IBDP History: Study Guide and Notes – New Syllabus 2017-2025

IBDP History- Syllabus content -Prescribed subjects

IBDP History- Prescribed subject 1: Military leaders

This prescribed subject focuses on two well-known medieval military leaders, the Mongol leader Genghis Khan and Richard I of England, and on their impact.

The first case study focuses on Genghis Khan and the expansion of the Mongol Empire in the early 13th century. The second case study focuses on Richard I of England, from his revolt against his father, Henry II, in 1173 until his death in 1199.

Case study 1: Genghis Khan c1200–1227


  • Rise to power; uniting of rival tribes
  • Motives and objectives; success in achieving those objectives
  • Reputation: military prowess; naming as Genghis Khan (1206)
  • Importance of Genghis Khan’s leadership to Mongol success


  • Mongol invasion of China: attacks on the Jin dynasty; capture of Beijing (1215)
  • Mongol invasion of Central Asia and Iran; Mongol invasion of Khwarezmia (1219–1221)
  • Mongol military technology, organization, strategy and tactics Impact

Political impact:

  • administration; overthrowing of existing ruling systems; establishment of Mongol law/Yassa; move towards meritocracy
  • Economic impact: establishment, enhancement and protection of trade routes
  • Social, cultural and religious impact: population displacement; terror, looting and murdering; raiding and destruction of settlements; religious, cultural and technological exchange; religious freedom under the Mongols

Case study 2: Richard I of England (1173–1199)


  • Rise to power: revolt of Richard I and his brothers against Henry II (1173–1174)
  • Reputation: military prowess; chivalry; “Richard the Lionheart”
  • Motives and objectives: defence and recovery of the French lands; defence of the crusader states and recovery of lost territory; success in achieving those


  • Occupation of Sicily (1190–1191); conquest of Cyprus (1191)
  • Involvement in the Third Crusade (1191–1192)
  • The course, outcome and effects of Richard I’s campaigns in France, the Mediterranean and the Middle East 


  • Political impact in England: absence of the king; political instability; revolt of John and Philip in Richard’s absence
  • Political impact in France: growth in prestige and strength of the Capetian monarchy; expansion of royal control
  • Economic impact: raising money for campaigns; taxation of clergy; raising of the ransom after his capture and imprisonment by Leopold V, Duke of Austria and Henry VI, Holy Roman Emperor (1193)
  • Social, cultural and religious impact: anti-Jewish violence; treatment of Muslim prisoners during the Third Crusade

IBDP History- Prescribed subject 2: Conquest and its impact

This prescribed subject focuses on Spanish conquest.

The first case study explores the final stages of Muslim rule in the Iberian peninsula. It focuses on the fall of Granada in 1492—the last Islamic state
on the peninsula. The second case study focuses on the creation of Spain’s Empire in Latin America through the conquest of Mexico and Peru.

Case study 1: The final stages of Muslim rule in Spain

Context and motives

  • Political context in Iberia and Al-Andalus in the late 15th century; internal conflicts and alliances in Granada in the late 15th century
  • Social and economic context in Iberia and Al-Andalus in the late 15th century; coexistence of population; intercultural exchange; economic decline; heavy taxation
  • Motives: political motives; religious motives and the role of the church

Key events and actors

  • The Granada War and the conquest of Granada (1482–1492)
  • Treaty of Granada (1491); Alhambra decree (1492)
  • Key actors: Fernando de Aragón and Isabel de Castilla; Abu Abdallah, last king of Granada


  • Social and demographic changes; persecution, enslavement and emigration; new institutions: encomienda, fueros
  • Forced conversions and expulsions; Marranos, Mudéjars
  • The Spanish Inquisition

Case study 2: The conquest of Mexico and Peru (1519–1551)

Context and motives

  • Political and economic motives for exploration and conquest
  • Religious arguments for the conquest

Key events and actors

  • Hernán Cortés and the campaign against the Aztec Empire; alliances with indigenous populations
  • Francisco Pizarro and the campaign against the Incas; alliances with indigenous populations
  • Key actors: Diego de Almagro, Malinche, Atahualpa, Moctezuma II; Las Casas against Sepúlveda


  • Social and economic impact on indigenous populations; the encomienda and Mita systems
  • Causes and effects of demographic change; spread of disease
  • Cultural interaction and exchange

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