Distinctive Periods in History Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 15:24:05
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1. Discuss the causes of the Protestant Reformation. Which do you feel are most important? Why?

The Protestant Reformation was caused by a number of cumulative factors ranging from socio-political developments during the 1600s to several blatant weaknesses in the Catholic Church.

The socio-political factors range from the ongoing European decentralization during that period with the rise of independent nation states and the breakdown of a formerly medieval set-up under the leadership of the Pope.  Meanwhile, the causes for the breakdown of the medieval society were owed to the Black Death caused by the bubonic plague and the Hundred Years War between France and England.

Another socio-political factor was the rise of the renaissance period wherein there was a renewed interest in humanism and a rebirth and rediscovery of the ancient arts and culture.

Oh the other side of the spectrum, visible weaknesses in the Catholic Church caused a lot of discontent and rebels even among the most faithful within the Roman Catholic organization the monks and the nuns.  The weaknesses can be further categorized as administrative divisions within the Catholic Church hierarchy, the proliferation of questionable rituals and practices, and rampant corruption and abuse of power in Church. The most blatant abuse came in the form of the sale of indulgences, certificates of remission from Purgatory and Simony or sale of higher Catholic offices to the highest bidder.

However, the most important factor of the collapse of the control of the Roman Catholic Church over its followers is primarily because of the exclusion of the ordinary and regular people of direct communication with their God.  Earlier practices, literature and celebration of the Sunday Mass were all done in Latin.  Only the most educated and privileged sectors of society had access to the language.  Hence, the majority of the people felt alienated to it own religion.  Soon, several sects and break off organizations from the original Catholic practice of Christianity began to form their own groups and organizations.

Some credit the start of this movement of Protestant Reformation to the posting of martin Luther Kings 95 Thesis on the Power of Indulgence on October 13, 1517. It was a straight protest of the corruption of the Catholic Church and the inability of the Pope leadership to bring the Church to the people by making translations of the Latin version of the literatures of the Church like the Bible to plain everyday language like English.  From thereon, some of the more important Protestant groups to break away were the Lutherans, the Reformed/Calvinists/Presbyterians, the Anabaptists, and the Anglicans. The movement also led to a Catholic or Counter-Reformation within the Roman Catholic Church.

2. What advice does Machiavelli give a prince?

The advice given by Machiavelli to the Prince is: The Prince ought to have no other aim or thought, nor select anything else for his study, than war and its rules and discipline; (Machiavelli).

In giving this advice, Machiavelli has put the full weight of a country leaders responsibility to that of mastering the art of war and defense of its own country.  He iterated again and again that it is the single most important task of a true leader.  Furthermore, he iterated that if a leader cannot take up arms and master the craft of war, he could descend into the rank of a private (Machiavelli). However, a private who has mastered the craft of arms and war could ascend to the rank of a leader (Machiavelli).  Hence, for purposes of maintaining his ascendancy or right to lead, a leader (or prince as referred to throughout the text), should be able to protect his domain above all else (Machiavelli).

Another advice that Machiavelli gives the leader (or prince) is that of ensuring he is instills fear in his subjects or domain so that nobody would dare cross him.  He further explains that such a preference of being feared instead of being loved will ensure his throne because of the nature of men.  Men apparently find no scruples over betraying people they love but would find it harder to go against somebody they feared (Machiavelli).  Hence, if there is a choice to be made between being feared or being loved, the leader (or prince) should have no qualms that he should make sure he is feared.  A precaution added here though is that the leader (or prince), while assuring he is feared by his subjects also should ensure he is also not hated by them (Machiavelli).  Apparently, this he can do by making sure he respects their property and their women (Machiavelli).

The last advice given was in tune with the practice of the times during the 1600 when nobilities and kings would often abuse their positions and wantonly take what they want from their subjects including the so called right of first night with total disrespect for the husband and also the women during that time.

3. Discuss the Age of Exploration. What were the motivations for the age?

The Age of Discovery or Exploration came about when the rise of capitalism was surging throughout Europe and established nations like England and Spain started looking outward of their own domain to plot new territories and sources for gold, silver and spices. From the early 1600s to the 1800s, or for more than 200 years, it was not just the age of discovery for new lands but also a surge in technological innovations of equipment and machines.  The period saw a lot of improvement in the study of cartography and a more realistic global map of nations and territories. Aside from  cartography, improvements in navigation, firepower, and shipbuilding were also flourishing.

Why is it significant?

This period was significant for establishing the modern day map and the confirmation that the fundamental theories that the world is round and that global meridians do exist.  This period would also plot the socio-political divisions of global powers and their respective and strategic holds on territories and influences.
Please name two explorers and describe what they ultimately accomplished.

During this period of exploration and discovery, there were several individuals who were made their mark in history because of their contribution to the charting of new found continents and territories.  Among these prominent individuals were Captain James Cook and Ferdinand Magellan.  Captain James Cook was from England and Ferdinand Magellan was from Portugal, but served Spain after being refused by the administration of Portugal to be entrusted with an exploration fleet (Swenson).
James Cook

James Cooks beginning was humble, being born to a farm laborer father.  But at sixteen old, his interest in sea voyage was triggered by being an apprentice in a shop located in a seaport with a window overlooking the vast sea.  After more than a year, he began apprenticeship in a merchants vessel.  Soon, James Cook went on to study algebra, geometry, trigonometry, navigation, and astronomy.  Ultimately, these skills proved very helpful in helping him pass his apprenticeship, and later on command his own ship.  To expedite the process, he joined the British Royal Navy. He participated in the Seven Years War.  He was an active participant in the siege of Quebec.  Here, he was able to use the various skills he learned during his first apprenticeship when he was sixteen yearrs old.  He displayed a talent for cartography and surveying.

His main contribution to this age of exploration was his mapping of the Saint Lawrence River that helped General Wolf in his famous attack on the Plain of Abraham.  Capt. James Cook was also responsible for accurately mapping the coast of Newfoundland (part of Canada). He produced the first large scale accurate maps of Newfoundland, despite rough conditions  This started his huge career and impact on the British direction of discovery and exploration of new territories.  His most famous quote,  To go further than any man has been before me, but as far as I think it is possible for a man to go (Collingridge), revealed his primary goal in life.

Ferdinand Magellan

The second other prominent individual during this age is Ferdinand Magellan. Ferdinan Magellan first approached the administration of  the Portugese royalty, but was refused.  Hence he tried the neighboring nation of Spain, and he was granted an audience and given a chance to prove himself, and his objective of circumnavigating the globe via a westward route to the Spice Islands of Indonesia (Swenson).

The fleet of ships started with 270 crew members.  However, only 18 of the original crew was able to circumnavigate the globe and reported the success of Magellans team (Swenson).

Ferdinand Magellan established the colonial reign of Spain in the Philippine Islands and was the first person to successfully cross all the meridians of the globe.  He also lead the crew  to sail westward from Europe to Asia, and successfully cross the Pacific ocean. Before his discovery of the Philippine Islands, this part of the world was totally unknown (Swenson).

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