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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 2022-23

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Assignment Code: BHIC-104/ASST/TMA/2022-2023

Course Code: BHIC-104

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

Year: 2022-2023

Verification Status: Verified by Professor


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




Answer the following in about 500 words each. 20x2


Q1) Analyse the factors that led to the rise of slavery in Rome. What led to a crisis in the slave economy?

Ans) The Roman empire's main source of riches throughout its existence was land. Large areas of land were used as pastures for cattle, sheep, and horses as well as for the cultivation of grains and other agricultural goods, particularly those related to olives and wine. According to the "Twelve Tables," Rome's manner of life in the fifth century BCE was predominantly agricultural. Roman activity was to continue to be primarily supported by agriculture, typically carried out by small landowners. Stock-raising was less prevalent than agribusiness and viticulture. Never were the towns the principal hubs for merchants, manufacturers, or artisans. This was made feasible by the presence of slave labour in the countryside, which gave the governing landowner class, who flourished in the city, riches, and leisure.


Slave Economy

Slavery had been used in Rome for a long time, but it wasn't until the classical era that it became a pervasive institution. Other labour arrangements such as free tenants, dependent tenants, and urban artisans were also in use. According to Perry Anderson, slavery served as the economic fulcrum that connected town and country and enabled the ruling elite to reap enormous profits. The conflicts fought for control of the Mediterranean region altered the conventional structure of the Italian economy. The Roman elite's increased wealth and the vast expansion of slavery are the two most notable characteristics of the Italian economy's transition.


Hopkins claims that the following seven factors contributed to the spread of slavery in Rome:

  1. Continuous war,

  2. The influx of booty,

  3. Its investment in land,

  4. The formation of large estates,

  5. The impoverishment of peasants,

  6. Their emigration to towns or provinces,

  7. The growth of urban markets.


These processes were all interconnected. According to M.I. Finley, there are two circumstances that lead to the economic spread of slavery. First, when there is a significant imbalance between the internal labour supply and demand in a given society. Secondarily, when a sizable amount of land is held by a tiny class. Early in the Republic, the practise of using debt as a form of bondage had been outlawed.


Decline of Slave Economy and the Rise of Colonette System

Perry Anderson claims that the final answer to the dilemma that had materialised in the countryside was discovered there, which prepared the door for an entirely new form of production. More and more owners stopped directly funding the maintenance of many of their slaves. Instead, they place them on little plots of land where they can take care of themselves and pay their proprietors for any surplus produce.


The dependent tenant peasants known as "coloni" were bound to their landlord's property and required to cultivate his land on a share-cropping basis or pay him in cash or kind for it. About half of the produce from their plots was typically kept by the "colonus." In the fourth and fifth century CE, the Western empire began to swiftly disintegrate. As members of the higher classes migrated to the countryside and began to rule a sizable class of dependent labourers, the Center gradually lost power over them. The peasants frequently sought safety from both barbarian invaders and imperial officers levying taxes in their fortified estates, known as Villa. They were enslaved to the estates of wealthy landlords and became their victims.


The Western empire had disintegrated by the fifth century, becoming a collection of remote estates owned by rural aristocracy who controlled a sizable dependent peasants class known as the "coloni." The imperial government's capacity to maintain law and order for its citizens deteriorated with time. Regions became more independent as trade and communication decreased.


Q2) Write a note on the rise of sufi movements and sufi tariqa in the Islamic world.

Ans) Suf is the root of the word "Sufi." The term "Sufi" was used to describe a certain sect of Muslims whose intense mysticism or asceticism caused them to dress in constricting wool clothing. A Sufi's desire for a personal encounter with the Divine reality forms the basis of Sufism. Islam had a mystical component built in from the start. Between the seventh and ninth centuries, Muslim mystics began to emerge in Basra, Baghdad, Syria, and Iran.


The founding of ascetic communities or orders marked the beginning of the next phase in the development of Sufism by the twelfth century. Each order had its own set of rules for behaviour, a spiritual lineage that went back to the Prophet Muhammad, a way of life that was based on religion, and unique devotional and mystic rituals. The informal social networks, such as sufi authorities and their spiritual tariqas, "became a spiritual and intellectual glue that held together the culturally and ethnically diverse societies of Islamdom" in the aftermath of Mongol conquests, especially after the fall of Baghdad in 1258 CE, up until the sixteenth century.


Rise of Sufi Movement

There are a variety of viewpoints among historians regarding the development of the Sufi movement. The most widely accepted idea is the "expansion-asceticism theory," nevertheless. According to this perspective, Muslims become more egocentric and concerned in this-worldly problems as the Islamic dominion grew. After the eighth century, Sufis made an effort to bring Islam back to its original purity. As long as Muhammad was alive, the Islamic message was pure and original, according to Islamic historical texts.


In the eighth century, Hasan al-Basri was a fiery preacher and scholar. He used to give ferocious sermons in front of the public, pleading with people to avoid committing sin, live a virtuous life, and insist that his pupils let go of any connection to material possessions. Hassan al-Basri attracted a sizable following of people who embraced his mysticism and shunned materialistic luxuries. A school of Sufi academics known as the Baghdad School arose in Baghdad following the collapse of the Ummayads in 750 CE. Three treasures of the Baghdad School of Sufism were Bishir Ibn ul Harith, Sari Saqti, and Junaid.


Junaid received education from his uncle Sari Saqti. Junaid of Baghdad adhered to the "sober" branch of Baghdad Sufism, in contrast to Bistami and Al-Hallaj. In order to achieve oneness with the Divine, Junaid recommended renunciating one's instinctual cravings, selfish motivations, and self-annihilation. He insisted that people obey the Prophet Muhammad in matters of Sharia and to be merciful and kind to the entire society. Junaid did not defy Sharia law, in contrast to Al-Hallaj.


Spread of the Sufi Tariqa

Beginning in the eleventh century, established official Sufi orders known as tariqa began to grow out of mystical life. These Sufi organisations, which were originally concentrated in relatively modest lodges, gradually expanded into large-scale places of prayer removed from the bustle of daily life. The tariqa, or Sufi community life, was structured and governed by set laws put in place by a hierarchical Sufi leadership. Between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries, the major early Sufi tariqa, the Qadiriyya, Suhrawardiyya, Chishtiyya, Kubrawiyya, Naqshbandiyya, and Safawiya were established.


In Baghdad, Naqshbandiyya in Central Asia, Shajilliya in North Africa, and Safawiya in Anatolia, new orders were established. Later, they expanded and thrived throughout huge geographic areas. The Safavids in Iran were both Sufi Pirs of the Safavi order and rulers in the sixteenth century, while the Ottomans were ardent devotees of the Naqashabandi order. Even though they were frequently impartial, the Mughals were Naqashbandi adherents. The Naqashbandi tariqa encountered the Qadiriyya and Chishtiyya tariqas during the seventeenth century and eventually came to dominate both the Mughal and Ottoman political elites. It's referred to as the "Naqshbandi reaction." After gaining political influence, the Safavids finally suppressed and silenced the Hurufi and Nuqtawi Sufi organisations.


Answer the following questions in about 250 words each. 10x3


Q1) List the main features of the first phase of feudalism.

Ans) The first phase, which started with the rise of barbarian successor kingdoms after the collapse of the political structure of the Roman Empire and continued until the middle of the eleventh century, lasted from the collapse of the Roman Empire until its fall. This resulted in a significant preservation of the fundamental social ties that had come to characterise the Late Empire. This phase corresponds to the organisation of a relatively stable rural territory at a time when trade was tiny and unusual, coins were scarce, and a wage-earning class was virtually non-existent. The territorial aristocracies, which monopolised both the social means of coercion and the regulation of jurisdiction, were linked hierarchically to one another through the ties of vassalage that existed between the greater and weaker elements.


The vast majority of the peasants were either absolutely unfree in the sense of the law or were so dependent on their lords in a variety of ways that, even if they were free, their freedom was merely a formality. If they were completely unfree, their freedom was merely a formality. During this stage of the economy's development, the agrarian sector produced a very small surplus above and beyond what was required to maintain the power and position of the landed nobility. Low levels of production for the market, rents that were typically paid in labour or in kind, low levels of money in circulation, and low levels of effective demand for the luxury goods that were traded internationally as a result of the fact that upper-class incomes were received in kind rather than in cash all contributed to low levels of production for the market.


Q2) Write a note on the trading communities of the medieval world.

Ans) When Islam swept across the Mediterranean basin in the seventh century, certain Christians in the West were no longer able to travel there. Venice, which is at the head of the Adriatic, never had any significant concerns about the Saracen advance, while southern Italian cities like Naples and Bari in the east continued to accept the Emperor in Constantinople. By 1100, Venice, who was already a powerful maritime nation, had established her hegemony along the entire east coast of that sea, which she regarded as her territory and kept for centuries. The collapse of Muslim dominance over the Mediterranean following the Crusades was another significant development. The entire Mediterranean was thus once again available to western navigation.


Long-distance trade provided the drive for the development of mediaeval commerce in Europe. The first products of this trade were spices. Not just Venice, but all the major ports in the western Mediterranean, benefited from their wealth creation. The main destination of European ships was Syria, where cargo was transported by caravans from Arabia, India, and Southeast Asia. However, imports into Europe began to include rice, oranges, apricots, figs, raisins, perfumes, medicines, and dyestuffs from the beginning of the 13th century.


In exchange for all of these imports, the Italians supplied the Levantine ports with wood and weapons, and Venice received slaves for at least a short while. However, woollen products quickly overtook other exports, first Italian fustians and then, starting in the second half of the 12th century, clothes from Flanders and northern France. However, English shipping did not develop along with her exports of wool. These were mostly transported by continental ships, and by the 13th century, the Teutonic Hans had practically monopolised the market. Thus, it will be clear that industrial products were significantly less common than agricultural and food commodities such as spices, wine, grain, salt, fish, and wools if we study the items that supported the international or oceanic trade in the mediaeval centuries. The only product that led to a significant export commerce was fabric, initially from the Low Countries and then from Florence.


Q3) Discuss briefly the growth of Inca polity in Latin America.

Ans) Cuzco/Cusco served as the administrative centre or seat of the Inca Empire. Between the years 1000 and 1400 CE, a consolidated empire and administrative structure emerged. By using military conquest and reconquest over strong rival ethnic communities like the Pinahua and Mohina in the Lucre basin, the Quechua-speaking Incas expanded their rule. The Anta and Ayarmaca towns, which had resisted accepting the Inca empire after numerous wars, were located to the north of Cuzco Valley. Marriage partnerships between these towns' ruling elites and the Incas, however, were more effective in integrating them into the Inca Empire.


The persistently rebellious Pinahuas to the east were driven from their territory and relocated to distant lowlands after being forced into violent confrontation with the Incas. They may have had an alien governor who settled them in these territories before they became a part of the Inca empire. The Incas provided certain other ethnic groups with defence against other competing groups, and these groups voluntarily joined the Inca Empire.


Building the Inca empire was a non-linear process. Rebellions against the central government were common, and certain areas required re-conquest. Even provincial or municipal governors had to be replaced or weakened. Almost every succession or change of Kings at Cuzco used to create instability throughout the entire structure of the empire. Competing communities and strong elite groups made attempts to murder, remove potential kings, or even back some throne claims.


Irene Silver blatt asserts that the Incas of Cusco genuinely seized the regional deities of the ethnic communities inhabiting the periphery of their Empire, taking control of their sovereignty, and incorporating them into the Empire. Other ethnic tribes were required to worship the Sun God by the Incas, and the Incas themselves also worshipped the deities of other communities in a location in Cusco close to the Sun God shrine. As a result, they "institutionalised the imperial religion," which involved both appropriating the sovereignty of those communities and incorporating other people's religions into the imperial one.



Answer the following questions in about 100 words each. 6x5


Q1) Process of Hellenization and the influence of Greek philosophers on the Roman world 6

Ans) Some academics have stressed the unique connection between the Christian cult and mystery religions, such as the Eleusinian mysteries and Mithraism, in an effort to understand the origins of Roman Christianity and the peculiar forms it assumed. Mystes, a Greek word that meant "one who had been taught mysteries," is also used to refer to someone who has been ritualistically inducted into a cult. Animal sacrifices or rituals were part of several prehistoric fertility cults that were performed to celebrate the flooding of a large river or the return of the sun after the winter solstice.


For nearly eight months of the year, the Eleusinian mysteries, which were practised at holy places in Greece and likely predate "Greek civilization," commemorated Persephone's descent into Hades and her return to the world of the living. Mithraism includes ritual cleansing procedures and promises rebirth or an afterlife. The worship was particularly favoured by soldiers in the Roman world. Roman era mithraean ruins numbering in the hundreds have been discovered everywhere from Syria, Palestine, and Armenia to Hungary, Germany, and England.


Q2) Popular revolts in the Abbasid Caliphate

Ans) During Al-reign, Mansur's Syria saw the majority of the earliest, most violent peasant uprisings against the Abbasid state agents' persecution. Bundar was the leader of them. During the Abbasid period, peasants also revolted in Khurasan, Ifriqya, Egypt, and other provinces in an effort to throw off the Abbasid burden. During the reign of Harun Al-Rashid, Copts in Egypt rose up in revolt against the Abbasid government. Massive peasant uprisings in Azarbyjan and Transoxiana tried to "throw off the oppressive grip of Abbasid administrators." In Mosul and Tikrit in the year 839 CE, the Kurdish tribes rose up.


The Zanj uprising began when Samarra was embroiled in chaos as a result of a civil conflict. The marshland estates southeast of Baghdad, primarily Basra, employed the Zanj slaves for labour. Topsoil would be removed by them. They frequently rebelled after becoming aware of their wretched circumstances. The Revolt of Zanj, on the other hand, was the most powerful uprising and lasted for about fifteen years. Tabari, who was in Baghdad at the time, provides a fair account of the social rebellion of slaves. The Abbasid troops had been routed, Basra had been taken over by Zanj rebels, and Ali ibn Muhammad had been anointed the Mahdi.


Q3) Christianization of Europe

Ans) The most prevalent religion in Europe is Christianity. Since the first century, Christianity has been practised in Europe, and a number of the Pauline Epistles were written to Christians in Greece and other areas of the Roman Empire. Europe has served as the hub and "cradle of Christian culture" throughout history. Given the large number of saints and martyrs as well as the nearly universal European heritage of the popes, Europe has a rich Christian culture.


In the year 380, the Roman Empire formally accepted Christianity. Most of Europe became Christianized throughout the Early Middle Ages; this process was basically finished in the 15th century with the Christianization of the Baltic region. This circumstance gave rise to the Crusades, which, despite being a military failure, were a crucial step in the development of a religious identity for Europe. Traditions of folk religion have always existed in great part independently of recognised religions or dogmatic theologies.


The Catholic Church's influence was the only constant factor in Western Europe after the Middle Ages, as the centralised Roman power in southern and central Europe began to decline. To link Catholicism with Greek ideas that Christian pilgrims had brought with them, movements in art and philosophy, such as the Humanist movement of the Renaissance and the Scholastic movement of the High Middle Ages, were inspired.


Q4) Growth of mines and metallurgy in medieval Europe

Ans) Between the fifth and sixteenth centuries AD, Western Europe saw an era of mining industry expansion. The Goslar mines in the Harz mountains, which were put into operation in the tenth century, were the first significant mines. Falun in Sweden, where copper has been mined at least since the 10th century and maybe much earlier, is another well-known mining town. The expansion of Western Europe's global impact was essential to the development of the mining sector in that region.


Modern mining and metallurgy during the Middle Ages contributed to the growth of Western European culture. The central governmental authority, local governments, monastic orders, and religious rulers all supported the development of the metalworking industry. In both private lands and areas that belonged to the Crown, these powers attempted to assert royal rights to the mines and a portion of the product. The mines in their territory were accessible to all miners since they had a special interest in the mining of the precious metal ores.


Q5) Ummayad Economy

Ans) The economic pillars of the Ummayad and Abbasid dynasties both depended on three elements: established agriculture, urbanisation, and long-distance trade, as correctly noted by K N Chaudhuri.


Settled Agriculture

Dams and wells were erected by Muawiyah I, who connected them to Al-Taif and Medina's main irrigation canals. Al-Maqadassi claimed that the main agricultural goods grown in the Levant consisted mostly of dates, olives, grapes, apples, lemons, melons, sugarcane, various colours, and honey. To carry water for irrigation in Iraq and Syria, the Ummayad governors invested in the construction of underground watercourses and canals. Various tribes in Southern Arabia were convinced to leave their lands and join the recovered farms by these agrarian policies, which were used in conjunction with innovative agricultural techniques in Iraq.


Ummayad Trade, Urbanism and Suqs

Henri Pirrene, a controversial medievalist, claimed that Arab conquests in every region brought uncertainty upon both Europe and Asia without a precedent because he believed that Western Europe's long-distance trade activity slowed and diminished with the East as a result of Arab conquests. The Iberian Peninsula had previously been a backwater in terms of global trade, but from the seventh century, its trade patterns changed as this area progressively developed into an economic hub linking the Muslim world and Western Europe. Small, spherical ships known as Nefs were used to transport goods across the Arabian Sea.

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