The Conrad Demarest Model

The Conrad Demarest
Using a representative model to
teach comparative empires.
► Geoffrey
► Arthur Demarest
► Latin-Americanists inspired by the Inca and
Aztec empires
► Model Can be applied to all empires and
used to compare and contrast empires or to
trace changes and continuity over time.
► Gives a scaffold for kids
The Model
► Preconditions
which MUST exist but do not
necessarily lead to empire building.
 Adequate resources
 Environmental mosaic
 Some form of government which coalesces
 Power vacuum
 Large military potential
The Model, Cont
► Many
places, including the Greek Poleis met
the pre-conditions mentioned, what causes
an empire to “start?”
► Ideology! Religious, philosophical, anything
that will help coalesce the masses behind
the idea of expansion.
► Ideology must endorse and justify warfare
and expansion.
It’s all about the Booty…
► Ideology
is great, but what does empirical
expansion get you?
► Wealth from plunder, from trade, from
availability and control of new resources,
and from coercive tribute.
► Most often enjoyed by the wealthy, but also
distributed to the masses. This “trickledown” economic benefit serves to cement
social hierarchies.
Booty Con’t
► Expansion
also allows you to increase
 More food and land available
 Less disease initially as the population density
goes down, and food availability goes up.
► State-sponsored
population increase.
 More populated areas tend to be more powerful
than less-populated ones.
 Native population supported by outlying areas
Size leads to trouble
► The
bigger the empire, the more costly the
► Empires that stop expanding and do not
change their ideology tend to begin
► Collapse tends to begin at the edges and
creep towards the center.
► Empires are inherently unstable!
A demonstration
► The
Mongol Empire rose from the Steppes
of Asia
► Preconditions present:
 Land, no dominant state, competing tribal and
clan identities, military might in the
horsemanship of the nomads
 United by Chengis Khan after a Tribal
Confederation meeting.
Applying the Model
► Assyrian,
Helenic,Romans, Han, Gupta
► Islamic Caliphates
► Transatlantic European Empires
► Ottoman, Mughal, Safavids
► Global empire (British empire)
► Russian expansion eastward US expansion
► Aztec and Inca
Applying the Model- an example
► Qin
China had all the necessary
preconditions- good agriculture,
environmental mosaic, power vacuum that
resulted from warring states period,
► Ideology? Legalism
► Booty- ever-normal granary system, public
works projects, gifts, etc.
► Empire grew under Han times to huge size
Survival of the Han Empire
► Ideological
change! Confucianism…
► Ritual
► Hierarchy
► Filial
► Mandate of Heaven
► Public works projects
Eventual Fall
► Gap
between rich and poor increases
► Taxation and famine forces increasing #’s of
peasants off the land
► Disease sets in (plague)
► From Peasant point of view, hierarchy no longer
meeting their needs
► Exam system ends- always a bad sign!
► Invasion of the nomads and peasant rebellion.
Now, how about another one?
► Compare
the Spanish Empire in 1450-1800
to the Ottoman or Russian empires of the
same time period.
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