Renaissance, Reformation, and Enlightenment

Topics: Age of Enlightenment, Renaissance, Political philosophy Pages: 2 (488 words) Published: August 10, 2010
In-Class Midterm Paper (Midterm Exam)

In What Ways Did the World Change Between 1400 and 1800?
History is fluid and dynamic, shifting continuously from structure to structure. Between the years 1400 and 1800, there were many changes in the world: the Renaissance and Reformation brought their changes to the public life, the Age of Exploration opened and expanded an entire world, the enlightened became Enlightened, and Absolutism came and went its way.

The Renaissance brought out the individual, and the Reformation gave it freedom. Before the Renaissance, a person’s greatest and in many cases only concern was with the afterlife – heaven or hell, purgatory or bliss. Life’s purpose was to prepare for the afterlife, and nothing more. However, Renaissance thinking (humanism) encouraged the individual to be brought to its furthest potential. Great “Renaissance Men” were those who dabbled diversely: Da Vinci was a painter, scientist, and inventor, and Michelangelo was a sculptor, architect, and painter. This influx of new ideas, especially those that concerned the prominence of the person, threatened the Church’s hitherto unquestioned authority. As the Church tightened its grip on society, more and more followers slipped away, and thus the Reformation was born. The Reformation freed the human being from the bonds of the tyrannical Church, but would have been unlikely without the Renaissance to have given it momentum.

Reformation is not all the Renaissance sparked, however. It represented a human longing for knowledge, adventure, and exposure, a desire that manifested in the Age of Exploration. The Age of Exploration enlarged the known world, and showed many ways of life and peoples they had not known existed. Naval and navigation technology raced ahead, trade between nations caused exponential growth in the wealth of nations, and cultural exchange fostered diversity in civilization as yet unseen. The Age of Exploration brought the world further along the path of...
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