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Origins of the Renaissance
To understand the Renaissance, we can start with the French translation of the word, it literally means rebirth. What is implied is that humanity had a rediscovery of sorts in terms of rational civilization, typified by Greece and Rome, after the medieval period which seemed like a superstitious and artistically primitive period by contrast. There is a general consensus amongst scholars and historians that divide the Renaissance into three phases; proto-renaissance (c. 1150), early (c. 15th Century Florence), and late renaissance (16th Century). Some historians first used the term to describe the period from the 14th to the 16th century, often retrospectively; while others see the origin of the ideas that characterized the Renaissance in late 13th century Florence. There are several theories as to when and where the Renaissance started. In one, the spark of creativity of the Renaissance was due to general competition between artists for lucrative commissions. However, the difficulty lies in the task of establishing a clearly defined line between medieval times and Renaissance. In the artistic realm, hints of a coming Renaissance can be seen well before 1300, but the revival of the study of classical literature is one field where a new start is consciously made in the 14th century. Particularly in the Latin and Greek phase of the Renaissance when scholars like Coluccio, Salutati, and Petrarch sought Latin works throughout the world's libraries. A key event came by way of the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453. This subsequently led to the closure of its places of higher education by the Turks, and brought many Greek scholars to Italy. They brought with them Greek manuscripts of classical Greek literature, some of which had been lost for centuries in the West. Another theory centers on Italy unsurprisingly, as most scholars and historians believe that to be the birth of the rebirth, as mentioned earlier. Italy in the middle Ages had unique political structures leading many to believe the social climate allowed the emergence of a cultural flowering of sorts. They theorize this based on the fact Italy didn't exist as a political entity, but rather was divided into city-states. In addition, many Italian cities were among ancient Roman ruins, and as such it's probable that the classical nature of the Renaissance was linked to the heart of the Roman Empire. Giorgio Vasari was one of the first to touch on the notion of Italian transformation, with what he saw as a break from primitive gothic art. Vasari had claimed that the arts had fallen into decay after Rome's collapse and argued that it was Tuscan artists, like Giotto, who began to reverse this decline. Antique art was essential to the rebirth, both in imitating, and surpassing nature themes and forms. While the true origins may not be fully known, that is irrelevant by contrast to the overall impact it had on humanity. While the focus has primarily been on the achievements of Italians, the Renaissance is now being seen in a far wider context today.
Defining Italian Humanism
Parallel with the transformation in art was the revival of classical values in the study of the humanities, from which the Latin term humanist derives?humanitas, which carries the connotation of a humans highest faculties and the type of intellectual culture that develops these faculties. One of the great Roman humanists, Marcus Tullius Cicero, stated that men are set apart by reason and speech, which enables them to coexist. Italian humanism followed this ancient tradition, but also focused on rhetoric, which is the art of correct expression. This is because rhetoric had a moral purpose, an orator through effective expression, was supposed to persuade one into good action. Renaissance humanists closely followed this by concentrating on a special set of subjects such as ethics, poetry, history, moral philosophy, in addition to the aforementioned oratory. Italy was the place humanism was first born because of the persistence of the classical tradition there. A more accurate understanding of the ancient writers becomes evident in the late 13th century. The city of Padua was one of the important centers of humanistic study. The great figure who contributed the most, or acted as the conduit for Italian humanism was Francesco Petrarca, or Petrarch (1304-74), who has been called the "father of humanism."As such, humanism can encompass many different ethical stances, and can be quite broad. It would appear that the word humanist meant something very different in the Renaissance than today's meaning. In simplistic terms, Italian humanism can be defined as the spirit of learning and vast intellectual movement that developed, with the revival of classical letters and a renewed confidence in the human ability to determine for themselves truth and falsehood.
Major Artists of the Renaissance & their Contributions to their Profession
In many circles and amongst many art historians, the major and most influential artists of the Renaissance consisted of da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Titian, all Italian born. These four will be the primary artists discussed in terms of their contributions to their professions. It is important to note that other renaissance artists like Bellini, Botticelli, Durer, Uccello, and Van Eyck are also held in high regard, and it is really subjective as to whom the top were as one could make an argument for any.
Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci, born mid 15th century, was perhaps the best example of a Renaissance genius who undoubtedly had one of the greatest minds ever. His most famous works are the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper. His nature was careful and precise, sometimes working for years on a piece. He was not only an amazing artist, but was an architect, botanist, mathematician, musician, engineer, scientist, anatomist, and inventor. He kept meticulous notes on every field of study conducted by him including observations of birds in flight, other animals, and most certainly humans. In addition, he studied the flow of water, studied plants, and the principal functioning of light. The most interesting were the sketches he made of things far beyond his time. He sketched the first parachute, airplane, helicopter, tank, repeating rifle, swinging bridge, paddle boat motor car, and even submarine, to name a few. He also had a great military mind and created a multitude of war machines. His contributions to the world of painting are extensive. He was one of the first artists to sketch outdoor portraits and he did the first relaxed portraits with misty landscapes, he seemed to change the way people painted and made sculptures. He was renowned for the way he used light in his portraits, making it as if you could see into a paintings soul. Leonardo also contributed a significant amount in many areas of science and technology, like with his pioneering research into the brain, which led him to make discoveries in neuro-anatomy and neurophysiology. He injected hot wax into the brain of an ox casting the ventricles and represents the first known use of a solidifying agent on an internal body structure. So really, his contributions are almost innumerable in a vast array of fields and since he was an artist and a scientist, he has come to be known as the ultimate "Renaissance Man."
Michelangelo, born late 15th century was one of the leading proponents of the Italian Renaissance. His paintings and sculptures transcended art forever, and he could arguably be the greatest sculptor who has ever lived. His greatest achievements include, painting the Sistine Chapel, and the sculptures Pieta and David, respectively. Originally, Michelangelo's charge was twelve pictures of the apostles around the outside of the ceiling of the Sistine (beginning in 1508, completed in only four years), but instead he used the central area of the ceiling to paint the entire history of the Old Testament, encompasses some 300 figures. Beginning in 1491, Michelangelo started work on some of the greatest sculptures the world has ever known when carved Madonna of the Stairs, followed by Pieta. In 1503 he began Doni Tondo in 1503. Later in his life in 1534, he started to paint The Last Judgment, located over the altar at the Sistine Chapel, some 23 years after his initial masterpiece. He also was an accomplished architect, poet, and anatomist. He was noted for his use of color, light, tone design, and draftsmanship. When sculpting, he carved front to back as seen in the famously unfinished piece St. Matthew. All of his works had a three-dimensional effect to make his figures stand out from the background. Michelangelo was one of the finest sculptures and painters of all time in which he set many standards and his contributions are everlasting.
Raphael, also born late in the 15th century, was one of the greatest and most popular artists of his time and perhaps of all time. Raphael was quite popular with the popes of the period, as he decorated the papal apartments of Julius II, Leo X, and after Bramante, served as the architect of St. Peter's. He is often credited with revolutionizing portrait painting, and made his mark, literally on the tapestries of the Sistine Chapel. When he painted The School of Athens, the classical influence upon Renaissance art could be felt. In addition, he paid tribute to those who inspired him by using the faces of da Vinci, Bramante and Michelangelo as philosophers partaking in a debate with Plato and Aristotle. He had great interest in portraiture and he was known as a classical perfectionist. Raphael was considered a genius of high Renaissance painters. His influence was felt dramatically into the 20th century. He had the unique ability of making people see personality when they looked at his paintings by putting ultra realistic emotional themes in his work; he simply painted life as he saw it. He essentially changed the way people viewed art. He was critical in the method of portraiture, as he was thought to be one of the most detailed painters of all portraitists.
Titian, born late 15th century was probably the most famous painter from Venice at the start of the 16th century. Recognized by his contemporaries as "The Sun Amidst Small Stars?, he trained with Giovanni Bellini. Titian was famous for pioneering rich color and dramatic light, showing relaxation in his paintings, along with his thick dramatic brush strokes. Among his famous paintings is Bacchus and Ariadne. Some believe him to be the greatest portraitist of all time, as he transformed it becoming the first, quite famous portraitist locally and abroad, by his evolutionary sympathetic and flattering depictions of his subjects. One of his best works being Man in The Red Cap, and his self portrait. His contributions in portraiture and painting in general are still seen today. He had unique painting methods that would exercise a profound influence not only on painters of the Italian Renaissance, but on future generations of Western art. In technical terms Titian was one of the first artists in Italy to extend the expressive effects of oil painting, as recently revealed through modern technologies. He was by far one of the most versatile of Italian painters, equally impressive with portraits, landscapes, and mythological and religious subjects. Few other artists impacted their contemporaries and Western art as a whole like Titian. In the 500 years since his death, the effect on all generations has been nothing short of profound. Some view him as the most perfect artist that ever lived. With Titian especially, his contributions are difficult to quantify generally speaking, though it is easy to suggest that the history of Western art would not have developed if not for his impact. It is also safe to say that in his lifetime he transformed almost all forms of painting in existence.
What were the forces that caused the crusading movements and what effect did those forces have on the Crusades? What were the consequences of the Crusades?
Forces attributed to the Cause of the Crusades
The germane reason for the Crusades coming into effect can be argued as a stark contrast in ideology. On one side you had Islam, the other, Christian Europe. In reality, there were additional aspects that pushed the crusades into motion faster. Many historians and records would indicate the Muslim aggression as the sole cause, stemming from attacks on the Eastern Holy Roman Empire, under the Roman government. In 1065, three thousand Christians were massacred in Jerusalem after it was secured by Turks, unleashing a chain of events which acted as a conduit for the Holy Wars that would be called the Crusades. The fact that the Seljuk Turks seized control of what was deemed ?The holy Land? by Christians was a critical factor leading to the Crusades coming into fruition, as The Holy Wars would be centered on the city of Jerusalem, which of course held religious significance to both the Christian and Muslim faiths. For Christianity, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem paid homage to the crucifixion of Jesus and is thought to be where his tomb rests, and thus it was sacred and worthy of retaking under the right circumstances. The Crusades official launching point was in 1095, with Pope Urban II at the helm of the first Crusade. Prior to the Council of Claremont, many of the most populated Christian areas like Syria, Spain, Northern Africa, Egypt, & Palestine, had been conquered by Muslims. The catalyst came in the form of a letter from the Byzantine emperor Alexius I Comnenus. It was essentially a plea for help as the aforementioned Seljuk Turks had taken over Anatolia early in the 11th century and by the 1090s was threatening Constantinople. What followed was Urban II official agenda on November 27, 1095 at the Council of Claremont, where he urged Christians to stop fighting one another and to go to the Holy Land to fight Muslims as ?God wills it!? He outlined three primary reasons, as to why this cause was just. First, he wanted to expand the influence of the Roman church to the Eastern Mediterranean; secondly he wanted a safe route of travel for Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land. Thirdly, and most importantly, the retaking of the Holy Land was imperative as he saw it as belonging to Christianity. The initial expeditions that took place were aimed to rescue holy places in Palestine from the hands of the Mohammedans. In total there were nine crusades stemming from the effects attributed to their happening; the first four are called principal crusades, while subsequent crusades are called minor crusades, including the Children's Crusade. Though the first crusade could be considered an astonishing success for Christianity, ensuing crusades were failures, but they greatly bolstered Christianities influence, and all happened for these reasons.
Effect of Forces on Crusades
The effect of these forces on the crusades is a complicated answer. In terms of the Crusades themselves as a whole, it can be argued that the religious fervor at the time and the stark differences in ideology made them what they were. You simply can't have one without the other, the time and place and the people involved were ideal for this to happen and the outcome was inevitable. Having said that, the effect of Islamic religious zeal caught the attention of their opposition, and Christian overzealousness lead to them trying for centuries to win an unwinnable war, and after the major success of the first crusade I'm sure the Christian crusaders felt their cause was just as God would have been on their side. If you have to opposing ideological forces, the events that played out are of no surprise really, as each transgression added fuel to the proverbial, and in some cases literal, fire. The notion that each side was inferior to the other undoubtedly created a situation of intolerance and increased violence, which would continue for & centuries and perhaps last forever. The deep-seeded hostility that still exists between the Christian and Muslim world would be infinitely less intense, maybe non-existent as an absence of the crusades means more tolerance and empathy would have been present. Considering the Islamic world, perhaps the 2.4 billion Christians in China and India would be adherents of Islam had they done the crusading. Or perhaps North America would be primarily a society of Muslims after voyages to the New World stemming from the vast acquisitions and knowledge obtained as a bi-product of crusading. The initial force of Islamic conquest had a direct correlation with Christianity desiring to become more powerful, and subsequently becoming a wealthy and long lasting empire. In essence, the forces attributed to the manifestation of the crusades, and the effects of these forces, had a strong influence on Europe's betterment financially, culturally, and otherwise despite never succeeding in their ultimate charge. The forces of Islam successfully defended their territory and in the end they felt it was their destiny no doubt. So in those terms they both succeeded despite the massive loss of life, and because of the enmeshing of culture and ideas, it isn't a stretch to think the whole world benefitted in some way from the side effects of the forces behind the Crusades.
Consequences of the Crusades
There were so many consequences of the Crusades that they are covered in full volumes, some of which were alluded to earlier. As mentioned, Europe benefitted immensely from the Crusades despite the overall failure to achieve their ultimate goal and Islam too had their rewards. Christianity would become a religious force from their attainment of knowledge, wealth, and goods from the East, along with the whole of Europe. Islam would gain confidence in their own beliefs for their successful defense of what they deemed theirs. Most importantly, the consequence for the whole of humanity is of special importance. With the death, destruction and religious and philosophical persecution peeled away, we can take a look at the overall picture not relating to ideological consequences. One of the biggest consequences is the fostering of trade, a precursor to the advancement of technology; particularly in the Middle East and Eurasia. It also brought ideas to and from the Middle East and Europe, though as mentioned Europe got the better of the deal. The multifarious nature of the Crusaders acquisitions effectively ended the Dark Ages for Europe as a whole, and would later establish them as a major world leader. The East enjoyed luxuries that could only be dreamt by many Europeans. The Crusades established lucrative trade routes to the Orient, and supply routes intended for the wars remained as important economic and cultural connections between Northern Europe and Italy and between Italy and Byzantium. Moreover, the differences between Muslims and Christian Europe would be significant in the later enmeshing of culture and ideas that are still seen today. Probably the most significant impact for Europe, and later generations throughout the World, was that the Crusaders ended Europe's intellectual isolation with the inception of Arabic and Greek manuscripts, giving Europeans their first access to the work of the ancient Greek philosophers and Arabic innovations. Tremendous intellectual developments also took place during the time of crusades; the Europeans came into contact with many different cultural and societal differences that undoubtedly had a positive effect in terms of expanding their insight. The Renaissance also came to fruition shortly after, in large part due to the Crusades contributions. The revival of artistic expression and learning in Italy was probably a byproduct of the wealth of Eastern influence and knowledge obtained. People began to study art, mathematics, science and philosophy and subsequently established schools and universities to further broaden their horizons. Additionally the world of banking and finance, along with education would be vastly improved upon as a consequence of the crusades. Equally as important, Europe may not have had the reprieve from the Dark Ages?that came about after the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th Century A.D.?which can be greatly attributed to their acquisition of knowledge, ideas, and overall influence from the East during the Crusades.
Who were the Mongols? What factors contributed to the Mongols ability to conquer and maintain their hold on large amount of territory? What were the roles of women in Mongol society?
Who were the Mongols?
The Mongols origins are less than remarkable except when you take into account what they would later achieve. Mongols started out as an obscure people who lived near the outskirts of the Gobi Desert in what is now Outer Mongolia. They were a pastoral and primarily tribal people that did not really hold much significance to neighboring peoples. The Mongols were actually a group of non-unified tribes that encompassed a very wide range of cultures, peoples, and religions. The Mongols came together at a time when disunity infested Asia. They would gather regularly during annual migrations. Addressing their early leadership; Mongols elected chiefs over various tribes at these meetings, though they never unified into a single people. Their religion focused on a sky god that ruled over nature deities, not unlike the Japanese native religion Shinto, and the deities communicated to them through shamans. One name in particular comes to mind when the world ?Mongol? is discussed, and eventually they would have a drastic change under the leadership of this powerful warrior and vigorous leader?who also happened to be a savvy politician?Timuchin, Chinggis Khan or simply Genghis Khan. As one of the greatest military innovators in history, the ancient Mongol empire under his direction would eventually control more land than any other empire the world has ever seen, and in just around 85 years. His political prowess not only helped form this tremendous empire, but also saved his people from certain destruction, as he established the system that preserved their lives and ultimately their way of life. Khan and his successors took the system and used it to spread their influence to unprecedented lengths.
Factors that Contributed to their Ability to Conquer and Hold Territory
The primary factors that contributed to the Mongol ability to conquer and hold territory was their military prowess, primarily with cavalry and use of psychology warfare, along with political astuteness. They had the unique mobility for invasions, full scale attacks and smaller hit and run raids. In the occurrence of encountering a formidable foe, they could quickly retreat and reorganize. Another factor that led to their success was that the Mongols didn't really intend on creating an empire. All of Genghis Khan's discrete attacks were the result of a specific circumstance, cause and effect, such as trade disputes or the ill-treatment of Mongols or Mongol merchants. One of his very first campaigns was directed at Yanjing in northern China, which would be one of his greatest successes. They were fearless and ruthless warriors, with unparalleled horsemanship skills. Khan's army consisted of the best trained horsemen in all of human history. They fought on horseback hitting targets with precision while running at a full gallop, which struck terror in their opponents who often broke ranks. The Mongolian horse was absolutely essential to their success because it could bear riders for a much longer time that most horses could. To ride it, Mongolians used a tall saddle with a wooden frame that does not allow the rider to have much control over its gait and the horse often chose its own gait. This saddle also makes it easier for the horse to bear the rider's weight, so the horse does not become tired as quickly. This type of horse also was perfect for hit and run raids as they ran great distances. Another key aspect of their abilities as conquerors involved their exceptional skill with deception and fear. They took advantage of infighting or rivalry amongst enemies with great results. For example, in cities of central Asia, they exploited rivalries between Muslims and nonbelievers and in the Middle East, the Mongol majority exploited Christian resentment of Muslim rule in their seizure of cities in Syria, which forced conversion of mosques to churches. Mongols also had a reputation for slaughtering all who wouldn't surrender, enhancing their hold on a territory as was seen with the bloodbath in Balkh, Afghanistan, which served as model to warn all those who wouldn't surrender. As one might guess, many Middle Eastern cities were willing to accept life instead of udder destruction, as slaughter or slow starvation for failing to surrender versus receiving food, shelter, and protection if they surrendered probably seemed logical. In addition, they had an excellent ability to expand the size of their army by incorporating non-Mongol soldiers into their ranks. Also, they had better bows and overall superior archery skills than their opposition. Furthermore, they adopted new military techniques and strategies like hurling large projectiles on fire for penetrating sophisticated fortifications, and they were great at formulating strategies. So essentially, they were always evolving as a military regime and adapting to the terrain and opposition. As an example, Genghis Khan's principle of adaptability and inclusiveness, this was helpful for both conquering fortified areas and holding territories. They also created a more sophisticated design from the Kwarazmshahs near Smarkand in Central Asia and then used on the people Iraq and Iran.
Role of Women in Mongol Society
Little is known about ordinary Mongol women for lack of written records on average nomadic peoples. The Secret History of The Mongols, however, is the best example available and is full of examples of what high value the Mongols placed upon female members of society. It would appear women enjoyed a favorable status and had ample rights that were unique for that time and even later. In this work it is described how Genghis Khan himself sought and accepted the guidance of women at some of the most important times in his career. What is known about the average Mongol woman can be viewed in terms of nomadic societies in general. With any nomadic society, each member of the society is critical to the survival of the group. Women were essential to the Mongol society, and within nomadic groups there wasn't really a civilian populace. Economically, women played an important role and often took care of the animals. These roles of women in Mongolian society and culture have been prominent primarily due to the need for sharing the nomadic lifestyle's strenuous herding and home duties in an extreme climate. Mongolian women have been known historically for their physical strength, bravery, and family devotion. From the earliest Mongolian history available to us we can see the deep bond between Mongolian women and their children. Mongols were known for their military prowess, and thus they had total male mobility for warfare, but women also played a role in the military in many ways. Women took part in combat which plenty of records show. In effect, Mongol women had rights and privileges not seen really in East Asian society hitherto. They had the right to own property and to divorce and there were plenty of influential, political or otherwise, Mongol women documented. Moreover, much was written about prominent Mongol women among the elite, none more famous than Kublai Khan's mother, and Genghis Khan's daughter-in-law Sorghaghtani. She is mentioned in many sources as one of the great figures of the 13th century that it's hard to believe she was anything other than a key figure. European missionaries who visited the Mongols during this time said she was the most renowned of the Mongols. A Middle Eastern physician wrote that if he were to see among the race of women another more special, then the race of women is superior to the race of men. Women from prestigious families often played an important role in negotiating various alliances in the political spheres as well. So across all classes, Mongol women had numerous roles, covering a wide range of levels of responsibility, from the must humble to the most powerful.
How did Aztec civilization differ from the Maya? What was the basis of Inca civilization and explain its spectacular rise?
How Aztec and Mayan Society Differed
The Aztecs and the Mayas did have similarities unsurprisingly, but had many major differences. Granted they were equally civilized peoples who both had written languages, pyramids, and cities (advanced architecture). Both were warriors and both practiced human sacrifice to some extent. Additionally, they were established agriculturalists who grew corn and engaged in long distance trade. They even worshiped the same gods, despite having different names. Aztecs and Mayans are both American civilizations that the conquering Spaniards encountered when they hit the continent of Americas shores. Both the Mayans and Aztecs were Neolithic societies and both empires were built by conquest, though there was not a whole lot of contact between them. The Mayans predated the Aztecs as their civilization had declined before the Aztecs conquered Tenochtitlan to the north. They have distinct language groups that can be still seen today, as Mayan languages are still spoken in southern Mexico. The Aztecs spoke Nahuatl, while the Mayans spoke Maya. Though sharing the same continent, and having many similarities, the Aztec and Mayan civilizations also differed in many ways.
What comes to mind often when discussing Aztec or Mayan society is that of human sacrifice. This is actually an area where they differed significantly. The Aztecs were great proponents or rather; believers in the benefit of human sacrifice as it was an integral part of their ideology. The Mayans on the other hand, believed in blood offerings instead, though on occasion they were not opposed to sacrificing the captain of the football team. Though they shared the same continent, The Aztecs and Mayans were really at vastly different geographical locations. As such their environments were different, the former ruled in Central America, while the latter dominated western South America. The Maya lived in the jungles of southern Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize. The Aztec lived in the desert-like valley of central Mexico. As mentioned, Mayans are an older civilization and were around as long as a thousand years before the Aztecs even arrived in Central America. The Aztecs were the dominant culture in Mexico at the time of Cortez's arrival in Mexico in the 1500s. At which time the Mayans had deteriorated into decadence and past glories. The Mayans still live in the Yucatan in much the same way as their ancestors. The Aztecs on the other hand, were decimated by the Spaniards, but can still be glimpsed among the present day Mexicans. It is important to note that neither the Aztecs, nor the Mayans are extinct today. The major difference between the Mayan and Aztec societies can be seen in terms of Science. In this regard, the Mayans were either far superior or far more interested than that of the Aztecs. Mayans studied the stars and came up with a highly complex and scientific calendar. They had a deep affinity with time and tried to measure it by studying astronomy and correlating it with their current events to predict future events. By contrast, the Aztecs were a more warlike oriented society who waged war against their neighboring tribes forcing them to pay tribute. The importance of the male warrior was quite obvious, as he had the pride of all Aztec society. In terms of political structure, the Mayans consisted of many city states, each with their own sovereign ruler like that of ancient Greece, whose prestige was tantamount to the rest of the society. The Aztecs on the other hand were ruled by one supreme ruler. Spiritually and religiously, both Mayans and Aztecs shared similar idols, and had a God but the Aztecs referred to their supreme deity as Quetzalcoatl while the Mayans had Kukulcan.
When looking at these two people's cultures and societies, an often overlooked but vastly important element was the fact that the Mayan society was broken up into about twenty city-states and was not an empire, while the Aztecs were unified and very much an empire. Maya society is reminiscent of early Greece which also flourished in advanced matters of art and knowledge, under a similar political structure. This arguably gave the Mayan society an edge in this regard. Artistic expression and craftsmanship, was also important but each civilization seemed to have had a largely different focus. The Mayan style of art was true to life, having representations of contemporary life in murals. The Aztecs were very good craftsmen and stoneworkers, but overall, were less social in their delineations. They also had different temperaments, of the two the Mayans were a more modern, benign civilization whose focus was with advancement in scientific systems and writing. The Aztecs, however, were a proud people where things evolved around, and were predicated on war, appeasing the Gods, and conquest at the wish of their singular ruler.
The Basis of Incan Civilization & Its Rise
In terms of the start of the Incan civilization, the Inca themselves had two origin myths. In one, Tici Viracocha sent his four sons and four daughters to establish a village. In route, Sinchi Roca was born, and he led them to the valley of Cuzco where they founded their new village. Once there Manco became leader and became known as Manco Capac. In the other origin myth, the sun god Inti instructed Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo to emerge from Lake Titicaca whereupon using underground caves until reaching Cuzco where they established the Kingdom of Cuzco. These myths are due to oral tradition, since the Incas did not have a form of writing. It is quite likely someone named Manco Capac existed who became the leader of his tribe. The archeological evidence indicates the Inca were a relatively unimportant tribe until the time of Sinchi Roca. Although many different cultures adapted in the Andes Mountains before 3000 B.C, the Incas developed their culture beginning around 1200 B.C. in the Cuzco area of southeastern Peru. In 1438 A.D., under the command of Pachacutec, the Inca people defeated the neighboring Andean tribes and laid the foundation of the Inca Empire spanning a large portion of South America. By 1471 they became the largest empire in South America, occupying a region that stretched from Ecuador to Chile. The descendants of Pachacutec continued the expansion of the Empire and made it the most powerful civilization of South America.
The spectacular rise of the Incas was assisted by the fact that, not only were they great and fearless warriors, but they were also astute rulers of their domain. They employed diplomatic tactics, such as negotiating with neighboring tribes with gifts, and marital or political alliances. In the event all else failed, they carried out military conquests with great success as they were seldom challenged, with the exception of the Kingdom of Chimor and the arrival of the Spanish fleets. While it's a known fact that there were no tribes in the region that could match the Incas in terms of population size or in military strength, they built their administrative and economic systems by and large on their own regional structures. This bolstered their political leadership and gave them a presence locally that made it easier for the indigenous tribes and conquered tribes to accept their rule, though there was some hostility sprinkled throughout. In 1438 AD, under the command of Sapa Inca Pachacuti, they began expansion campaigns. The land Pachacuti conquered was about the size of the Thirteen Colonies of the United States in 1776. Obviously they dominated the regions resources and built extensive roads, developed trade, created stone architecture, became skillful potters and craftsmen, and made beautifully worked gold art and jewelry. Unfortunately, like the Aztecs, the Incas fell to Spanish conquerors and their oppressiveness along with the spread of Smallpox. In 1532 Spaniard Francisco Pizarro conquered the Incas and the territory soon became a Spanish colony. The final Inca emperor remained in power until 1572, when the Spanish killed him.