9. 5 Political Powers and Achievements Tom Burns- beacon High School



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9.5 Political Powers and Achievements

Tom Burns- Beacon High School
9.5 POLITICAL POWERS AND ACHIEVEMENTS: New power arrangements emerged across Eurasia. Political states and empires employed a variety of techniques for expanding and maintaining control. Periods of relative stability allowed for significant cultural, technological, and scientific innovations.

(Standards: 2, 3, 4, 5; Themes ID, MOV, GOV, CIV, TECH)
Research Questions:

  • How should historians measure the success of an empire?

Supporting Questions:



  • Did the Roman Empire really “fall” in 476?

  • Compare and contrast empire building in Byzantium and Western Europe.

  • How did the decline of Charlemagne’s Empire changed life in Europe?

  • How do medieval empires compare geographically?

  • Compare and contrast empire building in the Abbasid Caliphate and Mongol Empire.

  • How do successful states maintain control over their people?

  • Measure the influence of a civilization based on their accomplishments.

9.5a Following the fall of the Roman Empire, divergent societies emerged in Europe.



  • Students will examine the political, economic, and social institutions of feudal Western Europe and the Byzantine Empire including the role of Justinian and Theodora during the Middle Ages.

  • Students will compare and contrast the institutions in feudal Western Europe and the Byzantine Empire ca. 500 to ca. 1200.

9.5b Political states and empires employed a variety of techniques for expanding and maintaining control and sometimes disrupted state building in other regions.



  • Students will examine the location and relative size of postclassical states and empires at the height of their power including the Abbasid Caliphate, Byzantine Empire, Mongol Empire, and Song and Tang dynasties, noting relative position, power within their regions and the areas they influenced.

  • Students will compare and contrast the empire-building processes of the Mongols and the Islamic caliphates, noting important disruptions in other regions.

9.5c Periods of stability and prosperity enabled cultural, technological, and scientific achievements and innovations that built on or blended with available knowledge and often led to cultural diffusion.



  • Students will compare and contrast the achievements and innovations of the Tang and Song dynasties with the Abbasid Caliphate.

  • Students will explore the spread and evolution of technology and learning from East Asia to Western Europe via the Middle East (e.g., gunpowder, ship technology, navigation, printing, paper).

  • Students will examine feudal Japan tracing the previous arrival of elements of Chinese culture (e.g., Buddhism, writing, poetry, art) and how those elements were adopted in and adapted to Japanese society.

Vocabulary

  • Patriarch

  • Pope

  • Empire

  • Golden Age

  • Dark Age

  • tributary state

  • Feudalism

  • Manorialism

  • manor

  • fief

  • lord

  • serf

  • Caliph

  • Khan

Instructional Schedule

  • Day 1: Review of Rome and Introduction to Activity #1.

    • Supporting Question: Did the Roman Empire really “fall” in 476?

  • Day 2: Compare the role of Justinian and Charlemagne in building empires after the Fall of Rome

    • Supporting Question: Compare and contrast empire building in Byzantium and Western Europe.

    • Review terms: empire, Golden Age, tributary states and Dark Ages

    • Review the map of the division of the Roman Empire from yesterday

    • Have students work in pairs to compare the work of Charlemagne and Justinian in Activity #2

  • Day 3- 6: Institutions of Western Europe

    • Supporting Question: How did the decline of Charlemagne’s Empire changed life in Europe?

    • Discuss these maps showing life in Europe after Charlemagne’s death. (Map 1, Map 2)

    • Review terms and discuss roles of feudal life on the manor in this PowerPoint.

    • Have students complete Create a Medieval Manor project.

  • Day 7: Map Activity

    • Supporting Question: How do medieval empires compare geographically?

    • Have students use this reference sheet to complete Activity #3 and the accompanying review questions.

  • Day 8- 9: Comparison of the Mongols and Abbasids

    • Supporting Question: Compare and contrast empire building in the Abbasid Caliphate and Mongol Empire.

    • Review the terms empire, caliph, khan and golden age

    • Trace the origins of the Abbasids and Mongols with the students taking note of the map activity from Day 7.

    • Allow students to work in pairs or small groups to complete Activity #4 using the Abbasid Mongol documents.

  • Day 10: Comparison Tang/ Song and Abbasid Golden Ages

    • Supporting Question: Measure the influence of a civilization based on their accomplishments.

    • Have students work in groups to complete Activity #5 using the Golden Age of Islam and Tang/ Song Golden Age documents.

  • Day 11: Spread of East Asian technology 1

    • Supporting Question: Measure the influence of a civilization based on their accomplishments.

    • Review the maps of from Day 7 and use them to trace the Silk Road, with special attention to the Mongol control of the the Silk Road.

    • Think- Pair- Share on the impact of Mongol control of Chinese technology and the Silk Road.

    • Review student conclusions with the class.

    • Have students read about the diffusion of gunpowder. Ask them to list the effects of the spread of gunpowder.

    • Present them with similar examples from shipbuilding, papermaking and printing technology.

  • Day 12: Spread of East Asian technology 2

    • Supporting Question: Measure the influence of a civilization based on their accomplishments.

    • Have students read about the diffusion of Chinese influence to Japan. Ask them to work together to identify the specific ways China contributed to Japan and how Japan managed to preserve their culture. Then ask them to judge who benefitted the most from this exchange.

  • Day 13: Synthesis

    • Review the definition of golden age.

    • Ask students to work in groups to list the accomplishments of the various civilizations of the unit.

    • Ask students to work in groups to create criteria to measure the “greatness” of an empire.

    • Prepare an end of unit or other thematic style essay where they prove which civilization had the greatest empire. Students should apply the criteria they created.


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