History and Political Science
Option #1: The Power of Sovereigns in Pyramid-Shaped Societies
During this course we discuss several pyramid-shaped societies across the globe. Using at least two of the primary source documents listed below, each of which recounts a different encounter with a sovereign or depicting one in the form of a portrait, construct an argument explaining what can you conclude about the ways in which power functioned in these early modern societies.
Some narrower questions you might consider while articulating your broader argument include the following: Was each sovereign was successful in conveying the power of his office to his petitioner? What factors might explain why some petitioners found themselves in awe of the sovereigns they encountered while others were skeptical of that power? As always, be sure to support your contentions with specifics from the documents, readings and lectures.
1) Leo Africanus, History and Description of Africa (Duiker 393)
2) Comparative Illustration Sun Kings, West and East (Duiker 441)
3) Ghislain de Busbecq, The Turkish Letters, “A Portrait of Suleyman the Magnificent” (Duiker 455)
4) Abu’l Fazl, Institutes of Akbar, “A Religion Fit for a King” (Duiker 467)
5) English visitor on Nur Jahan, “The Power Behind the Throne” (Duiker 469)
Option #2: Resisting Europeans
One important theme of this class has been the move of European countries to the center of the global economy. The four primary source documents below, however, record moments in which non-Europeans resisted European intrusions. Using at least two of the sources, argue whether resistance constituted a wholesale rejection of European involvement in their societies, or merely an adjustment of the terms of that European involvement. Be sure to consider the historical context of each encounter in the process of explaining your interpretation.
1) King Afonso I, “A Letter to King Joao” (Duiker 411)
2) The Padshahnama, “The Capture of Port Hoogly” (Duiker 471)
3) Qianlong, “A Decree of Emperor Qianlong” (Duiker 487)
4) Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Letter to the Viceroy of the Indies (Duiker 496)
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