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14820_14_349-374_r2ek.qxd 4/2/04 3:41 PM Page 349

The Latin West, 12001500

14

CHAPTER OUTLINERural Growth and Crisis Urban Revival Learning, Literature, and the Renaissance Political and Military Transformations DIVERSITY AND DOMINANCE: Persecution and Protection of Jews, 12721349 ENVIRONMENT AND TECHNOLOGY: The Clock

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I

n the summer of 1454, a year after the Ottoman Turks had captured the Greek Christian city of Constantinople, Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini was trying to stir up support for a crusade to halt the Muslim advances that were engulng southeastern Europe and that showed no sign of stopping. The man who in four years would become pope doubted that anyone could persuade the rulers of Christian Europe to take up arms together against the Muslims: Christendom has no head whom all will obey; he lamented, neither the pope nor the emperor receives his due. Aeneas Sylvius had good reason to believe that Latin Christians were more inclined to ght with each other than to join a common front against the Turks. French and English armies had been at war for more than a century. The German emperor presided over dozens of states that were virtually independent of his control. The numerous kingdoms and principalities of Mediterranean Europe had never achieved unity. With only slight exaggeration Aeneas Sylvius complained, Every city has its own king, and there are as many princes as there are households. He attributed this lack of unity to Europeans being so preoccupied with personal welfare and material gain that they would never sacrice themselves to stop the Turkish armies. During the century since a devastating plague had carried off a third of western Europes population, people had become cynical about human nature and preoccupied with material things. Yet despite all these divisions, disasters, and wars, historians now see the period from 1200 to 1500 (Europes later Middle Ages) as a time of unusual progress. The avarice and greed Aeneas Sylvius lamented were the dark side of the material prosperity that was most evident in the splendid architecture, institutions of higher learning, and cultural achievements of the cities. Frequent wars caused havoc and destruction, but in the long run they promoted the development of more powerful weapons and more unied monarchies.Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini (uh-NEE-uhs SIL-vee-uhs pee-kuh-lo-MEE-nee)

A European fty years later would have known that the Turks did not overrun Europe, that a truce in the Anglo-French conict would hold, and that explorers sent by Portugal and a newly united Spain would extend Europes reach to other continents. In 1454 Aeneas Sylvius knew only what had been, and the conicts and calamities of the past made him shudder. Although their contemporary Muslim and Byzantine neighbors commonly called western Europeans Franks, western Europeans ordinarily referred to themselves as Latins. That term underscored their allegiance to the Latin rite of Christianity (and to its patriarch, the pope) as well as the use of the Latin language by their literate members. The Latin West deserves special attention because its achievements during this period had profound implications for the future of the world. The region was emerging from the economic and cultural shadow of its Islamic neighbors and, despite grave disruptions caused by plague and warfare, boldly setting out to extend its dominance. Some common elements promoted the Latin Wests remarkable resurgence: competition, the pursuit of success, and the effective use of borrowed technology and learning. As you read this chapter, ask yourself the following questions:

How well did inhabitants of the Latin West deal with their natural environment? How did warfare help rulers in the Latin West acquire the skills, weapons, and determination that enabled them to challenge other parts of the world? How did superior technology in the Latin West promote excellence in business, learning, and architecture? How much did the regions achievements depend on its own people, and how much on things borrowed from Muslim and Byzantine neighbors?

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Rural Growth and Crisis

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C1200

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Technology and Environment1200s Use of crossbows and longbows becomes widespread; windmills in increased use

Politics and Society1200s Champagne fairs ourish

1210s Religious orders founded: Teutonic Knights, Franciscans, Dominicans 12251274 Thomas Aquinas, monk and philosopher 12651321 Dante Alighieri, poet

1204 Fourth Crusade launched 1215 Magna Carta issued

ca. 12671337 Giotto, painter

1300

1300 First mechanical clocks in the West

13001500

Rise of universities

13041374 Francesco Petrarch, humanist writer 13131375 Giovanni Boccaccio, humanist writer ca. 13401400 Geoffrey Chaucer, poet 13891464 banker Cosimo de Medici, 1337 Start of Hundred Years War

13151317 13471351

Great Famine Black Death

ca. 1350 Growing deforestation

1381 Wat Tylers Rebellion

1400

1400s Large cannon in use in warfare; hand-held rearms become prominent ca. 1450 First printing with movable type in the West 1454 Gutenberg Bible printed

ca. 13901441 Jan van Eyck, painter 14491492 patron Lorenzo de Medici, art

1415 Portuguese take Ceuta 1431 Joan of Arc burned as witch

14521519 Leonardo da Vinci, artist ca. 14661536 Erasmus of Rotterdam, humanist 14721564 Michelangelo, artist

1453 End of Hundred Years War; Turks take Constantinople 1469 Marriage of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile 1492 Fall of Muslim state of Granada

1492 Explusion of Jews from Spain

RURAL GROWTH AND CRISIS

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etween 1200 and 1500 the Latin West brought more land under cultivation, adopted new farming techniques, and made greater use of machinery and mechanical forms of energy. Yet for most rural Europeansmore than nine out of ten people were ruralthis period was a

time of calamity and struggle. Most rural men and women worked hard for meager returns and suffered mightily from the effects of famine, epidemics, warfare, and social exploitation. After the devastation caused from 1347 to 1351 by the plague known as the Black Death, social changes speeded up by peasant revolts released many persons from serfdom and brought some improvements to rural life.

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Chapter 14

The Latin West, 12001500

Peasants and Population

Society was divided by class and gender. In 1200 most western Europeans were serfs, obliged to till the soil on large estates owned by the nobility and the church (see Chapter 9). Each noble household typically rested on the labors of from fteen to thirty peasant families. The standard of life in the lords stone castle or manor house stood in sharp contrast to that in the peasants one-room thatched cottage containing little furniture and no luxuries. Despite numerous religious holidays, peasant cultivators labored long hours, but more than half of the fruits of their labor went to the landowner. Because of these meager returns, serfs were not motivated to introduce extensive improvements in farming practices.

Scenes of rural life show both men and women at work in the elds, although there is no reason to believe that equality of labor meant equality of decision making at home. In the peasants hut, as elsewhere in medieval Europe, women were subordinate to men. The inuential theologian Thomas Aquinas (12251274) spoke for his age when he argued that, although both men and women were created in Gods image, there was a sense in which the image of God is found in man, and not in woman: for man is the beginning and end of woman; as God is the beginning and end of every creature.1 Rural poverty was not simply the product of inefcient farming methods and social inequality. It also reAquinas (uh-KWY-nuhs)

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sulted from the rapid growth of Europes population. In 1200 Chinas population may have surpassed Europes by two to one; by 1300 the population of each was about 80 million. Chinas population fell because of the Mongol conquest (see Chapter 12). Why Europes more than doubled between 1100 and 1345 is uncertain. Some historians believe that the reviving economy may have stimulated the increase. Others argue that warmer-thanusual temperatures reduced the number of deaths from starvation and exposure, while the absence of severe epidemics lessened deaths from disease. Whatever the causes, more people required more productive ways of farming and new agricultural settlements. One new technique gaining widespread acceptance in northern Europe increased the amount of farmland available for producing crops. Instead of following the custom of leaving half of their land fallow (uncultivated) every year to regain its fertility,