[SAQ] State Formation, 1200 - 1450 CE

Use your understanding of World History to answer the following questions with evidence from the period c. 1200 - c. 1450 CE:

  1. Identify a factor that fostered the development of a larger state(s) (context)
  2. Describe ONE similarity between the development of political entities in two different regions
  3. Explain ONE difference between the development of the political entities you compared in #2 above.

How to Submit
Reply to this thread with your 3-part answer.

Deadline for submission:
April 5, 2020 → April 9, 2020
Responses submitted after the deadline are not guaranteed a response (unless you’re a cram student)

Feel free to give other students feedback, too!


A. One factor that fostered the development of states during the period from 1200-1450 was the growth of interregional trade. Interregional connections between states via the Silk Roads and Indian Ocean Trade Networks allowed states to establish and accumulate wealth.

B. Two of the largest empires during this period were the Mali Empire in West Africa and the Song Dynasty in East Asia, both of which accumulated wealth by controlling trade and taxing other peoples in their respective regions. The Song Dynasty used used the tribute system, which demanded periodic taxes and displays of reverence from surrounding states such as Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. In a similar fashion, the Mali Empire taxed all trade that occurred within western Africa. Both of these systems, which had very similar natures and purposes, allowed these states to collect wealth and assert authority over surrounding states.

C. One of the largest differences between the Mali Empire and Song China were the religions that they used to legitimize their rule. In the case of the Mali Empire, leaders such as Mansu Musa promoted Islam in order to establish a nation-wide religion and gain access to trading relationships with Arab merchants. This religion emphasized belief in one diety, Allah. On the other hand, Song China utilized the ideologies of Confucianism in order to legitimize their rule. This religion emphasized respect between different members of society rather than unification under one diety. While both religions allowed rulers to legitimize their rule, they did so using very different ideological and religious concepts.

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  1. One factor that fostered the development of larger states was trade. This can be seen in the states of Mali, Ghana, and Songhai because they used the gold and salt trade to become more wealthy and therefore gain more power in the region.

  2. The development of England and Ethiopia is similar in that both used Christianity as a means to unite their empire.

  3. The development of England and Ethiopia is different in that England was practicing feudalism for much of the time period while Ethiopia was united under one powerful ruler who centralized power.

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What does historical complexity mean for the DBQ?

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This means describing how things were complicated. Complexity is the most difficult point to get in the rubric because students need to do it throughout the essay. With a DBQ this probably means explaining how documents could support more than one conclusion, or how documents point in different directions.

With evidence beyond the documents, complexity could exam how events had different effects. For instance, the Mongol empire eventually increased trade along the Silk Roads. It was complicated, though, because the destructiveness of the Mongol conquests harmed trade in the short term, and it didn’t bounce back in all places. Explaining all of this demonstrates a complex historical understanding.

  1. One of the factors of state formation in 1200-1450 was the active participation in trade routes such as the Silk Road trade, Trans-Saharan trade network, and the Indian Ocean trade network. For example, the Malian empire was able to build as a state from their trade of gold and natural resources through the Trans-Saharan trade network and their trading with Middle Eastern states in the 14th century. Therefore, their participation in interregional trade routes led to the building of their empire because they were able to accumulate a vast amount of wealth from trade.
  2. A similarity that the Malian and Mongol Empires shared with the formation of political entities is that their armies conquered lands to form empires. The Mongols conquered
    the Song empire, much of central Asia, and the Middle East. The Malian empire conquered lands to expand their influence. The development of their political standing as an empire could not have happened if they did not conquer lands to build their empires.
  3. A difference between the formation in political entities that the Malian empire and the Mongol empire is how they were ruled. While the Mongol empire was broken down into multiple khanates to maintain their rule, one king ruled the Malian empire. This shows an important difference in how they ruled because the division of power was much more prevalent in Mongol politics than Malian Politics.
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Hi William!
Glad to see you back for this practice SAQ! This response shows that you have a strong understanding of both key ideas from the Late Medieval Era AND the comparison skills needed for the AP Exam - way to go!

Some specific feedback:
A. This is a really thoughtful, yet concise, answer. Way to go!

B. This is another good answer, and it includes a specific and clear comparison. Nice work. There’s just enough detail here to make this a great answer.

C. This answer works. Honestly, when reading it, at first I thought you’d accidentally written another similarity rather than a difference. You brought it back around by the end, so it works. In general, I usually encourage students to choose a difference that can be clearly shown with contrasting examples, rather than one like this (i.e. both used religion, but different ones). If that’s what came to mind though, you’ve got enough detail to make it work here!

– Mrs. L

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Hi Varun!
Thanks for joining us in this SAQ. If we haven’t interacted before, I’m Melissa Longnecker, one of the AP World teachers for Fiveable. I really like how clear and concise your SAQ responses are - that’s a really hard balance to find!

Some specific feedback:

  1. This answer works, and I especially like how you’ve included specific examples. Talking about context is usually the broadest kind of analysis the AP Exam asks for, so it’s also ok to take it a bit broader. Take a look at @2022nielswil’s response to part A to see another way to use trade for this prompt!

  2. This is a really creative (and effective) comparison! Because the verb in this prompt is “describe,” we’re not looking for a lengthy response. If you wanted to give just a bit more detail, I’d love an example from each state of how they used Christianity to unite the empire.

  3. Another answer with some good detail. This prompt was an “explain” verb, so we’re looking for just a bit more. What did feudalism look like in England? What did centralized rule look like in Ethiopia? And why, briefly, did they develop differently in this era?

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Hello @mgcisewski!
If I haven’t seen you in the chat on a stream before, I’m Melissa Longnecker and I’m one of the AP World teachers here at Fiveable. Thanks for practicing this SAQ with us. Your answers here show that you have a good grasp on both the content from 1200-1450 and the analytical skills this SAQ requires!

Some specific feedback:

  1. This is a really thorough answer. You’ve done a great job of giving specific examples that tie your initial idea about trade to state expansion. This “identify” style of prompt doesn’t require a lot of explanation, so it’s good to keep these responses brief.

  2. This is a really interesting comparison! I’m loving the way students are really pulling together examples from different regions of the world. (Check out @varun.hariprasad for another version of this.) For a future response, it would be great to see balanced examples. Here, you’ve identified regions that the Mongols conquered with their militaries. What specific lands did the armies of Mali conquer?

  3. This is another good comparison. It shows a clear difference and it is the same type of response (you describe the style of rule for both empires) - this is actually quite challenging to do, so I’m glad to see it in your writing! One way to continue to strengthen your answers is to answer the implied “why” for any kind of “evaluate” or “explain” prompt. In this case - why do you think the style of rule differed in this way in Mali and the Mongol khanates?

Again, thanks for joining in! We’ll have more practice prompts to come, so feel free to check those out too!!

– Mrs. L

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  1. One factor that fostered the development of a larger states was the furthering of trade. Cross-culture exchanges was a result of trade. For example, champa rice was brought to China from Vietnam. This helped the Song Dynasty feed their growing population. This fostered the development of larger states because it helped sustain the population.

  2. One similarity between the development of political entities in two different regions is religion. For example The Song Dynasty and Japan both used a form of Confucianism to run a powerful and long lasting dynasty.

  3. One difference between the development of The Song Dynasty and Japan was the type of government. While both empires has a powerful government, The Song Dynasty was ruled by an omnipotent emperor and Japan had a weak emperor who was controlled by the daimyo.

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  1. One factor that fostered the growth of larger state’s was the facilitation of trade. Specifically the trade of paper manufacturing that spread from China to Eurasia led to growth of states. Through the trade of paper, literacy increased in Europe which also increased intellectual thought and education leading to advancements in mathematics and medicine which resulted to overall better quality of life. This contributed to the development of larger states as these intellectuals put their ideas to use in growing society,

  2. There are similarities between the Song Dynasty and the Mali Empire in terms of opportunities for education. The Song Dynasty in China used the advancement of the Civil Service exam to provide educational opportunities to people. In Africa, the Mali Empire developed centers of Islamic learning where individuals studied Islamic subjects. In both of these regions, new opportunities of learning were created.

  3. The differences between the Song Dynasty and the Mali Empire laid in their government and authority over the peoples. In the Song Dynasty in China, they relied on their imperial bureaucracy to be able to have a structured society with offials who successfully carried out the emporers orders. Contrasting this, the Mali Empires form of government lay in the responsibility of one Emperor, Mansa. The mansa had absolute power and authority. Through there differences in governments, these two regions differed.

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1.) 1 factor that led to the development of large states during the period of 1200-1450 is trade. This is seen in the Mali Empire and the Delhi Sultanate by using their surplus of natural products(gold mainly for Mali people and spices for the Delhi Sultanate) to acquire more wealth and becoming a bigger contender on the world stage by being known for trading these luxuries

2.)One similarity between the development of the Mali Empire and The Delhi Sultanate is that they both used certain religious events/practices from Islam to spread their empires. This is seen in Mansa Musa’s pilgrimage to Mecca who is known for giving gold and inflating economies and the Delhi Sultanate using the jizya tax to cause conversions(mostly forced) to spread their religion through numbers and to also caused attempted wars called jihads(holy wars) and sometimes were just an excuse for an attempt to conquest.

3.)One difference between the development of the Delhi Sultanate and the Mali Empire is that the spread of Islam influence had different levels of commitment. In the Mali Empire there was more commitment due to the fact that it came to Mali through trade and by choice and that there was also educational centers based on Islam mainly to create more of an Islamic influence on the people. On the other hand, in the Delhi Sultanate, people weren’t very committed to Islam since it came to them by force and not choice and that other religions weren’t respected as much as Islam and they were deprived of many things(left a bad impression on Indians). This is mainly seen as high positions in jobs were only for Muslims and non-Muslims had to pay a tax(jizya) to practice religion. And many people usually converted for better jobs, no jizya, and an improvement in lifestyle.

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  1. One factor that fostered the development of larger states from c. 1200 - c. 1450 was inter regional trade. Trade routes such as the Silk roads and the Indian Ocean trade helped spread ideas that helped foster the development of states, as well as allow states to accumulate wealth. An example of this is shown in the Song Dynasty with the Grand Canal, which enabled them to become the most populous trading area in the world.

  2. Two of the most powerful entities in their region at the time, Mali and the Song Dynasty, were able to expand upon the ideas that made past dynasties powerful. Mali arose from the Ghanaian state, and cultivated a thriving gold trade, the same thing Ghana was able to do to rise in power. In the Song Dynasty, rulers were able to improve the imperial bureaucracy, which had been a feature of the Chinese government since the Qin dynasty, by allowing those in lower classes to take it. The Song dynasty was also able to build upon trade that the former Tang dynasty had encouraged, and they prospered because of it, becoming one of the most populous trading areas in the world

  3. A difference between the development of the Song Dynasty and Mali was that the Song were able to develop a strong manufacturing capability. The Chinese were able to manufacture steel, which strengthened the agricultural equipment that they used, which helped grow more food. Artisans were able to produce porcelain and silk, which were able to be traded. Meanwhile in Mali, the thriving gold trade between them and Muslim merchants was the factor which made them powerful.

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  1. One factor that fostered the development of larger states was the Silk Roads and Indian Ocean trade routes. Empires like the Srivijava Empire and Majapahit empire prospered because of the ongoing maritime trade in Southeast Asia. Their strategic location near the Strait of Malacca allowed them to tax cargo ships and prosper economically.

  2. One similarity between the development of political entities in two different regions was the use of feudalism in both Western Europe and Japan. Both Europe and Japan was divided into many different territories that were governed by local leaders instead of being entirely centralized.

  3. One difference between the development of the political identities in Feudal Japan and Western Europe was that the daimyo (equivalent to the European lords) had more power in Japan. The lords in Western Europe generally had to listen to their king supervisor whereas the daimyo acted more independently.

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  1. One factor that fostered the development of larger states was the greed of Europe, shown by their desire to spread influence throughout Asia, especially through religion.
  2. One similarity between the development of political entities in Spain and Britain is that both were monarchies that spread their influence to other countries.
  3. One difference was their method of spreading influence, as Britain would often colonize with force, while Spain would set up trade routes before tricking the future colony into giving up control of their land.

My answers are probably from the wrong time period, but hopefully some reviewing will help with that. I hope I responded to each prompt with correct ammount of information, even if it is incorrect and just wanted to say that I may respond to this again after watching the cram.

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Just wondering, what does cram support mean, and why does it say that I am cram support?

  1. One factor that fosters the development of a larger state during the period of 1200 to 1450 CE was the growth of trade. This can be seen through connections in Asia by the Silk Roads as well as in Africa via the Trans-Saharan routes. One clear example of this is in the African kingdom of Mali which grew wealthy by taxing gold trade.

  2. One similarity between the development of political entities in two different regions is that of using religious principles to unite empires in West Africa and in China. The Mali Empire in Africa under Mansa Musa used Islamic virtues to foster prosperity and unification. During the Song Dynasty in China, the reintroduction of Confucian principles such as the Civil Service exam led to a more successful China.

  3. One difference of the developments of the political entities of the Mali Kingdom and Song Dynasty is how each kingdom grew financially stable. The Mali Kingdom taxed merchants looking to participate in the gold trade. The Song Dynasty participated in the tribute system and collected different goods such as rice from Vietnam and Korea.

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Hi @oliviarichards!
Thanks for joining in with this SAQ. Your answers show a good understanding of content from 1200-1450, and skill with the skill of comparison!

Some specific feedback:

  1. This is a good answer. I especially like how you developed it with specific examples to demonstrate how trade helped states expand!

  2. This is another good answer. The last sentence in your response is a good comparative statement - you’ve chosen a clear similarity between two relevant regions.

  3. Since this prompt is phrased as an “explain” prompt, it would be a good idea to expand your answer here. (Just like you’ll need to expand in your DBQ.) You’ve given the good comparison of Song China and Japan, and to strengthen it, think about adding a sentence about why they were different in these specific ways.

Thanks again for joining us in this SAQ practice!

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Hi @gabbi!
Thanks for joining us in this SAQ! I’m Melissa Longnecker and I may have seen you in the chat on some of the recent streams - I’m one of the AP World teachers here at Fiveable. Your answer in this SAQ shows that you have good knowledge of the period 1200-1450 and skill with comparison.

Some specific feedback:

  1. This is a really interesting answer! You’ve correctly identified trade as a development that was context in which the expansion of states occurred. The example here is really interesting too - I haven’t seen anyone write about paper yet.

  2. This is a good example of comparison - you’ve identified the similarity in the first sentence and then expand it through your examples. One way to strengthen this answer would be to connect more specifically to the prompt (in this case: how does education relate to a political entity in those states?)

  3. This answer does a really good job of connecting to the prompt (politics) and giving a clear comparison with relevant examples. Nice work!

Keep up your practice - and good luck studying!

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Hi @leond2413!
Good to see you here in the SAQ practice, as well as in the stream chat - thanks for practicing this one with us! Your answer here shows a good understanding of historical examples from 1200-1450 as well as skill with comparison - great job!!

Some specific feedback:

  1. This is a really solid answer. You’ve clearly identified a context for state expansion, given specific examples, and connected it to the prompt!

  2. This answer works pretty well. It’s a good comparison - clearly stated in the first sentence and explained in the examples. One thing to pay attention to is making sure that your answer really connects to the topic of the prompt (in this case, political entities.)

  3. It looks like you may have interpreted this prompt really narrowly for this one. It’s a good example of comparison (difference), stated and developed with examples. It’s not very political though. The prompt asked you to use the same two empires from part B, but you didn’t necessarily have to discuss the same theme or topic (religion) for this prompt. Feel free to give yourself freedom to choose examples that fit the prompt best!

Thanks again for joining in on this SAQ!!

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