Historical People and Events

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Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc is a national heroine of France honored and respected by everyone. She was an illiterate peasant girl who rose to the ranks of leading French armies to victory against England until her capture when she was only 19 years old. She was executed as a heretic in a politically motivated trial.

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Twenty four years later the Catholic Church declared her innocence and she was canonized as a saint in 1920. She was born in a time when France and England were at war. The Armagnacs and the Burgundians were two French factions at war with each other. By 1484 England was occupying Northern France. The English began a siege of Orleans. Her parents were Jacques d’Arc and Isabelle Rome. Her father was a farmer and a minor village official.

She got her first visions at the age of 12 where St. Michael, St. Catherine, and St. Margaret told her to expel the English. She obtained an interview with the royal French court where she predicted about military reverses of the English near Orleans.

She was responsible for pursuing an aggressive offensive strategy by the French army in the siege of Orleans. The defeat of English led to the capture of Jargeau, Meung-sur-Loire, Beaugency and annihilated the English army at the battle of Patay. A truce was signed between the two French factions following the arrival of the French army at Reims. The agreement was broken by Duke Philip. A French advance towards Paris was put off after an order to withdraw. Joan was captured on May 1430 following a skirmish with the English.

She was put on trial for heresy in a politically motivated trial. She had supported the other side in France. She was executed for heresy. The inquisitors who interviewed her could not find any evidence of heresy and were convinced of her innocent. The priests who had put her on trial were forced and intimidated by the English government to pronounce heresy.

Joan of Arc is honored and revered as a heroine throughout her life and beyond. The French military was inspired by her use of artillery and frontal tactics in warfare. Legends have survived about her legacy. The best known is that she did not feel pain during her execution.

She is also believed to have died peacefully. She rose to prominence from an illiterate peasant girl to an inspiration for the French military. She gave hope to a discredited regime and inspired the French people to fight a popular war of national liberation. Joan of Arc expelled women from the French army and did not believe in feminism. She has been a political symbol ever since her death.

The Vichy government, French resistance, liberals, conservatives, etc have all used her for their political purposes. Many people have studied about the religious visions of Joan.

Most people believe in the sincerity of her faith. They consider it to be divine inspiration. Documents which detail about her visions are vague and possibly some fabrications have been added. Some researchers have tried to explain her visions in the form of neurological or psychiatric terms.

This view has been opposed by many historians on grounds that hallucinations and hearing voices does not necessarily point to mental illness. Further a person with such lifestyle like Joan would have found it hard to maintain if she had a serious disease. The court of King Charles VII was highly skeptical and shrewd with regards to mental illness. His own father suffered from insanity and under him France began a long decline. Her boldness and physical rigor of her military career counters the theory that she suffered from any cognitive impairment.

Joan of Arc remains a popular heroine and political symbol in France. She passionately pursued a national war of liberation and inspired the French to regain hope. She was sincere in faith. Her sincerity and legacy remain stronger than ever even after her death more than five hundred years ago.

Johannes Gutenberg

Gutenberg was a German Printer, and Pioneer in the use of movable type, he was sometimes identified as the first European to print with hand-set type cast and molds. Although he was not the only person working on the printing press, he was considered to be the main part of it. Gutenberg’s name does not appear on any of the works attributed to him, but historical records have given evidence that he is indeed the one who printed them. Johannes Gutenberg was born in 1397. He was born into a noble family in the city of Mainz, a mining town, in Southern Germany.

His father was Friele Gansfleisch, his mother was Else Wyrich. His early training was as a goldsmith and an inventor. In 1428, he moved to Strasbourg for political reasons. He remained there for over twenty years. It was in Strasbourg that he made his first experiments with movable type. Gutenberg had the idea of modernizing techniques of metalworking, such as casting, punch-cutting, and stamping, for the mass production of books. Gutenberg became more and more intrigued by these subjects, which led to further experiments with movable type. He started to experiment with metal molds, alloys, special presses, and oil based inks. Little did he know that this experimentation, with a little increased work, would remain the main type of printing until the late twentieth century. In 1438 Gutenberg entered into a partnership with Andreas Dritzehn to conduct experiments in printing.

Gutenberg taught Dritzehn about what he had learned dealing with movable type. In about 1450 Gutenberg returned to Mainz, where he formed yet another partnership with a German merchant and a money lender by the name of Johann Fust. With the money that he borrowed from Fust, Gutenberg was able to open up a press where he did additional research and experiments with movable type. It was sometime between 1450 and 1456 that Gutenberg set to work, and completed, a forty- two line Bible (it was 42 lines per page). The bible was referred to as the Gutenberg Bible, also known as the Mazarine Bible, or the 42-lined bible.

Today there is only 47 extant copies, the most widely known presently was acquired by the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Only two other perfect copies of the Gutenberg Bible are known to exist today. The Gutenberg Bible was widely known for its beauty and elegance. A German printer, Peter Schoffer, Fust’s son-in-law, and Gutenberg’s apprentice helped to print the work of the Bible. Gutenberg’s main goal was to mechanically reproduce medieval liturgical manuscripts without taking away their color or design. In 1455 Fust demanded that Gutenberg repay the money that was invested in the business. This dispute resulted in a lawsuit in which Gutenberg abandoned his claims to his invention and gave up his stocks.

Even though he had a dispute with Fust, Gutenberg continued his work with printing. During the years following the dispute and lawsuit Gutenberg printed several small but popular items such as calendars, but in 1458 Gutenberg printed another bible, only this one was the 36 line Bible. Gutenberg began to re-establish his printing press company with the help of a man named Conrad Humery. At around 1460 Gutenberg was able to print the Missale speciale constantiense as well as the Catholicon. Gutenberg’s press was made up of characters of equal height, and these characters were printed on hand-made paper. His press involved a mold that had the outlines of letters and other characters stamped into it. Letters of type could be produced quickly by pouring liquid metal into the pre-made molds.

These stamped and molded letters were then put together to make pages of printing. Gutenberg’s accomplishments with movable type made book production more economically possible, and easier to produce literature quicker. The new innovations in the printing press opened new possibilities for German literature. The printing press allowed an easier exchange of ideas throughout Europe and helped spread the ideas of the Renaissance. As more productions of literature occurred, more different languages were also printed out.

Gutenberg’s invention brought the printed word to a wider audience, altering history with its big impact on literacy and education. Before books were able to be printed with the printing press people had to believe what they heard from other people. They weren’t able to rely on what they read from history books or other sources of information. Before the printing press was invented, making books was a long and hard process, and the books that were produced were extremely costly. The printing press provided a practical and inexpensive way to produce literature. It was a particularly valuable invention, and it made a great contribution to the world.

With the invention of the printing press reading and writing were no longer restricted to religious things, or to the rich. People soon learned to question the authority of the ruling class, which was also part of the spread of the Renaissance.

The printing press sparked an enlightenment and widespread access and appreciation for classical art and literature. These new appreciations developed a new passion among people for artistic self expression. Without the printing press, the Renaissance may never have occurred.

Queen Elizabeth I

Elizabeth’s Childhood and Youth Elizabeth was born near London on Sept. 7, 1533. Her father was Henry VIII, “bluff King Hal”. Her mother was Anne Boleyn, the second of Henry’s six wives. Henry’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon, had only one surviving child, Mary. Henry wanted a male heir, so he asked the pope to annul the marriage.

Because the pope refused, Henry broke away from the Roman Catholic church and set himself up as head of the church in England. Then he married Anne. He was disappointed that Anne’s child also was a girl. Before Elizabeth was 3 years old, he had her mother beheaded. Henry gave Elizabeth a house of her own in the country. He paid little attention to her, and her governess complained that the princess “hath neither gown, nor kirtle, nor petticoat.” Henry provided excellent tutors, however, and Elizabeth showed a love for learning. One of her tutors, Roger Ascham, wrote: “Her perseverance is equal to that of a man, and her memory long keeps what it quickly picks up. She talks French and Italian as well as she does English.

When she writes Greek and Latin, nothing is more beautiful than her handwriting. She delights as much in music as she is skillful in it.” Henry’s third wife, Jane Seymour, gave birth to a son, Edward.

Henry died when Edward was 10 years old, and the boy came to the throne as Edward VI. Elizabeth and Edward were both brought up in Henry’s new church. Their half sister Mary was brought up a Roman Catholic. When Edward died in 1553, Mary became queen and at once made Catholicism the state religion. Mary suspected Elizabeth of plotting with the Protestants to gain the throne and had her imprisoned for two months in the Tower of London.

When Mary died, there were two claimants to the throne. If Elizabeth did not succeed, the next heir was Mary Stuart of Scotland, a Catholic. Mary Stuart was about to be married to the dauphin Francis of France. If she won the throne of England, both Scotland and England would be joined to France. Philip II of Spain, though a Catholic, threw his influence on the side of Elizabeth because he was jealous of France’s power. Later the Spanish ambassador hinted to Elizabeth that she owed her throne to Philip. Elizabeth replied that she owed it to her people. “She is very much wedded to her people,” the ambassador wrote, “and thinks as they do.” When Elizabeth became queen in 1558, she rode at once to London from her country home, traveling in a slow procession to give the people a chance to see her.

Guns boomed, bells rang, and the people cheered her and scattered flowers in her path. At the beginning of her reign England was in despair. The country had been weakened by war and religious strife, and the treasury was empty. Spain and France were powerful, and both wanted to rule England. The people hoped their young queen would soon marry a strong man who would guide her.

But Elizabeth at once took the government into her own hands; and, though she had many suitors and close friendships with several men, she steadfastly refused to marry. The young queen chose as her chief minister Sir William Cecil (Lord Burghley), who was cautious and conservative like herself. For 40 years he was her mainstay in both home and foreign affairs. Her favorite courtier was the charming and handsome Robert Dudley, earl of Leicester. When she died at the age of 69, she was still called the Virgin Queen. By then rich and secure, England was enjoying its greatest literary period.

English ships were sailing into all seas, and the island kingdom had begun to establish its position as a world leader. In religious matters Elizabeth steered a middle course between the extreme Protestants and the Catholics. She restored the Protestant service but retained many features of Catholicism, including bishops and archbishops.

She hoped this compromise would produce unity in the state; but the Catholics, who formed a majority of her subjects, were not reconciled. From time to time some of them plotted with Spain or France to put Mary Stuart on the throne in place of Elizabeth. France and Spain were rivals, and Elizabeth was usually able to play one off against the other. She even used courtship as part of her diplomatic game.

She refused to marry Philip II of Spain but held out hopes to more than one of his royal relatives when France seemed to threaten. Later, when Philip turned against England, Elizabeth encouraged French princes. To cut Scotland’s ties with France, she gave secret help to the Scottish Presbyterians. She also aided the Protestant Netherlands when they revolted against Spain. Mary Stuart returned to Scotland in 1561 after the death of her husband, Francis, king of France. In 1568 she was compelled to flee across the English border to ask Elizabeth’s help. Elizabeth kept her a prisoner for 19 years.

Finally Mary was accused of having a part in the so-called Babington plot to assassinate Elizabeth. Parliament demanded her execution. Elizabeth signed the warrant; and Mary Stuart was beheaded in 1587. In the last years of Elizabeth’s reign, Catholics were cruelly persecuted and many were put to death. Defeat of the Spanish Armada During the first 30 years of Elizabeth’s reign England was at peace.

Commerce revived, and English ships were boldly venturing across the seas to the West Indies. There they came into conflict with Spain and Portugal, which owned and ruled the whole New World and claimed a monopoly of trade. English smugglers broke through the blockade and made huge profits by selling, in the West Indies, blacks they had seized in Africa. John Hawkins, Sir Francis Drake, and other English seamen also waylaid Spanish ships on their way home and seized their gold. Elizabeth aided the English privateers with ships and money and shared in their profits and stolen treasure.

Philip II finally decided to put an end to these attacks by invading and conquering England. After years of preparation, Philip assembled a great fleet of his best and largest warships, called by the Spanish the Armada (that is, fleet). In 1588 the Armada sailed into the English Channel.

The English were waiting for them and at once put out to sea. Their ships were of newer design, smaller than the Spanish galleons, but faster and more heavily armed. In a nine-day battle they inflicted terrible losses on the enemy. The ships that escaped ran into bad weather and only a few returned to Spain. English ships then carried the war to Spain.

When the struggle ended–after the deaths of both Elizabeth and Philip–no Spanish fleet dared to contest England’s command of the seas. England’s Golden Age The most splendid period of English literature, called the Elizabethan Age, began in the later years of Elizabeth’s reign. Francis Bacon, writer of the ‘Essays’, was one of the queen’s lawyers. Edmund Spenser wrote ‘The Faerie Queene’ in her honor. Shakespeare acted before her; but at the time of her death he had not yet written most of his great tragedies.

Elizabeth enjoyed plays, but there is no evidence that she appreciated Shakespeare’s genius. Elizabeth was 55 years old when the Spanish Armada was defeated. Her joy in the victory was soon followed by grief, because her great favorite, Leicester, died a few months later. In 1598 her faithful minister Lord Burleigh passed away. In her court appeared young men–Sir Walter Raleigh, brilliant and adventurous, and the earl of Essex, a handsome young soldier. Essex fell from favor and Elizabeth had him executed for trying to stir up a rebellion against her.

She died two years later, in 1603, at the age of 69, and was buried with great magnificence in Westminster Abbey. Mary Stuart’s son, James VI of Scotland, was proclaimed James I of England, thus uniting the crowns of the two kingdoms. The things we think of chiefly as marking the reign of Elizabeth are the religious question, the defeat of the Spanish Armada, and the flourishing of literature. Also important, however, were hundreds of laws on shipping, commerce, industry, currency reform, roads, poor relief, and agriculture. These laws shaped the policy of England for more than two centuries after Elizabeth’s reign had ended.


The Aztec Indians, who are known for their domination of southern and central Mexico, ruled between the 14th and 16th centuries. Their name is derived from Azatlan, the homeland of the north. The Aztecs also call themselves Mexica and there language came from the Nahuatlan branch of the Uto-Aztecan family.

The Aztecs were formed after the Toltec civilization occurred when hundreds of civilians came towards Lake Texcoco. Late families were unfortunate and were forced to go to the swamp lands. In the swamp lands there was only one piece of land to farm on and it was totally surrounded by more marshes. The Aztec families some how converted these disadvantages to a might empire known as they Aztec Empire. People say the empire was partially formed by a deeply believed legend. As the legend went it said that Aztec people would create a empire on in a swampy place where they would see an eagle eating a snake while perched on a cactus which is growing out of a rock in the swamplands. This is what priests claimed they saw while entering the new land. By the year 1325 their capital city was finished.

They called it Tenochtitlan. In the capital city aqueducts (piping) were constructed, bridges were built, and chinapas were made. Chinapas were little islands formed by piled up mud. On these chinapas Aztecs grew corn, beans, chili peppers, squash, tomatoes, and tobacco.

Tenochtitlan (the capital city) was covered in giant religious statues in order to pay their respects to the gods. In the Aztec religion numerous gods controlled an Aztec’s daily life. Some of these gods include: Uitzilpochtli (the sun god), Coyolxauhqui (the moon goddess), Tlaloc (the rain god), and Quetzalcoatl (the inventor of the calendar and writing). Another part of the Aztec religion was human sacrifices. For their sacrifices the priest would lay the man or woman over a convex (rounded) stone, and then he would take a sharp knife and cut the victims heart out. They did this because they believed that good gods could prevent bad gods from doing evil things and they also believed that good gods got their strength from human blood and hearts so they had sacrifices in order to keep their gods strong.

For major rituals warriors were sacrificed, for the warrior this was one of the greatest honors and for minor rituals prisoners were used. In an Aztec marriage the grooms shirt is tied to the brides dress in order to express their bonding and after the wedding incents were burned for 4 days before proceeding with the marriage. In 1519 Hernando Cortes, a Spanish explorer, led over 500 men into Aztec territory to search for gold. Aztecs thought he was a representative for a certain white skinned god so they respected him. It all changed when the Aztecs saw that Hernando was melting down their golden statues and shipping them back to Spain. The Aztecs decided to attack Hernando and his men. The Aztecs were successful and drove the Spanish away. In 1520 the Spanish attacked the Aztec’s capital city and destroyed their civilization. That was the end of the Aztec’s mighty empire had built so long ago.

Spanish Inquisition

The Inquisition was a religious movement to find and give punishment to heretics . The word inquisition comes from the word inquisitio, or inquest. The word inquisitio refers to the legal process that named the tribunals. It involved finding and interrogating suspects of crimes under oath to tell the truth. Some would condemn themselves.

This method of finding heretics worked very well with the Waldensians and the Cathars. In France, the Templars were persecuted by the Inquisitors. In the year 392 A.D. the Roman Emperor Thodosius I outlawed every religion that was not Christian or Jewish. After he declared that, heresy became not only a religious offense, but also a civil one. Heretics began revolting quite frequently in the eleven and twelve hundreds, so the Church took over the job of finding and punishing heretics. In 1231, a special court was created by Pope Gregory IV to demand that all heretics become Christians. The Congregation of the Holy Office took control of the Inquisition in 1542. The judges for the Inquisition were almost all Dominican and Franciscan friars. The Inquisition took place mostly in Germany, France, Italy, and Spain. It did take place in other countries, but not as commonly.

The investigations were in secret and almost all of the inquisitors abused their powers. Most Inquisitors were Dominican monks, appointed by the head of the Inquisition.

Inquisitors and judges of the Inquisition could be compared to the prosecutors and judges of today’s courts, to use an analogy. The inquisitor-general would appoint tribunals. Tribunals are groups of inquisitors. During an inquisition, two inquisitors, who traveled together, would call out to a town, city, or village for confessions.

Only males under age fourteen and females under age twelve would not be considered as heretics. Questions would be asked of those accused in the local language. The answers were written down by scribes in Latin. The accused would never be defended by anyone, because then the defender would be thought to be a heretic. The accused ones would not even know who had accused them.

Judgments were given on Sundays, in a sermon. Punishment could range from death to paying a fine. Usually heretics were killed. The Inquisition in England was strengthened when the Catholic Reformation, also known as the Counter-Reformation was started. It was to prevent more conversion the Protestantism and to clean up the church.

The sale of indulgences was no longer permitted. It was completely done away with. Fear of the Inquisition was also used to discourage becoming Protestant and abandoning Catholicism, for fear of being tried as a heretic. In the fifteen hundreds, the Inquisition was used by the Catholic church against Protestants. Also from the Counter-Reformation came the Jesuits, or the Society of Jesus, which was a group of powerful missionaries. During the Spanish Inquisition alone, from 1478 to 1834, thousands of people were tortured and killed. The person responsible for the death of over two thousand Spaniards was Tomas de Torquemanda. He was the leader of the Spanish Inquisition for fifteen years, from 1483 to 1498. He created the rules and precedents of inquisitorial procedure. He formed branches of the Inquisition in many major cities.

When the Spanish Inquisition got out of hand, the Church tried to stop it but they could not halt it. The Spanish Inquisition ran it’s reign of terror from 1478 to 1834. It was said by Mark in Mark 4:22 that Jesus said, “For there is nothing to be hid, except to be made manifest, nor is anything secret, except to come to light.” The death of all those innocents was something that the Church had tried to hide. They would be imprisoned for days, months, even years, after one hearing, some to finally be tortured to death.

The prisoners would have moldy food and stale water, along with cockroaches and other vermin, to keep them company in the dark. As mentioned earlier, suspected heretics were “interrogated”. The term should be “tortured”, in innumerable cases. The inquisitors tortured prisoners to coerce them to confess. There were many ways that heretics would be tortured. Many were very gruesome.

Torture has been used by many societies, in all times and places, even now. One method of torture was the use of pear-shaped devices that were forced into the mouth, anus, or vagina and then expanded, by way of mechanical devices, to thereby expand the body cavity. This would irreparably damage the tissues, because each pair had points on it. Almost everyone would die after having this done to them. One other way of “persuading” heretics to confess was “Squassation”. This was through use of the Strappardo. This was done by tying the victim’s hands behind their back and lifting them into the air by their wrists, while having heavy weights attached to their ankles or testicles.

Then, they would be dropped almost to the ground and jerked to a stop. This would often dislocate the arms and cause much damage to the body part of which the weights were attached. People would be mock-crucified also, by being nailed to a door in the manner of crucifixion. The door would then be swung back and forth or slammed shut quickly.

Some heretics were given “the water torture”, which consisted of forcing the person to drink water through a funnel until they died or confessed. Heretics were also be burned to death on stakes. Some were killed by being put in an oven and being roasted. If suspected heretics would not confess to heresy, then they would often be burned at the stake. In 1224, Frederick II made it a law that heretics must die by fire. One of the worst times in the Inquisition was in the sixteen hundreds. During that period, anything bad that happened could be blamed on witches.

Neighbors would accuse each other of being witches over soured milk, lice, and any other minor problem that would occur. If a person said that they didn’t believe in witches or demons, then they would be accused of being a witch or a heretic. Torture has been proven to be an ineffective method of getting the truth out of someone. A person in great pain might admit to anything, even if innocent.

One Templar who had been tortured said, “Under such torture, I would have confessed to killing God”.


Guilds were created in the Middle Ages and were groups of people with a common interest in a certain trade. There were many different types of guilds varying from religious and social guilds to crafts and carpentry guilds. The main purposes of these guilds were to prevent individual businesses from controlling all of the business of a certain trade.

This proved profitable for the smaller businesses. Individuals who refused to join the guild of their profession were forced to leave the town. Guilds also had their own specific coat of arms and badges for members. Craft guilds, comprised of bakers, goldsmiths, tailors, weavers, boatmen, and other craft workers, created rules to protect members of the guilds. Perhaps the most important of the above guilds were those of the boatmen, which were in the coastal port cities.

The merchants guilds created rules that set a standard on prices of their products. The members could not sell discounted items to people who were not members of the guild.

They also set standards on the quality of their goods and agreed on wages for their workers. To become part of a guild, workers went through an initiation ceremony and other rites. These rites were known as collegia. Being a member of a guild had some advantages. Along with a membership, the workers received assistance from the guild when it was needed.

The guild helped members with charity, funeral ceremonies, prayers for the dead, and provided other services for the members in their times of need. The guilds built halls and market places and helped with church and town projects. all of their crafts and creations were of great quality. If a member of the guild made an item of poor quality he was punished with fines. If he continued to make the crafts with the same quality he would be expelled from the guild. The craft workers who became very successful in their trade and who owned their own shops became the masters of the guild. Craft workers who did not fully master their trade, or did not run their own shops were the journeymen. The journeymen worked in the shops of the masters everyday and received pay from them.

Young men who were learning certain trades became known as apprentices and received housing and meals from their master. After about two to seven years, an apprentice could become a journeyman. Journeymen who wanted to become masters had to show evidence of great skill. He also had to pass an examination or make a product in his craft. The product would then be judged by the other masters belonging to his guild. If the product was considered a masterpiece, the journeyman would become a master.

Because it soon became more and more difficult for people to become masters, journeymen soon created their own associations. They separated from their masters because their needs were not being met and this angered the masters. The masters tried to fight back by “securing the passage of laws prohibiting them”. They were defeated most of the time by the guilds, its members and officials in the town. Merchants and craftsmen had great honor in their trade. This caused them to make their products with nothing but the best and because of their quality crafts, they took in great amounts of money. If the lord of the town was in need of money, he would made the merchants and craftsmen feel obligated to donate their money by making them feel guilty and selfish.

Many times, merchants were robbed on their journeys and within the towns they sold their items. Sometimes merchants were falsely accused of owing other merchants and people money. If he did not belong to a guild, it was his word against theirs. If he did belong to a guild, the members supported him.

Because of the danger on the merchants journey, caravans, or groups of merchants which traveled together, soon developed. Cities developed around areas which contained items or food of value and where it was convenient for merchants to carry to and then sell their items. Guild halls were built as a meeting house for medieval craft and trade guilds to meet. The guild hall in London, known as the Council Hall, is famous for its great hall and crypt.

Other countries, such as Germany, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands, have excellent examples of Guild halls. The Lord Mayor of Londons banquet is held annually at the Guild hall in London. Because guilds became so popular and large, they became powerful in the government of the towns. When guilds needed permission to do something from their lord, they had to have the lord write his promise down and then it would be locked up safely in a strong chest in their Guild hall. This promise was called a charter.

Guilds continued to increase their power by asking the lord for charters and were soon able to run a small portion of the town. They asked for a charter to allow them to appoint men to govern the town rather than the lords bailiff. Usually in return for this allowance, the guild had to pay a fixed rent each year. When they were allowed this, the guild was in charge of most of the town. As if the guilds were not complex and powerful enough, they decided to create associations of guilds, which controlled common foreign markets.

Some examples of these associations are the League of the Flemish cities, concerned with the English wool trade. The association of North German cities, known as the Hanseatic League, controlled trades on the Baltic and North Seas. By the 1300s, guilds began to lose their protection and democratic sides. Guild membership began to pass down through the generations from father to son. This made it more difficult for new members to join the guilds. The increase of capitalistic industry was responsible for the decline of the guild system. At the start of the 14th century, the craft system could not keep up with the demands of the capitalistic industries that served a wide market.

The guilds could not keep up with the product demand. Guilds imported raw materials from the capitalistic companies and then exported the finished products back to those same companies.

The artisans of the smaller guilds had no access to the raw materials, so they became hired workers of the capitalistic guilds. These large guilds controlled the city government and the producing guilds. The producing guilds began to struggle in the second half of the 14th century. During the late 1300s, guilds became “associations of hired workers”, which meant that it became closer to the way trades are today. It became almost factory-like when the workers began demanding higher pay and better working conditions.

The lower class began to revolt against the rich and the capitalistic guilds because they were in control of the government. They then went on strikes, which caused feuds within the towns. As a result, the control of the government passed to the king. Because they were not strong enough, guilds soon became known as modern trade unions. By the end of the 13th century, merchants and industries were turning towards the products produced by the peasants. These products were much cheaper because there were no guilds to control the costs of them. The peasants worked at home and were paid for part of the finished product. By the 1600s, medieval guilds were not economically or politically important anymore.

Guilds still existed in the 19th century, but continued to decline. In time they became unnecessary and disappeared.


Feudalism is defined as a type of government in which political power was treated as a private possession and was divided among a large number of nobles. King Charlemagne was the first major supporter of this form of government. After the fall of Charlemagne Empire, the grandsons of Charlemagne feuded over land.

The empire was divided into three parts causing it to become weak and eventually to fall. Feudalism was formed to be a way of protecting the people and the lands of the Monarchy. The concept of this impromptu political system could be viewed as a survival tactic to preserve the Monarchy. Feudalism could be loosely viewed as an empowerment technique to re-affirm the masses that the Monarchy is the best form of government. Unfortunately for the Monarchy, the people did not want to have one person control the entire country.

The king would give out grants of land to his most important noblemen. Each noble had to promise to loyally follow the king and supply him with soldiers or knights in time of war.

These lands were called fiefs. The lords then divided their land among the lesser nobles who became their servants or vassals. Sometimes men who owned land would turn it over to a lord in exchange for protection. The main service that the vassals owed his lord was military.

Vassals had to supply them a certain number of knights for a certain number of days each year. The vassals were lords of the knights. Sometimes a vassal-lord would grant his knights part of his own fief. Then the knight would become a vassal. However, many of these vassals became so powerful that the kings had difficulty controlling them. By 1100, certain barons had castles and courts that rivaled the kings. In 1215, the English barons formed an alliance that forced King John to sign the Magna Carta.

While it gave no rights to ordinary people, the Magna Carta limited the kings powers of taxation and it required trials before punishment. It was the first time that an English monarch came under the control of the law. Many factors of society were intertwined with Feudalism. One major factor was Christianity. The Church controlled all aspects of life.

They controlled the days the serfs had off. The serfs were only allowed days off according to the Church calendar. For example, they would get off on Christmas and Easter. The manor was also centered on the Church. The center of the manor was always a church or chapels were the serfs and nobles would go pray.

The Church also controlled much of the government. Many high ranking officials in the Church were also high ranking officials in the government. In the 1300s the corruption of the Church helped to cause the fall of Feudalism.

Independent towns and villages began to form. The people began to trade, and the rigid class structure of the Monarchy and Feudalism started to disappear. Many factors led to the gradual disintegration of the feudal system. However, two of the main aspects that contributed to the dissolution of medieval feudalism were urbanization as well as the increase in power and wealth of the merchant class. As towns and villages gained independence from both church and feudal lords, the middle class began functioning more similar to that of small-scale entrepreneurs.

The desire for a reliable supply of manufactured goods was the result of an increase in trade and commerce, which led to the increased control of land, labor and capital by the merchant class. In conclusion, Feudalism could be viewed as the birth of democracy. Todays National Guard, social Middle class and independent capitalism can all be loosely related to Feudalism. Feudalism was a necessary transitional political system, which contributed to our modern way of life.

King Philip II of Spain

Philip II is a remarkable part of Spains illustrious history. He played a crucial role in making Spain one of the strongest counties in historic times. Philip was born in Valladolid on the 21st of May 1527 and was the only legitimate son of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, by his wife Isabella of Portugal. Philip II was easily one of the most influential characters of his time for several reasons.

Philip was not just King of Spain but of Milan, Naples, the Netherlands, Burgundy, and isles of the Mediterranean. Philip II sees himself as the great protector of Catholicism. Philip was a man who was driven to become the leader of Spain and would stop for nothing. He even participated in several marriages that were considered simply political alliances to improve his popularity globally. Philips reign is said by historians to have begun Spains siglo de oro, its golden century, when Spain was the major empire in the West, and Spanish art and literature flourished. Unfortunately when Mary Tudor, the Queen of England and Philips wife passed away it ruined the alliance between Spain and England.

Having become king, Philip, devoted to Catholicism, defended the Faith throughout the world and opposed the progress of heresy, and these two things are the key to his whole reign. He ruled as well as reigned, and he spent his time governing his kingdom, as well as in religious devotion. Philip was an austere man, devoted to the program of the Catholic Reformation. He consistently insisted on conformity, and for this reason, Spain was considered the champion of the Catholic offensive against Protestantism. In my opinion Philip II was an amazing leader and was extremely influential in the development of Spain as a country.

The manner in which he ran Spain was wonderful and he never went back against anything he stood for. He was the protector of Catholicism and he remained that way forever. The fact that he stood for the correct things religiously really makes me admire Philip II as a person and a leader. Church and state were interrelated in Spain. The kingdom itself was the head of the revival of Catholicism and the Church was central to every family in Spain.

Philip II decided to build the Escorial because of their new power and spirituality. It was a residence, a centre of government, a monastery, and a mausoleum for his ancestors. Philip II, for building this palace makes him extremely important in his time because of the power and ability he had to pull off such a difficult project. In my opinion he was easily the most influential man in Spain at that time period. Philip however inherited a large debt from his father and was put in an extremely difficult position. To support his wars he would ask for large loans and the majority of Spains income was used to pay off several debts. Spain was chiefly responsible for high inflation in Europe but in his first half of reign Philips power was untouchable. Philip had several problems in the 1560s because it simply got to the point where he was governing way too many countries.

The initial problem began with the Netherlands as there was a division of North and South. Philip began his mission to attempt join North and South into an area of central administration. The main difficulty began when Philip II attempted to reorganize the structure of the Dutch Catholic Church by using Spanish methods of dealing with heresy and religious pluralism; resistance grew heavily from the Citizens of Netherlands. The leader of the resistance was William of Orange and he organized several Calvinist riots throughout the Netherlands ruining several things that Philip II had inputted into the Netherlands including Catholic symbols.

Philip II realized that these people meant business and constructed the Council of Troubles to rule the Netherlands. William of Orange was in charge but had to report major decisions back to Philip II. I really respect the decision that Philip II made about allowing William of Orange to rule the colony. It was a very intelligent plan because he would still have the ability to take over the Netherlands at any time but he could focus his attention on other problems that he was encountering in Spain. Unfortunately the taking over of Netherlands was postponed as Philip was now having problems with France and England. This led to the downfall and the ruining of Philips reign as leader of most of Europe. In 1593 Spanish soldiers were driven out of both England and France and three years later, France and England recognized their independence. Peace was eventually made with Spain but Philip II would never be as powerful as he was.

Philip II was an extremely busy man as he had to rule all of the empires, however, the problem was that it was virtually impossible for him and Spain to remain that powerful with the huge debt that his father left him; he did not have the money to be able to enforce power on anyone who challenged him. The problem was also that England, France and the Netherlands all encountered problems with Spain during the same time and Philip II could not do anything to solve these problems. I truly respect Philip II for his dedication to make Spain the most powerful country in the world. He was definitely one of the most influential people of his time because he ruled so much of Europe for such a long time. He was leader of Spain when it was the strongest and also when it was the weakest. He will always be remembered for the mistakes he did in attempting to change the Netherlands and also some treaties he proposed to England and France.

His mistakes will unfortunately always overshadow his great work for Spain and this is a shame because he was truly a great leader. Philip II was the most influential person in Spanish history. He ruled Spain from 1556 to 1598 and was involved in making several important decisions for Spains future, obviously some decisions were perfect and others were poor. He single handedly took Spain to becoming the most powerful country but then should also be held responsible for Spains downfall. Philip II will never be forgotten and will always be talked about as an influential person in Spanish history but also the history of Western Europe.

The Crusades

Throughout the middle Ages, the Catholic Church widely influenced both religion and politics. In 1095, Pope Urban II began a campaign in order to spread Christianity and take back Jerusalem. These campaigns, known as the Crusades, lasted until 1291 and affected many aspects of European and Muslim life including religion, education, and politics. The crusading movement spanned over a period of 200 years and was initiated in the name of religion.

Among all of the crusades fought, seven of them were major. The goal was to recapture Jerusalem, the Holy Land, and was headed by the leader of the Christian church, Pope Urban II. At the beginning, the main intent of the crusaders was the safe passageway of European Christians into Jerusalem to worship at holy places. From around 200 A.D. to 900 A.D. the Holy Lands, Israel, Jordan, Egypt, etc. were occupied by Christians. The Muslims invaded these lands in 900 A.D. and oppressed the Christians who inhabited those areas. The main focus after the Holy Lands were taken over was to establish Christian kingdoms rather than reclaim the land.

After the Roman Empire fell, the Roman church was split into two. The Eastern Church established its base in Constantinople.

Masses were performed in Greek. The Western church, based in Rome, led its masses in Latin. Once Europe witnessed recovery after the 12th century the Catholic Church hoped for a reunification of the two churches. They believed that if the two came together the church would become wealthier and would gain a wider range on influence.

The word crusade comes from the phrase cruce signati which means those signed by the cross. Along with the capture of the Holy Land, crusaders sought to restore holy places that had been destroyed during the Byzantine Era. Motivations for the crusades among the crusaders were numerous. Pope Urban II fervently preached to the Christians in order to gain strength for his armies. He declared the Muslim Turks were robbing and torturing Christian pilgrims who had journeyed to the Holy Land and were laying waste the Kingdom of God… (Dowling, The Crusades and the Rise of Islam) Joining the crusades was an opportunity for a knight to become wealthy and glorious. Although most participants joined the crusades to take back Jerusalem, many joined due to animosity toward the Jews. The Christians believed the Jews were responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

Christians also joined the crusades because they feared God. Taking part in the crusades was a form of penance and redeemed them of their sin. They feared that if they did not repent from their sins, they would be severely punished after death. Some crusaders joined the wars because they claimed they had visions of God. These visions ordered them to embark on a quest to the Holy Land. The visionary crusaders more often than not failed because the crusader did not have any military or political experience. A perfect example of a visionary crusade was the Childrens Crusades. In order to take part in the crusades a knight had to pronounce a solemn vow.

Once the knight took an oath, the pope or one of his legates gave the knight a cross and the knight was from that point on considered a warrior of the Church. As warriors of the Church, knights were granted certain privileges and indulgences such as exemption from civil jurisdiction. The cross worn by the crusaders was believed to have made them invincible against the forces of the Muslim armies. The clergy was not supposed to take part in the Crusades because it involved fighting. Religions vows prevented monks and nuns from participating in the bloodshed and forced them to remain in one place. Despite the vows taken, many religious figures did join the crusading movement.

Some believe they were motivated by the hope of attaining glory and honor. Crusaders were respected by their peers and society thought of them as being noble and valorous.

Before the first actual crusade, a radical monk named Peter the Hermit led an unofficial crusade known as the Peoples Crusade. He gathered the peasants and commonpeople into a small army ahead of the main army. He and his followers tortured and massacred the Jews whom they believed to be unholy. His crusade failed despite his religious furor. Stephens motivation was contagious and soon reached other children from different countries, including Nicholas of Rhineland. The childrens crusades, although heroic, were not successful and never reached the Holy Land.

Many historians believe that the Childrens Crusades did not actually consist of children but of peasants from the country that were not as capable as knights. Many were sold into the Arab world as slaves. The First Crusade was launched in 1097. It began in Anatolia and reached Jerusalem in the summer of 1099. Europeans during this time period believed that Christians would be victorious in the war due to their rightful cause. They did not believe heavy preparation was needed. In 1099, Jerusalem was successfully captured by the first crusaders. They hoped that with the capture of Jerusalem the Christian population would become augmented.

The crusaders set up four colonies along the eastern Mediterranean coast. They eventually established a feudal system in the newly acquired states. The feudal system, adopted from Europe, provided much needed manpower for the crusading armies. The First Crusade is often thought to be one of the most successful out of all of the crusades.

Once the Muslims recaptured one of the four newly acquired Christian colonies, the Second Crusade commenced. The Muslims, who were now aware of the strength of the Christians, were victorious. Jerusalem was recaptured in 1187 under the Muslim leader Saladin. The Second Crusade turned out to be futile for the Christians. St. Bernard blamed the peoples sins on the misfortunes of the crusades. He strongly believed that if all of Europe would redeem themselves, the crusaders would have a fighting chance at winning back the Holy Land. The Christians defeat during the Second Crusades brought on the Third Crusades, led by Richard I of England.

Richard I, who was crowned at Westminster, visited his native land in order to collect resources for the Third Crusade. Richard sought to take over Acre, a key seaport for Jerusalem.

Richard marched down the Mediterranean Coast to Jaffa in order to fight against Saladin. Although Saladin retained a strong hold on Jerusalem, the Third Crusade witnessed the recovery of essential coastal ports. After the crusade both Saladin and Richard agreed on a truce which allowed Muslims control of the Holy Land and Christians the right to visit holy places. The Third Crusade is thought of as the height of the crusading era. It harnessed Europes religious faith and chivalric virtue and was the longest military enterprise of the Middle Ages. It was led by a strong ruler, Richard I, and was a high profile crusade.

Out of the Third Crusade came the Audita Tremendi. Gregory VIII issued the document as a model for the crusades to come. It put into effect a seven year truce throughout Europe. This allowed rulers to focus on the Levant. It said that the success of a crusade was directly linked to the spiritual well being of Christendom. In 1202, newly elected Pope Innocent III proclaimed The Fourth Crusade. During this crusade Innocent widely expanded his power as pope and his influence throughout Western Christendom. He believed that in order to restore Christianity all of Christendom needed to be mobilized. If a Christian could not fight, they were told to fast and pray. He believed this crusade would overshadow all the others. When Richard I died after being hit by a cross bow, many crusaders feared that Innocents planned crusade would not take place.

The Fourth Crusade turned out to be more of a battle between the Orthodox and Catholic Christians. It was led by Frederick of Hohenzollern. Instead of trying to take back Jerusalem, the struggle was focused on conquering Constantinople. The Fourth Crusade diminished any unity there was between the two sects of Christianity. The Childrens Crusades took place in 1212. It began when a twelve year old shepherd-boy named Stephen claimed Jesus came to him. He wanted to lead a group of children into Jerusalem and believed that because they were children Jesus would protect them.

The group managed to reach Marseilles where they hoped the sea would part. When the sea did not part, they were given ships and set out to sea for Jerusalem. Eleanor of Aquitaine is a prominent figure that comes out of the crusades. She was the wife of King Louis VII and niece of Raymond of Antioch. Her marriage with Louis was immensely affected by the Second Crusades.

During the Second Crusade, Raymond wanted Louis to lead his men against Aleppo. Eleanor sided with her uncle and threatened to have their marriage annulled if Louis did not do as Raymond requested.

Eleanors lack of loyalty infuriated Louis. She was soon placed under house arrest. While Louis was away at Jerusalem, she anxiously awaited his return home in order to put an end to their marriage. Eleanor is often thought of as the scapegoat for the failure of the Second Crusade.

Eleanor was an original feminist and was highly devoted to the supremacy of women. The Fifth Crusade began in 1217 A.D. Andrew II of Hungary and Leopold VI of Austria led this crusade. Both leaders witnessed a defeat at the Battle of Al-Mansura but did succeed in capturing the city of Damietta. Jerusalem was offered up in exchange for Damietta. Cardinal Pelagius turned down the offer and ultimately made the Fifth Crusade yet another disappointment. In 1228 Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II led the Sixth Crusade. It was a success in that the crusaders gained authority over many important holy sites, including those situated in Jerusalem.

Many Christians viewed this crusade not as a war aimed at Muslims but at themselves. Muslims and Christians alike expected the crusaders to take over Egypt and also Jerusalem. When the crusade failed, Muslims were filled with joy and astonishment. Frederick was blamed for the failure of the crusade. He was accused of complete disregard for the crusade.

The Seventh and Eight Crusades, led by King Louis IX of France, were both disastrous. These crusades were the most organized and funded crusades yet. Louis succeeded in recapturing Damietta but died before reaching his goal of the Eight Crusade. The destination of the Eight Crusade was unknown to those embarking on the crusade. Louis did not allow the crusade to go on to Constantinople. He believed that the capture of Tunis would have harmed Egypt.

Louis believed that Muhammad I would convert to Christianity if a strong army would support him. The Ninth Crusade, the last one of the crusading era, was headed by King Edward I of England.

The main purpose of this crusade was to defeat the Mamluk sultan of Baibers. With the failure of the crusade, Edward returned to England. The era of the Crusades finally came to an end in 1291 when the last Latin holding in Palestine, Acre, was lost. After all of the battles were said and done, no one side actually won the crusades.

The Muslims did have hold of Jerusalem by 1291. As a result of the Crusades, the papacy was the most victorious in politics. The churchs influence and authority increased. Out of the Crusades came three military orders, Knights Hospitallers, Knights Templar, and Teutonic Knights. These three orders came into power in order to protect pilgrims and holy sites. The Knights Hospitallers, or the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, was a hospital organization founded in Jerusalem in 1080. Their job was to care for the sick and poor pilgrims that were traveling to the Holy Land. It became a Catholic military order during the First Crusade following the conquest of Jerusalem.

The Knights Templar, or Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon, was the most famous of all three military orders. It began near the end of the First Crusade in order to create safe passage for European pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land. The order consisted of men who were both knights and monks. Many took part in the battles of the crusades. The knights came up with an early system of banking.

They wore a red cross above their hearts, which is the common portrayal of many crusaders. The Teutonic Knights were formed out of knights and priests during the Third Crusade. They were a religious order out of Palestine and wore white with black crosses. They were in charge of port tolls at Acre. The knights were alleged to have placed themselves under Papal sovereignty.

European kings also gained more power because the barons that had been giving them trouble went East. Despite the loss and failure to win back the Holy Land, Christians gained something less tangible but just as worthy, knowledge.

The effects of the crusades among Europe were felt soon after the last crusade. Towns and cities throughout Europe began to expand and an economic boom followed. Europeans were exposed to international trade, which started to grow rapidly. Trading fairs within the European states grew as well.

The fairs largely contributed to cultural exchanges throughout Europe. They later became a place for celebrations with entertainment by acrobats and musicians. Trading between Christians and Muslims was not improved after the crusades. Merchants who traded with Muslims at all were threatened by the papacy with excommunication. The growth of trade not only expanded Europes cities and towns but also led to an increase in knowledge.

Marco Polos writings about his journey to China gave Europeans insight to the Far East. It established geography as a science rather than just stories. The crusades also brought about the appearances of real colleges. It was the first time education was offered to young men that were not in priesthood. The Arab Empire was highly advanced during this time period in areas such as mathematics, science, and writing. Europeans borrowed these ideas and techniques from the Muslims.

The Crusaders learned chess, traded in spices and silks, and discovered a unique culture of dance, art, and storytelling. Europeans developed appetites for spices such as cinnamon, coriander, and saffron and began to consume dried fruits such as prunes and figs. The foundations of new knowledge introduced into Europe were provided by teachings of Islamic Arabic. Arab figures such as Avicenna and Avarices introduced Greek learning in the West. Contact with the Arabs brought new scientific learning to Europe.

Translations of a series of works contributed to the subjects of math and astronomy and affected Europes numbering system. Science, medicine, and architecture were also transferred from the Islams as a result of the Crusades.

After the crusades Europe was impacted economically. Funding for the crusades brought about the development of systems of taxation assessment and collection. The modern state quickly developed due to the demands of crusading and the need to improve systems of administration. Bank loans also developed when crusaders borrowed money in order to better enable themselves to travel on the front.

Demand for certain products such as armor, horses, and foodstuffs helped the economy and boosted production. As the last contribution made by the crusades, Europe developed new and improved roads. Civil authorities made travel safe by providing some protection against highway robbers. Safer highways led to the strengthening of national governments. The crusades also helped establish international credit. The crusades began for a number of reasons. At the beginning, the sole purpose was to defend Christendom.

The crusading motivations strayed from that original idea as the wars began to take place. Crusaders hoped that if non-Christians witnessed the victories of the crusades they would want to convert to Christianity. The Christians were successful in that they replaced Muslim rules with their own. From a religious aspect, it is debatable whether or not the crusades successfully spread Christianity. It is safe to say that the biggest spoils of the crusades were those concerning culture and education.

Writing, literature, education, science, and math ideas were all borrowed from the Arab culture and made a lasting impression throughout Western Europe as a result of the Crusades. Christian attitudes toward the Muslims were positively affected. In contrast, the crusades left Muslims with feelings of animosity towards the Christians which still exist today. All in all, many would agree that the long term effects of the crusades were worth the years fighting and lost lives on both sides.

The Renaissance

When the new upper class movement, Renaissance, occurred in Italy around the 14th century, a revival of the classical forms originally developed by the ancient Greeks and Romans, an intensified concern with secular life, and interest in humanism and assertion of the importance of the individual began. Thus, artists such as Mosaccio and Giotto depicted art that unlike the Middle Ages, showed emotions, feelings, and bright colors, thus demonstrating the deep concern for naturalism in the society. Other artists during the Italian Renaissance period such as Giovanni Bellini began to express their art through secular and religious themes and ideas that were exhibited through landscapes and portraits. As new styles of linear and aerial perspective and pyramid structures came into use by Francesca and Alberti, paintings were able to carry better-recognized religious ideas because the paintings became more transparent and more vivid in detail.

Lastly, artists in the high Renaissance such as Da Vinci, Michaelangelo, Titian, and Raphael developed paintings in the narrative style that demonstrated the body in a more scientific and natural manner, thus demonstrating the various aspects of everyday life. Moreover, with the combinations of the two beneficiary notions, individualism and humanism, craftsmen were expected by society to be proficient in more than one profession such as literature, sculpture, architecture, and particularly art. One of the first major ideas that the Renaissance brought to Italy was its humanistic belief in society and religion that was popularly depicted through many of the paintings. For instance, Florentine Mosaccio, a vital figure in the early Renaissance art, portrayed society’s belief of religion through the style of realism and perspective in his famous works such as the Tribute Money and Madonna and Child with Saints that demonstrated ideas of simplicity, unity, and believability. Another Italian artist, Giotto, used the idea of realism in which a face was given a characteristics and color.

Thus, his paintings like the Dance of St. Francis indicated a concern for naturalism, a popular idea among society throughout Italian Renaissance. Sandro Botticelli, a leading painter in Florence and favorite of the Medici family, also used decorative and colorful paintings. In his work, Botticelli presented several religious and pagan motifs and allowed the clear establishment of the elegant images, but keeping the level of chiaroscuro to its minimum.

His most famous and recognized work, however, the Birth of Venus uses the combination of mythology and religion, also a popular humanistic idea adopted from the Greeks. With the continuous growth of paintings and artists, prestige for art increased dramatically to the point in which religious aspects were shown through landscapes, portraits, and temperas. This then allowed the creation of new styles and mathematical input that manifested everyday life with religious aspects. One such artist was Giovanni Bellini who introduced bright, rich, strong colors into his palette and landscapes that expressed the happiness, calmness, and prosperity that Italy carried throughout the Renaissance.

These characteristics and styles of paintings subsequently became a popular Venetian cornerstone. Other important figures in the Italian Renaissance that demonstrated the movement’s ideas through their ingenious paintings and architectural methods were Pier Della Francesca and Leon Battista Alberti. Francesca, who was and expert in mathematics, developed the art form of perspective. Alberti, on the other hand, as an architect developed the pediment which became popular throughout the entire Renaissance. His monasteries and churches depicted many of the religious ideas, as evident in one of his famous works, the Santa Maria Novella.

All in all, the use of the common religious themes such as the annunciation, adoration, Crucifixion, and the popular Madonna and Child paintings were widely used by many of the Italian, but especially the northern Renaissance. As the Italian Renaissance hits its climax around the 16th century, a new generation of artists such as Da Vinci, Raphael, Michaelangelo, and Titian developed paintings that revealed anatomic structure of humans. This, as a result, demonstrated the ideas of pride and freedom that the body and people should carry throughout the Italian Renaissance. One of the most famous of these four geniuses was Michaelangelo who in his famous piece, Last Judgement represents the notions of religious themes and in his famous sculpture of David, Michaelangelo demonstrates the nude idealism. Another of these types of artists was Raphael who also followed the same pattern as observed in his famous painting the Madonna of the Goldfinch.

Another great artist that followed the same concept was Titian. In his international style, he drew religious and secular paintings that stressed several ideas about life and ascertained its achievement in the high Italian Renaissance. He also drew many famous nude paintings such as the Venus of Urbino that demonstrated the unique theme of nudity throughout the high Renaissance. In conclusion, many of the major Italian Renaissance ideas of society, religion, and life became evident in the paintings and art that was being created. For instance, beginning from the early Renaissance, new ideas of naturalism and realism began to appear by vital artists such as Mosaccio and Giotto. Then other artists such as Bellini indicated the new ideas of secularism through many landscapes, while other artists such as Francesca and Alberti devised new techniques to express their religious motifs. Lastly, in the high Renaissance tolerance for nudity and ideas about life as well as the body began to expand in many of the paintings thus symbolizing freedom. These genius artists such as Da Vinci, Michaelangelo, Raphael, and Titian began to gain status thus creating deep prestige for the arts.

Furthermore, through the various themes, morals, and ideas that each paintings carried, great changes for the society and religion throughout the magnificent period of rebirth were able to take place, changes which undeniably have had an effect on our modern reason, empirics, arts, philosophies, and ways of living.

Black Death

The Black Death was one of the most deadly pandemics in human account, peaking in Europe among 1348 and 1350. It is notioned to have been an outburst of bubonic plague rooted by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, but this view has lately been challenged. The Black Death has been typically contemplated to have started in Central Asia, it had arrived at the Crimea by 1346 and from here, almost certainly from black rats on trade ships, it extended all through the Mediterranean and Europe. The Black Death is estimated to have killed 30% to 60% of Europe’s population, plummeting the world’s population from a likely 450 million to among 350 and 375 million in 1400. This has been seen as generating a series of religious, social and economic disorder which had deep effects on the path of European history. It took 150 years for Europe’s population to improve.

The plague returned at assorted times, ensuing in a greater number of deaths, pending it left Europe in the 19th century. The Black Death is organized into three specific kinds of plague: Bubonic Plague (infection in the lymph nodes), Pneumonic Plague (the infection in the lungs), and Septicemic Plague (the infection in the blood, and also it was the most deadly out of the three listed). Some researchers consider that the illness was, in reality, a viral hemorrhagic fever derived from epidemiological understanding of historical records of the spread of disease. A few historians suppose the pandemic began in China or Central Asia in the lungs of marmot, scattering to fleas, to rats and ultimately to humans. In the late 1320s or 1330s, merchants and soldiers inhabited it in excess of the convoy routes until in 1346 it reached the Crimea in South Eastern Europe. Additional experts suppose the plague was endemic in that area. In both cases, beginning in Crimea the plague extended to Western Europe and North Africa during the 1340s. The whole number of deaths worldwide is probable at 75 million people, just about 2550 million of which happened in Europe. The plague is notioned to have come again in every generation with changeable virulence and death until the 1700s. Throughout this stage, an additional 100 plague epidemics went across Europe. On its revisit in 1603, the plague killed 38,000 Londoners. Other prominent 17th-century outbursts were the Italian Plague of 16291631, the Great Plague of Seville (16471652), the Great Plague of London (16651666), and the Great Plague of Vienna (1679). Present is disagreement over the distinctiveness of the disease, but in its strong structure, subsequent the Great Plague of Marseille in 17201722, the Great Plague of 1738 (which was the most prominent in eastern Europe), and the Russian plague of 1770-1772, it was observed to have vanished from Europe throughout the 19th century. As a result of the plague, it was considered a grave turmoil to the Catholic Church, and resulted in extensive harassment of minorities for instance as Jews, foreigners, beggars, and lepers.

The indecision of daily endurance has been observed as having created an overall mood of morbidity, causing ethics and morals to come to trouble and for people to be keener towards not being as caring and rather living for the moment. The thirteenth century lead to a great rise in Europes population. In England and Wales, the population almost doubled.

This was brought on by an unusually warm and moist climate, which allowed bumper crops to be harvested. With a better diet, and mild winters, Europe thrived. However, by the second decade of the fourteenth century, a colder drier climate had set in. This period is known as the Little Ice Age and was a time of famine for most of Europe. Although by itself the Little Ice Age did little to lower Europes population, it starved and weakened it, and drove Europes farmers to abandon their empty fields and crowd the cities, perfectly setting the stage for a deadly pandemic to strike.

Before the Black Death struck Europe, most peasants were confined in the feudal system which made them completely subject to their lords will. Serfs, as they were known, had very few rights, and much of their harvest was given to the lord, whose land they tilled. Due to the massive population boom that Europe experienced in the thirteenth century, serfs were in high supply, and low demand. This meant that very few could save enough to buy their freedom and become Yeomans, or freeman. However, this all changed after the Black Death.

With a reduction of at least one third of Europes population, the surplus population brought on by the boom was decimated. Rural villages were completely wiped out, and fields went unplowed. As lords watched their serfs die off in vast quantities, they had to purchase new ones. Yet, serfs were not as cheap as they once were. With such a shortage of farm hands, lords began to increase the earnings a serf would receive, to entice him to work on his farm.

This increase in peasant wages allowed many more to buy the status of Yeoman, and start their own farms, further increasing their wealth. The Black Death allowed many peasants to purchase a better life, and it helped to end the feudal system, leading to the rise of early capitalism. However, the decrease in population was not only beneficial to male peasants, but also to women. Previous to the strike of the plague, Medieval women had little to look forward to in life. They had few options available to them, other than becoming a wife, and providing as many children as physically possible, or joining a convent, and becoming a nun.

Men, of which there were plenty after the boom, did all the physical labour, and a man earned any money that was to be made. Women had a much shorter lifespan then men, few female peasants lived past thirty because of the exploitation of them for childbearing.

However, the vast decimation in population meant that many job opportunities, both rural and urban were made available. Without men to fill these positions, European society turned to women. Women began to till the fields, and take on important jobs like the production of beer. This made them more independent, and following the Black Death, women began to marry later, or not at all.

Therefore, the Black Death took European women out of the home, and gave them meaningful employment, while at the same time making them more independent, and increasing their life expectancy. Further displaying the beneficial results of the plague, was the boom in artwork and labor saving technology that followed it. Europeans were caught completely by surprise when the Black Death struck. Medieval doctors were next to helpless in their ability to stem the spread of the plague. Many strange and obscene methods were attempted with the purpose of healing a plague victim, or preventing an individual from contracting it. Nothing that the medical professionals tried, seemed to work. Nevertheless, doctors were convinced that the Black Death was transmitted through the air, carried by foul smells.

Today it is known that fleas, carried on the backs of rats, transmitted the disease. However, at the time the most sound advice one could be offered to avoid contracting the pestilence was to avoid being submitted to the outside air, and its foul smells. The affluent people of Europe turned to tapestry weavers to create thick, intricate tapestries that could be hung over windows to prevent the outside air and stench from entering their residences. Although this likely did nothing practical to stop the pestilence from spreading, the tapestries provide beautiful examples of medieval artwork, and the creation of them started an entire trend in that periods artwork.

Not only did the creation of tapestries experience a great increase in production but fourteenth century paintings also had a boom. Prior to the outbreak of the Black Death, medieval paintings mainly depicted Christian ideals, portraying death only as the ascension to eternal life and glory. During and after the plague, medieval artists became more cynical in their paintings. Many now only focused on the more natural depictions of death and the decay of the body. For years after, medieval paintings were extremely dark and morbid, accurately displaying the emotions of the time.

This shows that there was a loss of faith in God and the church during these times for many questioned why God would visit his loyal subjects with such a pestilence. This meant that survivors of the Black Death were more grounded on Earth, and had begun to seek real answers, instead of turning towards the heavens.

Artwork was not the only development that the Black Death instigated. With such a decrease in population, new technologies needed to be created to supplement the lack of manual labour. Of these, one of the most notable is the printing press. Following the plague, peasants experienced a sharp increase in wages, and could now afford to become literate. Nonetheless, with the higher wages, universities could not afford to employ their usual vast number of scribes, and had to begin searching for an alternative.

Johann Gutenberg did not invent the printing press until 1453, but his resulting invention was the culmination of many experiments undertaken in the previous century. Other fields benefited from an increase in technology too. Smaller crews had to operate larger ships, so maritime technology experienced great development. In addition, because soldiers were now more expensive, a great advance in firearms occurred. Furthermore, higher quality glass and better quality paper were introduced to meet the needs of the wealthier commoners. These innovations that were inspired by the decimation of the plague, truly were positive results of the Black Death.

However, despite the devastation it wreaked in the fourteenth century, the Black Death lead to immunities that continue to benefit humans to this day. Europeans who were submitted to the bacteria and/or virus that caused the Black Death experienced genetic changes and developed immunities from which their descendants still benefit today. Bubonic Plague which historians strongly believe was at least a component of the Black Death, is less prevalent today then ever because of the immunities that were past down by the survivors. Similar to the devastating influenza pandemic, the Bubonic Plague continues to become less deadly with each outbreak, thanks in part to the survivors of the plague.

Those that contracted the Black Death died ninety percent of the time. However, the ten percent that it failed to kill experienced some interesting genetic changes. According to Dr. Stephen J. OBrien, the Black Death caused a mutation in the gene CCF-5. The survivors of the plague passed down this mutated gene to their descendants, and it is speculated that up to fifteen percent of the Caucasian population of the world carry it. The effect this mutated CCF-5 has on those who posses it is truly amazing. It makes them immune to the HIV virus, and therefore completely immune to AIDS. This is further proof that the Black Death has been beneficial to society. Despite devastating Europes population and economy, the Black Death instigated many changes, which have proven valuable not only to the people of that time, but also to society, as we know it today. Consequently, the Black Death, while cataclysmic, was beneficial to European cultural and societal advancement.

The plague may be rare today in the modern world, but every person should be aware of its potential as a weapon, because its pathogens are easily aerosolized and the symptoms are not likely to arouse suspicion until it is too late. Without early recognition of plague the disease may be spread to others, especially family members and health care providers. An intentional bio-terrorism-related outbreak of plague would most likely occur in the form of aerosol of the plague bacillus. A plague aerosol is odorless, colorless, and tasteless. No explosion or cloud would announce the presence of this lethal disease in the air.

The disease would first present itself as a large number of patients with symptoms of severe pneumonia, which many physicians have never seen a case of pneumonic plague, so the first cases might easily be overlooked. In the early 1990’s, it was discovered that Iraq had produced plague in fermenters and freeze-dried the bacteria for use in bombs. Still today Western intelligence sources believe that Iraq still maintains a plague bio-warfare program. Just imagine if a release of the plague in New York City. Terrorists on board a plane from the Middle Eat are able to successfully release plague in the form of an aerosol in the New York City airport. It would be about three days before the first cases of the plague victims began going to local hospitals for care.

The intentional release of the plague on a modern metropolitan airport would be devastating because many people venture out from there all over the United States every day. Casualties would quickly overwhelm the medical field, mainly in the hospitals due to a shortage of beds. Also initial attempts of quarantine would fail due to the fact people would think they were not affected and move to larger cities away, which would lead to a fast-developing epidemic. Even if medical staff had a vaccine on hand. Children under eighteen and pregnant could not receive the vaccine because of their immune system.

Panic would continue to ensue, and eventually the world’s population, government, and economics will all be crushed. The president and military leaders, reacting to get back from this devastation, would begin military strikes against counties, correct or incorrect assumed for the release of the plague. Religious views would attempt to explain that the devastation was the work of an angered God. The intentional and successful release of the plague by terrorists in a major metropolitan area would absolutely alter the world’s society forever. As frightening as that scenario is, what is equally frightening is the fact that we still don’t get it in this country. We still believe that if we put more money into our military, it will solve everything. To better prepare our country from this scary scenario it is going to be the first response programs we need the most. It’s going to be at the emergency room level, in the medical care area, in the health department, in our vaccines, and our antibiotics we need to put our emphasis. If we don’t have those, we have nothing to prepare for bio-terrorism. Right now it is so scary in this country because we want to blow countries and people up instead of taking care of home first. It is ironic that history repeats itself.

When the plague hit England the hardest was when their country was in crisis. It was overpopulated and in economic depression. Now does this sound familiar to you? Truth is, many microbiologists and epidemiologists see the plague as something nearly obliterated, however for a new plague and a completely new strain of such virus to up rise could well be possible. Havent all other pandemics and epidemics begun in the same way throughout history regardless of scientific advancement? What worries scientists the most is the fact that our world is so globalized in travel and direct communication with an overwhelming population; not only in hosts to carry the disease but with strain on the few medical resources that would be able to treat or quarantine such a disease. So in truth while the first plague had an overall benefit after a period or morbid darkness, its quite hard to undermine this with a modern occurrence. It seems that such a disease would cause global economic, technological, and foreign relation collapse and possibly even trigger newer problems such as resource wars, mass poverty and scarcity, along with possible extinction of the human race.

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Historical people and events. (2017, Jun 26). Retrieved September 27, 2022 , from

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