Transformation of the West 1420-1750 (Early Modern Period)
Chandler Clark
Theme 1: Interaction Between Humans and the Environment
-Contacts with Asia led to improvements in technology
-literacy became more widespread
-population growth, urban growth
-After 1730, the changes in economic activity caused a rapidly growing population
-More people lived longer
Theme 2: Development and Interaction of Cultures
-science became the centerpiece for the first time in the history of any society
-Renaissance: challenged medieval intellectual values and styles
-Printing helped to expand religious and technological thinking
-Italian Renaissance:
-New realism appeared in painting, and religion declined as a central focus
-secular topics such as love and pride; critical thinking
-da Vinci and Michelangelo changed styles in art and sculpture
-political theory: Machiavelli advanced ideas similar to those of the Chinese legalists
-examples from Greece and Rome
-Humanism, a focus on humanity as the center of intellectual and artistic endeavor, was a central focus
-Italy declined as center of Renaissance 16th century (French and Spanish invasion cut political independence, while
new Atlantic trade routes hurt the Mediterranean economy)
-Northern Renaissance:
-centered in France, the Low Countries, Germany, and England, spread to eastern Europe
-more religious than the Italians
-Writers(Shakespeare, Rabelais, and Cervantes)mixed classical themes with elements of medieval popular culture
-Northern rulers became patrons of arts, tried to control the church, & sponsored trading companies & colonial ventures
-classical styles replaced Gothic
-Education changed to favor Greek and Roman classics, plus Christian morality
-A spirit of individual excellence and defiance of tradition was widespread
-Feudal political forms remained strong
-Ordinary people were little touched by the new values, and general economic life was not much altered
-Protestant and Catholic Reformations
-German monk Martin Luther nailed 95 theses to door of church
-taught that only faith could gain salvation, challenged many Catholic beliefs, including papal authority, monasticism, and
priestly celibacy
-Bible should be translated into the vernacular
-Luther picked up widespread support among German elite because: German princes who turned Protestant could increase their
independence from the emperor, seize church lands, and control the church in their territories; gained power at expense of
Catholic holy Roman emperor
-peasants interpreted Luther's actions as a sanction for rebellion against landlords
-Henry VIII in England: Anglican church
-Frenchman Jean Calvin, based in Geneva, insisted on the principle of predestination of those who would be saved
-Calvinism: sought participation of all believers in church administration, which had the political implications of encouraging the
idea of a wider access to government; stressed education to enable believers to read the Bible
-Catholic Church was unable to restore unity, but much of Europe remained under its authority
-Catholic Reformation worked against Protestant ideas, revived doctrine, and attacked popular beliefs
-Jesuits spearheaded educational and missionary activity, including work in Asia and Americas
-Scientific Revolution:
-Western view of science compared to other civilizations: West was not alone in developing crucial scientific data, but its
thinkers were the only ones to see science in broader philosophical terms as central to intellectual life
-Copernicus: astronomical observation and mathematical calculation to disprove Hellenistic belief that earth was center of
-Newton established the principles of motion, defined the forces of gravity, and refined the principles of scientific methodology
-spread among educated
-new attitudes toward religion: Deism argued that God did not regulate natural laws
-Locke stated that people could learn all that was necessary through their senses and reason
-science was central to Western intellectual life (different from other civilizations)
-centered in France
-rational laws could describe both physical and social behavior
-produced a basic set of principles concerning human affairs: humans are naturally good, reason was the key to truth, intolerant or
blind religion was wrong
-Adam Smith: governments should stand back & let individual effort & market forces operate for economic advance
-Methodism demonstrated the continuing power of spiritual faith
Theme 3: State Building, Expansion and Conflict
-overseas expansion and growing commercial dominance---> change in West
-Governments increased their powers
-Renaissance sketched brasher spirit ---> create new Western interest in exploring
-Louis XIV of France: absolute monarchy
-Protestant and Catholic Reformations led to religious wars 16th and 17th centuries
-In France, Calvinists and Catholics disputed until the edict of Nantes in 1598 gave Protestants tolerance.
-The Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) pitted German and Swedish Protestants against the holy Roman emperor and
Spain, established principle of territorial toleration; reduced German prosperity and power for a full century; some princely states
in Germany chose one religion, some another; treaty that ended the war granted political independence to Protestant Netherlands
-religion was an important issue in English civil strife; most Protestants, but not Catholics, gained toleration
-religious wars led to very limited concepts of religious pluralism
-France gained power, the Netherlands and England developed international trade, and Spain lost dominance
-Protestant theory encouraged parliamentary power
-feudal balance between monarchs and nobles came undone in 17th century
-Monarchs gained new powers in warfare and tax collection
-France became the West's most important nation
-centralized authority, professional bureaucracy and military
-absolute monarchy; Louis XIV
-Louis XIV followed economic theory of mercantilism, supported measures improving internal and international trade,
manufacturing, and colonial development
-Similar policies occurred in Spain, Prussia, and Austria-Hungary
-absolute monarchs pushed territorial expansion
-Britain and the Netherlands formed parliamentary regimes
-English political settlement occurred in 1688 and 1689; parliament won basic sovereignty over the king
-power came from the people, not from a royal divine right, and that they had the right to revolt against unjust rule
-many competing nation-states kept the West politically divided and at war
-Political changes were the least significant
-England and France continued with their previous patterns
-Frederick the Great of Prussia introduced greater religious freedom, expanded state economic functions, encouraged agricultural
methods, promoted greater commercial coordination and greater equity, and cut back harsh traditional punishments
Theme 4: Creation, Expansion and Interaction of Economic Systems
-15th century: Europe moved to a new role in world trade
-While remaining an agricultural society, West became unusually commercially active & developed strong manufacturing sector
-Renaissance was built on more commercialized economy
-Greater commercialization was spurred by substantial price inflation during 16th century
-New World gold and silver forced prices up, and product demand surpassed availability
-trading companies formed to take advantage of colonial markets
-increasing commerce stimulated manufacturing---> Specialized agricultural regions
-Italian Renaissance: Merchants and bankers moved into profit-seeking capitalist ways
-mass consumerism
-Paid, professional entertainment as part of popular leisure
-new agricultural methods
-New World crops, like the potato, increased the food supply
--->-manufacturing: 18th century witnessed rapid spread of household production of textiles and metal products, mostly by rural
workers who alternated manufacturing with some agriculture
-technological innovations (flying shuttle in weaving) improved efficiency
Theme 5: Development and Transformation of Social Structures
-Enlightenment treatment of children: parents became more interested in freer movement & greater interaction for young children
-inflation and commercialization in West produced group of people without access to producing property called the: proletariat
-European-style family
-late marriage age---> birth control, limited overcrowding
-nuclear families of parents and children vs. extended families of most agricultural civilizations
-husband-wife relations; linked family to individual property holdings
-Women, however, if unmarried, had fewer alternatives when Protestants abolished convents
-Commercialization created a new rural and urban proletariat that suffered from increased food prices
-For the more prosperous, commercialization supported a more elaborate family life and demystification of nature
-stimulated popular protest during the first half of the seventeenth century
-Witchcraft hysteria reflected economic and religious uncertainties; women were the most common targets
-The Renaissance created a new wedge between the elite and the masses; elite pulled away from a shared popular culture
-Enlightenment: less harsh punishment for children, affection among family members

Transformation of the West 1420