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World History

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1. Explain the Devsirme system and discuss its positive and negative aspects.

Devşirme is one of types of tax for non-Muslims in the Ottoman Empire known as the blood tax. According to it, Christian families were made to give their sons aged eight to eighteen for the special education. During the trainings, the boys were converted to Islam and acquired military skills. In the XV-XVI centuries, most officials and militaries in the Ottoman Empire were devşirme people. The biggest benefit of this taxation system was constant support of army and authority with well-trained professionals. In addition, the people deprived of their own culture and family were devoted to the Ottoman Empire. Nevertheless, Devşirme posed also the threat to the Ottoman Empire. The slaves provided with power and access to the administrative institutes began to take control over the sultans and the whole Ottoman Empire.

2. Discuss the economic and social effects of the Black Death.

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The Black Death made the devastating impact on the world. It can be noticed from the economic perspective. The plague was the reason of extreme inflation. It was the barrier to trade and production of the goods. In addition, high mortality among workers provoked labor shortage. It made the lords rise wages to keep serfs on their lands. The Black Death also influenced social sphere. Firstly, people were separated from each other as no one wanted to be infected with plague. Secondly, the society was deprived of the long-term goals. The principle of the life for the majority was to enjoy the present day without thinking about future. Finally, the improvement of financial state of common workers, caused by the plague, helped them to regain self-dignity. It led to the revolting atmosphere in many countries. For instance, in 1358, the peasants of Northern France revolted.

3. Using examples explain the quote that states that the adoption of Islam by Turks “was an event pregnant with consequences for the future”.

The Turks adopted Islam under the nfluence of collaboration with Arabs to conquer the Middle East in the 11th century. This event was the turning point in the history of Turkey. Firstly, Islam provided the political leaders of Turkey with additional power. In the Ottoman Empire, the sultan was treated not only as a secular ruler, but also as the Caliph – spiritual leader of the nation. Secondly, Islam helped to organize order in the society. Shari’a, the collection of laws for the citizens, was based on Koran, the holy book of Islam. Finally, adoption of Islam had also military significance. In the name of Allah, Turks conquered the lands of the unfaithful (Christians).

4. Discuss psychological warfare techniques of the Mongols. Were they successful? Make sure to provide examples.

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The Mongol Empire conquered the Middle East, continental Asia, and some parts of Europe. The success was the result of not only perfect military skills, but also psychological ones. Firstly, the Mongols used the technique of spreading terror among the cities. For example, they allowed a few enemies to escape from the destroyed city. As a result, these escapees told the citizens of the other cities about the horrible assualts, making them shake with fear because of the possible Mongols’ attack. The second psychological technique was deception. For instance, the Mongols attacked the enemies with the help of several mobile groups. It helped to dispel their attention, as well as destroy the unity. In addition, the strongest part of the Mongols’ army practiced appearing out of nowhere. The third psychological technique was the creation of special terrifying effects to express their power. For example, the Mongols tied branches with leaves on the back of their horses in order to create an image of black clouds, approaching the enemies.

5. Explain the disunity that caused problems for the Muslim world in the 10th and 11th centuries. What forces (individuals, groups, etc.) attempted to unify the Muslim world?

During the 10th -11th centuries, the unity of the Muslim world was desttroyed. On the one hand, it was the result of outer factors – the Crusades terrorized the Muslim world with invasions. On the other hand, it becomes clear that the major threat to the unity of the Muslim world was brought by the inner factor, such as the internecine struggle for power. For instance, after the collapse of Abbasid Caliphate in the 10th century, its parts were occupied by the Fatimids and the Buyids. The U’mayyad Caliphate was divided between the states-successors – taifa Kingdoms. All these forces wanted to reunite Muslim world. Nevertheless, they failed to choose the common legitimate leader. It led to the civil wars and deterioration of the situation.

6. Discuss and explain the four processes that helped Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam to become world religions. Be sure to provide examples.

One of such processes is the unification of a large community of people over common religious ideas. For instance, it is estimated that 2.2 billion people in the world follow Christianity; 1.6 billion people are Muslims; 376 million people share Buddhist beliefs. The second peculiarity of world religions is ancient history. For instance, Christianity emerged in the 1st century A.D., Islam in the 6th century, and Buddhism in the 7th century B.C. The third feature of world religions is the presence of followers in different countries. For example, by the beginning of the first century C.E., Buddhist teachers shared their beliefs and practices beyond India to East and Southeast Asia. The Muslims, originated from the Arabian Peninsula, spread their religion across North Africa, Asia, and some parts of Europe. Christianity came the way from Jerusalem throughout the Near East to Europe: Armenia, Georgia, the Roman Empire. Finally, the feature of world religions is similarity of the ideas, which can be understood by different people. For example, Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism share the same idea of equality of all people. However, Christianity regards this equality through original sin, Islam treats equality as humility, while Buddhism views the equality through sufferings.

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