West out of the Dark Ages and Modern Western Society
There was a chain of events that brought the West out of the Dark Ages and into Modern Western Society. The term “the Dark Ages” is affiliated to the time period taking place in the European Middle Ages from 5th to 15th century AD. Firstly, the Dark ages started with the fall of the Roman Empire which was then followed by the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery with a few major events in between. All these events led the Society into a more modern and mature state of being. There was a major decline in population during the process. Even though there was a big decline, over the time population managed to exceed its original percent. People moved from one place, urban areas, to another, rural areas. Many philosophers came together and shared the ideas that they had and what they discovered. Art and inventions were the main thing that developed modernity. What started it all was the fall of the Roman Empire.
The Roman Empire slowly lost control over its competing parties as they were much stronger and more organized. Many battles were fought by the Romans but, they still managed to lose. As the Roman Empire slowly fell apart in 400 AD, the newcomers began wandering across Rome which were the invaders. They were often illiterate people who spoke different languages, which replaced the more developed Romans. Military expenses increased during the 3rd century due to the war with the Neo Persian Empire. Because the army increased in size, the need for revenue led to increasing taxes. Eventually everything got better.
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Western Europe began was thought to have been improving economically due to records. Records showed that the temperature began to rise up. The population and farms saw an increase as well. This meant that crops began to grow and more people started appearing due to the fertility of the soil. By 750 the ones that were left, from all the war and death that came with it, they began to focus on education once again. Since the weather began rising, the people fell into a regular way of life. For the most part it was a good foundation for a new start but, tragedy decided to strike again.
In 850 AD Italy went through a time of confusion. Italy was split into many parts. The bubonic plague began west of China. It silently moved west through trade routes. In 1347, the Black Death began spreading throughout Europe. Amazingly the killings of the Black Death improved the economy, allowing wealthy people to invest in art and display, and engage in secular scholarly study. This also allowed noble craftsmen to move up to minor nobility since the social structures were shaken up. The working class of Europe also started to gain new power. There was a lot less of them and it was harder for if you were a surviving nobleman with an estate since there weren’t enough men to tend your fields, shear your sheep, etc. These workers were in demand and it gave them more power. Which then leads to this next event.
In England 1377, tax collectors noticed that many laborers, shepherds, and farmers seemed to have disappeared. There were no birth records, no baptism papers. This was a massive tax revolt on its way and it was widespread and organized. Because of the plague, taxes were very high. Few taxpayers meant there was less revenue and citizens were fed up. As people were revolting, an Oxford professor John Wycliffe had begun to criticize the church. He gained a large following for his theological teachings.
The Renaissance was a cultural, political, scientific, and intellectual movement in Europe during the 14th and 17th century. It is one of the most important periods of human development since the fall of Rome. It developed philosophy, literature, and art. Renaissance art was based on realism and naturalism. Artist like Leonardo Da Vinci, who made artworks such as the Last Supper and the Mona Lisa, Michelangelo, who made sculptures and architecture projects such as the sculpture of david and the Last Judgement all made pieces from their perspective of their current era. Leonardo da Vinci incorporated scientific principles into his artwork which would help him with body anatomy and such.
The Renaissance started in Florence, Italy which was also where the Medici family ruled. They had a lot of influence on the growth of the Renaissance. The Medici family consisted of bankers and wool merchants. They affected the growth of the renaissance because they would sponsor artists. Which meant that they would pay for commissions for major art pieces. This got artist a lot of attention and helped them get their art out there.
Then came the Age of Exploration. The age of exploration was a period of time from the early 15th century continuing into the early 17th century. During this time European ships traveled around the world in search of new trading routes and partners to trade with. Some of the most famous people from this era were Christopher Columbus, John Cabot, and Ferdinand Magellan.
The age of Exploration brought new technologies and ideas that expanded from the Renaissance and into modern day society. This includes cartography, navigation, and shipbuilding. Shipbuilding allowed for more exploration to happen. They sent voyagers out to discover more masses of land and managed to discover shipping routes to the Americas, India and the Far East. This in turn helped with tradings and people are more aware of what was actually outside their little space bubble which they rarely got out of.
The Scientific Revolution was a series of events that brought modern science out during the early modern period. For the subject mathematics, the Renaissance made a great contribution to the rise of modern science. Humanists included arithmetic (mathematics having to do with properties and manipulating numbers) and geometry in the liberal arts category. However, Leonardo da Vinci recognized that the world was ruled by “number”. Renaissance scholars made a great contribution to mathematics by translating and publishing in 1544 some previously unknown works of Archimedes. The creation of printing was remarkable. Of course, many countries contributed to it. For example, China made block printing on wood. Finally, three men of, Mainz Gutenberg, Johann Fust, and Peter Schöffer made the final accommodations by casting metal type and locking it into a wooden press. This invention spread like wildfire and transformed the conditions of life.
In 1517 German theologian and monk, Martin Luther challenged the power of the Pope and started the Protestant Reformation, which was a movement within Western Christianity in 16th-century Europe that presented a religious and political challenge to the Roman Catholic church. His ideas spread quickly thanks to his contributions to the printing press. The invention and adoption of the printing press was a major event. Because the printing press is such an important and beneficial instrument, the availability of books, literacy rates in Europe dramatically increased. Since Martin Luther was challenging the power of the church, having the printing press made it possible and easier for people to read the bible in the language they know and understand.
European politics, philosophy, science and communications were reorganized during the course of the 18th century. This philosophical movement was called the Enlightenment. During the Enlightenment philosophers believed that they could apply the scientific method and use reason to explain human nature. During this time they also used a system of government which was called Enlightened Despotism. This was absolute monarchs ruling according to the principles of the Enlightenment. Absolute monarchs had the power to determine policies without consulting the people or the representatives. Also during this era, John Locke was regarded as one of the most influential thinkers during the Enlightenment. He discovered that the self was a continuity of consciousness.
The chain of events that started in the middle ages started a modern society in the West. By 1500 the population increased dramatically after two centuries of decline due to the amount of people that were lost during the bubonic plague. Europe’s bonds of commerce tightened and new geographical discoveries were made. After c. 1800 Capitalism became the most used economic system during this period. Individuals risked capital to produce goods in a currency-based market which depended on inexpensive waged labor. Labor eventually organized into unions.
Science and technology were beyond recognizable with the invention of the printing press and new found theories which were helpful. Without the art from the renaissance people today would probably not appreciate art. With the scientific revolution it helped develop today’s scientific method and would perhaps not have been developed if it wasn’t for this movement. Western society did indeed climb its way back up with the powerful and mature foundation they created for themselves.