Transformations in Europe
Culture and Ideas
Theological controversies broke the religious unity of the Latin Church and contributed to violent wars.
Thinker’s new models of the planets encouraged others to challenge traditional social and political systems (with important implications for the period after 1750).
Each event was caused in part by the tech of the printing press.
In 1500, the papacy (the central government of Latin Christianity) was gaining stature and suffering from corruption and dissent.
Larger donations and tax receipts let popes fund ambitious constructions in Rome, their capital city.
In the 16th century, Rome gained 54 new churches and buildings (this took place in the the Renaissance)
But, the church’s wealth attracted men whose personal lives became the source of scandal.
A showcase of their wealth was the Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome (was big and beautiful).
A contest formed between Pope Leo (the creator of the Basilica who created an indulgence to raise funds, where he forgave people from their sins if they made a donation, said a prayer, or made a pilgrimage) and Martin Luther (a German monk who forsake money and marriage) because Luther didn’t like the way Pope Leo was abusing people.
During a debate, Luther was led into disagreeing with church doctrines, and was condemned. Unable to reform the church from within, he rejected the pope’s authority and started the Protestant Reformation.
Eventually his religious conclusions led Luther to abandon his monastic prayers and penances and to marry a former nun. The end!
Luther’s use of the printing press to promote his ideas, winning many powerful Germans
Luther’s denunciation and corruption of church leaders led leaders to call for a return to authentic Christian practices and beliefs.
John Calvin went further than Luther with his own religious beliefs, saying that God gave salvation to those he predestined, instead of salvation being through just human faith.
Calvinists led a simple life, dress, and worship.
The Reformers appealed to genuine religious sentiments, but their successes and failures were due to political circumstances and the social agendas that motivated people to join them.
The Catholic Church, tired of all these religious unrest, distinguished proper Catholic doctrines from Protestant “errors.” They called for many reforms.
This Catholic Reformation aroused a new order-- the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) that Ignatius Loyola, a Spanish nobleman, founded in 1540. Jesuits stemmed the protestant tide and taught/preached to win back believers. Others were missionaries overseas.
Wars of religion caused by people killing those of differing views continued in parts of Western Europe until 1648.
Traditional Thinking and Witch-Hunts
Widespread witch-hunts are an example of how the Protestants and Catholics had common beliefs and cultural heritages.
Two European ideas of the natural world were:
The folklore of magic and forest spirits passed down orally from pre-Christian times
The other was the biblical teachings of the Christian and Jewish scriptures
In the minds of most people, Christian teachings of miracles, saints and devils mixed with folklore.
Most early modern Europeans believed natural events could have supernatural causes (ex. When crops fail or an earthquake happens, it is because of unseen spirits, human triumphs and tragedies, God, etc.)
The fear of the power of witches in northern Europe in the late 16th and 17th centuries was powerful testimony to this belief.
Secular and church authorities tried over a hundred- thousand people (abt 3/4s women) for practicing witchcraft.
More than half were executed, most in Protestant lands.
Trial records show both the accusers and the accused believed angry and jealous people used evil magic/the power of the Devil to cause people or domestic animals to sicken and die, or to cause crops to wither in the fields.
The Reformation’s focus on the Devil was believed to have made such malevolence so serious a crime, and may have helped revive older fears of witch-craft.
Many accusations against widows and independent-minded women drew on the widespread belief that women not directly under the control of fathers or husbands were likely to turn to evil.
In witch-hunts today, People often relish the celebrity that public confession brings, partly because self confessing could release any guilt they have from wishing evil on other people...
For everyone, there are connections between the witch-hunts and rising social tensions, rural poverty, and environment strains.
Two things ended the witch-craft movement: class and scientific revolution.
When people in higher classes were subjected towards being a witch, people said, “that’s ridiculous.”
The Scientific Revolution
The commonsense perception was that all heavenly bodies revolved around earth.
Aristotle, the greatest authority on physics, taught that everything on earth was reducible to 4 elements: the surface of the earth, the atmosphere (air and fire) and the sun, moon, planets, and stars.
This conception of the universe was also influenced by tradition from the Greek mathematician Pythagoras, who attributed musical properties with math equations to describe physical objects.
But, some daring European investigators began to challenge these conceptions of the physical world. These pioneers of the Scientific Revolution demonstrated that the workings of the universe could be explained by natural causes.
Nicholas Copernicus (1473-1543) placed the sun at the center of the universe, instead of humans. To avoid controversies about this, Copernicus delayed his heliocentric theory until the end of his life.
Danish Tycho Brahe and his German assistant Johannes Kepler, improved Copernicus’s model, saying planets moved in elliptical, not circular, orbits; Italian Galileo Galilei figured out that planets had mountains, spots, and/or their own moons
First, the Copernican universe had more critics than supporters, because it challenged popular ideas, and the intellectual synthesis of classical and biblical authorities.
“How,” demanded Aristotle’s defenders, “could the heavy earth move without producing vibrations that would shake the planet apart?”
Intellectual and religious leaders, (like Protestant ones, condemning the heliocentric universe as contrary to the Bible) encouraged political authorities to shut. It. Down.
Galileo argued that God’s truth on the universe could be learned by careful observation and scientific reasoning.
He also ridiculed those who were slow to accept his findings. So, the Jesuits and other critics got his ideas condemned, later the Catholic Church officially retraced its condemnation in 1992..?
Despite official opposition, printed books spread these ideas among scholars across Europe.
Robert Boyle in England and others, through the Royal Society chartered in London in 1662 to promote knowledge of the natural world, became excited missionaries of mechanical science and opponents of the Aristotelians.
English mathematician Isaac Newton created a set of laws that all physical objects obeyed: the law of gravity.
Despite more leaders viewing this new science as being wrong bc of the challenge it posed to established ways of thought, all the principal pioneers of the Scientific Revolution were convinced their ideas and religion were not in conflict.
Newton promoted lectures proving the validity of Christianity.
By showing that Aristotelians and biblical writers held ideas abt the Natural world that were unfactual, these pioneers opened the door to others who used reason to challenge a range of unquestioned traditions and superstitions.
The Early Enlightenment
The Enlightenment: belief that human reason could discover the laws that governed social behavior and were just as scientific as the laws that governed physics energized this movement. Was more of a frame of mind than a coherent movement.
Did you know...
Leading Enlightenment thinkers became accustomed to having their books burnt or banned and spent long periods in exile to escape being imprisoned?
Besides the Scientific Revolution, other influences that affect the Enlightenment were:
The partisan bickering and bloodshed caused by the Reformation led some to doubt the superiority of any theological position, and to recommend toleration of all religions.
Accounts of cultures around the world: ex. Romanticized reports of Amerindian life, led some to think the so-called savages were in fact nobler than themselves.
China was known to be ruled by educated men called, by Matteo Ricci (a Jesuit missionary who’d gone to China), philosophers, causing a lack of territorial ambition and constant warfare, unlike Europe.
Although many circumstances shaped “enlightened” thinking, the new scientific methods and discoveries are the clearest model for changing European society.
Some enlightened thinkers thought society could be made to function with the mechanical orderliness of planets spinning in their orbits.
Europe in 1750 was neither enlightened nor scientific (yet). It was a place where political and religious divisions, growing literacy, and the printing press made possible the survival of the new ideas that profoundly changed life in future centuries.