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A Brief History of International Relations

The World Made Easy

Kathleen Brush

The world does not need to be complex and confusing. It can be made simpler so that the business, political, social, and economic implications of global news briefs beaming across televisions and electronic devices can be easily grasped. Key to this is knowing that a five-hundred-year competition for global supremacy between the Chinese, European, Islamic, and Russian empires only ended in 1945. When it did, the world had 57 independent nations. After all empires were dissolved in 1991, there were 193, and each nation carried histories of empires in the form of conquest, religions followed, languages practiced, diversified populations, repressive rule, and histories of discrimination. A Brief History of International Relations: The World Made Easy explores this history of global conflict to contextualize and simplify the often perplexing relations between nations and empires.

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Chapter 1. Islamic Empires


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Islamic empires ruling contiguous expanses of Africa, Asia, and Europe had an extraordinary run. It was in the first Islamic empires, the Rashidun (632–661) and Umayyad (661–750) that Christianity lost much of the Iberian Peninsula (Iberia), North Africa and parts of the Middle East, including Syria and Turkey, to Islam. Millions converted to Islam. Christians tried to halt Muslim advances in the battles of the Crusades (1096–1291).1 In the end, the Christians were again defeated by the Muslims, and Muslims continued ruling the Holy Land.

The Christian-Muslim conflict that inspired the competition for global supremacy was long in the making. For the Christians, the final straw was delivered by the Ottoman Empire (1299–1922), also called the Turkish Empire. In 1453 the Ottoman’s laid waste to what remained of the Byzantine Empire2 (330–1453), an Eastern Orthodox empire.3 For the next 150 years, the Ottoman Empire sowed fear throughout Christendom and beyond. They conquered Central Europe’s Balkan Peninsula, and Western Europe’s Greece, Cyprus, and parts of Italy. In Eastern Europe, they controlled the Crimean Peninsula and parts of Moldova. They also annexed many Muslim polities in the Middle East and North Africa, northern sub-Saharan Africa, and parts of central Asia.4 The long run of successive conquests finally ended on 9-11-1683 at the gates of Vienna. ← 9 | 10 →

The 17th century marked a turning point in the wars against Christian empires. Instead of...

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