The Reformation in European Civilization
The Renaissance and The Protestant Reformation, and the age of discovery, exploration, and exploitation transformed European Civilization into a more sophisticated and cosmopolitan civilization. The Renaissance is known for being the rebirth of learning and culture. It spread across Europe and helped to get a jumpstart in exploration, trade, and even war. The Black Death had killed off most of the people in Europe leaving those that survived to receive greater wealth and start over. This was due to inheritance or because of the need for supply and demand with having less workers had lead to increased wages.
Renaissance art began to form and was not only used to simply look pretty in households, but was also created to capture the beauty of the real world creating different perspectives. Along with art, advances in learning had began as well. New discoveries in chemistry started to increase the use of gun powder and new math techniques made it easier to find your way around the world. Because new Navigation was created, Christopher Columbus discovered America and the more research that was done, the more was found out about the world. New continents were found and new cultures were discovered. All of these scientific discoveries lead to what is known as the printing press which that alone, changed the world. The printing press allowed for books to be mass-produced for the very first time. This changed literature and history forever and allowed religion to be spread across the globe. The reformation started in 1517 when Luther made a list of his 95 theses and nailed it to the church door. People began to read these theses and spread the word which made the church angry. Luther claimed that what the church had been teaching was not in the Bible and that the pope’s right to be in charge should be taken away. This caused him to be separated from the church and since he did not retract his statements, he was excommunicated.
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Because of Luther, the reformation changed European civilization through religion because people had different opinions on the Bible and started to do things that were not apart of their religion. For example, preachers would sell indulgences to people and make them believe that if they bought something from them, they automatically went to heaven when confessing what they did wrong. It provided the middle class a new religious legitimacy for their role in society and began female education and literacy. Violence, war, and religious coexistence also started from the protestant reformation. The age of discovery and exploration was when European sailors and ships left the Old World and set off to find something new. Originally what they found was called the other world but later began calling it the New World. Along with finding new continents, Europeans found natives and at first wanted to befriend them. Once gold and silver was discovered among the natives that was when European exploitation began. During the second voyage Christopher Columbus took, one of his captains took over a thousand Indians and held them captive. Five-hundred were taken on board of Spanish ships and 200 had died at sea while the others were treated cruelly. Europeans had also discovered spices in foreign countries and searched for an immediate trade route to India and the Far East to receive spices such as pepper, cinnamon, and cloves. Jared Diamond wrote the book, Guns, Germs, and Steel which talks about the Europeans and how they discovered and conquered the world.
This book mainly focuses on how European language and culture dominate the world today. Diamond argues that there is nothing special about European people or their culture except that they were in the right place at the right time. He claims that they took advantage of the opportunities that were given to them through climate, geography and the Middle East. Jared Diamond also states that race is not a factor because people are pretty much the same as one another and that if it had been anyone else that had settled in the middle east they would have reacted the same way. He supports his statement by including the common patterns of different conquests. The main reasoning Diamond uses, is that the best domesticated crops and animals are all native but can easily adapt to the climate of Europe. Wheat, barely, and other native crops are what was spread widely to Europe. The spread of agriculture was an example of how technology and culture tends to spread. The distance of these crops were a huge deal because during this time if someone wanted to go somewhere, their only form of transportation was by walking.
The next major step in change was the domestication of horses. This lead to more domesticated animals being brought over and used for their wool, milk, and food. Fourteen domesticated animals made their way to Europe and out of those, thirteen of them were native. Jared Diamond talks about how Europe did not have a lot of resources to begin with but was able to do significantly well once they found a way to get them. The crops and animals that were brought back to Europe were able to live a sustainable life because of the climate and soil in Europe. Jared Diamond believes that geography gave the Europeans luck which provided them with surpluses. Surpluses allowed them to make tools and to be able to make them more productively. However, the people overused the land of what is known as the Fertile Crescent and now because of that, the Middle East is doing poorly. The Europeans used their geographic advantages to an advantage and that is how they were able to conquer so much.