At the turn of the sixteenth century, most of the era's expanding empires faced the same challenge: minority rule. Whether in the Americas or in Asia, small bands of military elites conquered vast new territories, thereby gaining the right to rule over huge populations. The ascendent Muslim Mughals, for example, moved south from Central Asia to India, where they governed an enormous restive population of Hindus and other non-Muslims. The Aztecs, in their conquest of the Yucatan peninsula, ruled over peoples who shared neither their culture nor their worldview. And European global expansion in this period brought the continents's armies face to face with peoples they had never before encountered, in places they did not fully understand. These early modern empires changed the ethnic, linguistic, economic, and religious landscape of the world, creating new cultural synergies and new political possibilities even as they foreclosed others.
Ed. Note: The context for the paragraph above was the author's acknowledgment that much of the early Muslim Ottoman empire was populated by Christians, with Muslims being the ruling minority.