Reforms of Peter the Great
Many of Peter's reforms focused on getting more service out of the Russian people. Nobles had to serve in the government or military for life, while many peasants were drafted for life to bolster the standing army. He also required tens of thousands of peasants to work without pay on construction and expansion projects. These reforms were obviously very unpopular with both nobles and peasants. Westernization is covered in the next topic.
Did Peter the Great Westernize Russia?
Yes he most certainly did. To Peter, the West was the image of what Russia could become. He required his nobles to shave their awesome manly beards, wear Western clothing, attend parties where they freely chose their own spouses, and forced a warrior elite to accept administrative duties as honorable jobs. A Western-oriented elite class of Russians emerged from Peter's efforts.
Lasted roughly from 1540 to 1690. Influenced greatly by Arabic scholars and development of medieval universities. Many developments came about from the need for more advanced navigation techniques for exploration. The rise of the printing press allowed the Revolution to spread throughout Europe at a rapid pace, and the Renaissance certainly helped the acceptance of the Revolution. Particularly of note was the development of the Copernican Hypothesis, which proposed that we existed in a heliocentric system, rather than a geocentric one. Among many new inventions like the telescope, Brahe, Kepler, and Galileo proved Copernicus right, much to the Church's chagrin. Newton developed many of his laws and theories of physics (motion, universal gravity) at this time, and the development of the scientific progress allowed more and more critical thinking to be applied in fields like mathematics, chemistry, biology, and physics.
Three most important aspects of Enlightenment thought are as follows. 1) Methods of natural science could and should be used to understand life. Nothing was to be taken for granted or on faith. Rationalism and secularism proliferated as a result. 2) The scientific progress could not only deduce laws of the universe, but laws of human society as well. This is the beginning of social science, and 3) The concept of Progress, which was the idea that armed with the tools of scientific thinking, people could make better societies and better people.
Bacon vs. Descartes
Francis Bacon made leaps and bounds in experimentation, while Rene Descartes made many improvements in mathematical reasoning and speculative theorizing. Bacon formalized the concept of empiricism and inductive reasoning, while at the same time promoting "experimental philosophy" throughout England. Descartes asserted that information taken through the senses wasn't necessarily accurate, and that such information needed experimentation and mathematics to verify it. He also reasoned that everything in the universe could be reduced to the substances of "mind" and "matter," a philosophy known as the Cartesian duality. Basically, inductive reasoning vs. deductive reasoning.
Many rulers tried to reform their governments to keep with the new Enlightened ideals, rulers like Frederick the Great (Prussia), Catherine the Great (Russia), and the Austrian Habsburgs. Several rulers renounced their own absolute authority, and adopted ideals of progress, rationalism, and tolerance.
Rise and Fall of Spain
Spain's great success was largely a result of its successful forays into the New World, which yielded very valuable Spanish silver. However, due to inefficiency in government and economic policy, Spain stumbled from financial troubles as its population greatly increased. This created demand for supply that simply did not exist (Spain did, after all, exile some of its most skilled farmers and businessmen for being Muslims and Jews), and as the population got higher, so did prices everywhere. By 1600, Spain's economy was in shambles, but even a decrease in the population, and a resulting price stabilization, couldn't bring Spain to her former glory. This was partly because Spain's mighty armada of ships was lying at the bottom of the English Channel ever since 1588.
18th Century Population Explosion
A long-standing obstacle to European population growth was the shortage of food. Along with this shortage, recurring plagues and constant warfare took their toll on the population. When the eighteenth century came around though, a bunch of stuff caused the population to rise at a considerable pace: less death, more babies being born, better success at safeguarding food, newer advances in transportation, and the disappearance of the bubonic plague all helped Europe to, uh, get busy.
Children and Education in the 18th Century
Children were no longer sacks of meat to be ignored, but now actual human beings to be loved and nurtured by caring mothers. As the Enlightenment progressed, so too did feelings of tenderness and love towards children. Rural wet-nursing was widespread, and elementary schools were beginning to be established throughout Europe to teach the young. Religious faith was central to their education.
Medicine, Health, Diet, and Healthcare in the 18th Century
While there wasn't a whole lot of progress in medicine until the mid 19th century, there was a lot of... experimentation, as a result of the Enlightenment. Faith healing was still quite common, and anything from a nasty headache to a life-threatening illness could be fixed with a little blood-letting. The diet of Europeans varied with social class; peasants often relied on bread, with any locally grown vegetables and the occasional bit of meat, while nobles' diets were pretty much the exact opposite of those of the peasants. Even though going to the doctor during the 18th century was a risky endeavor at best, physicians (especially one Edward Jenner) did manage to defeat smallpox through inoculation.
1305. King Philip of France pressured Pope Clement V to relocate the popes to Avignon in Southern France. This severely damaged papal prestige, with the popes concentrating on bureaucratic matters instead of spiritual ones.
At around the 14th century, many people were getting tired of the Pope's unchallenged rule over the Church. Many argued that a council of clergy should share power with the papacy, while others still asserted that such a council should have supreme power over the Pope. Many others followed John Wyclif, who was convinced that Holy Scripture alone should have been the standard of Christian belief and practice. These movements ultimately failed as the Church stamped out each pocket of resistance one by one.
In 1358, taxation for the Hundred Years' War was being shouldered mostly by the poor, who exploded into a massive uprising. Crowds of peasants blamed the nobles for just about anything, and in protest of the increased taxation, they went on a huge riot.
Bored after the Hundred Years' War, and hurting from inflation, many nobles took to a life of banditry and racketeering as a means of satiating their lavish tastes. These nobles plagued the English countryside, and used witness intimidation to keep from being arrested.
1434 to 1737. A Florentine banking family, the Medicis held near-continuous power of Florence and the surrounding countryside, Tuscany. The Medici line produced no less than 3 popes, and they secretly ran things behind-the-scenes in Florence until the 16th century, when Medicis were officially hereditary rulers of Florence.
Balance of Power (Italy)
There were five main city-states in modern-day Italy: Venice, Milan, Naples, Florence, and the Papal States. Many of them were so-called "republics." Venice and Florence were the two main players here; Venice had its massive trade empire which rendered Venice an international power, and Florence was quite possibly the banking capital of the Western world during the fifteenth century.
Like all programs of study, humanism contained an implicit philosophy: that human nature and achievements, evident in the classics, were worthy of contemplation. Humanists were particularly interested in the liberal arts, like history and literature.
Actually invented by the Chinese, thank-you-very-much. Movable type, when combined with Gutenberg's printing press, allowed for the quick and easy copying of printed materials, allowing for the speedy proliferation of various ideas and philosophies all throughout Europe. Everything from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment owes such widespread impact to movable type and the printing press.
Conversos, Marranos, or "New Christians"
Those Jews who chose to convert to Christianity during the 14th century Spanish anti-semitism were called "New Christians." Many of these former Jews held prominent positions in government, church, law, and business.
European monarchs who created professional armies and a more centralized administrative bureaucracy. The new monarchy also negotiated a new relationship with the Catholic Church. Key new monarchs include Charles VII, Louis XI, Henry VII, and Ferdinand and Isabella.
Come on. Really? This is only the most well-known philosophical, scientific, religious, and governmental movement in all of Europe. Italy in particular was a center for Renaissance thinking.
The common people. Heavily oppressed and with large taxes imposed upon them, they resented their exclusion from power and commonly used physical violence and armed force to get their way.
Government by one man rule, like in Milan. Used all throughout the Italian city-states, even with those cities who proclaimed themselves to be republics.
Rule of the wealthiest members of society. The standard operating procedure of the Italian city-states.
With the coming of the Enlightenment, searches for new knowledge crept away from the religious and spiritual and into the secular. Generally speaking, as the Church continuously lost prestige and more interest in scientific study accumulated, secularism held a bigger place in the public eye.
While Italian humanists attempted to merely synthesize classical and Italian traditions, these Christian Humanists thought it best to combine the best parts of classical and Christian cultures.
In the 15th century, Spain recovered much of the Iberian Peninsula. After they had laid claim to all of the land they conquered, the Spanish promptly expelled all of the Jews and Muslims that refused to convert to Christianity.
The concept that God had a purpose for every single person on earth, and that fate would propel people's destinies. This belief gradually fell out of favor with the onset of the Enlightenment, when secularist ideals began to suggest that people were in charge of their own fates.
An official pardon for a sin, administered by the Pope or anyone who has received his permission to administer them on his behalf. Usually took the form of a monetary payment, which was then used to pay for some construction or expansion project. A main point that got Martin Luther ticked off at the corruption of the Church, and how far it had strayed away from its spiritual ideals.