History 110 - Dr. Gayle Olson-Raymer
The Europeans - Why They Left
Below you will find the discussion guides for today.
Today, we begin the telling of two parallel stories that began over a 350-year period, beginning in Europe in the 1500s and culminating with the Civil War and its aftermath in what became the United States of America:
The Europeans - Why They Left
Goal #1: To review the geopolitical realities of Europe in the Middle Ages.
Goal #2: To understand the political, social, and economic systems of feudalism and emerging mercantilism in 15th, 16th, and 17th century Europe
Two different approaches to feudalism - both of which apply to 15th, 16th, and 17th Century Europe:
Regardless of the approach, a type of pyramid describes the power structure of medieval society:
The pyramid can be altered by adding the most powerful person in Europe during this time to the top of the pyramid - the Pope.
For our purposes, feudalism was a political, social, and economic system in which every man was bound to every other man by mutual ties of loyalty and service.
Under feudalism, villages and villagers had some common rights to the open farmland, even though it was owned by a lord. This system was disrupted in the early 17th century when many lords began to enclose or fence their lands that had been used for public use and farming and turn it into private pasture land - especially for sheep to fuel the growing wool industry. Enclosure meant evicting feudal serfs from their land and converting such lands into capitalist enterprises that employed "free" wage laborers. Thus the enclosure movement created a pool of individuals eager to take wage labor employment - a capitalist labor market.
Thus, the goal of both the English king and the financial backers - those who owned the corporations - was to make profit for the nation and for the investors. Many ordinary English men and women deeply distrusted the newly emerging corporations and the Kings connection with them. Some things never change!
Goal #3: To examine the realities of everyday life in 15th, 16th, and 17th century Europe
Characteristics of European Life in the Fourteenth, Fifteenth, and Sixteenth Centuries
Primogeniture - a principle of inheritance, in which the firstborn child receives all or his parents' most significant and valuable property upon their death.
The Black Death
London in 1698
“London... was rich, vital, dirty and dangerous. The narrow streets were piled with garbage and filth which could be dropped freely from any overhanging window. Even the main avenues were dark and airless because greedy builders, anxious to gain more space, had projected upper stories out over the street. Through these... alleys, crowds of Londoners jostled and pushed one another. Traffic congestion was monumental. Lines of carriages and hackney cabs cut deep ruts into the streets so that passengers inside were tossed about, arriving breathless, nauseated and sometime bruised. When two coaches met in a narrow street, fearful arguments ensued... London was a violent city with coarse, cruel pleasures which quickly crushed the unprotected innocent. For women, the age of consent was twelve (it remained twelve in England until 1885). Crimes were common and in some parts of the city people could not sleep for the cries of ‘Murder!’ rising from the streets. Public floggings were a popular sight, and executions drew vast crowds. On ‘Hanging Day,’ workmen, shopkeepers and apprentices left their jobs to jam the streets, joking and laughing, and hoping to catch a glimpse of the condemned’s face. Wealthy ladies and gentlemen paid for places in windows and balconies overlooking the route from Newgate Prison to Tyburn, where executions took place... The most ghastly execution was the penalty for treason: hanging, drawing and quartering. The condemned man was strung up until he was almost dead from strangulation, then cut down, disemboweled while still alive, beheaded, and his trunk was then chopped into quarters.
Sports were heavily stained with blood. Crowds paid to see bulls and bears set upon by enraged mastiffs; often the teeth of the bear had bee filed down and the cornered beast could only swat with his great paws at the mastiffs that leaped and tore at him. Cockfights attracted gamblers, and large purses were wagered on the specially trained fowl."
Robert K. Massie, Peter the Great. Pp. 212-13
Around 1480, Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand established the Spanish Inquisition, a religious court appointed by the sovereigns. Its proceedings were motivated by politics as well as religious (i.e., Catholic) beliefs. The accused were convicted most often of heresy, polygamy, seduction, smuggling, and usury. The court's proceedings were conducted with great severity. To extract information and confessions from defendants and witnesses, as well as to kill the condemned, the Inquisition used methods now considered barbaric, but which were used in most secular courts of the time: hanging on the gallows, burning at the stake, stretching on the rack, beheading, flaying alive, and drawing and quartering. Its severity was relaxed in the 17th Century and the Spanish Inquisition was finally abolished in 1834. Estimates of those executed for heresy during the three-and-a-half centuries range from 4,000 to 30,000.
Expulsion of Spanish Jews
On the day Columbus sailed on his historic journey, the port of the city from which he sailed was filled with ships that were deporting Jews from Spain. By the time the expulsion was complete, somewhere between 120,000 and 150,000 Jews had all their valuables confiscated and were then forcibly removed from their homes. One contemporary described the scene:
Map of Europe 1500 at http://www.euratlas.com/history_europe/europe_map_1500.html
In the 13th Century, the Church began to sell indulgences - a donation to the church that Catholics paid after confessing their sins to a priest and doing an assigned act of devotion. The payment was made in place of punishment for sins and secured forgiveness and a swift entry into heaven upon death. Over time, it even became possible to purchase an indulgence for the dead.
The Dominican Friar John Tetzel, who was in charge of selling indulgences in Germany, used this popular advertizing slogan to sell indulgences:
"As soon as coin in coffer rings,
the soul from purgatory springs."
Martin Luther and Protestantism. On October 31, 1517, Luther nailed a copy of his “Ninety-Five Theses” to the door of the Castle Church at Wittenberg, Germany. The Theses all related to Luther's dispute over the sale of indulgences. Word of Luther's Theses spread throughout the crowd that day and soon, many people called for their translation into German. A student copied Luther's Latin text and then translated the document and sent it to the university press; from there it spread throughout Germany. Later, Luther wrote a letter to the Archbishop of Mainz protesting indulgences and explaining his criticisms of other church practices.
After receiving Luther's letter, the archbishop sent it to Pope Leo X. Before the pope could react, however, the "Ninety-Five Theses" became a sensation among the German people who were stunned that Luther had challenged the pope and the church. Luther took full advantage of the newest technology in Europe to inform Germans of his ideas - movable type printing press developed by Johann Gutenberg. He and other pamphleteers who were increasingly called Protestants began publishing a steady stream of pamphlets criticizing the church. The Protestant Reformation had begun and soon began to spread throughout Europe.
Protestants argued for the following reforms:
In January 1521, Pope Leo threatened to excommunicate Luther, but because he had become a hero to so many Germans, he instead agreed to summon him to an Imperial Diet - an occasional assembly of German nobles headed by the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V. At the Diet, all his books and pamphlets were piled before Luther. After he admitted to writing them, he was asked to recant and subsequently refused. Charles declared Luther a heretic and an outlaw of the Holy Roman Empire. Luther then went into hiding for a year when he wrote and published more pamphlets criticizing the church and began translating the New Testament into German so all literate persons could read the word of God for themselves. He returned to Wittenberg in 1522 and continued to preach the first Protestant religion known as Lutheranism. He died at the age of 63 in 1546. During the 1520s, disputes arose between Luther and other Protestants over many religious issues. For instance, the issue of whether or not infants should be baptized caused a formal split, with those disagreeing with Luther becoming known as the Anabaptists - those against infant baptism. One of the biggest splits was between Luther and John Calvin.
John Calvin and Calvinism. Calvin, a Frenchman, believed that because man was helpless before an all-powerful God, there was no such thing as free will. Thus, man was predestined for either Heaven or Hell and could do nothing to alter his fate. He argued that while good works were not required to go to Heaven - as the Catholic Church decreed - good works did serve a purpose by acting as a divine sign that the individual was making the best of their life on earth. He further argued that some people had been "called" by God to do a certain thing on earth. Some men and women who seemed ill-fitted for life on earth were greedy, lazy and immoral. Others, however, were called - they seemed to work happily in their lifetime and accomplished a great deal. These people woke up early, worked hard at their calling, were thrifty, sober, and did not engage in frivolity - and in so doing, they acquired wealth. Certain men who were called were also imbued with the correct spirit of acquisition and therefore were destined to become wealthy. Such spirit eventually became known as the Protestant Work Ethic.
The Reformation in England and Puritanism. In the early 16th century, England was a second-rate power torn apart of internal disunity. Religion in England was reformed not by determined spiritual idealists like Luther and Calvin, but by a determined monarch. King Henry VIII had been unable to produce a male heir to his throne by his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. When Pope Clement VII refused Henry's request for an annulment, he divorced her without papal consent in 1527 and married his mistress, Anne Boleyn. Henry then established a new protestant church - the Church of England or Anglican Church - dissolved England's monasteries, seized all church lands and sold them to powerful members of the English gentry at bargain prices, and declared himself head of the new Church of England.
Thereafter, English Protestants were divided between the followers of the new Church of England and the Puritans, the "pure" Calvinists whose "divine plan" called for reforming the evils of society and limiting Church membership to the "elite." Decades of religious strife followed, beginning with Henry's son, Edward VI (1547-1553), who became king at the age of 10 and whose Protestant regents persecuted Catholics; continuing with the reign of his stepsister, Mary (1553-1558), a staunch Catholic who executed many Protestants; and ending with the rule of Elizabeth I (1558-1603) who restored Protestantism and executed over 100 Catholic priests. Her heir, James I (1603-1625) was committed to ridding England of the Puritan threat to the Church.
Results of the Protestant Reformation.
Goal #4: To discuss why some Europeans were willing to leave their homelands in exchange for the uncertainties of life in North America
Expectations of Europeans Who Favored Exploration before the Founding of Jamestown (1607)
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