I. Centralization and Militarism in East Asia, 1200-1500
A. Korea from the Mongols to the Yi, 1231-1500
1. Mongol conquest--Korea was the answer to the Mongol search for coastal areas from which to launch naval expeditions and choke off the sea trade of their adversaries. After twenty years of defensive war, Korea was left with a ravaged countryside and a depleted treasury, as well as other losses. The Korean military commander (analagous to the Japanese shogun) was killed by his underlings in 1258, and soon afterward the Koryo king surrendered to the Mongols.
2. Breakdown of Isolation--Mongol control broke down centuries of comparative isolation. Cotton was introduced in southern Korea, gunpowder came into use, and the art of calendar-making stimulated astronomical obersvation and mathematics. Avenuues of advancement opened for Korean scholars willing to learn Mongolian, landowners willing to open their lands to falconry and grazing, and merchants servicing the new royal exchanges with Beijing.
4. Korean Printing--Like the Ming emperors, the Yi kings revived the study of the Confucian classics, and this may have spurred a technological breakthrough in printing. Working directly with the king, Yi printers developed a reliable device to anchor the pieces of type securely to the printing plate. This enhanced the legibililty and accuracy of the printing, and made the production of a high volume of printed material possible. This allowed Korean printers to not only produce Confucian texts, but also manuals for producing and using fertilizer, transplanting rice seedlings, and engineering resevoirs.
B. Political Transformation in Japan, 1274-1500
1. Mongol attacks--After securing Korea, the Mongols looked toward Japan--an easy reach from the Korean peninsula. In 1274 the Mongols launched their first 30,000 man attack that included cavalry forces, archers, and sailors, and decimated the Japanese defenders. A great storm on the Hakata Bay on the north side of Kyushu Island prevented the establishment of a beachhead, however, and led to the withdrawal of the Mongols to Korea.
2. Kamakura Shogunate--the Japanese shogun was the real power in the country, the "protector" of the emperor. The Kamakura Shogun had been established in 1185, and the Kamakura family remained in power by keeping the other elite families as nearly equal as possible, so that none could challenge their supremacy. The shogun distributed land and privileges to his followers, and they in turn supplied him with soldiers. These families were largely isolated from each other, until the threat from the Mongol invaders. After the initial invasion, power was much more centralized.
4. The Ashikaga Shogunate--with the weakening of the Kamakura, the emperor Go-Daigo broke with centuries of tradition, and attempted to reclaim power from the shoguns. This led to a civil war that destroyed the Kamakura system. In 1338, with the Mongol threat waning, the Ashikaga Shogunate took control at the imperial center of Kyoto.
C. The Emergence of Vietnam, 1200-1500
1. Annam and Champa--Before the first Mongol attack in 1257, Annam and Champa had clashed frequently. While Annam looked to China for political ideas, social philosophies, trade, dress, religion, and language, Champa was more heavily influenced by the trading networks of the Indian Ocean.
II. Tropical Lands and Peoples
A. The Tropical Environment--Because of the angle of the Earth's axis, the sun's rays warm the tropics year-round. The equator marks the center of the tropical zone, with the Tropic of Cance and the Tropic of Capricorn marking the northern and southern outer limits of the tropics.
B. Human Ecosystems--Thinkers in temperate climates once imagined that surviving in the tropics was merely a matter of picking wild fruit off trees. A careful observer touring the tropics in 1200 would have noticed, however, many differences in societies deriving from their particular ecosystem--that is, from how human groups used the plants, animals, and other resources of their physical environments.
1. Hunter and fishers--domesticated plants and animals had become commonplace long before 1200, but people in some environments continued to rely primarily on hunting, fishing, and gathering.
3. Farmers--The density of agricultural populations reflected the adequacy of rainfall and soils. South and Southeast Asia were generally wetter than tropical Africa, making intensive agriculture possible. High yields supported denser populations; by 1200, over 100 million people lived in South and Southeast Asia.
C. Water Systems and Irrigation
D. Mineral Resources--the most productive metal trade in the tropics was ironworking, which provided the hoes, axes, and knives farmers used to clear their fields. Between 1200 and 1500, the rain forests of coastal West Africa and Southeast Asia opened up for farming.
1. Copper--and its alloys had special importance in southwestern Africa. Copper was used in coins, while bronze (copper plus zinc) was used extensively in artwork.