Chapter 14 Beginnings of Revolutionary European Civilization, 1300-1650
The Beginnings of Revolutionary European Civilization,
In 1498 [i] the Dominican monk Girolamo Savonarola (SAH-voh-nah-raw-lah)[ii] and two of his disciples were burned at the stake in Florence, Italy. An observer described the scene :
“In a few hours they were burnt,
their legs and arms gradually dropping off . . . a quantity of stones
were thrown to make them fall, as there was a fear of the people getting
hold of them, and then the hangman and those whose business it was,
hacked down the post and burnt it on the ground, bringing a lot of
brushwood, and stirring the fire up over the dead bodies, so that the
very least piece was consumed.”[iii]
Savonarola had angered the pope and the leaders of Florence by preaching
against the vice and corruption he believed were destroying the church,
the government, and society. At the heart of this decay, he argued, lay
the revival of the teachings of ancient Rome and Greece.[iv]
Artists and writers in Italy and other parts of Europe sought to
glorify the grace and creativity of humankind. Savonarola symbolized the
medieval worldview that individuals could achieve little in a universe
entirely dominated by God. As Europeans rediscovered the ancient past
and challenged the authority of the medieval church, however, this view
was swept away.
civilization underwent tremendous changes in the years between 1300 and
1650. The self-confident civilization that had emerged between 1000 and
1300 was rocked by famine, plague, and warfare after 1300. Instead of
collapsing, however, the new civilization emerged from the challenges
stronger than ever. As it recovered, the growth of trade, a rediscovery
of classical learning, and new ideas about religion led to the emergence
of a new worldview. This new worldview no longer had the church at its
center, but human beings. As the power of the church declined, however,
and Christian unity dissolved, war and violence marked the continuing
human search for security and certainty.
1309 Babylonian Captivity begins.
1337 Hundred Years’ War begins.
1347 Black Death strikes Europe.
1378 Great Schism begins.
1455 Wars of the Roses begin.
1508 Michelangelo begins painting Sistine Chapel.
1517 Martin Luther posts 95 Theses.
1534 Ignatius de Loyola founds Jesuits.
Council of Trent redefines Catholic doctrines.
1555 Peace of Augsburg signed.
1588 English defeat Spanish Armada
1604 Christopher Marlowe publishes The Tragicall History of Dr.
of Westphalia ends Thirty Years’ War.