Black Death was a plague that swept across Europe in the 14th century resulting in an irrevocable change to Europe’s religious structure which was highly dominated by the Roman Catholic Church. Besides, Black Death resulted in harassment of minority groups such as Jews on not only grounds of religious detestation but also a way of attacking the church or the kings who were perceived to protect them. This was heightened by feelings that the church as an institution had failed to provide social guidance equally among all people.
The Pope condemned the killings and tried to stop it but to no avail resulting in renewed religious fanaticism and fervor amid Black Plague. This resulted is weakening of the old connection between the society and the religion (Tuchman 20-50). The fact that the clergy were not able to banish or cure the disease and explain its causes resulted in cynicism toward church. At the time of Black Death the Pope was based in France and was seen to have abandoned church leadership for French monarchy hence leaving its people at the time of need.
This compounded disillusionment among people towards the church and embraced other religious outfits such as Order of Flagellants. Subsequently, as the disease caused death in monasteries, few years later there was a shortage of clergy. New clergy members replaced those who had died but did not have life-long convictions hence resulting in more abuses and weakening of church position in the society (Tuchman 50). 2. The Hundred Years’ War occurred in the years between 1336 and 1453 and it was mostly between France and England.
England traded with Flanders in exchange of its fleece for wine in the Southern France. This was a triangular-like trade in which English traded with France indirectly through Flanders. However, the king of France was persistently struggling to regain control over the wealth in Flanders as a result the English could not let it go as it could have meant their only source of foreign exchange is gone. In these misunderstandings, a civil war broke out whereby the English supported the manufacturing companies whereas the French supported land-owning nobility.
Besides, the English had a control over duchy of Guienne in France. In this regard, King Edward III became disappointed with King Phillip IV’s broken promise to restore a part of the Guienne to the English. Additionally, King Phillip went against English wish and supported Scotland which angered England. This war became more complex as the right over the territorial control –dynast conflict- was coupled with conflict over succession of throne. For instance, King Edward III who had risen to the throne in 1327 could have claimed to succeed Charles IV of France after he died in 1328 without any heir.
Some years later, King Edward declared himself the King of France to provoke France so that he can attract resistance from them (Allmand 20-50). The war resulted in paradigm shift in terms of tactics, weapons, and technology employed in military war. For instance, the use of cavalry which by then was powerful machinery was abandoned for longbow. Other weapons introduced during the war include gunpowder and cannons. The war revealed the extent to which royal authority in England could be questioned especially in the succession lapse when King Edward III died.
The Peasant’s revolt in 1381 witnessed an uprising against the throne by peasants leading to the King (Richard III) giving in to their demands. The war rekindled patriotism and nationalism among the French nationals. The country transformed from being a feudal monarchy to being a centralized state. Besides, the growth of French as a royal and commerce language disappeared during the war (Anne 5-20). 3. It is in the fourteenth century that majority of European countries experienced some of the worst natural disasters and social upheavals. The first disaster is the Little Ice Age, a climatic disaster.
During this period, epidemics, famine and heavy rains became evident resulting in weakened agricultural productivity. The second natural disaster during the fourteenth century was The Black Death, a plague that nearly brought life to a standstill in Europe. Social upheavals include the hundred years’ war (1337-1450), internal church wrangles in the Catholic Church, and rise up of Islam militants. As a result of The Little Ice Age, France experienced heavy rains around 1315 that culminated into famine in the later years. All these disasters had a large impact on drastically reducing the overall population of Europe as many individuals died.
It is also important to note that a lot of minorities for instance Jew were killed or extradited for Europe especially during Black Death. It is also during this time that the highly dominant Catholic Church received much criticism from the society. Additionally, the Church differed with the monarchy when taxes were imposed on its officials resulting into ‘Babylonian Exile’. In 1377 amid the crisis, Pope Gregory XI relocated to Rome for Avignon, France (Tuchman 25-70). 4. In the 14th century, Italy like many other European countries experienced a lot of hardships economically, socially, politically, and in religion.
Besides, in the mid 14century, Italy undergone rebirth what is popularly referred to as ‘renaissance’. In the cities where the feudal system was not strong for instance in the northern frontier –Venice, Florence, and Milan- a strong economical and political atmosphere became dominant and their political structure ruled surrounding regions impacting significant influence over them. In the same period, south of Italy became highly dominated by Papal administration especially in Rome. The papal administration exerted a lot of rivalry to the Northern cities as well as influencing to a large extent the Italian politics and lifestyles.
During the 14th century, the political elite advocated for the principle of humanism by arguing that a person can achieve considerably while in this world in terms of politics and life among others. Therefore, the medieval perceptions that people had changed drastically as they geared towards showcasing their talents (Jackson 310-320). 5. In the fourteenth century, the Roman Catholic had strong influence on the political and social life in most parts of Italy whereas Germany was under monarch rule. For instance, Germany was ruled mostly by the Habsburgs with power centering around three houses of dynasty: Habsburg, Wittelsbach, and Luxemburg.
Therefore most parts of Germany were controlled by the emperor. It is also during the fourteenth century that Germany flourished although it was hit by the Black Plague. In Italy the papal administration and secular leadership was not totally in agreement in terms of managing economic resources and to develop central governments. Subsequently, around the year 1300, the well established Holy Roman Empire failed to maintain its centralized form of governance across Europe resulting into war between different states such as the barbaric German tribes that invaded Italy. This culminated into having a power vacuum until in 17th century.
In Italy for instance, the independence of some of its states in the North coupled with wrangles between the in the Papacy prevented realization of a strong centralized governance (Tuchman 50). 6. It is in the 14th century that the Church experienced faced difficult times and gradually lost its prestige and power in the society. The Church failed to provide moral and spiritual guidance to the people and it can be explained in three distinct stages. First is the Avignon Papacy of 1305 to 1378. During the time pope was located in Avignon, France and officials were seen to monarch’s puppet.
They were corrupt, disregarded social morals, were left out in condemning the hundred years’ war, and failed in their responsibility during the Black Plague. A lot of groups also criticized the Church for owning wealth and property as this was against God’s teaching because Jesus owned nothing. Some people also claimed that Church should consist of members only and not be led by a single individual. At this time papacy defended its righteousness persistently as well as attacking its critics but it is evident that papacy lost its moral authority and credibility to the people (Jackson 322).
The second event that degraded credibility of papacy was the great schism of between 1378 and 1415. After Gregory XI died, the College of Cardinals in Rome was forced by an angry Roman mob to choose a pope of Italian origin. Urban VI was chosen and immediately after, French cardinals protested by fleeing Rome into Avignon where they chose another French pope as they claimed the election was not free and fair. This culminated into having two papal administrations at Rome and at Avignon hence resulting in financial crisis. Besides, the notion that Church was autonomous from state and secular sanctions failed to be realized.
Wrangles existed between the two centers of power leading to excommunication claims by either of the side for receiving sacraments. Third is the Council of Pisa that met in 1408 and resolved to elect a new pope thereby dismissing the two rival popes. They based this on the principle of conciliarism. However, this was not adhered to by the two rival popes and resulted in having three popes. This complicated the matters more in regard to who had supreme power to elect pope leading to the Holy Roman Emperor backing the Conciliarists in holding another council to resolve the issue in 1415 (Jackson 323). . 7.
The religious rift which occurred in the Church around 11th century A. D. is what widely referred to as the Great Schism. The Roman Catholic Church and the Geek Catholic also known Greek Orthodox Church separated during the p[period which lasted between 1378 and 1415. The acrimony between the West patriarchate in Rome and East patriarchates in Jerusalem, Antioch, Byzantium, and Alexandria was on of the cause. This was heightened more by language differences because the West spoke Latin whereas East spoke Greek. Besides, the rift grew more when Emperor Constantine considered transferring the capital from Rome to Byzantium.
Additionally, during the same time German tribes invaded Europe leading to political instability (Jackson 323). This political turmoil coupled with geographical distances and economic hardship lead to ultimate separation of West from the East. As a result it is only a few theologians from West who could speak the predominant Greek language in the East. Communication broke lose among the west and east clergy. There was decreased literacy in the West as compared to highly educated East populace. Thus the church had significant influence among the East populace.
The clergy in the East was capable of translating the Bible into local languages and with time it became mature enough to establish self governance. The occurrence of the Great Schism was also a sign of failure in leadership among the church officials in the 14th century (Jackson 324). Works Cited Allmand, C. T. The hundred year’s war: England and France at war, c. 1300-c. 1450. United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 1988. Anne Curry. The Hundred Years War. 2nd ed. UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003. Tuchman, Barbara W. A Distant Mirror. New York: Knopf, 1978. Jackson, Spielvogel J. Western Civilization. 7th ed. Cengage Learn
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