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Many forces changed Europe in the late medieval period and the beginning of the Early Modern period (c. 1500). Explain how each of the following enabled Western Civilization to become dominant.
a) Spread of new ideas (plague): Bubonic Plague was the most disastrous calamity that occurred in Europe in the year 1347. It was the deadliest pandemic reported in the history thus, named as the Black Death. Yersinia Pestis is the causative agent that spreads the disease and resides in the stomach of the fleas. The spread chain occurs in the rats followed by the fleas and then the humans. It signified that death is an inevitable course of an event in everybody’s life and is unbiased. The Black Death was a major event when people lost faith in religious sentiments. The population thought that the church did not save the needy and plague-infected people and thus, they slowly lost trust over the church. Although Europe benefitted with this phase economically. The people financially got viable and bought land for agriculture. The workers demanded their monetary compensation. For some, it was a blessing in disguise while for others it was the worst era (Jedwab et al., 2020).
b) International expansion: In the year 1492, the European expansion took place. It included Portugal, Spain, France, England, and the Netherlands who were responsible for this turn and played a major role. Business-trade colonies were set-up in the United States of America for economic expansion. Although the government control was not lost and the trade continued. The Americas were hindered by the European expansion and the trade, technology, and power they brought. The American population was also affected medically in terms of diseases that were carried by the Europeans and hence bypassed onto the Americans. Technically, the Europeans had an upper hand over the other population. Gradually, the Europeans spread their boundaries to the whole globe leaving a few geographical areas. This made them extremely strong and viable.
The economic segment of Europe flourished and it became to be a wealthier empire. But, with all good aspects, they also head themselves racially superior and looked down of the other communities with discrimination. With increasing power, they grew more arrogant and encouraged slavery. The Slave Trade of Africa was highly supervised by the Europeans from the year 1500-1850. Gradually, the Europeans fought for more land and wealth. Several wars were fought between the colonies for expansion. This not only resulted in multiple deaths but also certain unfair means. The European government was involved with bias behaviour and unjust reign (Miranda, 2017).
c)The Reformation: it is claimed to be the most important religious renewal movement. Reformation occurred in the 14th century and evoked to be the major reason for discovering Protestantism as one of the forms of Christianity. With increasing time, the corruption and illegitimate use of power began. The priests were payable to hold the position in the churches this resulted in nepotism and simony. A degradation in moral values and ethical rationalism was experienced. Example- Pope Alexander VI accepted that he is the father of multiple kids.
The church authority was questioned and people obligated the practices that the priest of the church did. The common people knew about corruption and raised voices. Martin Luther raised his voice and initiated Protestantism. He preached that priest re no one special and people must have faith in God and not on church. He also added the Bible is the only source of truth. To make it easy for the normal people, Gutenberg Press was invented so that the Bible could be translated into people-friendly languages. With objection to certain believes, wars began to take place and encouraged Nationalism, Liberalism, Capitalism and Democracy (Cantoni, 2018).
d) Scientific, intellectual, and economic advances: there were a significant number of scientific discoveries and inventions that took place in this era leading to western civilization. Galileo invented the telescope. Nicolus stated that the sun is the centre of the universe. The emerge of such intellectual mathematicians, scientists, astronomers lead to the enlightenment of the society and the government. Most of the people by this time would idealise that nature is governed by scientific rules and laws. This urged the people to question every natural aspect and hence, evolved scientific reasoning amongst them.
With increasing intellectual movements, the evolution of technologies was observed. This lowered the efforts of the common men with building economic advantages. In the agricultural segment, the invention of windmills, water wheels, iron tools, and horse collars benefitted the farmers positively. The system of crop rotation increased the yield of crops increasing the economic value. Urbanization took place. Industrial Revolution was a major era where the industries and commercial practices started followed by the evolution of Capitalism. This resulted in the growth of a significant population (Schmal, 2018).
Cantoni, D., Dittmar, J., & Yuchtman, N. (2018). Religious competition and reallocation: The political economy of secularization in the protestant reformation. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 133(4), 2037-2096.
Jedwab, R., Johnson, N., & Koyama, M. (2020). The economic impact of the Black Death.
Miranda, S. M. (2017). Coping with Europe and the empire, 1500–1620. In An Agrarian History of Portugal, 1000-2000(pp. 69-100). Brill.
Schmal, H. (Ed.). (2018). Patterns of European urbanisation since 1500(Vol. 7). Routledge.
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