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Classical civilisation

The rise, fall and reasons for the success of the following empires:

·                   The Macedonian empire

·                    The Byzantine Empire

·                    The Inca Empire

·                   The Mongol Empire

·                   The Roman Empire

 

 

THE RISE OF THE MACEDONIAN EMPIRE: AN OVERVIEW

 In the power vacuum that followed the Battle of Mantinea, Athens would perhaps have re-emerged as the leader of Greece. However, conquest came from an unexpected quarter. In the north the new king of Macedon, Philip II, united the manpower and resources of his kingdom and trained a new model army. Neighbouring peoples, whom the Greeks regarded as barbarians, and the Greeks of northern Thessaly then assisted him in the conquest of adjoining Europe by defeating the hostile Greek states of Athens, Sparta, and his former ally, Thebes. At Chaeronea (338 BC) Philip defeated a major allied Greek force in a close-run battle. He then joined his new subjects in a formal alliance, professing “freedom and autonomy”, but neither was offered at its former level.


After Philip’s murder in July 336, his young son Alexander (who had been tutored by Aristotle) inherited his plans for invading Asia and the Persian Empire. Many more Greeks, however, fought against Alexander in Persian service than in his own army. His three crushing victories at the Granicus (334 BC), Issus (333 BC), and Gaugamela (331 BC) made him master of an unparalleled fortune and kingdom at the age of only 25. A march into India followed before his men forced him to return. He died, probably of malaria, in Babylon on June 10, 323 BC. His conquests had been amazing, but he was no true friend of the Greek freedom which he professed to espouse. His hero and role model was Homer’s Achilles. The Greek world’s independence ended with an echo of the Homeric era, the age from which it had begun.

 

ORIGIN OF THE MACEDONIANS

INTRODUCTION

Many writers investigated the origin of the Macedonians in their own way and have, as a result, arrived at different conclusions, often in conflict with one another.' This subject is of vital significance to us, Macedonians, for we want to know whether or not our ancestors were Greek. Much more so, because aligned with it, is another question of equal importance, namely, whether Greece has any inheritance rights upon Macedonia, or whether, in the absence of such historical or ethnological rights, Macedonia can be considered a property without an owner where anybody can stake his claim.

The Greek origin of the Macedonians or rather the homogeneity of the Greeks and the Macedonians are proven by the history of the settlement of the Indo- Europeans in Europe, particularly the South Group, i. e. the Thracians, the Greeks and the Illyrians, in the Balkan Peninsula.

THE FIRST SETTLERS

The Thracians, having arrived first, occupied the eastern part of the peninsula and Macedonia. The Greeks probably came after the Thracians, about 2500 B. C., making their way through the valleys of Axios, the Morava (Margos) and the mountainous passes of Illyria. They stopped at the Western part of the Balkan pleninsula and Macedonia, which was seized from the Thracians. This land has been their station and was Arian-Greek for many centuries before Southern Greece became Greek. Further movements to the south were obstructed by the chain of the Kambounian mountains and Olympus. It was then that they built in Amphaxitis' and further south, the cities of Eidomene, Europus, Atalante, Gortynia, Ichnae, Dion.

About five centuries later the Thracians regained Central Macedonia as a result of which some Greek tribes, such as the Ionians and Achaeans occupying the afore- mentioned cities,, were forced to submit but retained the names of their native towns, while others moved south- ward and built new cities by the same names in various parts, especially in Arcadia, where, according to Strabo only Achaeans settled (Gortys-Gortynia, Europus, Eidomene, Atalante). Others, such as the Penestae of northern Macedonia who spoke an archaic dialect, settled in Thessaly, having left behind them the name of the old country Penestia in its original seat.

THE APPEARANCE OF THE ILLYRIANS

In the 13th century B. C. the Illyrians penetrated the westernmost parts of the Balkan peninsula. They occupied Penestia and the territory up to the Genousos River, as shown by the folklore, before, during and after Strabo, up to this very day. According to an ancient tradition, the town of Pylon, near lake Lychnitis (Achris or Ochrida), formed the meeting point of the boundaries of Macedonia and Illyria. This territory has also been known under the name of Dassaretia, and constituted the outermost limit of Macedonia and Epirus ("Finis Macedonia et Epiri", Itiner.Hierosol.) at least during the Greco-Roman period.' The Illyrian incursion and pressure forced out many Eordian's from the plain of the Eordian River ( (Devole) who settled in another plain near the lake of the ancient Arnissa (Ostrovo) in Western Macedonia. This territory was known thereafter as Eordia or Eordaea (in an old inscription discovered in Epidaurus another form of the name is given: Euordia) which was derived from the Eordians.

MACEDONIANS (DORIANS) MIGRATE ALL OVER GREECE

The latter in turn pushed out the Macedonian tribe of the Dorians (whom Kretchmer identifies with the Douriopes of Macedonia) and forced them to leave the country around the mountains of Olympus and Pindus (Herodotus, Pindar, Strabo) and settled in the land to the south of the Kambounian mountains as well as to the south of the Isthmus of Corinth. They (the Dorians) were followed by other tribes of the so-called north- western type and were scattered all over Greece, except Arcadia. From such new settlers certain localities derived and retained up to this day their historical names, i. e. Boeotia, Phocis Acarnania, Thessaly, etc. The Boeotians themselves must have come down from the western Macedonian mountain Boion, from which their name is derived. But they were not alien to the extension of the Boion mountain further south, that is Pindus, from which Pindar's name is derived.

ESTABLISHMENT OF THE CENTRAL MACEDONIAN THRONE

Those who remained in Macedonia settled in small villages and, divided according to areas in independent Kingdoms, were engaged in constant warfare with their neighbors, the Illyrians, whom they kept in check. Between 700-500 B. C. the dynasty of Orestis (the territory sow covered by Kastoria and Korytsa) appeared and established the central Macedonian throne in Aegae (Vergina) of Emathia after subduing the local kings of the other Macedonian territories of Pelagonia (Monastir), Lyngus (Florina), Douriopia (Krousovo-Perlepes), Elimia (Kozane- Grevena), Tymphaea (Konitsa), Eordia (Ptolemais), Pieria ( Katerini-Litochoron ) and Bottiaea (Giannitsa- Pella).

The town of Aegae (in Central Macedonia) was the seat of the King of the entire Macledonia who ruled over the already subdued small kingdoms. These, according to Thucydides, "were allies and subjects, but also had kings of their own". That is, to put it in another way, they were federative units, having approximately the same relation with the central government as the small states of Germany had with the King of Prussia before the first World War (1914-18).

EXPANSION OF THE KINGDOM OF MACEDONIA

Following the repulse of the Persians, King Alexander I, occupied the entire territory between the rivers Axios and Strymon, with the exception of the coastline. Philip II, father of Alexander the Great, extended his dominion eastward to the shores of Euxine. He imposed his political influence even beyond Kaemus (the Balkan Mountains) as far as the Danube River, after having traversed all the land beyond the river Axios from the south to north as well as from east to west: that is from Scythia Minor (Dobrudja),where, according to Atheneus, he married Meda or Medope, the daughter of Kothela, King of Odessa (Varna).

Along the coastline of the Aegean, the Propontis and the Euxinus already existed colonies founded by Greeks from Southern Greece since the 8th century B. C. But Philip founded other colonies inland of which we know only Philippi, Kabyle and Philippopolis. These were the bases for a methodical intercourse with, and hellenization of the Thracians in the interior. '4' But Philip's colonies must have been many more, for Philippopolis alone in the center of Thrace, without any other support (that is, a series of similar colonies), would not have been able to remain Greek in character together with her suburbs up to the recent exchanges of populations.'5'

In the nearby tombs jewels of genuine Greek workmanship were discovered testifying to the presence not merely of transient merchants, but of Greek colonists as well, who penetrated and settled in the interior as an extension of the Greek colonies founded along the coastline in the 8th century B. C. and afterwards.

DISSEMINATION OF GREEK CULTURE

It was through the presence of such settlers that the taste and pursuit of works of classical Greek art has already been imparted in the 5th century B. C., which coincides with the beginning of coinage in the Greek colonies along the coastline. The presence of such abundant works of Greek art in the interior can not be explained only by the existence of the Greek coastal colonies. Similar colonies also existed along the coast of Dacia, but the interior did not assume a Greek character by the presence of any such Greek works in large numbers. There is, from this point of view, a similarity between northern Thrace and the peninsula of Taurus. This peninsula, however, has been almost purely Greek with Iphigenia in Tauris and Prometheus in Caucasus. All in all, the Greek nation has, at least from the time: of Philip, been the master not only of the coastline, but of the interior of Thrace as well. With the exception of the Romans and the Turks, no other Balkan people has seized the coast, but only occasionally and in such a manner as travelers are accommodated for s night in hotels.(6)

CONSOLIDATION OF THE STATE OF MACEDONIA

Throughout this period and until the days of the Byzantine Empire, no other people has ever invaded Macedonia to displace the Arian-Greeks. Nor have Greek colonists come from Southern Greece. Had they tried to, they would have been unable to fill up a vast land, such as Western Macedonia. Poor and thin-soiled, it was not suitable for colonization. Besides, in Southern Greece, which was cut up into city-states, no Power could have been found strong enough, to conceive the idea, and have the necessary means, in order to colonize the whole of the interior of a distant country, which would have meant the displacement of the native population. In such case it would have been necessary to determine the racial character of the population and explain its presence there, had it not been originally Greek.

Legends, such as those about immigration of Kings and other settlers from Southern Greece to Macedonia (Temenides, Bacchiadae, Kadmeians) were invented by the Greeks precisely to explain the Greek character of the Macedonians. All this is due to the fact that the ancient Greeks could not understand this in any other way, since they did not know their own origin and the route their ancestors followed in coming into Macedonia and Greece.

THE MACEDONIANS CLUNG TO THEIR OLD TRADITIONS

This being the case, the inhabitants of Macedonia are descendants of the old Arian (Greek) settlers. Prehistorical data are very clear on this point. Since the dawn of history, the names of the people and the places in 'Macledonia are Greek (Karanos, Perdiccas, Amyntas, Aeropus, Alcetas, Kleitos, Emathia, Eidomene, Haliacmon, Echedorus, Dion, etc). In addition, there is a tradition that the Greek dialect of the Macedonians preserved, and rightly so, the old peculiarities of the Homeric times, retaining the nominative cases of the first declension without "s", as is the case with the Thessalian and the Boeotian dialects, such as ippota, mhtieta, nepheligereta, olympionica, etc. This very thing is also denoted by the name Ptolemaios (Homeric Ptolemos), while the southerners were saying later polemos-Polemon. It is not improper to mention here that the bodyguards of the kings of Macedonia were called "etairoi" of the King, that is, fellow-warriors and companions, as in the time of Homer.

Thus, the Macedonian dialect was preserved in an undeveloped and archaic state, as was the case with their entire civilization, but it was Greek. It follows, therefore, that the people, too, were rude and backward, but they were Greeks, appearing as such during the time of Philip and Alexander and even later, when the light of civilization was shining on in their own land. The Greeks moved to Peloponnesus from what is called "Sterea Hellas" Central or Middle Greece. The latter, however, was not wholly evacuated as a result of this southward movement, The same holds true as to Thessaly, whose population or rather a part of it, moved to Middle Greece. Another example: Greeks from all over Greece had left their original hometowns and settled in colonies outside Greece. The latter, however, has never been evacuated altogether by its Greek inhabitants. Thus Macedonia, too, sent out her surplus population without ceasing to be a country of Greeks.'7'

 


The Byzantine Empire

Introduction

The Byzantine Empire considered itself the only true inheritor both of the Roman Empire and of the Christian religion. This fact made the Empire something somewhere between an ally and an enemy to the West. Whether the two were cooperating or fighting, though, events in Byzantium were of great importance to Outremer (especially to Antioch) and to the Crusading movement.

Constantinople was the capital and the greatest city in Christendom in terms of wealth, population, and political power. The Empire it ruled consisted of Asia Minor, the Balkans, and Greece. Over the 12th and 13th centuries, it lost most of its lands in all these areas, but its fortunes waxed and waned dramatically. By 1291, however, the "Empire" was reduced to the city of Constantinople and its hinterland, plus a few outposts.

The Greek Emperor regarded himself as the true inheritor of the Caesars and the true defender of the faith against the Muslims. The so-called Holy Roman Emperor was nothing but an upstart--at best, he might be considered the western Augustus, recalling the tetrarchy of Diocletian. Similarly, the Patriarch of Constantinople regarded himself as the true head of the Church. The Bishop of Rome (the pope) was the bishop of a great and honorable city, on a par with the Patriarch of Jerusalem or Antioch or Alexandria, but definitely a step below Constantinople and in any case tainted with unorthodoxy.

The Greeks themselves (I shall use the Westerners' term for all those who lived within the Byzantine Empire) generally regarded the Latins with contempt: they were dirty, smelly, violent, treacherous, superstitious, superb warriors but untrustworthy allies. They were greedy and grasping, and were not to be trusted in business matters. For their part, the Westerners had much the same opinion of the Greeks, except they had no respect for the Greek soldier, either.

Byzantine history during our two centuries falls into three periods: the rule of the Comneni, the Latin Empire of Constantinople, and the rule of the Paleologoi. The Comneni rescued the Empire from near-destruction by the Turks and returned it to a position of strength. Around 1200, though, their leadership failed and Byzantium was torn apart by internal strife. The Fourth Crusade took advantage of this, with the result that for about fifty years, Byzantium was ruled by Latins, though there was always one or more Greek emperors in exile. Michael VIII Paleologus was the emperor in exile who finally drove the Latins back out, after the latter had managed to lose most of what the Comneni had gained. The Paleologoi emperors ruled a much-reduced empire for another two hundred years.

 

Structure of the Empire/How it was ruled

The Byzantine emperor (basileus in Greek; imperator in Latin) was a much more effective monarch than any of his counterparts in the West. His theoretical powers were greater, and most of the time he was able to turn theory into practice. He had most of the expectations and responsibilities of a Western king, but he was also more influential in religious matters.

But the emperor could not rule alone. His effective power was limited, and during the crusading centuries he could intervene in a particular area for a certain length of time only, or else risk losses on another front. A hallmark of this period in the Empire was the constant need for alliances and subtle diplomacy; we will see the emperors making temporary friends with enemies on every front.

Within the Empire, government rested on four main pillars: the army, the Greek Orthodox Church, the imperial bureaucracy, and a handful of noble families. From the latter came the emperors themselves. From the great nobles, too, came much of the top level of imperial government--military commanders, provincial governors, and so on. From their estates came men for the army and money for governing, and from them, too, came plots and rivals. Every emperor had to court the great nobles while at the same time being careful not to let any of them grow too powerful.

As with any government, the army was of vital importance, but in the Empire it held a particular political significance. In the Western monarchies, armies existed only for the duration of a war and so did not become a political force. The Empire, however, had a standing army of professional soldiers. An emperor needed victory in the field to enhance his prestige and fend off rivals, so he needed the loyalty of the army and especially of its officer corps. Moreover, the most prestigious posting was at Constantinople itself, or nearby, making it tempting for the army to meddle in imperial politics. If the army's loyalty should go to a rival, an emperor was doomed.

The daily business of government, in matters great and small, was in the hands of a bureaucracy that was far greater than anything the Western monarchs could imagine. The layers of government--imperial, provincial and municipal--had been inherited from the old Roman Empire and never ceased to function. Local authority was at the municipal level; cities in the Empire were commercial and religious focal points as they were in the West, but they were also centers of administration, justice and tax collection. The next layer up was the province (theme, in Greek), ruled by governors, appointed by the emperor from among the great families. Their prime duties were the collection of taxes and the appointing of local officials. They were supplemented by military governors who commanded mostly native troops and who were to keep public order.

The Greek Orthodox Church was the fourth base on which the Byzantine Empire rested. As in the West, it was an enormous landowner and possessed vast wealth which it protected jealously but which emperors did tap when they could. In general, the Greek Orthodox Church was much more under the control of the state than the Roman Catholic Church was. The emperor could speak with authority on religious matters, and he had the privilege of nominating the Patriarch. At the same time, bishops in the major towns could become popular leaders in ways that western bishops rarely did. A bishop could pose as a champion of the poor, or a defender against oppression, and so stir the populace as to effect rebellion. The most dramatic case of this came in the 13th century, when for a time the Byzantine Emperor agreed to submit to the Catholic Church and allowed a Latin Patriarch at Constantinople.

The Byzantine Empire was polyglot, consisting of numerous peoples and cultures. At the imperial level it was Greek, which was the language of learning, commerce, religion, politics and the military. Greek philosophy ruled intellectual life, Greek Orthodox was the only faith officially supported by the state (others were tolerated). Its political structure and its law were Roman, and indeed its emperors called themselves Emperor of the Romans.

At the local level, national cultures prevailed. Local laws and customs were generally respected by the Byzantines, in the Roman tradition--as long as the locals behaved themselves, paid their taxes and contributed men to the army, they were allowed to keep their customs and sometimes even their own laws and governments.

One last point worth making: Constantinople was the keystone to it all. Political power and religious authority converged only here. Whoever controlled the city controlled the empire; similarly, no claimant to the throne could be successful until he had taken the city. Palace intrigues were therefore more important in the Empire, and the actions of a family member might weigh more heavily than the loyalty of entire cities.

   Byzantium in the Eleventh Century

The tenth century was a glorious time in the Empire, with strong rulers and general prosperity, but the eleventh century saw chaos and loss. A convenient place to mark the turning point is the death of Emperor Basil II in 1025. After his death, rival families contended for control, with the two leading rivals being the Ducas and the Comneni. Both sides made extravagant grants of privileges and power to anyone whom they thought might be of help, decreasing the ability of the emperor to govern. The army became almost independent, creating further disruptions.

Political disorder invites predators, and the Empire by mid-century found formidable enemies rising against it: the Slavs to the north, the Normans to the west, and the Turks from the east. The emperors were able to fend off the first two, but in 1071 the Turks inflicted a catastrophic defeat on the Byzantines at Manzikert. The Emperor Romanus Diogenes was captured, most of Asia Minor was lost, and the Empire fell into ten years of civil war.

Everyone invaded. The Empire lost its frontier along the Danube River to the Slavs, and it lost Italy to the Normans. Syria was gone, and many Greek islands soon followed. By the time Alexius Comnenus emerged as undisputed emperor in 1081, he had little more than Constantinople itself. He spent the rest of his reign trying to regain what had been lost since the days of Basil II.

This was the situation in Byzantium at the time of the First Crusade. Alexius had dealt successfully with the Petchnegs and the Normans, and now wanted to make some progress against the Turks. He had Vikings as his personal bodyguard (the famous Varangian Guard), and he had had more experience than he cared for with the Normans (who had repeatedly invaded his lands). So he knew the value of the Latin knights. But he wanted them firmly in his service, to help him recover Antioch and Nicaea and Iconium and the other lands so recently lost to the Turks.

 

Inca Empire: Extent of Empire, Rise, Fall, Role of the State/ How they governed themselves etc

Introduction

The Inca state covered most of the Andean Mountains and much of the arid Pacific coastline. It was the largest indigenous empire that the Europeans encountered in the Western hemisphere. This extensive empire, with millions of subjects of diverse ethnicities and dialects, stretched from the modern-day Colombia-Ecuador border to the Maule River in central Chile, and eastward into Bolivia (including modern La Paz) and northern Argentina--a ribbon-shaped land about twenty-five hundred miles in length. At its core were the forested valleys in the highlands of         Peru.

The Incas themselves used the word Inca while referring to their emperor, and called their own empire Tahuantinsuyu, or "Land of the Four Quarters," the quarters (or administrative provinces) converging at their capital of Cuzco. Later, the Europeans used the word Inca to denote both the people and the empire, and today we have adopted this modified meaning of the word in our popular usage.

Origins and Rise

Since the Incas were nonliterate, we have to rely on their oral traditions to know their history before the Spanish conquest of Peru. At first, they were a small tribe living in the Cuzco Valley to the north of Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world. They began to spill out beyond the narrow confines of their habitat during the reign of their earliest king, Manco Capac (around C.E. 1200), to whom they ascribed divine descent.

The domain of the Incas slowly grew at the expense of neighboring tribes for the next two centuries. The pace of their expansion quickened under their eighth king, Viracocha, in the early part of the fifteenth century. Viracocha's armies conquered the Ayarmaca kingdom in the southern Cuzco Valley in a model campaign. However, it was under his son, Pachacuti Yupanqui, that the Incas entered upon an aggressive career of conquest.

Pachacuti Yupanqui

As Pachacuti Yupanqui (1438-1471) usurped the throne during the lifetime of his father, the Inca kingdom became embroiled in a civil war. With the help of the Quechuas, Pachacuti defeated the invading Chancas and then prevailed over his domestic enemies. Pachacuti's brother, Capac Yupanqui, carried Inca conquests to the ocean in 1445, drove the Chancas beyond the Yanamayo River, and successfully stormed the Chimu (or Chimor) fortress of Cajamarca before being murdered by his jealous brother. Two other sons of Pachacuti conquered the strategic Urubamba valley lying between the Cuzco valley and Lake Titicaca. Yet another son of the Inca king, Topa Yupanqui, subjugated the Quechuas and the Chancas, relieved the Inca garrison at Cajamarca, sacked the Chimu capital at Chan Chan, seized their irrigation works, and advanced along the coast of Ecuador as far as Pachacamac. Thus it was because of the conquests of Topa that the Incas could become masters of an empire.

Pachacuti rebuilt the city and the fortress of Cuzco and undertook massive irrigation projects in the upper end of the Cuzco Valley. He also instituted the state cult of the worship of the pre-Inca creator-god Viracocha, in whose honor temples were built and in whose name Inca armies mounted their conquests. From their vanquished enemies, the Incas demanded not conversion but submission to their god, and extensive offerings of land, grains, and labor. In 1471, Pachacuti abdicated in favor of his son, Topa, so as to avert another dynastic conflict.

Topa Yupanqui and his Successors

Topa Yupanqui (1471-1493) had, as seen before, already subdued the coastal civilization of the Chimu of central Peru in 1470, thereby extending his empire to the border of Ecuador. After a relatively unsuccessful invasion of the tropical rainforest near the Tono River, the Incas crushed a revolt of the Colla and the Lupaca peoples of the Titicaca basin. In the south, the Incas under Topa then conquered highland Bolivia, drove deep into central Chile and northern Argentina, overcame the fierce resistance of the Araucanians, and spread their territory south beyond modern Santiago until they controlled lands as far as the Maule river basin. Finally, by 1479, after a campaign lasting three years, the Incas had incorporated the entire southern coast of Peru into their empire.

Having concluded his career of conquests, Topa devoted himself to various aspects of imperial government, traveling extensively to assign lands and establish local administration. He also devised a system of units to divide the populace for the purpose of conscription for construction and military undertakings. Topa's aqllakuna system required tributaries to supply "chosen women" for servants and sacrificial victims in state temples, and textile-weavers and brides of distinguished soldiers in the Inca army.

The next Inca emperor, Huayna Capac (1493-1525), consolidated the conquests of his last two great predecessors, suppressed small rebellions, and defeated the Chachapoyas in northeastern Peru in 1513. Finally, at the end of his reign, he extended his empire to the Ancasmayo River at the Ecuador-Colombian border while his general, Yasca, drove back the Chiriguano invaders to Argentina. Huayna Capac died without nominating an heir. His two sons, Huascar and Atahualpa, entered into a contest for his throne. This struggle ultimately brought about the intervention of the Spaniards, who overthrew the Incas and founded their own continental empire.

Ancestor Worship

The motive force that propelled the extensive Inca conquests since the times of Pachacuti was the state ideology of ancestor worship. Although the Sun God was the chief among the Inca deities, and animism and sacrifices (of both animals and humans) were popular among the Incas, it was the official cult of veneration of royal mummies (and utilization of inherited imperial resources to support them) that actually created a self-perpetuating need for every ruler to engage in fresh wars of conquests.

This feature of Incan belief and practice needs to be elaborated further. The Incas mummified their dead rulers, and not only had temple priests adorn and parade them during public festivals, but also had oracles consult them as intermediaries of the gods. From the Chimu kingdom, Pachacuti adopted the belief in the divided inheritance of emperors: the titular rank and power of the deceased ruler passed on to his successor, but his wealth, palaces, and lands were to be used by his successors only to support the worship of his mummy for all times to come. Therefore, in order to ensure for himself an eternal personal cult, each new Inca ruler was obliged to acquire a corporation of new territories and tribute, which in turn necessitated fresh conquests.

System of Rule( very important)

The Inca state was an absolute theocracy, and the imperial system was characterized by a high level of organization and hierarchy. At the apex of all power and authority was the emperor, the Inca demigod personifying the solar deity, who was married to his sister and ruled from Cuzco, the site of the imperial court and the principal temples. Under the emperor was the upper aristocracy, composed of the members of the ten royal clans (or ayllus), and holding the highest positions in the state--religious, civil, and military. They came to be referred to as the "Big Ears," or orejones, by the Spaniards, as they alone had the customary privilege of wearing big jeweled spools that abnormally distended their perforated ear-lobes. The lesser nobility conducted the daily administration, and included in its ranks, conquered chieftains, chiefs (or curacas) of ayllus, royal retainers, and public officials.

The powerful class of warriors, governors, and bureaucrats in the Inca state received imperial patronage in the form of gifts of land, jewels, llamas, and alpacas. They were exempt from working in the fields and mines, and other forms of labor-oriented public services. Unlike in Mesoamerica, the merchant class in the Andean region was conspicuous by its absence as trade was severely limited by the official Inca policy of ensuring economic self-sufficiency, and strictly regulating output, circulation, and exchange of commodities. The classes of administrative officials and artisans were hereditary. At the bottom were the commoners, who toiled incessantly for agricultural and mineral production, and nearly all of whose surplus went to enrich the upper classes and the emperor.

Inca Overlordship

The Incas divided their empire into four great provinces (each under a viceroy), and controlled the subjugated Andean peoples not by terror and carnage as did the Aztecs, but thorough political integration and cultural assimilation. Pursuing a policy of colonization called the mitma, the Incas deliberately imposed their Quechua language as well as their pantheon of gods--chiefly Inti, the Sun and his wife, Mama-Kilya, the Moon, the deified former kings, and the elemental gods of thunder and rain--on the subject peoples. Pachacuti probably initiated the mitma system of demographic reconfiguration of the empire: segments of conquered populations were forced to distant regions from where loyal subjects and soldiers would be made to migrate to the newly subjugated territories.

The Incas divided the conquered lands into lands for the emperor (crown lands), lands for the Sun (domains to sustain the state cult and the priests), and lands for the people (land for collective tillage). Successful generals, distinguished bureaucrats, and favorite nobles were sometimes awarded extensive private estates by the Inca emperor in newly conquered territories. As masters, the Incas also constructed granaries and large irrigation projects for the welfare of their subjects.

The subjects of the Incas were bound to remain loyal to the state, were obliged to work collectively in imperial or religious farms and state mines, had to pay tribute with their produce, and perform mandatory labor services for the state, including constructing roads, bridges, palaces, and temples for men, and weaving cloth from alpaca wool for women. The state rewarded the soldiers with artistic textiles and chicha, or corn beer. The Incas used bronze tools and weapons; bronze culture became very widespread in the area with Inca conquest. The Incas built large temples for their deities and fetishes, and many llamas and humans who were sacrificed to propitiate the gods were obtained from conquered provinces as part of taxes.

Inca State Socialism

The Inca empire was a totalitarian welfare state: the government intervened with all aspects of the subject's life, and instituted social security schemes for them. There was technically no private property: the Inca emperor owned everything in his realm, down to every peasant's plot of land, homestead, household goods, and livestock. The state extracted everything from the peasants beyond what was required for their bare subsistence, and made them work at the imperial projects according to the assigned quota of the district they inhabited.

Almost every aspect of an individual's life was regulated by the state. The state required everyone to marry and sometimes even determined the spouse and decided the time of the wedding. The daily life of the Incas was regimented, but they enjoyed substantial social welfare sponsored by the government. All regions received adequate grains for subsistence, and the destitute and the infirm were taken care of by the society. Finally, the state provided relief to the poor in times of failure of harvests and natural disasters.

The Inca polity was characterized by a marked absence of tribute as the peasants contributed their goods and services to the state by the mita system. By this system, which was later adopted by the Spanish rulers, village leaders assigned peasant clans to part with their grains and labor to the state by rotation. Markets, too, did not develop, since peasants satisfied their simple needs of consumption by a reciprocal exchange of products and services.

Highway System

The Inca empire was physically united by the construction of a widespread system of roads. Of the two main roads of the empire, one ran along the Pacific coast, another road traversed the Andes Mountains. The north-south roads were connected by lateral roads to the major settlements, and a network of link roads reached out to every village in the realm. The roads, which ran for many thousands of miles, were long and narrow, running across suspension bridges and through hill tunnels. They had way stations within a day's walk of one another to serve as inns for travelers, supply depots for the army, and relaying points for runners who transmitted messages throughout the empire. Like those of the Roman Empire, the Inca roads served to link up all parts of the empire, and stone-paved or not, were remarkable feats of engineering. Like the Aztecs, the Incas were ignorant of the use of the wheel; llamas were used as pack animals on those imperial roads.

Bookkeeping without Alphabet

Another achievement of the Incas was their mode of record-keeping. The Incas had a genius for organization, but they had no written language. As a result of government policy, their Quechua language gradually superseded the other local languages, and most people of Peru can speak Quechua today.

The Incas, however, devised a complex system of keeping mathematical records, called the quipu. They used an abacus made of rope, with knotted strings of many colors and textures attached to it, to denote numbers and objects, besides all kinds of arrangement and dimension. The quipu was adequate enough for the Incas to maintain detailed records of ledgers, inventories, and even census records.

Destruction

After the death of emperor Huayna Capac in 1525, the Inca empire experienced a civil war between two rival claimants to the throne. The imperial council elected the Huayna Capac's chief wife, while the people and the generals supported Atahualpa, the deceased ruler's favorite son. After five years of bitter struggle, Atahualpa's army defeated and captured Huascar near Cuzco in April 1532.

Meanwhile, the Spanish conquistador, Francisco Pizarro (ca. 1474-1541), had landed at Tumbes in the northern Peruvian coast. The head of a small force, he had several horses and a few cannons and searched for ources of gold and silver in the Inca empire. As Pizarro's force advanced toward Cuzco through the Andean mountain roads, Atahualpa at first believed that the party was that of the creator-god, Viracocha, returning from Polynesia. Soon, however, the Incas realized the actual identity of the invaders and planned to waylay them. Atahualpa confidently accepted Pizarro's invitation to meet him unarmed at the central plaza of Cajamarca.

But the Spaniards kidnapped Atahualpa on 16 November 1532, and Pizarro agreed in a written agreement to ransom him for a roomful of gold that was offered by his shocked subjects. When the Incas collected gold from all over their empire to fill up a large room, the Spaniards took the gold and executed him on the charge of having ordered Huascar's death.

In 1533, Pizarro captured Cuzco and installed a puppet emperor, Topa Hualpa, on the Inca throne. When Topa Hualpa died, the Spaniards set up Huascar's brother, Manco Inca, as the titular ruler so as to suppress the remnants of Atahualpa's army. Realizing that the Spaniards had launched their conquest of Peru and were preventing him from exercising control over Inca territories, Manco Inca attacked the European settlements in 1535. His aggression repulsed, Manco Inca fled to the mountainous region of Vitcos, where he established an independent kingdom that lingered until 1572.

Suggested Reading

Von Hagen, Victor W. The Ancient Sun Kingdoms of the Americas, 1961.


This is a comparison study between the 3 mesoamerican empire

“How Did They Govern Themselves?”

The Aztec, Maya, and Inca: The great Sun Empires of Mesoamerica and South America

We have the misconception today that the civilizations of ancient America were all alike, that the people of these vast empires were the same, this could not be father form the truth.  The people of the Aztec, Mayan, and Inca Empires were distinct and unique.  They had technology, complex religious practices, and an elaborate political structure.  This study into the political foundations and organizational structure of the Sun Empires of pre-Columbian America will show how these different societies operated and prospered in the ancient world.

Origins of the Aztecs:

The people we know as the Aztecs migrated into the Mexican valley in roughly 1325 ad.  Their migration is believed to have began roughly two hundred years before from somewhere in the southwestern United States or northern Mexico, from a land the Aztec called Aztlan, “Place of Herons.”  From here they migrated to Chicomozta, the “Seven Caves,” from here they began their progression of conquest and domination of the Valley of Mexico.  In 1325 ad, after a battle the Aztec were forced to retreat to Lake Texcoco, where they had been told by their god that they would “see an eagle perched upon a prickly pear cactus.”  This was the sign that the Aztec people had reached their final destination in their migration from the north.  When they saw this sight at Lake Texcoco, the Aztec built a temple to Huitzilopochtli and established the settlement of Tenochtitlan, “Place of the fruit of the prickly pear cactus.” (Berdan 1982, 3)  The size of their empire has been estimated at over ten million inhabitants.  Tenochtitlan is said to have a population of around three hundred thousand citizens, which would place far beyond comparable European cities that had a population of about forty thousand residents for London and Paris had a population of roughly sixty-five thousand.(Von Hagen 1961, 134)

Origins of the Maya:

The Mayans have a dual history, because in actuality there were two people who went by the name of the Maya.  The first, or Ancient or Classical, Maya were more pacified and concentrated more on academics and pursuits of knowledge.  They ruled over the lowlands of present-day Guatemala from about 250 ad until roughly 900 ad.  After the fall of that civilization some of their inhabitants, mainly warriors, migrated into the Yucatán Peninsula.  The classical Maya are the people associated with numerous technological advances, such as the development of a 365-day calendar, a form of glyph writing and building techniques.  The later civilization was a predominately warrior society and this is the one that will be more closely looked at throughout this analysis.  The post-classical Mayans absorbed a great deal from their predecessors.(Salmoral 1990, 14) They ruled through conquest and their power lay with their military.  The size of their empire is estimated to be as large as thirteen million inhabitants and as small as two-three million residents.(Thompson 1954, 29)

Origins of the Inca:

The origins of the Inca are shrouded in mystery.  Located in the high elevations of the Andean Mountains of the western coast of South America, their empire spanned a distance of roughly 2,500 miles.  It covered modern day Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and the northern parts of Chile.  Their empire was built on plateaus high in mountains.  Their cities were built out of huge stone blocks by a technique still unknown to scholars today.  The Inca arrived in the area around 1100 ad and reigned until 1532.  The civilization was not a true empire until 1438 with the coronation of Pachacutec.  At its peak, the Inca are believed to have had a population of roughly fifteen million citizens.(Salmoral 1990, 27)

Basic Political Structure - Aztec:

The Aztec had a city-state system.  Each city governed the surrounding area and was ruled by a local leader, a tlatoani, “orator.”  The tlatoani was in charge of all the administrative affairs, collecting taxes, raising armies, building projects, etc.  The tlatoani had an advising body known as the “Council of Four.”  This council included his second in command and other high-ranking members of the ruling family of that city.  The Aztec had the practice of having the ruling class all be members of the same family.  The “Council” would advise the ruler in matters of finance, military, judicial, and diplomatic.  They would also serve as acting ruler in the event of the tlatoani’s absence.  Each city’s tlatoani paid allegiance to the tlatoani of Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec Empire, he was known as the huey tlatoani, “Great Orator.”(Von Hagen 1961, 119)

Maya:

The Mayan City was not really a city in the sense that it was not an urban living center but more a cultural center or religious focus point.  The cities were ruled by the halach uinic, “The Man.”  He was seen as a demigod whose rule was law.  The Mayan had a hybrid theological government.  The ruling classes were warriors but they were heavily influenced by the priests and religious practices of the Mayan people.  The cities did not exactly cooperate with one another.  The Mayan countryside was usually in a state of constant warfare, cities fighting over control of the countryside.  There was no definitive capital of the Mayan Empire until 1200 ad when the Cocom dynasty of Mayapán consolidated their control over the region.  Their reign however only lasted roughly two hundred years.  In 1441 ad, a revolt was staged and nearly the entire Cocom ruling class was murdered.  The Mayan hulach uinic had advisors or governors called batabob, “axe man.”  These men usually used force to implement hulach uinic’s  the  law.(Von Hagen 1961, 297-301)

Inca:

The Inca had a very elaborate hierarchy system.  At the top, was the Inca emperor, who was god on earth.  He ruled over the entire Inca Empire, no one equaled his power.  He was the Sun King, the Supa Inca.  Below him were his four advisors, the apocunas, each was assigned a quarter of the empire to watch over.  To each of them were assigned t’oqrikoq, who was given control over forty thousand families each, he was assigned four hunu, who oversaw ten thousand families, this was then broken up into groups of a thousand families.  That was further organized into groups of one hundred families and finally into groups of ten families.(Moore 1958, 99)

The Inca capital was Cuzco, an amazing city built around 1100 ad.  It was used as the central government and used to ensure loyalty from the outlying territories.  A representative from each village was sent to live in Cuzco.  The city was divided just as the empire was, neighboring villages would have neighboring sections in the city.  It was an effective was of promoting unity.

 

How officials were selected - Aztec:

In the Aztec Empire, a committee made up of the most powerful chiefs, respected warriors, high-ranking priests, and certain representatives from the government elected the tlatoani.  Now it was not a election in the sense of modern day elections.  The committee had to choose the new ruler from a particular family, the members of which were believed to be descendents of the gods.  The candidate had to have proven himself a capable warrior as well as a competent diplomat.  Typically the committee would pick a brother of the former ruler before choosing a son or nephew.  The line of ascension could be easily put aside if a candidate was believed to be lacking in any respect the qualities needed to rule. The “Council of Four” was made up of the rulers brothers, cousins, nephew, and uncles, all who were in line for the throne, which probably made it a little difficult to sleep at night.  The huey tlatoani’s ascension to the throne was marked by grandiose ceremonies, typically littered with mass human sacrifices. Huey tlatoani Ahuitzotl sacrificed twelve thousand prisoners for his coronation.(Berdan 1982, 100)

Maya:

The Mayan hulach uinic was a hereditary office, going from father to eldest son, from father to eldest son.  If the son was believed to be incapable of holding office the throne was passed to the former rulers brother.  If there was no direct descendent to the throne available, one would be chosen by the advising council.  The successor would usually come from the same family of the previous ruler.  The hulach uinic was both a spiritual ruler as well as a political one.  By serving both in a religious and a bureaucratic role, the hulach uinic was typically somewhat conceded and often spent a lot of time building monuments of themselves signifying how much power they had at their disposal.(Von Hagen 1961, 300)

Inca:

The Inca had a little more interesting view on how succession should work.  They believed that to be capable to lead a nation you needed to be capable of leading an army.  So every time the emperor died a civil war broke out with armies being led by the deceased emperor’s sons and brothers.  Whoever won the war was proclaimed the new emperor and charged with restoring peace and order to the empire.  He did this symbolically by going to Mount Huanacauri, where the first Inca emperor, Manco Capac established the empire, and placing Manco Capac’s golden staff into the ground.  The Inca emperor also had to worry about attempted overthrows, because he typically placed his sons and brothers in command of the armies and sometimes they decided to get a jump on the competition and attack before the emperor had died.(Salmoral 1990, 139)

How did the government work:

Taxes - Aztecs:

It is said that there are two things in life that man can not escape, death and taxes, well this was true even in ancient America.  In the Aztec world, as well with the rest of ancient America, money had not been developed yet, the Native Americans operated on a barter system, and this made taxing the public interesting.  Instead of requiring payments of money on a regular basis, the Aztec required that each tribe provide so many men to perform services for the State.  Usually this service was in the form of working communal lands whose harvest, typically coca, was turned over to the State.  Sometimes the men were used to build structures necessary for the State.  In Aztec society, certain individuals were exempt from paying taxes.  These were the priests, certain army personal, skilled craftsmen, and the tlatoani’s concubines.(Von Hagen 1961, 86-87)

Maya:

The Mayan system of taxing its citizenry was similar to the Aztec’s.  They required a certain amount of the excess crops, usually maize, of the taxable public.  This excess corn was placed in the State’s depositories located throughout the Empire.  There was also a requirement to provide manpower for the building of temples and palaces.  In Mayan society, it was seen as beneficial to provide your services for the building of structures, especially religious temples as this was seen as being cooperative and would put you in good favors with the gods.(Von Hagen 1961, 253-254)

Inca:

In the Inca Empire, the tax, or mita, was divided up evenly.  Each family would have to provide the same number of men for their service-oriented tax.  The central government in Cuzco would decide what tasks needed to be done and then ask each family to provided a certain number of men.  Some families were assigned a permanent mita, such as, keeping a bridge or road maintained.  Usually the mita was a short-term service, typically mine duty, building a temple or bridge would be for a few months, but in some cases it took on a grandiose scale.  In 1438, the government began a program to improve the defenses around Cuzco.  It decided to build the fortress of Sacsahuamán.  It required thirty thousand workers eight years of their time to complete the construction.  That is an amazing organizational feet even by today’s standards.(Von Hagen 1961, 454-455)

 

War and Conquest – Aztec:

The Aztec fought for two reasons.  One, to get tribute from the tribes that they conquered.  Two, to capture prisoners for human sacrifice.  The Aztec had a complex system to their wars.  First they would send out an ambassador to the village or city they were intending to attack and give them an ultimatum, capitulate or die.  They were given one lunar month to respond.  If they decided to fight the battles were usually quick.  The battle was over when the leader of either side was captured or killed so this was usually the Aztec’s primary target, as they could not afford a protracted engagement.  Without the use of beasts of burden of access to the wheel all their supplies had to be carried, so it put them at a distinct disadvantage in battles fought far from their supply center.  The Aztec did not absorb the villages they conquered, they just required a tribute every six months or so and left the conquered to govern themselves.(Berdan 1982, 105-108)

Maya:

The Maya were in a state of almost constant warfare.  They were always trying to expand their sphere of influence in the region and gather more prisoners for sacrifice, though they did not sacrifice to the same extent as that of the Aztec.  Mayan armies had two commanders, the batabob or axe man was one, and this position was hereditary.  The other, the nocom, was an elected official.  Usually an accomplished warrior, upon being elected he could not drink alcohol, eat meat, or have relationships with women, a far cry from what we think of when we think of modern military service.  The Maya had specific rules when it came to combat.  They would not fight after dark.  If the nocom was killed the battle ended and battles did not occur during the planting season.  Even though they had rules once battle commenced they were ruthless, employing ambush tactics and psychological warfare on opponents.(Von Hagen 1961, 346-351)

Inca:

The Inca were totally obsessed with conquest.  They were not out to kill their opponent or to capture prisoners for sacrifice.  They wanted to capture territory and pacify the region.  The Inca would begin a long technique of intimidation when they wanted to take over a control.  They would employ spies to find out their enemy’s weaknesses and numbers.  They would then march in front of the opposing army to demonstrate their prowess and size of their army.  Each side would bring an idol to the battle, this was how the winner was decided.  Whoever captured the opposing side’s idol was declared the winner.  The battle was also over if the commander of either army was killed or captured.  Upon a successful conquest, the Inca would send in an administrative official to help assimilate the territory into the Inca Empire.  The citizens would be required to learn Quechua, the Inca language and a representative from the village was sent to Cuzco to ensure the loyalty of the village.(Salmoral 1990, 204-206)

Religious Ties – Aztec:

In the Aztec Empire the driving force for the society was the gathering of prisoners for human sacrifice to the Sun God.  It was the government’s responsibility to ensure that there were prisoners to be sacrificed to keep the Gods happy.  These became great and spectacular events marking key events and holidays.  The biggest sacrifices typically followed the coronation ceremonies of a new tlatoani.  War and religion were bound tightly together.  War provided prisoners, priests would sacrifice them and this supposedly kept the Gods happy, and who would then watch over the Aztec people and ensure the soldiers were protected so that they could get more prisoners.  It was a vicious cycle.

Maya:

The priests in the post-classical era were the only ones who possessed the knowledge of their classical era ancestors.  They were taught the sciences of math and medicine.  They were taught how to how to read and write the glyph system and how to read a calendar so as to know when certain religious holidays were.  They also performed sacrifices to appease their gods, but no where near to the extent of carnage employed by the Aztec.

Inca:

In the Inca society the church and the state were one.  The government was a theocracy.  The Sun King was god’s representative on earth.  He was the ultimate authority.  The religion and politics of Inca society were so intertwined it difficult to see where one begins and the other ends.  When an Inca ruler died his power was transferred to whoever won the civil war, but his actual possessions went to his panaqas, who were members of his family who were charged with protecting his belongings.  The Inca believe that the ruler did not actually die, the body was mummified and placed in the Coricancha temple in Cuzco.  Their bodies were brought out for major state functions.  It was now the duty of the new emperor to expand the empire so that he could gain possessions for when he died.(Fagen 1991, 48-49)

How did the Ruling class live – Aztec:

Moctezuma was the defining ruler of the Aztec Empire, and he lived as if he were a god.  When his coronation was complete he expelled all personal from the palace who were not of noble birth.  In order to speak to him you had to dress in the clothes of a commoner and walk barefooted.  He was dressed in refined garments, nothing too extravagant, but nicer than anything else was wearing.  He would be served grand feasts, comprising over thirty different dishes.  After night fell, he would enjoy the company of one of his many concubines.  Moctezuma fathered over one hundred fifty children.  Wherever he went he took an enormous entourage usually comprised of over two hundred lords and nobles.  The common people along the street were not allowed to look at him.(Von Hagen 1961, 119-124)

Maya:

The Maya ruling class were very rich and powerful.  They wore overly elaborate garments and deformed their bodies to conform to the Mayan concept of beauty.  Mayan rulers would pierce the septum of their nose as well as their left nostril.  They would flatten their forehead so that the top of their head formed a point.  They would pierce their earlobes and enlarge the hole so that large objects could be passed through it.  Their garments were ornate and grandiose, especially the headdress, which was made out of wood or wickerwork.  It would almost be as large as the lord wearing it.  It would be comprised of hundreds of bird feathers and have intricate carvings on it signifying whom the wearer was.(Von Hagen 1961, 297-300)

Inca:

The Inca rulers’ lives were filled with ritual and ceremony.  From birth to maturity the possible heirs to the throne were groomed and trained to lead.  Taught to read and understand the Inca method of record keeping, the knot tying of pieces of string.  They were taught how to fight with various weapons and techniques.  Their clothing was not all that different from the common man, just of a finer quality.  Their crown was basically just a piece of cloth.  The Inca also kept concubines and fathered numerous children.  One Inca ruler is rumored to have fathered five hundred children in the male line alone.(Von Hagen 1961, 493-496)

What happened when the Spanish arrived – Aztec:

In 1519, Hernán Cortés led a Spanish expedition to the mainland of Central America.  He brought with him nearly six hundred troops and ten horses.  His men were equipped with crossbows, muskets, lances, and a few pieces of artillery.  Upon landing they became engaged in combat and killed nearly three hundred Indians.  News of their arrival quickly reached the court of Moctezuma in Tenochtitlan.  Moctezuma was very worried, for years he had been receiving signs of impending doom for himself and his kingdom.  He sent out ambassadors to great the Spaniards.  His ambassadors believed that Cortés was the god Quetzalcoatl returned. Cortés used this and began a progressive movement inward never really being challenged militarily until it was too late.  After arriving in Tenochtitlan, Cortés was given a tour and shown all the wondrous sites of the city.  He took the advantage and held Moctezuma prisoner in his own temple. Moctezuma capitulated quickly, swearing allegiance to Charles the V of Spain.  When Moctezuma did that he lost all support from the noble class.  Riots and uprisings broke out all over Tenochtitlan. Cortés received word that a Spanish army had come to replace him.  Comprised of nine hundred men and a hundred horse, Cortés went to meet the contingent captured its commander and took control of the force.  He then used this force to suppress the Aztecs over the next couple of years, until final victory was accomplished.  The Aztec would suffer epidemic after epidemic under Spanish rule. Their cities were plundered and destroyed.  They were turned into slaves and seen as heathens by their Spanish rulers.(Berdan 1982, 164-168)

Maya:

The Maya, being the fierce warriors they were, gave the Spanish run for their money.  When the Spanish defeated the Aztec, roughly around 1524, the set their sights on the Mayan Empire.  Most thought this would be a fairly easy conquest, the people were primitive, always fighting one another, but the Spanish were routed time and again.  Finally in 1542, the Spanish gained a foothold and began a gradual conquest of the region.  In 1546, they began a program of murdering all the tribes who resisted their rule.  Along with exposure to small pox, warring with themselves and the technological advances of the Spanish it was an inevitable fate for the Maya.  In 1697, a hundred a seventy years after first contact the Spanish accepted the surrender of the last Mayan city. (Von Hagen 1961, 391-395)

Inca:

The Inca fell quickly to the Spanish conquest.  The Inca Empire had just emerged from a bloody civil war and many of its finest generals and warriors were dead.  Even the ones who survived were exhausted from a five year long war.  When the Spanish arrived the Inca first assumed they were returning gods to help with the coronation of the new king.  They soon realized that they were not gods but still did not give them much concern since there were so few of them, a little over an hundred troops.  The Inca agreed to meet the Spaniards and were ambushed, they awoke to find there leader killed and the whole Inca Empire under the control of the Spanish.(Von Hagen 1961, 579-583) 

Major Similarities:

The Sun Empires of pre-Columbian America had some interesting similarities between them.  They all worshiped the sun, believing it to be the source of life and power.  Their governments were all loosely based on a city-state structure.  The Inca Empire was a little more centralized.  They all had highly developed class systems with no real possible mean to ascend to the next level.  The priest and religious caste were very powerful in all three civilizations.  The basic political structure was the family, then the tribe, the village, the city and then the nation.  When there was a centralized leader he was usually seen as a representative or descendent of God.

These societies emerged hundreds even thousands of miles from each other yet still had basic core similarities.  They developed over hundreds of years and created structures and pieces of civilization that are still unrivaled today. 

 

Last set of notes

Because they had no written language, what we know of the history of the Incas and their realm comes from chronicles and other documents written in the decades after the Spanish conquest.  The stories in those chronicles had been passed down orally over the generations, and were collected in different parts of the empire over many years.  Add the biases of those retelling and recording the tales to the variations induced by time and space, and we are confronted with many different versions of stories about the founding of Cuzco, the names and deeds of Inca emperors, the expansion of Inca power, etc.  It is no surprise that these stories often seem to contradict each other.

Moreover, many of these stories are ultimately derived from the Incas' own "official" version of history, which was probably to a great extent fabricated to glorify the emperors and their heritage.   So in the end, by reconstructing Inca history from these written sources, we are not coming up with a representation of events as they actually occurred, but instead we arrive at what is hopefully a reasonable approximation of Inca history as sanctioned by the Inca state.

Many different scholars have made the effort to reconstruct official Inca history from chronicles and other documents (a field known as ethnohistory), and their results differ depending on which sources they chose to rely upon. Actual dates for events in Inca history are also rather imprecise, but here I will follow the chronology as worked out by John H. Rowe (1946), with the understanding that the earlier dates are undoubtedly less precise than the more recent ones.

The following pages describe the major events of Inca history, from their mythical beginnings ca. 1200 AD to the Spanish conquest in the 1530's.

Origins

There are numerous stories about the origins of the Incas and the founding of their capital, Cuzco. Many of them share some basic elements, but vary greatly in detail.  However, they all agree in naming Manco Capac as the first Inca ruler.  Inca origin stories can be divided into two groups: those that hold that Manco Capac came from the cave of Pacariqtambo ("pacariq" meaning "dawn" or "origin," "tambo" meaning "place of lodging"), and those that say he came from Lake Titicaca.  But even in those stories where Lake Titicaca is the place of origin, Pacariqtambo usually plays a role of some import.

The main Pacariqtambo origin story is as follows:  Four brothers, Ayar Manco, Ayar Auca, Ayar Cachi, and Ayar Uchu, and their four sisters, Mama Ocllo, Mama Huaco, Mama Cura, and Mama Rawa, emerged from a cave in the mountain of Tambo Toco.  The sisters were also the wives of the brothers, respectively.

This cave, located south of Cuzco at Pacariqtambo , had three windows.  From the middle window emerged Ayar Manco and his siblings, and from the two side windows emerged the people who would later found the 10 ayllus of Cuzco.  Ayar Manco and his followers travelled for days, and many different things are said to have happened to the group.  One of the brothers was sealed up in the cave at Pacariqtambo, and two of them turned into stone.  During the trip, Ayar Manco and his wife, Mama Ocllo had a son named Sinchi Roca.

At last they arrived in the Valley of Cuzco, and having been given a sign from the Sun, they knew this was the place they were to settle.  The land was already inhabited, but because the Incas were deemed to be superior in culture and intelligence, they were allowed to live there and come to govern the natives.  Ayar Manco became Manco Capac, the ruler of Cuzco and its people.  Upon his death, he turned to stone in the place where the Incas later built their temple of the sun.

In other versions of the origin story, Manco Capac and his brothers and sisters arose from Lake Titicaca, and were sent out from there by their father, the Sun, to found the city of Cuzco.  Manco Capac was given a golden staff, which he was to plunge into the ground at each place the group rested; when the staff sank all the way into the ground, they would know they had arrived at the proper place.  They wandered for years going to many places, and at one point stopped at Pacariqtambo.  Finally, when they arrived in the fertile valley of Cuzco, the staff sank all the way into the ground, and there they founded their kingdom.

Other versions link Lake Titicaca and Pacariqtambo by stating that Manco and his siblings originated in Lake Titicaca, and travelled underground to arise from the cave at Pacariqtambo.  While the proliferation of Inca origin stories may seem confusing, it is likely that different versions were meant for different audiences, created to serve the ends of the Inca elite in different ways.

The Growth of the Empire

As told in the origin stories, the founder of the Inca dynasty was Manco Capac.  According to most accounts, he was succeeded by 10 more rulers, in this order:

1

Manco Capac

2

Sinchi Roca

3

Lloque Yupanqui

4

Mayta Capac

5

Capac Yupanqui

6

Inca Roca

7

Yahuar Huacac

8

Viracocha Inca

9

Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui

10

Topa Inca Yupanqui

11

Huayna Capac

Those who headed the Inca state were known by various titles, including "Sapa Inca," "Capac Apu," and "Intip Cori."  Often, an emperor was simply referred to as "the Inca."  Rather than having a crown, the Inca emperors wore a fringe on the center of their headdress as a symbol of their status.

It is important to note that the term "Inca" can refer not only to the ruler, but also to people belonging to the ethnic group that settled in the Cuzco region at the time of Manco Capac; these people were all Incas by birth.  Other people, mainly groups in the regions surrounding Cuzco, were given the honorary status of "Incas by privilege."  In contrast, people native to the other regions conquered and controlled by the Incas belonged to many other ethnic groups, such as the Chachapoyas, Cañaris, and Wankas.  These people were not considered Incas.

Manco Capac to Viracocha Inca

For about two centuries after its founding by Manco Capac, ca. 1200 AD., the Inca domain remained small, and was no more significant in size or power than other societies in the Peruvian highlands.  At this time in the central Andes, there was something of a power vacuum.  The powerful Wari Empire, which had previously dominated much of Peru, had collapsed perhaps one or two centuries earlier.

Small regional polities (i.e., large chiefdoms and small states) were developing throughout the Andes, often coming into conflict with each other.  Warfare between neighboring groups was common, and many people lived in defensible hilltop villages and towns.  Several different groups, such as the Quechuas, Lupacas, and Collas, were starting to create strong states, but no one group was clearly dominant.  Alliances between groups were constantly being forged and broken to deal with threats from strong enemies or gain advantages over weak neighbors.

The Incas were no exception; they were not particularly strong, and had to form alliances to protect themselves.  This was the state of things until late in the reign of the eighth Inca, Viracocha.  The Cuzco realm was invaded by the Chancas, a powerful group who lived to the north.  Viracocha feared that the Incas had no chance against the agressors, and fled with his son and designated heir, Inca Urcon, to a fort named Caquia Xaquixahuana.

One of Viracocha's other sons, Inca Yupanqui, refused to give in and remained behind to defend Cuzco.  He quickly made alliances with other groups, including the Canas and Canchis, who sent soldiers to his aid.  The Chancas attacked, and when all seemed lost, Inca Yupanqui called out that the stones in the fields were rising up and turning to men to help fight for the Incas.  With this supernatural intercvention, the Chancas were repelled, with Inca Yupanqui and his forces winning a significant victory.

Pachacuti and Topa Inca: Empire Builders

After his victory over the Chancas, which occurred ca. 1438 AD, Inca Yupanqui assumed control over the realm of Cuzco, and began to expand his kingdom by conquering more territory.  He assumed the name "Pachacuti," which means "cataclysm" or "destroyer."  This name was fitting, as he brought great changes to the Central and Southern Highlands of Peru by incorporating the people of those regions into the Inca state, and strengthening the Inca army with soldiers from those lands.

After his conquests, Pachacuti returned to Cuzco to rebuild the capital city in grand style, having many buildings constructed using the fancy stone architecture the Incas are known for.  Around 1463 AD, while Pachacuti was busy organizing his conquests and remaking Cuzco, his son, Topa Inca, was allowed to take control of the Inca army and continue the task of conquest.  During that time, Topa Inca conquered the Northern Highlands of Peru, the Southern and Central Highlands of Ecuador, and then the Northern and Central Coastal areas of Peru.

Around 1471 AD, Pachacuti died, and Topa Inca became Sapa Inca.  During his rule, the empire virtually doubled in size, with the conquest of the lands of the Southern Coast of Peru, the northern half of Chile, Northwest Argentina, and Eastern Bolivia.  In fact, the vast majority of land that came under Inca control was conquered by armies under the command of Topa Inca either during his reign or during that of his father.

Thus, two men were responsible for conquering most of the territory of Tawantinsuyu and creating the institutions that enabled the Incas to govern that vast land.  In a span of approximately 55 years, the small realm of Cuzco had turned into the most powerful state in the New World.

Huayna Capac

When Topa Inca died ca. 1493 AD, he was succeeded by his son Huayna Capac.  By that time, the task of conquering more territory was becoming increasingly difficult.  The empire had expanded rapidly to absorb millions of people spread over thousands of kilometers of land, and the Incas had to concentrate much of their effort on consolidating their control over those regions, extracting goods and labor from them, quelling various rebellions, and defending a vast border.  Thus the amount of land added to the empire under Huayna Capac (ca. 1493 AD - ca. 1527 AD) was minor compared to that of Pachacuti and Topa Inca.

Because he lived closer to the time of the arrival of the Spaniards, more is known about the life and achievements of Huayna Capac.  It is said that he spent much of his reign in the highlands of what is now Ecuador (and referred to then as Quito).  He showed great favor toward the settlement of Tomebamba (now the city of Cuenca) in the land of the Cañaris, and had many fine buildings constructed there.  Tomebamba was a major regional center of Inca control, and it is said that it was second only to Cuzco in splendor and importance, and that it may have been considered the second Inca capital.

Huayna Capac spent much effort conquering the northern highlands of Ecuador, and also gained control over some lands in the northeast of Peru.  It is possible that he also campaigned and conquered some territory on the southern coast of Ecuador, but supporting evidence for Inca control in the area is lacking.

Nonetheless, Huayna Capac seemed to be very popular with his subjects, and probably would have extended Inca control still further if he had not died suddenly in 1527 AD.  It is likely that he died of small pox or another such disease brought to the New World by the Spaniards.  Unfortunately, his sudden death left the question of succession unsettled, leading to a struggle between two of his sons.

The Inca Civil War:  The Struggle between Atahuallpa and Huascar

When the Inca Huayna Capac died suddenly in 1527, it was unclear who had been named as his successor.  The accounts are contradictory as to who Huayna Capac had designated to rule the empire, but in the end, it became a struggle between two of his sons, Atahuallpa and Huascar. Some say that Huascar was the legitimate heir and was so decreed by Huayna Capac.  By tradition, the next Inca should be the son of the Inca and his principal wife, who should be his full-blooded sister.  Huascar met this criterion, while his half-brother Atahuallpa was the son of Huayna Capac by a secondary wife.

Nonetheless, it was claimed by others that Huayna Capac told Atahuallpa that he was splitting the empire into two, with Atahuallpa to rule the northern half, and Huascar the southern half.  Still another account says that Huayna Capac designated as successor a son who was incapable of filling the post, leaving the question totally up in the air.

No matter who was supposed to be the designated heir, Huascar had the support of the Inca nobility in Cuzco, and actually took command for a few years.  Meanwhile, Atahuallpa had the support of those in Quito and, furthermore, had command of the Huayna Capac's powerful army, which had been well-seasoned from the efforts to conquer people at the northern edge of Tawantinsuyu.

It is almost certain that similar struggles over succession occurred at other times in Inca history, although surely not in the case of the transition between Pachacuti and Topa Inca.  Whenever there was a conflict, the winners would undoubtedly change the official history to legitimize their claim to leadership and excise mention of other pretenders.  If not for Francisco Pizarro, there is little doubt that Atahuallpa would have gained and solidified his control, and then amended Inca history so that we never would have heard of Huascar.

The Spanish Conquest of the Inca Empire

Unfortunately for Atahuallpa Inca, who seemed to have gained the advantage over his brother Huascar in the struggle to become emperor, the Spaniards arrived at exactly the wrong time. Francisco Pizarro, fueled by Cortez's success in conquering the Aztecs and acquiring riches in Mexico, determined to go south to a land where stories told of a great kingdom of fabulous wealth.  After two preliminary excursions, Francisco Pizarro, with 168 Spaniards and a number of horses, arrived in Inca territory in May, 1532.

 

He landed at Tumbez, located in what is now the northern coast of Peru.  From there, he marched into the Andean highlands to the town of Cajamarca.  At that point, Atahuallpa's generals had captured Huascar near Cuzco, and Atahuallpa was heading south from the northern reaches of the empire toward the capital.

Atahuallpa was informed that some strangers were waiting to meet him in Cajamarca.  But he was not concerned about any foreign threat, and instead was pre-occupied with the issue of Huascar and consolidating his power.  So he went into Cajamarca with his guard down.

Pizarro had other ideas.  On November 16, 1532, he and his men ambushed Atahuallpa, using the advantages provided by their horses and a surprise attack to overcome the Inca and his retinue.  Atahuallpa was perplexed at his capture, but still considered Huascar to be a greater threat.  In return for his life, Atahuallpa offered Pizarro a fabulous ransom:  he would have a room, measuring about 22 by 17 feet, filled with objects of gold to a height of about 8 feet.  Then he would fill the room twice more with objects of silver.

While waiting for the ransom to arrive, Atahuallpa ordered his generals to kill Huascar before he could be brought to Cajamarca.  Eventually, the gold and silver arrived, and Atahuallpa fulfilled his promise.  In return, Pizarro had Atahuallpa executed on July 26, 1533.

By being in the right place at exactly the right time (or wrong place at the wrong time, if you will), and by being ruthless and deceitful, Franciso Pizarro was able to quickly capture the ruler of the Incas, throw the empire into disarray, and rapidly gain wealth through Atahuallpa's ransom.  But Atahuallpa's generals and other Incas continued to resist for many years before the Spaniards had full control of all the lands and people of Tawantinsuyu.

With the fall of Atahuallpa and the Inca Empire, Pizarro and his associates brought to end the most powerful native state in the New World, whose institutions represented thousands of years of indigenous cultural developments.  The Incas cannot be considered to have been benevolent masters by any means, but the abuses and exploitation suffered by the native peoples under Spanish rule were far worse.



The rise, fall and history of the Mongol Empire

Mongol Empire, area ruled by the great Mongol khans in the 13th and 14th centuries; uniting almost all of western and eastern Asia, it was one of the largest land empires in history.


The original homeland of the Mongols, situated in the eastern zone of the Asian steppe, was bounded by the Khingan Mountains on the east, the Altai and Tian Shan mountains on the west, the Shilka River and the mountain ranges by Lake Baikal on the north, and the Great Wall of China on the south. Today this region comprises approximately the Chinese Autonomous Region of Nei Monggol (Inner Mongolia), the Republic of Mongolia, and the southern fringes of Siberia. Consisting for the most part of fertile prairies and wooded mountains in the north, the Gobi Desert in the central zone, and vast grasslands in the south, the entire region lies about 1,000 m (3,000 ft) above sea level. With the exception of the northernmost extremities, it is extremely arid.

In this environment Mongolian-speaking tribes developed a pastoral economy based on the sheep and the horse, the latter supplemented by the camel in the most arid regions. Certain commodities, such as grain, textiles, tea, and metals, were obtained through trade with the adjacent agricultural civilization of China. Other than tending the flocks, hunting was the foremost occupation. The way of life was nomadic and social organization tribal. Tribal warfare was endemic, and individuals of great personal prowess moved easily to positions of leadership. The political-military hierarchy of the tribe was bound together by personal bonds of mutual protection and loyalty extending downwards from the chieftain, to subordinate chiefs and to individual warriors.

            ESTABLISHMENT OF THE EMPIRE BY GENGHIS KHAN  
The first flowering of the Mongol Empire occurred in the 13th century. At a convocation of tribes in 1206, the powerful conqueror Temujin, then master of almost all of Mongolia, was proclaimed universal ruler with the title Genghis Khan, or Great Khan. The city of Karakorum was designated his capital. Genghis’s army, although not particularly large for its day, was distinguished by its superb horsemanship and expert archery, the discipline and control of its aristocratic leaders, and the khan’s own brilliant military strategy and tactics. The neighbouring Chin empire of northern China and the Central Asian states, both militarily weak and fragmented, inevitably surrendered, as did the decaying Arab-Turkish society of the Middle East, to the Mongol hordes racing over Asia. It was thus a foregone conclusion that the empire Genghis subsequently welded together should achieve a degree of centralization and power unprecedented among the earlier domains of Mongol-speaking tribes. Genghis presided by virtue of self-asserted divine right, acknowledging as his only superior authority, the Great Yasa, an imperial code that he drew up and that remained the permanent basis for Mongol rule. Genghis’s vast empire stretched from the China Sea to the Dnepr River and from the Persian Gulf virtually all the way to the Arctic Ocean.


After the death of Genghis, his empire in accordance with tribal custom was divided among the sons of his primary wife and their heirs. The khanate of East Asia was ruled directly by the third son, Ogadai, who succeeded Genghis as the great khan. The khanate included Outer Mongolia, Dongbei, Korea, much territory in China, Tibet, and the northern fringes of Indochina.

Although Ogadai was in turn succeeded by his son and his grandson, the next great leader of the khanate was his nephew, Mangu Khan. Together with his brother Kublai, Mangu Khan succeeded in conquering nearly all of China.

                        EMPIRE OF KUBLAI KHAN  
In 1279 Kublai Khan, grandson of Genghis, defeated the Southern Song dynasty, bringing the remainder of China under his control. Kublai transferred the capital to Beijing, which he called Khanbalik. There he ruled as emperor of the Chinese Yuan dynasty as well as great khan of the Mongols. Rather than attempting to amalgamate the sedentary agricultural society into tribal units, he successfully followed the bureaucratic system through which Chinese dynasties since the Tang had ruled. The Mongols carefully guarded, however, their cultural identity and ruling-class prerogatives; Chinese talent was systematically excluded from positions of authority, and discriminatory social and legal codes were followed. His efforts to spread Mongol rule to Japan and Java were disastrous failures.

The Mongol emperors following Kublai succumbed to the decadent life of the Chinese court and became intrigued with the superstitions of Lamaism. When disaster struck with flooding of the Yellow River and severe famine in northern China during the middle decades of the 14th century, the Mongol leadership was unable to meet the administrative challenge. In 1368, while the Mongols’ Asian empire was torn by internal dissension, the great khans in China were replaced by the Ming, a native dynasty.

                        EMPIRE OF JAGATAI  
Upon the division of the Mongol Empire at Genghis’s death (1227), the khanate of Turkistan was ruled by Jagatai, his second son, and subsequently by Jagatai’s successor. This khanate extended from what is today the Xinjiang Uygur (Sinkiang Uighur) Autonomous Region of China westward south of Lake Balqash to the area south-east of the Aral Sea and was bordered on the south by Tibet and the Kashmir region of India and Pakistan. The western reaches were inhabited largely by sedentary Muslims, but the remainder of the populace were nomadic Mongols. A strategic central communications zone of the Mongols’ Asian empire, it became the focus of political rivalry among the descendants of Genghis, and it required the constant attention of the Great Khan Kublai to keep it under control.

In the 14th century the authority of the khans of Turkistan over their Muslim subjects diminished sharply. After 1370 the western portion of the khanate became part of the empire of Tamerlane, a Mongol leader not descended from Genghis. The khans’ rule was thereafter confined to the eastern region of the original khanate.

                        EMPIRE OF IL-KHAN  
By 1231 Mongol armies had overrun Iran, Mesopotamia, Armenia, and Georgia. In 1258 Baghdâd, the seat of the Abbasid caliphate, was captured. The Iranian khanate was established by Hulagu, grandson of Genghis and brother to Mangu and Kublai. Hulagu styled himself Il-khan and ruled over the areas that today comprise Iran, eastern Iraq, western Afghanistan, and Turkmenistan. The khans of Iran eventually accepted the faith of Islam. Under the Ghazan Khan, who succeeded in 1295, the ruling house became independent of the great khan. New systems of taxation were introduced; the armed forces were reformed and communications reorganized. Iranian culture was promoted, although new Mongol elements were infused in both art and architecture. Along with Mongolian, the Turkish, Persian (Farsi), and Arabic languages were employed. The administration of the later khans, however, was poor, and when the khan Abu Said died without a male heir in 1395, the khanate broke up into small states ruled mainly by Iranians.

            VI        EMPIRE OF THE GOLDEN HORDE  
While Ogadai and his successors were completing their conquest of eastern Asia, the Mongols under Batu, grandson of Genghis Khan, surged westward towards Europe. In 1237 they sacked most of the cities in the Vladimir-Suzdal region and Kiev in 1240, continuing westward into Poland, Bohemia, Hungary, and the Danube valley. Batu established the Golden Horde, also known as the Khanate of Kipchak. By 1241 his armies had reached the coast of the Adriatic Sea, poised for the invasion of western Europe. Disunited and ill-prepared to resist the Golden Horde, Europe was spared only by the death of the Great Khan Ogadai in 1241. Batu then withdrew his forces to southern Russia in order to participate in the selection of a successor.


The Golden Horde ruled the area that is now southern Russia until the late 15th century. The Mongols imposed a bureaucratic system and methods of tax collection that showed the influence of the Chinese methods adopted by their east Asian kinfolk. In the late 14th century, the Russians seemed on the verge of overthrowing the Golden Horde. The victory of the grand duke of Moscow, Dmitry Donskoy, over the Mongols in 1380 marked the turning point of Mongol power, although, for a time, the balance was tipped in favour of the Mongols by the intervention of the conqueror Tamerlane. In 1395, however, he began the conquest of the Golden Horde, which after his death broke into four independent khanates: Astrakhan’, Kazan’, Crimea, and Sibir, thereby removing a major obstacle to the rise of the Muscovite principality. In 1480, by refusing to continue to pay tribute to the Horde, Ivan III Vasilyevich, grand duke of Moscow, ended Mongol domination of southern Russia.

            VII      STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES OF THE MONGOL EMPIRE

 The Mongol Empire had done much to bind eastern and western Asia together. A system of mounted couriers, somewhat like a pony-express network, was established through the grasslands and deserts of Central Asia, linking the capital of the great khan in China with the far-flung outposts of the empire. The Central Asian trade routes were made more secure than they had ever been previously. Consequently the traffic by traders and missionaries back and forth over these routes increased notably, and China became known in the West chiefly through the accounts of one of these travellers, the Venetian merchant Marco Polo. Although improved communications helped the Mongols maintain their vast and diverse empire, common lineage also played an important role. The great khan was always selected by a convocation of the nobles of the whole empire, and, in general, all four khanates shared in the plunder of each.


Nevertheless, good communication and kinship ties proved inadequate to counteract the centrifugal forces that tore at the empire. Religious differences appeared early; the Mongol rulers in western Asia tended to accept Islam, while those in China were converted to Buddhism or Lamaism. In political life, the Mongols in China followed the socio-political teachings of Confucianism, stressing the universality of the ruler’s authority; those in western Asia became absorbed in the confused politics and warfare of eastern Europe and the Middle East. China, Russia, and Iran each had its own language, culture, and system of rule, and each tended to influence its Mongol overlords. Perhaps most significant was the fact that each of these areas was the home of a sedentary agricultural civilization. In each location the imposition of Mongol rule seems to have led to a revival of local bureaucratic regimes more concerned with domestic problems and therefore less susceptible to Mongol domination.

 


 

Rise, fall and history of the Roman Empire

I           INTRODUCTION   
Roman Empire,

 territory controlled by ancient Rome. The Romans built up their empire through conquest or annexation between the 3rd century BC and the 3rd century AD. At its height, the Roman Empire stretched from north-western Europe to the Near East and encompassed all the lands of the Mediterranean.


The control of an empire of this scale depended on a tightly controlled system of administration, a strong and disciplined army, and excellent communications. Provinces of the empire were controlled by Roman governors appointed by the emperor. The Roman army and a number of strategically placed forts ensured that the empire was defended against hostile local peoples, and an efficient network of roads was built both to allow troops to move swiftly within the empire and to facilitate trade. Taxes levied and valuable commodities such as grain, minerals, and slaves enriched Rome and financed its army. The many diverse peoples and cultures whose countries became part of the Roman Empire were, to varying degrees, united by Roman culture and Roman ideals of government and citizenship.


The formation of the Roman Empire began under the Roman Republic, but was formed mostly by the early Roman emperors, and is often thought of as belonging particularly to the imperial dynasties who held power in Rome after the collapse of the old Republican constitution. By the end of the 1st century AD, the Roman Empire was already the greatest empire of the ancient world. However, at the end of the 5th century AD, various economic factors and ceaseless pressure from barbarian peoples on the frontiers of the empire led to its eventual collapse in western Europe. An eastern Empire, based on Constantinople (now Ýstanbul), continued for far longer.

            II          THE BEGINNINGS OF EMPIRE  
The early history of the city of Rome saw its gradual domination, first under the Kings of Rome and then under the Roman Republic, of the Italian peninsula. The emergence of this small but powerful city-state inevitably brought it into conflict with other Mediterranean powers, particularly with some of the states of Greece and with Carthage. The protracted series of wars which Rome fought in order to establish itself as the major Mediterranean power led to the conquest and annexation of territories belonging to its rivals: in this way Rome acquired Sicily (241 BC); the twin province of Sardinia and Corsica (238 BC); most of Spain (197 BC); Macedonia and parts of northern Africa (146 BC); and the lands of Pergamum in Asia Minor (133 BC). Further territory was added as a result of the campaigns of Julius Caesar (leading to the conquest of the rest of Spain and of northern Gaul) and during the Civil Wars of the later 1st century BC (including, most importantly, the Provinces of Africa and of Egypt). By 27 BC, when Octavianus, having emerged from the chaos of the Civil Wars without significant rival to his powers, adopted the title “Augustus” and so became the first Roman emperor, the foundations of the empire were already laid, and Rome was already the leading power, in the western world.


In the early years of the Roman Empire, each province was given its own constitution, agreed and loosely supervised by the Senate in Rome. For each province a governor was appointed; although, in theory, the tenure of governors lasted one year, in practice, their terms of office were often extended. By the time of Augustus, a hierarchy of provinces had developed: some, considered “public provinces”, were administered by proconsular governors, appointed by the Senate, with no responsibility for the command of troops. The remainder were imperial provinces, effectively governed by appointees of the emperor. For the more peaceful and stable imperial provinces, in which no more than a single legion of troops was based, the governor was a former praetor (magistrate); the more heavily garrisoned provinces were ruled by governors drawn from the ranks of former consuls (chief magistrates). There were also some provinces in which the governor was of equestrian rank (drawn from the lower echelons of the Roman nobility): Judaea, annexed in 6 BC after the collapse of the client kingdom of Herod, was an equestrian province, as was Egypt (which long had a special status on account of its great wealth and strategic importance). In times of crisis, a serving consul might be sent out to govern a province: this happened in Sicily after a serious slave revolt in 134 BC. Aided by a procurator, who was charged with financial affairs, the governor was responsible for the running of the province, day-to-day matters being settled by a series of local and town councils. The provincial constitution would deal with, among other matters, the status of free towns and ports within the province; with the rights of the inhabitants (whether or not Roman citizens); and with the types and levels of taxation which were to be paid by the provincials.

Each province was usually made up of civitates, local communities that were to some extent self-administering, and often roughly equivalent to the national or tribal groupings existing before annexation of the territory by Rome. At this early period the great majority of provincials were peregrini, citizens of a Roman province albeit without the rights of Roman citizens: many exceptions could, however, be found, in settlements such as the coloniae (legally regarded as virtual extensions of Rome itself) and in municipia to which citizen status had been granted. Until at least the late 1st century AD, however, it is true to say that the provinces of the empire were entirely subordinate to the Italian homeland.

From the beginning, the economic benefits of empire made themselves felt in Rome, and the city soon grew to depend upon the influx of provincial wealth. Taxes in kind, especially of grain, were enough to upset the balance of Italian agriculture, while the wealth of Spanish mines, of exotic goods, of slaves, and of custom dues from far-off caravan routes allowed huge programmes of public works in Rome and allowed its inhabitants relief from their own taxes. Increasingly, however, much of this wealth was required to sustain the ever-larger army needed to garrison and maintain the empire.

                        1ST-CENTURY CONSOLIDATION AND EXPANSION  
Rome's future as an imperial power was affirmed by Augustus, who set out to stabilize and formalize the rather haphazard and vaguely defined boundaries of Roman possessions. This objective was approached in two ways, according to circumstance: either by direct military conquest or, more subtly, by encouraging client kingdoms in strategic buffer zones, where the services of friendly local rulers could be bought or otherwise gained, and would offer a measure of security along the borders. This policy was used particularly to ally Rome to some of the sophisticated dynasties of the east, buying protection against the Scythian and Parthian peoples who threatened Asia Minor. Further east, however, legions were stationed in Syria to make a permanent frontier of the Euphrates and the edge of the Arabian Desert.


In Europe, the land of Gaul, which had been conquered by Julius Caesar, was organized into four provinces, and the older possessions in Spain into three. Attempts to find tenable frontiers for the Rhine and Danube provinces, however, were less straightforward, and attempts to push beyond the Rhine, and so to remove the threat posed by the Germanic peoples, led to one of Rome's most humiliating defeats when an army under Publius Quinctilius Varus was virtually wiped out in the Teutoberg Forest (the clades Variani; literally, “the catastrophe of Vares”). The eventual Roman withdrawal to the natural frontier suggested by the great rivers left the provinces of Upper and Lower Germany with a total of eight legions, with a further seven in the Danube provinces—an indication of Roman concern about the security of this border. Augustus, however, had been so shattered by the humiliation of the loss of Germany that he instructed his successor, Tiberius, not to increase further Rome's territories.

The machinery of empire consolidated by Augustus was inherited by his successors. Tiberius (ruled AD 14-37) annexed the client kingdom of Cappadocia (annexation being a policy commonly applied when clientage arrangements for any reason broke down). The next significant territorial expansion, however, was the invasion of Britain, in AD 43, under Claudius. Partly justified in commercial terms and partly as a move to prevent British support of potentially rebellious Gaulish tribes, this adventure was probably largely a quest for personal prestige by the emperor, who played an active personal part in the conquest and consolidation. Although some difficulty was experienced in establishing a safe northern boundary (eventually to be established by the building of Hadrian's Wall, which became the ultimate northern boundary of the empire), Britain rapidly became drawn into the Roman provincial modes of life, with several flourishing cities, including Camulodunum (now Colchester), the original provincial capital, and many minor towns. Claudius took a close interest in the provinces of the empire and did much to extend Roman citizenship by founding coloniae and municipiae, especially in Gaul. He also introduced measures to draw provincials into the higher ranks of Roman administration, particularly into the Senate: this did much to underline the increasing parity of the provinces with the Italian homeland, to which they were previously completely subordinate.

The Julio-Claudian dynasty came to an end with the murder of Claudius's deranged successor, Nero, in AD 68. The following year of dynastic struggle has been graphically named “the year of the four Emperors”. From the turmoil emerged the able Vespasian, first of the Flavian Emperors. He and his sons Titus and Domitian ruled successively until 96, and maintained the empire. New territory was added in Germany, east of the Rhine, and the eastern frontiers were greatly improved and strengthened. The empire was not, however, to grow for much longer: forces were at work, both internally and externally, which were to bring about the protracted end of the Roman Empire.

                        2ND-CENTURY RETRENCHMENT  
For a while, however, the provinces flourished. The dynasty of the Antonines began in 96 with the murder of Domitian and his succession by Nerva: when, two years later, the Imperial purple passed to the Spanish-born Trajan (ruled 98-117), the Roman world had for the first time a ruler who was himself a provincial. From this time, it is possible to see the empire develop as a genuinely cosmopolitan community. Though, ultimately, it was Italy and Rome which mattered and which were subsidized by provincial revenues, there was at the same time a considerable amount of shared interest, as well as common culture and institutions.

Trajan tried to increase the extent of the empire and, indeed, it was under his reign that it briefly reached what was to be its greatest size. His armies pushed as far as the shores of the Persian Gulf and two new provinces—Mesopotamia and Assyria—were created. These new possessions could not be consolidated, however, and were soon relinquished by Hadrian (ruled 117-138), who was far more concerned with safeguarding the existing provinces than with acquiring new ones.

Hadrian took a close, personal interest in the empire, and travelled extensively through every part of Rome's dominions. He was an able and just administrator with an interest in philosophy. His long reign was, by and large, a period of peace, stability, and prosperity. Perhaps his most lasting gift to the empire was the system of formal, defended frontiers which he established in Britain and along the Rhine and Danube. He was succeeded by Antoninus Pius (ruled 138-161), a Gaul married to a Spanish wife: Antoninus Pius continued the imperial policies of Hadrian, and the strongly garrisoned frontiers remained intact.

Crisis was to come in the following reign, that of the Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius (ruled 161-180). The expansion of Barbarian tribes outside the empire was producing ever more pressure on available territory, and the productive lands of the Roman provinces were irresistibly attractive not only to casual raiders and looters but, more importantly, to expanding or dispossessed peoples looking for land on which to settle. For a while the whole of the empire in the west was threatened when a host of Germanic tribes, the most powerful of whom were the Marcomanni, smashed through the Danube frontier, overran the adjacent provinces, and pushed as far as northern Italy, where they lay siege to Apuleia. After a long and grimly fought war, they were pushed back, but the pattern of barbarian pressure and incursion was to continue.

            V         THE EMPIRE AT ITS HEIGHT  
At its greatest extent, the Roman Empire included all the lands bordering on the Mediterranean Sea, and reached far into northern Europe and the Near East. The northern limit was in Britain where, after an unsuccessful Antonine attempt to annex southern Scotland, the frontier was eventually established on Hadrian's Wall, which stretched from the Tyne to the Solway. The whole of the Iberian Peninsula was occupied, and divided into the provinces of Tarraconensis, Baetica, and Lusitania. Gaul extended as far as the Rhine, and comprised Gallia Narbonensis (Provence and the south); Gallia Aquitania (south of the Loire); Gallia Lugdunensis (between Loire and Seine); and Gallia Belgica (northern France reaching to Germania Inferior on the banks of the Rhine). Along the southern bank of the Danube lay the provinces of Rhaetia, Noricum, and Pannonia. As well as the whole of Italy, the whole of Greece was in Roman possession, with the Balkan provinces of Moesia, Thrace, and Dacia. Virtually the whole of the coastal strip of northern Africa was part of the empire, divided into the provinces of Africa, Mauretania, Numidia, Cyrenaica, and Aegyptus (Egypt).


In the east, Rome held the whole of Asia Minor (Bithynia, Galatia, Pontus, Cappadocia, and Cilicia) as well as the province of Syria: further lands in Armenia and Iraq had been given up by Hadrian. Roman influence spread even further than the far-flung boundaries of this Empire: major trade routes, especially to the Orient, had been opened, and Roman goods have been found as far east as India and as far west as Ireland.

Clearly, the empire included a bewildering racial mixture, from the shaggy, trouser-wearing Celtic people of northern Britain to the sophisticated townsfolk of Damascus or Alexandria. In practice, it is usual to think of a western Empire of Britain, Gaul, Spain, and the provinces of the Rhine and the Danube; and an eastern Empire in Greece, Asia, and Africa. The distinction became clearer as the east inevitably adopted Greek as its main language while, for most formal purposes, the west was dominated by Latin. National and regional identities were not, as a rule, suppressed by the empire: rather, the multitude of provincials rapidly came to regard themselves as at least partly Roman while maintaining their specific identity. An important turning-point came in 212, when the Emperor Caracalla extended full Roman citizenship to all free-born subjects of the empire, abolishing the distinction between Roman and provincial, and so doing much to create a common sense of Romanitas (an identity with the traditions and institutions of the Roman world).

            A         The Spread of Roman Culture and Customs  The extent to which Roman culture and Roman institutions were eagerly adopted by the peoples of newly acquired provinces is remarkable: even the Britons, remote inhabitants of a semi-mythical island at the very edge of the known world, adopted with great speed the cosmopolitan, provincial culture of the Roman Empire. In the earliest periods of Romanization, much was probably due to social competition among the native people, whose prestige might be enhanced by possessions or manners which might associate them with such a powerful and successful society as that of Rome. This argument applies most convincingly to the less developed native societies of the west: thus the upper classes of the Celtic peoples of Gaul and Britain, even before Roman conquest, measured their social success in terms of their access to wine from the Roman world, and to the paraphernalia of wine-drinking: British chieftains were buried with jars of imported wine and with the cups and mixing-bowls which formed part of the ritual of wine-drinking, and their armour and weaponry were influenced by Roman technological development.

There was, then, a considerable taste for Roman material goods already established in some provinces even before they were drawn into the empire. Once a province had become part of the empire, and Romans were seen to be the dominant group, it is probable that the desire to be associated with Roman ways and to seem to be Roman grew among the native people. The Romans themselves were also anxious that natives should become civilized Roman provincials (and, later, citizens): they were also, however, quick to adopt provincial styles and customs which they found attractive, so that the empire became a melting-pot of cultural influences.

In the east, the situation was rather different. Here were existing, highly structured societies, usually based around networks of towns and cities, and with traditions of civilization which reached back for centuries. Rome found it relatively easy to administer these provinces: the basic structure of government, of urban life, of taxation, communications, and administration was already in place. In cultural terms, however, the ancient societies of the east did not become Romanized to the same extent as the “barbarian” societies of the west: they were already secure in an ancient identity, the culture and institutions of Rome (themselves largely derived from ancient Greece) were less of a novelty, and, because things already worked with a fair degree of efficiency, the Romans felt less compulsion to impose change in order to be able to exploit and administer.

The first contact which most people in the “barbarian” western provinces had with the Roman world was with the army, and the army became one of the most important early forces behind Romanization of the provinces. From an early date, provincials and members of conquered nations were enlisted into the Roman army (although the elite regiments, the legions, were reserved for Roman citizens). By the end of the 1st century, the army was mostly non-Italian: in the later Empire, troops of Germanic origin became increasingly important. The army brought many native people into contact with Roman ways and Roman money and, after discharge, a soldier could be eligible for Roman citizenship. The practice of settling retired legionary troops in coloniae, model towns often situated in newly conquered territory, was also important, providing shining examples of the advantages of civilized (that is to say, Romanized) life. On a smaller scale, native people were encouraged to settle in vici, small civil settlements on the margins of forts, where they would be in close contact with, and be economically dependent upon, the occupying garrison.

            B          Towns and Cities  Despite the obvious economic importance of the countryside, Roman life was characteristically the life of the cities and towns. Romans considered the city an essential part of civilization, and it is certainly true that, especially in the west (where settlement had previously been almost entirely rural), the creation of cities and towns was one of the most dramatic effects of Roman rule. Native people gravitated towards the towns: not only the upper classes, who were often enrolled as councillors and magistrates, but also the artisans and craftsmen who rapidly adopted the new styles and technologies.

Provincial towns could be of great magnificence, and were regularly distinguished by fine public buildings, temples, and other amenities. As early as the reign of Augustus, the city of Augustodunum (Autun), in central Gaul, was given walls and magnificent gates in a distinctive North Italian style which would not be disgraced by any building in Rome itself. The recently recognized basilica (the administrative headquarters) of Roman London was one of the largest in the empire. Public buildings such as the theatre at Arausio (Orange) or the amphitheatre at Arelate (Arles) are, even today, of breathtaking magnificence, and testimony to the importance, not solely of the provincial towns, but of communal, urban life.

            C         Life in the Country  
The effects of Romanization were also felt in the countryside. An immediate factor was the need to meet the demands of Roman taxation, and to produce a surplus to feed the non-productive populations of the towns. In northern Britain the amount of land under cultivation increased dramatically at about the time of the arrival of the Roman army: this probably reflects the new demands that were being placed on the productive capacity of the countryside. A major transformation of the rural landscape was brought about by the introduction of the centralized and highly capitalized villa system of agriculture, which in some areas seems to have dominated the farming economy. Elsewhere, however, the impact of Roman rule upon the peasantry was probably less than it was upon those living in the towns. Individual farmsteads often continued to function without a break in much the same way as before Roman conquest, though the material possessions of the people were usually transformed, with pottery, glass, pins, and small metal objects, all in Roman provincial style, appearing at an early date at most rural sites. There is evidence that Latin (in the west) was adopted almost universally, both in town and in the country.

            D         Religion  As Roman rule and Roman culture spread, so did Roman religion. The Romans were remarkably eclectic in religious matters: while there were certain observances which had to be made, they were reluctant to exclude any other religious belief, and happy to accept most of the gods and practices of the subject peoples of the empire. Rare exceptions were made in such cases as those of the Druids of Gaul, considered politically dangerous as well as unacceptable on account of their practice of human sacrifice, and of the early Christians, who insisted on the exclusive truth of their belief and so challenged the divine authority of the emperor. Usually, however, the Romans were content to apply a doctrine known as interpretatio Romana (literally “Roman translation”), under which native gods were seen as equivalent to, or as aspects of, the more familiar gods of Rome. In this way the Celtic war-god Camulos was considered as being equivalent to Mars, and Brigantia, tutelary goddess of the northern Britons, was represented as Minerva Victrix.

This doctrine made the spread of Roman religion throughout the empire remarkably easy. At the same time, Roman society absorbed many religious trends from the provinces: the cults of Mithras, Isis, Osiris, and, eventually, Christianity were all imported. Particularly important was the way in which religion, either as the cults of deified emperors or of those associated with living emperors (such as that of the Unconquered Sun in the 3rd century), was used to reinforce and to legitimize the secular power of the imperial dynasties.

            VI        DECLINE AND FALL  
From the beginning of the 3rd century, the Roman Empire was on the defensive, beset by economic and social problems from inside and faced with barbarian pressure from outside. Septimius Severus (ruled 193-211), after fighting bloody civil wars to establish his power, managed to extend Roman possessions in Mesopotamia, but was occupied in turning back a tide of barbarian invaders in northern Britain when he died in York. Under his reign, Italy lost many of its privileges, and had to pay provincial taxes: this was a symptom of the pressure which the demands of a huge army and growing civil service were placing upon the empire's revenues.


The accession of Septimius Severus marked the beginning of a period in which the relatively ordered, hereditary imperial dynasties began to break down. Real power lay with the army, and it was up to the army to approve, or even to appoint, a new emperor. At times, this could reduce the succession to a squalid auction, at which the candidate who offered the greatest cash bribe to the troops was likely to take control. Costly and damaging civil wars between competing claimants became increasingly common. The effect could only be to damage the stability of the empire and to divert military attention from external threats.

In 238 came massive attacks by Germanic tribes on the Black Sea area. By 253 the Goths and the Heruli had ravaged the shores of the Aegean, and in 267 Athens was taken. At the same time, the Danube frontier came under great pressure, and the province of Dacia was effectively abandoned. In 259 the Allemanni, a huge confederacy of German tribes, attacked eastern Gaul, penetrated as far as Spain, and linked up with other Germanic groups in the west. German tribes occupied northern Italy. In the east came renewed trouble with the Parthians, culminating in the ultimate humiliation of the Emperor Valerian being captured by the forces of the Parthian king, Shapur, who pushed the Roman Empire back to the Euphrates. In 270 Zenobia, queen of the formerly friendly Syrian city-state of Palmyra, invaded Egypt and adjacent territories. Some recovery from these disasters was achieved by Aurelian (ruled 270-275), who defeated both Palmyra and the German tribes, but the situation continued to be volatile, and the position of the empire precarious.

Major reorganization of the empire was undertaken by Diocletian (ruled 284-305), who formally divided Roman territory into a Western Empire and an Eastern Empire, each administered by an Augustus (senior emperor) and a junior Caesar (subordinate emperor)—a system known as the Tetrarchy. Imperial power, increasingly absolute and arbitrary, was enforced by a large secret police force (the agentes in rebus). Diocletian also undertook radical reforms of the army, and of the defences of the provinces. The twin empires were again united by Constantine (ruled 306-337), who adopted Christianity (formerly a relatively unimportant cult) and who moved the centre of imperial government from Rome to the new city of Constantinople, in Asia Minor. This last was an extraordinary move: it recognized that the empire in the east was now the primary concern, and broke a chain of historical and political continuity which had been, for immemorial ages, at the heart of Roman identity. On Constantine's death the empire was again divided formally into Eastern and Western, between his sons Constans and Constantius II.

The second half of the 4th century was a time of military reverses. Picts and Scots invaded Britain in 360 and, though the barbarians were temporarily defeated by Theodosius in 370, the legions were forced to begin their abandonment of the province in 383 (a process completed by 410) in order to reinforce the severely pressed frontiers elsewhere. Huns and Goths were invading Europe from several points, and in 378 the Emperor Valens was defeated and killed by Visigoths at Adrianople (now Edirne), in Thrace. The Emperor Theodosius (ruled 392-395) briefly reunited the empire and tried to rally Roman forces against the barbarian tide, but nothing could be done. In 396 Alaric, king of the Visigoths, began a campaign that was to sweep through Greece and the Balkans to Italy: in 410 he sacked the city of Rome itself and, though Italy was briefly to be reconquered by the Byzantine general Belisarius in 535, the ancient heartland of the empire was now lost.

Over the following century, the Western Empire fell steadily into barbarian hands. Desperately short of troops, Rome had adopted the despairing policy of allowing some Germanic foedorati (people with whom the Romans, by treaty, had agreed friendly association or alliance in perpetuity) to settle in the European provinces in return for guaranteeing the borders against other, more hostile, tribes: in this way, much of Europe was to fall under barbarian rule and occupation by clandestine means. Vandals were settled in Spain; Ostrogoths in Dalmatia; and Huns in Pannonia and other parts of eastern Europe. In 443, the Vandals took Rome's last possessions in northern Africa. The final end of the Western Empire came in 476 with the death of its last emperor, Romulus Augustulus, ironically named after one of the twin founders of Rome, and the proclamation of the German barbarian general Odoacer as king of Italy.

In the east, the empire was to continue, in one form or another, for many centuries, but the days were over when the empire could be called Roman: the lands governed from Constantinople are usually referred to as the Byzantine Empire, and were eventually to fall to the Muslim Turks in 1453.

The causes of the collapse of this mighty Empire are more complex than the simple series of military defeats outlined above. In essence, the empire had grown too big for its resources. Extended frontiers required a huge army, always a vast drain on revenues, and in turn generating an increasingly unwieldy bureaucracy: too many unproductive mouths were being fed by too few farmers and peasants. This situation was worsened in the areas most exposed to barbarian invasion, where conditions were most unstable. Political competition between rivals for power resulted in continual civil wars, which drained the exchequer, depleted manpower, and exhausted the countryside. Massive rates of inflation, following debasement of the coinage in order to increase the money supply to pay the army and administrators, reduced confidence in the currency and inhibited economic production. Roman society had become inflexible and fossilized, caught in a cycle of economic depression and bureaucratic stagnation. All these factors were exacerbated by the ceaseless pressure on the frontiers of the empire, and by the constant need for more troops and more taxes.

CAUSES FOR THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE

There were many causes of the collapse of the Roman empire. One theory is that the empire just got too big to control politically and to keep a good economy going. There was a lack of circulatory currency in the western portion of the empire because of the widespread looting of the Roman treasury by barbarian invaders. This resulted in a trade deficit with the eastern regions of the empire. Another economic factor in the fall of Rome was that the climate and rainfall patterns were changing and becoming more unstable. The weather began to alternate between hot droughts and cold rainy seasons. The result was decreasing crop yields, and some historians say that the Romans began conducting large irrigation projects. These projects required water to be stored in large reservoirs where the water became stagnant and attracted mosquitoes. These were carriers of malaria, which and killed much of the population.

Another reason why Rome collapsed was that the military became weak and allowed barbarians to invade the Empire at different times. A reason why the military became so weak after having such a great reputation is that new recruits had no incentive to join the army. In the past, citizenship was granted to soldiers after they had served. Citizenship was a great right since it gave way to possible political power. However, in the later empire, citizenship was granted to all males and citizenship was no longer a reason to join the military. Also, the loyalty of the soldiers that did join was divided among many powerful sources.

The morale of the people declined and the empire became less "Romanized". The Germanic neighbors of the Roman empire assimilated themselves into the empire. Also, since the rule of the emperor Constantine, Christianity was now the official religion of the empire. The church began to establish its own structure and hierarchy, which interfered with the way that the ruling powers always operated in the Roman empire. The introduction of Islam into some parts of the empire also divided the empire.

The Collapse of the Roman Empire--Military Aspects

Modern historians explain the collapse of the western Roman empire in the fourth and fifth centuries in one of two ways. One group follows an institutional approach, which finds the reasons in the long-term and looks closely at internal structures. A second group has adopted a political approach and looks at short term causes of collapse.

The long-term approach is the more traditional of the two. This argument suggests that Diocletian (284-305) and Constantine I (305-337) sowed the seeds of collapse. These emperors split the army into border and mobile components. The border troops became soldier-farmers and declined rapidly in efficiency, though they were still paid. Diocletian and Constantine also allowed many barbarians into the army, which had the result of decreasing its fighting efficiency. These historians argue that the weakness of the border troops meant that emperors needed more mobile troops, so they expanded the army. This in turn increased the number of recruits needed, while a simultaneous reluctance of landowners to lose scarce workers led to the recruitment of the militarily inferior barbarians.

External problems exacerbated the internal crises of the empire. The small barbarian tribes who had opposed the early empire now banded together to form more powerful confederations such as Goths, Franks and Alamanni. However, some historians are doubtful about the increased power of these groups. Vigorous emperors like Diocletian, Constantine, Constantius II (337-361) and Valentinian I (364-375) kept the barbarians beyond the borders. Then the Huns arrived and drove the Goths into the Empire, defeating the army of Valens (364-378) at Adrianople in 378. From now on, the Romans could not destroy these Goths, although Theodosius I (379-395) finally settled them in the Balkans in 382. Once one group of barbarians had entered the Empire, the Romans could not muster the military strength to keep others out. Vandals, Alans and Suevi crossed the Rhine in 406 and barbarians went on to settle all over the western Empire. Visigoths, Alans and Suevi took land in Spain, Vandals in Africa and Burgundians, Visigoths and Franks in Gaul. Elsewhere, Saxons invaded Britain and at the end of the fifth century, Ostrogoths occupied Italy.

This is the traditional interpretation, with a stress on institutional weakness and the barbarian invasions. In various forms it has been followed by Theodore Mommsen, J.B. Bury, Andre Piganiol and Ramsay MacMullen. But others interpret the military events of this period differently, especially A.H.M. Jones, but also Averil Cameron and Hugh Elton. These historians stress that the Eastern empire did not fall when the West collapsed. Because of this, they doubt that internal institutional factors were the primary cause of the collapse. They are also unhappy with the idea of a two-century period of decline that lasted from Diocletian to the deposition of Romulus Augustulus in 476.

This second group of historians places the beginning of the end of the Roman Empire at various dates between 395 and 461 and their interpretations focus on the financial problems faced by the Empire. In the 395 division of the Empire, the West received fewer of the wealthy provinces. This in turn decreased the taxes collected. These commentators do not argue that the army was ineffective. Instead, they argue that paying for enough troops to fight was the problem. As well as facing diminishing resources, the West also had longer borders to defend. For these historians, western collapse was inevitable after 395, although the debate about when it could no longer be reversed is still important.

In this interpretation, the defeat of the eastern field army and Valens' death in Gothic hands at Adrianople in 378 is not a critical event. Although some historians stress this loss as the beginning of the end, since this allowed a group of barbarians into the Empire who were not expelled, others disagree. They point out that the Romans made no changes to the structure of their army after this battle. Far more important was the division of the empire in 395 between Arcadius and Honorius, the two sons of Theodosius, which robbed the Empire of strategic depth, with few transfers of money or troops between the two parts. The Vandals' invasion of Africa in 429, mostly completed by 439, had severe financial and strategic consequences. The loss of Africa not only removed the wealthiest provinces from western control but also exposed the Mediterranean (especially Italy and Greece) to pirate raids. A third critical event was the murder of Majorian (457-461) in 461, denying him the chance of recapturing Africa and holding the western empire together. After Majorian's murder, western Imperial unity finally dissolved. Aegidius in Gaul and Marcellinus in Dalmatia refused to accept the new emperor Libius Severus (461-465), raised to the purple by Majorian's murderer Ricimer.

A second important point to these commentators is the prevalence of civil war during the fourth and fifth centuries. The frequent occasions on which the Roman army was forced to fight itself caused a constant drain of resources, both financial and personnel, resources that might have been turned against external enemies. These wars included Constantine against Licinius (316, 324), Magnentius agianst Constantius II (351-353) and Theodosius against Magnus Maximus (383-388) and Eugenius (392-394). In the fifth century they spread to include Roman generals, e.g., Aetius against Bonifatius, although the usurpations of John (423-425) and Basiliscus (475-476) and Odoacer (476) were just as dangerous. Although civil war was a political problem, it had severe military effects, often provoking barbarian raids and weakening imperial ability to respond to them.

It is difficult to reach a conclusive verdict on why the western Roman empire fell. As these arguments show, it was a long and complex process, made more difficult to understand by the patchy nature of our evidence. If there was a simple answer, the Romans would surely have found it. Whatever the reasons, throughout the fifth century, when emperors could find money and assemble troops, the Roman army was a powerful and effective force. The institution itself was not at fault, but the support it received from its commanders-in-chief, the Emperors, was often lacking. If there was a single reason for the collapse of the western Empire, it was poor leadership, not military failure.

 

 A summary of other factors leading to decline

I. By 476 AD Germanic Invasions have totally destroyed the old Roman Empire in the west.

1.                  The Germanic tribes had been a constant source of pressure on the empire for centuries.

2.                  Many tribes had moved peacefully into the empire and had become citizens of Rome.

3.                  Britain was overran by the Angles, Saxons and Jutes.

4.                  France, or Gaul, was overran by the Franks and Burgundians.

5.                  Spain was overthrown by the Vandals.

6.                  Italy was taken over by the Ostrogoths, Visigoths and Lombards.

II. While the Germanic invasions were the obvious causes for the fall of Rome, the underlying reasons were much more significant for historians.

III. The British historian, Gibbons, identified the primary reasons for the collapse in his "Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire".

IV. Social Causes.

1.                  Slavery had weakened the moral fiber of the citizens and a large discontented mass of people had become disenfranchised.

2.                  There had been a decline in the traditional Roman citizenry.

3.                  Moral decay was evident as depicted in its literature, amusements, and lifestyles that often portrayed gratuitous sex and violence.

4.                  Patriotism declined as people lost their allegiance to the state.

5.                  Christianity challenged the traditional Roman character traits and caused people to neglect the state when they concentrated on personal salvation.

V. Economic Causes.

1.                  As productivity declined, the Roman empire became more dependent on foreign products.

2.                  A break-down in the labor force occurred as the traditional work ethic declined.

3.                  The infrastructure of the cities declined and began a steady decay.

4.                  A balance of trade deficit began to occur.

5.                  The cost of government, including the military and welfare, become burdensome.

6.                  Class economic warfare broke out between the rich and poor.

7.                  Parts of the empire were not taxed while others were overtaxed.

8.                  The small farm almost disappeared.

VI. Political Causes.

1.                  The Romans never solved the problem of succession except during a brief period of time.

2.                  The government of the empire was not designed to rule a large, polyglot empire and reform came to late.

3.                  The government became increasingly run by the rich and the military.

4.                  Citizens lost interest in government as it became distant from them.

5.                  The military became aloyal to the country--it became a job not a mission.

 

VII       THE ROMAN INHERITANCE  By the Europe of the early Middle Ages, the Roman Empire was remembered, though sometimes dimly, as an age of stability, power, and achievement: it was Rome which largely shaped the culture and institutions of medieval Europe, and bestowed a lasting legacy.

The Germanic people who gained the western Roman Empire were conscious of the achievements of Rome, but were unfortunately not always organized in a way that would allow them immediately to build upon the inheritance. Their adoption of Roman culture and institutions was, therefore, far from uniform, and the lasting legacy of Rome can be difficult to perceive. In Italy, in Iberia, and to a lesser extent in France and some of the Balkan states, the language spoken is still based closely upon Latin: all the Germanic invaders were illiterate in their own tongues, and such learning and higher culture as was to survive in Europe in the centuries following the fall of the empire was conducted in Latin. Moreover, the very survival of that learning is owed to the Christian Church, itself a Roman institution which was to outlive the empire that produced it.

It was the Church, more than anything, that was the real heir of the empire, and which was able to provide a measure of continuity after the collapse of temporal power and civil administration. The papacy continued to be based in Rome and to exert enormous authority over most of Europe, keeping alive not only many of the ideas of the Roman world but also a sense of a wider community which looked to the ancient city for support and leadership.


Besides the Church, some of the most important institutions of the medieval world had their origins in the Roman Empire. The feudal system, which was to govern not only the holding and administration of land but also the web of relationships and obligations that held together medieval society, has been seen as developing from the late Roman system of land law. In places, other traditions of Roman law and administration survived, and the courts of the more sophisticated Germanic peoples—Franks, Goths, Burgundians—were modelled upon the imperial courts of Rome. Five hundred years after the fall of the city, Roman styles continued to dominate material culture, art, and, in particular, architecture. The barbarian races had coveted Rome and what the empire represented: it is true to say that they did not destroy the Roman legacy, but used it, adapted it, and integrated it into their own cultures.


Topic 2 Role of the State/ how empires were rules inone of the following

The Han dynasty

The Guptas Empire

The Incas


 

 

 

 

Han Dynasty

HISTORY  
According to Chinese tradition, the Chinese people originated in the Huang He (Hwang Ho or Yellow River) valley. The legends tell of a creator, Pan Gu (P’an Ku), who was succeeded by a series of heavenly, terrestrial, and human sovereigns. Archaeological evidence is scant, although remains of Homo erectus, found near Beijing, have been dated back 460,000 years. Rice was grown in eastern China around 5500 BC, and about five centuries later an agricultural society developed in the Huang He valley. There is strong evidence of two so-called pottery cultures, the Yangshao culture (c. 3950-c. 1700 BC), and the Longshan culture (c. 2000-c. 1850 BC).

            A         The Earliest Dynasties  
Tradition names the Xia (c. 1994-c. 1766 BC) as the first hereditary Chinese dynasty, which ended only when a Xia ruler fell into debauchery, mistreated his people, and was subsequently overthrown. However, there is no archaeological record to confirm this story; the Shang is the earliest dynasty for which reliable historical evidence exists.

            A1       The Shang Dynasty (1766-1027 BC)  
The Shang dynasty ruled the territory of the present-day north-central Chinese provinces of Henan, Hubei, and Shandong and the northern part of Anhui. The capital, from about 1384 BC on, was situated at Anyang near the northern border of Henan. The chief crops of the predominantly agricultural economy were millet, wheat, barley, and, possibly, some rice. Silkworms were reared, as well as pigs, dogs, sheep, and oxen. Bronze vessels, weapons, and other tools have been found. The Shang was an aristocratic society. At the head was a king who presided over a military nobility. Territorial rulers were appointed by him and compelled to support him in military endeavours. This aristocratic class was served by a literate priestly class responsible for administation and divination. Shang people worshipped their ancestors and numerous gods, the principal of whom was known as Shang Di, the Lord on High.


The account of the fall of the Shang dynasty that appears in traditional Chinese histories follows closely the story of the fall of the Xia. The last Shang monarch, a cruel and debauched tyrant, was overthrown by a vigorous king of Zhou (Chou), a state in the valley of the River Wei on the north-western fringes of the Shang domain. The culture of Zhou was a blend of the basic elements of Shang civilization and certain of the martial traditions characteristic of the non-Chinese peoples to the north and west.

            A2       The Zhou Dynasty (c. 1027-256 BC)  
Chinese civilization was gradually extended over most of China proper north of and including the Yangtze Valley under the Zhou dynasty.


The capital was at Hao, near modern Xi’an (Sian), but an eastern capital was built at Luoyi, on the Luo river, near modern Luoyang. At the height of its power, the Zhou domain extended south across the Yangtze, north-east to present Liaoning, west to Gansu, and east to Shandong. To rule this enormous territory, the Zhou created vassals, each of whom normally ruled a walled town and the territory surrounding it. Initially many vassals were related to the ruler by lineage ties, but in time they became increasingly autonomous.


The Zhou accepted that the Shang had descended from the son of the Lord of Heaven, but believed that the mandate of heaven (tian) had then passed to the Zhou. They too were descended from the Lord of Heaven, but from a younger brother of the Shang ancestor. Thus the concept of descent from the supreme ruler was transformed from the possession of one dynasty and tribe into something more general.


The Zhou kings were able to maintain control over their domain until 770 BC, when several of the states rebelled and, together with non-Chinese forces, routed the Zhou from their capital near the site of present-day Xi’an. The Zhou then retreated eastwards, establishing a new capital at Luoyi. Though unable to exercise as much authority over vassals, they retained custody of the mandate of heaven and remained titular overlords until the 3rd century BC.

The Eastern Zhou period shaped Chinese culture. The first chronicles of Chinese history appeared then, and the task of ruling a large empire gave rise to Confucianism and Legalism. Ancient forms of religion declined and were subsumed by Daoism. From the 8th to the 3rd century BC rapid economic growth and social change took place despite extreme political instability and nearly incessant warfare. The iron-tipped, ox-drawn plough, together with improved irrigation techniques, brought higher agricultural yields which, in turn, supported a steady rise in population. Some lords stopped keeping slaves and turned their land over to tenant farmers. Lacquerware was developed as a new handicraft skill. All this created more wealth and an influential merchant class.

Interstate relations became increasingly unstable. By the 6th century BC seven powerful states surrounded a few smaller, relatively weak ones on the North China Plain. Alliances disintegrated, and China was plunged into the Period of the Warring States (403-221 BC). New forms of warfare were developed including mounted cavalry (learnt from tribes to the north), the crossbow, sieges, and defences against them.

            B          Creation of the Empire  During the 4th century BC, the state of Qin (Ch’in), one of the newly emergent peripheral states of the north-west, embarked on a programme of administrative, economic, and military reform suggested by a leading Legalist theoretician. At the same time the vestigial power of the Zhou grew ever weaker until the regime collapsed in 256 BC. A generation later, the Qin had subjugated the other warring states.

            B1       The Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC)  
In 221 BC, the king of Qin proclaimed himself Shi Huangdi, or First Emperor of the Qin dynasty. The name China is derived from this dynasty.


With the assistance of a shrewd Legalist minister, the First Emperor welded the loose configuration of quasi-feudal states into an administratively centralized and culturally unified empire. The hereditary aristocracies were abolished and their territories divided into provinces governed by bureaucrats appointed by the emperor. The Qin capital, near the present-day city of Xi’an, became the first seat of imperial China. A standardized system of written characters was adopted, and its use was made compulsory throughout the empire. To promote internal trade and economic integration the Qin standardized weights and measures, coinage, and axle widths. Private landholding was adopted, and laws and taxation were enforced equally and impersonally. The quest for cultural uniformity led the Qin to outlaw the many contending schools of philosophy that had flourished during the late Zhou. Only Legalism was given official sanction, and in 213 BC the books of all other schools were burned, except for copies held by the Qin imperial library.


The First Emperor also attempted to push the perimeter of Chinese civilization far beyond the outer boundaries of the Zhou dynasty. In the south his armies marched to the delta of the Red River, in what is now Vietnam. In the south-west the realm was extended to include most of the present-day provinces of Yunnan, Guizhou, and Sichuan. In the north-west his conquests reached as far as Lanzhou in present-day Gansu Province; and in the north-east, a portion of what today is Korea acknowledged the superiority of the Qin. The centre of Chinese civilization, however, remained in the Huang He valley. Aside from the unification and expansion of China, the best-known achievement of the Qin was the completion of the fortifications which became the Great Wall.

The foreign conquests of the Qin and the wall building and other public works were accomplished at an enormous cost of wealth and human life. The ever-increasing burden of taxation, military service, and forced labour bred a deep-seated resentment against the Qin rule among the common people of the new empire. In addition, the literate classes were alienated by government policies of thought control, particularly the burning of books. The successor of Shi Huangdi came under the domination of a wily palace eunuch. A power struggle ensued, crippling the central administration, and the indignant population rose in rebellion.

            B2       The Earlier Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 9)  
From the turbulence and warfare that marked the last years of the Qin dynasty, there arose a rebel leader of humble origin, Liu Bang (later to be known under the title of Gao Zu. Crushing other contenders for the throne, Liu Bang proclaimed himself emperor in 206 BC. The Han dynasty, which he established, was the most durable of the imperial age. The Han built on the unified foundation laid by the Qin, but modified the policies that had resulted in their downfall. Burdensome laws were abrogated, taxes were sharply reduced, and a policy of laissez-faire was adopted in an effort to promote economic recovery. At first Liu Bang granted hereditary kingdoms to some of his allies and relatives, but by the middle of the 2nd century BC most of these kingdoms had been eliminated, and almost all Han territory was under direct imperial rule.


One of the most important contributions of the Han was the establishment of Confucianism as the official ideology. In an attempt to provide an all-inclusive ideology of empire, however, the Han incorporated ideas from many other philosophical schools into Confucianism, and employed popular superstitions to augment and elaborate the spare teachings of Confucius. In staffing the administrative hierarchy inherited from the Qin, the Han emperors followed the Confucian principle of appointing men on the basis of merit rather than birth. Written examinations were adopted as a means of determining the best qualified people. In the late 2nd century BC an imperial university was established, in which prospective bureaucrats were trained in the five classics of the Confucian school.

The Earlier Han reached the zenith of its power under Emperor Wudi, who reigned from 140 to 87 BC. Almost all of what today constitutes China was brought under imperial rule, although many areas, particularly south of the Yangtze, were not thoroughly assimilated. Chinese authority was established in southern Dongbei and northern Korea. In the west, Han armies battled a tribe known as the Xiongnu, who were possibly related to the Huns, and penetrated to the valley of the Jaxartes River (the present-day Syr Darya in Kazakhstan). In the south the island of Hainan was brought under Han control, and colonies were established around the Xi Jiang delta and in Annam and Korea.

Emperor Wu’s expansionist policies consumed the financial surpluses that had been accumulated during the laissez-faire administrations of his predecessors and necessitated a restoration of Legalist policies to replenish the state treasuries. Taxes were increased, government monopolies revived, and the currency debased. Hardships suffered by the peasants were aggravated by the growth in population, which reduced the size of individual landholdings at a time when taxes were increasing. During the first century BC, conditions worsened further. On several occasions the throne was inherited by infants, whose mothers often filled government posts with unqualified members of their own family. Factionalism and incompetence weakened the imperial government. Great landholding families in the provinces challenged the tax-collecting authority of the central government and acquired a kind of tax-exempt status. As the number of tax-free estates grew, the tax base of the government shrank, and the burden borne by the taxpaying peasants became more and more onerous. Agrarian uprisings and banditry reflected popular discontentment.

            B3        The Xin Dynasty (AD 9-23)   During this period of disorder an ambitious courtier, Wang Mang, deposed an infant emperor, for whom he had been acting as regent, and established the short-lived Xin dynasty. Wang Mang attempted to revitalize the imperial government and relieve the plight of the peasant. He moved against the big tax-free estates by nationalizing all land and redistributing it among the actual cultivators. Slavery was abolished. Imperial monopolies on salt, iron, and coinage were strengthened, and new monopolies were established. The state fixed prices to protect the peasants from unscrupulous merchants and provided low-interest state loans to those needing capital to begin productive enterprises. So great was the resistance of the powerful propertied classes, however, that Wang Mang was forced to repeal his land legislation. The agrarian crisis intensified, and matters were made worse by the breakdown of major North China water-control systems that had been neglected by the fiscally weakened government. A large-scale rebellion broke out in northern China under the leadership of a group known as the Red Eyebrows. They were soon joined by the large landholding families, who finally succeeded in killing Wang Mang and re-establishing the rule of the Han dynasty.

            B4       The Later Han (25-220)  
 Administrative weakness and inefficiency plagued the Later or Eastern Han dynasty from the very beginning. As under the Earlier or Western Han, the central government became demoralized by the appointment of incompetent maternal relatives of infant emperors. With the help of court eunuchs, subsequent emperors were able to get rid of these incompetents, but only at the cost of granting equally great influence to the eunuchs. As a result, the government was again torn by factionalism. Between 168 and 170 warfare erupted between the eunuchs and the bureaucrats, who felt that the eunuchs had usurped their rightful position of influence in government. By 184 two great rebellions, led by Daoist religious groups, had also broken out. For two decades the Yellow Turbans, as one of the sects in Chinese religion was called, ravaged Shandong and adjacent areas, and not until 215 was the great Han general Cao Cao able to pacify the other group, the Five Pecks of Rice Society in Sichuan.

            B5       Period of Disunion  
The Han Empire began to fall apart as the large landholding families, taking advantage of the weakness of the imperial government, established their own private armies. Finally, in 220 the son of Cao Cao seized the throne and established the Wei dynasty (220-265). Soon, however, leaders with dynastic aspirations sprang up in other parts of the country. The Shu dynasty (221-263) was established in south-western China, and the Wu dynasty (222-280) in the south-east. The three kingdoms waged incessant warfare against one another. In 265 Sima Yan, a powerful general of the Wei dynasty, usurped that throne and established the Western Jin (Tsin, Chin), dynasty (265-317) in North China. By 280 he had reunited the north and south under his rule. Soon after his death in 290, however, the empire began to crumble. One important reason for this internal weakness was the influence of the principal landholding families. They made their power felt through the nine-grade controller system, by which prominent individuals in each administrative area were given the authority to rank local families and individuals in nine grades according to their potential for government service. Because the ranking was arbitrarily decided by a few important people, it frequently reflected the wishes of the leading families in the area rather than the merit of those being ranked.


The non-Chinese tribes of the north, which the Han had fought to a standstill along the border, seized the opportunity afforded by the weakness of the government to extend their search for pastoral lands into the fertile North China Plain. Invasions began in 304, and by 317 the tribes had wrested North China from the Jin dynasty. For almost three centuries North China was ruled by one or more non-Chinese dynasties, while the south was ruled by a sequence of four Chinese dynasties, all of which were centred in the area of the present-day city of Nanjing (Nanking). None of the non-Chinese dynasties was able to extend control over the entire North China Plain until 420, when the Northern Wei dynasty (386-534) did so.


During the second half of the 5th century the Northern Wei adopted a policy of sinification. The agricultural area of North China was administered bureaucratically, as it had been by earlier Chinese dynasties, and military service was imposed on the tribesmen. Chinese-style clothing and customs were adopted, and Chinese was made the official language of the court. The tribal chieftains, pushed beyond their endurance by the sinification policies, rebelled, and in 534 the dynasty toppled. For the next 50 years, North China was again ruled by non-Chinese dynasties.

            C         The Re-Established Empire  China was reunited under the rule of the Sui dynasty (589-618). The first Sui emperor was Yang Jian (Yang Chien), a military servant who usurped the throne of the non-Chinese Northern Zhou in 581. During the next eight years he completed the conquest of South China and established his capital at Chang’an (now Xi’an). The Sui revived the centralized administrative system of the Han and reinstated competitive examinations for the selection of officials. Although Confucianism was officially endorsed, Daoism and Buddhism were also acknowledged in formulating a new ideology for the empire. Buddhism, which had been brought to China from India during the Later Han dynasty and the ensuing period of disunion, flourished.

The brief Sui reign was a time of great activity. The Great Wall was repaired at an enormous cost in human life. A canal system, which later formed the Grand Canal, was constructed to carry the rich agricultural produce of the Yangtze delta to Luoyang and the north. Chinese control was reasserted over northern Vietnam and, to a limited degree, over the Central Asian tribes to the north and west. A prolonged and costly campaign against a kingdom in southern Dongbei and northern Korea, however, ended in defeat. With its prestige seriously tarnished and its population impoverished, the Sui dynasty fell in 617 to domestic rebels led by Li Yuan.

 

Pinyin HAN (206 BC-ad 220), the second great Chinese Imperial dynasty, considered the prototype for all later Chinese dynasties. So thoroughly did the Han dynasty establish what was thereafter considered Chinese culture that the Chinese word denoting someone who is Chinese means "a man of Han."The dynasty was founded by Liu Pang, later Kao Tsu (256-195 BC), a man of humble birth who led the revolt against the repressive policies of the preceding short-lived Ch'in dynasty (221-206 BC). The Han copied the highly centralized Ch'in administrative structure, dividing the country into a series of administrative areas ruled by centrally appointed officials and developing a salaried bureaucracy in which promotion was based primarily on merit. Unlike the Ch'in, however, the Han adopted a Confucian ideology that emphasized moderation and virtue and thereby masked the authoritarian policies of the regime. So successful was this policy that the Han lasted longer than any other Chinese empire, reigning--with a short interruption when Wang Mang temporarily usurped the throne and established the Hsin dynasty (ad 9-25)--for more than 400 years. Some scholars divide the Han into two sections, calling the period before Wang Mang's usurpation, when the capital was in the western Chinese city of Ch'ang-an, the Former, or Western, Han (206 BC-ad 25) and the period after Wang Mang, when the capital was moved eastward to Lo-yang, the Later, or Eastern, Han (ad 25-220).The book burning and repression of the Ch'in dynasty were designed to stamp out all forms of cultural expression except a writing system for keeping records; the brutish Ch'in reign, however, was too brief to accomplish thoroughly such a broad goal, and the vestiges of culture were revived by the successor Han.The latter was not only a literate society but one of compulsive record keepers. Thus, the cultural milieu of the Han was well documented. The Yüeh-fu, or Music Bureau, for example, compiled detailed descriptions of the music of the day and its instruments, techniques, and songs. In the court and the Confucian temples, music fell into two categories: music to accompany banquets and ritual music. In temple rituals, dance was often an important element, and something resembling a system of dance notation recorded the movements of large bands of musicians and companies of dancers in their performances. There also were highly informal dances with much body movement but little footwork that were part of private entertainment. Several forms of plucked string instruments were in use during the Han. Buddhism came to China from India during the dynasty, and with it came richly sonorous bronze bells. A form of drama appeared in which performers acted out the heroic deeds of celebrated warriors.Although little except walls and tombs remains of Han architecture, much has been learned about the style from ming ch'i house models and paintings on tomb tiles. Imperial records describe the main palace of the Eastern Han at Lo-yang as being immensely proportioned, surrounded by tall towers variously of timber, stone, and brick. The tombs had vaulted roofs and were enclosed in huge earthen mounds that still stand centuries after their contents were looted. Interior walls of important buildings were plastered and painted--so the ubiquitous records relate--with figures, portraits, and scenes from history. Although the names of the artists did not survive, the highest-ranking of them--the tai-chao, or painters-in-attendance--were close associates of the emperor, a tradition carried on in ensuing dynasties down to modern times. In addition to wall paintings, paintings on standing room-divider screens and on rolls or scrolls of silk appeared in the Han.The first major stone tomb sculpture in China was created in the Han period, and lifelike clay figurines of people and animals also appeared. In the Former Han, bronzework continued the style of the late Chou dynasty and often was inlaid with silver and gold. Bronze vessels were made both for sacrificial rituals and for household use, the latter including lamps, mirrors, and garment hooks fashioned in the form of humans, animals, and mythical beasts. The weaving of silk in rich colours and patterns of geometric designs or cloud and mountain themes became a major industry and source of export trade. Han potters included house models and human figures among their funerary wares, and two types of glazed ware were used domestically, often closely imitating the shape and design of bronze vessels.The Shang dynasty discovered lacquer, but it was the Han that brought its lacquerwork to such perfection that some of its lacquered wine cups in perfect condition have been excavated from water-sodden graves in North China. Many exquisite examples of Han lacquerware survive.Poetry was nurtured by the Han dynasty, and a new genre, fu, a combination of rhyme and prose, began to flourish. Fu were long, descriptive compositions meant to entertain, and they became the norm of creative writing. About 1,000 examples survive. The prose literature of the era included works of history, philosophy, and politics. One of the greatest of early histories comes from this period in the Shih-chi of Ssu-ma Ch'ien. In sharp distinction from the Ch'in, who tried to suppress culture, the Han came to require cultural accomplishment from their public servants, making mastery of classical texts a condition of employment. The title list of the enormous imperial library is China's first bibliography. Its text included works on practical matters such as mathematics and medicine, as well as treatises on philosophy and religion and the arts. Advancement in science and technology was also sought by the rulers, and the Han invented paper, used water clocks and sundials, and developed a seismograph. Calendars were published frequently during the period. The governmental, cultural, and technological achievements of the Han were such that every ensuing dynasty sought to emulate them.__

 

The Han dynasty

The Han dynasty was founded by Liu Pang (best known by his temple name, Kao-tsu), who assumed the title of emperor in 202 BC. Eleven members of the Liu family followed in his place as effective emperors until AD 9. In that year the dynastic line was challenged by Wang Mang, who established his own regime under the title of Hsin. In AD 25 the authority of the Han dynasty was reaffirmed by Liu Hsiu (posthumous name Kuang-wu ti), who reigned as Han emperor until 57/58. Thirteen of his descendants maintained the dynastic succession until 220, when the rule of a single empire was replaced by that of three separate kingdoms. While the whole period from 206 or 202 BC to AD 220 is generally described as that of the Han dynasty, the terms Hsi (Western; also called Former) Han and Tung (Eastern; also called Later) Han are used to denote the two subperiods. During the first period, from 206 BC to AD 25, the capital city was situated at Ch'ang-an, in the west; in the second period, from AD 25 to 220, it lay farther east at Lo-yang.The four centuries in question may be treated as a single historical period by virtue of dynastic continuity; for, apart from the short interval of 9-25, Imperial authority was unquestionably vested in successive members of the same family. The period, however, was one of considerable changes in Imperial, political, and social development. Organs of government were established, tried, modified, or replaced, and new social distinctions were brought into being. Chinese prestige among other peoples varied with the political stability and military strength of the Han house, and the extent of territory that was subject to the jurisdiction of Han officials varied with the success of Han arms. At the same time the example of the palace, the activities of government, and the growing luxuries of city life gave rise to new standards of cultural and technological achievement.China's first Imperial dynasty, that of Ch'in, had lasted barely 15 years before its dissolution in the face of rebellion and civil war. By contrast, Han formed the first long-lasting regime that could successfully claim to be the sole authority entitled to wield administrative power. The Han forms of government, however, were derived in the first instance from the Ch'in dynasty; and these, in turn, incorporated a number of features of the government that had been practiced by earlier kingdoms. The Han Empire left as a heritage a practical example of Imperial government and an ideal of dynastic authority to which its successors have always aspired. But the Han period has been credited with more success than is its due; it has been represented as a period of 400 years of effective dynastic rule, punctuated by a short period of usurpation by a pretender to power, and it has been assumed that Imperial unity and effective administration advanced steadily with each decade. In fact, there were only a few short periods marked by dynastic strength, stable government, and intensive administration. Several reigns were characterized by palace intrigue and corrupt influences at court, and on a number of occasions the future of the dynasty was seriously endangered by outbreaks of violence, seizure of political power, or a crisis in the Imperial succession._


India under the Guptas

Gupta Dynasty

I           INTRODUCTION   

After the fall of Rome, eight centuries passed before Europe began its transition to modernity. The civilizing process was more continuous in Asia, high cultures flourishing in both India and China between 300 and 1300. Their wealth and cultural achievements helped prepare the way for Western revival after the fourteenth century.

This was a time of preservation, consolidation, and innovation for the old Asian civilizations. Earlier values and institutions were reaffirmed so effectively that the characteristic Hindu and Chinese culture patterns have endured down to modern times, despite frequent invasions of both homelands. Moreover, each civilization produced significant contributions to the world's common culture. India made remarkable advances in mathematics, medicine, chemistry, textile production, and imaginative literature. (China excelled in political organization, scholarship, and the arts, while producing such revolutionary technical inventions as printing, explosive powder, and the mariner's compass.)

 

 Through most of the fourth and fifth centuries(AD 320 to c. AD 540) the monarchs of the Gupta dynasty ruled in what has been termed as the golden age of classical culture in India. For a century, the land had suffered political disintegration while Buddhism partially replaced the old Vedic religion of the brahmins. The Guptas brought unity and fostered a revival of traditional religion, Sanskrit literature, and native art. During this period, Hindu culture spread widely through Southeast Asia,

II         GUPTA HISTORY AND POLITICS  
The origin of the Guptas is somewhat obscure. On the basis of the provenance of the early Gupta coin hoards and the distribution of important Gupta inscriptions, historians have now come to accept the Gangetic plain in the south of modern Uttar Pradesh as the original home of the Guptas. The Gupta regime was based on the old kingdom of Magadha.

The Gupta era dates from the accession of Chandragupta I (reigned c. 320-c. 330), who laid the foundation of the empire around 319-320. A lengthy eulogy to Samudragupta (reigned c. 330-c. 380), the son and successor of Chandragupta I, inscribed on a pillar in Allahabad, provides detailed descriptions of his impressive military achievements. In real terms, however, Samudragupta’s direct political control was confined to the Ganges valley, since the kings of southern India and the Deccan Plateau, as well as the tribes in the regions of the Punjab and modern Rajasthan, were not under his suzerainty, but merely paid him tribute.

Gupta power reached its apogee under Chandragupta II (reigned c. 380-415). In the east the frontiers of his empire stretched to the coast of Bengal, and in the west they reached beyond the main channel of the Brahmaputra. During his reign the republican states to the west of Mathura were finally integrated with the Gupta kingdom, western India was added to it, and the Deccan was brought under its orbit of direct influence. The reign of Kumaragupta I (reigned c. 415-454) was one of peace and relative inactivity. Towards the end of this period, however, peace was disturbed by the invasion of an enemy whose identity has not been definitely established. Far more serious was the threat of invasion by the Huns, and Skandagupta (reigned c. 454-467) had to concentrate on defending the kingdom against external threats throughout his reign.

After Skandagupta’s death, the Guptas were unable to resist the repeated waves of Hun invasions and central authority declined rapidly. The succession of the kings that followed him is uncertain. A number of administrative seals have been discovered with the names of the same kings, but in a varied order of succession, which points to a confused close of the dynasty. A major blow came at the end of the 5th century, when the Huns successfully broke through into northern India, and by the mid-6th century much of northern and central India was under Hunnish rule.

            III        GUPTA RELIGION  
The rise of the Guptas was paralleled by the emergence of the canonical Hinduism of the Puranas. All the major aspects of Brahminical religion, with which Puranic Hinduism came to be identified in later centuries, crystallized in this period. The image of the deity emerged as the centre of worship, and worship superseded sacrifice as the main form of devotion, although a sacrificial offering to the image remained central to the ritual. This in turn encouraged bhakti devotionalism, which consisted of an intense personal attachment to the object of worship. Brahminical reaction against Buddhism and Jainism also became stronger. As a result, social stratification based on caste and the supremacy of the Brahmins received much greater emphasis.

            IV        GUPTA SOCIETY AND ECONOMY  
The social supremacy of the Brahmins is also reflected in the economy of the Gupta period, as attested by the frequency of tax-free land grants made to them. Villages, along with their inhabitants, revenue due to the king, and even administrative and judicial rights, were transferred to the religious beneficiaries. With the emergence of a localized self-sufficient economy, characterized by the decline of trade and urban centres, land grants to secular officials (either in lieu of salary or as a reward for services) also became popular. As a result, the freedom of the peasantry was curtailed and their mobility was restricted.

            V         GUPTA CULTURE  
During the Gupta period, Sanskrit literature was given lavish encouragement, mostly through royal patronage. Gupta literature was a literature of the elite and those associated with the court circle. Sanskrit poetry and early Indian theatre flourished with the works of Kalidasa. Though it is deeply imbued with tradition, the real value of his work lies in the originality of his imagery. His masterpieces have unity, balance, and a sense of wholeness that is rare in early Indian literature.


The Gupta period also represents a watershed in the history of Indian art and architecture. It marks the culmination of earlier tendencies in architectural types and the beginning of a new age, connected with the phenomenal growth and development of the temple. The pivot of Gupta sculptural art was the human figure. The body was given enduring realization with the help of a full modelling that, in its naturalism, is almost unparalleled in Indian art.

The Gupta period is referred to as the classical age of ancient India, mainly because of its cultural achievements. The description seems to be true for the upper classes, among whom material and intellectual culture reached a level never before attained.

 

 

India: The Imperial Guptas

The Gupta State And Society

The Gupta state began its rise with the accession to power of Chandra Gupta I (not related to Chandragupta Maurya) in 320. His son and grandson were successful conquerors, extending the boundaries of an original petty state in Maghada until it included most of northern India from the Himalayas to the Narbada River and east to west from sea to sea.

 

Within this domain, the Gupta monarchs developed a political structure along ancient Mauryan lines, with provincial governors, district officials, state-controlled industries, and an imperial secret service.

This centralized system was effective only on royal lands, however, which were much less extensive than in Mauryan times. With a smaller bureaucracy, the Gupta rulers depended upon local authorities and communal institutions, raising revenues primarily through tribute and military forces by feudal levy.

Peace and stabilized government under the later Guptas increased agricultural productivity and foreign trade. Flourishing commerce with Rome in the last decades of the fourth century brought a great influx of gold and silver into the Empire.

 

Hindu traders were also active in Southeast Asia, particularly in Burma and Cambodia, contributing to the emergence of civilizations there. The resulting prosperity of India was reflected in the erection of great public buildings and in the luxuries of the elite, particularly at the Gupta court.

 

Although the Gupta rulers generally practiced religious toleration, they favored Hinduism, providing the brahmins with imperial patronage, both in wealth and prestige. As it crystallized into a final form, Hinduism thus became dominant over Buddhism. By recognizing the validity of all religious experience - and particularly by incorporating basic Buddhist doctrines, such as nonviolence and respect for life - the traditional religion developed tremendous tenacity, lasting into modern times.

 

The Hindu revival of this period brought a great upsurge of devotion to old gods, such as Vishnu and

Siva, in a popular quest for personal identity and serenity. This new religious fervor was reflected in a wave of popular religious books, the Puranas, which emphasized in simple tales, the compassion of the personal gods. By promoting such emotional Hinduism, the Gupta monarchs gained great favor among all classes of their subjects.

 

Much of our knowledge of Gupta society comes from the journal of a Buddhist monk, Fa-Hsien, who traveled in India for fifteen years at the opening of the fifth century. He reported the people to be happy, relatively free of government oppression, and inclined towards courtesy and charity. Other references in the journal, however, indicate that the caste system was rapidly assuming its basic features, including "untouchability," the social isolation of a lowest class that is doomed to menial labor.

 

The caste system certainly provided security of status and occupation for many, but it also justified economic and social inequality. Gupta material prosperity was monopolized by the elite.

Class inequality was matched by a growing inequality of the sexes. Gupta women still received the respect of their husbands and children; some women, particularly those of the upper class, were also active in the arts, commerce, and professions.

 

Sometimes, upon the death of rulers, their queens became capable regents for infant sons. But growing wealth and power during the Gupta period steadily eroded the traditional status of women.

Girls were contracted to arranged marriages at early ages and forced to live with the families of future husbands. Subordination of women was most evident in developing customs that denied widows the right to remarry and even encouraged them to commit suicide, in the suttee ceremony, by burning themselves on the funeral pyres of their husbands.

 

Gupta Scholarship And Science

The Gupta era brought a great stimulus to learning. Old Vedic schools were revitalized, and Buddhist centers, which had spread after the Maurya period, were given new support.

The foremost Indian university was at Nalanda, founded in the fifth century. Although Buddhist in its basic orientation, it tolerated all creeds and attracted students from all over Asia. The organization of Hindu philosophy into six orthodox systems, with a common concern for salvation, owed much to the Hindu-Buddhist dialogue in the Gupta universities.

 

Accomplishments in art, literature, scholarship, and philosophy were not more remarkable than those in science. The most famous Gupta scientist was the astronomer-mathematician, Aryabhatta, who lived in the fifth century. He discussed (in verse) quadratic equations, solstices, and equinoxes, along with the spherical shape of the earth and its rotation. Other Hindu mathematicians of this period popularized the use of a special sign for zero, later passing it on to the Arabs.

 

In addition to employing their skills in Yoga, Hindu physicians sterilized wounds and prepared for surgery by fumigation, performed Caesarean operations, set broken bones, and practiced plastic surgery.

They used drugs then unknown in the West, such as chaulmoogra oil for treating leprosy, a practice still used today.

 

Achievements in pure science were matched by practical applications. Gupta craftsmen made soap, cement, superior dyes, and the finest tempered steel in the world.


Inca Empire:Extent of Empire Rise, Fall, Role of the State/ How they governed themselves et

Introduction

The Inca state covered most of the Andean Mountains and much of the arid Pacific coastline. It was the largest indigenous empire that the Europeans encountered in the Western hemisphere. This extensive empire, with millions of subjects of diverse ethnicities and dialects, stretched from the modern-day Colombia-Ecuador border to the Maule River in central Chile, and eastward into Bolivia (including modern La Paz) and northern Argentina--a ribbon-shaped land about twenty-five hundred miles in length. At its core were the forested valleys in the highlands of         Peru.

The Incas themselves used the word Inca while referring to their emperor, and called their own empire Tahuantinsuyu, or "Land of the Four Quarters," the quarters (or administrative provinces) converging at their capital of Cuzco. Later, the Europeans used the word Inca to denote both the people and the empire, and today we have adopted this modified meaning of the word in our popular usage.

Origins and Rise

Since the Incas were nonliterate, we have to rely on their oral traditions to know their history before the Spanish conquest of Peru. At first, they were a small tribe living in the Cuzco Valley to the north of Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world. They began to spill out beyond the narrow confines of their habitat during the reign of their earliest king, Manco Capac (around C.E. 1200), to whom they ascribed divine descent.

The domain of the Incas slowly grew at the expense of neighboring tribes for the next two centuries. The pace of their expansion quickened under their eighth king, Viracocha, in the early part of the fifteenth century. Viracocha's armies conquered the Ayarmaca kingdom in the southern Cuzco Valley in a model campaign. However, it was under his son, Pachacuti Yupanqui, that the Incas entered upon an aggressive career of conquest.

Pachacuti Yupanqui

As Pachacuti Yupanqui (1438-1471) usurped the throne during the lifetime of his father, the Inca kingdom became embroiled in a civil war. With the help of the Quechuas, Pachacuti defeated the invading Chancas and then prevailed over his domestic enemies. Pachacuti's brother, Capac Yupanqui, carried Inca conquests to the ocean in 1445, drove the Chancas beyond the Yanamayo River, and successfully stormed the Chimu (or Chimor) fortress of Cajamarca before being murdered by his jealous brother. Two other sons of Pachacuti conquered the strategic Urubamba valley lying between the Cuzco valley and Lake Titicaca. Yet another son of the Inca king, Topa Yupanqui, subjugated the Quechuas and the Chancas, relieved the Inca garrison at Cajamarca, sacked the Chimu capital at Chan Chan, seized their irrigation works, and advanced along the coast of Ecuador as far as Pachacamac. Thus it was because of the conquests of Topa that the Incas could become masters of an empire.

Pachacuti rebuilt the city and the fortress of Cuzco and undertook massive irrigation projects in the upper end of the Cuzco Valley. He also instituted the state cult of the worship of the pre-Inca creator-god Viracocha, in whose honor temples were built and in whose name Inca armies mounted their conquests. From their vanquished enemies, the Incas demanded not conversion but submission to their god, and extensive offerings of land, grains, and labor. In 1471, Pachacuti abdicated in favor of his son, Topa, so as to avert another dynastic conflict.

Topa Yupanqui and his Successors

Topa Yupanqui (1471-1493) had, as seen before, already subdued the coastal civilization of the Chimu of central Peru in 1470, thereby extending his empire to the border of Ecuador. After a relatively unsuccessful invasion of the tropical rainforest near the Tono River, the Incas crushed a revolt of the Colla and the Lupaca peoples of the Titicaca basin. In the south, the Incas under Topa then conquered highland Bolivia, drove deep into central Chile and northern Argentina, overcame the fierce resistance of the Araucanians, and spread their territory south beyond modern Santiago until they controlled lands as far as the Maule river basin. Finally, by 1479, after a campaign lasting three years, the Incas had incorporated the entire southern coast of Peru into their empire.

Having concluded his career of conquests, Topa devoted himself to various aspects of imperial government, traveling extensively to assign lands and establish local administration. He also devised a system of units to divide the populace for the purpose of conscription for construction and military undertakings. Topa's aqllakuna system required tributaries to supply "chosen women" for servants and sacrificial victims in state temples, and textile-weavers and brides of distinguished soldiers in the Inca army.

The next Inca emperor, Huayna Capac (1493-1525), consolidated the conquests of his last two great predecessors, suppressed small rebellions, and defeated the Chachapoyas in northeastern Peru in 1513. Finally, at the end of his reign, he extended his empire to the Ancasmayo River at the Ecuador-Colombian border while his general, Yasca, drove back the Chiriguano invaders to Argentina. Huayna Capac died without nominating an heir. His two sons, Huascar and Atahualpa, entered into a contest for his throne. This struggle ultimately brought about the intervention of the Spaniards, who overthrew the Incas and founded their own continental empire.

Ancestor Worship

The motive force that propelled the extensive Inca conquests since the times of Pachacuti was the state ideology of ancestor worship. Although the Sun God was the chief among the Inca deities, and animism and sacrifices (of both animals and humans) were popular among the Incas, it was the official cult of veneration of royal mummies (and utilization of inherited imperial resources to support them) that actually created a self-perpetuating need for every ruler to engage in fresh wars of conquests.

This feature of Incan belief and practice needs to be elaborated further. The Incas mummified their dead rulers, and not only had temple priests adorn and parade them during public festivals, but also had oracles consult them as intermediaries of the gods. From the Chimu kingdom, Pachacuti adopted the belief in the divided inheritance of emperors: the titular rank and power of the deceased ruler passed on to his successor, but his wealth, palaces, and lands were to be used by his successors only to support the worship of his mummy for all times to come. Therefore, in order to ensure for himself an eternal personal cult, each new Inca ruler was obliged to acquire a corporation of new territories and tribute, which in turn necessitated fresh conquests.

System of Rule( very important)

The Inca state was an absolute theocracy, and the imperial system was characterized by a high level of organization and hierarchy. At the apex of all power and authority was the emperor, the Inca demigod personifying the solar deity, who was married to his sister and ruled from Cuzco, the site of the imperial court and the principal temples. Under the emperor was the upper aristocracy, composed of the members of the ten royal clans (or ayllus), and holding the highest positions in the state--religious, civil, and military. They came to be referred to as the "Big Ears," or orejones, by the Spaniards, as they alone had the customary privilege of wearing big jeweled spools that abnormally distended their perforated ear-lobes. The lesser nobility conducted the daily administration, and included in its ranks, conquered chieftains, chiefs (or curacas) of ayllus, royal retainers, and public officials.

The powerful class of warriors, governors, and bureaucrats in the Inca state received imperial patronage in the form of gifts of land, jewels, llamas, and alpacas. They were exempt from working in the fields and mines, and other forms of labor-oriented public services. Unlike in Mesoamerica, the merchant class in the Andean region was conspicuous by its absence as trade was severely limited by the official Inca policy of ensuring economic self-sufficiency, and strictly regulating output, circulation, and exchange of commodities. The classes of administrative officials and artisans were hereditary. At the bottom were the commoners, who toiled incessantly for agricultural and mineral production, and nearly all of whose surplus went to enrich the upper classes and the emperor.

Inca Overlordship

The Incas divided their empire into four great provinces (each under a viceroy), and controlled the subjugated Andean peoples not by terror and carnage as did the Aztecs, but thorough political integration and cultural assimilation. Pursuing a policy of colonization called the mitma, the Incas deliberately imposed their Quechua language as well as their pantheon of gods--chiefly Inti, the Sun and his wife, Mama-Kilya, the Moon, the deified former kings, and the elemental gods of thunder and rain--on the subject peoples. Pachacuti probably initiated the mitma system of demographic reconfiguration of the empire: segments of conquered populations were forced to distant regions from where loyal subjects and soldiers would be made to migrate to the newly subjugated territories.

The Incas divided the conquered lands into lands for the emperor (crown lands), lands for the Sun (domains to sustain the state cult and the priests), and lands for the people (land for collective tillage). Successful generals, distinguished bureaucrats, and favorite nobles were sometimes awarded extensive private estates by the Inca emperor in newly conquered territories. As masters, the Incas also constructed granaries and large irrigation projects for the welfare of their subjects.

The subjects of the Incas were bound to remain loyal to the state, were obliged to work collectively in imperial or religious farms and state mines, had to pay tribute with their produce, and perform mandatory labor services for the state, including constructing roads, bridges, palaces, and temples for men, and weaving cloth from alpaca wool for women. The state rewarded the soldiers with artistic textiles and chicha, or corn beer. The Incas used bronze tools and weapons; bronze culture became very widespread in the area with Inca conquest. The Incas built large temples for their deities and fetishes, and many llamas and humans who were sacrificed to propitiate the gods were obtained from conquered provinces as part of taxes.

Inca State Socialism

The Inca empire was a totalitarian welfare state: the government intervened with all aspects of the subject's life, and instituted social security schemes for them. There was technically no private property: the Inca emperor owned everything in his realm, down to every peasant's plot of land, homestead, household goods, and livestock. The state extracted everything from the peasants beyond what was required for their bare subsistence, and made them work at the imperial projects according to the assigned quota of the district they inhabited.

Almost every aspect of an individual's life was regulated by the state. The state required everyone to marry and sometimes even determined the spouse and decided the time of the wedding. The daily life of the Incas was regimented, but they enjoyed substantial social welfare sponsored by the government. All regions received adequate grains for subsistence, and the destitute and the infirm were taken care of by the society. Finally, the state provided relief to the poor in times of failure of harvests and natural disasters.

The Inca polity was characterized by a marked absence of tribute as the peasants contributed their goods and services to the state by the mita system. By this system, which was later adopted by the Spanish rulers, village leaders assigned peasant clans to part with their grains and labor to the state by rotation. Markets, too, did not develop, since peasants satisfied their simple needs of consumption by a reciprocal exchange of products and services.

Highway System

The Inca empire was physically united by the construction of a widespread system of roads. Of the two main roads of the empire, one ran along the Pacific coast, another road traversed the Andes Mountains. The north-south roads were connected by lateral roads to the major settlements, and a network of link roads reached out to every village in the realm. The roads, which ran for many thousands of miles, were long and narrow, running across suspension bridges and through hill tunnels. They had way stations within a day's walk of one another to serve as inns for travelers, supply depots for the army, and relaying points for runners who transmitted messages throughout the empire. Like those of the Roman Empire, the Inca roads served to link up all parts of the empire, and stone-paved or not, were remarkable feats of engineering. Like the Aztecs, the Incas were ignorant of the use of the wheel; llamas were used as pack animals on those imperial roads.

Bookkeeping without Alphabet

Another achievement of the Incas was their mode of record-keeping. The Incas had a genius for organization, but they had no written language. As a result of government policy, their Quechua language gradually superseded the other local languages, and most people of Peru can speak Quechua today.

The Incas, however, devised a complex system of keeping mathematical records, called the quipu. They used an abacus made of rope, with knotted strings of many colors and textures attached to it, to denote numbers and objects, besides all kinds of arrangement and dimension. The quipu was adequate enough for the Incas to maintain detailed records of ledgers, inventories, and even census records.

Destruction

After the death of emperor Huayna Capac in 1525, the Inca empire experienced a civil war between two rival claimants to the throne. The imperial council elected the Huayna Capac's chief wife, while the people and the generals supported Atahualpa, the deceased ruler's favorite son. After five years of bitter struggle, Atahualpa's army defeated and captured Huascar near Cuzco in April 1532.

Meanwhile, the Spanish conquistador, Francisco Pizarro (ca. 1474-1541), had landed at Tumbes in the northern Peruvian coast. The head of a small force, he had several horses and a few cannons and searched for ources of gold and silver in the Inca empire. As Pizarro's force advanced toward Cuzco through the Andean mountain roads, Atahualpa at first believed that the party was that of the creator-god, Viracocha, returning from Polynesia. Soon, however, the Incas realized the actual identity of the invaders and planned to waylay them. Atahualpa confidently accepted Pizarro's invitation to meet him unarmed at the central plaza of Cajamarca.

But the Spaniards kidnapped Atahualpa on 16 November 1532, and Pizarro agreed in a written agreement to ransom him for a roomful of gold that was offered by his shocked subjects. When the Incas collected gold from all over their empire to fill up a large room, the Spaniards took the gold and executed him on the charge of having ordered Huascar's death.

In 1533, Pizarro captured Cuzco and installed a puppet emperor, Topa Hualpa, on the Inca throne. When Topa Hualpa died, the Spaniards set up Huascar's brother, Manco Inca, as the titular ruler so as to suppress the remnants of Atahualpa's army. Realizing that the Spaniards had launched their conquest of Peru and were preventing him from exercising control over Inca territories, Manco Inca attacked the European settlements in 1535. His aggression repulsed, Manco Inca fled to the mountainous region of Vitcos, where he established an independent kingdom that lingered until 1572.

Suggested Reading

Von Hagen, Victor W. The Ancient Sun Kingdoms of the Americas, 1961.


This is a comparison study between the 3 mesoamerican empire

“How Did They Govern Themselves?”

The Aztec, Maya, and Inca: The great Sun Empires of Mesoamerica and South America

We have the misconception today that the civilizations of ancient America were all alike, that the people of these vast empires were the same, this could not be father form the truth.  The people of the Aztec, Mayan, and Inca Empires were distinct and unique.  They had technology, complex religious practices, and an elaborate political structure.  This study into the political foundations and organizational structure of the Sun Empires of pre-Columbian America will show how these different societies operated and prospered in the ancient world.

Origins of the Aztecs:

The people we know as the Aztecs migrated into the Mexican valley in roughly 1325 ad.  Their migration is believed to have began roughly two hundred years before from somewhere in the southwestern United States or northern Mexico, from a land the Aztec called Aztlan, “Place of Herons.”  From here they migrated to Chicomozta, the “Seven Caves,” from here they began their progression of conquest and domination of the Valley of Mexico.  In 1325 ad, after a battle the Aztec were forced to retreat to Lake Texcoco, where they had been told by their god that they would “see an eagle perched upon a prickly pear cactus.”  This was the sign that the Aztec people had reached their final destination in their migration from the north.  When they saw this sight at Lake Texcoco, the Aztec built a temple to Huitzilopochtli and established the settlement of Tenochtitlan, “Place of the fruit of the prickly pear cactus.” (Berdan 1982, 3)  The size of their empire has been estimated at over ten million inhabitants.  Tenochtitlan is said to have a population of around three hundred thousand citizens, which would place far beyond comparable European cities that had a population of about forty thousand residents for London and Paris had a population of roughly sixty-five thousand.(Von Hagen 1961, 134)

Origins of the Maya:

The Mayans have a dual history, because in actuality there were two people who went by the name of the Maya.  The first, or Ancient or Classical, Maya were more pacified and concentrated more on academics and pursuits of knowledge.  They ruled over the lowlands of present-day Guatemala from about 250 ad until roughly 900 ad.  After the fall of that civilization some of their inhabitants, mainly warriors, migrated into the Yucatán Peninsula.  The classical Maya are the people associated with numerous technological advances, such as the development of a 365-day calendar, a form of glyph writing and building techniques.  The later civilization was a predominately warrior society and this is the one that will be more closely looked at throughout this analysis.  The post-classical Mayans absorbed a great deal from their predecessors.(Salmoral 1990, 14) They ruled through conquest and their power lay with their military.  The size of their empire is estimated to be as large as thirteen million inhabitants and as small as two-three million residents.(Thompson 1954, 29)

Origins of the Inca:

The origins of the Inca are shrouded in mystery.  Located in the high elevations of the Andean Mountains of the western coast of South America, their empire spanned a distance of roughly 2,500 miles.  It covered modern day Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and the northern parts of Chile.  Their empire was built on plateaus high in mountains.  Their cities were built out of huge stone blocks by a technique still unknown to scholars today.  The Inca arrived in the area around 1100 ad and reigned until 1532.  The civilization was not a true empire until 1438 with the coronation of Pachacutec.  At its peak, the Inca are believed to have had a population of roughly fifteen million citizens.(Salmoral 1990, 27)

Basic Political Structure - Aztec:

The Aztec had a city-state system.  Each city governed the surrounding area and was ruled by a local leader, a tlatoani, “orator.”  The tlatoani was in charge of all the administrative affairs, collecting taxes, raising armies, building projects, etc.  The tlatoani had an advising body known as the “Council of Four.”  This council included his second in command and other high-ranking members of the ruling family of that city.  The Aztec had the practice of having the ruling class all be members of the same family.  The “Council” would advise the ruler in matters of finance, military, judicial, and diplomatic.  They would also serve as acting ruler in the event of the tlatoani’s absence.  Each city’s tlatoani paid allegiance to the tlatoani of Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec Empire, he was known as the huey tlatoani, “Great Orator.”(Von Hagen 1961, 119)

Maya:

The Mayan City was not really a city in the sense that it was not an urban living center but more a cultural center or religious focus point.  The cities were ruled by the halach uinic, “The Man.”  He was seen as a demigod whose rule was law.  The Mayan had a hybrid theological government.  The ruling classes were warriors but they were heavily influenced by the priests and religious practices of the Mayan people.  The cities did not exactly cooperate with one another.  The Mayan countryside was usually in a state of constant warfare, cities fighting over control of the countryside.  There was no definitive capital of the Mayan Empire until 1200 ad when the Cocom dynasty of Mayapán consolidated their control over the region.  Their reign however only lasted roughly two hundred years.  In 1441 ad, a revolt was staged and nearly the entire Cocom ruling class was murdered.  The Mayan hulach uinic had advisors or governors called batabob, “axe man.”  These men usually used force to implement hulach uinic’s  the  law.(Von Hagen 1961, 297-301)

Inca:

The Inca had a very elaborate hierarchy system.  At the top, was the Inca emperor, who was god on earth.  He ruled over the entire Inca Empire, no one equaled his power.  He was the Sun King, the Supa Inca.  Below him were his four advisors, the apocunas, each was assigned a quarter of the empire to watch over.  To each of them were assigned t’oqrikoq, who was given control over forty thousand families each, he was assigned four hunu, who oversaw ten thousand families, this was then broken up into groups of a thousand families.  That was further organized into groups of one hundred families and finally into groups of ten families.(Moore 1958, 99)

The Inca capital was Cuzco, an amazing city built around 1100 ad.  It was used as the central government and used to ensure loyalty from the outlying territories.  A representative from each village was sent to live in Cuzco.  The city was divided just as the empire was, neighboring villages would have neighboring sections in the city.  It was an effective was of promoting unity.

 

How officials were selected - Aztec:

In the Aztec Empire, a committee made up of the most powerful chiefs, respected warriors, high-ranking priests, and certain representatives from the government elected the tlatoani.  Now it was not a election in the sense of modern day elections.  The committee had to choose the new ruler from a particular family, the members of which were believed to be descendents of the gods.  The candidate had to have proven himself a capable warrior as well as a competent diplomat.  Typically the committee would pick a brother of the former ruler before choosing a son or nephew.  The line of ascension could be easily put aside if a candidate was believed to be lacking in any respect the qualities needed to rule. The “Council of Four” was made up of the rulers brothers, cousins, nephew, and uncles, all who were in line for the throne, which probably made it a little difficult to sleep at night.  The huey tlatoani’s ascension to the throne was marked by grandiose ceremonies, typically littered with mass human sacrifices. Huey tlatoani Ahuitzotl sacrificed twelve thousand prisoners for his coronation.(Berdan 1982, 100)

Maya:

The Mayan hulach uinic was a hereditary office, going from father to eldest son, from father to eldest son.  If the son was believed to be incapable of holding office the throne was passed to the former rulers brother.  If there was no direct descendent to the throne available, one would be chosen by the advising council.  The successor would usually come from the same family of the previous ruler.  The hulach uinic was both a spiritual ruler as well as a political one.  By serving both in a religious and a bureaucratic role, the hulach uinic was typically somewhat conceded and often spent a lot of time building monuments of themselves signifying how much power they had at their disposal.(Von Hagen 1961, 300)

Inca:

The Inca had a little more interesting view on how succession should work.  They believed that to be capable to lead a nation you needed to be capable of leading an army.  So every time the emperor died a civil war broke out with armies being led by the deceased emperor’s sons and brothers.  Whoever won the war was proclaimed the new emperor and charged with restoring peace and order to the empire.  He did this symbolically by going to Mount Huanacauri, where the first Inca emperor, Manco Capac established the empire, and placing Manco Capac’s golden staff into the ground.  The Inca emperor also had to worry about attempted overthrows, because he typically placed his sons and brothers in command of the armies and sometimes they decided to get a jump on the competition and attack before the emperor had died.(Salmoral 1990, 139)

How did the government work:

Taxes - Aztecs:

It is said that there are two things in life that man can not escape, death and taxes, well this was true even in ancient America.  In the Aztec world, as well with the rest of ancient America, money had not been developed yet, the Native Americans operated on a barter system, and this made taxing the public interesting.  Instead of requiring payments of money on a regular basis, the Aztec required that each tribe provide so many men to perform services for the State.  Usually this service was in the form of working communal lands whose harvest, typically coca, was turned over to the State.  Sometimes the men were used to build structures necessary for the State.  In Aztec society, certain individuals were exempt from paying taxes.  These were the priests, certain army personal, skilled craftsmen, and the tlatoani’s concubines.(Von Hagen 1961, 86-87)

Maya:

The Mayan system of taxing its citizenry was similar to the Aztec’s.  They required a certain amount of the excess crops, usually maize, of the taxable public.  This excess corn was placed in the State’s depositories located throughout the Empire.  There was also a requirement to provide manpower for the building of temples and palaces.  In Mayan society, it was seen as beneficial to provide your services for the building of structures, especially religious temples as this was seen as being cooperative and would put you in good favors with the gods.(Von Hagen 1961, 253-254)

Inca:

In the Inca Empire, the tax, or mita, was divided up evenly.  Each family would have to provide the same number of men for their service-oriented tax.  The central government in Cuzco would decide what tasks needed to be done and then ask each family to provided a certain number of men.  Some families were assigned a permanent mita, such as, keeping a bridge or road maintained.  Usually the mita was a short-term service, typically mine duty, building a temple or bridge would be for a few months, but in some cases it took on a grandiose scale.  In 1438, the government began a program to improve the defenses around Cuzco.  It decided to build the fortress of Sacsahuamán.  It required thirty thousand workers eight years of their time to complete the construction.  That is an amazing organizational feet even by today’s standards.(Von Hagen 1961, 454-455)

 

War and Conquest – Aztec:

The Aztec fought for two reasons.  One, to get tribute from the tribes that they conquered.  Two, to capture prisoners for human sacrifice.  The Aztec had a complex system to their wars.  First they would send out an ambassador to the village or city they were intending to attack and give them an ultimatum, capitulate or die.  They were given one lunar month to respond.  If they decided to fight the battles were usually quick.  The battle was over when the leader of either side was captured or killed so this was usually the Aztec’s primary target, as they could not afford a protracted engagement.  Without the use of beasts of burden of access to the wheel all their supplies had to be carried, so it put them at a distinct disadvantage in battles fought far from their supply center.  The Aztec did not absorb the villages they conquered, they just required a tribute every six months or so and left the conquered to govern themselves.(Berdan 1982, 105-108)

Maya:

The Maya were in a state of almost constant warfare.  They were always trying to expand their sphere of influence in the region and gather more prisoners for sacrifice, though they did not sacrifice to the same extent as that of the Aztec.  Mayan armies had two commanders, the batabob or axe man was one, and this position was hereditary.  The other, the nocom, was an elected official.  Usually an accomplished warrior, upon being elected he could not drink alcohol, eat meat, or have relationships with women, a far cry from what we think of when we think of modern military service.  The Maya had specific rules when it came to combat.  They would not fight after dark.  If the nocom was killed the battle ended and battles did not occur during the planting season.  Even though they had rules once battle commenced they were ruthless, employing ambush tactics and psychological warfare on opponents.(Von Hagen 1961, 346-351)

Inca:

The Inca were totally obsessed with conquest.  They were not out to kill their opponent or to capture prisoners for sacrifice.  They wanted to capture territory and pacify the region.  The Inca would begin a long technique of intimidation when they wanted to take over a control.  They would employ spies to find out their enemy’s weaknesses and numbers.  They would then march in front of the opposing army to demonstrate their prowess and size of their army.  Each side would bring an idol to the battle, this was how the winner was decided.  Whoever captured the opposing side’s idol was declared the winner.  The battle was also over if the commander of either army was killed or captured.  Upon a successful conquest, the Inca would send in an administrative official to help assimilate the territory into the Inca Empire.  The citizens would be required to learn Quechua, the Inca language and a representative from the village was sent to Cuzco to ensure the loyalty of the village.(Salmoral 1990, 204-206)

Religious Ties – Aztec:

In the Aztec Empire the driving force for the society was the gathering of prisoners for human sacrifice to the Sun God.  It was the government’s responsibility to ensure that there were prisoners to be sacrificed to keep the Gods happy.  These became great and spectacular events marking key events and holidays.  The biggest sacrifices typically followed the coronation ceremonies of a new tlatoani.  War and religion were bound tightly together.  War provided prisoners, priests would sacrifice them and this supposedly kept the Gods happy, and who would then watch over the Aztec people and ensure the soldiers were protected so that they could get more prisoners.  It was a vicious cycle.

Maya:

The priests in the post-classical era were the only ones who possessed the knowledge of their classical era ancestors.  They were taught the sciences of math and medicine.  They were taught how to how to read and write the glyph system and how to read a calendar so as to know when certain religious holidays were.  They also performed sacrifices to appease their gods, but no where near to the extent of carnage employed by the Aztec.

Inca:

In the Inca society the church and the state were one.  The government was a theocracy.  The Sun King was god’s representative on earth.  He was the ultimate authority.  The religion and politics of Inca society were so intertwined it difficult to see where one begins and the other ends.  When an Inca ruler died his power was transferred to whoever won the civil war, but his actual possessions went to his panaqas, who were members of his family who were charged with protecting his belongings.  The Inca believe that the ruler did not actually die, the body was mummified and placed in the Coricancha temple in Cuzco.  Their bodies were brought out for major state functions.  It was now the duty of the new emperor to expand the empire so that he could gain possessions for when he died.(Fagen 1991, 48-49)

How did the Ruling class live – Aztec:

Moctezuma was the defining ruler of the Aztec Empire, and he lived as if he were a god.  When his coronation was complete he expelled all personal from the palace who were not of noble birth.  In order to speak to him you had to dress in the clothes of a commoner and walk barefooted.  He was dressed in refined garments, nothing too extravagant, but nicer than anything else was wearing.  He would be served grand feasts, comprising over thirty different dishes.  After night fell, he would enjoy the company of one of his many concubines.  Moctezuma fathered over one hundred fifty children.  Wherever he went he took an enormous entourage usually comprised of over two hundred lords and nobles.  The common people along the street were not allowed to look at him.(Von Hagen 1961, 119-124)

Maya:

The Maya ruling class were very rich and powerful.  They wore overly elaborate garments and deformed their bodies to conform to the Mayan concept of beauty.  Mayan rulers would pierce the septum of their nose as well as their left nostril.  They would flatten their forehead so that the top of their head formed a point.  They would pierce their earlobes and enlarge the hole so that large objects could be passed through it.  Their garments were ornate and grandiose, especially the headdress, which was made out of wood or wickerwork.  It would almost be as large as the lord wearing it.  It would be comprised of hundreds of bird feathers and have intricate carvings on it signifying whom the wearer was.(Von Hagen 1961, 297-300)

Inca:

The Inca rulers’ lives were filled with ritual and ceremony.  From birth to maturity the possible heirs to the throne were groomed and trained to lead.  Taught to read and understand the Inca method of record keeping, the knot tying of pieces of string.  They were taught how to fight with various weapons and techniques.  Their clothing was not all that different from the common man, just of a finer quality.  Their crown was basically just a piece of cloth.  The Inca also kept concubines and fathered numerous children.  One Inca ruler is rumored to have fathered five hundred children in the male line alone.(Von Hagen 1961, 493-496)

What happened when the Spanish arrived – Aztec:

In 1519, Hernán Cortés led a Spanish expedition to the mainland of Central America.  He brought with him nearly six hundred troops and ten horses.  His men were equipped with crossbows, muskets, lances, and a few pieces of artillery.  Upon landing they became engaged in combat and killed nearly three hundred Indians.  News of their arrival quickly reached the court of Moctezuma in Tenochtitlan.  Moctezuma was very worried, for years he had been receiving signs of impending doom for himself and his kingdom.  He sent out ambassadors to great the Spaniards.  His ambassadors believed that Cortés was the god Quetzalcoatl returned. Cortés used this and began a progressive movement inward never really being challenged militarily until it was too late.  After arriving in Tenochtitlan, Cortés was given a tour and shown all the wondrous sites of the city.  He took the advantage and held Moctezuma prisoner in his own temple. Moctezuma capitulated quickly, swearing allegiance to Charles the V of Spain.  When Moctezuma did that he lost all support from the noble class.  Riots and uprisings broke out all over Tenochtitlan. Cortés received word that a Spanish army had come to replace him.  Comprised of nine hundred men and a hundred horse, Cortés went to meet the contingent captured its commander and took control of the force.  He then used this force to suppress the Aztecs over the next couple of years, until final victory was accomplished.  The Aztec would suffer epidemic after epidemic under Spanish rule. Their cities were plundered and destroyed.  They were turned into slaves and seen as heathens by their Spanish rulers.(Berdan 1982, 164-168)

Maya:

The Maya, being the fierce warriors they were, gave the Spanish run for their money.  When the Spanish defeated the Aztec, roughly around 1524, the set their sights on the Mayan Empire.  Most thought this would be a fairly easy conquest, the people were primitive, always fighting one another, but the Spanish were routed time and again.  Finally in 1542, the Spanish gained a foothold and began a gradual conquest of the region.  In 1546, they began a program of murdering all the tribes who resisted their rule.  Along with exposure to small pox, warring with themselves and the technological advances of the Spanish it was an inevitable fate for the Maya.  In 1697, a hundred a seventy years after first contact the Spanish accepted the surrender of the last Mayan city. (Von Hagen 1961, 391-395)

Inca:

The Inca fell quickly to the Spanish conquest.  The Inca Empire had just emerged from a bloody civil war and many of its finest generals and warriors were dead.  Even the ones who survived were exhausted from a five year long war.  When the Spanish arrived the Inca first assumed they were returning gods to help with the coronation of the new king.  They soon realized that they were not gods but still did not give them much concern since there were so few of them, a little over an hundred troops.  The Inca agreed to meet the Spaniards and were ambushed, they awoke to find there leader killed and the whole Inca Empire under the control of the Spanish.(Von Hagen 1961, 579-583) 

Major Similarities:

The Sun Empires of pre-Columbian America had some interesting similarities between them.  They all worshiped the sun, believing it to be the source of life and power.  Their governments were all loosely based on a city-state structure.  The Inca Empire was a little more centralized.  They all had highly developed class systems with no real possible mean to ascend to the next level.  The priest and religious caste were very powerful in all three civilizations.  The basic political structure was the family, then the tribe, the village, the city and then the nation.  When there was a centralized leader he was usually seen as a representative or descendent of God.

These societies emerged hundreds even thousands of miles from each other yet still had basic core similarities.  They developed over hundreds of years and created structures and pieces of civilization that are still unrivaled today. 

 

Last set of notes

Because they had no written language, what we know of the history of the Incas and their realm comes from chronicles and other documents written in the decades after the Spanish conquest.  The stories in those chronicles had been passed down orally over the generations, and were collected in different parts of the empire over many years.  Add the biases of those retelling and recording the tales to the variations induced by time and space, and we are confronted with many different versions of stories about the founding of Cuzco, the names and deeds of Inca emperors, the expansion of Inca power, etc.  It is no surprise that these stories often seem to contradict each other.

Moreover, many of these stories are ultimately derived from the Incas' own "official" version of history, which was probably to a great extent fabricated to glorify the emperors and their heritage.   So in the end, by reconstructing Inca history from these written sources, we are not coming up with a representation of events as they actually occurred, but instead we arrive at what is hopefully a reasonable approximation of Inca history as sanctioned by the Inca state.

Many different scholars have made the effort to reconstruct official Inca history from chronicles and other documents (a field known as ethnohistory), and their results differ depending on which sources they chose to rely upon. Actual dates for events in Inca history are also rather imprecise, but here I will follow the chronology as worked out by John H. Rowe (1946), with the understanding that the earlier dates are undoubtedly less precise than the more recent ones.

The following pages describe the major events of Inca history, from their mythical beginnings ca. 1200 AD to the Spanish conquest in the 1530's.

Origins

There are numerous stories about the origins of the Incas and the founding of their capital, Cuzco. Many of them share some basic elements, but vary greatly in detail.  However, they all agree in naming Manco Capac as the first Inca ruler.  Inca origin stories can be divided into two groups: those that hold that Manco Capac came from the cave of Pacariqtambo ("pacariq" meaning "dawn" or "origin," "tambo" meaning "place of lodging"), and those that say he came from Lake Titicaca.  But even in those stories where Lake Titicaca is the place of origin, Pacariqtambo usually plays a role of some import.

The main Pacariqtambo origin story is as follows:  Four brothers, Ayar Manco, Ayar Auca, Ayar Cachi, and Ayar Uchu, and their four sisters, Mama Ocllo, Mama Huaco, Mama Cura, and Mama Rawa, emerged from a cave in the mountain of Tambo Toco.  The sisters were also the wives of the brothers, respectively.

This cave, located south of Cuzco at Pacariqtambo , had three windows.  From the middle window emerged Ayar Manco and his siblings, and from the two side windows emerged the people who would later found the 10 ayllus of Cuzco.  Ayar Manco and his followers travelled for days, and many different things are said to have happened to the group.  One of the brothers was sealed up in the cave at Pacariqtambo, and two of them turned into stone.  During the trip, Ayar Manco and his wife, Mama Ocllo had a son named Sinchi Roca.

At last they arrived in the Valley of Cuzco, and having been given a sign from the Sun, they knew this was the place they were to settle.  The land was already inhabited, but because the Incas were deemed to be superior in culture and intelligence, they were allowed to live there and come to govern the natives.  Ayar Manco became Manco Capac, the ruler of Cuzco and its people.  Upon his death, he turned to stone in the place where the Incas later built their temple of the sun.

In other versions of the origin story, Manco Capac and his brothers and sisters arose from Lake Titicaca, and were sent out from there by their father, the Sun, to found the city of Cuzco.  Manco Capac was given a golden staff, which he was to plunge into the ground at each place the group rested; when the staff sank all the way into the ground, they would know they had arrived at the proper place.  They wandered for years going to many places, and at one point stopped at Pacariqtambo.  Finally, when they arrived in the fertile valley of Cuzco, the staff sank all the way into the ground, and there they founded their kingdom.

Other versions link Lake Titicaca and Pacariqtambo by stating that Manco and his siblings originated in Lake Titicaca, and travelled underground to arise from the cave at Pacariqtambo.  While the proliferation of Inca origin stories may seem confusing, it is likely that different versions were meant for different audiences, created to serve the ends of the Inca elite in different ways.

 

The Growth of the Empire

As told in the origin stories, the founder of the Inca dynasty was Manco Capac.  According to most accounts, he was succeeded by 10 more rulers, in this order:

1

Manco Capac

2

Sinchi Roca

3

Lloque Yupanqui

4

Mayta Capac

5

Capac Yupanqui

6

Inca Roca

7

Yahuar Huacac

8

Viracocha Inca

9

Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui

10

Topa Inca Yupanqui

11

Huayna Capac

Those who headed the Inca state were known by various titles, including "Sapa Inca," "Capac Apu," and "Intip Cori."  Often, an emperor was simply referred to as "the Inca."  Rather than having a crown, the Inca emperors wore a fringe on the center of their headdress as a symbol of their status.

It is important to note that the term "Inca" can refer not only to the ruler, but also to people belonging to the ethnic group that settled in the Cuzco region at the time of Manco Capac; these people were all Incas by birth.  Other people, mainly groups in the regions surrounding Cuzco, were given the honorary status of "Incas by privilege."  In contrast, people native to the other regions conquered and controlled by the Incas belonged to many other ethnic groups, such as the Chachapoyas, Cañaris, and Wankas.  These people were not considered Incas.

Manco Capac to Viracocha Inca

For about two centuries after its founding by Manco Capac, ca. 1200 AD., the Inca domain remained small, and was no more significant in size or power than other societies in the Peruvian highlands.  At this time in the central Andes, there was something of a power vacuum.  The powerful Wari Empire, which had previously dominated much of Peru, had collapsed perhaps one or two centuries earlier.

Small regional polities (i.e., large chiefdoms and small states) were developing throughout the Andes, often coming into conflict with each other.  Warfare between neighboring groups was common, and many people lived in defensible hilltop villages and towns.  Several different groups, such as the Quechuas, Lupacas, and Collas, were starting to create strong states, but no one group was clearly dominant.  Alliances between groups were constantly being forged and broken to deal with threats from strong enemies or gain advantages over weak neighbors.

The Incas were no exception; they were not particularly strong, and had to form alliances to protect themselves.  This was the state of things until late in the reign of the eighth Inca, Viracocha.  The Cuzco realm was invaded by the Chancas, a powerful group who lived to the north.  Viracocha feared that the Incas had no chance against the agressors, and fled with his son and designated heir, Inca Urcon, to a fort named Caquia Xaquixahuana.

One of Viracocha's other sons, Inca Yupanqui, refused to give in and remained behind to defend Cuzco.  He quickly made alliances with other groups, including the Canas and Canchis, who sent soldiers to his aid.  The Chancas attacked, and when all seemed lost, Inca Yupanqui called out that the stones in the fields were rising up and turning to men to help fight for the Incas.  With this supernatural intercvention, the Chancas were repelled, with Inca Yupanqui and his forces winning a significant victory.

Pachacuti and Topa Inca: Empire Builders

After his victory over the Chancas, which occurred ca. 1438 AD, Inca Yupanqui assumed control over the realm of Cuzco, and began to expand his kingdom by conquering more territory.  He assumed the name "Pachacuti," which means "cataclysm" or "destroyer."  This name was fitting, as he brought great changes to the Central and Southern Highlands of Peru by incorporating the people of those regions into the Inca state, and strengthening the Inca army with soldiers from those lands.

After his conquests, Pachacuti returned to Cuzco to rebuild the capital city in grand style, having many buildings constructed using the fancy stone architecture the Incas are known for.  Around 1463 AD, while Pachacuti was busy organizing his conquests and remaking Cuzco, his son, Topa Inca, was allowed to take control of the Inca army and continue the task of conquest.  During that time, Topa Inca conquered the Northern Highlands of Peru, the Southern and Central Highlands of Ecuador, and then the Northern and Central Coastal areas of Peru.

Around 1471 AD, Pachacuti died, and Topa Inca became Sapa Inca.  During his rule, the empire virtually doubled in size, with the conquest of the lands of the Southern Coast of Peru, the northern half of Chile, Northwest Argentina, and Eastern Bolivia.  In fact, the vast majority of land that came under Inca control was conquered by armies under the command of Topa Inca either during his reign or during that of his father.

Thus, two men were responsible for conquering most of the territory of Tawantinsuyu and creating the institutions that enabled the Incas to govern that vast land.  In a span of approximately 55 years, the small realm of Cuzco had turned into the most powerful state in the New World.

When Topa Inca died ca. 1493 AD, he was succeeded by his son Huayna Capac.  By that time, the task of conquering more territory was becoming increasingly difficult.  The empire had expanded rapidly to absorb millions of people spread over thousands of kilometers of land, and the Incas had to concentrate much of their effort on consolidating their control over those regions, extracting goods and labor from them, quelling various rebellions, and defending a vast border.  Thus the amount of land added to the empire under Huayna Capac (ca. 1493 AD - ca. 1527 AD) was minor compared to that of Pachacuti and Topa Inca.

Because he lived closer to the time of the arrival of the Spaniards, more is known about the life and achievements of Huayna Capac.  It is said that he spent much of his reign in the highlands of what is now Ecuador (and referred to then as Quito).  He showed great favor toward the settlement of Tomebamba (now the city of Cuenca) in the land of the Cañaris, and had many fine buildings constructed there.  Tomebamba was a major regional center of Inca control, and it is said that it was second only to Cuzco in splendor and importance, and that it may have been considered the second Inca capital.

Huayna Capac spent much effort conquering the northern highlands of Ecuador, and also gained control over some lands in the northeast of Peru.  It is possible that he also campaigned and conquered some territory on the southern coast of Ecuador, but supporting evidence for Inca control in the area is lacking.

Nonetheless, Huayna Capac seemed to be very popular with his subjects, and probably would have extended Inca control still further if he had not died suddenly in 1527 AD.  It is likely that he died of small pox or another such disease brought to the New World by the Spaniards.  Unfortunately, his sudden death left the question of succession unsettled, leading to a struggle between two of his sons.

The Inca Civil War:  The Struggle between Atahuallpa and Huascar

When the Inca Huayna Capac died suddenly in 1527, it was unclear who had been named as his successor.  The accounts are contradictory as to who Huayna Capac had designated to rule the empire, but in the end, it became a struggle between two of his sons, Atahuallpa and Huascar. Some say that Huascar was the legitimate heir and was so decreed by Huayna Capac.  By tradition, the next Inca should be the son of the Inca and his principal wife, who should be his full-blooded sister.  Huascar met this criterion, while his half-brother Atahuallpa was the son of Huayna Capac by a secondary wife.

Nonetheless, it was claimed by others that Huayna Capac told Atahuallpa that he was splitting the empire into two, with Atahuallpa to rule the northern half, and Huascar the southern half.  Still another account says that Huayna Capac designated as successor a son who was incapable of filling the post, leaving the question totally up in the air.

No matter who was supposed to be the designated heir, Huascar had the support of the Inca nobility in Cuzco, and actually took command for a few years.  Meanwhile, Atahuallpa had the support of those in Quito and, furthermore, had command of the Huayna Capac's powerful army, which had been well-seasoned from the efforts to conquer people at the northern edge of Tawantinsuyu.

It is almost certain that similar struggles over succession occurred at other times in Inca history, although surely not in the case of the transition between Pachacuti and Topa Inca.  Whenever there was a conflict, the winners would undoubtedly change the official history to legitimize their claim to leadership and excise mention of other pretenders.  If not for Francisco Pizarro, there is little doubt that Atahuallpa would have gained and solidified his control, and then amended Inca history so that we never would have heard of Huascar.

 

The Spanish Conquest of the Inca Empire

Unfortunately for Atahuallpa Inca, who seemed to have gained the advantage over his brother Huascar in the struggle to become emperor, the Spaniards arrived at exactly the wrong time. Francisco Pizarro, fueled by Cortez's success in conquering the Aztecs and acquiring riches in Mexico, determined to go south to a land where stories told of a great kingdom of fabulous wealth.  After two preliminary excursions, Francisco Pizarro, with 168 Spaniards and a number of horses, arrived in Inca territory in May, 1532.

He landed at Tumbez, located in what is now the northern coast of Peru.  From there, he marched into the Andean highlands to the town of Cajamarca.  At that point, Atahuallpa's generals had captured Huascar near Cuzco, and Atahuallpa was heading south from the northern reaches of the empire toward the capital.

Atahuallpa was informed that some strangers were waiting to meet him in Cajamarca.  But he was not concerned about any foreign threat, and instead was pre-occupied with the issue of Huascar and consolidating his power.  So he went into Cajamarca with his guard down.

Pizarro had other ideas.  On November 16, 1532, he and his men ambushed Atahuallpa, using the advantages provided by their horses and a surprise attack to overcome the Inca and his retinue.  Atahuallpa was perplexed at his capture, but still considered Huascar to be a greater threat.  In return for his life, Atahuallpa offered Pizarro a fabulous ransom:  he would have a room, measuring about 22 by 17 feet, filled with objects of gold to a height of about 8 feet.  Then he would fill the room twice more with objects of silver.

While waiting for the ransom to arrive, Atahuallpa ordered his generals to kill Huascar before he could be brought to Cajamarca.  Eventually, the gold and silver arrived, and Atahuallpa fulfilled his promise.  In return, Pizarro had Atahuallpa executed on July 26, 1533.

By being in the right place at exactly the right time (or wrong place at the wrong time, if you will), and by being ruthless and deceitful, Franciso Pizarro was able to quickly capture the ruler of the Incas, throw the empire into disarray, and rapidly gain wealth through Atahuallpa's ransom.  But Atahuallpa's generals and other Incas continued to resist for many years before the Spaniards had full control of all the lands and people of Tawantinsuyu.

With the fall of Atahuallpa and the Inca Empire, Pizarro and his associates brought to end the most powerful native state in the New World, whose institutions represented thousands of years of indigenous cultural developments.  The Incas cannot be considered to have been benevolent masters by any means, but the abuses and exploitation suffered by the native peoples under Spanish rule were far worse.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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