“The Impact of Isolationism, Modernization, Absolutism, and War: A Look at the British Empire and China in the 18th Century”


Hi everyone.
This unit is going to seem a little random.  It’s basically looking at four topics that are important, but don’t fit anywhere else: the beginning of Japan’s isolationism, Peter the Great modernizing Russia, French absolutism, and the Seven Years’ War and the rise of the British Empire.  You should be able to explain all four of these are important by the time we’re done and, as we get into next week, you should be able to see the consequences of these.  Be sure to watch the video too: it does a better job explaining the changes in the British Empire than I could.
Your discussion topic this week also deals with the British Empire, particularly its relationship with China.  I want you to think about how the British and Chinese responded to each other when the British tried to open up trade with China.  Really think about the geopolitics at work and the cultures of both countries. I want you to look at the two sources I’ve included here: the Qianlong Emperor’s letter to George III and Robert Clive’s letter to Pitt the Elder.  You c an compare and contrast them, if you want, but I really want you to think about these in geopolitical and cultural terms.  The world was changing in the late 18th century, so really think about how the British and Chinese were responding to those changes and try to explain that.



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