediterranean world.
  • He also strengthened his empire through diplomatic means of arranged marriages.
  • After Chandra Gupta II’s death another period of turmoil occurred.
rise of the han
Rise of the Han
  • During the civil war at the end of the Qin dynasty one general, Liu Bang, came to power.
  • He established the Han dynasty in 202 BCE.
  • Liu Bang first wanted to establish a centralized government by destroying rival kings and requiring local officials of the provinces, called commanderies, to report to him.
  • He gained the favor of the people by lowering taxes and softening harsh punishments.
emperor wudi
Emperor Wudi
  • Liu Bang’s great grandson was Wudi.
  • He continued on the legacy of Liu Bang by maintaining centralized power.
  • Wudi expanded the empire through war.
  • Biggest enemy was Xiongnu.
    • Had previously practice appeasement, but Wudi decided to stand his ground and defeated Xiongnu.
    • Wudi settled his troops along the northern border to keep the nomads out, this worked for a while but the nomadic groups would consistently cause problems throughout China’s history.
han expansion
Han Expansion
  • Conquered modern Manchuria and Korea.
  • Went South and settled to modern Vietnam.
  • By the end of Wudi’s reign he had almost expanded to the boundaries of modern day China.
  • Relied on complex bureaucracy.
  • Had to levy high taxes to maintain such a large government.
  • Peasants had to give the government a month’s labor and military service in addition to taxes.
    • Used this labor to expand the Great Wall that stretched across the northern border.
  • Government required examinations in order to get civil service jobs.
  • Sometimes loyal followers were rewarded with government positions.
  • Wudi wanted his officials to follow the Confucian principles.
  • Confucius taught that gentlemen should practice: “reverence, generosity, truthfulness, diligence and kindness.”
  • Wudi set up schools to encourage Confucian study.
  • Paper was invented in 105 CE
    • Books were now more readily available because it was a cheaper option than silk.
    • Helped to spread education
    • Record keeping became easier with paper records and the bureaucracy expanded.
  • Collar harness allowed horses to pull heavy loads.
  • Plow with two blades, iron tools, wheelbarrow, watermills to grind grain.
  • Population grew to 60 million during the Han Dynasty.
    • Because there were so many people to feed, farming became an honored profession.
  • Government monopoly of mining of salt, forging of iron, minting of coins and brewing of alcohol.
  • Also government began to compete with privately owned silk mills.
    • Expansion along the silk road due to the high demand in other parts of the world.
  • Increased trade allowed forincreased contact with the outside world and many groups came under Chinese control.
  • To unify the empire the government encouraged assimilation.
    • Government sent Chinese farmers to settle new areas and intermarry with the local peoples.
    • Set up schools to teach Confucian philosophy and appointed locals to government positions.
  • Historians also tried to unify Chinese culture by recording China’s history

Confucian teaching stated that women dedicated themselves to the family.

  • Women were supposed to obey their parents when they are younger and then their husband and husband’s parents after marriage.
  • Women needed to be faithful, pure and modest in order to bring their family honor.
  • Some upper class women broke out of this mold.
    • They were able to get an education
    • Some empresses were able to hold great power.
    • Daoist and later Buddhist nuns were able to receive an education and live apart from their families.
  • One of the biggest problems Han China faced was the economic imbalance due to the ability of the rich to increase their wealth at the expense of the poor.
    • All of a father’s male heirs inherit equal parts of the family’s land. As time goes on the plots get smaller and smaller
    • The farmer had trouble growing enough food to feed his family and might have to borrow money from large landowners at a high interest rate, which could lead to the lender being able to take possession of the land if the debt could not be paid.

Large landowner did not have to pay taxes, so as their land holdings increased the amount of taxable land decreased which led to the need to raise taxes again.

  • The gap between the rich and poor increased each time taxes were levied.
  • Fall of the Han
    • Because the gap between the rich and poor kept growing, the peasants began to revolt.
    • Rivals in the palace also began to compete for a place as a successor to the emperor.