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The Middle Ages and The Renaissance. Western Europe ~500 (fall of Rome) - ~1500 ~1500 - ~1775 (Revolutions). Period of Change → Renaissance. ~1300: clock towers constructed 1348: Black Death weakens faith in God 14th C Italian artists begin to paint using depth perception

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the middle ages and the renaissance

The Middle Ages andThe Renaissance

Western Europe

~500 (fall of Rome) - ~1500

~1500 - ~1775 (Revolutions)

period of change renaissance
Period of Change → Renaissance
  • ~1300: clock towers constructed
  • 1348: Black Death weakens faith in God
  • 14th C Italian artists begin to paint using depth perception
  • 1453: Constantinople falls to Turks; Greek Christians take their knowledge to Europe.
  • 1455: Gutenberg prints first book, the Bible
  • 1492: Europe discovers the Americas
  • 1517: Martin Luther begins Protestant Reformation. Counter-Reformation begins.
  • ~1520: Copernicus discovers that the Earth rotates around the sun
western europe religion and language

Roman Catholicism

with pockets of pagans that slowly succumb to Christianity

with Muslims in Spain

with Jews throughout

Latin is language of diplomacy and all academic fields


Protestant Reformation

more than one way to be a Christian

all pagan (witchcraft; Muslim, Jewish) rites persecuted

Latin slowly replaced by vernacular

Greek gains status

Western Europe: religion and language
western europe social organization

Local rule, as in



tiny kingdoms

Hierarchical social structure

power of kings more ceremonial than actual

nobility holds power

Little mobility

between places

between social classes


Nation states formed from formerly independent locales

divine right of kings empowers royals

nobility loses power

growing middle class of merchants, doctors, lawyers, clergy, etc.

More mobility

between places

between social classes

Western Europe: social organization
western europe literature

literary forms

epic poetry

ballads, poems, songs

romances--courtly love tales

frame tales

religious drama

saints’ lives

More literate than ancient world


New literary forms



secular drama

political, reformatory. theological tracts

nonfiction prose


fictional prose

More literate than medieval world

Western Europe: literature
did women have a renaissance
Did women have a Renaissance?
  • No, because . . .
    • Revival of Roman ideas includes Roman misogyny
    • Protestant Reformation
      • loss of convent as path to education & independence
      • only males allowed unmediated relationships to God
    • Loss of medieval piety and surety of salvation
      • decline of importance of Mary and female saints
      • new division into few “elect” and many “damned” & men decide that men more likely to be “elect” & women more likely to be “depraved human flesh”
No, because . . .
    • Social class slowly becomes a less important mark of status, and gender becomes a more important mark of status.
    • Medieval labor shortages led to good jobs for women, but shortages temporary.
    • Renaissance labor market much tighter
      • because subsequent plagues have lower death rates
      • because of increased migration from rural to urban areas
      • women get jobs as household servants, not as craftsmen or shopkeepers.
      • guild membership once open, now closed to women
    • Advent of syphilis in Europe ~ 1500: intensifies sexual double standard