1. The Crusades represent a significant moment of contact between Muslims and European Christians that would shape the relationship between the two for centuries. What were the social, cultural, and political forces that led to the Crusades? What were the outcomes of these military campaigns? How was Europe changed by the Crusades?
2. Although the Protestant Reformation may have begun as a reform movement, it unleashed a wave of change that swept across Europe. Why did Protestantism spread so far so quickly? What did the Catholic Church do in response? In what ways was Protestant an both a reflection and cause of the changes that occurred in the course of the 16th century?
3. The Scientific Revolution ushered in a radical shift in how many of Europe’s brightest thinkers thought about the world around them. Trace the rise of scientific thinking during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries? What economic and cultural factors allowed the Scientific Revolution to unfold? What impact did the new understanding of the world have on the world?
4. Many of the first encounters between Europeans and the indigenous peoples of the Americas were surrounded by violence and cultural conflict. Compare the cases of Christopher Columbus and Hernan Cortez. What were these two men intending to do? How did they see their missions? Why is the case of Columbus often view much more favorably than that of Cortez?
5. During the late medieval and early modern period, the Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal empires all reached the height of their power and wealth. Comparing these three empires, what elements did they share in common and what different challenges did they face? What cultural advances were made in these different states and how did they manage their diverse populations?
6. The seventeenth century could be described as the century of royal absolutism. Using to examples, compare how royal absolutism help create strong centralized states. What are the similarities and differences between the two cases? Were these states necessarily bad given the absence of any power sharing at the highest levels or did some carry out positive reforms even though power was concentrated in the hands of the sovereign?
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