ERIC Number: ED437323
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1998
Reference Count: N/A
Emperor Ashoka of India: What Makes a Ruler Legitimate? A Unit of Study for Grades 7-12.
Johnson, Jean Elliott; Johnson, Donald James
During the age of agriculturally based empires, various conquerors from the western Mediterranean to East Asia brought large population areas under their own centralized authority. Gradually many of these conquerors came to realize that, although military might was necessary to gain control over an area, sheer force of arms was not sufficient to govern effectively and ensure the loyalty and obedience of one's subjects. The Chinese would say: "You can win a kingdom from horseback, but you cannot rule from there." The historic period covered in this unit runs from Alexander of Macedonia's consolidation of his conquests (later fourth-century B.C.E.) to the rise of China's Sui Dynasty (581-618 C.E.) which appropriated Buddhist values and laid conditions for their adaptation in Korea and Japan. The objectives of this unit are: (1) to understand the concept of political legitimacy (what makes people believe that the ruler has the right to rule and they should obey his or her commands); (2) to identify and understand some of the different bases of legitimacy such as power, heredity, the ballot, and moral force; (3) to identify and understand symbols of power such as a crown and other regalia; (4) to understand Ashoka's use of moral authority instead of military might as a basis for legitimacy; (5) to examine the meaning of the "stupa" and how it was associated with political power and legitimacy; and (6) to investigate ways that rulers in Southeast and East Asia adapted the Ashokan model as a source of legitimacy. Establishing legitimacy is a challenge for any leader or government. Therefore, the concepts examined in this unit are applicable to many periods of history, as well as to civics or government courses. The unit also helps to examine cultural diffusion and the spread of religious ideas. Teaching materials that apply to national standards for history are provided. (Contains 16 references.) (BT)
Descriptors: Ancient History, Area Studies, Asian History, Foreign Countries, Government (Administrative Body), Primary Sources, Secondary Education, Social Studies, Student Educational Objectives
The National Center for History in the Schools, Department of History, University of California, Los Angeles, 5262 Bunche Hall, 405 Hilgard Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1473. Fax: 310-267-2103; Web site:
Publication Type: Guides - Classroom - Teacher
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Practitioners; Teachers
Authoring Institution: National Center for History in the Schools, Los Angeles, CA.; ASIA Society, New York, NY.
Identifiers - Location: India