The Transformation of the West I. Introduction



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Chapter 17

The Transformation of the West


I. Introduction

A. 1450-1750 dramatic changes

1. Still agricultural

2. Commercially active

3. Manufacturing base

4. Science at center of society

5. Shifting ideas of family/nature

6. Increased bureaucratization – sound familiar?

B. Reasons for change

1. Dominance of international trade

2. Overseas expansion

3. Combination of commerce, state, culture, and technology

4. 1450-1650 – series of cultural shifts

5. 1650-1750 – Scientific Revolution > Enlightenment


II. The First Big Changes: Culture and Commerce

A. The Italian Renaissance

1. Artistic movement

2. Challenged medieval values/styles

a. Examine old truths

3. Why in Italy?

a. Urban, commercial economy

b. Competitive city-states – an arts race?

4. New themes

a. Writing in Latin

b. Secular subjects – love/pride

c. Classical/human-centered themes

d. Religion declined as focus

e. Humanism – humankind as focus of intellectual/artistic

5. Political Theory – Niccolo Machiavelli

a. End justifies means – better to be feared then loved

6. Other effects

a. Improved banking techniques

b. Merchants became more profit-seeking

c. Political rule based on ability to improve well-being/city’s glory

d. Professional armies/improved tech. – conflict among city-states

e. Diplomacy – exchange of ambassadors

B. The Renaissance Moves Northward

1. Fall of Italian power

a. French/Spanish invasions

b. Atlantic trade routes reduced Mediterranean importance

2. Spread to North – France, Germany, England

a. Classical art/architecture

b. Greek/Latin literature

c. Humanists wrote in vernacular – own language

d. Writers more popular culture – low-brow – Shakespeare

1. bodily functions

2. human passions

3. Set new classics

3. Political Change > toward greater state power

a. Revenue increase > greater ceremony/pomp aka blowing $

b. Kings – Francis I – patrons of arts/architecture

c. State-sponsored trading companies

d. Military conquest

e. Feudal/religious justifications not as important as state

4. Renaissance effects

a. Kings still restricted by power of local lords

b. Peasants not touched by Renaissance values

c. Economics same

d. Men more bravado – women more domestic

C. Changes in Technology and Family

1. Technological Changes

a. Learned from Asia

1. Pulleys/pumps for mines

2. Stronger iron

b. Printing press – Johannes Gutenberg – movable type

1. Books helped expand Renaissance

2. Literacy gained ground

3. Source for new thinking

2. Family structure

a. European-style family

1. Late marriage

2. Nuclear families not extended

b. Goals/reasons

1. Limit birth/family size

2. Husband/wife importance

3. Linked family to property holdings – can’t marry till own property

D. The Protestant and Catholic Reformations

1. Protestant Reformation

a. Martin Luther – 1517 – German monk 95 Theses

1. Indulgences

2. Only faith brings salvation – not Church

3. Sacraments not important

4. Monasticism wrong

5. Translate Bible to vernacular

b. Why did people buy into Luther’s views?

1. Political Leaders

a. Nationalist – don’t want pope’s taxes

b. gain more power over Holy Roman Emperor

c. seize church lands

d. State control of church

2. Ordinary People

a. Justification for rebellion against lords – Luther’s response?

b. Notion of work – other careers seen as positives

c. Moneymaking OK

d. Christian bias against moneymaking – Christ’s view of rich?

2. Anglican Church

a. Henry VIII has marriage/fertility issues – takes his ball and goes home

1. Women disposed of easily for political reasons

2. Daughter Elizabeth I – Protestant

3. Jean Calvin – Geneva, Switzerland – Predestination

a. Priests as moral guiders

b. Local believers participate in church administration

c. Education to read Bible

d. These would be your Puritans/Pilgrims with the Thanksgiving hats

4. Catholic Reformation – more severe or more open?

a. Special council meetings

b. Revived Catholic doctrine

c. Restated importance of sacraments

d. Tried to get rid of superstition/magical beliefs

e. Jesuits – politics, education, missionary work

E. The End of Christian Unity in the West

1. Series of religious wars

a. Germany – Thirty Years War – 1618 German Protestants vs. Holy Roman Emperor

1. Destroyed German power/population

2. Treaty of Westphalia 1648 – princes can choose

b. English Civil War – 1640s

1. Religious problems combined with…

2. Parliament wants power

2. Effects of Religious Wars

a. Limited acceptance of religious pluralism

b. Religious doubts? Wait a second…there’s more than one way to see God?

c. Shift in power – France, England, Netherlands up, Spain/Italy down

d. Philosophical changes

1. Less connection between God and nature

2. Focus on family life – love husband/woman

e. Women’s Rights

1. More emphasis on happy marriage

a. Emphasis on affection

2. But…no more convents, fewer options – must get married

f. Growing literacy

F. The Commercial Revolution

1. New world economy – greater commercialization

a. Increased trade

b. New goods

2. Causes

a. Increased inflation

b. Import of gold and silver – prices up

c. New wealth needs new products

d. Borrowing cheap – companies take more risks – easier to pay back

e. Great trading companies

1. New profits

2. New managerial skills

3. Colonial markets

a. Agricultural specialty areas – not just self-sufficient

1. Gradual switch to commercial farming

b. Specialization in villages/cities

4. Increased purchasing power of ordinary citizens

a. 1600 West 5x as much as S. European

b. Furniture, wine

G. Social Protest

1. Growing proletariat – people without access to property

a. Population growth/inflation – had to sell property

b. Became manufacturers

c. Became paid laborers

d. Cities – beggars/wandering poor

2. Popular protest results

a. Demanded protection from poverty/loss of property

3. Effects of 17th century protests

a. Social tension

b. United peasants through songs, common causes

4. Witchcraft persecution – 17th century

a. Europe/New England

b. Method of blaming poor

c. Conflict about family/role of women


III. Science and Politics: The Next Phase of Change

A. Scientific Revolution

1. Affected intellectual life

2. Promoted change in popular outlook

B. Did Copernicus Copy?

1. Copernicus – heliocentric theory – new thinking – proved Greeks

2. Copied from Muslims or Chinese, Indian, Mayan or independent?

3. Science becomes more a focus of Europe than anywhere else

C. Science: The New Authority

1. Scientific research can overrule/test existing theories

2. Galileo – conflict w/ Church over laws of gravity

3. William Harvey – circulatory system around heart

4. Rene Descartes – human reason can develop laws – accept nothing

5. 1687 – Isaac Newton – Principia Mathematica – summarized theories/observations

a. Laws of motion, gravity

b. Rational hypothesis + generalizations based on experiments

c. Laws not blind faith

6. Effects

a. Lectures/manuals for layman

b. Witchcraft seen as ridiculous

c. People control/calculate environment

d. Doctors based more on scientific diagnosis – no more nutjobs

e. Lost and found section of newspaper – huh?

f. Attacks on religion

1. miracles don’t make sense

2. Deism – great clockmaker in the sky

3. John Locke – faith irrelevant – jus need senses/reason

7. Why is this unique?

a. China/Muslim had science for practical reasons

b. Europe – more pure science, understanding world

c. West as center of advancement

D. Absolute and Parliamentary Monarchies

1. Feudal monarchies come to end

a. Nobles lose influence after wars

b. Heavy wars require more taxes/better administration

2. Absolute Monarchy

a. Modeled after France

1. Parliament doesn’t meet

2. Blew up castles

3. Bureaucracy from merchants/lawyers

4. Appointed representatives to provinces

5. Professionalized army

a. formal training officers – no longer nobility

b. uniforms and support

c. military hospitals/pensions – Hotel des Invalides

6. King Louis XIV – “I am the state”

a. Patron of arts – government has cultural role

b. Versailles – keep nobles busy

c. Mercantilism – protect economy of nation

1. Reduce internal tariffs

2. Support manufacturing

3. Limit imports from other nations – lose $

a. Heavy import taxes

b. Need colonies for natural resources/market

b. Borrowed in Spain, Prussia (Germany today), Austria-Hungary (Hapsburg)

1. Focus on military, expansion/protection

3. Parliamentary Monarchy

a. Britain/Netherlands

b. Central state + parliamentary

c. England – civil wars – Glorious Revolution

1. Parliament sovereign over king (slowly becomes figurehead)

2. Meets regularly

4. Changing political theory

a. John Locke

a. Power from people

b. Social contract between state/people to protect property

b. Rousseau – right to protest

c. Notions of limits to central authority

E. The Nation State

1. Common culture/language

2. Loyalty linked by cultural/political bonds

3. Citizens believed gov’t should act for their interests

a. France – bad harvest – state should do something

4. Kept Europe divided and often at war


IV. The West by 1750

A. Political Patterns – became stagnant

1. England – parliamentary routine – fight for power

2. France – unable to tax nobles, church

3. Central Europe – greater change

a. Prussia – Frederick the Great – enlightened despot

1. Greater religious freedom

2. Better agriculture – potato

3 .Commercial coordination

4. Harsh punishments cut back

4. Continued war – link between states and war

B. Enlightenment Thought and Popular Culture

1. France and Western Europe

a. Applying scientific thought to human society

1. Rational laws to describe social/physical behavior

a. Criminologists – criminals should be rehabilitated

b. Political scientists – careful constitutions to govern best

c. Economics

1. Adam Smith – Wealth of Nations

a. Competition good

b. Government avoid regulation

c. Let initiative and market forces work

d. Denis Diderot – Encyclopedie

2. Basic principles of human affairs

a. Humans good

b. Educated to be better

c. Religions that rely on blind faith are bad – attacked Catholic church

d. Progress possible if people set free

3. Feminist thinkers

a. Salons

b. Mary Wollstonecracft – new political rights for women

c. Journals written by women for women

d. Men to blame for women’s lowly position

4. Changes in habits/beliefs

a. Reading clubs/salons

b. Treat kids nicer

1. Less swaddling – think Singapore burrito of my kids

2. Educational toys/books

c. Love between family members

d. Emotional bond in marriage – what a crazy thought

1. Move away from arranged marriages

C. Ongoing Change in Commerce and Manufacturing

1. Purchasing – more processed products

2. Entertainment – pay for live entertainment – status improves

3. New agriculture – 3 fold not as effective

a. Drain swamps

b. Technology – fertilizer, seed drills, stockbreeding

c. Potato – improved food supply, delay due to Bible

4. Increased manufacturing – colonial trade + internal commerce

a. Domestic system – done in homes, collected individually

b. Replaced by factories – moving toward Industrial Revolution

c. Manufacturers begin organizing labor – how best to make money

5. Capitalism – invest in funds for profit

6. Population increase

D. Innovation and Instability

1. Changes in stronger gov’ts that supported economics

2. Reevaluation of family/children’s roles

a. Children newly empowered, grow up to question system

3. Political roles – enlightenment – what is my place in gov’t

4. Unusual agricultural society – changes in commercial, cultural and political world

V. Global Connections

A. 1450 Christianity makes them superior, but why do other civilizations have better cities/econom

B. 1750 – believed their rational thought better than superstitions of others

1. Most civilizations backward



2. How cute – noble savage and exotic animals

C. Changed views of Europe and others toward selves

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