A social Scientific Approach to the Making of the Modern World

Other trade routes began to appear as well in Europe and beyond. Genoa and Venice would play major roles in the sea trade with the East. Genoa and Pisa would open up trade between Europe and Africa. In the north another major trade route would be opened. The Hanseatic League created by German speaking merchants created a trading league that tied England, Holland, many of the German speaking lands, and the Baltic principalities together into a trading network dealing in fish, fur, tar, and timber.

Though the Mediaeval Period is not popularly known for its class conflict, the Middle Ages were not without their estate conflicts. The great landowners, of course, monopolized public power in Mediaeval Europe. Not everyone was, however, willing to accept this. There were urban uprisings in Flanders, Orleans, Caen, Toulouse, Rheims, and other urban locales in the 14th century. There were peasant revolts in Flanders between 1323-1328 and in late 1323, in northern France in 1356-1358 (the Jacquerie), a in 1381 in England, a wool workers revolt in Florence in 1378, a peasants revolt in Transylvania in 1437, a peasant revolt in Kent in 1450, a peasant revolt in Catalonia in 1462 and 1485, a peasant revolt in Cornwall in England in 1499, a peasant revolt in the Kingdom of Hungary in 1514, a peasant revolt in Slovenia in 1515, a peasants' War in the Holy Roman Empire between 1524-1526, a peasant revolt in Sweden in 1542, a peasant revolt in Croatia and Slovenia in 1573, and peasant wars in Russia throughout the 17th century. Almost always these revolts were put down by the powers that by. Despite this these revolts did have their impacts. By the late 13th century the lower classes had gained the right to participate in local government in many places across the “continent”. In some urban locales the nobles and the “people” actually shared power. In Paris during the reign of Louis IX (r. 1226-1270), for instance, power was shared between the nobles and the “people”.

Conflict between nobles and people were not the only conflicts that characterized the Mediaeval era. Conflicts between nobles and monarchs would also prove to be important during the age. In England conflicts between nobles and monarchs would result in two compromises—the Charter of Liberties (1110) (http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/hcoronation.html)

which bound the king to the rule of law and the Magna Carta (1215) (/history/docs/magna2.html) which again bound the king to the rule of law including Habeas Corpus. Many have seen these as benchmarks on the road to democracy and freedom, an ideology not unlike that which sees the French Revolution and the Russian Revolution as important points on the road to Communist utopia. It should be remembered that both these documents were anomalies in the context of general European history. I will leave it up to you whether you wish to believe in the teleological version of history where the Magna Carta is an important benchmark on the road to world democracy.

The development of parliaments throughout Europe was, in part, a result and response to these estate conflicts. By the 13th century rulers all across Europe from England to Poland summoned parliaments. Paliaments grew out of advisory groups to the rulers to become formal assemblies consisting of the three estates, the nobles, the clergy, and the people. By and large—though this will change—they rubber stamped the policies of monarchs. Parliament buildings took different forms in different parts of Europe. And some of these arose in the context of continuing struggles between lords and monarchs over power and authority.

The English Parliament evolved out of a council of barons, administrative professionals, and the papal legate that advised the king and out of council of 15 forced on the young king Henry III (r.1216-1272) by England’s alienated barons. Henry was 9 when he ascended to the throne. Members of this council were chosen jointly by the king and the barons. Eventually knights and merchants were appointed as representatives to England’s Parliament under King Edward I (r. 1272-1307). By that time Parliament met fairly regularly to approve taxes for the king’s military operations. This right to approve royal taxes would prove to have immense impacts on English history.

In France legislative assemblies evolved out of the parlements established by Louis IX (r. 1226-1270) to hear court cases, the body of nobles, clergy, and townsmen summoned by Philip IV (r. 1285-1314) during his conflict with Pope Boniface VIII (pope, 1294-1303) over royal versus papal jurisdiction to hear the reasons for his actions in that conflict in 1302, and the body Philip summoned to meet in Tours to hear the reasons for his charges of heresy leveled at the Knights Templar in 1308. Assemblies similar to these would meet sporadically down to 1789, the year of the French Revolution.

The late Mediaeval era was also, no surprise here, marked by warfare between Europe’s kingdoms. The German speaking Frederick of Barbarossa fought and was defeated by the Lombard League at Legnano in 1176. England and France fought each other between 1199 and 1216. They fought the devastating Hundred Years War between 1337 and 1453 (for a contemporary appraisal of the Hundred Years War see http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/froissart1.html).

The Hundred Years War saw the kings of England attempt to capture the French throne for themselves. Henry V, whom Shakespeare would celebrate in his play of the same name, and Jeanne d’Arc, Joan of Arc, a sixteen year old peasant girl from Doremy who claimed that she had been sent by god to defeat the English and restore the king of France to his rightful throne, would play significant roles during this war. The English, of course, captured and burnt Jeanne alive as a heretic. The fourteenth century saw the Muslim Ottoman Turks capture Nicaea (1301), Gallipoli (1354), Thrace, in contemporary Greece (the 1360s), the Balkans (in the 1380s), including Kosovo (1389), and Constantinople (1453). 1455 to 1487 saw the War of the Roses ravage England as claimants for the British throne fought each other. Henry Tudor, Henry VII (r. 1485-1509), won becoming king in 1485.

War, by the way, proved to have a negative impact on Europe’s people, particularly its common people, beyond the battlefield. Mercenaries hired by many of Europe’s rulers to stock their war machines ever increasingly in the sixteenth used their down time to plunder lands they conquered or swore to protect. Monies needed to stock these war machines and to fight the wars came, in part, from taxes collected from Europe’s peoples, again particularly its common people.

Wars were not the only killers afoot in Europe in the Middle Ages. Famines, the Great Famine of 315-1322, famines in Paris in 1328, 1334, and 1340-1341 and famines in Florence in 1276, 1282, 1286, 1291, 1299, 1302-1303, and 1305, not to mention elsewhere, killed thousands across Europe and beyond. And then there was the Great Plague, the Black Death. The Black Death was probably yersinia pestis. We have already spoken about its impact on the Byzantine Empire in the seventh century. It struck China around 1320. It was carried to Europe along overland trade routes. By 1346 it struck a Genoan outpost in the Crimea, and along the sea trade routes into the Middle East and Europe. By 1348 it struck Genoa, Pisa, Florence, and England. 1349 saw it strike France. 1351 saw it hit Moscow. Millions would die from it. In Paris alone half the population, mostly children and mostly poor, died from it. Thirty-five percent of the population of Bologna died from it. All told, say scholars, some one-fifth to one-half of the population, again particularly children and the poor, died from it. Some Christians saw the Plague as punishment for their sins and mortified and flagellated themselves in order to purge themselves of these collective sins. They also killed Jews who many Christian Europeans blamed for the Plague. In a kind of Montezuma’s revenge the labour shortage the plague created in both town and country drove up wages in parts of Europe. So much so that the English king Edward III (r. 1327-1377) issued a statute forbidding labourers from making wages higher than their pre-plague earnings. The Black Death would also impact European art as the increasing depiction of death as the grim reaper shows. It would, by the way, not be until the 15th century that Europe began to recover from the social, economic, political, and cultural impact of the Plague.

The contemporary Boccaccio on the Great Plague http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/boccacio2.html

Documentary materials relating to the Jews and the Great Plague http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/jewish/1348-jewsblackdeath.html

Late Mediaeval Religion

The importance of religion in the Mediterranean world cannot be underestimated. As I noted earlier it took a hundreds of years for Christianity to develop. In the beginning there were many Christianities, Jewish, Pauline, Gnostic, Docetist, Nestorian, Monophysitist, Lombard, Waldensian, Hussite. It was only after Christianity gained toleration and then was made the official religion of the Roman Empire that orthodox and heretical varieties of the faith began to be defined. The Emperor Constantine himself would call the first church council at Nicaea in 325. The Nicene Creed would set the standard by which Orthodox Christianity would be defined forever afterwards. Other church councils would further delineate what constituted Orthodoxy in the Church in the Eastern Roman Empire and in the West. Gnosticism, Docetism, Nestorianism, Monophysitism would all be categorized as unorthodox during these years. With the demise of the Byzantine Empire in the West and the rise of Charlemagne the Bishop of Rome would propagate the fiction in the famous and fraudulent “Donation of Constantine” that that Roman Emperor had given him dominion over the city of Rome, Italy, and the entire Western Roman Empire. He would use this power to crown Charlemagne Imperator Augustus in Rome on Christmas Day, 800. By 1054 the split between Eastern and Western Orthodox Christianities was complete when the East balked at the West’s insertion of the filioque clause into the Nicene Creed. This clause said that the Holy Spirit, one of the three substances in the Christian godhead, proceeded from both the Father and the Son rather than simply the Father as before.

As a result of the split between Eastern Church and Western Church the years after 1054 would see the development of what we today know as Roman Catholicism. It would be a series of councils held in the Lateran Palace in Rome that would define Roman Catholicism. The Second Lateran Council of 1139 declared clerical marriages invalid, regulated clerical dress, and punished attacks on clerics by excommunication. The Third Lateran Council of 1179 limited election to the papacy to cardinals alone, condemned simony—paying for ecclesiastical offices—and forbade the promotion of anyone to the episcopate before the age of thirty. The Fourth Lateran Council of 1215 dealt with transubstantiation, papal primacy and conduct of clergy. It mandated that Jews and Muslims should wear a special dress so they could be distinguished from Christians. All told the various Lateran Councils mandated that Christians attend mass, mandated that Christians confess their sins at least once a year, declared marriage a sacrament, assigned bishops jurisdiction over marital disputes, declared secret marriages unacceptable, declared marriages of cousins, godparents, and those related through previous marriage forbidden, declared the children born of secret marriages illegitimate and unable to inherit property and become priests, declared the bread and blood of the Eucharist to be the very body and blood of Christ, mandated that priests supervise the Eucharist, and forbade the formation of new monastic orders, a reaction to the Franciscans monastic order.

By the 13th century Mediaeval Catholicism was a religion grounded in practices of ritual purification. It was a religion that located its saving power in the rites of a church that had descended, it was claimed, from Jesus’ apostles, specifically the Apostle Peter, who, it was held, was held to be the first bishop of Rome. For Catholic thinker’s salvation was only available through the Church and to members of the one universal Church. This one universal Church dealt increasingly harshly with western heretics over the years. Between 1209-1229, for instance, Church inquisitors aided by secular authorities crushed the Cathars during the Albigensian Crusade. The Cathars were a Gnostic dualist faith which believed that the spirit or light had become trapped in material corruption. A record of the inquisition of Cathars in Montaillou provided the basis for LeRoy Laudurie’s book Montaillou. In Languedoc ecclesiastical authorities issued 633 punishments for heresy, almost half of them were imprisoned for life. 41 were burned alive. Those who were not imprisoned or executed were forced to wear crosses on their clothing.

Along with the delineation of “orthodox” Catholicism came definitions of “unorthodox” or “heretical” Christianity. Though the majority of people in the west in the Mediaeval period were Catholic the presence of “heresy” and the attempt to wipe out such “heresy” in the Catholic West never ceased. There were “heretics” in England like the Lollards. The Lollards taught that religious power and authority came through piety and not through the Church hierarchy. Their leader, John Wycliffe (c. 1330-1384), argued that each Christian should be allowed to read and interpret the gospels for themselves, that papal pronouncements should not go beyond what was in the gospels, and that the doctrine of transubstantiation was in error. They believed that piety was a requirement for a priest to be a “true” priest or to perform the sacraments and that a pious layman had power to perform those same rites. There were “heretics” in the Alps like the Waldensians. The Waldensians promoted poverty, public preaching and a literal interpretation of the scriptures. There were “heretics” in the German speaking lands, the Italian speaking lands, and France like the Albigensians. The Albigensians taught that the world was the creation of the devil and that the forces of good and evil were at war with one another. The Albigensians renounced wealth, sex, and the sacraments. There were “heretics” in what is today the Czech Republic like the Hussites. The Hussites were followers of Czech reformer Jan Huss (c. 1370-1415) who attacked clergy abuses and opposed the condemnation of John Wycliffe. Hus was condemned by the Council of Constance and burned at the stake. All of these heresies, of course, would share sentiments with the Reformers to come.

It is difficult, of course, to get at the mentality or mentalities of common Catholics during this period given that most Europeans were illiterate during the era and hence have left little trace in the historical record. What we do know is this. There was a difference between the official Catholicism of the hierarchs and clergy and the popular Catholicism of the masses. That said, there are also similarities between official and popular Catholicism, especially since the Church and its hierarchy was regarded as the sole source of grace and salvation. It is likely that most Catholics in the Mediaeval age believed in Catholic Christianity, believed that salvation alone rested in its hierarchy and sacraments, and participated enthusiastically in its ceremonies and rituals. Religious art in Western Europe—that of Hieronymous Bosch in particular—and the literature on the art of dying suggests there was a widespread concern about the destiny of the human soul in the next world.

It was particularly in the rituals associated with salvation that the Church maintained a hold over the populace. The Church, of course, stressed the need to confess one’s sins and make restitution for them through confession to a priest before dying. It warned of the dangers and despair that awaited anyone who didn’t confess. Most Christians likely especially feared what happened to the souls of those who died before completing penance. Rituals and ceremonies arose to guard against just this. Daily attendance at mass and participation in the cycle of “Lady Feasts” in honour of the Virgin Mary seemed to offer protection against sudden death without last rites.

And then there was the doctrine of purgatory. The doctrine of purgatory arose in the late 1100s to deal with Christian fears about the destiny of souls who had not had the time to perform penance before their deaths. Those who reflected on such matters as the destiny and destination of human souls began to argue that those destined for eternal salvation but who hadn’t completed restitution or penance before death went to a place where their souls were purified through sufferings and in this way atoned for the sins they had committed during their lives. This place was given the name purgatory. It was thought that purgatorial penance took longer than penances for the living

Another new Church practise which arose about the same time as the doctrine of purgatory was confession. In this period good Catholic Christians became obligated to make a private confession of ones sins at least once a year before a priest and to follow that priests recommendations for making absolution or penance of those sins. Catholic culture, in other words, was now becoming increasingly designed to allay the fears of Catholic believers about the destiny of their souls.

Increasingly the Church hierarchs and theologians began to teach the laity that there were ways that one could acquire grace in this life and, in the process, defray the possibility that one might end up in purgatory or Hell. Grace, which the Church regarded as a measurable quantity of goodness or worth could be acquired by participation in Church rites especially the mass or Eucharist. Through it the believer could experience the very body and very blood of Christ as a result of the mediating power of the priest and, in the process, experience and participate in the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. Since the Church increasingly came to regard each mass said as imbued with the sacrifice of Christ more and more masses came to be held in the Mediaeval period. By the 14th century the Eucharist had become so important that the cult of Corpus Christi—the body of Christ—arose at Liege in what is today Belgium.

This wasn’t the only Church ritual or ceremony that allowed one to build up grace. Processions and festivals, particularly those during Holy Week, Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter, allowed one to build up an abundance of grace as well. And then there was the company of heaven.

In Catholicism the earthly world and the heavenly world were both perceived as hierarchical. The earthly world had its kings, nobles, clergy, and peasants. The heavenly world had its saints, the Virgin Mary, God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit. One was supposed to approach these saints as one approached a ruler, indirectly through those who knew him. In the case of the saints one approached them though the hierarchy of the Church. During this period it increasingly came to be believed that exemplary Christians who had been made saints had built up during their lives a superabundance of grace because of the holy lives they led. It also became increasingly common to believe that because of this abundance of grace built up by the saints some of it could be used, via the mediation of the Church, to help Christians alive and dead, on earth and in purgatory, make their way to heaven. As a result there were saints available to help nations, peoples, tradesmen, craftsmen, travelers, mothers giving birth, and those with various and sundry ailments.

The greatest of all the saints and the focus of numerous cults and festivals was believed to be the Virgin Mary. Mary came to be seen most generous mediators between humans and the heavenly godhead. In its extreme form the veneration of the Virgin made Mary a co-redeemer as well as shelter and protector of humankind. The Franciscans would even come to regard her as free from the original sin, the sin that resulted when Adam’s and Eve’s eyes were opened after eating the apple in the Garden of Eden, that cursed the rest of humankind.

It was also believed that it was possible for the sins of confessors to be commuted by the Church powers as a result of some good work on the part of the confessor. “Plenary indulgences”, for instance, had been granted by Church hierarchs to the Crusaders at the end of the 11th century. By the 15th century “indulgences” could be acquired by those visiting Rome during the Jubilee Year by those who contributed to the building of a church, and by those who had purchased a “confessional letter”. The Catholic Jubilee was a special year of universal pardon and the remission of sins.

After 1470 the Church began to offer similar indulgences to those who died and were in purgatory. Indulgences had become so much a part of Catholic culture that they were even falsified. Papal bulls, for instance, commanding the angels of heaven to allow dying pilgrims in North Italy entry into heaven were said to be circulating.

The construction of Roman Catholicism wasn’t the only innovation that occurred in the era. During the period pope’s became ever more powerful and influential so much so that Pope Innocent III (pope, 1198-1216 thought of himself as someone who ruled the earth in place of Christ.

On the intellectual level the era saw the rise of Catholic scholasticism. Influenced by Aristotle via the translation of Arabic commentaries on that Ancient Greek philosopher Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) harmonized Aristotle with Christian doctrine and theology in his massive and comprehensive synthesis Summa Theologiae (/summa/). Aquinas, for instance, turned the Christian god into Aristotle’s first mover.

Though Scholasticism became the dominant systematic theology of the Catholic Church not all Catholic thinkers were taken with it. The Franciscan John Duns Scotus (c. 1266-1308) thought the world and god less harmonisable than did Aquinas. For him humans could only gain the truth through god’s illumination rather than though reason. William of Ockham (c.1270-1349) likewise argued that human reason could not prove the truths of the Christian faith.

Scholasticism and intellectual critics of Scholasticism were not the only direction that Christian thought took in the era. The Dominican Meister Eckhard (d. 1327) emphasized that mystical union with god was the ultimate goal of a Christian life. Some communities, like the male and female Brethren of the New Life in the Low Countries put mysticism and piety in practice.

On the popular level the Mediaeval period saw the blossoming of several varieties of popular Christian apocalypticism about which Norman Cohn has written about in his influential Pursuit of the Millennium. Apocalyptics or millennialists, like Joachim de Fiore, expected the end of the world could come at any minute.

By the way, Christian heretics weren’t the only one’s who experienced hatred and persecution from the religious powers that be and the masses in Western and Central Europe. Jew, of course, prominently figured in Christian terror. So did lepers, leprosy was uncurable and highly contagious at this time, who many believed became lepers as a result of sins they had committed. Jews were accused of poisoning wells and of giving Jews consecrated hosts so they could perform their “demonic” blood libel rites in the 1320s in France. This was, of course, not the last of the Jewish fill in the blank conspiracies to take hold of Europe or the world for that matter. Many were tortured, made to confess, and burned at the stake for these “sins”. Even the poor were harshly treated in many places across the “continent”. Some communities actually expelled the poor for their “debaucheries”. It would be in this ideological context that the Reformation, which we will soon talk about, arose.

Popes versus Kings

The construction of Roman Catholicism wasn’t the only innovation that occurred in the era. During the period pope’s became ever more powerful and influential so much so that Pope Innocent III (pope, 1198-1216 thought of himself as someone who ruled the earth in place of Christ.

This does not, by the way, mean that struggles between monarchs and pope ended with the triumph of the latter. The power of each would ebb and flow throughout the period. By the end of the 13th century Europe’s kings, by and large, had more power than the popes. The kings of England and France, Edward I (r. 1272-1307) and Philip IV (r. 1285-1314) respectively, for instance, taxed ecclesiastics along with everyone else to raise taxes for their military expeditions. They did so not without conflict, however. Pope Boniface (pope, 1294-1303) asserted that only he was authorized to tax clergy. When Boniface refused to back down on his claims Philip had the bishop of Pamiers arrested on a charge of treason. Boniface, in turn, issued a bull emphasizing that one’s salvation, including presumably Philip’s, was in his hands. Philip responded by ordering his soldiers to invade the papal palace at Anagni south of Rome and arrest the pope. They were, however, inhibited from doing this by the citizens of Anagni. Boniface died a month later and his successors would act more favourably toward Philip even pardoning him and his agents for their actions.

The conflict between Boniface and Philip, it turned out, was only the beginning of the papacy’s troubles. In 1309 the pope was driven out of Rome and took up residence in Avignon. Soon there were two—between 1378 and 1409—than three “popes”—between 1409 and 1417—each claiming to be the “true” one, each excommunicating the others. That the conflict over which pope was the real pope would be embedded in politics should come as no surprise. France supported the papal claimant at Avignon, England the pope in Rome. Over time the papacy was forced to recognize the right of secular states to govern and regulate themselves though the battle between the pope and Henry VIII (r. 1491-1547) over marriage, divorce, and the English church showed that they would continue to impact European history for some time. In France, for instance, King Charles VII (r. 1403-1461) declared that the pope could no longer appoint church leaders in his lands in 1438 and that he had jurisdiction over such appointments.

The Gregorian reforms of Pope Gregory VII (pope 1073-1085) ended the practice of clerical marriage, modified the procedure for Episcopal elections, argued against monarchical influence in church governance and decision making, unleased civil war in the German speaking lands (Henry IV continued to appoint bishops against Gregory’s orders, Gregory excommunicated him leading princes in the German speaking lands to revolt against him) and turned the pope into a monarch.

This conflict between pope and king over who had the right to name bishops would continue for some time. The 1122 the Concordat of Worms would try to put an end to it by distinguishing between spiritual and secular forms of investiture. It gave the Church the right to assign the rings and staffs of church office and the monarch the right to assign the land and possession that went with that office.

http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/worms1.html.

The era also saw the rise of powerful and wealthy monasteries like that at Cluny in contemporary France.

http://medieval.ucdavis.edu/120A/Cluny1088.html

The Cluny monastery populated by around 400 brothers became an important centre for calls for reform within the Roman Catholic Church, the Cluny monastery, for instance, was a supporter of clerical celibacy, opposed the selling of church offices, one of the main reasons for Gregory’s reform of Episcopal election processes, and became a proponent for the rights of the poor.

  1. Of english words and phrases (1)

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    2. Inexistence N. inexistence†; nonexistence, nonsubsistence; nonentity, nil; negativeness &c adj.; nullity; nihility†, nihilism; tabula rasa [Lat.], blank; abeyance; absence &c 187; no such thing &c 4; nonbeing, nothingness, oblivion.
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  10. Задача настоящего учебника помочь учащимся овладеть как навыками перевода, так и навыками устной и письменной англий­ской речи. Для достижения этой цели учащиеся должны приобрести определенный запас слов и изучить грамматический строй языка

    Задача
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