The Foundations of Early Modern Europe (1,000 years of European History in one hour)
Thesis To counter the chaos after the fall of Rome, Europe created a society based around religion, order and hierarchy that dominated for nearly 1,000 years. When that social structure began to collapse, the beliefs and assumptions behind its institutions fell apart, destroying the power structure of European societyand opening the continent to a flood of new ideas. As Europe began to reform and rebuild itself, it created a new society that would form the essence of the Modern Western World.
Part I: To counter the chaos that resulted from the fall of the Roman Empire, Europe created a society based around religion, order and hierarchy that dominated for nearly 1,000 years.
The Effects of Rome’s Fall in 476 AD • one of the oddest phenomena in history: Progress went backwards in Western Europe • Level of technology and knowledge decreases • Trade disruption • Decline of cities: population shifts out to regressive, agrarian society • Decline of arts and learning • Loss of a common language (Latin) • All this leads to a major, disunifying void
Rise of Christianity • Christianity fills the void left by the fall of the Roman Empire—It becomes the unifying force in Europe. • Split between Christians in Eastern Europe (Orthodox—centered in Constantinople) and Western Europe (Catholic—centered in Rome) • Christianity was popular among the poor because it promised eternal salvation (if you were “good”) in return for enduring their short, nasty lives on Earth (…and life for the poor of Europe did suck) • As Christianity spreads, the Church becomes more powerful and develops a hierarchy (Pope, cardinals, bishops, etc…) and becomes very interested in protecting its power and wealth.
Vikings ravage Europe • Seafaring warriors from Scandinavia • Around 800-1000 Europe generally warms up • Leads to more food in Northern areas = more people • Scandinavia gets too crowded and warrior culture leads to looking for new places to conquer • Viking attacks occur all over Europe—smash-and-grab jobs • Incredibly quick and brutal • Not just on coast (Viking long boats could sail in 3 feet of water) • Eventually the King of France gives the Vikings some land to stop attacking him and they settle down in an area of France called Normandy • Beginning of Feudal system
Spread of Feudalism • A System built on rights and obligations led to lords gave protection to serfs in return for food and work • Status determined a person’s prestige and power • Class was inherited – very little chance of moving up – and much easier to go down than up • Spreads throughout Western continent and then moves to England with Norman Conquest of 1066 • Manors & serfs • Consisted of the lord’s manor house, a church, market, workshops and serfs houses – usually a few square miles • The lord provided serfs with housing, farmland and protection from bandits and other knights gave up freedom for protection • All peasants (free or not) owed the lord and church certain duties ,i.e. demesne and tithe • Manors are generally self sufficient but produce very little surplus until the three-field system and heavy wheeled plow
Feudalism What feudalism is supposed to look like What feudalism really looked like
Medieval Life • Short and generally nasty • Justice as harsh and painful (execution and torture) • War was commonplace – knights and castle were most common symbols of it • Religion was all-consuming • Church intertwined with state • Cathedrals everywhere • Most education and knowledge controlled by the church • Vast majority of people lived off the land; almost never traveled more than 25 miles from home; generally illiterate; ¼ of babies dies before they reached one year, if you were lucky to live to 21, you might live to age 60
Executions: who’s more harsh? • By one reliable estimate the proportion of people executed annually in England during the Middle Ages was as great at the proportion killed by the Aztecs in human sacrifices.
High Middle Ages– exit slip Give three specific pieces of evidence that support part I of thesis
Parliament, Magna Carta & Common Law • Normans (from France) conquer England in 1066, and bring feudalism to England • In order to strengthen their power, later kings set up a common system of courts, laws, etc. • Becomes the basis for common law & judicial precedent • As later kings try and revoke these laws, two checks are put in place to stop this: • Magna Carta – signed in 1215 by King John, basis for Anglo-American civil liberties • Parliament – legislative branch of English government made up of two houses • Originally used as a way for the king to levy taxes
Feudalism begins to fall apart (parts of it will exist for a long time, though) • Here are some major causes of its collapse…
Part II: When that social structure began to collapse, the beliefs and assumptions behind its institutions fell apart, destroying the power structure of European society and opening the continent to a flood of new ideas
Hundred Years War 1337-1453France vs England • Begins as a dispute over succession rights to the French throne • Two main phases: England wins, England loses • Ends with French kicking English out of continent • Importance: • Key changes in warfare, like the longbow, means the end of knights • Nationalism in England and France begins • Strengthens French monarchy and weakens English nobles
The Catholic Church is very, very, very, very corrupt • As the one thing that ties Europe together, Catholic Church is everywhere • Controlled birth, death, marriage, salvation, education, etc. • Functioned like a massive multi-national corporation with its own state and army and the pope as its chief executive officer • Church officials from the pope on down was known to break their vows – celibacy, poverty, etc. and abuse power
1200-1400 AD:Catholic Church Corruption • Many village priests married and had children-this was against Church rules • Bishops sold positions in the Church for money—a practice called simony • Church started to sell indulgences—get out Purgatory cards. Church getting rich off the poor! • Various groups revolt against the corruption of the church.
Poem Criticizing the Avignon Papacyby Raimon de Cornet (14th century troubadour) I see the pope his sacred trust betray,For while the rich his grace can gain alway,His favors from the poor are aye withholden.He strives to gather wealth as best he may,Forcing Christ's people blindly to obey,So that he may repose in garmets golden.The vilest traffickers in souls are allHis chapmen, and for gold a prebend's stallHe'll sell them, or an abbacy or miter.And to us he sends clowns and tramps who crawlVending his pardon briefs from cot to hall--Letters and pardons worthy of the writer,Which leaves our pokes, if not our souls, the lighter.
Black Plague • Also known as Black Death, Black Plague, etc. – can be found quite accurately portrayed in Monty Python’s “bring out your dead” scene • Causes nasty sores and swelling called bubos • Becomes a pandemic (universal disease) • Comes from Asia via rats then fleas • Spread over Europe over 4 years around 1347, starting in Italy and moving north and west. • Kills 1/3 of Europe’s population – the equivalent of more than 100 million people in the US today – and comes back periodically • Impact of Plague: • City and town population falls • Trade decreases so prices go up • Serfs leave manor looking for more money, which the nobles resist, causing revolts. • Jews are scapegoated and often killed • Church loses prestige when it can’t do anything to stop the spread
Black Plague– exit slip What part of European society was destroyed by 1. Hundred Years War 2. Corruption of the Church 3 Black Plague
Part III: As Europe began to reform and rebuild itself it created a new society that would form the essence of the Modern Western World.
Essential Questions • How did the Renaissance differ from the Middle Ages? • How does it form the basis of much of modern Western thought?
Renaissance 1300-1600 • Marked by study of classics and move from god-centric to people-centric view of things. • New focus on the individual • Central feature- humanism—focused on human potential and achievements • Celebrated life on earth in the present
Renaissance 1300-1600 • Word literally means “rebirth” (in French) • What was reborn was a Classical (Greek & Roman) ideas—art, architecture, philosophy, literature, finance, views of the world, etc. These had been suppressed by the Church (WHY??) • Began in Italy—mainly Florence—in 14th century, and moved to the rest of Italy—like Venice—in 15th century, as it spread through Southern Europe • Then spread to Northern Europe, through Holland and Flanders and onto England and Denmark and Sweden. • Mainly affected wealthy/educated people
Renaissance Humanism finds many avenues of expression • Painting and sculpture-more realistic, less focused on religious subjects, perspective, individuality of subjects, celebrated the human body • Literature-writing in the vernacular, the native language, not Latin; portrayed individuality in their characters • Science – started to explore anatomy and engineering (Leonardo da Vinci) • Politics—concerned with how politics really works here on earth not with abstract Christian ideology (Niccolò Machiavelli) • Everyday life—was to be enjoyed for its own sake, here and now on earth, people should not deny themselves. The individual and his aspirations (goals or ambitions) are important.
Why Italy? Location. Location. Location • First European nation affected by the plague = first country to return to health and city life • Church weakened by plague and closest to Italy = more secular approach, more concern for the arts • Commercial Revolution. Wealthy due to trade from the Crusades = more exchange of people and ideas • Loose confederation of states = much easier to change one or two parts, like Venice or Florence than a whole country, like England • Had most of the classics buried in their land = easier to find through excavation and searching in the depths of churches • Unique systems of governments = allowed just enough freedom for arts to flourish • Warm = more food, more people, more specialization
Florence (Firenze) • Renaissance began with birth of Francesco Petrarch in 1304 in Florence • Florence controlled by large families, ruled kind of like early mafia • Also somewhat resembles democracy—citizens vote on certain things (but are bribed) • Rash of famous Florentines: Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio, the Medici family, Brunelleschi, Michelangelo, Leonardo, Donatello, Machiavelli