Imperial Expansion: c. 1450 - c. 1750

AP Concept: 4.3 State Consolidation and Imperial Expansion
Key Concepts
  • Empires expanded using gunpowder, cannons, military strategies, and armed trade
Ottoman Empire
  • The Ottoman Empire formed in 1453 thanks to military might and the use of gunpowder weapons
    • Ottomans first originated in the 1300s as a group of seminomadic Turks in northwest Anatolia, who replaced the Mongols as the dominant political power using military power
    • Developed an elite fighting force of Christian slave troops, called janissaries, to lead their armies
    • In 1453 the Ottomans were able to capture Constantinople, end the Byzantine Empire, and form their own
  • Previous Ming authority collapsed in China in the early 1600s, and the powerful, aggressive Manchus took control to establish the Qing dynasty
  • The Manchus expanded their empire with military conquest, and they reorganized their army into a powerful unit
  • Manchu leader Nurhaci created units called banners, organized on a social basis and containing both military companies and the families of the soldiers
European Expansion
  • By the 18th century, Europeans had standardized gunpowder, cannons, and handguns, and made them more efficient now fought wars using huge standing armies with a professional officer corps and effective artillery
  • The length, devastation, and costs of war in Europe began to soar
  • The Thirty Years' War, for example (1618 - 1648) marked the shift to standing armies and decisive, large-scale campaigns between countries
  • End of the war established a balance of power between Protestant and Catholic European countries
  • Europeans used their gunpowder weapons to intimidate, kill, and conquer New World empires, which could not stand up to these powerful weapons
  • Hernán Cortés was able to conquer the vast Aztec empire (1519) with a small Spanish force in part because the Spanish fought to kill with their steel swords and gunpowder, while the Aztecs fought to capture with more primitive weapons
  • Francisco Pizarro's Spanish campaign in the Incan empire (1532) was successful in part because the Incans were awed by Spanish horses and guns, and did not understand how to protect themselves against Spanish weapons

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State Consolidation: c. 1450 - c. 1750