1. Making comparisons: To what extent did these four early modern states face similar problems and devise similar solutions? How did they differ? In particular, how did the rulers of these states deal with subordinates? How did they use violence? What challenges to imperial authority did they face?
2. Assessing spectacle: In what different ways was spectacle, royal splendor, or public display evident in the documents? How would you define the purpose of such display? How effective do you think spectacle has been in consolidating state authority?
3. Distinguishing power and authority: Some scholars have made a distinction between “power,” the ability of a state to coerce its subjects into some required behavior, and “authority,” the ability of a state to persuade its subjects to do its bidding voluntarily by convincing them that it is proper, right, or natural to do so. What examples of power and authority can you find in these documents? How were power and authority related? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each, from the viewpoint of ambitious rulers?
4. Comparing past and present: It is important to recognize that early modern states differed in many ways from twentieth- or twenty-firstcentury states. How would you define those differences? Consider, among other things, the personal role of the ruler, the use of violence, the means of establishing authority, and the extent to which the state could shape the lives of its citizens.
5. Comparing insiders’ and outsiders’ accounts: What differences do you notice between the two passages written by monarchs themselves and the two composed by foreign observers? What advantages and limitations do these two types of sources offer to historians seeking to use them as evidence?
After reading the section of chapter 14 called “Commerce in People: The Atlantic Slave Trade” (pages 620-631) in the Strayer and Nelson textbook, please comment on the following questions. As always, your comments should be written in grammatically correct sentences (not bullet points). They should take to the time to explain your thinking and include some quotes and/or examples from the textbook as support. Here are the questions:
What was distinctive about the Atlantic slave trade? How do we explain its rise in the 16th century? What roles did Europeans and African play in it? In what ways did it transform African societies?
Please keep in mind that these questions have to do with the trade or commerce in enslaved people, not the experiences of enslaved people in the Americas.