Main World History 101: From Ancient Mesopotamia and the Viking Conquests to NATO and WikiLeaks, An...
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INDEX A note about the index: The pages referenced in this index refer to the page numbers in the print edition. Clicking on a page number will take you to the ebook location that corresponds to the beginning of that page in the print edition. For a comprehensive list of locations of any word or phrase, use your reading system’s search function. Achaemenid empire, 42–45, 58–59 Activism and passive resistance, 205–7 Adams, Abigail, 170 Akhenaten, pharaoh of Egypt, 32–33, 34 Akkad/Akkadians, 17, 19, 35, 36 Alexander the Great, 55–60, 107, 158 Alexandria, 75 American Civil War, 136, 155, 156 American War of Independence, 149, 153, 154 Anne of Cleves, 140 Antony, Mark, 73–75 Apartheid, South Africa and, 230–33 Ashoka, reign of, 64–66 Assyria/Assyrians, 28, 29, 31, 35–37, 42 Atatürk, Mustafa Kemal, 163 Atomic bomb, development of, 191. See also Nuclear weapons Augustus. See Octavian (Caesar Augustus) Austria-Hungary, World War I and, 175–76 Aztecs, 91, 129–30. See also Olmecs Babylon/Babylonians, 28, 35, 37–38, 46, 60, 77, 78–79, 94 Bastille Saint-Antoine, 148–49 Battle of Adwa, 173 Battle of Bosworth Field, 129 Battle of Chaeronea, 56 Battle of Edessa, 97 Battle of Gallipoli, 163 Battle of Hastings, 104 Battle of Isandlwana, 231 Battle of Leuctra, 56 Battle of Marathon, 51 Battle of Midway, 190 Battle of New Orleans, 154–55 Battle of Philippi, 74 Battle of Stamford Bridge, 104 Battle of the Persian Gate, 59 Battle of Waterloo, 160 Bill of Rights, 149, 156–57 Bin Laden, Osama, 236–37 Bismarck, Otto von, 161–62 Black Death (plague), 122–26 Boer Wars, 231–32 Bogdanov, Alexander, 180 Boleyn, Anne, 138, 140, 142 Bonaparte, Napoleon, 158–60 Brezhnev, Leonid, 227–28, 229 Britain American independence from, 153–54 British empire lost, 209–11 colonialism and. See Colonialism, Europe and Enoch Powell’s “rivers of blood” and, 242 feminism and, 171 imperialism in modern world and, 172–74 King Henry VIII, and, 139–42 Viking conquests and, 102–4 Buddha and Buddhism, 64; –66, 90, 100, 235, 236 Caesar, Gaius Julius, 70–73, 158 Caesar, Ptolemy (Caesarion or “Little Caesar”), 74–75 Caesar Augustus. See Octavian (Caesar Augustus) Caliphate of Córdoba, 115–16 Carthage, 68–70 Catherine of Aragon, 139–40 Cato the Elder, and the Younger, 70 Charlemagne, 105–7, 109 Chichen Itza, 91, 92 China Black Death (plague) and, 125–26 Confucius’s philosophy and, 62–63 first emperor of Qin, 61–63 Japan and, 189–90 kingdoms (Three and Sixteen), 80–81 Little Red Book of Mao, 184 Mao Tse-tung and, 183–84 modern, three ages of, 182–84 from Qing to Republic to Peoples Republic, 183–84 Six Dynasties period, 80–82 Warring States Period, 62–63 Christianity Babylon and, 78–79 Constantine, Constantinople and, 65, 127–28 Crusades and, 44–45, 106, 108–9, 111–14, 128, 194, 237 East-West schism and, 108–10 Europe, colonial project and, 131–35 future if Islam and, 239 heresy and excommunication, 110 Holy Grail and, 79 human rights and, 201 Islam, Middle East and, 93–94 Jesus Christ and, 76–79 Levant and, 194 papal nations and, 106–7 rise of Protestantism, 138–45 Rome and, 78–79, 85, 127–28 sola fide and sola scriptura, 145 Spanish Inquisition, 113–14 terrorism and, 234–37 Thirty Years’ War and, 144 “threefold cord” and, 141 Cities, first, 14–15 Cleopatra, 74–75 Cold War First, Second, and Third Worlds, 197 informal new, of sorts, 234 Middle East domination and, 222 neoconservatism and, 221 Stalin and, 185 third-party casualties and, 215 Warsaw Pact and, 197–98, 216 Colonialism, Europe and, 131–37 about: overview of, 132 Columbus and, 131, 132–33, 135, 172 explorers, conquistadors and, 132–36 modern imperialism and, 172–74 Pocahontas and, 134 Queen Isabella, King Ferdinand II and, 132, 133 slavery and, 135–36 Columbus, Christopher, 131, 132–33, 135, 172 Communism. See also Soviet Union; Stalin, Joseph China and, 183–84 empire wars and, 216–17 Korean War and, 216 Warsaw Pact and, 197–98, 216 Confucius’s philosophy, 62–63 Constantine, Constantinople and, 65, 127–28 Corinthian War, 56 Crassus, Marcus Linius, 72, 74, 96 Creation, stories of, 11 Crusades, 44–45, 106, 108–9, 111–14, 128, 194, 237 Cultural Revolution, 184 Cuneiform, 36 Cyrus the Great, 42–43, 58, 77, 79, 200–201 Darius III, 57–58, 59 Dates, note on, 10 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, 149–50 Diodorus Siculus, 13–14, 47 Ebadi, Shirin, 225 Egypt. See also Cleopatra Hittites and, 28–30 iconography of, 21–22 New Kingdom era, 31–34 origins of, 20–21 pharaohs and, 21, 29–30 polytheism of, 32, 65 pyramids/tombs of pharaohs, 22–23 Elizabethan era, Queen Elizabeth and, 141–43 Ethiopia, 12–14, 46–48, 173 Europe. See also specific countries Black Death (plague) and, 122–26 colonial project and, 131–37 feminism and, 170–71 industrialization of, 165–67 Napoleon Bonaparte and, 158–60 rise of Protestantism in, 138–45 Viking conquests of, 102–4 Feminism in age of mass media, 212–14 ancient history and, 169 early literary works on, 170 early proponents of, 170 the Enlightenment and, 169–70 first wave of, 168–71 gender and, 171 Hatshepsut, pharaoh of Egypt and, 31, 32, 169 intersectionality and, 213 Kubaba of Kish and, 18, 169 sexism over time and, 168 from theory to suffrage, 169–71 Ferdinand, Archduke Franz, 175–76, 178 Ferdinand II, King of Spain, 113, 116, 132, 133 Fossils, history and, 12–13 France, Napoleon Bonaparte and, 158–60 French Revolution and aftermath, 148–51, 226, 244 Future of history, 243–48 Gandhi, Mohandas, 206, 207 Gender, perspectives on, 171 Genocide, defining, 203–4 German Revolution, 162 Germany Gilded Age, 161–62 Nazis and World War II, 27, 162, 179, 189, 190–91, 193, 204, 205, 206 Ottoman Empire and, 176–77 Protestants in, 143–45 von Bismarck and, 161–62 Giants, 40–41 Gilgamesh, 19 Glasnost and perestroika, 228–29 Granada, treaty of, 114 Greco-Persian Wars, 51 Greece Alexander the Great and, 55–60, 107, 158 Athens period, 51–52 city-states uniting, 50–54 Gudea of Lagash, 18 Guillotine, 151 Hamoukar, 17–18 Hatshepsut, pharaoh of Egypt, 31, 32, 169 Henry VIII, King of England, 139–42 Hirohito, 189–90 Hispaniola, 133 History about: dates used in this book, 10; perspective on this book and, 9 first cities and, 14–15 fossils, genetics and, 12–13 future of, 243–48 humanity before, 11–15 Hitler, Adolf, 189, 190, 191 Hittites, 28–30, 35 Holocaust, 188, 191, 193, 199, 201, 203–4 Holy Roman Emperor (Charlemagne), 105–7, 109 Howard, Catherine, 140 Human rights Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, 149–50 genocide, mass atrocities and, 203–4. See also Holocaust jus gentium, jus civile and, 200 Persian Empire and, 44 South Africa, apartheid and, 230–33 United Nations and, 199–204 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 149, 201 Human sacrifices, Aztecs and, 129–30 Ieyasu, Tokugawa, 147 Imperialism in modern world, 172–74 India ancient Indus Valley cities, 24–27 Ashoka’s reign, 64–66 as Bharat, Bharata and, 25–26 Black Death (plague) and, 125–26 under the Guptas, 89–90 Industrialization of the West, 165–67 Inquisition, Spanish, 113–14 Inventions, key, timeline, 166–67 Iran. See Persia and Iran Isabella, Queen of Spain, 113, 116, 132, 133 Islam Caliphate of Córdoba, 115–16 Crusades and, 44–45, 106, 108–9, 111–14, 128, 194, 237 East-West schism and, 108–10 future of Christianity and, 239 human rights and, 201 Iran’s government and, 223–25 jihad and, 112 Levant and, 193, 194 Middle East and, 93–94, 127–28 mujahideen and, 217, 236 Ottoman Empire and, 163–64 Prophet Muhammad and, 93–95, 115 spread of, 127–28, 138 terrorism and, 234–37 two core values, 95 united states of Persia and, 44 Israeli independence, Zionism and, 192–94 Jackson, Andrew, 154–55 Japan China and, 189–90 Kojiki, Shintoism and, 99, 100 samurais and, 146–47 unity of, rise of the Rising Sun, 99–101 when warriors ruled, 147 World War I and, 147 World War III and, 147, 189–90 Jefferson, Thomas, 143, 149, 156–57 Jesus Christ and times of, 76–79. See also Christianity Johnson, Andrew, 155–56 Jus gentium, jus civile and, 200 Justinian I, Emperor, 128 Keynesian economics, 220–21 Khan, Genghis, 120–21 Khrushchev, Nikita, 181, 187, 226, 227, 228 King, Martin Luther, Jr., 206, 241 Korean War, 216 Kubaba, 18, 169 Kush, 46–49 Labor unions, 166 Lafayette, Marquis de, 149 Laffer, Art, 218–19 Lenin, Vladimir, 180, 227, 228 Levant, 193, 194 Louis, XVI, King of France, 150–51 Lugals, 18 Luther, Martin, 143–45 Macedon, 56, 58, 59 Madison, James, 149, 156–57 Mandela, Nelson, 232–33 Manhattan Project, 191 Manifest Destiny, 152–57 Mao Tse-tung, 183–84 Margarine, invention of, 160 Mayans, 40, 91–92 Meccan wars, 94–95 Meiji Restoration of 1868, 147 Meroitic,, 46–49 Mesopotamia. See also Babylon Akkad and Akkadians, 17, 19 marsh empires of, 35–38 periods of history, 16–17 Sumer and Sumerians, 16–19, 20, 36, 43, 169, 200 Mexico. See also Aztecs; Mayans; Olmecs Mongols, 59, 121, 124–25 Mossadegh, Mohammad, 222–23 Muhammad, Prophet, 93–95, 115 Mujahideen, 217, 236 Mussolini, Benito, 189, 190 Napoleon Bonaparte, 158–60 Napoleonic law, 159 NATO, 196–97, 216 Nazis and Nazi Germany, 27, 162, 179, 189, 190–91, 193, 204, 205, 206, 240–41 Nefertiti, Queen of Egypt, 34 Neoconservatism, 221 Neoliberalism and neoconservatism, 218–21 Nicholas I, Tsar, 163–64 Nicholas II, Tsar, 179 Nuclear weapons, 188, 190, 191, 195, 201, 216, 245 Octavian (Caesar Augustus), 71, 73, 74, 75, 84, 106 Ohalo II settlement, 14–15 Olmecs, 39–41 Olympics, 53 Ottoman Empire, 113, 127, 163–64, 175–77 Parr, Catherine, 141 Passive resistance and activism, 205–7 Pearl Harbor, invasion of, 190 Peloponnesian War, 52–53, 56 Persia and Iran Crusades and, 44–45, 106, 108–9, 111–14, 128, 194, 237 Cyrus the Great of, 42–43, 58, 77, 79, 200–201 paradox of Iranian democracy, 222–25 Sassanids and, 96–98 structure of Iran’s government, 223–25 united states of, 44–45 Zoroastrianism and, 42–43, 77–78, 96, 97 Philip II of Macedon, 55, 56–59 Plague (Black Death), 122–26 Pocahontas, real-life, 134 Pompey the Great, 72–73, 74 Popes, 106, 107, 109, 113, 139, 144 Powell, Enoch, 242 Prehistoric humanity, 11–15 Punic Wars, 69 Putin, Vladimir, 229, 238, 248 Pyramids, 20, 23, 31, 92 Race, invention of, 136–37 Racism, persistence of, 240–42 Rameses II, pharaoh of Egypt, 30, 33–34 “Rivers of blood,” 242 Robespierre, Maximilien, 148, 150–51 Rome becoming Roman Empire, 71–75 Christianity and, 78–79, 85, 127–28 class distin ctions of, 88 fall of, 80–81, 86–88 Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne and, 105–7, 109 last of the Roman emperors, 127–28 Parthian Empire and, 72, 74, 96–98 Pax Romana, 84–86 rise of Roman Republic, 67–70 Senate of, 72, 73, 75 Rubber, 39, 40 Russia ancient (5,000-year-old) human tooth from, 123 democracy and, 229, 248 imperial age and, 173 key figures in history of, 180–81 Napoleon invading, 159–60 Ottoman Empire and, 163–64 Putin and, 229, 238, 248 Russian Revolution and, 179–81 Soviet Union and, 179–81, 186, 189, 190, 196, 216–17, 226–29 Stalin and. See Stalin, Joseph Western supremacy and, 238, 239 World War I and, 176, 177 Samurais, 146–47 Sassanids, 96–98 Schism of 1054, East-West, 108–10 Scholl, Sophie, 205 Seymour, Jane, 140 Shōwa, Emperor (Hirohito), 189–90 Siculus, Diodorus, 13–14, 47 Slavery, 51, 88, 130, 131–32, 135–36, 152–53, 154, 155–56, 201, 218 Smith, Admiral John, 134 Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, 175–76, 178 South Africa and apartheid, 230–33 Soviet-Afghan War, 215–17 Soviet Union, 179–81, 186, 189, 190, 196, 216–17, 226–29 Spain Caliphate of Córdoba, 115–16 explorers, conquistadors and, 132–36 Spanish Inquisition, 113–14 treaty of Granada and, 114 Sparta/Spartans, 51, 52–54, 56 Stalin, Joseph atrocities of, 186 biographical sketch, 181 body of, Lenin and, 180 collectivism, paranoia and, 186–87 fall of Soviet Union and, 226–29 Khrushchev condemning, 181, 187, 227 terrifying power of Stalinism, 185–87 Trotsky and, 180–81 Stanton, Elizabeth Cady, 170 Sumer and Sumerians, 16–19, 20, 36, 43, 169, 200 Sun Tzu, 63 Terrorism and counterterrorism, 234–37 The Art of War (Sun Tzu), 63 Thebes, 33, 56, 58 Theodora, Empress, 128 Thirty Years’ War, 144 Transgender rights, 171 Trotsky, Leon, 179, 180–81 Tsars, 163–64, 173–74, 179. See also Stalin, Joseph Tudors, Henry VIII and, 139–42 Turkey, Ottoman Empire and, 113, 127, 163–64, 175–77 Turkey, Young Turk Revolution, 164 Turkish War of Independence, 164 Tutankhamen, pharaoh of Egypt, 29, 101 Umbilical cord ritual, 130 Unions, labor, 166 United Nations, 199–204 United States of America Bill of Rights, 149, 156–57 declaring independence, 153–54 industrialization of, 165–67 Manifest Destiny and, 152–57 slavery and, 152–53, 154, 155–56 Victoria, Queen of England, 172, 173 Vietnam War, 215, 216 Vikings, European conquests, 102–4 War, art of. See The Art of War (Sun Tzu) War of 1812, 149 War of Independence (American), 149 War on Terror, 237 Warring States Period, 62–63 Warsaw Pact, 197–98, 216 Western supremacy, twilight of, 238–42 Wilhelm I, Kaiser, 161 Wilhelm II, Kaiser, 162 Wollstonecraft, Mary, 170 World War I avoidability of, 175 Germany and, 162 Japan and, 147 mustard gas and, 177 start of, 175–76 in the trenches, 175–78 Turkey and, 164 World War II Allied Powers, 176, 193, 206 Axis Powers and, 173, 188–91, 193, 200, 203–4 betrayals in, 189 high stakes of, 188–89 Holocaust, 188, 191, 193, 199, 201, 203–4 impacting progress, 188, 191 Italy and, 173, 189 Japan and, 147, 189–90 Manhattan Project and, 191 Mussolini and, 190 NATO after, 196–97, 216 Nazis and Nazi Germany, 27, 162, 179, 189, 190–91, 193, 204, 206 resistance organizations, 206 social and political consequences, 190–91 United Nations, human rights and, 199–204 Warsaw Pact after, 197–98, 216 Zionism, Israeli independence after, 192–94 Xinhai Revolution, 183 Yoshimasa, Ashikaga, 146 Yoshimi, Ashikaga, 146 Young Turk Revolution, 164 Zimbabwe (Great Zimbabwe), mystery of, 117–19 Zionism, Israeli independence and, 192–94 Zoroastrianism, 42–43, 77–78, 96, 97 THE CALIPHATE OF CÓRDOBA How al-Andalus Saved Western Civilization “I have now reigned above fifty years in victory or peace; beloved by my subjects, dreaded by my enemies, and respected by my allies. Riches and honors, power and pleasure, have waited on my call, nor does any earthly blessing appear to have been wanting to my felicity; in this situation I have diligently numbered the days of pure and genuine happiness which have fallen to my lot; they amount to fourteen. O man! Place not thy confidence in this present world.” —Abd-ar-Rahman III (891–961), emir and caliph of Córdoba What Greece was to the classical world, al-Andalus was to the Middle Ages. From about 720 until the late fifteenth century—an immense scale of time—the southern two-thirds of the Spanish peninsula operated under the rule of a relatively tolerant, scholarly tradition of Islamic theocracy. The people of al-Andalus functionally invented astronomy and mathematics as we have come to know them, and both Jewish and Islamic theology flourished there, as did trade. FROM THE UMAYYAD CALIPHATE TO THE FITNA It’s easy to forget that the Prophet Muhammad had been dead for less than a century when the Umayyad Caliphate, one of the two empires that emerged in the wake of his death, conquered Spain in 711. The Umayyad Caliphate brought with it respect for literacy, a history of experiencing religious persecution, and cultural influence from a region that had been at times Persian or Carthaginian, but never as entirely Roman as the nations of central Europe. Al-Andalus would ultimately fragment into thirty-three different kingdoms during the period of fitna (Arabic: “affliction”), after the fall of the caliphate in 1031. But these kingdoms would themselves prove surprisingly durable. Al-Andalus did not return to Christian control until the late fifteenth century, at which point Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand II—dedicated opponents of Islam—took it upon themselves to purge seven centuries of history from the Iberian Peninsula. And despite the shockingly violent tactics they used, they never quite succeeded. The legacy of Muslim Spain remains an inviolable part of the peninsula’s history. ISLAM AND THE NEW MIDDLE EAST The Holy Prophet’s Decree “All those who listen to me shall pass on my words to others, and those to others again; and may the last ones understand my words better than those who listen to me directly.” —From the final sermon of the Prophet Muhammad (570–632) If it were possible to survey the religious identities of most of the people of the world in the seventh century, regional pagan and folk religions would be in first place by a county mile. Over the next fourteen centuries, Christianity and Islam expanded to the point where, today, adherents of those two faiths make up more than half the world’s population. This shift in ideology wasn’t accidental. It reflected the way that empires practicing Christianity in Western Europe, and Islam in the Middle East, carved up and colonized the world. Over subsequent centuries, these empires—and, by implication, their faiths—would become sworn enemies, an ironic fate for two religions founded by Jesus and Muhammad, figures who dedicated their lives to giving prophetic witness against the oppressions and violent hypocrisies of their time. THE MECCAN WARS There’s a cautionary tale embedded in the stories of the big three Western monotheisms: be careful who you oppress. The Babylonians oppressed the Jewish people, and the Babylonians fell to the Persians. The same Roman Empire that crucified Jesus ultimately converted officially to the Christian faith. And the Quraysh tribe in Mecca and its allies needlessly harassed a small, harmless religious movement, only to witness that movement raise an army and conquer the entire Arabian Peninsula. The conquests of the Prophet Muhammad (ca. 570–632) illustrate how a movement for self-defense can transform into an empire. There is no indication that he had any military aspirations; he just didn’t want to follow the Meccan folk religion, which he and his followers regarded as idolatrous. At the age of forty, Muhammad reported that he had begun to hear the voice of the angel Gabriel, messenger of God, and he solemnly wrote down what he had been told, in the tradition of the Jewish prophets, in a series of texts we now call the Qur’an (“recitation”). Central to that message is the unity of God, a message Sunni Muslims would later recite in the shahada (profession of faith): la ilaha illa’llah (“there is no god but God”). And like the Jewish prophets before him, Muhammad was drawn by this message to walk a new road and preach a new, radically monotheistic faith that could not be reconciled with the traditions of the religious communities around him. After being violently driven out of Mecca, the early Muslims secured a peace treaty—only to see that treaty dismissed two years later, after the Quraysh had incorrectly assumed that the Muslim movement had died down. Early Muslims soon discovered what many other small militant movements learn: once you’ve raised a good-sized army for self-defense, you’ll end up having to keep it (because other regional powers will feel threatened by its size). By the time he passed away in 632, Muhammad left behind a generation of experienced soldiers who would rule the Rashidun and Umayyad Caliphates, empires that would—by 750—dominate the entire Middle East and Southern Mediterranean, from Afghanistan in the east to Spain and Morocco in the west. And for the fourteen centuries since, Islam has remained the dominant faith in the region. Tawhid and Shirk Two core values that were important even to early Islamic philosophy, due to the prominent role they play in the Qur’an, are tawhid (unity) and shirk (partnering). Both refer specifically to a person’s attitude toward Allah, or God: tawhid recognizes the uniqueness of Allah, while shirk dilutes his power by suggesting that Allah has collaborators, or even superiors. Idolatry and polytheism are obviously a form of shirk, but human arrogance—particularly our tendency to display our own religiosity in a self-promotional way—can also qualify as shirk. PASSIVE RESISTANCE AND THE ACTIVIST TRADITION Scholl, Gandhi, King “We need, in every community, a group of angelic troublemakers. Our power is in our ability to make things unworkable. The only weapon we have is our bodies. And we need to tuck them in places so wheels don’t turn.” —Bayard Rustin (1912–1987), American civil rights activist and organizer The American political scientist Gene Sharp (1928–) has identified no fewer than 198 effective methods of nonviolent activism, ranging from skywriting to boycotts to general strikes to rude gestures. He didn’t come up with this list on his own; rather, he studied the masters of twentieth-century activism and took notes. As we look ahead to an uncertain future and brainstorm opportunities to influence it, we could do worse. Among the many activists who have inspired nonviolent passive resistance over the course of the twentieth century, three stand out. They were: • Sophie Scholl (1921–1943), who organized anti-Nazi protestors at the University of Munich in an informal group called the White Rose Society. When she was caught distributing pamphlets condemning Nazi violence, she was summarily executed for treason. • Mohandas Gandhi (1869–1948), Indian attorney, philosopher, and leader of the world’s largest independence movement. Although he lived to see his country successfully achieve its independence from Great Britain, he was assassinated by an anti-Muslim Hindu nationalist who objected to Gandhi’s willingness to build Hindu-Muslim alliances. • Martin Luther King Jr. (1929–1968), an African-American civil rights organizer and second-generation Baptist minister who organized boycotts, marches, and other disruptive actions to break down the system of racial discrimination and segregation in the South. His work led directly, among other things, to the passage of the US Civil Rights Act of 1964. He was assassinated by white nationalist James Earl Ray, though many suspect (and a 1999 civil jury ruled) that Ray did not act alone. Of course, justified violent resistance has certainly played an important role in the history of the twentieth century as well. During World War II, for example, without the French and Italian Resistance, Allied prospects in Nazi-occupied countries would have been far less promising. And one of the reasons for the success of nonviolent revolutionaries such as King and Gandhi—and one of the temporary guarantors of their safety—was the possibility that their more militant contemporaries might take over, and arm, their respective movements. This is a challenge nonviolent protestors have always faced: to prove, by the effectiveness of their work, that they are not merely more respectable and less dangerous alternatives to violent protest, but rather that they represent a fundamentally better way to enact democratic reform. The degree to which they can accurately make this claim remains a subject of intense debate, and even the most committed practitioners of nonviolent resistance, such as Gandhi and King, have admitted that there are circumstances under which more violent methods are permissible. Satyagraha Gandhi called his philosophy of nonviolent passive resistance satyagraha, which loosely translates to “stubborn truth.” The idea wasn’t that it would be abstract or convenient for its targets; far from it. The idea is that it’s possible to wear out an oppressive power structure by literally out-stubborning it. THE EMPIRE OF ALEXANDER THE GREAT The World Is Not Enough Sufficit huic tumulus, cui non suffecerit orbis. (“A tomb now suffices him for whom the world was not enough.”) —An epitaph, allegedly used for the (now lost) tomb of Alexander the Great (356–323 B.C.E.) Ancient Greece long operated as a cluster of city-states like Sumer, but Philip II (382–336 B.C.E.) of Macedon not only put the region under imperial control, he made it impossible for loose confederations of city-states to ever operate safely in the region again. That seems like enough legacy for one bloodline, but compared to his son, Alexander the Great, whose empire stretched out across three continents, Phillip was an underachiever. Over the course of this book we’re going to talk a lot about globalism: the tendency countries have to make decisions based on international connections, rather than focusing on purely local or regional issues. Alexander basically invented globalism, and he did it by dominating, killing, and otherwise conquering more people than any human being ever had up to that point. The connections he indirectly created between the countries he invaded are still with us, in very different forms, to this day. SPARTA, THEBES, AND MACEDON The Peloponnesian War left Sparta as the dominant Greek city-state at the end of 404 B.C.E., but the thing about loose confederations of city-states is that it’s hard for one power to stay in control for long. The leaders of Sparta soon learned what the leaders of Athens had discovered: that it’s much harder to keep power than it is to acquire it. In 395 B.C.E., after less than a decade of power, Sparta faced a Persian-backed revolt from the cities of Thebes, Athens, Corinth, and Argos. The conflict, remembered by historians as the Corinthian War, would last for decades. Finally, at the Battle of Leuctra in 371 B.C.E., the Thebans crushed the Spartan army and laid to rest the idea of Spartan military supremacy. Although it remained autonomous for centuries to come, Sparta would never again dominate the region. Thebes fared a little better, but only a little, and this is where the Macedonians move to the center of the story. By the late 330s B.C.E., Philip II of Macedon had already gathered an impressive number of Greek city-states under his control. Macedon decisively defeated the Theban army at the Battle of Chaeronea in 338 B.C.E., and by that point Greece was, by virtue of Philip’s conquests, under Macedonian control. While it was still technically a confederation of city-states, most of Greece functioned, by virtue of Philip’s military hierarchy, as a single empire. He chose to direct the full force of that empire against Greece’s historic enemies, the Persians, who had themselves attempted to conquer Greece less than two centuries before. But in 336 B.C.E., just as Philip attempted to gather public sentiment, funds, and supplies together to support an invasion against Persia, something unexpected happened: his own bodyguard murdered him. His office fell to his twenty-year-old son, Alexander III, a young man who had been taught that he was born to rule an empire. Specifically, Persia’s empire. Hellenization Alexander’s objective wasn’t just to rule over a massive empire in his lifetime; it was to permanently make the world more Greek by spreading Greek language, religion, and cultural values. Since the people of Greece call their country Hellas, historians call this process Hellenization. FATE AND CONQUEST Philip’s dream lived on in his son Alexander, which could have been merely cute but turned out to be something far more consequential and significantly bloodier. Alexander, who had been tutored by the Greek philosopher Aristotle (384–322 B.C.E.), had been taught that fate was primary to his life—that “everything that happens happens out of necessity,” as Aristotle put it. For Alexander this idea of fate seems to have raised a possibility similar to the idea of the Mandate of Heaven (which is discussed later) and Manifest Destiny (also discussed later): that if you can rule the world, it means you’re probably supposed to. Having inherited a massive army, a popular mandate, an impressive role model, a well-rounded civilian and military education, reasonable natural military aptitude, and an unfinished plan to invade Persia, Alexander came into power with his to-do list already in place. The Road Runner to Alexander’s Wile E. Coyote was the Persian king Darius III (ca. 380–330 B.C.E.), whose belief in destiny must have been shaken by that point. Darius III inherited his empire in his early forties and was only a few years younger than Alexander’s father, Philip; whereas Alexander himself inherited his empire in his early twenties. What’s worse, while Alexander grew up watching his beloved father and their beloved Macedon become more powerful by the day, Darius had just lived through decades of messy and soul-crushing palace intrigue and inherited a hobbled Achaemenid Empire that seemed to be falling apart even before Alexander invaded. The legacy of Cyrus the Great and the original Darius was a distant memory, and the unhappy leaders of Persia’s provinces must have viewed it with a certain amount of skepticism. Darius III must have also been concerned about his job security; his predecessor, Artaxerxes IV, was definitely poisoned, and there are historical sources suggesting that his predecessor’s predecessor, Artaxerxes III, may have been poisoned as well. Darius wasn’t an optimist, and he didn’t frighten easily; he was not initially concerned about the threat Alexander posed. Besides, it looked at first as if Alexander might have plenty to deal with at home. After Philip’s death, Thebes—which had preceded Macedon as the dominant Greek city-state—joined with other city-states to stage a revolt. Alexander responded by defeating and then destroying Thebes, and nobody challenged his authority after that. For most rulers uniting Greece so tightly under the leadership of one city-state would have been enough for one lifetime. Not so with Alexander, who quickly moved into Persian territory and began his conquest. One factor that made his victories especially achievable was that, by this point, many of Persia’s provinces were going broke and were ready for new leadership. By the time he reached Egypt, for example, the local government didn’t even put up a fight—they surrendered as soon as Alexander arrived, and they welcomed their new pharaoh as the physical incarnation of Osiris. By the end of 331 B.C.E., little remained of the Achaemenid Empire—but Alexander wasn’t done. After the Battle of the Persian Gate in 330 B.C.E., he decisively defeated Darius’s army, marched into Persepolis, and destroyed the Achaemenid Empire forever. In only six years, he had fully achieved Philip’s ambition. This isn’t to say that Alexander necessarily hated the Persians; he just loved them in an intermittently murderous way. All three of his wives were Persian, for example, and his attitude toward Darius seemingly approached hero-worship. When Darius was later assassinated by his own cousin, Alexander’s army captured the killer and tortured him to death. Historians credibly record that Darius’s own mother and his lover-attendant became Alexander’s companions after the Persian king’s death, which could be attributed to their respect for the friendly rivalry between the two rulers or to Stockholm syndrome—take your pick. In any case, Alexander just wasn’t the same after the Achaemenid Empire fell. He spent seven years expanding the borders of Macedonia beyond the Persian boundaries, but as his conquests in India became increasingly difficult, the morale of his men began to understandably decrease. When Alexander’s exhausted army reached the Ganges, with a massive and well-equipped army waiting to potentially slaughter them on the other side, Alexander’s men pled with him to let them go back home. He complied, and then he wept. Folk history tells us that Alexander cried because he had no more worlds to conquer. But that was never entirely true, as the Mongolians would later prove by conquering over four times as much territory on the same continents. Maybe he cried because he felt there were no more worlds to conquer for him. If Alexander’s army had kept marching past the point of exhaustion and attrition, they would have eventually been defeated, if not slaughtered outright, and this period of history would have become a cautionary tale about Alexander the Doomed instead of a legend about Alexander the Great. The outcome for Alexander would have been, in any case, the same; while dreaming of new military campaigns, he died under mysterious circumstances in Babylon. Roxana of Bactria All three of Alexander’s wives—Roxana, Stateira, and Parysatis—were born in Persia. Of the three, Roxana is by far the most famous, and she is the only one who produced an heir. Roxana’s story as recorded by historians is the stuff of Greek tragedy: she’s said to have assassinated both Stateira and Parysatis after Alexander’s death, so as to secure her son’s claim to kingship, but was herself assassinated (along with her son, Alexander IV) shortly before he was to inherit the throne at fourteen. EUROPE IN THE AGE OF NAPOLEON The Devil’s Favorite “I have made all the calculations; fate will do the rest.” —Napoleon Bonaparte (1769–1821) We all define greatness in different ways. Historians of earlier generations often had an idea of military greatness, of men (invariably men) who distinguished themselves by conquest. And that story of greatness was often ultimately the story of three men: Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, and Napoleon, who was called “the devil’s favourite” by the terrorized British military. Historical thinking has evolved, and we now have come to believe (as claimed by Yoda, from the Star Wars series) that “wars [do] not make one great.” As a result, we’re left with a harder question: once you take away the conquests, is there anything left of these men that we should think of as remarkable? In the case of Napoleon, there just might be. He stands apart from the vast majority of the world’s conquerors in that he actually seems to have had some coherent idea of what he wanted to do with the world once he took it over. If you’re living in the industrialized West, you’re likely to encounter bits of Napoleon’s legacy in your everyday life. FRANCE’S CAESAR Napoleon rose to imperial power in much the same way Julius Caesar did: by achieving astonishing success as a military leader, and then using his subsequent popularity to disrupt a tired and unpopular civilian political system. By 1804, General Napoleon had become Emperor Napoleon—though his most successful days as a military leader were ahead of him. Over the next eight years he conquered nearly all of continental Western Europe in the name of France, building an empire that—although not among the largest in history—controlled a disproportionate amount of the world’s trade and economic resources. One of the lasting elements of Napoleon’s legacy was the legal code that bore his name. This most ambitious systematic attempt to create a universal Western legal code since ancient Rome has had a profound structural influence on countless legal codes throughout the world, ranging from the Middle East to Poland to the US state of Louisiana. The Napoleonic division of law into the four categories of persons, property, acquisition of property, and civil procedure still stands to this day, even in many unrelated legal codes. But it was all downhill for Napoleon after 1812, when he invaded Russia. His troops advanced toward Moscow, and the Russians fell back before them, burning crops and leveling houses. Although the emperor captured Russia’s capital city, he didn’t know what to do with it. The largely wooden city caught fire and burned, depriving the French soldiers of food and shelter. The Russian armies were still intact. After five weeks, Napoleon’s Grand Army began its retreat. Caught by the Russian winter, which found them woefully unprepared, the soldiers stumbled along on frostbitten feet. Many collapsed and never arose. The army melted away, and Napoleon reached France with only a fraction of it still battle ready. Forced from the government, he was sent into exile on the island of Elba. He escaped in 1814 and made his way back to France, where he raised an army. But he met his waterloo in June 1815 at, well, the Battle of Waterloo. Although he had already survived multiple defeats and multiple successful challenges to his imperial authority, he was captured and exiled to the remote island of St. Helena, more than a thousand miles from the nearest shore. There he lived out the remainder of his life before dying in 1821. The Story of Margarine You might have heard that Napoleon was responsible for the invention of margarine. That’s sort of true; it was actually his less renowned nephew, Napoleon III (1808–1873), who gave chemist Hippolyte Mége-Mouriés (1817–1880) 12,000 francs, or a little over $150,000 in today’s currency, for discovering the inexpensive butter substitute. CONTENTS Cover Dedication Introduction Humanity Before History Human Civilization in Sumer and Akkad The First Half of Egypt’s Story Megacities of the Ancient Indus Valley The Hittites and What They Left Behind The Pharaohs of Egypt’s New Kingdom The Marsh Empires of Mesopotamia The Ancient World of the Olmecs Cyrus the Great and the Achaemenid Dream The Secrets of Kush How the Greek City-States United The Empire of Alexander the Great The First Emperor of Qin The Reign of the Emperor Ashoka The Rise of the Roman Republic Rome Becomes an Empire Jesus Christ and His Times China’s Six Dynasties Period The Pax Romana and Beyond India Under the Guptas The Golden Age of the Mayans Islam and the New Middle East The Glory of the Sassanids The Unity of Japan The Viking Conquests of Europe The Holy Roman Emperor The Great Schism of 1054 The Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition The Caliphate of Córdoba The Mystery of Great Zimbabwe Genghis Khan and the Triumph of the Mongols The Grisly Harvest of the Black Death The Holy Sleep of Byzantium The Golden Age of the Aztecs Europe and the Colonial Project The Rise of Protestant Europe The Age of the Samurai The French Revolution and Its Aftermath Manifest Destiny and the Americas Europe in the Age of Napoleon From Bismarck to the Weimar Republic The Story of the Ottoman Empire The Industrialization of the West Feminism’s First Wave Imperialism and the Modern World In the Trenches Triumph of the Bolsheviks The Three Ages of Modern China The Terrifying Power of Stalinism World War II and the End of Progress Zionism and Israeli Independence NATO and the Warsaw Pact The United Nations and Human Rights Passive Resistance and the Activist Tradition Twilight of Empires Women’s Liberation in the Age of Mass Media Korea, Vietnam, and Afghanistan The Neoliberal Order The Paradox of Iranian Democracy The Decline and Fall of the Soviet Union South Africa and the Legacy of Apartheid Sectarian Conflict in the Post–Cold War World The Twilight of Western Supremacy The Future of History Photographs Acknowledgments About the Author Index Copyright Guide Cover Contents Start of content THE MYSTERY OF GREAT ZIMBABWE A City of Gold and Stone “I always tell people that if they want to know about the history of a country, do not go to the history books. Go to the fiction.” —Chenjerai Hove (1956–2015), poet When the British-controlled nation in southern Africa then known as Rhodesia won its independence in 1980, leaders looked to the city’s most famous artifact for its new name: Zimbabwe. Great Zimbabwe (Shona: “houses of stone”) was a massive set of ruins well known to local nations but mysterious to Europe. First visiting the site in 1871, Western archaeologists initially believed that it had to have been built by foreigners—had to have been—but they eventually conceded in 1929, after extensive research and dozens of failed hypotheses, that it was in fact a product of the local communities. Reclaiming that legacy, and rescuing it from the misconceptions of imperial Europe, was an important symbolic step for the leaders of the young nation. During its prime, from about 1100 until about 1450, Great Zimbabwe was a major city with eighteen thousand inhabitants. Its two main industries were gold and gold trading, and its more than four thousand gold mines produced an estimated 1.2 million pounds of gold—about 40 percent of the world’s entire mined gold supply for several centuries. Its ruins are as impressive as those of any abandoned city. Outside of that, we know shockingly little about it. Given the sheer amount of gold it produced, and the demand that gold would have produced on the global market, this silence seems strange. TIME’S ERASER Over the course of this book you may have already gotten the sense that where a city is located largely determines how much we know about it. If it operated autonomously and with minimal interaction with global colonial powers, as the Olmecs did, then there was little need to record written histories of the region because oral historians were already there. When a civilization that has survived for centuries on oral tradition abruptly writes down its traditions, as the Israelites did during their period of Babylonian captivity, it’s usually an ominous sign—an indication that the community fears cultural genocide and doesn’t know if its stories will ever be told again. Written literature provides a time capsule for those stories. But Great Zimbabwe, abandoned long before colonial empires scrambled for African territory, didn’t need that kind of time capsule; its stories likely live on among the Shona peoples, although there are numerous other local candidates who could have preserved them as well. There’s the problem, when you get right down to it: Zimbabwe is so diverse that we can’t really know exactly who to identify as the heirs to Great Zimbabwe. They’re probably the Shona, but we can’t be sure. One reason is that Zimbabwe has sixteen official languages. And it’s possible that the true heirs of Great Zimbabwe actually migrated to a neighboring territory that we might now call South Africa or Zambia. Communities of the fifteenth century would have had no way, and in any case no incentive, to respect political boundaries of the twenty-first. We can take further steps to determine exactly who the original inhabitants of Great Zimbabwe were and how they lived—remains that can be DNA-tested, writings from neighboring countries that have yet to be discovered and/or translated, oral traditions that have not yet been recorded—but it’s possible that, even when we’ve exhausted all of the evidence left behind by this civilization, we won’t be any closer to learning the untold stories of this once-powerful city. THE CRUSADES AND THE SPANISH INQUISITION The Violent Radicalism of Medieval Christianity “Kill them all, for the Lord knoweth them that are his.” —Credibly attributed to Arnaud Amalric (d. 1225), papal legate to Pope Innocent III, after he was asked by soldiers how to treat civilians in Beziers, a religiously diverse city that included both orthodox and heretical Christians. In a subsequent letter, Amalric himself boasted that 20,000 men, women, and children (“irrespective of rank, sex, or age”) were slaughtered on his orders, and the city was burned to the ground. In contemporary times we’ve gotten used to the concept of the “problem religion”—a religion whose adherents don’t get along with the contemporary world and are driven to respond to it in violent ways. Every major religion has filled this role in some place, at some time, but there is something especially ironic about the fact that institutions representing a religion founded in the name of Jesus Christ, who opposed both the accumulation of wealth and all forms of violence, were led for centuries by grotesquely wealthy powerbrokers whose ambitions revolved around large-scale violence. CRUSADES OF BLOOD There is a tendency in Western history to portray Christianity as good and Islam as evil, and every historian has to reckon with that tendency. There is no question that both religions have had their share of violent fanatics. There is also no question that, in the Middle Ages, Christianity was by far the more violent and less tolerant of the two. But is it really fair to blame Christianity, or credit Islam, for a pattern of history that predates both religions? The Romans were, after all, hostile toward local faiths that posed a challenge to supremacy of the imperial civic religion, and the Christian empires were—quite consciously and explicitly—inheritors of the Roman tradition. Meanwhile, the Islamic nations of the Middle Ages inherited the culture of the Persian empires—most of which were noted for their religious tolerance, their opposition to slavery, their relatively progressive views on gender, and so on. Taking these histories into account, the Crusades seem almost inevitable. Crusade and Jihad Two words that are treated as synonyms in global politics, and decidedly aren’t, are crusade and jihad. The term crusade was coined in the late Middle Ages to refer colloquially to the cross (French: croisée) worn by crusaders—a reference to their fashion, not their ideology. Jihad, which is simply the Arabic word for “struggle,” is often used to refer to war (even a defensive war fought for secular reasons), but it can also be used in a general sense to refer to almost anything else that involves effort. Pope Urban II (1042–1099) called for the First Crusade in 1095, asking Western Christians to reunite with their Eastern brothers and sisters to repel Turkish Muslim invaders. If this had actually happened, the history of the region would have been very different—but the Christian army, once assembled, soon turned its attention to the more interesting proposition of conquering Jerusalem. By the time the Fourth Crusade rolled around in 1202, Western Christians themselves invaded Constantinople for money—conquering it, looting it, and generally treating it much worse than actual Muslim invaders probably would have. When what was left of Byzantium fell to the Ottoman Empire in 1453, Western institutional Christianity couldn’t be bothered to interfere; it was too busy with, well, the Spanish Inquisition. AN INQUISITION OF TERROR With apologies to the comedy group Monty Python, a lot of people expected the Spanish Inquisition. When Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand II issued the Alhambra Decree in 1492 requiring Jewish and Muslim residents of one of the most religiously diverse nations on Earth to convert to Christianity or leave, it stood to reason that people who converted might not feel a sincere personal conversion experience. Muslim and Jewish converts, called Marranos, were especially subject to scrutiny. Tomás de Torquemada (1420–1498), appointed the Roman Catholic Church’s Grand Inquisitor for Spain in 1483, was happy to give them that scrutiny. Over the next several centuries the Inquisition would harass, surveil, publicly humiliate, and sometimes execute those whom its leaders believed did not practice the Christian faith, or did not practice it correctly. A typical record entry from August 1635 notes the detention of one Joan Compte, age fifty-five, who was interrogated until he revealed that he had once witnessed a man eating bacon and onions on the day before the feast of St. Bartholomew, a day that the church had set aside for fasting. At that point he was free to go. This was the Inquisition’s approach from the beginning: detain random individuals, make them believe that their own lives were in danger, and then release them only if they betray their neighbors. This served both a religious and secular purpose: it made Spain a hostile place for religious minorities, which pleased the Roman Catholic Church, and it made Spanish citizens feel as if they were constantly being watched and could trust no one, which pleased the monarchy. While the primary targets of the Inquisition’s behavior were initially Jews and Muslims, it quickly became clear that anyone who criticized the political or religious authority in the days of the Inquisition was taking his life in his hands. The Treaty of Granada In late November 1491 the Spanish government persuaded the independent Islamic state of Granada to sign a peace treaty that granted the Catholic monarchs control over Spain. In exchange Spain agreed to allow Muslims in the region to practice their religion freely. They violated the treaty just four months later, banning Jews and Muslims from Spain with the Alhambra Decree. CONTENTS INTRODUCTION HUMANITY BEFORE HISTORY HUMAN CIVILIZATION IN SUMER AND AKKAD THE FIRST HALF OF EGYPT’S STORY MEGACITIES OF THE ANCIENT INDUS VALLEY THE HITTITES AND WHAT THEY LEFT BEHIND THE PHARAOHS OF EGYPT’S NEW KINGDOM THE MARSH EMPIRES OF MESOPOTAMIA THE ANCIENT WORLD OF THE OLMECS CYRUS THE GREAT AND THE ACHAEMENID DREAM THE SECRETS OF KUSH HOW THE GREEK CITY-STATES UNITED THE EMPIRE OF ALEXANDER THE GREAT THE FIRST EMPEROR OF QIN THE REIGN OF THE EMPEROR ASHOKA THE RISE OF THE ROMAN REPUBLIC ROME BECOMES AN EMPIRE JESUS CHRIST AND HIS TIMES CHINA’S SIX DYNASTIES PERIOD THE PAX ROMANA AND BEYOND INDIA UNDER THE GUPTAS THE GOLDEN AGE OF THE MAYANS ISLAM AND THE NEW MIDDLE EAST THE GLORY OF THE SASSANIDS THE UNITY OF JAPAN THE VIKING CONQUESTS OF EUROPE THE HOLY ROMAN EMPEROR THE GREAT SCHISM OF 1054 THE CRUSADES AND THE SPANISH INQUISITION THE CALIPHATE OF CÓRDOBA THE MYSTERY OF GREAT ZIMBABWE GENGHIS KHAN AND THE TRIUMPH OF THE MONGOLS THE GRISLY HARVEST OF THE BLACK DEATH THE HOLY SLEEP OF BYZANTIUM THE GOLDEN AGE OF THE AZTECS EUROPE AND THE COLONIAL PROJECT THE RISE OF PROTESTANT EUROPE THE AGE OF THE SAMURAI THE FRENCH REVOLUTION AND ITS AFTERMATH MANIFEST DESTINY AND THE AMERICAS EUROPE IN THE AGE OF NAPOLEON FROM BISMARCK TO THE WEIMAR REPUBLIC THE STORY OF THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE THE INDUSTRIALIZATION OF THE WEST FEMINISM’S FIRST WAVE IMPERIALISM AND THE MODERN WORLD IN THE TRENCHES TRIUMPH OF THE BOLSHEVIKS THE THREE AGES OF MODERN CHINA THE TERRIFYING POWER OF STALINISM WORLD WAR II AND THE END OF PROGRESS ZIONISM AND ISRAELI INDEPENDENCE NATO AND THE WARSAW PACT THE UNITED NATIONS AND HUMAN RIGHTS PASSIVE RESISTANCE AND THE ACTIVIST TRADITION TWILIGHT OF EMPIRES WOMEN’S LIBERATION IN THE AGE OF MASS MEDIA KOREA, VIETNAM, AND AFGHANISTAN THE NEOLIBERAL ORDER THE PARADOX OF IRANIAN DEMOCRACY THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE SOVIET UNION SOUTH AFRICA AND THE LEGACY OF APARTHEID SECTARIAN CONFLICT IN THE POST–COLD WAR WORLD THE TWILIGHT OF WESTERN SUPREMACY THE FUTURE OF HISTORY PHOTOGRAPHS ABOUT THE AUTHOR INDEX HOW THE GREEK CITY-STATES UNITED Hellas and High Water “I declare That later on, Even in an age unlike our own, Someone will remember who we are.” —Sappho of Lesbos (610–570 B.C.E.), poet It’s hard to overstate the importance of ancient Greece to the history of the world and the West in particular, but that hasn’t stopped some people from trying. To hear some thinkers of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries say it, the people of Greece had it all figured out two millennia ago. That’s not even remotely true, but what ancient Greece did accomplish in terms of science, architecture, literature, art, and philosophy is certainly enough to explain why so many people have come away with the impression. To understand ancient Greece (or Hellas, as the ancient Greeks themselves called it), think back to what was said about Sumer in an earlier chapter—namely that it was a cohesive empire in the sense that it was a practical assembly of city-states. In the same way, ancient Greece, during its golden age, wasn’t so much an empire as it was a loose cluster of city-states, each achieving supremacy for a while. THE ATHENS PERIOD Athens is probably what you think of when you envision ancient Greece. The Parthenon, Socrates and Plato, most of the well-known works of Greek poetry and plays—all are the legacy of the city-state of Athens. Occupied off and on for the better part of five thousand years, Athens was a world of its own. But when educated Europeans rediscovered Greek political philosophy in the eighteenth century (as we’ll discuss later) they began to see classical Athens as a peaceful utopia. In reality, however, it was neither peaceful nor particularly utopian. It was, in fact, the military prowess of Athens that played a decisive role in preventing Greece from becoming just another part of the Persian Empire. Sparta was important to this process too—no question—but it was Athens that first defeated Persia at the Battle of Marathon in 490 B.C.E., and the Athenians continued to play a central military role for the remainder of the Greco-Persian Wars (499–449 B.C.E.). Classical Athens wasn’t as militaristic as Sparta, but it was still fundamentally a military culture. Athens did innovate new ways of governing that have taken hold over the past few centuries, but it wasn’t fundamentally a utopia. Yes, the Athenians were technically the world’s first democracy (and for nearly two centuries), but only wealthy male citizens over eighteen (about 15 percent of the population) were eligible to vote. And like most Greek city-states, they practiced slavery on a large scale—something that distinguished the Greeks from their Persian invaders, who had taken formal steps to abolish it. That said, it’s by and large a very good thing for those of us living today that the eighteenth-century political philosophers who rediscovered the traditions of Athens thought it was a more enlightened society than it was. Because these political philosophers thought they were restoring an old system of values rather than creating a new one, they didn’t have to ask themselves whether democracy and human rights were possible. The shining example they saw in Athens—inaccurate as their assessment of it was—had given them their answer. Praxis Aristotle taught that human behavior falls into one of three categories: theoria (thinking), poiesis (creating), and praxis (doing). The word praxis has carried over to today’s English to mean an intentional mode of action, distinguishable both from what we merely intend to do and from our subconscious habits. It’s the root of such words as practice and practical. HOW SPARTA UNITED THE PELOPONNESE Anyone who has taken a high school world history course probably remembers hearing about the Peloponnesian War (431–404 B.C.E.), but there are some things about the Peloponnesian League, the winning coalition led by Sparta, that usually don’t get as much attention as they should. To begin with, you might be wondering why people make such a big deal out of the whole Peloponnesian thing. Why not just call it the ancient Greek civil war or the Spartan war or something catchier like that? The Peloponnese is just a peninsula in southwestern Greece, and sure, that’s where Sparta was, and sure, it was at the center of the conflict, and sure, it was called the Peloponnesian League because it united the city-states of that peninsula. But there’s another very good reason why the Spartans placed so much emphasis on reminding people of the war’s Peloponnesian character: tradition. Think about where the culture of ancient Greece was in the fifth century B.C.E. Athens was the undisputed metropolis and intellectual capital of the region, it was wealthy with trade, and it was the site of the greatest political innovation. Sparta, in contrast, was a pretty ordinary monarchy, mandatory military service being its primary distinguishing feature. If you were running Sparta and you were trying to gather allies against Athens, you wouldn’t be able to rely on a humanitarian argument or a financial argument or even the guarantee of victory. You’d have to work a lot harder than that. The Olympics Sparta had another ally in their quest to make the Peloponnese the center of Greek identity: the Olympics. Dating back at least as far as the eighth century B.C.E., the Olympics were effectively an international event, held every four years in the Peloponnese in the Olympia valley just outside of Elis, to honor both Zeus and his grandson Pelops. And these games didn’t just draw huge crowds; they played a crucial role in linking the Greek city-states together and keeping them on friendly terms. Sparta used its political and military muscle to overthrow local governments, protect its allies from mutual enemies, and otherwise dominate the peninsula. But among Sparta’s greatest secret weapons was history. The Peloponnese was named after the legendary figure Pelops, grandson of Zeus, and the residents would have known that it was also home to Greece’s oldest civilization, that of the Mycenae. Although the Mycenae ruins were technically closer to Athens than Sparta, they were on the Peloponnese peninsula. By emphasizing that this was a war between the Peloponnese and island city-states, the Spartans were able to push forward the narrative that they were defending the Greek ancestral homeland from usurpers. THE RISE OF PROTESTANT EUROPE From the Tudors to the Thirty Years’ War “The longer the days are the farther off is the sun, and yet the more fierce. So it is with our love, for by absence we are parted, yet nevertheless it keeps its fervour, at least on my side, and I hope on yours also . . . ” —Henry VIII, in an undated letter to his mistress and future wife, Anne Boleyn, whom he would order beheaded several years later As we discussed earlier, the medieval papacy was pretty solidly committed to creating a holy West—a kind of Christian caliphate—that would have operated under the indirect authority of a pope, with Christian emperors ruling over specific parts of Europe, but who answered to a higher power (or perhaps ideally, as in the case of Charlemagne, a new Holy Roman Emperor claiming global authority). It would be easy but excessively simplistic to dismiss this as a stereotypical evil scheme to take over the world. The truth is a lot more complicated. Medieval-era popes had a lot to worry about: the spread of Islam, still-surviving pagan customs, heresies, wars between Catholic states, and the corruption of clergy and monks who did terrible things in the name of the pope. And that’s assuming the pope himself wasn’t corrupt, which many medieval popes were. It was a tough job. But it was about to get a whole lot tougher, thanks to reforms that were taking place within Christianity itself. FIRST CAME THE TUDORS If you’ve ever heard the story behind William Shakespeare’s play Richard III (1592), you already have a pretty good idea of how the Tudors took control of the English monarchy. Recall that the brutal and unpopular King Richard III (1452–1485), who fought the upstart Henry Tudor (Henry VII, 1457–1509) at the Battle of Bosworth Field, fell to insurgent forces. After Richard’s long-lost remains were dug up in 2012 and successfully identified using DNA forensic testing, it was determined that he had died due to nine head wounds and was probably kneeling when he received the fatal blow—which means that the last words Shakespeare attributes to him (“A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!”) could plausibly have been his actual last words. HENRY AND THE POPE Henry Tudor’s son, Henry VIII (1491–1547), reigned for thirty-eight years. While he did many notable things during this time, most people remember him primarily for one thing: marrying six different women and treating most of them really, really horribly. Wife #1: Catherine of Aragon (1485–1536) Henry’s first—and longest (twenty-four years!)—marriage was to a woman he didn’t have killed, presumably for sentimental reasons. After meeting the much younger future wife number two, Henry had his marriage to Catherine annulled against the pope’s wishes. This broke off England’s ties with the Roman Catholic Church (though in doing this Henry did not technically create the Church of England; that happened decades later under Queen Elizabeth). Henry and Catherine had only one surviving child together: Mary I (1516–1558), who as queen would become known as “Bloody Mary.” More on that later. Wife #2: Anne Boleyn (1501–1536) Henry’s marriage to Boleyn lasted less than three years. Anne bore one child—the future Queen Elizabeth—but Henry wanted a male heir. When wife number three caught his eye, he had Anne beheaded for treason. Wife #3: Jane Seymour (1508–1537) Henry married Seymour only eleven days after having Boleyn decapitated. We’ll never know how long his marriage to Seymour would have lasted if she hadn’t died prematurely, but labor complications following the birth of future king Edward VI (1537–1553) ended her life only seventeen months after she’d become queen consort. Wife #4: Anne of Cleves (1515–1557) Anne got a pretty good deal: she and Henry were married for less than six months in 1540, and she survived for years afterward. Henry had the marriage annulled because they’d never actually had sex, and she lived out the rest of her natural life with the honorary title “The King’s Beloved Sister.” Wife #5: Catherine Howard (1523–1542) The middle-aged Henry had only been married to the teenaged Catherine for a year and a half when he had her (and her two alleged lovers) beheaded for adultery. Wife #6: Catherine Parr (1512–1548) This Catherine outlived Henry, her third husband, long enough to marry a fourth. It’s tempting to say that Henry had finally met his match in Catherine Parr; one of his contemporaries, Lord Chancellor Thomas Wriothesley, remarked that she was “more agreeable to his heart” than the other five wives. But unlike Henry, she never had any of her husbands beheaded; although she was a four-time widow, each died of natural causes. The Threefold Cord While Henry VIII’s break from the Roman Catholic Church is commonly associated with the Protestant Reformation, Anglican theologians tend to regard their tradition as something between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, and not strictly as part of either. In contrast to Catholicism’s focus on tradition and the Reformation’s tendency toward sola Scriptura (“Scripture alone”), the Elizabethan theologian Richard Hooker (1554–1600) wrote of the “threefold cord not quickly broken” that undergirds the Anglican tradition: scripture, tradition, and reason. In Anglican and Episcopal confirmation classes, this is commonly referred to as Hooker’s “three-legged stool” (a phrase that Hooker himself did not use). THE ELIZABETHAN ERA Henry VIII’s raging libido and/or desire for a male heir did not, contrary to popular opinion, create the Church of England. Henry VIII considered himself a Roman Catholic in good standing until the day he died, and given the number of beheadings he was involved in it’s unlikely that he encountered much argument. The Church of England was actually created by Henry’s daughter, Elizabeth, who was a product of his second marriage to Anne Boleyn. As we shall see, Elizabeth’s path to the throne was not a straight line. After Henry had Boleyn beheaded in 1536, he had their daughter, Elizabeth, declared illegitimate. This decision may have saved her life. It was not until Henry’s death in 1547 that Elizabeth became a potential successor to the throne, as he identified her as third in line. First in line was the nine-year-old Edward VI, or rather the council of dukes who served as his regent until he reached adulthood. But Edward VI never assumed the throne, because he died suddenly at age fifteen. Second in line was Mary I, the very Catholic daughter of Henry’s first wife, Catherine. Her nickname was Bloody Mary. And as you might have expected given that nickname, the reign of Mary I isn’t fondly remembered—she attempted to convert England back to Catholicism by force, ordering Protestants executed often and in a very casual way. My own ancestor, Canterbury preacher Rowland Taylor (1510–1555), was among them, his death being fairly typical: he was accused of not being Catholic enough, whacked in the head with a halberd, and then burned at the stake. Bloody Mary didn’t live much longer herself, passing away due to natural causes—probably ovarian cancer, but it’s unlikely we’ll ever know for sure—in 1558. Shakespeare’s Tongue The most famous Elizabethan commoner was the poet and playwright William Shakespeare (1564–1616), who is more often than not described as the greatest writer in the history of the English language. While “greatest” is a matter of taste, the fact that he invented or popularized thousands of words, changing the language itself forever, is indisputable. That cleared the way for Queen Elizabeth (1533–1603), who reigned for forty-four years—longer than any monarch had for centuries. One of her first acts was to create the Church of England. It’s difficult to overstate just how drastic this change was. In 1557, advocating Anglicanism would get you burned at the stake; in 1559, it was effectively a job requirement for high-ranking clergy. This did not go over well, and Elizabeth had to spend much of the first few years of her tenure putting down violent rebellions. But in the end she got her way. Anglicanism, represented in the United States by the Episcopal Church, was the result. When she passed in 1603, Elizabeth, who never married, was buried alongside her sister, Bloody Mary—a touching gesture of reconciliation between Catholic and Anglican England, though perhaps not one with which Mary would have been entirely comfortable, all things considered. THE GERMAN PROTESTANTS While the theology of the German monk Martin Luther (1483–1546) would ultimately diverge from Roman Catholicism in some very important ways, it was the corruption of the church in the German states that ultimately drove him to split off from the tradition to which he had dedicated his life. Specifically, he was put off by a practice called the sale of indulgences—a scheme by which priests and monks of the day would allow people to literally buy their way, or (more often) buy their deceased friends’ and family members’ way, into heaven. The publication of Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses (1517), and his translation of the Bible into ordinary German, had an explosive effect on the culture of Europe as a whole. The tradition he founded, Lutheranism, has eighty million adherents today. But it was Luther’s successful defiance of the Roman Catholic Church that brought the most change to Europe. After all, when the Czech theologian Jan Hus (1369–1415) had tried to do something similar a century earlier, local Catholic officials had him executed (though the small movement he founded, known as Hussitism, spread throughout central Europe and is still represented by several denominations to this day). Luther’s rebellion was so public, and so audacious, he even took advantage of the new mass media of his time, the printing press, to spread his ideas. Once the pope himself was no longer the only representative of Western Christianity, a nation’s religious affiliation became more of a bargaining chip, which in turn caused the institutional power of the Roman Catholic Church to be diminished. In response to this Protestant Reformation, over the next several centuries the Catholic Church itself would undergo an aggressive Counter-Reformation in an attempt to eliminate the corrupt practices, violent oppressive tactics, and secretive theological rationales that had sparked Luther’s movement. The Protestant Reformation is frequently blamed for the Thirty Years’ War (1618–1648), a bloody and convoluted European war that involved dozens of small nations and cost more than eight million lives, and that blame is sort of warranted. The religious conflicts between Catholics and Protestants certainly started the war, but ambitious politicians and expansionist nations exploited these sentiments for very secular reasons. The more interesting question is whether the papacy would have been able to prevent the war in a united Catholic Europe. For all its faults, the papacy had historically been effective at preventing some conflicts between Catholic nations. And despite the papacy’s significant loss of power, it remains, by and large, a force for peace to this day. Sola Fide and Sola Scriptura Two ideas that were of special importance to Luther were: • Sola fide (Latin: “only faith”), the idea that salvation is attained through faith alone and not through works. Roman Catholicism has historically taught that good works are an essential product of faith, necessary for demonstrating that one is saved. Lutheranism teaches that good works, though present in the lives of faithful people, have nothing to do with salvation. • Sola Scriptura (Latin: “only Scripture”), the idea that the Bible is the only source of divine revelation. Roman Catholicism has historically taught that divine revelation comes about in many different ways, including but not limited to the traditions of the Christian community itself. THE HITTITES AND WHAT THEY LEFT BEHIND The Empire Strikes First “Until now, no member of my family has obeyed my will.” —From the political testament of the Hittite king Hattusili I (ca. 1586–1556 B.C.E.) For most of human history, we have lived in relatively small groups—tribes, settlements, and, later, cities. But in recent centuries these smaller groups have clumped together in, or been absorbed (often forcibly) by, larger nations and empires. By 1300 B.C.E., this pattern had already been established in the region that hosted the world’s oldest civilizations: the Middle East. In the north were the Hittites, in the south were the New Kingdom Egyptians, and to the southeast were the Assyrians (both discussed later). The Hittites were, for a time, the most powerful of the three empires, dominating the Egyptians and looting Babylon outright. Their armored chariots were the tanks of the ancient world, dominant in combat, fast enough for raids and reconnaissance, and a powerful symbol of law and order in conquered cities. But there’s a reason history books don’t talk about them much: They were a force to be reckoned with for only a few centuries. By 1200 B.C.E. the Hittite agricultural system had collapsed and they depended on Egypt for grain shipments; a few decades later, their capital Hattusa would fall to the Assyrians. But for a time, a considerably long time, their power was unmatched. The Three Empires of the Middle East, ca. 1300 B.C.E. Thirty-three hundred years ago, the Middle East was dominated by three superpowers: the Hittites in the north, the Egyptians in the south, and the Assyrians in the southeast. THE PHARAOH’S WIDOW One story that sums up the power of the Hittites, at their peak, is about a Hittite prince who almost became pharaoh of Egypt. And it all started with Tutankhamen’s death. Historians have long speculated that the pharaoh Tutankhamen was murdered. Whether he was or not, a shroud of suspicion surrounded his death at the time—so much so that Hittite records tell the story of the pharaoh’s widow, most likely Tut’s widow, Ankhesenamun, visiting the Hittite king Suppiluliuma in 1325 B.C.E. with an unusual request: “My husband has died and I have no son . . . . You might give me one of your sons to become my husband. I would not wish to take one of my subjects as a husband . . . . I am afraid.” Suppiluliuma sent Ankhesenamun home with his son Zannanza. As it turned out, Ankhesenamun’s suspicions were well-founded; according to Hittite records, Zannanza was murdered by Egyptian officials, worsening relations between the two nations. The dream of an Egyptian-Hittite royal marriage was finally realized a century later, when Pharaoh Rameses II married the Hittite princess Maathorneferure. The Oldest Music in the World The Hurrian hymn to Nikkal, also known as “Hurrian Hymn No. 6,” is the oldest surviving piece of sheet music—and, therefore, the oldest melody in the world (though musicologists are still not entirely sure they’ve rendered it correctly). EUROPE AND THE COLONIAL PROJECT The Razor-Sharp Edge of the World “Presently we discovered two or three villages, and the people all came down to the shore, calling out to us, and giving thanks to God. Some brought us water, and others victuals: others seeing that I was not disposed to land, plunged into the sea and swam out to us, and we perceived that they interrogated us if we had come from heaven. An old man came on board my boat; the others, both men and women cried with loud voices—‘Come and see the men who have come from heavens. Bring them victuals and drink.’ There came many of both sexes, every one bringing something, giving thanks to God, prostrating themselves on the earth, and lifting up their hands to heaven . . . I could conquer the whole of them with fifty men, and govern them as I pleased.” —Christopher Columbus, from his journal entry of October 14, 1492 Western Europe of the late fifteenth century was drunk on horror. Little more than a hundred years removed from its near extermination at the hands of the bubonic plague and driven by every surviving social hierarchy to bring Christianity to the rest of the world at sword point, it turned its sophisticated trade networks toward new markets and greater profits. Over the next several centuries it would proceed to enslave, kill, displace, or dominate most of the rest of the world. By 1900, Europe claimed power over most of the Americas, over 90 percent of Africa, over half of Asia, and nearly all of Australia and Polynesia. Nowhere was this agenda more evident than in the Americas, where hundreds of indigenous nations—and most of the tens of millions of people who populated them—were wiped out by European colonists. To fully exploit the agricultural and mineral potential of this new world, the Europeans forcibly transported more than twelve million Africans across the Atlantic Ocean to assume new identities as slaves. Millions died in transit. Those who survived the journey but were unwilling to spend the rest of their lives working in the bondage of slavery, an ocean away from their homes and families, were executed. EXPLORERS AND CONQUISTADORS Spain of 1492 was a land dominated by material success, religious fervor, and a deep suspicion toward outsiders. Queen Isabella of Castile (1451–1504) and King Ferdinand II of Aragon (1452–1516) had recently presided over the Christian reconquest of al-Andalus, Muslim Spain, and—in direct violation of the peace treaty that gave them power over the Iberian Peninsula to begin with—had replaced its relatively tolerant and multicultural government with something decidedly less tolerant and decidedly less multicultural. So the idea of sailing west to find a backdoor to Asia, allowing the Spanish monarchy to forcibly spread its theology to new victims and dramatically cut down on trade-route lag time in the process, seemed appealing. That’s where the Italian explorer Christopher Columbus (1451–1506) comes in. Contrary to what you may have heard, he wasn’t the first guy to believe the world was round (that belief had been relatively common since at least the time of the ancient Greeks), and he wasn’t the first to suggest that you could take advantage of Earth’s roundness to sail west to Asia. What made him stand out, instead, was something he got wrong: he believed the world was significantly smaller than it is and that a backdoor to Asia would be easier to find than any of his contemporaries had guessed. Isabella and Ferdinand granted him both funding and a royal charter and he, in what would be widely recognized both in 1492 and today as an act of lunacy, proceeded to sail west to Japan. From Spain. Columbus’s discovery of the island of Hispaniola, off the coast of the Americas, changed everything. It didn’t change everything for him—he went to his grave still believing that he’d discovered the East Indies, proof that, as the Disney song goes, it really is a small world after all—but other explorers soon realized that there was another continent in play. An Italian mapmaker who most decisively made this argument also gave the new continent its name: Amerigo Vespucci (1454–1512), who drew the earliest known maps of the land, called it America. Over the next several centuries, Spanish, French, and English explorers would set up shop in America. The most militarily aggressive of the three was, unsurprisingly, the Spanish. The rulers of Spain saw the New World as an opportunity to extend their divinely sanctioned Christian reconquest much farther west than anyone could have dreamed. They sent out conquistadors to stake claim to their own feudal encomiendas (“commendations”), which were forced labor camps stocked with natives who could be sent to work on mines and agricultural plantations. That’s how the largest surviving precolonial Latin American civilizations, such as the Mayans and the Aztecs, were largely driven to extinction. Between the wars and the spread of European diseases, the famine and the displacements, European colonial empires and the independent states that branched off from them completed the most successful large-scale program of genocide in human history. We don’t know for sure just how many natives of the Americas died as a result of colonization—and we’ll probably never know—but most credible estimates range in the tens of millions. Who Was the Real-Life Pocahontas? Although there was a historical Pocahontas (1596–1617), her life bore little resemblance to the Disney account. Born Princess Matoaka of the Tsenacommacah tribal confederacy in Virginia, she was married twice—first as a teenager to a tribal warrior Kocoum (who died at the hands of the British army), and later to tobacco mogul John Rolfe (1585–1622). Matoaka had become something of a celebrity in Britain after marrying Rolfe and taking on the name Rebecca. She died in transit under mysterious circumstances after insisting on sailing across the Atlantic to visit her estranged family in Virginia. She never married, and probably never even befriended, Admiral John Smith (1580–1631). Smith nonetheless claimed in his 1624 memoir that they knew each other well and that she had saved his life on multiple occasions, giving birth to the folk legend of Pocahontas. His story appears to have been completely fabricated. She would have been only ten years old at the time Smith visited the Tsenacommacah, and his dramatic account of events directly contradicts other records from the period. THE TRANS-ATLANTIC SLAVE TRADE IN THE AMERICAS The amount of territory in the Americas was so vast by European standards, and so relatively unexploited, that Europeans had no concept of how much labor it would take to monetize it. The whole of Europe is only 3.9 million square miles, and these empires had been fighting over little pieces of it for thousands of years. North and South America combined are 16.3 million square miles—more than four times as big, even if you don’t count the islands—and they hadn’t even begun to bleed it dry yet. European colonial authorities tried capturing indigenous inhabitants and forcing them to work, and they tried bringing over indentured servants from Europe, but this wasn’t enough to possess all the available resources to satisfy their greed. And so they turned to West Africa, stealing millions of indigenous inhabitants from yet another continent to serve as slave labor in the Americas. 1502 Juan de Córdoba, a silversmith and personal friend of Columbus, sends several of his African slaves to the Americas to serve as laborers. 1517 An estimated fifteen thousand West Africans are shipped by Portuguese slavers to labor in the mines and plantations of Spanish colonial America. 1619 The first twenty African slaves arrive in the English colony of Jamestown, Virginia, beginning the English colonial North American slave trade that would become the US slave trade. 1787 The Constitution of the newly independent United States does not prohibit slavery, but the government calls for an end to the import of slaves in 1808. 1808 The United States, which has by this point transitioned over to the forced breeding of African Americans as slaves, enacts its ban on further slave imports. 1811 All Spanish colonies in the Americas, except for Cuba, ban slavery. 1865 At the end of the American Civil War, the Thirteenth Amendment to the US Constitution—formally banning chattel slavery—is ratified. The Invention of Race Although skin color is as old as skin, and national origin as old as nations, race as we know it is a very new concept and was invented largely to justify unfair practices that were already underway, not as a scientific achievement. The first to outline anything resembling the racial categories we have now was the French doctor François Bernier (1620–1688), whose A New Division of the Earth (1684) reclassified humanity into “four or five Species or Races.” Over the next century or so, this concept was developed by other European thinkers into a “scientific” theory of race in which whites, or Caucasians, were generally singled out as the most advanced subspecies of humanity, justifying their exploitation of others. Proto-Nazi thinkers of the nineteenth century would later carry this idea to its conclusion, arguing that whites are a “master race” destined to conquer and subjugate the world. The twentieth-century discovery of human DNA pointing to a common ancestor, and the subsequent discovery that the cosmetic racial differences identified by Bernier and his successors don’t correspond neatly to racial categories and are in fact ephemeral in the grand scheme of things, has largely destroyed the idea of “race science.” Today, race is generally considered a subject for social scientists, not biologists. TWILIGHT OF EMPIRES The Age of Revolution “When we revolt, it’s not for a particular culture. We revolt simply because, for many reasons, we can no longer breathe.” —Frantz Fanon (1925–1961), author Between the imperial scrambles of the early twentieth century and the Cold War of the mid- and latter-twentieth, the massive European empires and their ideologies had all had their say. But actual human beings trying to go about their daily lives hadn’t necessarily had their say, and what was left of the European domination of the world would soon come to an end. By the end of the twentieth century, the countries of Europe ruled over the continent of Europe and very little else. HOW TO LOSE AN EMPIRE IN TEN DECADES It’s hard to overstate just how powerful Europe and the European-founded United States were at the beginning of the twentieth century, but mathematics may give us a clue. In 1900 the great Austrian cartographer Alexander Supan (1847–1920) calculated the full extent of European dominance in percentages. Europe and the United States collectively controlled, at the time, 100 percent of Europe (obviously), 100 percent of Australia, 98.9 percent of Polynesia, 90.4 percent of Africa, 56.5 percent of Asia, and 27.2 percent of the Americas. That means that in 1900, Europe and the United States collectively controlled 62.5 percent, excluding Antarctica, of the entire land mass of Earth. By the end of the century, they’d lost almost all of it to various national independence movements. The British Empire, the largest empire in the history of the world, was particularly hard hit—going from controlling 13.7 million square miles in 1920 to controlling only part of the 122,000-square-mile British Isles less than a century later (with possible Northern Irish and Scottish independence referendums on the way). Other European empires lost their colonies too, and the relative importance of Europe in the world declined considerably. As industrialization and economic power have spread throughout Europe’s former subject nations, it’s safe to say the continent will never be that important again. THE FORMER BRITISH EMPIRE Country Year of Independence New Zealand 1907 South Africa 1910 Egypt 1922 Ireland (except Northern Ireland) 1922 Canada 1931 Australia 1942 India 1947 Israel-Palestine 1948 Myanmar (Burma) 1948 Sri Lanka 1948 Pakistan 1956 Sudan 1956 Ghana 1957 Malaysia 1957 Cyprus 1960 Nigeria 1960 Cameroon 1961 Sierra Leone 1961 Tanzania 1961 Jamaica 1962 Trinidad and Tobago 1962 Uganda 1962 Kenya 1963 Malawi 1964 Malta 1964 Zambia 1964 Gambia 1965 Maldives 1965 Barbados 1966 Botswana 1966 Guyana 1966 Lesotho 1966 Yemen 1967 Mauritius 1968 Swaziland 1968 Fiji 1970 Tonga 1970 Bahrain 1971 Qatar 1971 United Arab Emirates 1971 The Bahamas 1973 Grenada 1974 Seychelles 1976 Dominica 1978 Solomon Islands 1978 Tuvalu 1978 Kiribati 1979 St. Lucia 1979 St. Vincent and the Grenadines 1979 Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) 1980 Antigua and Barbuda 1981 Belize 1981 St. Kitts and Nevis 1983 Brunei 1984 You Say You Want a Revolution The twentieth century was one in which many nations and colonies broke free from larger empires, but the story didn’t begin with New Zealand in 1907, nor were those who rebelled against these empires prior to 1907 always doomed to failure. The British Empire had to contend with with its defeat at the hands of the colonial Americans led by George Washington (1732–1799). The French under Napoleon were soundly defeated by an army of slaves organized, and initially led, by the strategic genius Toussaint-Louverture (1743–1803), and the result has been more than two centuries of Haitian independence. And the Spanish army in Latin America snapped under the weight of an independence movement led by Simón Bolívar (1783–1830); Bolivia bears his name, but Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela also achieved independence under his movement’s banner. For as long as there have been empires, there have been rebels. And sometimes—not often, but sometimes—the rebels win. FROM BISMARCK TO THE WEIMAR REPUBLIC Germany in the Gilded Age “A statesman cannot create anything himself. He must wait and listen until he hears the steps of God sounding through events; then leap up and grasp the hem of his garment.” —Otto von Bismarck (1815–1898) We justifiably think of Germany as a nation that has always been one country and, at most, two. But the working definition of Germany has changed dramatically over the centuries, and we owe the existence of what we currently think of as Germany to a series of skirmishes, diplomatic scandals, and political failures. At the time the brilliantly diabolical Otto von Bismarck (1815–1898) first came on the national scene in 1866, he was a prominent Prussian legislator and diplomat who had risen to become the king’s right-hand man. Prussia was the largest and most populous of the North German Confederation’s twenty-two states, and through a series of relatively short-term, manageable wars—with Denmark, Austria, and France—Bismarck successfully created the need for a united Germany to deal with future military threats. Bismarck’s king, Kaiser Wilhelm I (1797–1888), in turn became the first German emperor. But don’t put too much stock into that title—there were only three. The third and final German emperor, Kaiser Wilhelm II (1859–1941), achieved global notoriety as the aggressive leader of a united Germany during World War I. Upon Germany’s defeat, Wilhelm became extremely unpopular and ultimately abdicated during the German Revolution of 1918. The government that replaced him, a constitutional democracy called the Weimar Republic (because its legislature met in the centrally located city of Weimar), seemed promising at first. But hobbled by the unfavorable treaty terms imposed on Germany after the war, the center-left parliamentary democracy proved so unpopular among both left-wing socialists and right-wing nationalists that the Nazi Party was able to gain a foothold, and had functionally achieved full control of the country by the end of the 1930s. Wilhelm II himself lived long enough to see the beginning of World War II, but not the end. Pickelhelm The famous German spiked helmets, called pickelhelms or pickelhauben, were distinctive but useless in combat. The spikes were generally dull, felt-covered, and, by the end of the nineteenth century, removable. The history of Germany in the recent century has focused, understandably, on the horrors of Nazi Germany itself. But even in the decades before World War II, its history is instructive. Bismarck’s success in nation building teaches us of the power that an elective war can give a leader, while Wilhelm II’s failures tell us of the power that such a war can take away. The fall of the short-lived Weimar Republic, and the subsequent rise of Nazi power, tells us that there is a danger to whittling down the power of our institutions when we cannot yet foresee what will replace them. THE GRISLY HARVEST OF THE BLACK DEATH Europe’s Doomsday “In what annals has it ever been read that houses were left vacant, cities deserted, the country neglected, the fields too small for the dead and a fearful and universal solitude over the whole earth? . . . Oh happy people of the future, who have not known these miseries . . . ” —Francesco “Petrarch” Petrarca (1304–1374), poet Between 1347 and 1353 as many as one hundred million people died horribly from an epidemic of the plague, which we now know was caused by a specific bacterium identified as Yersinia pestis (Y. pestis). Victims would experience fever, grotesquely swollen lymph nodes, convulsions, and—within a matter of days—death. Not everyone who contracted the disease died, but most did, and it was an especially painful and undignified way to die. The Flemish scientist Simon de Covinus, writing at the height of the epidemic, gave us the name we now remember it by: mors atra, the Black Death. The effect of the Black Death on Europe, where one-third to one-half of the total population died from the disease in about five years, was especially profound. But the epidemic tore through cities on three continents, leaving in its wake a deeply rooted cultural fear of disease that still affects us to this day. THE PRIMORDIAL KILLER The plague may be as old as humanity itself. Before our ancestors could read and write, before the first empires spread, its shadow hung over us. In October 2015, biologists sequenced raw DNA in a 5,000-year-old Russian human tooth and found evidence of ancient Y. pestis bacteria, an infection that had almost certainly caused the death of its host. Scientists have long speculated that the plague may have played a role in prehistoric human migration and in ancient history. In the Hebrew Bible, 1 Samuel 5:6 speaks of a deadly plague marked by “sores” and (in the Septuagint, an ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible) by the appearance of mice, a telltale characteristic for a disease that is often spread by fleas. Thucydides’s description of the Plague of Athens in the fifth century B.C.E., a disease he claims to have himself survived, bears symptoms consistent with those of both typhoid fever and plague and has been attributed at various times to both. But the first large-scale plague epidemic we can be certain about arrived in 541 in Constantinople and surrounding cities along the Mediterranean. In what later became known as the Justinian Plague, the disease killed tens of millions of people in a matter of years. There had never been a documented outbreak of comparable size before, and for those who lived through it the scale of the epidemic must have seemed like the stuff of apocalyptic prophecy. Unfortunately, the end of the world would come again. FROM HOPEI TO CONSTANTINOPLE The earliest record of the epidemic we now remember as the Black Death comes from the Hopei province of northwestern China, where a mysterious disease killed the majority of the local population in 1331. Similar reports peppered China, India, and Mongol military records through the 1330s and 1340s, but it was not until Mongol forces engaged an Italian army fortifying the port city of Caffa, now known as the Ukrainian city of Feodosia, that the crowded network of European naval trading routes carried the plague through the European continent. Disease in a Germless World Taking their cue from the Roman physician Galen of Pergamon (130–210), most medieval Europeans believed diseases were spread by scent and that other strong smells, like flowers or rotting fruit, could block the odor of disease and prevent contamination. Germs were not identified until the nineteenth century. Historians disagree on whether the Mongol army intended to spread the plague. The Italian lawyer Gabriele de Mussis (ca. 1280–1356) suggested that the Mongol general Janibeg Khan, noticing his men were falling prey to the disease, catapulted their corpses into the city “in hopes that the intolerable stench would kill everyone inside”; since it’s unlikely that an invading military commander would share his hopes with an enemy civilian, this seems speculative at best. In any case, whether the spread of the plague was accidental or was an intentional act of biological warfare, the damage was done. Genoese traders soon set sail for Constantinople, exposing every major port city in Europe, and some beyond it, to one of history’s deadliest diseases. THE PLAGUE PITS OF EUROPE For a variety of reasons Europe of 1347 was especially vulnerable to the plague. A sophisticated trading network guaranteed the spread of any contagious disease that reached a port city. In turn, these cities—filthy, densely packed, and swarming with rats—provided an ideal incubator for germs, and a hub by which nearby rural communities could also be exposed to the disease. And Europe was only a generation removed from the Great Famine of 1315, which had already killed some 15 percent of the population over a seven-year period and left survivors understandably anxious to protect their economic and agricultural assets, even at the risk of disease. During 1348 and 1349 every major city in Western Europe became a plague town. The bodies of the dead became too numerous to bury, often necessitating mass graves called plague pits. Poland, Belgium, and the Netherlands were largely spared at first, probably because they didn’t participate as actively in regional trade routes, but mini-epidemics over the next several centuries, such as the Italian Plague of 1629 and London’s Great Plague of 1665, would gradually expose the entire European continent to the disease. PRAYERS FOR THE DEAD The scale of the Black Death outside of Europe is hard to assess, but we know for certain that it killed tens of millions of people throughout Asia and the Middle East during the mid-fourteenth century. China and India suffered even before the disease reached Europe’s coastal cities, and its presence in Constantinople made disease a consequence of trade. The Black Death had reached Egypt by the end of 1347, Jerusalem by 1348, Mecca by 1349. No region or demographic was spared. The plague has never disappeared; it continues to affect us to this day, with several hundred cases reported to the World Health Organization each year. The disease is treatable with antibiotics but still carries a high mortality rate in rural areas of the developing world, where medical technology and sanitation infrastructure are not always sufficient to keep it at bay. International nonprofits have taken aggressive measures over the past several years to contain the spread of the disease in rural Madagascar, especially, where the plague remains a mysterious and terrifying killer. SECTARIAN CONFLICT IN THE POST–COLD WAR WORLD The Road from Damascus “Fundamentalists look back to a ‘golden age’ before the irruption of modernity for inspiration, but they are not atavistically returning to the Middle Ages. All are intrinsically modern movements and could have appeared at no time other than our own. All are innovative and often radical in their reinterpretation of religion. As such, fundamentalism is an essential part of the modern scene.” —Karen Armstrong (1944–), from Islam: A Short History (2000) On September 11, 2001, nineteen hijackers affiliated with the terrorist organization al-Qaeda hijacked four planes and crashed them into the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, DC, and an empty field in Pennsylvania. They killed an estimated 2,996 people in what was, by far, the single deadliest terrorist attack in modern history. The motive was unambiguously grounded in a bizarre interpretation of the Qur’an, popular among certain militant fundamentalist sects. In addition to prompting a series of wars and smaller-scale confrontations, it prompted an informal new Cold War, of sorts, based on mutual suspicion between those who felt they alone adhered to the values of the Christian West and those who felt that they alone upheld the values of the Islamic Middle East. Both groups had in common the need to express hostility toward the religiously and geographically diverse networks upon which the global economy depends. The truth is that most large-scale ideologies have been weaponized to some degree or another. But there’s something especially dangerous about the potential implications of a global religious conflict against which war, poverty, and even the promise of one’s own death often prove to be inadequate deterrents. TERROR AND COUNTERTERROR Even prior to the twenty-first century, there were countless smaller-scale religiously motivated acts of terrorism. These include: • The St. Nedelya Church massacre of Holy Thursday, April 1925, where militant antireligious members of the Bulgarian Communist Party bombed a church during a funeral, killing 150. • The Air India Flight 182 hijacking of June 1985, where members of a neo-Sikh fundamentalist sect set off a bomb on a civilian aircraft over Ireland, killing 329. • The Oklahoma City bombing of April 1995, where Timothy McVeigh, an associate of the white nationalist Christian Identity movement, bombed a US federal building, killing 168. • The Aum Shinrikyo attack of July 1995, where followers of a neo-Buddhist doomsday prophet sprayed sarin gas in the Tokyo subway system, killing twelve and injuring more than 5,000. • The Walisongo school massacre of May 2000, when Christian fundamentalists killed 191 targets (primarily Muslim children) in a central Indonesian port city. No religious tradition, and no part of the world, is completely immune to violent sectarian conflict. The big three Western monotheisms—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—have well-documented violent histories to contend with, but Western readers who look for consistently peaceful traditions elsewhere are unlikely to find them. Genocidal Buddhist monks hunt down peaceful Rohingya Muslim families in Sri Lanka, violent Hindu nationalists routinely maim or execute women and girls in rural India, and as Stalin’s legacy demonstrates, even those who reject religion entirely can end up slaughtering millions on ideological grounds. Those who identify other ideologies as intrinsically violent tend to use this as an excuse to target people who belong to those ideologies, continuing the cycle of violence. Osama bin Laden As a member of the CIA-backed mujahideen who fought the USSR in Afghanistan during the 1980s, Osama bin Laden (1957–2011) quickly distinguished himself as an effective military leader. But he also soon developed a reputation for exceptional cruelty, shocking the Middle Eastern press when he and his men raped, tortured, and killed as many as seven hundred Shiite civilians in northern Pakistan over a nine-day period in May 1988. Public response to the incident, later referred to as the Gilgit massacre, made bin Laden a pariah among Sunni militants and ultimately contributed to his decision to create a new organization: al-Qaeda. After the Saudi royal family refused to accept al-Qaeda’s help during the US-Allied Operation Desert Storm, choosing to accept US assistance instead, bin Laden turned against his former US patrons and became a sworn enemy of the West. Over the course of the 1990s the charismatic bin Laden found a second career as a populist demagogue, railing against the growing secularism he saw around him and condemning what he saw as the evils of Israel and the West. Many devout Sunnis in Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, who had their own reservations about the state of the world, initially felt that bin Laden’s concerns mirrored their own. During the same period, bin Laden also organized a series of terrorist attacks throughout the region. He found refuge in Pakistan, but it was only after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in 1997 that bin Laden found a nation whose leaders had any serious interest in helping him turn his ideology into law. Following the September 11 attacks and the US-Afghan War, bin Laden went into hiding. The man whose portrait had once decorated countless homes in the Middle East during the height of his popularity had become an invisible recluse who could only watch as thousands of militants he had personally recruited to the cause were killed during a series of counterterrorism campaigns. By the time bin Laden himself fell prey to US Navy SEALs in May 2011, al-Qaeda had functionally been destroyed and bin Laden himself had b