The Scientific Revolution in Western Europe

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The Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment were revolutionary for Western Europe and the world. This is because they opened up new ideas through philosophy and science. Their characteristics were scientific ideas that contradicted prior religious beliefs. Additionally, the Enlightenment had characteristics that were full of ideas and innovation to improve people and society. A new form of religion called Deism became popular. Deists believe that God created the Earth, but then left it and is not an “active power.” Tolerance and progress were two ideas that were promoted.

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Many of the ideas and creations through the Scientific Revolution were made to help understand our world.

Through both revolutions or periods, freedom became a popular opinion and led to future revolutions. Some of the major thinkers were: John Locke, Nicolaus Copernicus, Isaac Newton, Francis Bacon, Montesquieu and more. Nicolaus Copernicus was an astronomer and a priest. He tried to calculate the speed planets moved but was never able to get it right. He came up with the Heliocentric Theory where he thought the Earth rotated around the sun. Another one of his theories that went against the church was that Earth was not the center of the universe. Tycho Brahe and Johann Kepler developed the Scientific Method and recorded planets movements as ellipses. Galileo was another astronomer developed the pendulum clock, discovered craters on the moon, developed the telescope, and discovered the Milky Way. Two of his books were banned by the church. Galileo discovered and created many foundations that would eventually show the accuracy and truth of other scientists’ theories. John Harrison determined longitude. Maria Sibylla Merian is the Founder of Entomology and studied the metamorphosis of caterpillars. Isaac Newton is one of the most famous scientists from this period and is known for his Three Laws of Motion that are related to his discovery of gravity. Rene Descartes made the differences between mass and weight. He also is famous for his quote “I think, therefore I am” and popularizing deductive reasoning. Francis Bacon used the Inductive Scientific Method where he collects data and focuses on this to create a conclusion. John Locke had very influential ideas that impacted the creation of the government of the United States of America. Locke believed in people having rights such as: “life, liberty, and property.” He also believed that if the government violates these personal rights, the people can overthrow the government. Montesquieu wrote “The Spirit of Laws” where he discussed the ideas of checks and balances within the government branches. This is where the three branches of government, Judicial, Executive, and Legislative, come into play. Voltaire was a huge writer on every topic available. He wrote “Candide” where he argued the idea of Philosophical Optimism. Voltaire is also famous for his idea of freedom of speech and religion. Diderot compiled an Encyclopedia of 26 volumes (1751) with all different topics and information. Jean-Jacques Rousseau is famous for his Social Contract. He believed humans were born good but have been corrupted by their environment, people will conform and go against themselves, democracy will lead to freedom. Mary Wollstonecraft is known for her promotion of women’s rights and how a man’s and woman’s brain is identical, so they should have equal rights. Finally, Adam Smith is the Father of Modern Capitalism and wrote “Wealth of Nations.” This book promoted Laissez- Faire policies where the government takes a step back to let the businesses compete and be free.

The short term impact of the Atlantic Slave trade on Africa was the Gold Coast. This is from where most of the slaves were originally taken from. This is short term because it was the starting point before slavery expanded. A weakened system and lower population are other short term impacts on Africa because the skilled people were taken away as slaves. The short term impact of the Atlantic Slave trade on the Americas was some businessmen and farmers gaining wealth and power. The short-term wealth and power of many Americans was due to the Atlantic Slave Trade. Moreover, families and communities were divided over personal opinions over slavery, in favor or against. There were many long term impacts of the Atlantic Slave trade on Africa. One of them is neocolonialism where the European countries come in and take all of their natural resources such as oil, diamonds, gold, and more. Another long term impact on Africa is impoverishment. The European countries in control were able to keep their control and gain wealth while the African people suffered and were cheated. The Europeans brought in guns and this increased violence, war, genocide, and the amount of war prisoners. The long term impact of the Atlantic Slave trade on the Americas was setting the tone for slavery. This led to hard, labor-intensive work, and a harsh environment. The Americas became a powerful business empire through the sugar, cotton, and tobacco plantations. Another long term impact was Jim-Crow laws, segregation, and racial biases. In the Americas, a reason for part of the Civil War was slavery. Diseases were also spread with the ships, livestock, and trading. Africans were imported as slaves because the Slavic people could not withstand the heat and humidity on sugar plantations. African people were strong and fit for the climate. The Portuguese already had trading relations with Africa so they expanded their product beyond natural resources. Native Americans were not used as slaves on sugar plantations because they were not as skilled as the African slaves. Additionally, the Native Americans died from diseased based on European contact. The African slaves had interacted with the Europeans so they had immunity to smallpox and more.

The Black Death was caused by fleas that were on rats. The rats moved throughout towns on carts, animals, ships, and more. European civilization during this time was unhygienic and unsanitary so it allowed the disease to spread faster. This lead the Europeans to dominate many aspects of modern world history into the 20th century because of religion and capitalism. Due to a vast percentage of the population dying, people were able to restart their lives. Guilds, for craftsman, lessened their rules and regulations which allowed more creativity, competition, and prosperity. This led to the creation of the middle class, the Bourgeois. There was a high demand for supplies with little people to do the job. Capitalism and Mercantilism became popular financial patterns. They were a trade empire and expanded their trade. Queen Isabella of Spain used financing from bankers to unite Spain and to finance Columbus’ voyage. All of these ideas led to investments and people gaining wealth. Europeans also dominated during this time with religion. Because of all the upheaval the plague caused, many people turned to religion. The Jewish people were blamed for the plague but many people believed their sins were the cause of God’s punishment. Many people became devout Christians, monks, and put their trust and hope in the church. This led to the church becoming one of the most powerful bodies to rule Europe during the 19th-20th centuries.

The Columbian Exchange was the trading of plants, animals, food, ideas, and more between the Europeans and African region with the Americas. Examples of these objects are: smallpox, syphilis, horses, donkey, oranges, apples, potatoes, chocolate, tomatoes, vanilla beans, coffee, sheep, and cattle. Some of the positive impacts on the world from the Columbian Exchange were cultural diffusion and new products. Many of the foods that spread are a current staple of the countries. For example, Italy is known for its pizza and Italian food, Ireland is known for its potatoes, and America is known for its apple pie. There were destructive impacts on the world from the Columbian Exchange. Diseases killed off many populations and lines of people and royalty. Many countries have become dependent upon one food source. An example of this is Ireland its potatoes. The potatoe allowed the population to increase, but the Irish Potato Famine starved 1.5 million people. The United States is dependent upon corn for fuel and as a food item.

The primary causes of the Protestant Reformation were the Crusades and the split of the Catholic Church. The Crusades were holy wars were Europeans fought over holy land and trying to gain power through trading. The split of the Catholic church was where one pope tried to move the church away from Rome while another stayed in Rome. This meant the Catholic Church was vulnerable. The Catholic Church would ban books, old texts, and keep the text against them hidden from the public eye. Humanism was another cause. Humanism is a philosophical movement that focused on humans and personal-wants rather than basing everything on religion. Political and economic issues such as required tithes and church-owned land created tension. Finally, the final cause is the printing press because it was able to spread rebel ideas efficiently. Christianity during the reformation was questioned and reshaped. The morals of the church, such as being able to pay your sins off or to get into heaven, were questioned and prodded. The power and wealth of the church was brought to the people’s attention. Martin Luther is famous for coming out with his 95 Theses against the church. Luther’s new perspective of Christianity was creating a religion that was based off of information found in the Bible, not made up fluff. Luther made communion available to anyone, there was no hierarchy or anyone unworthy of teaching the Bible, translated the Bible from Latin to German, and more. The Catholic Counter-Reformation happened because people were fed up with the Catholic Church. People wanted to focus on their relationship with God, not treat the Pope like a king. If the Catholic Church wanted to remain intact, some changes had to be made. The Council of Trent began their reformation in response to the Protestant Reformation. This council set the Catholic Church’s standards and religious topics were debated and resolved to have a platform. This resulted in the church promoting their dismay at the Protestants but offering to re-accept the “lost souls.” Additionally, with the set rules came changes in behavior. Catholics were told to serve their communities and to help the poor, Jesuits came about to spread the new and improved word, and communion was reformed but still sacred. From 1618 to 1648, there was The Thirty Years War where 20% of Europe died.

There was a need for greater and more expansive European, American, and Japanese Imperialism during the latter part of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th century. This is because all of these powerhouses were annexing countries and needed new resources. The Industrial Revolution strained the resource supply of many countries. Capitalism was on the rise and imperialism led to increasing trade and helping the economy. All of this conquering led to nationalism and countries wanting to be recognized for their major accomplishments. The final reason for imperialism was a search for cheap labor. Technologies that made this possible were guns, ship advancements, advanced militaries, the steamboat, vaccines, opium, accurate weaponry, long-range weaponry, improved bullets and muskets, and navigating the ocean by using time, longitude and latitude, and the stars. Values and ideologies that made this possible were Christianity, medical advancements, and literature surrounding science. Louis Pasteur is known for popularizing vaccinations during this time. Joseph Lister is known for his antiseptic surgeries. These medical advancements were very helpful because Europeans not immune to the diseases of North and South Africa killed many people. The Spanish were notorious for expanding into countries in order to convert the people into Christians. Charles Darwin wrote “On the Origin of Species.”

This scientific reading explains his theory of natural selection. In addition to natural selection, his idea of Social Darwinism emerged. Social Darwinism is related to natural selection where some groups evolve quicker than others, making them more superior in a sense. This concept was commonly used to support Imperialism. Some of the results in South Africa were massive plantations and the relocation of tribes. The Dutch were the first people to invade but eventually Britain seemed to have the strongest hold over the people. Tribes were forced to move to new, limited lands that impacted their lifestyle. The white plantation owners ran their farms just like the ones in the Americas. Slaves were forced to work long hours and the whites were seen as the supreme race. Many of the tribes, especially Kenya, revolted in their areas against the British rule. Some of the results in India were many town improvements because of British input. Transportation systems were updated and added onto. Communication systems, such as the typewriter, helped connect the country. The food supply increased as food was imported and the rate of production rose. The larger food supply left less people starving, helping sustain and increase India’s population. The British were able to hold so much power in this country because India was split between the Hindus and the Muslims. Each side treated the other unfairly socially and economically. India had luxurious and incredible arrays of spices. This made other European countries want to set up trading deals and posts within the country. During the booming period of imperialism, it was a race against the clock to find the shortest route to India. Vietnam was imperialized by the French. In this case, almost all of the benefits of the situation went to the French. A major change was irrigation. The French wanted to increase Vietnam’s production of food in order to export it, not to feed the people. Rice was one of the most popular crops. The French also raised taxes and had forced labor projects, which were usually made with the intent to help the French more. Many Vietnamese people went uneducated and many were not exposed to new medical advancements, contrasting French statements. In short, Imperialism usually only benefited the country imperializing another.

The causes of the American Revolution were: The French and Indian War, the Enlightenment, Britain’s policies, and the high cost of products from overseas. These led to the revolution because people were in debt, angered, and wanted freedom. The causes of the French Revolution was the absolutism Ancien Regime, economic issues, debt, famine, toll of the 30 Years War, heavy taxes, the Enlightenment, and the American Revolution. All of the Enlightenment ideas and freedoms from America inspired the French. The people wanted to fix their economy, survive, and to be free. Louis XIV and Cardinal Richelieu had lots of power and began the absolutism “reign.” The national debt led the treasury to fail so they pushed more taxes onto the people. A result of the American Revolutions was the fight for personal freedoms sparked other nations who wanted the same thing. The French helped America during this time so they too wanted their own freedoms. The American Revolution ended with the Treaty of Paris (1783). The Americans won and gained their independence, creating a democracy, the U.S. Constitution, and electing George Washington as the first president. The results of the French Revolution was the assassination of King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette. A republic with a legislature similar to the United State’s was created. Napoleon Bonaparte overthrew the National Assembly/ the legislature and became emperor. He was very successful in his battles and was able to win lots of land. The Napoleonic Code gave the people some rights regarding individuals and property. Additionally, the church’s power declined which gave power to the people. The French Revolution created the middle class and some social classes changed, the lowest class felt the largest impact of the revolution.”

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The Scientific Revolution in Western Europe. (2021, Apr 24). Retrieved from