Spread of People and Disease: c. 600 CE - c. 1450

AP Concept: 3.1 Expansion and Intensification of Communication and Exchange Networks
Key Concepts
  • The movement of peoples led to environmental and linguistic changes
  • Crops and diseases continued to spread along trade routes in the Eastern Hemisphere
Spread of People
  • Nomadic empires moved through Europe and Asia during this period
  • The spread of nomadic peoples often led to cultural changes
  • The Vikings, who originated in Scandinavia, began using small boats to raid coastal communities in western Europe around 800 CE, and later built settled communities in Scotland, France, and eastern Europe. They also colonized Iceland, Greenland, and Newfoundland between 800 and 1000
  • Viking colonists in France, later known as Normans, went on to invade England in 1066, after which they became Christianized and adapted to Europe's feudal system
  • The Turks, who originated in the central Asian steppes, often worked as mercenary soldiers for Muslim leaders
  • Between 1055 and 1071, the Islamic Seljuk Turks conquered Baghdad and the Byzantine Empire in modern-day Turkey, and introduced secular rule
  • In the 12th century, the Afghan Turks conquered northern India and established a strong Muslim presence through the Delhi Sultanate
  • The Mongols, a pastoral nomadic society also from the central Asian steppes, established the world's largest empire between 1200 and 1350. Their mobility gave them a great advantage in warfare
  • Beginning with powerful leaders Genghis Khan and Kublai Khan, the Mongols conquered land in China and central Asia, the Middle East, Russia, and parts of eastern Europe
  • Typically the Mongols allowed conquered peoples to maintain their traditions; instead, the Mongols often converted to local religions and established governments based on local administration
  • The Mongol Peace established safe and secure trade throughout the empire, and the Silk Road reached its height
Spread of Disease
  • Trade routes also permitted the spread of disease, which devastated populations unaccustomed to foreign illness
  • The most devastating disease was the Black Plague, which spread from southwest China to central Asia, the Mediterranean, and western Europe through trade networks around 1340 CE
  • Spread through fleas, which lived on infected rodents and then transferred the disease to humans
  • Most infected people died within days, and the world population decreased drastically
  • This led to major labor shortages, peasant rebellions (and a subsequent weakening of the feudal system in Europe), and anti-Semitism, as some blamed the Jews for the illness


Related Links:
AP World History Quizzes
AP World History
AP World History Notes
Creation of New States: c. 600 CE - c. 1450


Educational Videos