World Civilization I
Essay II

Instructions: Two out-of-class essays are required for History 114. One essay may be a critical analysis of a supplementary reading (primary source), a review of a book relevant to the content of HST 114, or a response to an essay question on this handout. One essay must be a review and analysis of World Wide Web Materials on a topic relevant to HST 114. The Web site analyzed  must be one of those on the list of Selected Web Page Links for HST 114 (accessible at this address: http://www.uncp.edu/home/rwb/hst114_w.htm ). The Web Site Analysis Form is also posted on the HST 114 Web page. In the writing of your essay, you are free to use your class notes, your textbook, books from the library, or other appropriate sources. Use of sources must be documented.  Check for clarity of language, organization, grammar, and spellingbeforesubmitting your essay. The essay should be about three or more typed pages in length. The second essay is due on 26 March 2008. If you wish for me to comment on a preliminary draft of your essay, please submit it at least one week before the due date.

1. After three centuries of more-or-less severe persecution by the Emperors of Rome, the Christian religion was granted toleration by Constantine the Great in 313. At the time when this toleration was granted, the number of Christian believers had grown substantially, largely the result of Christianity's appeal during the Roman Age of Crisis. In your essay, you are to identify the reasons for Christianity's appeal during the late third century. Indicate which three you think are the most important, using specific historical examples. Explain also how Christianity was transformed following its legalization and how it was able to both survive the collapse of the Roman Empire and convert the Germanic barbarian kingdoms that succeeded Rome.

2. The Islamic religion arose in the Arabian Desert during the first half of the seventh century. Discuss in your essay the essential characteristics of Islam as a religion, describe the nature of the Islamic Empire created in the seventh and eighth centuries, explain why it collapsed, and summarize the contributions made by Islam to world civilization.

3. Feudalism and manorialism--two key medieval political and socio-economic institutions--appeared toward the end of the Early Middle Ages. Explain why these institutions were necessary and summarize the key features of each. Explain why feudalism and manorialism eventually disappeared.

4. An important theme during the European High Middle Ages is the attempt of kings to build national monarchies in England, France, Germany, and Italy. Some were successful, others failed, with consequences influencing European  history into the twentieth century. In your essay, explain how medieval kings in England built a national monarchy which contained the seeds of today's modern parliamentary monarchy, while their German counterparts failed.

5. Identify the major challenges (social, economic, military, religious, and intellectual) facing Europeans during the Late Middle Ages in Europe. Then explain why Europe did not sink into a "dark age" similar to that which followed the fall of Rome and why instead there was a Renaissance first in Italy and then in Europe north of the Alps.

6. A theme of early Japanese History is "Cultural Borrowing and Cultural Isolation." Explain what this phrase means and then apply it to the early history of Japan. What did the Japanese borrow from the Chinese? How did the Japanese adapt and modify what they borrowed? When and why did they cease borrowing? And, finally, why did the Japanese "close their doors" to European influences in the 17th century? What were the consequences of this decision?

7. A problem facing modern students of the history of sub-Saharan Africa before 1500 is the absence of indigenous written sources, the type of sources historians are accustomed to using in the writing of books like our world civilization text. What sort of evidence, then, is available to the student wishing to learn more about the rich civilizations that once flourished there? Begin your thinking on this topic by reading the section on Early African Cultures, by looking at the pictures, and by examining the primary sources set off in text-boxes. Based upon this study, identity and discuss at least four of the types of sources available to historians and indicate the key problems facing modern scholarswho attempt to understand these sources for the writing of a history of Africa before1500.

8. Compare and contrast at least two of the civilizations (Olmec, Mayan, Aztec, and Inca) that developed in the Americas before 1500, examining in your essay the origins, achievements, and decline of each. What general conclusions can you make about the contributions of these early American civilizations.

9. The trumpets have sounded! The world has finally come to an end! All of mankind stands before the Eternal Judge of History. With but two choices -- salvation or damnation -- the Judge must decide the fate of each human being. Before justice is rendered, however, each individual has one last chance to explain and justify his/her actions, one brief moment to explain what he/she did while on earth and why. Imagine yourself in the place of three of the individuals listed below and give the speech that each would make.

Muhammad, Charlemagne, Henry II (of England),
Prince Shotoku (of Japan), Mansa Kankan Musa (of the Kingdom of Mali)


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Robert W. Brown; Last Update: 15.XII.2008

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