What were the traveling practices of merchants, roughly between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance?

What were the traveling practices of merchants, roughly between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance?

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How did salespersons of the aforementioned period(s), whether affluent merchants or peddlers, tend to travel? I'm familiar with caravansaries/caravanserais, but how did this concept translate to vendors staying within city limits? Would a merchant who planned to be "at market" for more than one day have his goods and means of transport stored within the city, and how? Was this common?
Were goods typically sold off the wagon, or was it more common for wares to be sold to a retailing vendor in town, the traveling merchant then acting more as a courier? What manner of merchant could afford a guard? What were some of the implications of traveling with other groups to achieve safety in numbers? Inquiry is prompted by a writing project (fiction) in which two capital cities, each bordering a body of water, have no viable waterway between.

I would recommend a read through Janet Abu-Lughod's book, Before European Hegemony. This covers trade routes and practices in different areas of the world during the late 14th through early 16th centuries. The remainder of this answer is pulled in great part from what I understood of the book.

Water ways are preferred due to a lower rate of banditry. While piracy was common in the Mediterranean, it wasn't as common in the Indian Ocean. The Italians, particularly the Genoese and the Venetians, would have a convoy to protect the merchandise and harried each other's ships.

Numbers mean a lot. Most pirate enterprises can't afford more than one ship and joint operations are difficult to orchestrate. Whenever you get two different groups with two different goals, e.g., "Whose purse are we filling?" you end up with a separation of interest. If a merchant convoy is large enough, it would be a significant deterrent to a pirate with only one or two ships.

Land routes don't have such simple limitations. People are typically land-bound; that's our natural habitat. We don't need to have a ship to carry loads on land. We don't need to have a ship to afford us shelter on land. Because of this, it is much easier to have a larger band with which to attach merchant convoys. Thus, land routes had a higher rate of banditry and it would take greater numbers to deter bandit attacks.

Why are deserts safer? The deserts are harder on travel and sustenance. If you're traveling through the desert, you're traveling with enough to sustain your journey to the next watering hole or trade post. If you're a bandit in the desert, it's more difficult to sustain yourself between raids.

During the late 13th and early 14th centuries, there were four towns in the area of Champagne which had regularly scheduled and rotating fairs. The fair would stay in each town for a couple of months before moving to the next. Each town encouraged trade of particular wares, so merchants interested in buying or selling particular items would know when to be where. For the fairs to be successful, the lords of these towns and their surrounding areas had to secure the safety of the merchants traveling to the fairs. When this guarantee was no longer provided, the merchants sought other venues.

Europe was behind the times, though. Note that the title of the book clearly indicates a time before Europe dominated world trade. The Italians, being closer to the traders from the Middle East (and discouraging direct trade between the rest of Europe and the Middle East), were more familiar with many of the trading practices of the Middle East. This included loan instruments and various forms of housekeeping.

Often, there would be a partnership between merchants. The one partner, usually the one with more invested financially, would stay in a shop or warehouse in the home town while the less invested financially would invest his safety into acquiring and transporting goods.

In the Indian Ocean, there were a few cities that became merchant cities. The weather patterns in the Indian Ocean prescribed travel in particular directions. Merchants could only practically travel east in the spring and west in the fall. During the summer, they would set up shop in the area of Sumatra and, during the winter, set up shop near the straits leading either into the Persian Gulf or the Red Sea.

In short, the book covers key elements to a healthy economy and illustrates them several times. A healthy economy requires safety at home, safety to produce materials beyond what is necessary to subsist. A healthy economy requires safety along trade routes, safety to travel to a buyer willing to purchase your excess. A healthy economy requires a consistent schedule, safety to know that, when you get to your buyer, your buyer will be able to purchase your excess.

What were the traveling practices of merchants, roughly between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance? - History

The Middle Ages, or Medieval Times, in Europe was a long period of history from 500 AD to 1500 AD. That's 1000 years! It covers the time from the fall of the Roman Empire to the rise of the Ottoman Empire.

This was a time of castles and peasants, guilds and monasteries, cathedrals and crusades. Great leaders such as Joan of Arc and Charlemagne were part of the Middle Ages as well as major events such as the Black Plague and the rise of Islam.

Middle Ages, Medieval Times, Dark Ages: What's the Difference?

When people use the terms Medieval Times, Middle Ages, and Dark Ages they are generally referring to the same period of time. The Dark Ages is usually referring to the first half of the Middle Ages from 500 to 1000 AD.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, a lot of the Roman culture and knowledge was lost. This included art, technology, engineering, and history. Historians know a lot about Europe during the Roman Empire because the Romans kept excellent records of all that happened. However, the time after the Romans is "dark" to historians because there was no central government recording events. This is why historians call this time the Dark Ages.

Although the term Middle Ages covers the years between 500 and 1500 throughout the world, this timeline is based on events specifically in Europe during that time. Go here to learn about the Islamic Empire during the Middle Ages.

Heidelberg Castle by Goutamkhandelwal
  • 476 - The fall of the Roman Empire. Rome had ruled much of Europe. Now much of the land would fall into confusion as local kings and rulers tried to grab power. This is the start of the Dark Ages or the Middle Ages.
  • 481 - Clovis becomes King of the Franks. Clovis united most of the Frankish tribes that were part of Roman Province of Gaul.
  • 570 - Muhammad, prophet of Islam is born.
  • 732 - Battle of Tours. The Franks defeat the Muslims turning back Islam from Europe.
  • 800 - Charlemagne, King of the Franks, is crowned Holy Roman Emperor. Charlemagne united much of Western Europe and is considered the father of both the French and the German Monarchies.
  • 835 - Vikings from the Scandinavian lands (Denmark, Norway, and Sweden) begin to invade northern Europe. They would continue until 1042.
  • 896 - Alfred the Great, King of England, turns back the Viking invaders.
  • 1066 - William of Normandy, a French Duke, conquers England in the Battle of Hastings. He became King of England and changed the country forever.
  • 1096 - Start of the First Crusade. The Crusades were wars between the Holy Roman Empire and the Muslims over the Holy Land. There would be several Crusades over the next 200 years.
  • 1189 - Richard I, Richard the Lionheart, becomes King of England.
  • 1206 - The Mongol Empire is founded by Genghis Khan.
  • 1215 - King John of England signs the Magna Carta. This document gave the people some rights and said the king was not above the law.
  • 1271 - Marco Polo leaves on his famous journey to explore Asia.
  • 1337 - The Hundred Years War begins between England and France for control of the French throne.
  • 1347 - The Black Death begins in Europe. This horrible disease would kill around half of the people in Europe.
  • 1431 - French heroine Joan of Arc is executed by England at the age of 19.
  • 1444 - German inventor Johannes Gutenberg invents the printing press. This will signal the start of the Renaissance.
  • 1453 - The Ottoman Empire captures the city of Constantinople. This signals the end of the Eastern Roman Empire also known as Byzantium.
  • 1482 - Leonardo Da Vinci paints "The Last Supper."

Recommended books and references:

The Middle Ages by Fiona Macdonald. 1993.
Medieval Life: Eyewitness Books by Andrew Langley. 2004.
History of the World: The Early Middle Ages. 1990.
The Middle Ages : an illustrated history by Barbara A. Hanawalt. 1998.


The modern period was characterized by profound changes in many realms of human endeavor. Among the most important include the development of science as a formalized practice, increasingly rapid technological progress, and the establishment of secularized civic politics, law courts and the nation state. Capitalist economies began to develop in a nascent form, first in the northern Italian republics such as Genoa and Venice as well as in the cities of the Low Countries, and later in France, Germany and England. The early modern period also saw the rise and dominance of the economic theory of mercantilism. As such, the early modern period is often associated with the decline and eventual disappearance (at least in Western Europe) of feudalism and serfdom. The Protestant Reformation greatly altered the religious balance of Christendom, creating a formidable new opposition to the dominance of the Catholic Church, especially in Northern Europe. The early modern period also witnessed the circumnavigation of the Earth and the establishment of regular European contact with the Americas and South and East Asia. The ensuing rise of global systems of international economic, cultural and intellectual exchange played an important role in the development of capitalism and represents the earliest phase of globalization.

Regardless of the precise dates used to define its beginning and end points, the early modern period is generally agreed to have comprised the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Scientific Revolution, and the Enlightenment. As such, historians have attributed a number of fundamental changes to the period, notably the increasingly rapid progress of science and technology, the secularization of politics, and the diminution of the absolute authority of the Roman Catholic Church as well as the lessening of the influence of all faiths upon national governments. Many historians have identified the early modern period as the epoch in which individuals began to think of themselves as belonging to a national polity—a notable break from medieval modes of self-identification, which had been largely based upon religion (belonging to a universal Christendom), language, or feudal allegiance (belonging to the manor or extended household of a particular magnate or lord).

The beginning of the early modern period is not clear-cut, but is generally accepted to be in the late 15th century or early 16th century. Significant dates in this transitional phase from medieval to early modern Europe can be noted:

  • 1450
  • 1453
  • 1485
  • 1492
  • 1494
  • 1513
  • 1517
  • 1526
  • 1545

The end date of the early modern period is variously associated with the Industrial Revolution, which began in Britain in about 1750, or the beginning of the French Revolution in 1789, which drastically transformed the state of European politics and ushered in the Napoleonic Era and modern Europe.

The role of nobles in the Feudal System had yielded to the notion of the Divine Right of Kings during the Middle Ages (in fact, this consolidation of power from the land-owning nobles to the titular monarchs was one of the most prominent themes of the Middle Ages). Among the most notable political changes included the abolition of serfdom and the crystallization of kingdoms into nation-states. Perhaps even more significantly, with the advent of the Reformation, the notion of Christendom as a unified political entity was destroyed. Many kings and rulers used this radical shift in the understanding of the world to further consolidate their sovereignty over their territories. For instance, many of the Germanic states (as well as English Reformation) converted to Protestantism in an attempt to slip out of the grasp of the Pope.

The intellectual developments of the period included the creation of the economic theory of mercantilism and the publication of enduringly influential works of political and social philosophy, such as Machiavelli's The Prince (1513) and Thomas More's Utopia (1515).

The Protestant Reformation was a reform-oriented schism from the Roman Catholic Church initiated by Martin Luther and continued by John Calvin, Huldrych Zwingli, and other early Protestant Reformers. It is typically dated from 1517, lasting until the end of the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) with the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. It was launched on 31 October 1517 by Martin Luther, who posted his 95 Theses criticizing the practice of indulgences to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, commonly used to post notices to the University community. It was very widely publicized across Europe and caught fire. Luther began by criticizing the sale of indulgences, insisting that the Pope had no authority over purgatory and that the Catholic doctrine of the merits of the saints had no foundation in the gospel. The Protestant position, however, would come to incorporate doctrinal changes such as sola scriptura and sola fide.

The Reformation ended in division and the establishment of new church movements. The four most important traditions to emerge directly from the Reformation were Lutheranism, the Reformed (also called Calvinist or Presbyterian) tradition, Anglicanism, and the Anabaptists. Subsequent Protestant churches generally trace their roots back to these initial four schools of the Reformation. It also led to the Catholic or Counter Reformation within the Roman Catholic Church through a variety of new spiritual movements, reforms of religious communities, the founding of seminaries, the clarification of Catholic theology as well as structural changes in the institution of the Church. [3]

The largest Protestant groups were the Lutherans and Calvinists. Lutheran churches were founded mostly in Germany, the Baltics and Scandinavia, while the Reformed ones were founded in Switzerland, Hungary, France, the Netherlands and Scotland. [4]

The initial movement within Germany diversified, and other reform impulses arose independently of Luther. The availability of the printing press provided the means for the rapid dissemination of religious materials in the vernacular. The core motivation behind the Reformation was theological, though many other factors played a part, including the rise of nationalism, the Western Schism that eroded faith in the Papacy, the perceived corruption of the Roman Curia, the impact of humanism, and the new learning of the Renaissance that questioned much traditional thought. [5]

There were also reformation movements throughout continental Europe known as the Radical Reformation, which gave rise to the Anabaptist, Moravian and other Pietistic movements. [6]

The Roman Catholic Church responded with a Counter-Reformation initiated by the Council of Trent. Much work in battling Protestantism was done by the well-organised new order of the Jesuits. In general, Northern Europe, with the exception of most of Ireland, came under the influence of Protestantism. Southern Europe remained Roman Catholic, while Central Europe was a site of a fierce conflict, culminating in the Thirty Years' War, which left it devastated. [7]

Church of England Edit

The Reformation reshaped the Church of England decisively after 1547. The separation of the Church of England (or Anglican Church) from Rome under Henry VIII, beginning in 1529 and completed in 1537, brought England alongside this broad Reformation movement however, religious changes in the English national church proceeded more conservatively than elsewhere in Europe. Reformers in the Church of England alternated, for decades, between sympathies for ancient Catholic tradition and more Reformed principles, gradually developing, within the context of robustly Protestant doctrine, a tradition considered a middle way (via media) between the Roman Catholic and Protestant traditions. [8]

Consequences of the Protestant Reformation Edit

The following outcomes of the Protestant Reformation regarding human capital formation, the Protestant ethic, economic development, governance, and "dark" outcomes have been identified by scholars. [9]

Historiography Edit

Margaret C. Jacob argues that there has been a dramatic shift in the historiography of the Reformation. Until the 1960s, historians focused their attention largely on the great leaders and also the theologians of the 16th century, especially Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli. Their ideas were studied in depth. However, the rise of the new social history in the 1960s look at history from the bottom up, not from the top down. Historians began to concentrate on the values, beliefs and behavior of the people at large. She finds, "in contemporary scholarship, the Reformation was then seen as a vast cultural upheaval, a social and popular movement and textured and rich because of its diversity." [10]

Age of Enlightenment Edit

The Age of Enlightenment refers to the 18th century in European philosophy, and is often thought of as part of a period which includes the Age of Reason. The term also more specifically refers to a historical intellectual movement, The Enlightenment. This movement advocated rationality as a means to establish an authoritative system of aesthetics, ethics, and logic. The intellectual leaders of this movement regarded themselves as a courageous elite, and regarded their purpose as one of leading the world toward progress and out of a long period of doubtful tradition, full of irrationality, superstition, and tyranny, which they believed began during a historical period they called the Dark Ages. This movement also provided a framework for the American and French Revolutions, the Latin American independence movement, and the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth Constitution of May 3, and also led to the rise of liberalism and the birth of socialism and communism. [11] It is matched by the high baroque and classical eras in music, and the neo-classical period in the arts, and receives contemporary application in the unity of science movement which includes logical positivism.

The expression "early modern" is sometimes used as a substitute for the term Renaissance, and vice versa. However, "Renaissance" is properly used in relation to a diverse series of cultural developments which occurred over several hundred years in many different parts of Europe—especially central and northern Italy—and span the transition from late Medieval civilization and the opening of the early modern period.

The term early modern is most often applied to Europe, and its overseas empire. However, it has also been employed in the history of the Ottoman Empire. In the historiography of Japan, the Edo period from 1590 to 1868 is also sometimes referred to as the early modern period.

The 17th century saw very little peace in Europe – major wars were fought in 95 years (every year except 1610, 1669 to 1671, and 1680 to 1682.) [12] The wars were unusually ugly. Europe in the late 17th century, 1648 to 1700, was an age of great intellectual, scientific, artistic and cultural achievement. Historian Frederick Nussbaum says it was:

prolific in genius, in common sense, and in organizing ability. It could properly have been expected that intelligence, comprehension and high purpose would be applied to the control of human relations in general and to the relations between states and peoples in particular. The fact was almost completely opposite. It was a period of marked unintelligence, immorality and frivolity in the conduct of international relations, marked by wars undertaken for dimly conceived purposes, waged with the utmost brutality and conducted by reckless betrayals of allies. [13]

The worst came during the Thirty Years' War, 1618-1648, which had an extremely negative impact on the civilian population of Germany and surrounding areas, with massive loss of life and disruption of the economy and society.

Thirty Years' War: 1618–1648 Edit

The Reformation led to a series of religious wars that culminated in the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648), which devastated much of Germany, killing between 25% and 40% of its entire population. [14] Roman Catholic House of Habsburg and its allies fought against the Protestant princes of Germany, supported at various times by Denmark, Sweden and France. The Habsburgs, who ruled Spain, Austria, the Crown of Bohemia, Hungary, Slovene Lands, the Spanish Netherlands and much of Germany and Italy, were staunch defenders of the Roman Catholic Church. Some historians believe that the era of the Reformation came to a close when Roman Catholic France allied itself with Protestant states against the Habsburg dynasty. For the first time since the days of Martin Luther, political and national convictions again outweighed religious convictions in Europe.

Two main tenets of the Peace of Westphalia, which ended the Thirty Years' War, were:

  • All parties would now recognise the Peace of Augsburg of 1555, by which each prince would have the right to determine the religion of his own state, the options being Roman Catholicism, Lutheranism, and now Calvinism (the principle of cuius regio, eius religio).
  • Christians living in principalities where their denomination was not the established church were guaranteed the right to practice their faith in public during allotted hours and in private at their will.

The treaty also effectively ended the Papacy's pan-European political power. Pope Innocent X declared the treaty "null, void, invalid, iniquitous, unjust, damnable, reprobate, inane, empty of meaning and effect for all times" in his bull Zelo Domus Dei. European sovereigns, Roman Catholic and Protestant alike, ignored his verdict. [15]

Scholars taking a "realist" perspective on wars and diplomacy have emphasized the Peace of Westphalia (1648) as a dividing line. It ended the Thirty Years War (1618-1648), where religion and ideology had been powerful motivating forces for warfare. Westphalia, in the realist view, ushered in a new international system of sovereign states of roughly equal strength, dedicated not to ideology or religion but to enhance status, and territorial gains. The Catholic Church, for example, no longer devoted its energies to the very difficult task of reclaiming dioceses lost to Protestantism, but to build large-scale missions in overseas colonial possessions that could convert the natives by the thousands Using devoted members of society such as the Jesuits. [16] According to Hamish Scott, the realist model assumes that "foreign policies were guided entirely by "Realpolitik," by the resulting struggle for resources and, eventually, by the search for what became known as a 'balance of power.' [17]

Diplomacy before 1700 was not well developed, and chances to avoid wars were too often squandered. In England, for example, King Charles II paid little attention to diplomacy, which proved disastrous. During the Dutch war of 1665-67, England had no diplomats stationed in Denmark or Sweden. When King Charles realized he needed them as allies, he sent special missions that were uninformed about local political, military, and diplomatic situations, and were ignorant of personalities and political factionalism. Ignorance produced a series of blunders that ruined their efforts to find allies. [18] King Louis XIV of France, by contrast, developed the most sophisticated diplomatic service, with permanent ambassadors and lesser ministers in major and minor capitals, all preparing steady streams of information and advice to Paris. Diplomacy became a career that proved highly attractive to rich senior aristocrats who enjoyed very high society at royal courts, especially because they carried the status of the most powerful nation in Europe. Increasingly, other nations copied the French model French became the language of diplomacy, replacing Latin. [19] By 1700, the British and the Dutch, with small land armies, large navies, and large treasuries, used astute diplomacy to build alliances, subsidizing as needed land powers to fight on their side, or as in the case of the Hessians, hiring regiments of soldiers from mercenary princes in small countries. [20] The balance of power was very delicately calculated, so that winning a battle here was worth the slice of territory there, with no regard to the wishes of the inhabitants. Important peacemaking conferences at Utrecht (1713), Vienna (1738), Aix-la-Chapelle (1748) and Paris (1763) had a cheerful, cynical, game-like atmosphere in which professional diplomats cashed in victories like casino chips in exchange for territory. [21]

Holy Roman Empire Edit

In 1512, the Holy Roman Empire changed its name to Holy Roman Empire of the German nation. The Habsburg House of Austria held the position of Holy Roman Emperors since the mid-1400s and for the entire Early modern period. Despite the lack of a centralized political structure in a period in which national monarchies were emerging, the Habsburg Emperors of the Early modern period came close to form a universal monarchy in Western Europe.

The Habsburgs expanded their control within and outside the Holy Roman Empire as a result of the dynastic policy pursued by Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor. Maximilian I married Mary of Burgundy, thus bringing the Burgundian Netherlands into the Habsburg inheritance. Their son, Philip the Handsome, married Joanna the Mad of Spain (daughter of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella of Castile). Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor (son of Philip and Joanna) inherited the Habsburg Netherlands in 1506, Habsburg Spain and its territories in 1516, and Habsburg Austria in 1519.

The main opponents of the Habsburg Empire were the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of France. The Habsburgs clashed with France in a series of Italian wars. The Battle of Pavia (1525) initiated the Habsburg primacy in Italy and the replacement of France as the main European power. Nevertheless, religious wars forced Charles V to abdicate in 1556 and divide the Habsburg possessions between Spain and Austria. The next Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I completed the Council of Trent and maintained Germany at peace until the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648). The Habsburgs controlled the elective monarchies of Hungary and Bohemia as well, and eventually turned these states into hereditary domains.

Spain Edit

In 1492 the Catholic Monarchs of Castile and Aragon funded Christopher Columbus's plan to sail west to reach the Indies by crossing the Atlantic. He landed on a continent uncharted by Europeans and seen as a new world, the Americas. To prevent conflict between Portugal and Castile (the crown under which Columbus made the voyage), the Treaty of Tordesillas was signed dividing the world into two regions of exploration, where each had exclusive rights to claim newly discovered lands. [22]

The structure of the Spanish Empire was established under the Spanish Habsburgs (1516–1700) and under the Spanish Bourbon monarchs, the empire was brought under greater crown control and increased its revenues from the Indies. [23] [24] The crown's authority in The Indies was enlarged by the papal grant of powers of patronage, giving it power in the religious sphere. [25] [26] [27]

Under Philip II of Spain, Spain, rather than the Habsburg empire, was identified as a more powerful nation than France and England globally. Furthermore, despite attacks from other European states, Spain retained its position of dominance with apparent ease. Spain controlled the Netherlands until the Dutch revolt, and important states in southern Italy. The spanish claims to Naples and Sicily dated back to the 15th century, but had been marred by rival claims until the mid-16th century and the rule of Philip II. There would be no Italian revolts against Spanish rule until 1647. The death of the Ottoman emperor Suleiman the Magnificent in 1566 and the naval victory over the Ottoman Empire at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571 cemented the status of Spain as a superpower in Europe and the world. The Spanish Empire comprised territories and colonies of the Spanish Monarch in the Americas, Asia (Spanish Philippines), Europe and some territories in Africa and Oceania.

France Edit

The Ancien Régime (French for "old regime") was the political and social system of the Kingdom of France from about 1450 until the French Revolution that started in 1789. [28] The Ancien Régime was ruled by the late Valois and Bourbon dynasties. Much of the medieval political centralization of France had been lost in the Hundred Years' War, and the Valois Dynasty's attempts at re-establishing control over the scattered political centres of the country were hindered by the Huguenot Wars (or Wars of Religion). Much of the reigns of Henry IV, Louis XIII and the early years of Louis XIV were focused on administrative centralisation. Despite, however, the notion of "absolute monarchy" (typified by the king's right to issue lettres de cachet) and the efforts by the kings to create a centralized state, Ancien Régime France remained a country of systemic irregularities: administrative (including taxation), legal, judicial, and ecclesiastic divisions and prerogatives frequently overlapped, while the French nobility struggled to maintain their own rights in the matters of local government and justice, and powerful internal conflicts (like the Fronde) protested against this centralization. [29]

The need for centralization in this period was directly linked to the question of royal finances and the ability to wage war. The internal conflicts and dynastic crises of the 16th and 17th centuries (the Huguenot Wars between Catholics and Protestants and the Habsburg's internal family conflict) and the territorial expansion of France in the 17th century demanded great sums which needed to be raised through taxes, such as the land tax (taille) and the tax on salt (gabelle) and by contributions of men and service from the nobility. The key to this centralization was the replacing of personal patronage systems organized around the king and other nobles by institutional systems around the state. [30] The creation of intendants—representatives of royal power in the provinces—did much to undermine local control by regional nobles. The same was true of the greater reliance shown by the royal court on the "noblesse de robe" as judges and royal counselors. The creation of regional parlements had initially the same goal of facilitating the introduction of royal power into newly assimilated territories, but as the parlements gained in self-assurance, they began to be sources of disunity. [31]

England Edit

This period refers to England 1558–1603. The Elizabethan Era is the period associated with the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1558–1603) and was a golden age in English cultural history. It was the height of the English Renaissance, and saw the flowering of English literature and poetry. This was also the time during which Elizabethan theatre grew. William Shakespeare, among others, composed highly innovative and powerful plays. It was an age of expansion and exploration abroad. At home the Protestant Reformation was established and successfully defended against the Catholic powers of Spain and France. [32]

The Jacobean era was the reign James I of England (1603–1625). Overseas exploration and establishment of trading factories sped up, with the first permanent settlements in North America at Jamestown, Virginia in 1607, in Newfoundland in 1610, and at Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts in 1620. One king now ruled England and Scotland the latter was fully absorbed by the Acts of Union 1707. [33]

The tumultuous Caroline era was the reign of King Charles I (1625–1645), followed by his beheading by Oliver Cromwell's regime in 1649 . The Caroline era was dominated by the growing religious, political, and social conflict between the King and his supporters, termed the Royalist party, and the Puritan opposition that evolved in response to particular aspects of Charles' rule. The colonization of North America continued apace, with new colonies in Maryland (1634), Connecticut (1635), and Rhode Island (1636). [34]

Papacy Edit

The papacy continued to exercise significant diplomatic influence during the Early modern period. The Popes were frequently assembling Holy Leagues to assert Catholic supremacy in Europe. During the Renaissance, Julius II and Paul III were largely involved in the Italian Wars and worked to preserve their primacy among the Italian princes. During the counter-reformation, the Papacy supported catholic powers and factions all over Europe. Pope Pius V assembled the Catholic coalition that won the Battle of Lepanto against the Turks. Pope Sixtus V sided with the catholics during the French wars of religion. Worldwide religious missions, such as the Jesuit China mission, were established by Pope Gregory XIII. Gregory XIII is also responsible for the establishment of the Gregorian calendar. Following the Peace of Westphalia and the birth of nation-states, Papal claims to universal authority came effectively to an end.

What were the traveling practices of merchants, roughly between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance? - History

The Renaissance was a cultural movement that began in Italy in the 14th century, and spread to the rest of Europe during the 15th and 16th centuries.

Learning Objectives

Describe the influences of the Renaissance and historical perspectives by modern-day writers

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • There is a consensus that the Renaissance began in Florence, Italy, in the 14th century, most likely due to the political structure and the civil and social nature of the city. The Renaissance encompassed the flowering of Latin languages, a change in artistic style, and gradual, widespread educational reform.
  • The development of conventions of diplomacy and an increased reliance on observation in science were also markers of the Renaissance.
  • The Renaissance is probably best known for its artistic developments and for the development of ” Humanism,” a movement that emphasized the importance of creating citizens who were able to engage in the civil life of their community.
  • Some historians debate the 19th-century glorification of the Renaissance and individual culture heroes as “Renaissance men.”
  • Some have called into question whether the Renaissance was a cultural “advance” from the Middle Ages, instead seeing it as a period of pessimism and nostalgia for classical antiquity.

Key Terms

  • Medici: The last name of a powerful and influential aristocratic Florentine family from the 13th to the 17th century.
  • studia humanitatis: Specifically, a cultural and intellectual movement in 14th–16th century Europe characterized by attention to classical culture and a promotion of vernacular texts, notably during the Renaissance.
  • Renaissance: A cultural movement from the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy and later spreading to the rest of Europe.
  • Petrarch: An Italian scholar and poet in Renaissance Italy, and one of the earliest humanists.


The Renaissance was a period in Europe, from the 14th to the 17th century, regarded as the cultural bridge between the Middle Ages and modern history. It started as a cultural movement in Italy, specifically in Florence, in the late medieval period and later spread to the rest of Europe, marking the beginning of the early modern age.

The intellectual basis of the Renaissance was its own invented version of humanism, derived from the rediscovery of classical Greek philosophy, such as that of Protagoras, who said that “Man is the measure of all things.” This new thinking became manifest in art, architecture, politics, science, and literature. Early examples were the development of perspective in oil painting and the recycled knowledge of how to make concrete. Though availability of paper and the invention of metal movable type sped the dissemination of ideas from the later 15th century, the changes of the Renaissance were not uniformly experienced across Europe.

Cultural, Political, and Intellectual Influences

As a cultural movement, the Renaissance encompassed the innovative flowering of Latin and vernacular literatures, beginning with the 14th-century resurgence of learning based on classical sources, which contemporaries credited to Petrarch the development of linear perspective and other techniques of rendering a more natural reality in painting and gradual but widespread educational reform.

In politics, the Renaissance contributed the development of the conventions of diplomacy, and in science an increased reliance on observation. Although the Renaissance saw revolutions in many intellectual pursuits, as well as social and political upheaval, it is perhaps best known for its artistic developments and the contributions of such polymaths as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, who inspired the term “Renaissance man.”

Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man: Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man shows clearly the effect writers of Antiquity had on Renaissance thinkers. Based on the specifications in Vitruvius’ De architectura (1st century BCE), Leonardo tried to draw the perfectly proportioned man.


Various theories have been proposed to account for the origins and characteristics of the Renaissance, focusing on a variety of factors, including the social and civic peculiarities of Florence at the time its political structure the patronage of its dominant family, the Medici and the migration of Greek scholars and texts to Italy following the Fall of Constantinople at the hands of the Ottoman Turks.

Many argue that the ideas characterizing the Renaissance had their origin in late 13th-century Florence, in particular in the writings of Dante Alighieri (1265–1321) and Petrarch (1304–1374), as well as the paintings of Giotto di Bondone (1267–1337). Some writers date the Renaissance quite precisely one proposed starting point is 1401, when the rival geniuses Lorenzo Ghiberti and Filippo Brunelleschi competed for the contract to build the bronze doors for the Baptistery of the Florence Cathedral (Ghiberti won). Others see more general competition between artists and polymaths such as Brunelleschi, Ghiberti, Donatello, and Masaccio for artistic commissions as sparking the creativity of the Renaissance. Yet it remains much debated why the Renaissance began in Italy, and why it began when it did. Accordingly, several theories have been put forward to explain its origins.

Historical Perspectives on the Renaissance

The Renaissance has a long and complex historiography, and in line with general skepticism of discrete periodizations there has been much debate among historians reacting to the 19th-century glorification of the Renaissance and individual culture heroes as “Renaissance men,” questioning the usefulness of “Renaissance” as a term and as a historical delineation.

Some observers have called into question whether the Renaissance was a cultural advance from the Middle Ages, seeing it instead as a period of pessimism and nostalgia for classical antiquity, while social and economic historians, especially of the longue durée (long-term) have focused on the continuity between the two eras, which are linked, as Panofsky observed, “by a thousand ties.”

The word “Renaissance,” whose literal translation from French into English is “Rebirth,” appears in English writing from the 1830s. The word occurs in Jules Michelet’s 1855 work, Histoire de France. The word “Renaissance” has also been extended to other historical and cultural movements, such as the Carolingian Renaissance and the Renaissance of the 12th century.

The Renaissance: Was it a Thing? – Crash Course World History #22: European learning changed the world in the 15th and 16th centuries, but was it a cultural revolution, or an evolution? We’d argue that any cultural shift that occurs over a couple of hundred years isn’t too overwhelming to the people who live through it. In retrospect though, the cultural bloom in Europe during this time was pretty impressive.

Main keywords of the article below: 16th, known, exploration, occurred, century, discovery, mid-15th, age.

The Age of Discovery, also known as the Age of Exploration, occurred from the mid-15th century through the 16th century. [1] This gives them a sample range from roughly the early 16th century, including the European Renaissance and the Age of Discovery. [2] Here you can found out more about those periods, from the ancient Greece explorers, birth of the 16th century Golden Age of Discovery, modern Polar exploration, all leading to the exciting 20th century Space Race which finally enabled human race to step outside confines of our Earth. [2]

Prelude to the Age of Discovery started in early 13th century with the unification of Mongol lands in Eurasia, and opening of the safe travel routes between Europe and China. [3] The era known as the Age of Exploration, sometimes called the Age of Discovery, officially began in the early 15th century and lasted through the 17th century. [4]

Northern European countries and Russia became involved in world exploration in the latter part of the 16th century further exploring North America, Siberia, New Zealand, and Australia. [5] The coasts between the landfalls of Columbus and of John Cabot were charted in the first quarter of the 16th century by Italian, French, Spanish, and Portuguese sailors. [6] New crops that had come to Asia from the Americas via the Spanish colonizers in the 16th century contributed to the Asia's population growth. [7] By the end of the 16th century, Portugal in the East held only the ports of Goa and Diu, in India, and Macau, in China. [6] In the late 15th and early 16th century, many maritime explorers embarked on their mission to find the way to India. [3] Maize and manioc were introduced into Africa in the 16th century by the Portuguese. [7] During the 16th century, Spain held the equivalent of US$1.5 trillion (1990 terms) in gold and silver from New Spain. [7] The galleon developed in the early 16th century from ships such as the caravel and the carrack. [8]

The dominance of the Church during the Early Middle Ages was a major reason later scholars--specifically those of the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century and the Enlightenment in the 17th and 18th centuries--branded the period as "unenlightened" (otherwise known as dark), believing the clergy repressed intellectual progress in favor of religious piety. [2] The Age of Discovery, also known as the Age of Exploration, was a period during which Europeans explored Africa, North and South America, Asia, and Oceania, starting in the 15th century and continuing until the 17th century. [2] The so-called Age of Discovery began in the late fifteenth century, but Europeans had been probing the known areas and boundaries of their world for several centuries before that, motivated by tales of fabulous riches in distant kingdoms in Africa and Asia. [2]

PreColumbian era The early the of of early or from during ships a the Discovery century that which 17th Age Age was period Exploration European 15th continued century, into traveled. [2] Major exploration by Europeans, particularly of the coastal territories of African, began in the Age of Discovery in the 15th century, led by Portuguese explorers, most notably Prince Henry, known as the Navigator. [2] The region’s abundance of natural resources (rubber, aluminum, tobacco, coconuts, coffee, palm oil, timber, rice, tropical fruits and spices) brought the European powers over during the Age of Exploration (also known as Age of Discovery) starting in the early 15th century right up to the 17th century. [2] Age of Discovery : The period starting in the early 15th century and continuing into the early 17th century during which Europeans engaged in intensive exploration of the world. [2] KEY TOPICS The Age of Discovery, also known as the Age of Exploration and the Great Navigations, was a period in European history from the early 15th century to the early 17th century. [2]

The great period of discovery from the latter half of the fifteenth through the sixteenth century is generally referred to as the Age of Exploration. [2] Major after continued the of explorations Age Discovery By well sufficiently built and competent navigators vessels century, seventeenth their were the early enough. [2]

Like the 16th century, space age voyages of discovery produce ever more accurate maps of their routes and their destinations. [9] Christianity is an Abrahamic religion that began as a Second Temple Judaic sect in the mid-1st century, following the Age of Discovery, Christianity spread to the Americas, Australasia, sub-Saharan Africa, and the rest of the world through missionary work and colonization. [2] One of the major global impacts of the Age of Discovery is the so-called Columbian Exchange - a transfer of culture, flora and fauna (tobacco, potatoes, tomatoes etc), ideas, people (notably black African slaves to the Americas) and technology between the "New World" of the Americas and the "Old World" of Africa, Asia and Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries. [2] This monument celebrates the Portuguese Age of Discovery (Age of Exploration) and its main navigators from the the 15th and 16th centuries. [2] During the Age of Discovery, in the 15th and 16th centuries, Portugal and Spain pioneered European exploration of the world, and went on the found large overseas empires. [2] In the 15th century, Castile entered into a race of exploration with Portugal, the country that inaugurated the European Age of Discovery. [2] AP European History - 15th Century - Renaissance, Age of Exploration, Emergen. The exploration of Sub-Saharan Africa begins with the Age of Discovery in the 15th century, pioneered by posts along the coast during active colonization of the New World. [2] The Age of Exploration or Age of Discovery as it is sometimes called, officially began in the early 15th century and lasted until the 17th century. [2] The Age of Discovery which began in the 15th century was one of the ground breaking time periods for European global. [2]

During the sixteenth century expansion became a key theme across the face of Early Modern Europe this caused the sixteenth century to acquire the retrospective name of the Age of Expansion or Age of Discovery. [2]

Silk, another important textile used during the Medieval Age, was not manufactured in any significant quantity in Europe until much later (16th century). [2] From the ancient empires of Greece and Egypt to the largest organized Age of Discovery in 15th-16th century, their drive to discover new uncharted lands brought the great advancement to the entire human race. [2] Another explanation why Portuguese were pioneering explorers is that most of Europe was embroiled in battles and civil strife for much of the 15th century when the Age of Discovery was launched. [2] European exploration of Sub-Saharan Africa begins with the Age of Discovery in the 15th century, pioneered by Portugal under Henry the Navigator. [2] Explain the rivalry between Spain and Portugal during the 15th century, in the "Age of Discovery". [1]

After the discovery of the Americas the pattern breaks: Europe quickly recovered and flourished, while the Little Ice Age continued until the mid 19th century, possibly until being reversed by anthropogenic global warming. [2] A brief examination of how the Age of Discovery (15th to the 17th century Europe) effected both the population of Europe and the population of the New World. [2] The to historical and European Exploration the defined 15th an of of of or informal Discovery the from century wild turkey 101 calories, the was the Age end loosely Age 18th century period. [2] The geographical exploration of the late Middle Ages eventually led to what today is known as the Age of Discovery: a loosely defined European historical period, from the 15th century to the 18th century, that witnessed extensive overseas exploration emerge as a powerful factor in European culture and globalization. [10] The High Middle Ages is the period from the coronation of Charlemagne in 800 to the close of the fifteenth century, which saw the fall of Constantinople (1453), the end of the Hundred Years War (1453), the discovery of the New World (1492), and thereafter the Protestant Reformation (1515). [2]

The Age of Exploration, Age of Discovery as it is sometimes called,, lasted until the 17th century., officially began in the early 15th century Answers will vary 11 desire for new 12 He encouraged exploration by estab lishing a navigation school for sailors An Age of Explorations, Isolation. age of exploration worksheets, has produced a multitude of and answers The Golden Age of Greece Worksheet Causes of War. [2] Henry the Navigator, the father of Portugal's 17th century Golden Age of Discovery, supposedly spent much of his time based here planning voyages that mapped and explored the unknown region of western Africa. [2] This current exhibit features maps from the Middle Ages through the 17th Century and explores themes of cartography, navigation, colonialism, missions, and the Doctrine of Discovery. [2]

At first, the Dutch and English were content to wage a privateering war against Spanish and Portuguese shipping but at the end of the 16th century and in the early 17th century they broadened their activities by muscling in on the overseas trade for themselves, and also starting to acquire colonies of their own. [2] Emigration from Europe began with Spanish and Portuguese settlers in the 16th century, and French and English settlers in the 17th century. [2] Becomes dominant continental/world power in 16th century, being dogged by constant warfare as other European nations fight to contain Spain, resulting in decline of Spanish continental dominance in 17th century. [2] The wealth that this brought was the basis upon which this nation became the leading European power in the second half of the 16th century and early 17th century. [2]

The beginning of the early modern period is not clear-cut, but is generally accepted as in the late 15th century or early 16th century. [2] In the late 16th century Dutch explorers began to head out all over the world. [11] By the mid 16th century the Italians had a monopoly on trade from the East. [12] By the end of the 16th century, 200 million were in circulation, rising to some 500 million books in Europe by the end of the 17th. [2] Our story begins in 15th and early 16th century Europe - with an undertanding of the English who eventually decide to immigrate to the "New World." [2] Life in 14th, 15th, and 16th Century Europe was characterized by a social, political, and economic inequality a fragile good supply and famine poor health and living conditions an uncertain economy overpopulation dangerous standards of living child victimization intolerance of those who were different religious strife and warfare. [2] During a period in the early 16th century, Portugal became the most prosperous trading power and eclipsed the Italian city-states. [13] No further attempts to establish English colonies in the Americas were made until well into the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, during the last decades of the 16th century. [10] Protestant countries led by England continued to loosen lending rates, even while Catholic Italy reverted to usury laws in the 16th century. [14] A number of other failed attempts to establish French settlements in North America followed throughout the rest of the 16th century. [10] They learned to use astrolabes and quadrants and, after the 16th century, cross-staffs and sextants to measure the Sun and Pole Star to figure latitude. [14]

The Age of Discovery (a.k.a. Age of Exploration) was a period from the 15th to the 16th century during which Europeans "discovered" new sea routes and lands in Africa, America, Asia and Oceania. [15] By the late Middle Ages, as wayfinding technology improved, cartographers mapped the seas and coastlines, providing mariners with the ability to actually plot their routes and chart safe courses.At the onset of the Age of Exploration, in the early 16th century, both curious and financially-minded Europeans alike were rapidly pushing outward across the globe. [16]

The 15th and 16th centuries have often been labeled the age of exploration, discovery, and expansion. [17]

Almost as an afterthought, the Portuguese turned west to Brazil in the 16th century and began settlement in 1533. [17] Globalization began, you might say, a bit before the turn of the 16th century, in Portugal. [18]

The Age of Exploration, or Age of Discovery, encompassed the 15th and 16th centuries and was a glorious yet controversial period in human history that helped facilitate the shift from medieval times to the modern era. [19] By the 16th century, Portuguese and Dutch ships were trading in southeast Asia. [20] Goa, a strategy game of auctions and resource management, is set at the start of the 16th century: beautiful beaches, a mild climate, and the most important portuguese trading center in India. [15] The game theme is the Portuguese Discoveries in the 15th and 16th century, and their contribution to Portuguese wealth, symbolized in the Jerónimos Monastery. [15] The area had been explored in the 16th century by Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto, but several attempts to colonize the region had ended in failure. [21] Accordingly, maps of the regions depicted California as part of the mainland for the remainder of the 16th century. [21] Sailors of the 16th century had various kinds of instruments to help them cross the oceans. [20] Twenty mile-long Terceira Island’s inspiring pousada is Pousada de S. Sebastião, a 16th century castle-fort luxury invention that was also a former political prison. [22] There’s something dazzling about being roused from a Renaissance dream by a 16th century door knocker. [22] Lisbon’s National Coach Museum houses a spectacular collection of horse-drawn carriages dating to the 16th century. [22]

The Portuguese are often credited with making the first discoveries of the Age of Exploration. [5] The Age of Exploration ended in the early 17th century after technological advancements and increased knowledge of the world allowed Europeans to travel easily across the globe by sea. [4] For many Europeans, the Age of Exploration signifies a time when new lands were discovered. [5] For many others, the Age of Exploration is remembered as a time their lands were invaded and settled by newcomers. [5]

During the Age of Exploration, the slave trade grew significantly which had a profound impact on the economy and on society as a whole. [5] Before the Age of Exploration really took off, several seafaring expeditions occurred, leaving behind some information that prompted the Age of Exploration. [5] The Age of Exploration has had perhaps one of the greatest impacts on global relations of any other historic period or event. [5] By the end of the Age of Exploration, Spain would rule from the southwestern United States to the southernmost reaches of Chile and Argentina. [4] Technological advancements that were important to the Age of Exploration were the adoption of the magnetic compass and advances in ship design. [7]

This was never discovered but in their travels other possibilities were found and in the early seventeenth century colonist from a number of Northern European states began to settle on the east coast of North America. [23] Europeans explored the Pacific Coast beginning in the mid-16th century. [7] In Russia the idea of a possible seaway connecting the Atlantic and the Pacific was first put forward by the diplomat Gerasimov in 1525, although Russian settlers on the coast of the White Sea, the Pomors, had been exploring parts of the route as early as the 11th century. [7] The exploration of the polar regions was the work of the first half of the 20th century. [6]

These discoveries led to numerous naval expeditions across the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans, and land expeditions in the Americas, Asia, Africa and Australia that continued into the late 19th century, and ended with the exploration of the polar regions in the 20th century. [7] Late in the 15th century, Spain became involved in sea exploration as well in order to overcome the monopoly that Portugal held over the west African trade route. [5] The Norman Conquest of England in the late 11th century allowed for peaceful trade on the North Sea. [7] In the mid-14th century, a Moroccan scholar set out to several regions, including: North Africa, West Africa, the Sahara desert, the Horn of Africa, Southern and Eastern Europe, and China. [5] The Zambezi, in south-central Africa, was not known at all until, in the mid-19th century, the Scottish missionary-explorer David Livingstone crossed the Kalahari from the south, found Lake Ngami, and, hearing of populous areas farther north, came upon the river in midcourse. [6] At the opening of the 19th century, the major features of Europe, Asia, and North and South America were known in Africa some classic misconceptions still persisted inland Australia was still almost blank and Antarctica was not on the map at all. [6]

A major advance was the introduction of the caravel in the mid-15th century, a small ship able to sail windward more than any other in Europe at the time. [7] Before the 12th century the main obstacle to trade east of the Straight of Gibraltar was lack of commercial incentive rather than inadequate ship design. [7] From the 8th century until the 15th century, the Republic of Venice and neighbouring maritime republics held the monopoly of European trade with the Middle East. [7] From the late 13th to early 15th century (the Middle Ages), some explorers traveled by land from to Eurasia and beyond, using pre-existing trade routes from Eurasia to the Middle East to China. [5] A prelude to the Age of Discovery was a series of European expeditions crossing Eurasia by land in the late Middle Ages. [7] Age of discovery represents pivotal moment in human history, which bridged the time between Middle Age and the Modern era (Renaissance). [3] Centred in Antwerp first and then in Amsterdam, " Dutch Golden Age " was tightly linked to the Age of Discovery. [7]

Based on these explorations stands the theory of Portuguese discovery of Australia, one among several competing theories about the early discovery of Australia, supported by Australian historian Kenneth McIntyre, stating it was discovered by Cristóvão de Mendonça and Gomes de Sequeira. [7] During that time, Portugal sailors began investigating the coast of Africa, which culminated in discovery of its southern point by Bartolomeu Dias in 1488. [3] Cabral perceived that the new land lay east of the line of Tordesillas, and sent an envoy to Portugal with the discovery in letters, including the letter of Pero Vaz de Caminha. [7] Word of his discovery of new lands rapidly spread throughout Europe. [7]

Toward the end of the 14th century, the vast empire of the Mongols was breaking up thus, Western merchants could no longer be assured of safe-conduct along the land routes. [6] In 1520-1521 the Portuguese João Álvares Fagundes, accompanied by couples of mainland Portugal and the Azores, explored Newfoundland and Nova Scotia (possibly reaching the Bay of Fundy on the Minas Basin ), and established a fishing colony on the Cape Breton Island, that would last until at least the 1570s or near the end of the century. [7] In the first decade of the 20th century, various explorers, including Britons such as William Bruce, Robert Falcon Scott, and Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton, the German Erich von Drygalski, and the Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Charcot, confirmed the existence of an ice cap of continental dimensions. [6] Dutch explorers such as Willem Jansz and Abel Tasman explored the coasts of Australia while in the eighteenth century it was British explorer James Cook that mapped much of Polynesia. [23]

Portugal's larger rival Spain had been somewhat slower that their smaller neighbour to begin exploring the Atlantic, and it was not until late in the fifteenth century that Castilian sailors began to compete with their Iberian neighbours. [23] Outbreaks of bubonic plague led to severe depopulation in the second half of the 14th century: only the sea offered alternatives, with most population settling in fishing and trading coastal areas. [7] Starting in 15th century, several European powers invested great resources in finding new trading sea routes and new lands. [3] During the early 15th century, Arab and Chinese traders traveled along the Indian Ocean and to present-day India, Thailand, East Africa, Arabia, and Southeast Asia. [5] Expedition after expedition was sent forth throughout the 15th century to explore the coast of Africa. [6] Portugal's neighbouring fellow Iberian rival, Castile, had begun to establish its rule over the Canary Islands, located off the west African coast, in 1402, but then became distracted by internal Iberian politics and the repelling of Islamic invasion attempts and raids through most of the 15th century. [7]

Antonio de Morga (1559-1636), a Spanish official in Manila, listed an extensive inventory of goods that were traded by Ming China at the turn of the 16th to 17th century, noting there were "rarities which, did I refer to them all, I would never finish, nor have sufficient paper for it". [7] Americae Sive Quartae Orbis Partis Nova Et Exactissima Descriptio, the largest map of the Americas until the 17th century and the first map to use the name "California". [7]

In the late 18th century, the final phase of Pacific exploration occurred. [6]

The new trans-oceanic links and their domination by the European powers led to the Age of Imperialism, where European colonial powers came to control most of the planet. [7] The Age of Exploration is an informally defined period of European history when overseas exploration became a major part of European culture. [5]

The city experienced three booms during its golden age, the first based on the pepper market, a second launched by New World silver coming from Seville (ending with the bankruptcy of Spain in 1557), and a third boom, after the Treaty of Cateau-Cambresis, in 1559, based on the textiles industry. [7]

The earliest barques were noted in Portugal with square sails and oars but by the 18th century, the British Navy used the term bark to cover ships that did not fall in any other categories. [8]

Why did Europeans explore during the Age of Exploration in the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries? Find out when you join our voyage of exploration along with famous Portuguese, Spanish, English, and French explorers. [2] Portugal's Age of Discoveries (Era dos Descobrimentos) refers to the history of maritime exploration and colonization of parts of Africa, the Americas, the Middle East, Asia and the Far East undertaken by Portugal during the 15th and 16th centuries. [2] In the 15th and 16th centuries, the Age of Exploration saw Christopher Columbus stumble upon the Americas and a ship circumnavigate Earth for the first time. [2]

The Age of Discovery, which is also known as the Age of Exploration, refers to a period in world history when several European nations (mainly Portugal and Spain) set out to explore the globe in hopes of finding new land, learning about more direct trading routes, creating maps and learning about new cultures and people. [2] Age of Discovery (or Exploration) (Europe, 1400CE-1700CE) The Age of Discovery refers to a period in the late Middle Ages/Renaissance where foreign travel and discovery was an influential part of European societies. [2] General descriptions of the Library's holdings relating to the European discovery and exploration of America are found in two recent publications prepared in conjunction with the Library of Congress's Quincentenary Program: Louis De Vorsey, Jr., Keys to the Encounter: A Library of Congress Resource Guide for the Study of the Age of Discovery (Washington, 1992) and John R. Hbert (editor), 1492: An Ongoing Voyage (Washington, 1992). [2] Conquistadors (from Portuguese or Spanish conquistadores "conquerors" is a term used to refer to the soldiers and explorers of the Spanish Empire or the Portuguese Empire in a general sense.During the Age of Discovery, conquistadors sailed beyond Europe to the Americas, Oceania, Africa and Asia, conquering territory and opening trade routes. [2] This European Age of Discovery saw the rise of colonial empires on a global scale, building a commercial network that connected Europe, Asia, Africa, and the New World. [2] Portuguese sailors were at the vanguard of European overseas exploration, discovering and mapping the coasts of Africa, Canada, Asia and Brazil, in what became known as the Age of Discovery. [2] Vasco da Gama : A Portuguese explorer and one of the most famous and celebrated explorers from the Age of Discovery the first European to reach India by sea. [10] His discovery sparked new age of sea exploration and expansion of the European civilization to the South and Eastern Asia. [2] The great Age of Exploration, beginning in the late 1400s, was an important era in the discovery and development of lands yet unknown to the Europeans. [2] Through the Age of Exploration, Europeans approached indigenous peoples and their lands with a mindset of superiority, a mission of domination, and a moral and legal justification for the seizure of lands and subjugation of peoples in the Doctrine of Discovery. [2] Portugal, the western-most European country, was one of the primary players in the European Age of Discovery and Exploration. [24] What were the Effects of the Age of Discovery? The Age of Exploration was a time of struggle and wealth for many European countries. [2] The Age of Discovery is sometimes called the Age of Exploration The Age of Discovery was a period of time between the. [2] This era in Western Europe is referred to as the early modern European period and includes the Protestant Reformation, the European wars of religion, the Age of Discovery and the beginning of European colonialism, the rise of strong centralized governments, the beginnings of recognizable nation-states that are the direct antecedents of today's states, the Age of Enlightenment, and from the associated scientific advances the first phase of the Industrial Revolution. [2] Renaissance humanism, exploration, art, and science led to the modern era, from the Age of Discovery onwards, Europe played a predominant role in global affairs. [2] The need for new avenues of trade with the Far East led to the seafaring explorations of the Age of Discovery. [2] The prelude to the Age of Discovery, however, is to be found neither in the Norse explorations in the Atlantic nor in the Arab activities in the Indian Ocean but, rather, in the land journeys of Italian missionaries and merchants that linked the Mediterranean coasts to the China Sea. [2] Age of Exploration Essay 4 The Spanish had begun their exploration of the Americas with Christopher Columbus' discovery of. [2] Age of Exploration in America & age of discovery lesson plan includes Plymouth Rock & Christopher Columbus Facts with timelines and other graphic organizers. [2] Historians refer to this period as the Age of Exploration, or the Age of Discovery. [2] The Renaissance and the New Monarchs marked the start of an Age of Discovery, a period of exploration, invention, and scientific development. [2] Today we’re going to talk about one of the major economic developments happening during the reign of Elizabeth I, specifically trade and exploration, as well as the notable people and companies involved in the age of discovery. [12] The great Age of Exploration, beginning in the late 1400s, was an important era in the discovery and development of. [2] What were the Effects of the Age of Discovery? The Age of Exploration was a time of struggle and wealth for. [2] The Age of Exploration, or Age of Discovery, is one of the most important events in the history of the western world. [2] Major explorations of Earth continued after the Age of Discovery. [2] There were many explorations that took place during the Age of Discovery. [2]

Casale might exaggerate the originality of his findings and the vision of some of his historical figures but he makes an interesting, readable, and meticulously detailed case for the Ottoman Empire as an active participant in the first century of the Age of Exploration, along with a well-justified explanation for its decision not to pursue expansion at the century’s end. [25] The golden age of Portuguese exploration and conquest in Asia began with Vasco da Gama's voyage to India in 1497-99 and continued through the first half of the sixteenth century. [2] These witnesses come towards the end of what is often referred to as the First Viking Age that began with the earliest recorded Scandinavian attacks on Britain and Western Europe towards the end of the 8th century a Second Viking Age is associated with the emergence of Denmark under Harald Bluetooth that culminated in the seizure of the English throne by Cnut in 1016. [2] KEY TOPICS The beginning of the Middle• The Middle Ages begins with the Fall of the Roman Empire in 476.• The Romans had ruled provinces in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa for nearly a thousand years.• Challenges to Roman security increased during the first century (0-100 AD) as tribes from Germania (Germany) began to confront the Romans. [2] The term Dark Age is generally very inaccurate when applied to the entire Medieval Period from 500-1500, but the late ninth and tenth century was indeed a very dark time for Europe, perhaps the darkest period except for the aftermath of the destruction of the Roman Empire in the West in the fifth and sixth centuries. [2] Found in a bog in Schleswig - Holstein, Germany an area that was part of Denmark in the Late Roman Iron Age, 4th Century AD. I understand the potential risk from using the term "Dark Ages" and possibly making people think it ended in 1500 AD. I’d have a hard time coming up with a third Dark Age, at least for Europe, unless we cheat and say everything before written history was "Dark". [2]

In the 8th century the Viking Age began and they rapidly raided and traded their way through large parts of Europe, this caused short term destruction but also the founding of many ports and villages that then grew to form the catalyst for medieval urban life. [2] As a result of the Age of Exploration, Spain dominated the end of the sixteenth century. [11] The Age of Exploration can help restore something that we are perhaps unaware that we have lost in the cynical 21st century: our capacity for astonishment. [2] The age of exploration is generally said to have ended in the early seventeenth century. [2] The Age of Exploration, which stretched from the early 15th century to the early 17th century, may have been largely driven by a desire for quicker, easier trade routes, but it resulted in so much more--not the least of which was European settlement of the Americas. [2] The historic period commonly known as the European "Age of Exploration" from the 15th century to the 18th century was a series of attempts to explore, map and verify knowledge of the world. [2] With the Age of Exploration, midway through the 15th century, European civilization gradually became the dominant intellectual and political force in world history. [2] Many of these maps reflect the European Age of Discoveries, dating from the late 15th century to the 17th century when Europeans were concerned primarily with determining the outline of the continents as they explored and mapped the coastal areas and the major waterways. [2] The Age of Exploration started in the late 1400’s until the 17th Century. [2] Though the Age of Exploration officially ended in the 17th century, it is important to note however that the exploration did not cease entirely at this time. [2]

Under the orders of famous 14th century Prince Henry, Portugal naval explorers are remembered today for their efforts in the discovery of maritime trade route to India, their vast influence in the exploration of newfound continents of Americas, and one of the most famous naval missions of all time - circumvention of Earth by Ferdinand Magellan. [2] In the sixteenth century geographical knowledge of the Americas expanded as new voyages of exploration returned to Europe. [2] During the fifteenth and the sixteenth century the states of Europe began their modern exploration of the world with a series of sea voyages. [11]

The 15th century witnessed the rounding of the feared Cape Bojador and Portuguese exploration of the west coast of Africa, while in the last decade of the century the Spanish sent expeditions to the New World, focusing on exploring the Caribbean Sea, and the Portuguese discovered the sea route to India. [2] Portuguese exploration and trade along the West African coast and to Atlantic islands, encouraged and directed by Prince Henry de Avis, the Navigator, continued throughout the 15th century. [2]

Near the end of the 15th century, Portuguese sailor Vasco da Gama, who sailed around Africa, became the first European to re-establish direct trade links with the kingdoms of India since the Roman times. [2] The Portuguese, making use of what Europeans knew about the world in the late 15th century, rationally decided to sail east around the horn of Africa to reach India, Southeast Asia and China. [2] Early European travelers to Asia such as Marco Polo reported a large ocean off the coast of Asia, but it was not until the late 15th century that European explorers and trading ships succeeded in sailing around Africa and then sailing to the western rim of the Pacific Ocean. [2] These discoveries led to numerous naval expeditions across the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans, and land expeditions in the Americas, Asia, Africa, and Australia that continued into the late 19th century, and ended with the exploration of the polar regions in the 20th century. [10]

The life of the naval explorer in the late 16th and early 17th century was best recorded in the popular book "Voyage into the South Sea" that was written by the famous English Admiral, privateer, and explorer Sir Richard Hawkins. [2] The kingdom first appeared on maps of east Asia in the 15th century, but in the 16th and 17th centuries was relocated to North America (Wagner, 426). [2] However the voyages of discovery from the 15th century were a concerted effort by European powers to map as much of the world as possible, as well as expand trade, make Christian converts, and carve out an empire. [2] The 18th century saw the first extensive exploration of the South Pacific and the discovery of Alaska, while the nineteenth was dominated by exploration of the polar regions (not to mention excursions into the heart of Africa). [2]

In 1419, two of Henry's captains, João Gonçalves Zarco and Tristão Vaz Teixeira, were driven by a storm to Madeira, an uninhabited island off the coast of Africa, which had probably been known to Europeans since the 14th century. [10] The Middle Ages of Western Europe are commonly dated from the end of the Western Roman Empire ( 5th century ) until the rise of national monarchies, the start of European overseas exploration, the humanist revival, and the Protestant Reformation starting in 1517. [2] The Dark Ages is usually referring to the first half of the Middle Ages from 500 to 1000 AD. OK Unit 4A Jeopardy Review The Middle Ages in Europe Fall of Rome Feudalism Knights & Crusades England & France Century of Turmoil Q $100 Q $200 Q $300 Q. Although the term Middle Ages covers the years between 500 and 1500 throughout the world, this timeline is based on events specifically in Europe during that time. [2] The first few centuries of the middle ages in Europe are often called the Dark Ages because civilization had collapsed after the Fall of Rome, and Europe was torn by widespread fighting among barbarian tribes This term, "the Middle Ages," was first used by Italian intellectuals during the Renaissance of the fifteenth century to denigrate the period that separated them from the authors and artists they so admired in classical antiquity (ancient Greece and Rome). [2] The period between the year 1000 and 1300 is known as the High Middle Ages, during which the population of Europe experienced significant growth, culminating in the Renaissance of the 12th century. [2] Broadly speaking, the Middle Ages is the period of time in Europe between the end of antiquity in the fifth century and the Renaissance, or rebirth of classical learning, in the fifteenth century and sixteenth centuries. [2] Ever since the fifteenth century, historians of Europe have referred to the period between the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the Italian Renaissance (which took place in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries) as the Middle Ages. [2]

The Feudal System in Medieval Europe (7th‐14th Century A.D.) 1 A Summary by kiplangat cheruiyot An Introduction At the beginning of medieval age in Europe, based on a feeble resource of data, it is believed that between 80‐90% of the economic activity was agriculture. [2] Glimpses of the dark ages : Or, Sketches of the social condition of Europe, from the fifth to the twelfth century. (1846). [2] Soo) 70 3 The rise of new powers (800-900) I T 1 4 Iron century or golden age (900-- 1000)? 180 5 The first Byzantine century (tooo-t ioo) 248 6 The second Byzantine century (1 100--1200) 31 I 1 Between the Crusade and the Mongol invasion (1200-1250) 366 8 Conclusions and lingering questions 415 Select bibliography 43 -S Index 487 MAPS i Southeastern Europe in the sixth century. [2] In the course of the 5th century BC, several of the Greek city states would ultimately check the Achaemenid Persian advance in Europe through the Greco-Persian Wars, considered a pivotal moment in world history, as the 50 years of peace that followed are known as Golden Age of Athens, the seminal period of ancient Greece that laid many of the foundations of Western civilization. [2] The Iberian Golden Age By the middle of the seventeenth century, the full impact of the Commercial Revolution had not yet been experienced in Europe. [2] The medieval Church grew into the most powerful institution in Europe, thanks in no small part to the rise of monasticism, a movement that began in the third century with St. Anthony of Egypt and would rise to its most influential point in the High Middle Ages (1000-1300 A.D.). [2] Emperor Romanus I (920--944) began sending to Athos yearly cash payments which amounted to one gold coin per monk. 208 Southeastern Europe in the Middle Ages, 500-1250 the eleventh century had been also made possible by changes tak- ing place at Athos in the aftermath of Athanasius’ foundation of the Great Lavra. [2] Dragojlovic, "Dyrrachium et les eveches de Docleajusqu’a la fondation de l’archevechc de Bar," Balamica, vol. 21 (1990). p. 202. 102 Southeastern Europe in the Middle Ages, 500-1250 Holy Cross in Nin must have been built in the late eighth century. [2] As Roman imperial authority effectively ended in the West during the 5th century, Western Europe entered the Middle Ages with great difficulties that affected the continent's intellectual production dramatically. [2] I ' chest na profesor Georgi Bakalov, ed. by C. Stepanov and V. Vachkova (Sofia: Centar za izsledvaniia na balgarite "Tangra" TanNakRa IK, 2004). pp. 417--441. 14 Southeastern Europe in the Middle Ages, 500--1250 mid-eleventh century that brought the issues of imperial power and Bulgarian past glory to the forefront, the Bulgarian Apocryphal Chron- icle can hardly be used as a reliable source for the early history of Bulgaria. [2] Besides Pope John X’s letters, no shred of evidence exists Documents p. 192. 198 Southeastern Europe in the Middle Ages, 500-1250 that the Slavic liturgy was in use in Croatia during the tenth century and everything points to Glagolism being an eleventh-, not tenth- century phenomenon. [2]

Italian explorer, cartographer, and navigator Amerigo Vespucci has played significant role in the history of the Age of the Exploration by managing to be first to come to the conclusion that newfound New World on the west of the Europe is a standalone continent and not a part of Asia. [2] Europe, now in the Age of Exploration, continued to make new discoveries for example, the explorer Bartolomeu Dias discovered the southern tip of Africa, which proved that the Atlantic and Indian oceans were connected. [2] The Age of Exploration enriched Europe, but its consequences for the peoples of Africa and the Americas were mostly disastrous. [2] While no one in Europe was envisioning America at the time, medieval overland Asian trade routes changed history and triggered the Age of Exploration. [2] European Age of Exploration. for the rescue of the Holy Sepulchre of Jesus, at Jerusalem, from the hands of the Turks) had been chiefly instrumental in producing, came into Europe a knowledge of the theories and demonstrations of the Arabian astronomers, concerning the. [13]

Important themes to raise include England's internal political, religious, and economic problems of the 15th and 16th centuries (prior to its overseas ventures), the reasons for England's entry into the Age of Exploration, the failed expeditions to Roanoke, and the near-disastrous expedition at Jamestown. [2] Major advances in cartography took place during the Age of Exploration in the 15th and 16th centuries. [2]

Casale’s study is a reaction against two historiographical trends: the first is a Eurocentric version of history in which the so-called Age of Exploration is posited as a purely European phenomenon, conditioned by the intellectual tradition of the European Renaissance and focused on New World colonization. [25] With the dawning of the Age of Exploration (15th to 17th centuries), as new navigation technology made sailing long distances possible, Europeans took to the seas to forge direct trading relationships with Indonesia, China, and Japan. [2] The Age of Exploration provided the foundation for the European political and commercial worldwide imperialism of the late 1800s. [11] Little did the Ottomans know that disrupting pepper would spur the European Age of Exploration. [14] Many of these newer incarnations are devoted to exploring for natural resources, much like northern European versions during the Age of Exploration. [14] Whether Portuguese or Spanish, Iberian mariners led the charge during the Age of Exploration. [14] Casale proposes instead that Ottoman participation in the Age of Exploration focused on maintaining, expanding, and defending Indian Ocean trade against the Portuguese expansion there. [25] In The Ottoman Age of Exploration, Giancarlo Casale contests the prevailing narrative that characterizes the Ottoman Empire as a passive bystander in the sixteenth-century struggle for dominance of global trade. [25]

Monetarists believe the main reason the Age of Exploration began was because of a severe shortage of bullion in Europe. [2] Many of the Age of Exploration maps are unique found only in the major national libraries in Europe and the United States. [2] The Age of Exploration was the epoch between the 15th and 17th centuries when brave men in Europe decided to explore the New World. [2] A second reason for the beginning of the Age of Exploration was the rise of absolute monarchies in Europe. [2] The old feudal order is beginning to give way to early modern Europe, with the Italian Renaissance and the age of exploration under way. [2] The age of exploration was filled with courageous voyagers and conquistadors from all over Europe, much like today. [2]

The Age of Exploration led, directly to new communication and trade routes being established and the first truly global businesses to be established. [11] As previously mentioned the age of discovery was largely driven by the Ottoman Empire taking control of eastern trade routes on which Europe had come to depend. [2] What does the fall of Constantinople have to do with the Age of Discovery? With the fall of a stable trading ally in the Eastern Mediterranean, trade along the silk road all but dried up for most of Europe. [2]

RANKED SELECTED SOURCES(30 source documents arranged by frequency of occurrence in the above report)

Key Facts & Information


  • The word ‘renaissance’ is a French word which means ‘rebirth’. The people credited with beginning the Renaissance were trying to recreate the classical models of Ancient Greek and Rome.
  • The Renaissance period was the succeeding epoch of the Middle Ages which was the gap defining the classical and modern period. Often branded as the Dark Ages, the Medieval period was characterized by some years with famine and pandemics such as the Black Death.
  • During the 14th century, the philosophy of humanism began to emerge in Italy. Humanism emphasizes that man is the center of the universe and that all human achievements in art, literature, and science should be regarded. Instead of relying on the will of God, people began to act according to capabilities.
  • In 1450, Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of movable printing press revolutionized communication and publication in Europe. As a result, publications of humanist thinkers like Francesco Petrarch and Giovanni Boccaccio were printed and distributed to elite and common people.
  • In addition, the growth in trade and commerce between the East and West set the stage for the Renaissance.


  • The emergence of rich cultural history through art began in Florence, Italy when wealthy citizens and families supported developing artists. Among the well-known supporters of this movement was the Medici family.
  • Also known as the House of Medici, the Medici family were a family of wealthy bankers of Caffaggiolo who emigrated to Florence in the 12 century. They became the most wealthy and powerful family in Florence by the 13th century and produced four popes: Leo X, Clement VII, Pius IV, and Leo XI. Moreover, they were known to finance arts and humanities.
  • With powerful members of the Medici family, the Renaissance movement soon spread in Italian cities of Venice, Milan, Bologna, Ferrara, and Rome. By the 15th century, the idea of Renaissance spread through France and other parts of Europe.
  • Some of the most famous intellectuals who dominated the Renaissance included Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, William Shakespeare, John Milton, William Byrd, Niccolo Machiavelli, Giotto, Dante, Thomas Hobbes, Nicolaus Copernicus, Galileo Galilei, Rene Descartes, and Erasmus.
  • At the end of the 16th century, the Age of Exploration emerged with sailing discoveries made by Bartolomeu Dias, Christopher Columbus, Vasco da Gama, and other known explorers.
  • In the first half of the 16th century, a number of political events were driven and influenced by the Renaissance. The beginning of the Roman Golden Age began with the appointment of Julius II as the new pope.
  • In 1509, Henry VIII of England came to power, while France was ruled by Francis I in 1515. By 1530, Charles V became the Holy Roman Emperor. Prior to this, in 1527, Charles V dismissed Rome in order to prevent the annulment of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon which later led to the establishment of the Church of England.
  • By 1558, England’s Golden Age began with the crowning of Queen Elizabeth I. Two years earlier, Charles V abdicated the Spanish throne and Philip II took over.


  • One of the institutions that began to decline was the Catholic Church. Religion was still important, however. New religions and ways of thinking were being discussed. Martin Luther had broken away from the Catholic Church and was spreading the Protestant religion throughout Europe.
  • The revival of classical Roman culture surfaced during the proto-Renaissance period in Italy during the late 13th century. Italian intellectuals such as Petrarch and Boccaccio revived ancient Greek and Roman language and values.
  • Florentine painter Giotto introduced a new technique in presenting the human body in frescoes. Among his works were decors of cathedrals at Assisi, Rome, Padua, Naples, and Florence.
  • During the High Renaissance, masters like Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Raphael dominated visual arts. Da Vinci, also known as the ultimate Renaissance Man was best-known for his works such as the Mona Lisa, The Virgin of the Rocks, and The Last Supper.
  • Aside from being a painter, Michelangelo was a leading sculptor of the High Renaissance. Among his best pieces were the Pietà and the David. He was also commissioned to do the frescoe covering the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
  • Raphael, the youngest of the Renaissance masters was known for his painting The School of Athens which he worked on for three years, the same time when Michelangelo was working on the Sistine Chapel.
  • Among the most common subjects of Renaissance art were religious images of the Virgin Mary and ecclesiastical rituals.
  • Artists were usually members of a guild and came from wealthy to middle class families.


  • The Renaissance movement in trade began to gradually diminish in the 1500s after Columbus’ discovery of the Americas. New trade routes were established in the Atlantic affecting trade in the Mediterranean which brought huge profit to Italy.
  • By the 16th century, Italy was threatened by neighboring Kingdoms such as France and Spain. By 1527, under the reign of King Philip II, the Spanish army sacked Rome and eventually ruled Italy.
  • In Germany, Martin Luther led the Reformation which contested the Catholic Church. As a result, Protestant Churches emerged while the Catholic Church in Italy faced real crisis. In response, the Catholic Church launched Counter Reformation which implemented Inquisition. Inquisition arrested every individual who would contradict the teachings of the Catholic Church including scholars, artists, and scientists in Italy.

Renaissance Worksheets

This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Renaissance across 22 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Renaissance worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Renaissance which is a period from the 14th to the 17th century, considered the bridge between the Middle Ages and Modern history. It started as a cultural movement in Italy in the Late Medieval period and later spread to the rest of Europe.

Complete List Of Included Worksheets

  • Renaissance Facts
  • Medieval v. Renaissance Thought
  • Renaissance in Letters
  • The Greco-Roman Comeback
  • Shakespeare’s Iambic Pentameter
  • The Age of Exploration
  • The Gutenberg Press
  • Astronomy in the Renaissance
  • Age of Rebirth
  • Da Vinci’s Mirror Writing
  • Renaissance Wall

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Peasants In The Middle Ages

Peasants in the middle ages were mainly agricultural farmers who worked in lands that were owned by a lord. The lord would rent out his land to the peasants in exchange for economic labor. Peasants were tied to the land and were not allowed to move away from the land or change their profession unless they became freemen. To become a freeman a peasant would have to buy a plot of land or pay dues to the lord.

In addition to the labor that they provided the lords, peasants in the middle ages also contributed some of their agricultural produce to their masters as a form of payment. Approximately nine out of ten people in the middle ages were peasants and only a few of them were not bound to the land. Nevertheless, the freemen also paid some form of rent for living and working in the lord’s manor. Large majorities of peasants were villeins and serfs in theory, the villeins had more rights when compared to the serfs and fewer obligations to the lords. However, in reality there was almost no difference between them.

Within the feudal structure, peasants would generally be grouped into farmers and craftspeople. The farmers spend their time working in the fields. After paying their dues to the lord, they would keep the rest of the produce to be used by the family or to sell. Peasant craftspeople were trained in their profession by their parents who were also undertaking the same craft. Alternatively, they would learn the skills from other crafts people as apprentices.

The goods that they produced were mainly for sale they would use the proceeds to cater for costs such as taxation imposed by the lords who owned the land in which the craftsmen lived with their families. They also used these proceeds to purchase food from the peasant farmers. In addition to developing goods such as pottery, leather and ironwork, they also helped in repair work around the villages and in the towns.

Peasants had very few possessions. These included domestic furniture such as wooden bowls, spoons, pot, cups, stools, benches and their tools of trade. It was not common to own a bed and most of the time the peasants slept on the floor on mattresses made from straws.

They also had little in the way of clothes and usually slept in their work apparels and covered themselves using animal skins. The lady of the house would assist in the craftwork or she would tend to the children and the small garden behind their home. Although most peasants lived in the village, some lived in the towns and commuted to the farms they had rented, daily.

Peasants in the middle ages lived in small and dark homes that were close to each other within the walls of the village. The house windows were built with security in mind they were small with shatters made from wood.

They lived in close proximity to each other for security given the numerous barbaric wars and conflicts that characterized the Middle Ages. When not working, they would spend time within their small quarters. They rarely ventured out to other villages and most peasants would be born, married and die within the same village.

Peasant males usually clad in tunics and stockings while the females donned lengthy gowns with tunic and covered their hair. The women were generally in charge of mending clothes for the entire family and they would spend endless hours producing fiber for mending these clothes. The peasants were not used to cleaning their outer clothes but regularly cleaned the inner wears.

Although peasants worked hard in the farms or with their craft, they enjoyed several holidays. In total, peasants worked for 260 days, and the other days were spent in religious and non-religios festivities. They hosted festivals during the planting and harvest times and offered burnt sacrifices during the frequent famines that would destroy their crop.

Religion played a significant role in the life of the peasant. Before the 10th century that saw the dawn of tyrannical governments and kings, the Church was the predominant source of authority. The Church established stringent laws and the peasants were keen to uphold these laws. However as the role of the church grew and sometime became overbearing the peasants began to resent the clergy.

They would indeed look up to the church to provide them with solace and also basic necessities such as food and housing, especially for the poorest peasants. They also looked up to the church as a source of knowledge and often sent their children to the church school to study religion or Latin. Most peasants religiously observed occasions such as Mass, Holy Communion and baptisms.

Peasants Revolt

The peasants’ revolt served to emancipate the peasant from the hardship that he was facing working in the lord’s manor. Following this plague, there were very few peasants to work on the lord’s manors and the lords were desperate to keep the ones that they had working for them.

Peasants in the middle ages saw this as an opportunity to ask for better working conditions and wages. Peasants began to move from one manor to another looking for a lord who was willing to pay higher wages. This movement threatened the foundation of the feudal system, which required the farmers be bound to the land that they toiled. Interestingly it was the lords who were encouraging farmers to move from one land to another as each promised to pay higher wages than the next lord.

The government in England moved in to stop this movement and to maintain the feudal system by imposing the 1351 Statute of Laborers. This legislation prohibited lords from paying peasants more than the normal wages and prohibited peasants from moving from their villages. The government in England also imposed the Poll Tax for a third time, causing the lords to raise taxes paid by the peasants. The earlier statute and this poll tax aggravated the peasants who under the leadership of Jack Straw, Wat Tyler and John Ball began a revolt in 1381.

The peasants who congregated in London demanded that King Richard I abolish serfdom, laws that prohibited the hunting of games and the use of forest, and tithes. In the end, only the poll tax was abolished and the peasants’ leaders were barbarically executed.

What was medieval and Renaissance medicine?

The Medieval Period, or Middle Ages, lasted from around 476 C.E. to 1453 C.E, starting around the fall of the Western Roman Empire. After this came the start of the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery.

In southern Spain, North Africa, and the Middle East, Islamic scholars were translating Greek and Roman medical records and literature.

In Europe, however, scientific advances were limited.

Read on to find out more about medicine in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

Share on Pinterest In the Middle Ages, the local apothecary or wise woman would provide herbs and potions.

The Early Middle Ages, or Dark Ages, started when invasions broke up Western Europe into small territories run by feudal lords.

Most people lived in rural servitude. Even by 1350, the average life expectancy was 30–35 years, and 1 in 5 children died at birth.

There were no services for public health or education at this time, and communication was poor. Scientific theories had little chance to develop or spread.

People were also superstitious. They did not read or write, and there was no schooling.

Only in the monasteries was there a chance for learning and science to continue. Often, monks were the only people who could read and write.

Around 1066 C.E., things began to change.

The Universities of Oxford and Paris were established. Monarchs became owners of more territory, their wealth grew, and their courts became centers of culture. Learning started to take root. Trade grew rapidly after 1100 C. E., and towns formed.

However, with them came new public health problems.

Medieval medical practice

Across Europe, the quality of medical practitioners was poor, and people rarely saw a doctor, although they might visit a local wise woman, or witch, who would provide herbs or incantations. Midwives, too, helped with childbirth.

The Church was an important institution, and people started to mix or replace their spells and incantations with prayers and requests to saints, together with herbal remedies.

In the hope that repentance for sins might help, people practiced penance and went on pilgrimages, for example, to touch the relics of a saint, as a way of finding a cure.

Some monks, such as the Benedictines, cared for the sick and devoted their lives to that. Others felt that medicine was not in keeping with faith.

During the Crusades, many people traveled to the Middle East and learnt about scientific medicine from Arabic texts. These explained discoveries that Islamic doctors and scholars had made, based on Greek and Roman theories.

In the Islamic World, Avicenna was writing “The Canon of Medicine.” This included details on Greek, Indian, and Muslim medicine. Scholars translated it and, in time, it became essential reading throughout Western European centers of learning. It remained an important text for several centuries.

Other major texts that were translated explained the theories of Hippocrates and Galen.

The theory of humors

The ancient Egyptians developed the theory of humorism, Greek scholars and physicians reviewed it, and then Roman, medieval Islamic, and European doctors adopted it.

Each humor was linked to a season, an organ, a temper, and an element.

Black bileSpleenMelancholyCold and dryEarth
Yellow bileLungsPhlegmaticCold and wetWater
PhlegmThe headSanguineWarm and wetAir
BloodGallbladderCholericWarm and dryFire

The theory held that four different bodily fluids — humors — influenced human health. They had to be in perfect balance, or a person would become sick, either physically or in terms of personality.

An imbalance could result from inhaling or absorbing vapors. Medical establishments believed that levels of these humors would fluctuate in the body, depending on what people ate, drank, inhaled, and what they had been doing.

Lung problems, for example, happened when there was too much phlegm in the body. The body’s natural reaction was to cough it up.

To restore the right balance, a doctor would recommend:

The theory lasted for 2,000 years, until scientists discredited it.


Herbs were very important, and monasteries had extensive herb gardens to produce herbs to resolve each imbalance humor. The local apothecary or witch, too, might provide herbs.

The Christian Doctrine of Signature said that God would provide some kind of relief for every disease, and that each substance had a signature which indicated how effective it might be.

For this reason, they used seeds that looked like miniature skulls, such as the skullcap, to treat headache, for example.

The most famous medieval book on herbs is probably the “Red Book of Hergest,” which was written in Welsh around 1390 C.E.


Hospitals during the Middle Ages were more like the hospices of today, or homes for the aged and needy.

They housed people who were sick, poor, and blind, as well as pilgrims, travelers, orphans, people with mental illness, and individuals who had nowhere else to go.

Christian teaching held that people should provide hospitality for those in desperate need, including food, shelter, and medical care if necessary.

During the Early Middle Ages, people did not use hospitals much for treating sick people, unless they had particular spiritual needs or nowhere to live.

Monasteries throughout Europe had several hospitals. These provided medical care and spiritual guidance, for example, the Hotel-Dieu, founded in Lyons in 542 C. E. and the Hotel-Dieu of Paris, founded in 652 C. E.

The Saxons built the first hospital in England in 937 C. E, and many more followed after the Norman Conquest in 1066, including St. Bartholomew’s of London, built in 1123 C.E., which remains a major hospital today.

A hospitium was a hospital or hospice for pilgrims. In time, the hospitium developed and became more like today’s hospitals, with monks providing the expert medical care and lay people helping them.

In time, public health needs, such as wars and the plagues of the 14th century, led to more hospitals.


Share on Pinterest Medieval barber-surgeons used special tools to remove arrowheads on the battlefield.

One area in which doctors made advances was in surgery.

Barber-surgeons carried out surgery. Their skill was important on the battlefield, where they also learnt useful skills tending to wounded soldiers.

Tasks included removing arrowheads and setting bones.


Monks and scientists discovered some valuable plants with powerful anesthetic and antiseptic qualities.

People used wine as an antiseptic for washing out wounds and preventing further infection.

This would have been an empirical observation, because at that time people had no idea that infections were caused by germs.

As well as wine, surgeons used using ointments and cauterization when treating wounds.

Many saw pus as a good sign that the body was ridding itself of toxins in the blood.

There was little understanding of how infection works. People did not link a lack of hygiene with the risk of infection, and many wounds became fatal for this reason.


The following natural substances were used by medieval surgeons as anesthetics:

Medieval surgeons became experts in external surgery, but they did not operate deep inside the body.

They treated eye cataracts, ulcers, and various types of wounds.

Records show they were even able to surgically remove bladder stones.


Some patients with neurological disorders, such as epilepsy, would have a hole drilled into their skulls “to let the demons out.” The name of this is trepanning.


At this time, Europe started trading with nations from all over the world. This improved wealth and and living standards, but it also exposed people to pathogens from faraway lands.


The plague of Justinian was the first recorded pandemic. Lasting from 541 into the 700s, historians believe it killed half the population of Europe.

The Black Death started in Asia and reached in Europe in the 1340s, killing 25 million.

Medical historians believe Italian merchants brought it to Europe when they fled the fighting in Crimea.

Historians say the Mongols catapulted dead bodies over the walls of Kaffa, in the Crimea, to infect enemy soldiers. This is probably the first example of biological warfare. This may have triggered the spread of infection into Europe.

The Plague continued to resurface until the 17th century.

From the 1450s onwards, as the Middle Ages gave way to the Renaissance, the Age of Discovery. This brought new challenges and solutions.

Girolamo Fracastoro (1478–1553), an Italian doctor and scholar, suggested that epidemics may come from pathogens outside the body. He proposed that these might pass from human-to-human by direct or indirect contact.

He introduced the term “fomites,” meaning tinder, for items, such as clothing, that could harbor pathogens from which another person could catch them.

He also suggested using mercury and “guaiaco” as a cure for syphilis. Guiaiaco is the oil from the Palo Santo tree, a fragrance used in soaps.

Andreas Vesalius (1514–1564), a Flemish anatomist and physician, wrote one of the most influential books on human anatomy “De Humani Corporis Fabrica” (“On the Structure of the Human Body”).

He dissected a corpse, examined it, and detailed the structure of the human body.

Technical and printing developments of the time meant that he was able to publish the book.

William Harvey (1578–1657), an English doctor, was the first person to properly describe the systemic circulation and properties of blood, and how the heart pumps it around the body.

Avicenna had begun this work in 1242 C. E., but he had not fully understood the pumping action of the heart and how it was responsible for sending blood to every part of the body.

Paracelsus (1493–1541), a German-Swiss doctor, scholar, and occultist, pioneered the use of minerals and chemicals in the body.

He believed that illness and health relied on the harmony of man with nature. Rather than soul purification for healing, he proposed that a healthy body needed certain chemical and mineral balances. He added that chemical remedies could treat some illnesses.

Paracelsus wrote about the treatment and prevention strategies for metalworkers and detailed their occupational hazards.

Leonardo Da Vinci (1452–1519), from Italy, was skilled in several different fields. He became an expert in anatomy and made studies of tendons, muscles, bones, and other features of the human body.

He had permission to dissect human corpses in some hospitals. Working with doctor Marcantonio della Torre, he created over 200 pages of illustrations with notes about the human anatomy.

Da Vinci also studied the mechanical functions of bones and how the muscles made them move. He was one of the first researchers of biomechanics.

Ambroise Paré (1510–1590), from France, helped lay the foundations for modern forensic pathology and surgery.

He was the royal surgeon for four French kings and an expert in battlefield medicine, particularly wound treatment and surgery. He invented several surgical instruments.

Paré once treated a group of wounded patients in two ways: cauterization and boiled elderberry oil. However, he ran out of oil and treated the rest of the second group with turpentine, oil of roses, and egg yolk.

The following day, he noticed that those he had treated with turpentine had recovered, while those who received the boiling oil were still in severe pain. He realized how effective turpentine was in treating wounds, and virtually abandoned cauterization from then on.

Paré also revived the Greek method of ligature of the arteries during amputation, instead of cauterization.

This method significantly improved survival rates. This an important breakthrough in surgical practice, despite the risk of infection.

Paré also believed that phantom pains, sometimes experienced by amputees, were related to the brain, and not something mysterious within the amputated limb.

Infections and epidemics

Common problems at this time included smallpox, leprosy, and the Black Death, which continued to reappear from time to time. In 1665–1666, the Black Death killed 20 percent of the population of London.

While the Black Death came from Asia, people traveling from Europe to other parts of the world also exported some deadly pathogens.

Before the Spanish explorers landed in the Americas, deadly influenza, measles and smallpox did not occur there.

Native Americans had no immunity against such diseases, making them particularly deadly.

Within 60 years of Columbus arriving in 1492 C.E., the population of the island of Hispaniola, for example, fell from at least 60,000 to fewer than 600, according to one source, due to smallpox and other infections.

In mainland South and Central America, the smallpox virus and other infections killed millions of people within 100 years of Columbus’ arrival.

Diagnosis and treatment

Methods of diagnosis did not improve much from as the Middle Ages turned into the early Renaissance.

Physicians still did not know how to cure infectious diseases. When faced with the plague or syphilis, they often turned to superstitious rites and magic.

At one time, doctors asked King Charles II to help by touching sick people in an attempt to cure them of scrofula, a type of tuberculosis (TB). Another name for scofula was “The King’s Evil.”

Explorers discovered quinine in the New World and used it to treat malaria.

What’s the Difference Between the Renaissance and the Enlightenment?

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Answer by Kaiser Kuo, dabbler in history:

The Renaissance was a cultural and intellectual movement that peaked during the 15 th and 16 th centuries, though most historians would agree that it really began in the 14 th , with antecedents reaching back into the 12 th , and really didn’t end until the 17 th . Its chief feature was a heightened interest, to near obsession, with classical (that is, Greco-Roman) learning and culture, much of which had gone into eclipse, at least in Western Europe, during the early Middle Ages.

The Renaissance, which flowered first in Italy and spread to much of Western Europe east of the Pyrenees, saw a continuation of interest in the classical philosophy, mathematics, and natural sciences that late medieval scholars had begun to revive in the 12 th century. The Renaissance added to this an interest in the aesthetics of the classical world, including architecture and letters. The revival of interest in all things classical, beginning in the 12 th -century focus on philosophy and natural philosophy, owed much to the transmission of Greek and Roman culture through Byzantium (the Eastern Roman Empire) and through Islamic culture, and to the preservation of especially Greek philosophy (to include natural philosophy) in the Middle East and especially Central Asia. The reconquest of Sicily from Arab control in the early 11 th century, and contact (both peaceful and bellicose) with the Umayyad caliphate in Spain, which had been captured by Islam in the 8 th century and was eventually reconquered in 1492, were crucial to this.

The Renaissance is associated with great figures like the father of the Latin revival Petrarch, the humanist philosopher Pico della Mirandola, the great artist and inventor Leonardo da Vinci, the poet Dante Alighieri, the artist Michelangelo, the political philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli and many other names doubtless familiar to most educated Europeans.

Humanism and the keen interest in reason common to many of those smitten with Aristotelean philosophy during these centuries brought about profound challenges to the authority of the Roman Catholic Church during this time. The church itself was beset by many internal problems: Long-standing tensions between ecclesiastical and secular authority—supporters of the Holy Roman emperor versus partisans of the pope—broke out into open warfare during the early Renaissance. The Western Schism took place, in which there were actually three rival claimants to the papacy. And practices like the sale of indulgences (which would, for the right amount of money, supposedly reduce the time a sinner spent in purgatory before ascending to heaven), as well as concubinage, simony (sale of religious offices), and many other abuses of power would eventually create violent demand for reform. This would culminate in the Protestant Reformation.

The Enlightenment came much later, but it wouldn’t really have been possible without the Renaissance and the Reformation. Most historians will slip a mainly 17 th- century “Age of Reason” into outline chronologies of intellectual history, and this makes a great deal of sense the great thinkers of the 17 th century didn’t have quite the fervor for empiricism and hadn’t quite embraced the political liberalism that would characterize the European Enlightenment. But they had pretty much abandoned the project of Scholasticism—that is, trying to prove God and revealed truth through pure reason, a very late medieval and Renaissance kind of obsession—and they instead “changed the subject,” as the historian Mark Lilla so aptly put it. This was the political philosopher Thomas Hobbes’ great contribution in Leviathan: He really begun the divorce of political thought from theology by simply no longer speaking of God in matters of statecraft.

The Enlightenment began, most historians would probably concur, in mid-17 th century, and peaked in the 18 th century, when its real center of gravity France, not (as in the Renaissance) Italy. It was only really conscious of itself as an epochal movement from the early to mid-18 th century on, though, and the word Enlightenment didn’t really come into vogue until much later in that century. It was very much a reaction to the Catholic counter-revolution and really flowered after the end of the Thirty Years’ War, when the great powers of Europe fought along (roughly) confessional lines—France of course was an exception, and fought mainly on the side of the Protestant powers despite being Catholic.

The Enlightenment was the age of the triumph of science (Newton, Leibniz, Bacon) and of philosophy (Descartes, Locke, Spinoza, Kant, Voltaire, Diderot, Montesquieu). Unlike the Renaissance philosophers, they no longer sought validation in the texts of the Greco-Roman philosophers, but were predicated more solidly on rationalism and empiricism. There were atheists among them, and devout Christians, but if there was a common belief about the divine among Enlightenment philosophers, it was probably deism.

The political philosophy of the Enlightenment is the unambiguous antecedent of modern Western liberalism: secular, pluralistic, rule-of-law-based, with an emphasis on individual rights and freedoms. Note that none of this was really present in the Renaissance, when it was still widely assumed that kings were essentially ordained by God, that monarchy was the natural order of things and that monarchs were not subject to the laws of ordinary men, and that the ruled were not citizens but subjects.

It was the Enlightenment, and thinkers who embodied its ideas, like Voltaire and Benjamin Franklin (I think it was Eugen Weber once described the sage of Philadelphia as the epitome of the Enlightenment thinker), who were the intellectual force behind the American Revolution and the French Revolution, and who really inspired the ideas behind the great political documents of the age like the American Declaration of Independence and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen.

Is the Long Middle Age theory seriously considered by historians?

My brother told me abput his history teacher when he was in university telling him that he believed in a theory saying that the middle age should be reconsidered as not ending with the fall of Constantinople or the discovery of America, but rather with the industrial revolution/French revolution. Is this a real thing considered by some historians, or is it some obscure theory from dark places?

The main arguments for this theory are:

-the "renaissance" was mainly in arts and affected a very little part of the population. The peasant would still be a peasant and doing the same things as people did 200, 300 years prior. The fact that upper classes and nobility had statues and well made portraits doesn't change anything to 97% of the population

-untill the industrial Revolution, land organisation (at least in France) was organized around the same systems where lords possess the land and peasants live on It, working for the Lord. The IR changed that and peasants and farmers started having way more rights than they had before

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So I wrote about this here many months ago (u/stormtemplar to keep automod off my back), and while nothing I said in it is wrong per se, I do want to add some additional material that comes from more than a year and a half of professional development.

Firstly, what do we mean by "taken seriously"? Certainly, as I said in my earlier answer, most of us are comfortable mostly treading within the lines of

500-1500, and mostly niggling around the edges, but does that mean the person here is wrong? No, not necessarily, because periodization is more a useful tool we use to break history up into manageable chunks than it a fundamental statement of facts about the world. Nearly no one would dispute that Europe in 1450 was closer to Europe in 1550 than Europe in 600, but we call 600 & 1450 "Medieval" and 1550 "Early Modern," because, well, you've gotta draw a line somewhere I guess.

Furthermore, it really depends on what you're studying! For me as a scholar of literature, the traditional boundary between Medieval and Modern works pretty well. The printing press really is a pretty fundamental sea change in how Europeans engaged with literature (granted, I'll call a few decades into the Press's life "Medieval" because it wasn't widespread yet, but the point stands.). On the other hand, I've seen at least one scholar of urban development work with the period of 1000-1900, because many of the centralizing, urbanizing trends they look at started around 1000, and 1900 is a nice neat stopping point. In another case, Heart of Europe, a history of the Holy Roman Empire, more or less treats the empire as one continuous story from the Early Middle Ages to the Napoleonic collapse.

Are those people "wrong" because they break period boundaries? Of course not. Periodization is useful until it isn't, and it's better to interpret "Modernity" or "Middle Ages" as a useful shorthand, rather than a fundamental truth about the world.

As for some of the specific stuff: There's some truth to the fact that the artistic growth in the "Renaissance" doesn't really change a lot for the average person, and the past 50 or so years have seen a lot of corrective social history that has challenged the focus on things that are more or less the playground of elites, but that also does not mean that the peasantry lived in an never changing stagnation for 1000 years.

Technological change did happen, the development of windmills, the three field rotation, heavy plows and so on increased agricultural production. Patterns of settlement changed multiple times just during the Middle Ages: we see vast land clearances from 1000-1348 as the population grew, and then a retreat as the Black Death meant there were fewer mouths to feed and fewer hands to till the fields. Meanwhile, as I mentioned above, urbanization rates increased at a slow but steady pace throughout most of this period, because members of the rural peasantry moved into the cities to find work. All of those things DID change the lives of average people.

As for the legal framework of landownership, I'm not familiar enough with France to say much more than I'm extremely skeptical there was no change at all for centuries. In England, you see big changes like enclosure ending many communal landholding practices in peasant villages. The expansion of royal and institutional power in the later Middle Ages would have been felt as well, as formal courts began to replace traditional structures and tax burdens increased. All of that is very general, but the fundamental point stands: while it's true that elite culture, which has occupied too much of historian's focus in the past, has less impact on the common person than it has on our collective memories of the time, that does not mean that the idea of an eternal, unchanging peasantry is correct either.

All that is to say, we won't be seeing people suddenly start describing the Middle Ages as 476-1789, but that doesn't mean that historians who look at certain things across traditional period boundaries are wrong either. Indeed, they provide an incredibly important corrective, reminding us of the continuity between time periods that we slice up for our own convenience. If we didn't have people doing that work, our lines in the temporal sand would hide more than they revealed.

u/stormtemplar has hit some great points here, so I'm going to hopefully add a few useful points to that great answer.

First - there's something to this idea, but I think the nomenclature being used goes off on a very wrong track. Where I think the idea is on track is that it's feeling its way towards what historians (and other social scientists) would call "agrarian" or "pre-industrial", namely that there is a big qualitative and quantitative difference in a society where 90% of the population is engaged in agriculture and lives in a rural society, and a society where urbanization is rapid, industrialization drives economic growth, there are big changes in things like literacy and education level, public health metrics, etc. You sometimes will see this in histories that talk about the "History of X Place to 1800" or "From 1800", and a particular subset of this division/periodization deals with non-European countries where there is a big marker in pre-colonial and colonial/post-colonial histories.

So that's where there is some merit to what's going on here. But as noted above, even if you are looking at things from an agrarian/industrial dichotomy, you still can't assume that nothing changed in the agrarian society under discussion - cultural, economic, social, legal and environmental changes can in fact be massive. Or to put it another way - the United States in 1800 was arguably a pre-industrial agrarian society, but I don't think anyone would seriously argue that someone living on a farm in New York in 1800 would be living the same life as someone farming in England in 800 (and to note, in New York that farmer might even have a semi-feudal patroon she pays rents to!).

This idea of a "Long Middle Ages" presumes that. there was something before the Middle Ages. Presumably in Antiquity. My question would be why is this being treated as something qualitatively different. That is - Roman society in, say AD 100 was also extremely agrarian, so why would that be something "different", but ordinary life for a European peasant from 500 to 1700 or so is the "same". This also is where specifically calling it the "Long Middle Ages" seems to have some sort of pejorative intent, identifying the Medieval period with unchanging stagnation (which it most certainly was not).

The idea as presented seems to be similar to an idea from Marxist historiography that things like culture are a "superstructure" to an economic "base" - namely that economic relations determine the rest of social and political institutions which in turn develop culture to support those institutions. Except that actual historians using Marxist historiographical tools (including Marx himself) don't actually argue that everything was unchanging feudalism until the industrial revolution. While I'm on this subject I should mention Eric Hobsbawm in particular, as he specifically is the historian who coined the term "Long 19th Century". Anyway, a major point (much, much simplified) in Marxist historiography (specifically around Western Europe) is that the breakdown in feudal relations, the replacement of it with rents and enclosure, and the development of market mechanisms and concentration of capital is basically a big shift from "feudalism" to "capitalism".

This gets to another specific point: the ending of "feudalism" (however one is defining it, and whether feudalism is an actual coherent system is something much debated by Medieval historians) seems to be elided with the Industrial Revolution, but, well, this is a giant elision. In the case of France, feudalism was essentially dead with the events of 1789. But French society was still extremely agrarian and rural, and industrialization as we understand it didn't really take off until the mid 19th century. Similarly, the British Industrial Revolution was coterminous with the French Revolution, but I don't think any historians of Britain seriously argue that British society was "feudal" in the 17th or 18th centuries (or at least in any way that is remotely comparable to, say the 12th or 13th centuries).

One last point - all these periodizations and classifications like feudal and Medieval really break down once you get outside Western Europe. For instance, in my subject neck of the woods like Russia, serfdom is actually a product of the early modern period. For most of Russia and Eastern Europe, peasant rights were restricted and peasants tied to land and service in exactly the period when such obligations were disappearing in Western Europe (the rough rule of thumb is after 1350 Europe west of the Elbe saw serfdom disappear, and Europe east of the Elbe saw serfdom strengthen). Furthermore it's worth noting that many of these enserfed communities were actually producing agricultural goods for export to the increasingly market economies of Western Europe, such as exporting grain from Ukraine. Venturing deeper into my territory, the steppe regions and Central Asia were still pastoral or agrarian societies in the 19th century, when they experienced massive upheaval from conquest, colonialism, and industrialization, but it is still a mistake to assume that a cotton farmer in Ferghana or a nomadic herder on the steppe in 1800 is effectively living the same life that their equivalents would have done in 500. There are major linguistic, cultural, technological, religious and material differences between those points.

Cities grew and prospered during the Renaissance and rulers learned to tax the people. Trade grew between cities/states and other countries. As trade in goods increased, trade in ideas grew also. The contact between cultures was in some part due to the Crusades during the 11th century. Commerce and trade soon moved inland along the major routes of trade.

The Renaissance is generally accepted to have started in Italy. Many believe that this was due to its almost perfect location between Western Europe and the Eastern shore of the Mediterranean. Italian cities became important as trade centers and as commercial centers. This wealth helped sustain the political and social changes that were occurring at the time.

Rivers were the easiest way to move goods so towns along the rivers grew as important trade centers also. The Danube, Rhone and Rhine rivers all became important trade routes and the towns along their banks grew. The importance of the economic and political relationship between the landowners and their tenants diminished as trade in other areas grew.

Florence became a wealthy city in spite of its inland location away from the major trade routes. Family fortunes were made in Florence in banking and industry. Florence became the banking center of Italy during the 14th century. During the 15th century, the Medici bank began opening branches in major cities in Europe. In addition to loaning money, they operated mines, mills and other commercial activities. The Medici bank, owned by Cosimo de Medici (also known as Cosimo the Elder) accumulated huge profits and used those profits to finance cultural activities as well as political activities.

Italy’s economic power was challenged during the late 14th century as other country rulers began consolidating their power. The rulers of England, France and Spain put policies in place that were favorable to their own middle class tradesman and weakened the influence of the Italian middlemen in trade.

Italy’s influence was further diminished by Portugal’s development of a direct sea route to Asia at the end of the 15th century. Until that time Italy was the primary route between the Far East and Western Europe.

Journeys like Italian-Spanish Christopher Columbus voyage to the Caribbean Sea and Vasco da Gamma’s voyage to India intensified national rivalries.

As the Atlantic powers of Portugal, Spain and France increased their colonial territory, their wealth increased too. Italy’s importance continued to diminish as the world’s trade routes shifted from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic oceans. As other countries wealth grew it gave them the resources needed to continue their cultural development.

Renaissance Politics

After the collapse of the Roman Empire around 500ad the only unifying force remaining was the Roman Catholic Church. Outside invasions declined and the rulers began to consolidate their power and concentrate on self preservation. It was easier to accumulate wealth and industry continued to grow. Cities grew rapidly ad the population shifted from agricultural life to city life, where jobs were more plentiful. This increase the number of people being taxed and meant more wealth to fund expansion abroad.

Development varied depending on the region. In Italy, as towns grew, Italians demanded self rule and many times the cities developed into strong city-states. North of the Alps, national monarchs established their power over the nobility. Both of these trends had their roots in the Medieval Era but neither trend came to dominate.

The two things that were most important during the Medieval Era were the Roman Empire and the Roman Catholic Church. The Roman Empire ended around 500ad and the power of the Catholic Church began to diminish too. During the Medieval Era, the Holy Roman emperor was the political head and the pope of the Catholic Church was the spiritual head. Christian society was held to have two aspects, the church and the state. These two aspects of Christian society were sometimes referred to as Christendom.

Even with the strong ties between the popes and secular rulers, there were also conflicts. The church claimed responsibility of the souls of the people (including the emperor) so as a result the church claimed supremacy over the state as well as the administration of the Catholic Church. This was in conflict with the secular rulers who sought to protect and even expand their power within their country or territory.

The conflict between the emperor and the pope almost came to the demise of both. In 1197, Pope Innocent III claimed that the pope had the right to play a roll in the selection of the new Holy Roman emperor after the death of Henry VI. Henry’s son promised many concessions to the pope in exchange for the pope’s support of his claim to the throne. These promised concessions greatly diminished the power of the emperor. When Henry’s son was named Frederick II, King of Germany and Holy Roman emperor, he failed to actually meet all of the promised concessions. After his death in 1250, the throne was vacant for over twenty years.

The promised concessions weakened the emperor’s power but the papacy was also weakened and discredited by its attempts at political power rather than concentrating on spiritual matters. Between 1309 and 1377 the popes were forced to live in Avignon, in the South of France under the domination of several French monarchs. This time is sometimes referred to as the Babylonian Captivity or papal exile. This gave the appearance that the pope was simply a pawn of the emperor.

This was followed by the “Great Schism” when the pope was finally allowed to return to Rome. The Great Schism lasted from 1378 until 1417. The power struggle during this time was between three people vying to be pope. In 1417, when the Council of Constance elected Martin V, who did not support a strong political influence for the church, it signaled the end of the pope’s political authority outside of the church.

The struggle for power between the popes and the emperors allowed Italian towns to expand their power and independence. These city-states continued increasing their power and influence and by the 14th century, five states controlled all of Italy. These five states had a lot of differences in their political and military powers. The kingdom of Naples and Sicily (in the South) continued to keep their political and military relationships among the nobility. This type of relationship is known as feudalism. The center of Italy was the Papal States and the pope’s interest was in recapturing the power, control and influence they had lost during the papal exile and the Great Schism.

The Northern region was dominated by Florence in the Toscana region. The constant class conflict of this region during the 14th century eventually led to an “unofficial” dictatorship by the Medici banking family.

The Visconti family led Milan and the empire that extended over large areas in Northern and central Italy. Venice expanded inland to protect their trade routes and maintained their republican form of government.

Of the five territories, there was not one that was strong enough to take control of the others. When the Visconti family of Milan attempted to expand to the South, the other territories actually united against such a move.

These five territories existed under a tentative peace until 1454 when the Peace of Lodi agreement was signed. This agreement is the basis for the international relationships we see today. It used alliances to achieve the balance of power and allowed the territories to act as independent and sovereign nations. They even developed the office of resident ambassador.

Developments very similar to those in Italy were also happening north of the Alps. The leaders in the 15th century of France, England and Spain were all strong. These strong leaders proved better at securing needed resources and developing centralized governments. Even though they were strong and powerful leaders, they were not as powerful as later leaders would be. They were all limited in how much wealth they could accumulate due to limitations on how much tax they could impose on others.

Taxes could be used to protect the peace. Their subjects were weary of war and longed for peace. In France, the Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453), England had its War of the Roses (1455-1485) and Spain had been battling struggles among its nobles through the first half of the 15th century. Its no wonder the subjects had a strong desire for peace after being in wars for so long.

In the past, the desire of the nobility was to restrict the power of the king. Now, the new monarchs realized they could challenge the power of the nobility. The monarchs realized that the wealth of their city residents was now based on trade and that these people owed no particular allegiance to the land owners or the noble classes.

The monarchs began using non noble subjects to perform the administration of the bureaucracy. These new “professional” bureaucrats were employed to help maintain order and unity within each state, and at the same time, reduce the power of the nobility.

In other regions, rulers consolidated political power and used it in ways very similar to the princes of Italy.

The attraction of Italy’s wealth proved too strong and in 1494 the armies of French king Charles VIII marched into Italy. With this, France and then Spain, also attempted conquest. These battles went on until 1559, when Spain finally gained control of nearly the entire peninsula and ended the independence of the Italian people.

The 60+ years of battle, took its toll on the daily life and wealth of Italy. The new Renaissance culture had required an independent atmosphere in which to grow, but now it floundered without such independence.

Some scholars agree that this marks the end of the Italian Renaissance.

Even though the culture of the Renaissance was dying in Italy, the war had the effect of exposing northern Europeans to the accomplishments and attitudes of the early Italian Renaissance. Italian contributions were significant in the development and expansion of the Renaissance throughout Europe.

Removing Religion from Politics

In contrast to the thinking during the Middle Ages, when people had used their own morals to study and “frame” past events and when most of the events depicted were a reflection in their belief of their destiny as being a part of Christendom. In contrast, some of the new humanists stressed the progress in culture and politics as a natural event. These new humanists described the human control over events instead of the divine control of the events. They also would write to support causes that they believed to be just and right.

The thinking that politics should be free from any relationship to religion continued to grow, especially in the Florentine region. One of the best known Florentine writers was Machiavelli, who stressed that the government and the process of running the government should be based on science and not religion, or Christendom, principles.

The degree that this new concept had grown to is emphasized in Machiavelli’s work “Il principe”, written in 1532, wherein he bluntly states that the end justifies the means. This type of thinking spread to the monarchies to the North too.

The French historian, Jean Bodin wrote “Six Livres de la Republique” in which he proposed the theory that the authority of the national ruler should be almost unlimited. This new way of thinking was growing but was not a universally accepted principle.

Not everyone agreed, as can be seen in Sir Thomas More’s Utopia, written in 1516. This work strongly conveys the idealistic and religious attitudes toward politics. Even though the strong secular state was not universally recognized, there is not doubt that the belief that the secular state that recognizes no higher law other than the preservation and continuation of its own welfare originated in the Renaissance.

Watch the video: Ντοκιμαντέρ Αναγέννηση (August 2022).