World Events During the Renaissance
by Mr. Hoker's class

Our class enjoyed studying the Renaissance, but we just knew there had to be other things going on around the world at the same time. No way the Europeans had a monopoly on exciting events!

Other societies around the world flourished during the Renaissance. Of course, they don't all last exactly as long as the Renaissance. Their time spans overlap with Renaissance achievements.


For comparison: the Renaissance is usually considered to have lasted from 1400s-1600s

The Aztecs (1325-1521)

The Aztecs were warriors who conquered the empire of the Mayas and took over their civilization across present-day Mexico.

Their capital was in a lake! Tenochtitlan is an island in the middle of Lake Texcoco, which is now the site of Mexico City. The Aztecs had also built artificial islands in the lake for vegetable farms.

The Aztecs are famous for being fierce warriors and for their brutal human sacrifices, but they also had an accurate calendar.

Spanish conquistador Hernando Cortes attacked Tenochtitlan in 1519, and the empire was finished by 1521.

Temples in Mexico
Aztec calendar
The Incas (1438-1532)

From mountains in Peru, the Incas ruled a South American empire that stretched from the Pacific Coast to the Atlantic and from Ecuador to Chile.

The Inca capital of Cuzco had palaces, pyramidal temples, sanitation, and a big water supply. There was also a fortress with stones that fit together perfectly with nothing to hold them together.

Instead of writing, the Incas kept records using a system of knotted cords. They were very good at music, bridge building, and medicine. Some scientists believe that all Incas had the same blood type and that they could do blood transfusions.

The Inca empire ended in 1532 when Francisco Pizarro captured the leader and defeated the Inca armies. A few rebels fought Spanish rule from mountain fortresses like Machu Picchu.

Macchu Picchu
Macchu Picchu
African Empires of the 1500s

Africa had many kingdoms and empires in the 1500s, and the richest rulers traded gold, ivory, and slaves. This attracted European traders.

The strongest kingdom was Songhai, which controlled trade across the Sahara Desert. Their rule lasted until 1591. Another strong empire was Kanem-Bornu, which stretched through parts of Chad, Cameroon, Nigeria, Niger, and Libya.

Ethiopia was a Christian empire which had a legendary ruler, Prester John. One story about him claims that he had a magic mirror that let him see everything in his empire.

Christian Church in Ethiopia
The Ottomans and Safavids
(Golden Age: 1453-1600s)

The Ottomans lived in what is now Turkey. They captured the city of Constantinople and renamed it Istanbul. It became the center of their empire that stretched from Algeria to Arabia and from Egypt to Hungary.

The Ottoman culture was known for beautiful architecture and an advanced society. The Ottomans rebuilt Constantinople, the city that had been the target of the Crusades, into the fabulously wealthy capital of Istanbul.

During the Renaissance, Europeans called Sultan Suleyman �The Magnificent� because they admired the achievements of the empire in the sciences and the arts. Muslims called Sultan Suleyman �The Lawgiver� because during his reign, laws with the concept of "justice" as the cornerstone flourished.

Suleyman's Palace
The Blue Mosque
The Safavids (1502-1737 brought the whole area of the Middle East (centered today in Iran) under unified control. Their empire extended from Afghanistan to Baghdad (Iraq).

The height of Safavid glory was at the time of the reign of Shah Abbas I who encouraged contact and trade with Europe and transformed his new capital, Isfahan, into one of the most magnificent cities of Persia.

The Safavid court also had a great influence on the arts and literature in Europe.

Shah Abbas I
Safavid carpet
The Mughal Empire of India

The Mughal dynasty (a ruling family) ruled India for almost 300 years. Under a very strong ruler named Akbar, India had a great flowering of art and learning, similar to the Renaissance in Europe.

Akbar conquered many kingdoms to expand the empire and was known as a wise and just ruler. He tolerated all religions, introduced new styles architecture, and made his capital of Agra a center of learning. His son Shah Jahan built the famous Taj Mahal as a tomb for his beloved wife.

Taj Mahal
The Ming Dynasty of China (1368-1644)

The Ming Dynasty ruled China for almost 300 years. It started when a revolt drove out the Mongols, who had conquered and controlled China for a long time.

A Buddhist monk took the place of the Mogul emperor and called himself Ming Hong Wu. He established good government, abolished slavery, demanded higher taxes of the rich, and confiscated large estates and redistributed them among the poor.

The third Ming Emperor made Beijing the capital city and lived in the famous Forbidden City. No foreigner and no Chinese outside his household could enter. Over 100,00 craftsmen and one million laborers were involved in the construction of the 9,999 rooms, which cover 250 acres.

Great Wall
Forbidden City
Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands

During the time of the Renaissance, the people of Oceania lived by hunting and gathering or fishing and farming. They were Polynesians, who are the most widely spread people of the world. The first Polynesians lived in eastern Asia and sailed in canoes to find new lands. Different groups sailed as far as Easter Island (the famous island with mysterious statues) and even Hawaii.

New Zealand was one of the last places Polynesians colonized. The Polynesians of New Zealand are called Maoris. Maoris showed their rank by decorating their faces and bodies with tattoos.

Easter Island monoliths
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