The Renaissance: 1450-1750

European Renaissance Video:

Europe 1450-1750

Causes of the Renaissance

  • Trade from Africa & middle east introduced new ideas and money to Italy
  • Corruption in church increased power of political leaders
  • Growth of cities spread markets and ideas
  • The plague created new opportunities and reduced cost for housing and food while increasing wages
  • New art and attitudes emphasizing people rather than God
  • Renaissance begins in Florence

Renaissance Developments

  • Thinking and Questioning increase =
    • Humanism and Individualism
    • Development of Political Systems =
      • Nation-states and towns grow in importance
      • Artistic methods/thinking drastically change =
        • 4 Turtles emphasize religion AND humanism
        • Voyages of Discovery =
          • New World
          • Reformation of Religion =
            • Protestants and Civil Wars

1450-1750 or so

  • Rise of Nation-States
  • Feudal system
  • No formal states (countries) existed in 1400 anywhere in the world
  • Overview: Between 1400 and 2006, Europe changed from a decentralized group of 350 feudal states to about 40 nation states which are currently banding together in the European Union.


  • War, confusion and chaos during 14th and 15th C too much for feudal lords to handle.
  • Rise of the middle class (more money and power to merchant peasants) meant that the feudal lords were outpowered
  • Political Nation State begins
    • Divine Right & the monarch became absolute.
    • Centralization of govt.  A centralized government = more stable (and less free) than a feudal govt. 

Spain - 1469

  • Major Events of
    Ferdinand and Isabella: 1474-1516:
  • Unification of Spain into a nation state
  • The Discovery of the Americas (1492) by Christopher Columbus.
  • The Reconquista in 1492: The expulsion of the Muslims and Jews from Spain
  • Reconquista

The Holy Roman Empire:
800 - 1871

  • “The Holy Roman Empire - not Holy, not Roman, and not an Empire.” Voltaire
  • almost 300 semi-sovereign parts, over which an emperor ruled with little authority.
  • HRE did not establish a centralized govt
  • Holy Roman Empire
  • Charles I of Spain (V of HRE)


  • Background:
  • Settled by Anglo-Saxons
  • Christianized in about 450
  • Conquered by Vikings in 700s
  • Conquered by Normans in 1066
  • Feudal until 1485
  • Running feud with France because Normans are French and the English are Anglo

England – united in 1485

  • 100 Years War (1337-1453) with France forced consolidation under the power of the king
  • Henry VII Tudor united England
  • War for the Roses

France: 1461

  • Louis XI (1461­83), restored unity and stability to France after Hundred Years' War.
  • Louis centralized royal power, using bribery, diplomacy, intrigue, treachery, and war.
  • began absolute monarchy in France,
  • promoted trade and towns which increased French wealth.
  • Louis XI the Spider King

Russia: 1463

  • Background:
  • Founded by Vikings and central Asian nomads
  • 1215 – 1463 ruled by Mongols and Tartars
  • Ivan III of Moscow
  • refused to pay tribute to Mongols in 1455
  • Russia united behind him
  • Very barbaric compared to Western Europe
  • Ivan III the Great: 1462-1505


  • not a unified nation until the 19th century.
  • During the Renaissance ambitious rulers of France (Charles VIII and Francis II) and Spain (Charles V) invaded Italy and kept it from uniting
  • Niccoló Machiavelli wrote The Prince. Machiavelli was one of the first to call out for Italian unification.

Ottoman Empire

  • Turkish Muslims who conquered Constantinople in 1453 now spread into Eastern Europe
  • Stopped at Vienna by Charles V
  • A constant threat to the power of European kings and a threat to the Pope
  • Characteristics of
    Nation – States (Countries)
  • Bureaucratization
  • Permanent Army
  • taxes
  • Representative govt and a king
  • Results:
  • Stable government = possibility for economic, social and political growth rather than constant intranational war
  • Increased power and size of government so more people felt its power more directly
  • Increased competition between states rather than only within states

The Reformation of Christianity

  • Reformers criticized Catholic leaders for their corruption, indulgences, and immorality
  • Martin Luther
    • 95 Theses
    • encouraged German nobles to revolt against Pope
    • John Calvin
      • organizes Protestantism for Calvinists
      • Starts city in Geneva
      • encourages hard work and  purer living
      • Martin Luther:
        Rebel with a Cause
      • Diet of Worms
      • John Calvin
        Predestination vs. Free Will
      • Reformation Overview:
      • Revival in Christianity both Caths and Prots
      • Political leader power UP Catholic power DOWN
      • Education INCREASES so people can read BIBLE
      • Catholic Jesuits begin missionary work around world
      • Henry VIII

ECONOMICS: Cottage Industry and The Factory System

  • The Beginning of the Industrial Revolution
  • Overview
  • The English Agricultural Revolution
  • Better crop planting
  • Better fertilizer
  • More efficient use of land
    • = more food and less farmers
    • The Industrial Revolution
      • Cottage Industry system leads to
      • Factories in the cities
      • Huge increase in city size, urban workers and great decline in quality of environment around the cities
  • But hey – we had a lot of stuff!
  • 1700s: 90% of People are Farmers
  • Iron Plow – 1600s
  • Water Powered Mill
  • Seed Drilling Machine

Jethro Tull - 1701

  • The Cottage Industry
  • A Typical English Community Before and After Enclosure
  • To the City to Work in Factories

The Scientific Revolution

  • How can we know true knowledge?
  • Inductive thinking – Francis Bacon
  • Deductive thinking – Rene Descartes
  • Experimentation to prove hypotheses
    • (Scientific method)
    • 4. Galileo – experiments to prove speed of gravity. Also used telescope to discover plants and examine the moon
    • 5. Newton – experiments to show light’s prism and universal field of gravity. Also invented Calculus

Consequences of the Scientific Revolution

  • Rise of the “Scientific Community”
  • The Modern Scientific Method
  • Natural Laws can be discovered by Human Reason
  • “De-Spiritualized” the Universe
  • Mechanical View of the Universe
  • Deistic View of God


  • Spanish and Portuguese fund many men to explore in South America and Africa
  • England and France also control regions in Asia and N.A.
  • Europe begins its 500 year effort to control the world and profit from the imperialization of the rest of the world

Scientific Revolution Summary

The Scientific Revolution inEuropetook place in the years following the Renaissance, and it led to great change in the lives of Europeans.  Philosophically, the Scientific Revolution revolutionized the way people thought about the universe, and that that change in ideas also contributed to a decrease in the power that the Catholic Church held over Europeans.

                The Scientific Revolution occurred from 1543-1660 and gave birth to many new ideas regarding the workings of the universe.  It truly built off the ideas of Humanism and Individualism that grew popular during the Renaissance, which lasted until approximately 1500.  Sir Francis Bacon was a scientist who developed new ideas.  He created a system of inductive and deductive thinking, which led to people rationalizing and thinking for themselves instead of believing anything that they were told.  Nicholas Copernicus (1473-1573) was an older contributor to the revolution.  He was very much interested in the heavenly bodies and wrote On the Revolutions of Heavenly Spheres.  Copernicus successfully proved that heliocentricity, the idea that Earth revolves around the sun, which crushed the ethnocentric perception that mankind was at the center of the universe.  This new development led people to have discrepancies with what their faith and thus far been teaching them.  Rene Decartes was born in the midst of the Scientific Revolution in 1595.  He was a valuable supporter of Bacon’s deductive logic principle and was an highly innovative.  He stated that “I think, therefore, I am.”  Decartes deducted the existence of God, which proved that newly developed scientific principles could effectively work alongside Christian beliefs.  However, the coexistence of science and faith was not always easy.  Scientist Galileo Galilee was threatened with excommunication by Pope Urban VIII before he retracted some of his statements that contradict4ed the Church’s teachings.  This act effectively displayed the anxiety that the Church had when any new ideas were produced.  Because there were now more options available, Europeans began considering the possibilities and comparing their viability to those of the Church’s beliefs.  People began to think on their own and investigate instead of solely taking what was said to be true for the real truth. 

                The ultimate effect of the Scientific Revolution on the social realm of European life was that the Catholic Church drastically began to lose power over its members.  This was because Christians were becoming more open-minded and free-thinking.  They were growing to realize that Scripture and the Bible were not the sole interpreters of the world and its ways.  The level of interest present regarding the field of science swelled tremendously.  People like Johann Kepler (who developed the Three Laws of Planetary Motion), Tycho Brahe, and Nicholas Copernicus made numerous advanced, mainly in the astronomical aspect of the Revolution.  Copernicus’ proven theory of heliocentricity directly contradicted the traditional Catholic teaching that God’s people were located at the center of the universe.  Copernicus’ extensive research and proof caused people to believe his idea and abandon the poorly backed geocentricity theory.  Instances like this continually appeared during the Scientific Revolution.  Every discovery and development that was made detracted from the power of the Pope and his clergy.

                The Scientific Revolution did not solely contribute new scientific ideas; it changed Europe’s entire view on the universe and its construction, and it gradually loosened the grip that the Catholic Church held on every aspect of its members’ lives.