History 372 - Spring Semester 2004
Study Questions for Final Exam

I will select four questions from this list and ask that you write on two of them on the final exam.  Some of these questions require information from the assigned books, some from the online readings, and some from class lectures. [I will place the four questions in two groups, and ask that you answer one from each group.]

1. Ibn Khaldun was convinced that he was living near the "end of time," yet he also was a believer in the "cyclical" nature of time and history.  Although he actually lived in the 14th century, please assume for this question that he was writing in the period between 1250-1270.  What might have persuaded him of the idea that the end of time was near, and what might have persuaded him that the world was reliving earlier patterns?

2. Compare the Latin Crusades with the Mongol invasions in the Middle East - from the perspectives of causes, immediate and long-term effects.

3. Where the Latin Crusades in the Middle East and Spain "jihads" for Christianity?  How do they compare with the military ventures of the early Islamic states - in goal and in outcome?

4. How did the location of the successive capitals - Constantinople, Damascus, Baghdad - affect the ability of the Byzantine, Ummayad, and Abbasid rulers to govern the Middle East?  Which, in your judgment, was the best "central place" for an imperial regime?

5. To what extent can it be said that the Abbasid empire "collapsed of its own weight"?  Which specific defects contributed to the ultimate failure of this state?

6. How did the successive "conquests" change the demography of the Middle East?

7. Assume the place of a "fundamentalist" critic of any Islamic government in the Middle East in the 13th and/or 14th century.  What would be the main elements of your critique?