In the 15th century, Europe as a continent had been sub divided into different states that were continually competing against one another. This was one of the several factors that led these states to have a desire for expansion. The first nation to begin the venture abroad was Portugal, followed by Spain, Netherlands, then England and finally France. All of the states were struggling to outdo each other politically and economically; that’s the reason trade was regarded as a form of war with trading stations being referred to as the forts.
European expansion started when Christopher Columbus sailed across Atlantic reaching the Caribbean Islands in 1492. Vasco da Gama, a Portuguese navigator reached the Cape of Good Hope and to India in 1498. (Cell p. 4). During the period between the late 15th and sixteen centuries, European countries had a great need to colonize and explore different parts of the world. The following are some of the reasons that motivated them to do so; first the continent of Europe was changing with England, France and Spain desiring growth in different sectors and for different reasons.
They were willing to gain wealth from the lands that they were discovering and colonizing (Mega Essays LLC). One of the reasons why the Europeans needed to expand was to get more slaves to work in their plantations. Their servants who were often immigrants were declining perhaps because of the information they were getting on mistreatment by the masters. The servants were also dying because of the diseases as a result of the mistreatments and harsh conditions.
They started running from their slave masters farms and this forced the masters to look for slaves who had different color skin so that if they dared run away, they were easily noticed because of the color of his skin. This meant that they had to expand their colonies especially in Africa and get slaves to work in their tobacco and cotton plantations (Mega Essays LLC). The other major reason that led to the Europeans expanding was for religious purposes; to spread Christianity.
The Europeans were threatened by the fact that Islam was spreading very first and were against the Palestinian Muslims, thus desired to conquer Jerusalem and such religious pilgrimages. Catholic and protestant countries in Western Europe always claimed that religion was their main reason for expansion. For example, the Spanish justified their use of force against the indigenous people of America as a way that would facilitate their conversion and eventual salvation.
The Spanish stated that some of the Native American practices such as cannibalism, unwillingness to work and nakedness were as a result of not understanding the natural laws and thus needed to be civilized through Christianity, thus justifying their enslavement (Kohn, par. 8-13). In addition to those factors, the European expanded and colonized other countries for economic motives. Many had realized that the more wealth they had, the more powerful they became politically and militarily.
The colonies were sources of the raw material for their industries and also market for their products. When Spain for example conquered America, it became very wealthy and this prompted other nations such as Britain and France to follow suit. Others conquered territories as strategy points, the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa was used as a point to guard the sailors form Europe who used the southern route to Asia (Cell pp. 1-7). Important institutions that were important in the growth of European power were; one, the military that use the might of the gun to conquer new lands.
Britain for example was known to have very aggressive navy while France had a well equipped army. Religion was also instrumental as Europeans first sent the missionaries who converted the natives and then invited their governments for protection and colonialism. Question 2: The protestant Reformation of 1500 Roman Catholic was the religion of the most people in Europe before the protestant reformation took place. Between the 9th Century and 1520, there was no distinction between the political aspects of Western Europe and the church.
By the tenth century, the church organization which included the papacy had become a reservation for the powerful. The church and the precisely Vatican was very rich at that time with so many people residing in the monasteries and many other employed as priests by the church. In England, approximately a third of the land was owned by the Catholic Church in the 15th century. The income of the church was sourced from the tithes (the ten percent of the income that every member had to pay), gifts and indulgences (Burchill ET all, par. 1).
In addition, the church had much political power with bishops being appointed by the pope to rule different countries of Europe. Those bishops were looked upon by people they were leading as masters or lords with the bishops taking orders directly from the pope and not the King; what resulted to the people regarding the pope even more important was because he had the power of excommunication. This was the most feared act as this would cut off the victim completely from the Roman Catholic Church and eventually go to hell (Burchill ET all, par. 2).
Many people believed that the power of the bishop was directly from God though practically, his power originated from the fact that he could appoint people as bishops and who would become rich from collecting tithes and offerings. This increased corruption in the church as people could even bribe the pope with money so that they could be made bishops (Burchill ET all, par. 3-5). Though in theory the pope seemed to be the most powerful figure at that period, practically he was not; this being because he was based in Rome and communication to the rest of the parts of Europe was only by horse and boat.
During the renaissance, the Borgia popes participated in orgies, an act that led Julius II army into battle and this making the popes to loose their authority. The followers also realized that the popes were very rich, contrary to the earlier belief that the only way to heaven was through being poor. The building of St. Peters that began in 1506 needed millions of shillings (Burchill ET all, par. 3-5). The reformation in Europe began in 1517 when Martin Luther came up with his ninety five theses.
Luther argued for direct relationship with God, which was contrary to the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church that stated that the pope was the central figure and a mediator between God and men. Luther was also against the idea of purgatory, where people bought the souls of their dead relatives and friends by paying a lump some amount of money to the pope. He also challenged the pope’s idea of people buying their salvation and pardon from the pope. Martin Luther’s beliefs meant that pope was no longer infallible and a political entity resulting into the church loosing its wealth and power.
Initially, the citizens paid their taxes to the kings who eventually paid to the pope. This would strengthen the kings who would raise their own armies and no longer rely on the pope’s army for protection; and thus became independent (Harrison, par. 5-6). In conclusion, the reformation came about with great change especially in the Europe’s Baltic region. The effects were social, religious and political with a great impact on the language and educational developments. Question 3: The middle Ages
The middle ages can be described as the period in Europe’s history that began at about AD 350 and ended at around AD1450. The beginning of this age was marked by the fragmentation of the western part of the Roman Empire into weaker and smaller kingdoms. By the time this age was coming to an end, several European states had been born; with the foundations of the modern institutions for example universities and representative government bodies being created (Rosenwein p. 1). This term came to be used during Renaissance, the period of literary and cultural change.
The people at this latter stage thought that their time and age was more civilized and advanced and thus referred to the period between the ancient world and the period they were then in as the “the middle age” (Rosenwein p1). The middle age has been sub divided into three stages by the historians; the early middle age (from AD 350-1050), high Middle Ages (AD 1050-1300) and late Middle Ages (AD 1300-1450). The middle age period began when the West Roman empire disintegrated and lasted until the time of renaissance.
The medieval Europe was not still united and was divided into different geographical regions as well as cultural/political units not dominated by a single authority. When the Roman Empire collapsed, Christianity became part and parcel of the Western politics. The pope became both a religious and the secular authority with monastic communities sticking to St Benedicts rule. This was useful especially in the preservation of antique learning. The Christian missionaries were being sent to make the Germans (and other tribes) converts thus spreading the Latin civilization (Baidu, par. 3).
The typical political and social organization in Europe in that period was Feudalism and that had manorial system as the agricultural base. Many of the invaders were converted to Christianity and afterwards settled; with agricultural innovations raising productivity and the population. During the High middle ages, the church was the greatest unifying institution (Baidu, par. 5-8). There were also the crusades which were conducted by the Christians against the Muslims and aimed at reclaiming the former Christian lands that had been taken by the Muslims and particularly Jerusalem.
The contact between the Christians and the Muslims introduced the Arab culture in Europe. Science, mathematics, philosophy, from Hellenistic and classical world were used alongside Christianity tenets and Scholasticism philosophy. There was also the development of gothic architecture and literature that had Arab influence. Some of the weapons that were used during the warfare included boiled amour, leather amour, arrows, crossbows, longbows, swords, lances, and pikes among others (Baidu, par. 5-8).
The political middle ages started in 1295 with a model parliament that had the bishops, archbishops, earls, and the barons. People also established a royal council that freely discussed any issue that was important and also did what the king instructed them to do. The political middle ages rulers reigned and no one raised any objection, partly because people concentrated in the crusades and also because they were dying of the Black Death. However as the time progressed, they were dissatisfied with this system (Asadodo 2007).
It will be wrong to wholly describe the middle age period as a period of stagnation because despite many negative things were done at that time, it is also the period when notable institutions were created such as the Oxford University and the English Parliament. The period came to the end during (or just before) renaissance when there was a great progress in artistic work such as in poetry, literature and music (Rosenwein p. 18). It is clear that the Middle Ages were set between Greco-Roman cultural and political achievements and the renaissance. Work Cited Asadodo.
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Harrison, Rachelle. “Protestant Reformation in the Baltic. ” Scand. Updated Jun. 2000. Accessed 8 M y 2009 <http://depts. washington. edu/baltic/papers/reform. html>. Kohn, Margaret. Colonialism. Updated 9 May 2006. Accessed 6 May 2009 <http://plato. stanford. edu/entries/colonialism/>. Mega Essays LLC. Factors that stimulated European exploration. Updated 2009. Accessed 8, May 2009 <http://www. megaessays. com/viewpaper/2812. html>. Rosenwein, Barbara . Middle Ages. Microsoft Encarta. Updated 2009. Accessed 8 May 2009 <http://encarta. msn. com/encyclopedia_761578474_18/Middle_Ages. html>.