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  • The Iconoclastic controversy Iconoclasts and iconodules agreed on one fundamental point
    down the hostility and isolationism of the Russians by diplomatic and commercial contacts In 957 Igor s widow Olga was baptized and paid a state visit to Constantinople during the reign of Constantine VII her influence enabled Byzantine missionaries to work with greater security in Russia thus spreading Christianity and Byzantine culture Olga s son Svyatoslav was pleased to serve the empire as an ally against the Bulgars from 968 to 969 though his ambition to occupy Bulgaria led to war with Byzantium in which he was defeated and killed In 971 John Tzimisces accomplished the double feat of humiliating the Russians and reducing Bulgaria to the status of a client kingdom Byzantine influence over Russia reached its climax when Vladimir of Kiev who had helped Basil II to gain his throne received as his reward the hand of the Emperor s sister in marriage and was baptized in 989 The mass conversion of the Russian people followed with the establishment of an official Russian Church subordinate to the patriarch of Constantinople Bulgar revolt The Bulgars however were not content to be vassals of Byzantium and rebelled under Samuel youngest of the four sons of a provincial governor in Macedonia Samuel made his capital at Ochrida and created a Bulgarian empire stretching from the Adriatic to the Black Sea and even for a while into Greece though Thessalonica remained Byzantine The final settlement of the Bulgar problem was worked out by Basil II in a ruthless and methodical military campaign lasting for some 20 years until by 1018 the last resistance was crushed Samuel s dominions became an integral part of the Byzantine Empire and were divided into three new themes At the same time the Slav principalities of Serbia Rascia and Dioclea and Croatia became vassal states of Byzantium and the Adriatic port of Dyrrhachium came under Byzantine control Not since the days of Justinian had the empire covered so much European territory But the annexation of Bulgaria meant that the Danube was now the only line of defense against the more northerly tribes such as the Pechenegs Cumans and Magyars Estrangement from the West The extension of Byzantine interests to the Adriatic furthermore had raised again the question of Byzantine claims to South Italy and indeed to the whole western part of the old Roman Empire The physical separation of that empire into East and West had been emphasized by the settlement of the Slavs in the Balkan Peninsula and in Greece and since the 7th century the two worlds had developed in their different ways Their differences had been manifested in ecclesiastical conflicts such as the Photian Schism The conversion of the Slavs had produced bitterness between the agents of the rival jurisdictions But the reestablishment of Byzantine authority in Greece and eastern Europe added to the gains against the Muslim powers in Asia reinforced the Byzantine belief in the universality of the empire to which Italy and the West must surely be reunited in time Until that time came the fiction was maintained that the rulers of western Europe like those of the Slavs held their authority by virtue of their special relationship with the one true emperor in Constantinople It was sometimes suggested that a marriage alliance might bring together the Eastern and Western parts of the empire and so provide for a united defense against the common enemy in Sicily the Arabs In 944 Romanus II son of Constantine VII married a daughter of Hugh of Provence the Carolingian claimant to Italy Constantine VII also kept up diplomatic contact with Otto I the Saxon king of Germany But the case was dramatically altered when Otto was crowned emperor of the Romans in 962 for this was a direct affront to the unique position of the Byzantine emperor Otto tried and failed to establish his claim either by force in the Byzantine province in Italy or by negotiation in Constantinople His ambassador Liudprand of Cremona wrote an account of his mission to Nicephorus Phocas in 968 and of the Emperor s scornful rejection of a proposed marriage between Otto s son and a Byzantine princess The incident vividly demonstrates the superior attitude of the Byzantines toward the West in the 10th century John Tzimisces relented to the extent of arranging for one of his own relatives to marry Otto II in 972 though the arrangement implied no recognition of a Western claim to the empire Basil II agreed that Otto III also should marry a Byzantine princess But this union was never achieved and subsequently Basil reorganized the administration of Byzantine Italy and was preparing another campaign against the Arabs in Sicily at the time of his death in 1025 The myth of the universal Roman Empire died hard Culture and administration The Iconoclastic Controversy had aggravated the estrangement of the Byzantine Church and Empire from the West But it helped to define the tenets of Orthodoxy and it had an effect on the character of Byzantine society for the future On the one hand the church acquired a new unity and vitality its missionaries spread the Orthodox faith in new quarters of the world its monasteries proliferated and its spiritual tradition was carried forward by the sermons and writings of the patriarch Photius in the 9th century and of Symeon the New Theologian in the 10th and 11th centuries On the other hand the empire became more aware of its Greco Roman heritage Interest in classical Greek scholarship revived following the reorganization of the University of Constantinople under Michael III The revival was fostered and patronized particularly by the scholar emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus who saw to the compilation of three great works on the administration the court ceremonies and the provinces of his empire He also commissioned a history of the age to which he contributed a biography of his grandfather Basil I The age produced little original research but lexicons such as the 10th century Suda anthologies encyclopaedias and commentaries such as the Lexicon and Bibliotheca of Photius were produced in great number The soldier emperors of the 10th century were less interested in intellectual pursuits but scholarship received a new impetus in the 11th century with Michael Psellus The founder of the dynasty Basil I and his son Leo VI made plain their intention to inaugurate a new era by a restatement of the imperial law Basil hoped to make a complete revision of the legal code but only a preliminary textbook Procheiron with an introduction Epanagoge appeared during his reign Leo VI however accomplished the work with the publication of the 60 books of the Basilica which Hellenized the legal code of Justinian and made it more intelligible and accessible to lawyers Additions and corrections to meet the needs of the time were incorporated in Leo s 113 novels decrees which represent the last substantial reform of the civil law in Byzantium Enshrined in this legislation was the principle of the absolute autocracy of the emperor as being himself the law The Senate the last vestige of Roman republican institutions was abolished Only in the matter of the spiritual welfare of his subjects did the emperor recognize any limits to his authority The ideal relationship of a dyarchy between emperor and patriarch the body and the soul of the empire was written into the Epanagoge of Basil I in a section probably composed by Photius The administration in this period was ever more closely centralized in Constantinople with an increasingly complex and numerous bureaucracy of officials who received their appointments and their salaries from the emperor The emperor also controlled the elaborate machinery of the foreign and diplomatic service Some of his civil servants however were powerful enough to play the part of kingmakers notably Basil the chamberlain who engineered the ascent to the throne of Nicephorus Phocas and John Tzimisces Order and the regulation of trade commerce and industry in the capital were in the hands of the prefect of the city whose functions are outlined in the 9th century Book of the Eparch He was responsible for organizing and controlling the guilds or colleges of craftsmen and retailers whose legal rights and duties to the state were strictly circumscribed and supervised The provinces in Europe and Asia were administered according to their territorial division into themes which by the 10th century numbered more than 30 The themes though subdivided and reduced in size retained their military character Their governors or strategoi combined military and civil authority and were directly answerable to the emperor who appointed them The army and the navy were for the most part recruited from the ranks of soldier farmers who held hereditary grants of land within the territory of each theme The border districts were protected by contingents of frontier troops led by their own officers or lords of the marches Their exploits and adventures were romanticized in the 10th century folk epic of Digenis Akritas But warfare was studied and perfected as a science and it was the subject of treatises such as the Tactica of Leo VI derived from the Strategicon of the emperor Maurice Social and economic change The wars of reconquest on the eastern frontier in this period and the general military orientation of imperial policy brought to the fore a new class of aristocracy whose wealth and power were based on land ownership and who held most of the higher military posts Trade and industry in the cities were so rigidly controlled by the government that almost the only profitable form of investment for private enterprise was the acquisition of landed property The military aristocracy therefore took to buying up the farms of free peasants and soldiers and reducing their owners to varying forms of dependence As the empire grew stronger the rich became richer Given the system of agriculture prevailing in Anatolia and the Balkans every failure of crops every famine drought or plague produced a quota of destitute peasant soldiers willing to turn themselves and their land over to the protection of a prosperous and ambitious landlord The first emperor to see the danger in this development was Romanus I Lecapenus who in 922 and 934 passed laws to defend the small landowners against the acquisitive instincts of the powerful for he realized that the economic as well as the military strength of the empire depended on the maintenance within the theme system of the institution of free yet tax paying soldier farmers and peasants in village communities Only freemen owed military service Successive emperors after Romanus I enforced and extended his agrarian legislation But the cost of the campaigns of reconquest from the Arabs had to be met by higher taxation which drove many of the poorer peasants to sell their lands and to seek security as tenant farmers Nicephorus Phocas who belonged to one of the aristocratic landowning families of Anatolia was naturally reluctant to act against members of his own class though he adhered to the principle that the rights of the poor should be safeguarded His laws about land tenure were particularly directed toward the creation of a more mobile force of heavy armed cavalry recruited from those who could afford the equipment which inevitably brought changes in the social structure of the peasant militia On the other hand Nicephorus took a firm line to prevent the accumulation of further land by the church and he forbade any addition to the number of monasteries whose estates already extensive were unproductive to the economy The last emperor to attempt to deal with the problem of land ownership seriously was Basil II whose rise to the throne had involved the empire in a bitter and costly war against the aristocratic Sclerus and Phocas families In 996 Basil promulgated comprehensive punitive legislation against the landed families ordering the restitution of land acquired from the peasantry since 922 and requiring proof of title to other land going back in some cases as far as 1 000 years Further the system of collective responsibility for the payment of outstanding taxes known as the allelengyon now devolved not on the rest of the village community but on the nearest large landowner whether lay or ecclesiastical Basil s conquest of Bulgaria somewhat altered the social and economic pattern of the empire for new themes were created there in which there was no long tradition of a landed aristocracy as in Anatolia After his death in 1025 the powerful hit back and the government in Constantinople was no longer able to check the absorption of small freeholders by the great landowners and the consequent feudalization of the empire This process was particularly disastrous for the military establishment The success and prestige of the Byzantine Empire in the Macedonian era to a large extent depended on the unrivaled efficiency of its army in Anatolia A professional force yet mainly native to the soil and so directly concerned with the defense of that soil it had no equal in the Western or the Arab world at the time And yet it was in this institution that the seeds of decay and disintegration took root for most of the army s commanders were drawn from the great landowners of Anatolia who had acquired their riches and their status by undermining the social and economic structure on which its recruitment depended Basil II had restrained them with such an iron hand that a reaction was inevitable after his death Indeed it is doubtful if Byzantine society could have tolerated another Basil II despite all his triumphs Soured by long years of civil war at the start of his reign ascetic and uncultured by nature Basil embodied the least attractive features of Byzantine autocracy Some have called him the greatest of all the emperors But the virtue of philanthropy which the Byzantines prized and commended in their rulers was not a part of his greatness and the qualities that lent refinement to the Byzantine character among them a love of learning and the arts were not fostered during his reign Yet while Basil was busily earning his title of Bulgaroctonus Bulgar Slayer St Symeon the New Theologian was exploring the love of God for man in some of the most poetic homilies in all mystical literature Byzantine decline and subjection to Western influences 1025 1260 Basil II never married But after his death his relatives remained in possession of the throne until 1056 less because of their efficiency than because of a general feeling among the Byzantine people that the prosperity of the empire was connected with the continuity of the Macedonian dynasty When Basil s brother Constantine VIII died in 1028 the line was continued in his two daughters Zoe and Theodora Zoe was married three times to Romanus III Argyrus ruled 1028 34 to Michael IV 1034 41 and to Constantine IX Monomachus 1042 55 who outlived her When Constantine IX died in 1055 Zoe s sister Theodora reigned alone as empress until her death a year later The great emperors of the golden age not all of them members of the Macedonian family molded the history of that age The successors of Basil II were rather the creatures of circumstances because they did not make and seldom molded In the 56 years from 1025 to 1081 there were 13 emperors An attempt made by Constantine X Ducas to found a new dynasty was disastrously unsuccessful Not until the rise of Alexius I Comnenus to power in 1081 was stability restored by an ensured succession in the Comnenus family who ruled for more than 100 years 1081 1185 11th century weakness The state of the Byzantine Empire in the 11th century may be compared to that of the Roman Empire in the 3rd century when after a long period of secure prosperity new pressures from beyond the frontiers aggravated the latent tensions in society The brief reigns of Basil II s heirs reflected and were often the product of a division in the Byzantine ruling class a conflict between the military aristocracy of the provinces and the civilian aristocracy or bureaucracy of Constantinople Each faction put up rival emperors The sophisticated urban aristocracy favoured rulers who would reverse the militaristic trend of the empire and who would expand the civil service and supply them and their families with lucrative offices and decorative titles The military families whose wealth lay not in the capital but in the provinces and who had been penalized by Basil II s legislation favoured emperors who were soldiers and not civil servants In this they were more realistic for in the latter part of the 11th century it became ever clearer that the empire s military strength was no longer sufficient to hold back its enemies The landowners in the provinces appreciated the dangers more readily than the government in Constantinople and they made those dangers an excuse to enlarge their estates in defiance of all the laws passed in the 10th century The theme system in Anatolia which had been the basis of the empire s defensive and offensive power was rapidly breaking down at the very moment when its new enemies were gathering their strength On the other hand the urban aristocracy of Constantinople reacting against the brutalization of war strove to make the city a centre of culture and sophistication The university was endowed with a new charter by Constantine IX in 1045 partly to ensure a steady flow of educated civil servants for the bureaucracy The law school was revived under the jurist John Xiphilinus the school of philosophy was chaired by Michael Psellus whose researches into every field of knowledge earned him a reputation for omniscience and a great following of brilliant pupils Psellus courtier statesman philosopher and historian is in himself an advertisement for the liveliness of Byzantine society in the 11th century What he and others like him failed to take into account was that their empire was more and more expending the

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  • Attila
    seems to have stretched from the Alps and the Baltic in the west to somewhere near the Caspian Sea in the east Their first known action on becoming joint rulers was the negotiation of a peace treaty with the Eastern Roman Empire which was concluded at the city of Margus Pozarevac By the terms of the treaty the Romans undertook to double the subsidies they had been paying to the Huns and in future to pay 700 pounds 300 kilograms of gold each year From 435 to 439 the activities of Attila are unknown but he seems to have been engaged in subduing barbarian peoples to the north or east of his dominions The Eastern Romans do not appear to have paid the sums stipulated in the treaty of Margus and so in 441 when their forces were occupied in the west and on the eastern frontier Attila launched a heavy assault on the Danubian frontier of the Eastern Empire He captured and razed a number of important cities including Singidunum Belgrade The Eastern Romans managed to arrange a truce for the year 442 and recalled their forces from the West But in 443 Attila resumed his attack He began by taking and destroying towns on the Danube and then drove into the interior of the empire toward Naissus Nis and Serdica Sofia both of which he destroyed He next turned toward Constantinople took Philippopolis defeated the main Eastern Roman forces in a succession of battles and so reached the sea both north and south of Constantinople It was hopeless for the Hun archers to attack the great walls of the capital so Attila turned on the remnants of the empire s forces which had withdrawn into the peninsula of Gallipoli and destroyed them In the peace treaty that followed he obliged the Eastern Empire to pay the arrears of tribute which he calculated at 6 000 pounds of gold and he trebled the annual tribute henceforth extorting 2 100 pounds of gold each year Attila s movements after the conclusion of peace in the autumn of 443 are unknown About 445 he murdered his brother Bleda and thenceforth ruled the Huns as an autocrat He made his second great attack on the Eastern Roman Empire in 447 but little is known of the details of the campaign It was planned on an even bigger scale than that of 441 443 and its main weight was directed toward the provinces of Lower Scythia and Moesia in southeastern Europe i e farther to the east than the earlier assault He engaged the Eastern Empire s forces on the Utus Vid River and defeated them but he himself suffered serious losses He then devastated the Balkan provinces and drove southward into Greece where he was only stopped at Thermopylae The three years following the invasion were filled with complicated negotiations between Attila and the diplomats of the Eastern Roman emperor Theodosius II Much information about these diplomatic encounters has been preserved in

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  • Description of Huns and Goths
    homeless and lawless perpetually wandering with their wagons which they make their homes in fact they seem to be people always in flight This active and indomitable race being excited by an unrestrained desire of plundering the possessions of others went on ravaging and slaughtering all the nations in their neighborhood till they reached the Alani In the meantime a report spread far and wide through the nations of the Goths that a race of men hitherto unknown had suddenly descended like a whirlwind from the lofty mountains as if they had risen from some secret recess of the earth and were ravaging and destroying everything which came in their way And then the greater part of the population resolved to flee and to seek a home remote from all knowledge of the new barbarians and after long deliberation as to where to fix their abode they resolved that a retreat into Thrace was the most suitable for these two reasons first of all because it is a district most fertile in grass and secondly because owing to the great breadth of the Danube it is wholly separated from the districts exposed to the impending attacks of the invaders Accordingly under the command of their leader Alavivus they occupied the banks of the Danube and sent ambassadors to the emperor Valens humbly entreating to be received by him as his subjects They promised to live quietly and to furnish a body of auxiliary troops if necessary While these events were taking place abroad the terrifying rumor reached us that the tribes of the north were planning new and unprecedented attacks upon us and that over the whole region which extends from the country of the Marcomanni and Quadi to Pontus hosts of barbarians composed of various nations which had suddenly been driven by force from their own countries were now with all their families wandering about in different directions on the banks of the river Danube At first this intelligence was lightly treated by our people because they were not in the habit of hearing of any wars in those remote districts till they were terminated either by victory or by treaty But presently the belief in these occurrences grew stronger and was confirmed by the arrival of ambassadors who with prayers and earnest entreaties begged that their people thus driven from their homes and now encamped on the other side of the river might be kindly received by us The affair now seemed a cause of joy rather than of fear according to the skillful flatterers who were always extolling and exaggerating the good fortune of the emperor They congratulated him that an embassy had come from the farthest corners of the earth unexpectedly offering him a large body of recruits and that by combining the strength of his own people with these foreign forces he would have an army absolutely invincible They observed further that the payment for military reënforcements which came in every year from the provinces

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  • The First Indian Empire
    sewage The remarkably advanced Mauryan empire was divided and subdivided into provinces districts and villages whose headmen were appointed by the state The old customary law preserved and administered by the Brahmin priesthood was superseded by an extensive legal code that provided for royal interference in all matters A series of courts ranging from the village court presided over by the headman to the emperor s imperial court administered the law So busy was Chandragupta with the details of his surprisingly modern administration that according to Megasthenes he had to hear court cases during his daily massage Two other agencies were very important in holding the empire together One was the professional army which Megasthenes reports was an incredibly large force of 700 000 men 9000 elephants and 10 000 chariots The other was the secret police whose numbers were so large that the Greek writer concluded that spies constituted a separate class in Indian society So great was the danger of conspiracy that Chandragupta lived in strict seclusion attended only by women who cooked his food and in the evening carried him to his apartment where they lulled him to sleep with music Complementing this picture of an efficient but harsh bureaucracy is a remarkable book Treatise on Material Gain Arthashastra written by Chandragupta s chief minister Kautilya as a guide for the king and his ministers Kautilya exalts royal power as the means of establishing and maintaining material gain meaning political and economic stability The great evil is anarchy such as had existed among the small warring states in northern India To achieve the aims of statecraft Kautilya argues a single authority is needed that will employ force when necessary Like Machiavelli the Renaissance Italian author of a famous book on statecraft The Prince Kautilya advocates deception or unscrupulous means to attain desired ends The Mauryan state also controlled and encouraged economic life Kautilya s treatise which is thought to reflect much actual practice advises the ruler to facilitate mining operations encourage manufacturers exploit forest wealth provide amenities for cattle breeding and commerce and construct highways both on land and on water Price controls are advocated because all goods should be sold to the people at favorable prices and foreign trade should be subsidized Shippers and traders dealing in foreign goods should be given tax exemptions to aid them in making profits Foreign trade did flourish and in the bazaars of Pataliputra were displayed goods from southern India China Mesopotamia and Asia Minor Agriculture however remained the chief source of wealth In theory all land belonged to the state which collected one fourth of the produce as taxes Irrigation and crop rotation were practiced and Megasthenes states that there were no famines Ashoka India s Greatest King Following Chandragupta s death in 297 B C his son and grandson expanded the empire southward into the Deccan Peninsula However Chandragupta s grandson Ashoka 269 232 B C the most renowned of all Indian rulers was more committed to peace

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  • The Meeting Of East And West In Ancient Times
    Thus direct round trip voyages eliminating middlemen and the tedious journey along the coasts could be made in eight months Strabo a Greek geographer during the time of Augustus stated that 120 ships sailed to India every year from Egyptian ports Augustus claimed that to me were sent embassies of kings from India probably to specify the towns within the Roman Empire and in India where foreign merchants might freely conduct their business and practice their own customs and religions During the first century A D Roman financed ships reached the rich markets of southern India and Ceylon Sri Lanka Christianity may have reached India at this time Indian Christians claim that their small group of about 2 million was founded by St Thomas one of Jesus original twelve disciples who may have sailed to India about A D 50 In A D 166 according to the Chinese History of the Later Han Dynasty some merchants from Ta Ch in Great Ch in the Chinese name for Rome claiming to represent King Antun the emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus arrived in South China by sea across the Bay of Bengal and around the Malay Peninsula The Silk Trade With China The Chinese made the first move to pierce the land barrier separating them from the West In 138 B C the Han emperor Wu Ti dispatched an envoy to Bactra to seek allies against the Hsiung nu Mongolian nomads Although the envoy failed to secure an alliance the information he brought back amounted to the Chinese discovery of the West Intrigued above all by his envoy s report indicating great interest in Chinese silks and his description of the magnificent Western horses Wu Ti resolved to open trade relations with the West His armies pushed across the Pamir Mountains to a point close to Alexandria Eschate Khojend founded by Alexander the Great as the northern limit of his empire Shortly after 100 B C silk began arriving in the West transmitted by the Parthians Wealthy private merchants carried on this trade organized into caravans that required large outlays of capital When the Chinese soon moved back across the Pamirs the Kushans of India became middlemen selling the silk to the Parthians and later to Western merchants coming by sea to India It was not until about A D 120 that the Parthians allowed some Western merchants to cross their land Ptolemy used the information they brought back on the Chinese in constructing his map of the world The Economic Consequences For The West To satisfy the Roman world s insatiable appetite for luxury goods Western trade with the East grew immensely in the first two centuries A D But because such Roman exports as wool linen glass and metalware to the East did not match in value Rome s imports of silk spices perfumes gems and other luxuries the West suffered seriously from an adverse balance of trade Gold and silver had to be continually exported to Asia Late in the

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  • Conclusion
    Buddhism which challenged the power of the priests had as its primary goal not social change but like Hinduism the dissolution of the ego and renunciation of the world The great bulk of Indian thought seeks not to challenge the existing social order but to explain and justify it Duty dharma and not as in the West freedom individual rights and the idea of progress dominates Indian thought Individual rights in this world are over shadowed by the requirements of eternal salvation and freedom means escape from the cycle of birth death and rebirth Both are to be obtained through the faithful discharge of caste duties In India there has been little demand for a better life in this world Social injustice is too often treated with indifference In the words of a modern scholar The tragedy of India is that it became a land where tragedy had become irrelevant 7 Footnote 7 Charles Drekmeier Kingship and Community in Early India p 300 The Chinese on the other hand did not lose their relish for life They reacted to human suffering not as in India by pursuing a long and arduous religious quest that Indians often described as leaving the world but by aiding the afflicted and directing the power of the state toward the amelioration of social evils and the relief of distress This was the product of two of the main ingredients in the Chinese tradition Confucianism with its humanistic concern for the individual within society and Legalism with its stress on the power of the state Today some scholars view the present Communist dictatorship in China as another imperial dynasty the last in a long succession of imperial regimes But communism is a foreign import at variance with Chinese tradition which the Communist leaders have rejected Confucianism

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  • India
    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 see ch 14 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 See Gupta Statue Gupta sculpture reached a pinnacle of refinement at Sarnath where this high relief statue of the Buddha preaching the First Sermon was discovered Government of India Tourist Office 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

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  • India In Turmoil
    the Turks entered the area The Turkish flood into Persia and Mesopotamia spilled over into India during the late tenth century Hindu Muslim conflict was by then centuries old but the Turkish invaders only partially civilized and recently converted Muslims were most zealous in pursuing a holy crusade against infidels They were also fearsome marauders One of their leaders the ruler of a small Afghan state annexed the Punjab in 1022 For another two centuries fighting continued between Turks and Rajputs until Muhammed Ghuri another Muslim commander conquered most of northern India After Muhammed Ghuri was assassinated in 1206 one of his generals seized power as sultan at Delhi setting the stage for another unification of India At the peak of its power in the thirteenth century the Delhi Sultanate held not only the north but part of the Deccan in the south Its political unity and power however was often wasted or abused While often patrons of the arts builders of splendid monuments and proponents of philosophy the sultans regularly murdered their political rivals tortured prisoners and wasted resources By the middle of the fourteenth century they had lost control of the south and were hard pressed by various Hindu and Muslim challengers Although experiencing brief periods of revival the regime continued to disintegrate internally before it was destroyed by the Turko Mongol Tamerlane in 1388 Muslim rule in India brought about some cultural integration particularly among ordinary Hindus Many of the people found emotional appeal in the Muslim faith sought to lighten their taxes hoped to raise their caste status or tried to qualify for public service by converting to Islam An example of the cultural integration is the creation of Urdu a spoken language using Persian Arabic and Turkish words within Hindu grammatical constructions Assimilation of Islamic

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