Cultural Focus

Andrea Arce

Tokugawa Ieyasu sjaianaoxnxuxjs

The founder of the last shogunate in Japan and founder of Tokugawa dynasty.

  • In the 16th century the daimyo, domain lords, were under pressure from the common classes. A solution to this was tighter control or in this case the creation of the shogunate for unity and unification.

When Hideyoshi died in 1616, Ieyasu had the largest, most reliable army and the most productive and best organized domain in all Japan.

  • Concurrently, he devoted much energy to improving his small army’s command structure, appointing civil administrators, and formulating and enforcing procedures of taxation, law enforcement, and litigation.

Ieyasu's goal was to establish a family dynasty that would last for centuries

  • The dynasty he had created was exceedingly solid, with three sub-branches (the Kii, Owari, and Mito) maintained for the sole purpose of providing an heir should the main branch fail to produce one.

Established a healthy economy

  • Economical growth occurred first in the agricultural sector. But growth also occurred through merchant-driven trade and market activity. The concentration of population in cities served as a major impetus for growth and change. Yet many Tokugawa authorities clung to their old notions of a static, agrarian-based economy. The samurai class, who were forbidden from engaging in profitable trade or farming, were disadvantaged by Tokugawa policies and attitudes toward the economy. The ruling class was prevented from taking advantage of economic growth. At the same time, substantial benefits went to merchants and even to market-savvy peasants. Economic growth thus contributed to the inversion of the status hierarchy enshrined in the “four class system.” An increasingly wealthy, educated, and powerful commoner population were created, the samurai were now forced to educate themselves as a result. Ieyasu also continued trade with the English and Dutch.


Encouraged the introduction of western education.

  • He tolerated the Jesuits for their scientific and technical capacities (not for religious reasons).Kangxi discoursed with Jesuit missionaries and learned western arts, like playing piano.

Pushed forward Confucianism in government in the 17th century

  • Kangxi Emperor immediately began to recruit scholars from the Yangzi River delta area, which is called "the South" in China and includes the city of Suzhou. The Kangxi Emperor brought these men into his court to support his cause of transforming the Manchu way of rulership into a truly Confucian establishment based very much on Ming dynasty prototypes. Through this maneuver, the Kangxi Emperor was able to win over the scholarly elite and, more importantly, the Chinese populace at large.

Lowered taxation among peasants

  • In the last years of his life he didn't tax peasants since there was enough money in the treasury since kangxi didn't spend it on luxuries like for example the palace.

Creation of a Multiethnic State under the kangxi Emperor (17th century)

  • Due to expansion a multiethnic Chinese empire began to emerge, comprising not only Han Chinese (the Han constitute the majority ethnic group and the dominant Chinese-language-speaking group in China), but also Mongols, Tibetans, and Manchus, among others, each with their indigenous religious traditions. For example, Tibetan Buddhism, the Manchu shamanistic cult, and the religions of the Mongols.

Queen Nzinga

Led resistance against Portuguese forces

  • For forty years (1623-1663) queen Nzinga led a resistance against outside forces. In the 1620s, after forming alliances with former rival states, she led her army against the Portuguese, initiating a thirty year war against them. She exploited European rivalry by forging an alliance with the Dutch who had conquered Luanda in 1641. With their help, Nzinga defeated a Portuguese army in 1647. When the Dutch were in turn defeated by the Portuguese the following year and withdrew from Central Africa, Nzinga continued her struggle against the Portuguese. Now in her 60s she still personally led troops in battle. She also orchestrated guerilla attacks on the Portuguese which would continue long after her death and inspire the ultimately successful 20th Century armed resistance against the Portuguese that resulted in independent Angola in 1970s.

Accepted western beliefs

  • In 1623, Nzinga had her brother killed, and became ruler. The Portuguese named her governor of Luanda, and she opened her land to Christian missionaries and to the introduction of whatever modern technologies she could attract. By 1626, she had resumed the conflict with the Portuguese, pointing to their many treaty violations. Began trying to push them out.By the time of her death in 1660s, Matamba was a formidable commercial state that dealt with the Portuguese colony on an equal footing. Nzinga, reconverted to Christianity before her death at the age of eighty-one.

Failed to overcome resistance

  • In 1648 new troops arrived and the Portuguese began to succeed, so Nzinga opened peace talks which lasted for six years. She was forced to accept Philip as ruler and the Portuguese actual power in Ndongo, but was able to maintain her power in Matamba and to maintain Matamba's independence from the Portuguese. When Nzinga died in 1660s, at the age of 81, and was succeeded by her sister in Matamba. Her rule did not rule long. Angola did not become independent of Portuguese authority until 1970s.

Lasting Legacy

  • Today, she is remembered in Angola for her political and diplomatic acumen, great wit and intelligence, as well as her brilliant military tactics. In time, Portugal and most of Europe would come to respect her. A major street in Luanda is named after her, and a statue of her was placed in Kinaxixi on an impressive square in 2002, dedicated by President Santos to celebrate the 27th anniversary of independence. Angolan women are often married near the statue, especially on Thursdays and Fridays.

Shah Jahan

Left behind an extraordinary architectural legacy.

  • In 1648, he moved his court to the newly constructed capital, Shahjahanabad, at Delhi. Shahjahanabad was a carefully designed courtly city. The emperor's great palace fortress, Qila Mubarak [Auspicious Fortress], was built on the bank of the river Yamuna; opposite it stood the grand Mosque, the Jama Masjid, which remains to this day the largest such structure in India. Shah Jahan kept his architects and artisans occupied by numerous other ventures.

Mughal Empire achieved its greatest prosperity under Shah Jahan (1592-1666).

  • His traditional biographers have suggested that his military campaigns were organized with diligence, and judging from the hospitals and rest houses built in his reign, he appears not to have been devoid of a social conscience. He is said to have donated liberally to the poor and dispensed justice fairly.

Not as religiously tolerant as Akbar

  • Despite his Hindu mother, Shah Jahan did not follow the liberal religious policy instituted by his grandfather, Emperor Akbar. In 1632 he ordered all Hindu temples recently erected or in the process of erection to be torn down. Christian churches at Agra and Lahore were also demolished. In the same year the Portuguese settlement at Hooghly near Calcutta was also attacked. The Portuguese were accused of piracy and of kidnaping Mogul subjects, infecting them with Christian doctrines, and shipping them as slaves to Europe. The settlement was reduced, and several thousand Christians were killed.

Builder of Taj Mahal

  • Although Mumtaz was one among the few wives Shah Jahan had had, according to the official court chronicler Qazwini, the relationship with his other wives "had nothing more than the status of marriage. The intimacy, deep affection, attention and favor which His Majesty had for the Cradle of Excellence (Mumtaz) exceeded by a thousand times what he felt for any other". She was his inseparable companion, accompanying him even on military ventures, a trusted confidante and their relationship was intense.After she died in 1631 while giving birth to their 14th child, Shah Jahan undertook the work of constructing world's most beautiful monument in her memory. This monument, which entombs Mumtaz Mahal as well as Shah Jahan, came to be known as "Taj Mahal", the building of which took 22 years and 22000 laborers. Eventually this structure became one of the seven wonders of the world.

Nicolaus Copernicus

Re-Developed a celestial model

  • By 1508, Copernicus had begun developing his own celestial model, a heliocentric planetary system. During the second century A.D., Ptolemy had invented a geometric planetary model, which was inconsistent with Aristotle's idea that celestial bodies moved in a circular motion at different speeds around a fixed point, the earth. In an attempt to reconcile such inconsistencies, Copernicus's heliocentric solar system named the sun, rather than the earth, as the center of the solar system.

Caused controversy

  • Copernicus's written works, Commentariolus and, later, De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (Latin for "On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres"), raised a fair share of controversy. Copernicus's critics claimed that he failed to solve the mystery of the parallax—the seeming displacement in the position of a celestial body, when viewed along varying lines of sight—and that his work lacked a sufficient explanation for why the earth orbits the sun.

Banned by the Roman Catholic Church

  • In addition to drawing criticism from scholars, Copernicus's theories incensed the Roman Catholic Church; his model was considered heretical because it was contrary to the Church’s teachings. When De revolutionibus orbium coelestium was published in 1543, just before Copernicus's death, religious leader Martin Luther voiced his opposition to the heliocentric solar system model. His underling, Lutheran minister Andreas Osiander, quickly followed suit, saying of Copernicus, "This fool wants to turn the whole art of astronomy upside down."Osiander even went so far as to write a disclaimer stating that the heliocentric system was a theory, not a fact, and add it to the book's preface, leading readers to assume that Copernicus himself had written it. By this time, Copernicus was ailing and unfit for the task of defending his work.Ironically, Copernicus had dedicated De revolutionibus orbium coelestium to Pope Paul III. If his tribute to the pope was an attempt to cull the Catholic Church's softer reception, it was to no avail. The Church ultimately banned De revolutionibus posthumously, and the book remained on the list of forbidden reading material for nearly three centuries thereafter.

Encouraged future scientist to publish theories even if it contradicts culture.

  • In the 17th century, when the ban on De revolutionibus orbium coelestium was lifted, Kepler revealed to the public that the preface had indeed been written by Osiander, not Copernicus. As Kepler worked on expanding upon and correcting the errors of Copernicus's heliocentric theory, Copernicus became a symbol of the brave scientist standing alone, defending his theories against the common beliefs of his time.

Louis XIV

Brought France further into debt

  • However, the policy of taking out international loans and not raising taxes increased the debt and drove the country to near bankruptcy by the mid-1780s. This forced the king to support radical fiscal reforms not favorable with the nobles or the people.

Managed to help out the United States

  • Louis XVI's early foreign policy success was supporting the American colonies' fight for independence from France's archenemy Great Britain, which drove them deeper into debt.

Did not focus on religious uniformity

  • On the homefront, he invoked an edict that granted French non-Catholics legal status and the right to openly practice their faith.

Failed deteriorating revolutionary campaign throughout his reign (mid 1600s- 1700s)

  • By 1789, the situation was deteriorating rapidly. In May of that year, to address the fiscal crisis, Louis XVI convened the Estates General, an advisory assembly of different estates or socio-economic classes (the clergy, the nobility, and the commoners). The meeting did not go well. By June, the Third Estate declared itself the National Assembly, aligned with the bourgeoisie, and set out to develop a constitution. Initially, Louis XVI resisted, declared the Assembly null and void, and called out the army to restore order. Public dissention grew and a National Guard formed to resist the King's actions. By July 1789, he was forced to acknowledge the National Assembly's authority. On July 14, riots broke out in Paris and crowds stormed the Bastille prison in a show of defiance toward the King. Louis ignored advice from advisors and refused to abdicate his responsibilities, and then agreed to a disastrous attempt to escape to the eastern frontier in June 1791. Although the reign of Louis XIV (“Sun King”) was the longest in European history and the French monarchy reached the peak of absolutist development, it had all come eventually to a tragic turn, and he lost all credibility as a monarch.On September 21, 1792, the Legislative Assembly proclaimed the First French Republic. That November, proof of Louis XVI's secret dealings and counter-revolutionary intrigues was discovered, and he and his family were charged with treason. Louis was soon found guilty by the National Assembly and condemned to death. On January 21, 1793, Louis XVI was guillotined.