What are the roots of the modern European era?
There were countless political, social and economic events that unfolded in the Middle Ages that could be said to be the roots of the Modern European Era...; such as the Black Death, the Hundred Years' War, the Great Schism, the Reformation of the Church, peasant rebellions, so on and so forth. However, most all of these events were the seeds of broader effects. They brought on such values as Capitalism, Nationalism, Humanism, the rise of the middle class. The events early events in the Middle Ages such as the Black Plague and Great Schism also started to waver people's ideas of religion, causing doubt in the church, and a rather dogmatic system beliefs in religion, focusing on doing good purely to attain salvation. Eventually, through cause and effect reformations, began to take place, including Erasmus, Christian Humanists, Zwingli, Calvin, Martin Luther, etc. who all heavily impacted different branches of Christianity in the Modern Era. These new differences in religion also gave a sense of Nationalism. Roots of Modern Europe lie in the Middle Ages, as well as the Classical period of time. The Roman/Greek ideals were becoming popular once more in the Renaissance, ideas of Humanism were widespread, further lessening the power of the church.
3) How did these trends [in the papacy] and scholasticism provide the foundation of the Protestant Reformation?
The Papacy was on a steady decline ever since the plague. Religion had been bumping along just fine so far, with a large amount of power in the Papacy and very little in the lower class. But as the plague struck, people of all classes began to lose faith in the church. They wondered why they were dying and having a great, miserable time, when they were doing all that the church instructed them. This was not a crucial time in the downfall of the church, but it was, one could argue, one of the starting points. As the Middle Ages progressed, and the church became more corrupt, people further questioned the church. Religion was becoming more unclear to people. The Papacy began the selling of Indulgences, which the scholars and theologians questioned, but not normal people, seeing as many lower class Catholics could not read, and for the most part, they didn't question Papal authority. But there were the educated, religious scholars, who began to disagree even more with the church. The religious people were becoming more curious about religion, and their paths to salvation, and were becoming more suspicious of the church's lack of response (often due to slacking in offices). These scholars and theologians who were beginning to dream up reforms to Catholicism, happily informed the people. They preached their words of wisdom and the people drank this up, satisfying their desire for answers in religion. As ideas of Reformation developed and spread, and as the Middle Ages changed to the Renaissance, education was becoming more popular. Gutenberg's printing press and the higher literacy rate also helped lead to the Papacy's downfall.
What social and economic factors helped create Renaissance society?
The economy of the Middle Ages, was not exactly flourishing. Especially after the plague and that mini ice age, there were incredible labor shortages. As labor was more valued, there was inflation; the laborers that still lived and labored were paid an exquisitely higher amount, in an exquisitely short amount of time. This led to slighter more well to do peasants. These peasants became used to this sort of, er, luxury and by the time the population had picked itself up again, peasants were saddened in their pay drop. The nobles were also becoming harsher, taxing them, etc. So there was a sort of rise in a pathetic middle class, and then as the peasants rebelled and the nobles became weaker and we enter the Renaissance, Feudalism greatly declines. This is a huge economic factor. Also as the Renaissance blossoms,...