The Historical context of the Modern Period: The Renaissance and the rise of Skepticism

  1. The Death of Medievalism (and the re-discovery of Classical knowledge)

    1. Social Change –

      1. Economic –

        1. The end of the Feudal System – the bubonic plague of 1346
        2. Increasing International Trade
        3. Market Economics

      2. Political –

        1. Shifting hegemonies
        2. Re-emergence of the city-state

    2. Intellectual Change – The Three Revolutions of the Renaissance

      1. Astronomical

      2. Geographical

      3. Theological

  2. The Scientific Revolution (the rejection of Aristotelianism) –

    1. The Copernican Shift (Nicholas Copernicus – 1473-1543)

      1. The Problem – Inaccuracies of the Julian Calendar

        1. Aristotle’s Physics – elements in motion

          1. The Four Terrestrial Elements – temporal, movable

            • Earth
            • Water
            • Air
            • Fire

          2. The Fifth Element – Celestial Aether – eternal and moving

        2. Claudius Ptolemy’s Synthesis (c. 90-170 CE)

          1. The Epicyclic Hypothesis – epicycles
          2. The Eccendtric Hypothesis – deferents

        3. Ptolemy’s Geocentric Universe

      2. Copernicus’ Elegant Solution – Heliocentricity

      NOTE: Heliocentricity first hypothesized by Aristarchus of Samos (c. 310-230 BCE)

    2. Telescopic Confirmation (Galileo Galilei – 1564-1642) –

      1. Lunar/solar imperfections

      2. Jupiter’s satellites

      3. Waxing/waning of Venus

        NOTE: Martianus Capella (c. 400 CE) and Tycho Brahe (1546-1601 CE) had hybrid geocentric models which were variously favored before Kepler’s discoveries.

    3. Keplerian Refinement (Johannes Kepler 1571-1643 CE) – elliptical orbits

  3. The Geographical Revolution

    1. The African Problem – Vasco Da Gama (1497CE)

    2. Search for the Western Passage – Christopher Columbus (1451-1506)

      1. Ptolemy’s miscalculation of the Earth’s circumference –

        1. Eratosthenes of Alexandria (c. 276-195 BCE)

          1. Coined the word ‘geography’ and
          2. Invented observational and experimental geography
          3. Invented longitude and latitude for map calculations
          4. Calculated Earth’s circumference within a 16% and 2% margin of error depending on the Attic or Alexandrian stadion

        2. Ptolemy’s map significantly underestimated the circumference of the Earth

        NOTE: This can be demonstrated if we superimpose north and south America on a 15th century map. We can see the estimated distance between Europe and China would have placed it only a few hundred miles off the west coast of North America. Japan would be located in central/western Mexico.

      2. Global Circumnavigation – Ferdinand Magellan 1519-1522

  4. The Theological Revolution (the Reformations)

    1. The Split 10/31, 1517 – Martin Luther’s 95 Theses

      1. Desired Reforms:

        1. Vernacular language
        2. Rejection of veneration of saints and relics
        3. Rejection of papal indulgence

      2. Diet of Worms 1521

      3. Imprisonment at Warburg Castle 1521-1522 -

    2. Radicalization

      1. The Peasant’s War 1524-1525 – The Zwickau Prophets (Nicholas Storch, Thomas Muntzer, and Mark Stubner)

      2. The Anabaptist Movement

      3. The Reformed Movement – “Institutes of The Christian Religion” 1536 (John Calvin)

        1. The Huguenots
        2. The Presbyterian Church
        3. The Baptists/Dissenters of England

    3. Nationalization

      1. Henry VIII divorces Catharine of Aragon (Act of Supremacy 1534 - Proclaimed head of the Church in England)

      2. Protestant Influence of Anne Boleyn

      3. Elizabethan reforms and the spread of Anglicanism – Act of Uniformity 1558

    4. The Counter Reformation:

      1. Re-affirmation of papal authority, cult of the saints and the veneration of icons and relics Council of Trent (1545-1563)

      2. Establishment of new religious orders (especially the Carmelites and Jesuits)

      3. Revival of mysticism:

        1. Ignatius of Loyola
        2. Teresa of Avila
        3. St. John of the Cross

      4. Baroque art and music


REVIEW

  1. Renaissance is a period of radical social and intellectual change

  2. Three major revolutions of the period:

    1. Astronomical or scientific – geocentric to heliocentric model

    2. Geographical – rejection of theocentric geography and the birth of colonialism

    3. Theological – the fragmentation of Christianity

  3. The rise of Skepticism