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BHIC-104: Social Formations and Cultural Patterns of the Medieval World

BHIC-104: Social Formations and Cultural Patterns of the Medieval World

IGNOU Solved Assignment Solution for 2021-22

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Assignment Code: BHIC-104 / ASST / TMA / 2021-22

Course Code: BHIC-104

Assignment Name: Social Formations and Cultural Patterns of The Medieval World

Year: 2021 – 2022 (July 2021 and January 2022 Sessions)

Verification Status: Verified by Professor


Note: There are three Sections in the Assignment. You have to answer all questions in the Sections.


Assignment – I


Answer the following in about 500 words each.


Q1. Critically examine the political structure of the Roman Republic. 20

Ans) The Senate, the Magistrates, and the People were the three main components of the Republic. Two Consuls presided over the republican state. A significant number of Magistrates aided them in their efforts. Then there were the Censors, who were in charge of the five-year census and the citizenship status of each person. Then there were tribal councils, such as Patrician and Plebeian councils.


1. The Senate

The Senate ruled the Republic, and membership was limited to land-owning nobles from the Patrician class. The Senate membership was co-optive and was for life. As a result, the Senate was an assembly of aristocratic landowners with broad powers. The Senate's immense and rising powers were based on its ability to originate legislation, extend the Magistrates' powers, and manage foreign affairs.


2 The Magistrates

The Roman Republic had a number of elected Magistrates/ Unit Title Consuls in addition to the Consuls. The praetors were in charge of enforcing the law. The Censor, who was originally hired as a registrar with a focus on tax administration, quickly expanded his jurisdiction to include morals. The aediles were in charge of the Roman streets' public works, streets, and structures.


3. The People

The people elected the Magistrate, adopted, or rejected bills presented to them, and decided on war and peace issues in their different assemblies. The principle of sovereignty was vested in them in theory, but they only met when summoned by a Magistrate and voted on what was put before them without debate.


4.The Assembly

The term "comitia" referred to a gathering area. As a result, Roman gatherings were referred to as Comitia. The Magistrate called these meetings from time to time to put important issues to a vote.


Comitia Curiata

The meeting of all citizens was known as the Comitia Curiata. There were thirty of them in total, divided into three tribes, each with ten curiae. They chose Magistrates and ecclesiastical officers, passed laws, and made war and peace decisions. The abolition of monarchy and the foundation of the republic was ordered by the Curiae. Centuriata's decrees could not become law unless they were approved by the curiae.


Comitia Centuriata

Comitia Centuriata, like Curiata, was an assembly of all citizens, including Particians and Plebeians, as well as women and aerarii (poll-tax payers). They were, however, divided into two groups. Five classes of centuriae were identified. The first three were reserved for the aristocracy and landowners. Propertyless citizens, known as proletarii, were assigned to the last class, despite the fact that their numbers were far more than the first three. Despite their numerical disadvantage, Patricians dominated the assembly. There was no need for Plebeians to vote on any topic that these classes resolved on.


Concilium Plebis or Comitia Plebis Tribune

Plebeians were the only ones who attended Concilium Plebis. Here, all topics concerning Plebeians were discussed. Plebeians aediles (responsible for the upkeep of public buildings) and tribunes of the plebs were elected. Only plebi sula resolutions were made (law was binding only on plebis). The fact that the state decided to induct two officers known as tribune elected by the assembly in 494 BCE under Plebis coercion demonstrates its institutional acceptance and success.


There was yet another gathering. The Comitia populi tributa (tribal people's assembly) was made up of all citizens and divided into three tribes. The meeting included all the tribe's male adults.


Q2. Analyse the chief characteristics of the Aztec civilization of Mesoamerica. 20

Ans) The term "Aztec" was coined considerably later than the collapse of the Mexica civilization, which had no such name. The Mexica tradition claims that it arose from a mass migration to the Mesoamerican highlands in quest of a chosen settlement site. In 1325, the Mexicas established Mexico-Tenochtitlan there.


Characteristics Of Aztec Civilization


1. Political organization

The political union of the Mexica cities of Texcoco, Tlacopán, and Tenochtitlán, whose tlatoani controlled together, was named the Triple Alliance by his people in the later Aztec Empire. That is, until the last city's expanding prominence caused the ruler of this one to be regarded as a great orator, a position that the European invaders would christen "emperor mexica" in his chronicles, even though he was essentially a monarch elected by a nobiliary council.


2. Social organization

Mexica society was divided into castes, each of which was governed by a military nobility who commanded the very active warrior class. The priests and cult leaders were followed by the plebeians (macehualtin), who oversaw agricultural and engineering labour.


3. Education

The Aztec educational system was divided into two stages: The first is of the required type, in the hands of parents up to the age of fourteen and supervised by the Calpulli authorities. They were learning the elders' sayings at this point, which represented Aztec ideology. Then there were two types of formal schooling: telpochcalli, which taught practical and military skills, and calmecác, which taught writing, astronomy, theology, and leadership skills.


4. The calpulli

Calpulli ("big house") was a complex social unit that was common to all known Nahua communities and consisted of several lineages linked by a common ancestor of divine origin, and whose members could share a specific type of economic activity, especially when several calpulli were organised in entire neighbourhoods.


5. Religion

The Aztecs practised a syncretic religion that incorporated various indigenous Mesoamerican beliefs about rain and agriculture. The essentially warlike Aztec religion demanded human sacrifices to appease the divine will, which they carried out with captured prisoners of war and slaves from surrounding communities. These sacrifices were performed in temples and played a significant part in justifying the invasion in the eyes of Europeans, who considered such activities as proof of the aborigines' inhumanity or satanic influence.


6. Astronomy

The Sun, Moon, and Venus were all important in Mexica mythology, so they were given special attention. Many of their temporal cycles were based on constellations such as the Pleiades and the Great Bear, which they had already classified and recognised.


7. Language

The Mexicas spoke Classical Nahuatl, which is currently the original language spoken by more indigenous people in Mexico. This language is said to have developed in the fifth century because of prior protolenguas.



Assignment – II


Answer the following questions in about 250 words each.


Q3. Discuss the historiography and various theories pertaining to the decline of the Roman empire. 10

Ans) Western historians have considered the year 476 as the end of the Roman Empire since the seventeenth century, using the calamities of the fifth century CE as justification. The end of Greco-Roman antiquity and the start of the Middle Ages were marked by this event.


Theories Pertaining to the Decline of Roman Empire

Michael Rostovtzeff, a Russian academic, ascribed the collapse to social tensions and the persistent pressure applied by the disadvantaged masses to acquire a share of the rulers' power and money in the early twentieth century. Slavery, according to English historian F.W. Walbank, was the underlying cause of the Roman world's technological paralysis and overall lack of energy. According to scholars who propose an anthropological interpretation of the transition, population decrease, racial dilution (the influx of Greeks and Orientals damaged the original Roman feeling of unity), and a smaller governing class were the key causes of the disaster. The political element of the Roman world, according to German historian O. Seeck, was a deliberate 'extermination of the best,' leaving a vacuum to be filled by men of lesser merit, which eventually proved deadly for the Empire.


The demise of Rome, according to S. Mazzarino, a famous 20th-century Italian historian of ancient Rome, was caused by decadence and economic mismanagement. A.H.M. Jones' authoritative study was a turning point in the field's studies. He emphasised geographical and socioeconomic causes, claiming that as the Western Roman Empire grew across the Rhine and Danube regions, conflict with Germanic tribes became unavoidable. This resulted in an expansion in the military's strength, and the resulting taxation burden experienced by direct producers was the primary reason of the drop.


Q4. Give a brief account of various theories pertaining to the rise of Islam. 10

Ans) There are two basic theories regarding the rise of Islam:


1. Meccan Trade Theory

Montgomery Watt was the proponent of Meccan commerce theory. He saw the rise of a new religion because of deeper socioeconomic changes, and he tried to figure out why it gained such widespread acceptance among Arab tribes in such a short time. He sees Islam's rise as a response to the transformation that was taking place in the region because of trade and the adoption of a sedentary lifestyle by some tribes. The Quraysh ruled the north-south trade route and reaped the benefits of this prosperous trade.


Muhammad's appeal for unity was a response to this growing social distinction, and Islam provided a framework for social formation for these tribes. Muhammad appeared in this scenario, and his proclamation was designed to dissolve all tribal units and lead to the foundation of a unified society. Prophet's emergence and the popularity of his teachings are viewed in context of the remedies he presented to contemporary social issues.


2. Nativist Theory

He preached state development and conquest, according to Crone. It was impossible to unite Arabia without conquest. Arabia had been ruled by a foreign power. In this scenario, Islam began as a nativist movement, or, to put it another way, as a primal response to alien dominance. In the sense that those who participated in nativist activities lacked political structure, they were primitive. Early Islam, she believes, was a nativist movement created out of a genuine connection to the Arabian way of life in opposition to foreign influences. She characterised the foreign influences as the values introduced by the Byzantine and Persian attempts to rule it. However, Crone admits that sedantization was taking place in some parts of Arabia, necessitating the expansion of state structure at the expense of tribal relationships.


Q5. Write a note on the Abbasid Caliphate under Harun and Al-Mamun. 10

Ans) After becoming caliph of the entire Abbsid empire, Al-Mamn elected to stay at Merv, aided by his trusty Iranian vizier al-Fal. Al-Mamn, determined to end the division of the Islamic world between Sunnite and Shite—between the adherents of the Abbsid caliphs, descendants of Muammad's uncle al-Abbs, and the defenders of Al, the prophet's cousin and son-in-law, and his descendants—made a decision that surprised his contemporaries and was detrimental to his own position. He appointed Al ar-Ri, a descendant of Al, as his heir, rather than a member of his own family. Al-Mamn gave Al ar-Ri his own daughter as a wife in a visible attempt to unite the two competing families. He also embraced the green flag in place of the customary black flag of the Abbsid family as a further symbol of unity.


However, this amazing approach did not provide the desired result. It was insufficient to appease Shia fundamentalists, while it enraged supporters of Abbsid legitimism and Sunnism, particularly in Iraq. They proclaimed the Abbsid prince Ibrhm, son of the third caliph, al-Mahd, as the new caliph in Baghdad, pronouncing al-Mamn overthrown. When word of the insurgency reached al-Mamn, he made the hasty decision to depart Merv for Baghdad. Two important incidents occurred during the long journey: the vizier al-Fal was slain in February 818, and Al ar-Ri died in August of the same year after a brief sickness attributed to poisoning by chroniclers. As a result, the man whose promotion to the role of heir presumptive had befuddled the caliph's administration, as well as the vizier intimately involved with that policy, were both removed. Despite his denials, historians have usually blamed al-Mamn for the deaths.

Assignment – III


Answer the following questions in about 100 words each.


Q6. Armenian and Karimi merchant communities 6

Ans) In the Eurasian continuum, Armenian merchant communities participated in international and intercontinental trade. They left their motherland (Armenia) and settled in many areas of Asia and Europe, not only in major cities, ports, and trade centres, but also in isolated production centres far from their homeland. As a result, they built the foundation for efficient and effective long-distance trade, as well as a commercial network with a strong link to their primary centre in New Julfa.

In Egyptian records, the Red Sea Karimi merchants are recorded as being actively involved in the Indian Ocean spice trade. Karimi merchants conducted their trade from the port of Quresia al-Qadim on Egypt's Red Sea coast, according to evidence. Yemen, South Arabia, and India were all involved in this commerce. Pepper, spices, wheat, rice, sugar, silk, and textiles were among their wares.


Q7. Ethiopian Coptic Christianity 6

Ans) Ethiopian Coptic Churches date back to roughly 350 A.D., and few countries in the world have as many intact ancient churches in such a range of styles as Ethiopia. In the Tigray Region, the oldest churches are rock hewn churches, the oldest of which may date back to the sixth century AD. Ethiopian Coptic Christianity was not just the state church, but also the society's organiser and a significant player in Ethiopia's mediaeval economy.


With around 40-45 million adherents, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church is the Ethiopian equivalent of the Orthodox churches in Egypt, Russia, and the Middle East. The Ethiopian Church's divine services are held in the Ge'ez language, which dates to at least the fifth century and is no longer spoken today; nevertheless, sermons are now held in the local language.


Q8. Literature of the pre-Islamic Arabia 6

Ans) However, by the sixth century, the Arabic language had gained prominence and was being written and spoken throughout the region. A century before the Islamic era, the Arabic script appeared. It evolved from earlier Aramaic writing, was inspired by Nabatean script, and was eventually reshaped by Aramean Jews.


For the widely separated Arab tribes, a shared language was a crucial unifying feature. By the end of the fifth century, an unique Arabic linguistic identity had emerged. Patricia Crone believes that in the sixth century, the Arabs had exceptional "cultural homogeneity." The Arabs held poetry in high regard. From the sixth century onwards, poetry were written in Arabic in a style known as rajaz.


Q9. Marwanid Ummayad Caliphate 6

Ans) Marwan I, the founder of the Ummayad Marwanid dynasty, was quite old when he succeeded Muawiyah II as Caliphal ruler. After Muhammad's death, the Umayyad Caliphate was created as the second of four main caliphates. The Umayyad dynasty controlled the caliphate. The Umayyads carried on the Muslim conquests, bringing the Transoxiana, Sindh, the Maghreb, and the Iberian Peninsula (Al-Andalus) into the fold. The Umayyad Caliphate spanned 11,100,000 km2 (4,300,000 sq mi) at its peak, making it one of the world's largest empires in terms of territory. The Umayyad Caliphate reigned over a diverse and cosmopolitan people.


Q10. Rise of Shia Islamic sects 6

Ans) In Arabic, Taifa or Firqa means 'Sect,' and it alludes to a'smaller group breaking away from the mainstream or larger group,' or simply 'a component breaking away from the total.' In Arabic, the word Shia implies 'partisan' or'supporter.' 'Shi'a are those who followed Ali in particular and believed in his Imamite and Caliphate according to the explicit teachings and testament of the Prophet Muhammad,' writes Al-Shahrestani in his book Al-Milal.


Ali, according to the Shia, was Muhammad's only legitimate heir. They declare Abu Bakr, Umar, and Uthman, the first three Caliphs, to be illegitimate successors. Different forms of worshipping, temporary marriage (muta), and religious dissimulation are among the other differences between Shia and Sunni (taqqiya). Ismaili, Imami welvers, and Zaiydi are the three primary branches of Shia Islam.

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