The Twenty-five Years that Changed the World

Our four major civilizations stood as follows below in 1400 when the 300 years of the second book in our trilogy began.

Song China (960-1279) had been the pinnacle of civilization, but in 1127 lost their northern half before being entirely subsumed under the Yuan dynasty of Kublai Khan in 1279. But their standing at the peak of civilization returned with the founding of the indigenous Ming dynasty in 1368. This was assured by the dynasty’s second great emperor who took control in 1402 after a brief skirmish.

In India, the Islamic Delhi Sultanate, dominant across the Hindu’s subcontinent for nearly 300 years, had just been laid waste in 1398 by Tamerlane, the great warlord of Central Asia. The sultanate would experience an interregnum from which it would never fully recover, and Islamic conquerors would come again.

In the Middle East, a fledgling Ottoman Empire was decimated in 1402 by the same Tamerlane. There would follow a difficult eleven-year interregnum, but the empire would find its footing with another run of strong sultans and enter an exceptionally successful second stage that would lead the empire to world prominence.


The Christian West, tucked away on the western peninsula of Eurasia, was in the midst of its Hundred Years’ War between leading kingdoms, England and France. Perhaps most notable was that Henry the Navigator, whose vision would lead Europe so fatefully out on to the seas, had just been born.

When reviewing the events of major civilizations during these 300 years, we found that each had its primary happening in the brief quarter century from 1501 to 1526 as indicated in the Table of Contents. This is consistent in a limited way with our assertion of the existence of what we term the “harmonies of history” presented in the prequel to this trilogy, Our Axial Age.

As with Tales of Invasions and Empires, our account is carried by colorful personalities and events:

  • The imposing eunuch admiral whose treasure ships were the grandest armadas in Chinese history.
  • The magnificent Ottoman sultan, “lord of the age” secured the empire, yet married a slave.
  • The founding of the Mughal Empire whose Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal for his beloved wife who died in childbirth—this “teardrop on eternity”.
  • The two great contemporary geniuses who, for all their extraordinary art, were far apart.
  • The personable father of science and the enigmatic playwright who heralded a new age.
  • The mystic Muslim and the stubborn Christian who secured their faith’s structural division.
  • The bold conquistador and the too cautious emperor who sealed the fate of two continents.
  • Moscow’s Grand Prince and Byzantium’s Princess who set Russia on course toward today.
  • The emperors whose refusal to lead brought down China’s mighty Ming.
  • The “king of kings” of a too much forgotten empire, the steppingstone to India’s future.

Here again connections with today are stressed throughout and specifically in the introduction, “Touching Today,” and the finishing section “Concise Review.”