A Changing Europe

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A Changing Europe

The Renaissance began in Italy in the latter half of the fourteenth century, when a group of scholars called humanists set out to revive the Greek-based culture of ancient Rome (an era known as the classical period). They took the name "humanist" because they focused on the importance of the individual human spirit and concentrated on secular (nonreligious) subjects. They set out to initiate a new age, which they called a renaissance, a term that comes from the French word for "rebirth." The Renaissance took place during the latter part of the Middle Ages (also called the medieval period), the thousand-year era that followed the downfall of the West Roman Empire in the fourth and fifth centuries. Based in Rome, the West Roman Empire consisted of countries that are now in Western Europe. The Roman Empire had been permanently split into the West and East Empires in a.d. 395. The East Roman Empire, also known as the Byzantine Empire, was based in Byzantium and consisted of present-day Eastern European countries and Turkey. Historians usually divide the Middle Ages into three phases: Early Middle Ages (c. A. D 400–1100; often called the Dark Ages), High Middle Ages (1100–1300), and Late Middle Ages (1300–c. 1500). The Renaissance covered most of the Late Middle Ages and represented a break with the earlier medieval periods. Historians have not determined an exact date for the end of the Renaissance, though most agree that it reached a peak at the end of the fifteenth century. In some parts of Europe, achievements associated with the Renaissance continued into the first half of the 1600s.

Leaders of the Renaissance believed that classical art, science, philosophy, and literature had been lost during the "dark ages" that followed the fall of the West Roman Empire. They held that the ideals represented by the ancient arts and sciences were waiting to be rediscovered, and Italians in particular considered themselves the true heirs to Roman achievement. For this reason, it was natural that the cultural revival should begin in Italy, where the ruins of ancient civilization provided an ever-present reminder of the past. By the fifteenth century scholars and traders were taking the Italian Renaissance into other parts of Europe, where the era was known as the northern Renaissance. These separate movements are now regarded as a single Renaissance.

The humanists introduced radically new ideas. Throughout the Middle Ages, art, literature, and scholarly activities were related solely to the Catholic Church (a Christian faith based in Rome, Italy, and led by the pope). The church taught that the only purpose of human existence on Earth was to glorify God in preparation for life after death in heaven (the Christian concept of the place where the righteous go after they die). Human achievement therefore had no importance except as a reflection of God's work. Yet by the 1300s people were ready for change: Europe was in the midst of political, religious, and social turmoil that was overthrowing old traditions. Consequently, humanist ideals were embraced with enthusiasm. The Renaissance began as a literary movement, but by the time it reached a peak in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, a transformation was taking place in all areas of public and private life—philosophy, science, the arts, architecture, music, politics, social customs, and popular culture. Humanism also contributed to the rise of the Reformation, a widespread religious reform movement that began in the sixteenth century and resulted in the founding of Protestantism as a Christian faith separate from the Catholic Church. The Renaissance and Reformation period is regarded as the beginning of the modern age—the time in Western (non-Asian) history when people rejected familiar traditions and found new ways to express their experience of the world.

Achievements of the Renaissance

The Renaissance started in northern Italy, where numerous city-states (geographic regions under the control of central cities) developed independently of the larger kingdoms in the rest of Europe. These small states—including Florence, Rome, Venice, Milan, and the combined city-state of Naples and Sicily—became prosperous through trade and banking. Wealthy businessmen and bankers wanted to celebrate their own achievements. They became patrons (financial supporters) of artists and architects who designed magnificent buildings and created beautiful paintings and sculptures that glorified the patrons' commercial success. Bankers and merchants also supported scholars, poets, and musicians. The most influential patrons were the Medicis, a prominent banking family in Florence. As a result of the Medicis' support of important artists, Florence became the center of the early Italian Renaissance. (See "Florence" in Chapter 2.)

One way patrons promoted creativity was to sponsor competitions. In many cases, the losers of these contests went on to greater fame than the winners. An example was the Florentine sculptor and goldsmith (one who makes items from gold) Filippo Brunelleschi (pronounced broo-nail-LAYS-kee;1377–1446). In 1401 he was defeated by the Florentine sculptorLorenzo Ghiberti (pronounced gee-BEHR-tee; c. 1378–1455) in a competition to design bronze doors for the Baptistery, a church in Florence. Brunelleschi then made several trips to Rome to take measurements of ruined ancient buildings. He was one of many fifteenth-and sixteenth-century Italian artists who created the classical style of architecture, which was based on such features of ancient Roman buildings as domes, columns, arches, and vaults. In 1420 Brunelleschi began building the immense dome of the cathedral in Florence, a classically influenced structure that became the first great monument of the Renaissance (see "Architecture" in Chapter 8).

Wealthy merchants also began collecting classical texts that had been forgotten during the Dark Ages. They supported humanist scholars who searched for ancient manuscripts in Catholic monasteries (houses for men who were devoted to the religious life), where monks called scribes had copied the texts during the Middle Ages. The manuscripts were placed in great libraries where they could be studied by other European scholars. With the revival of classical texts came a new way of looking at the world. During the medieval period, most intellectuals who studied ancient works had focused on ways to combine Greek and Roman achievements with Christian teachings. Church leaders taught that life on Earth was merely a preparation for the afterlife and they frowned upon the recognition of individual talent. Human creation or learning for its own sake, as exemplified by the Greeks and Romans, therefore had no value and was even considered sinful. For this reason, many of the great works of the Middle Ages were created anonymously; one example is the gargoyles (rain spouts in the form of grotesque human or animal figures) that sit, often hidden from view, atop medieval cathedrals in western Europe.

In contrast, Renaissance artists and thinkers studied classical works for the purpose of imitating them. Like the ancient Greeks and Romans, they valued the earthly life, glorified human nature, and celebrated individual achievement. One of the most important developments of the Renaissance occurred in the latter half of the fifteenth century, when humanists began searching for ancient texts that would increase current knowledge about the natural world. Among the rediscovered works were Geography, a book by the Egyptian astronomer Ptolemy (second century a.d.), and studies of human physiology and anatomy by Greek physician Galen (a.d. 129–c. 199). Renaissance thinkers also attempted to refine ancient knowledge of astronomy, leading the way to a scientific revolution in later centuries.

Innovations in culture, society, and politics

As an expression of their optimism, Renaissance scholars defined a new field of study called the "humanities," which initially included language and literature, art, history, rhetoric (public speaking), and philosophy. Above all, humanists believed in the human potential to become well versed in many areas. This idea produced the concept of the "Renaissance man," an individual whose talents span a variety of subjects. Artists such as Michelangelo (1475–1564) absorbed a broad range of subjects and came upon a new way to view the world. One important discovery was perspective, the technique used by painters to create the illusion of depth—to show distances and the relative sizes of various three-dimensional objects—on a flat canvas (a cloth used for paintings).

Renaissance ideas also influenced personal behavior and social customs. An example of Renaissance attitudes is The Book of the Courtier, written by the Italian diplomat (political negotiator) Baldassare Castiglione (pronounced kass-teel-YOH-nay; 1478–1529) in the early 1500s. The book is a collection of conversations set in Urbino, a state in the mountains of northern Italy, that outline the qualities of the ideal Renaissance courtier, or gentleman. In contrast to the knight, who was given rules for behavior in the chivalric code, the Renaissance courtier was expected to be a well-rounded man who had knowledge of the arts, the classics, and politics. Although he was expected to be talented in many areas, however, he was cautioned against showing off his abilities. Castiglione also described feminine virtues such as delicacy, sweetness, and chastity (not having sexual intercourse), which implied that women should be passive and unassertive. In spite of these restrictive social rules, Renaissance women were offered greater opportunities—the ability to become scholars and artists, for example—than at any time since the Roman Empire.

The Renaissance Man

Humanists believed in the human potential to become accomplished in many areas. This idea led to the concept of the "Renaissance man," a person who pursued success in many different fields. For instance, the Italian artist Michelangelo was not only an accomplished painter and sculptor but also a skilled architect and poet. The architect and goldsmith Brunelleschi was noted for his great churches, but he was also an engineer who invented an ingenious plan for flooding Lucca, Florence's rival city, by changing the course of a river. Italian artist Piero della Francesca enhanced his craft by studying mathematics and anatomy (the structure of the human body). The great Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci was one of the finest examples of a Renaissance man: in addition to his considerable skills as a painter, Leonardo also was a writer, an inventor, an architect, an engineer, a mathematician, a musician, and a philosopher.

Renaissance ideals changed attitudes toward government. Under feudalism, the system in place through much of the Middle Ages, kings and noblemen were the unquestioned rulers who had gained the right to rule because they controlled the land. During the Renaissance, the ancient Greek and Roman concept of citizenship—the need for the people to be involved in public service and government—was revived. As a consequence, forms of government based on representative rule by the people took hold in cities like Florence and Venice. Republics were often short-lived and plagued by bloody rivalries. One such feud caused turmoil in northern Italy throughout much of the Renaissance period. Encouraged by the humanistic optimism of the Renaissance, a new middle-class party, the Guelphs (pronounced gwelfs), vied for power with the Ghibellines (pronounced GIB-eh-leens), members of the old noble class. The cities controlled by one of these parties were continually at war with cities loyal to the opposite side. When power shifted from one group to the other in a given area, the policy of the victorious party was to exile (forcibly send away) all members of the opposition and burn their houses to the ground. During the Renaissance, Italy was filled with exiles waiting for the chance to return home and seek revenge on their enemies.

Cultural and political advances also brought technological innovations. In the 1450s the German inventor Johannes Gutenberg (c.1390–1468) perfected the printing press, which is recognized as one of the most important advances of the time. A mechanism by which small metal pieces engraved with single characters (letters) could be arranged to form words and sentences, the first press was used in Germany to print the Bible (the holy book of Christianity). Soon presses began to spring up all over Europe, and the impact was enormous. Literacy (the ability to read) grew rapidly and knowledge spread as, for the first time, literature became available and affordable to many people. With the aid of printing, ideas born in Italy during the late 1300s spread northward to France, England, Spain, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, and eastern Europe during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

Renaissance produces influential works

The European Renaissance produced many artists, thinkers, writers, and scientists who made major contributions to the culture and society of the time, setting the stage for the modern era. Even brief descriptions of representative figures reflect the magnitude of Renaissance achievements. Although humanist scholars introduced the concept of cultural re-birth, the works of great artists provided visual evidence that the Renaissance was taking place. Therefore, this overview will begin with artists, then move on to humanist thinkers, writers, and scientists.

Artists depict past, make innovations The first visual artist to break with the medieval past was the Florentine painter Giotto (pronounced JOH-toh; c. 1266–1337), whose paintings demonstrate an early sense of perspective and real space. According to a story, a fly in one of Giotto's paintings looked so real that a viewer tried to brush it away. Raphael (1483–1520) celebrated classical ideals in his School of Athens (1513), a work commissioned by the pope to portray the philosophers of ancient Greece. Another school of painting is characterized by Sandro Botticelli (pronounced boht-tee-CHEL-ee; born Alessandro di Mariano Filipepi, 1445– 1510), whose Birth of Venus and Primavera explore more passionate aspects of the classical past.

The most accomplished artist of the time, however, was Michelangelo. Raised in the hills near Florence, Michelangelo is known for frescoes (using paint on freshly spread plaster) depicting great biblical events; these works can be seen today on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome. A sculptor by training, Michelangelo also created many of the most remarkable statues of the period. His David celebrates not only the human form but also the pride and confidence of small independent states like Florence that were often under threat from larger neighbors. When the Spanish besieged Florence in the middle 1500s, Florentine officials commissioned Michelangelo to build an inner wall around the city. He constructed the wall, and though the outer defense fell to the Spaniards, the inner fortification still stands as proof of Michelangelo's skill as an engineer and architect. However the most enduring monument to Michelangelo's genius stands not in Florence but in Rome. The artist completed the dome of Saint Peter's Church (also called Saint Peter's Basilica), which was built to celebrate the revival of the ancient city (see "Rome and the Papal States" in Chapter 2).

Italian painter Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519), while less well known than Michelangelo at the time, is now regarded as an artistic genius. Two of his works, Last Supper (1495–97) and Mona Lisa (1503–06), are among the most famous and most studied paintings in the world. The most accomplished northern Renaissance artists worked in Flanders, a region in northern Belgium. There, they perfected the medium of oil on canvas, a technique that enabled Flemish artists to represent scenes with great clarity. The van Eyck (pronounced vahn IKE) brothers, Hubert (c. 1370–1426) and Jan (before 1395–1441), along with Pieter Brueghel the Elder (pronounced BROY-gehl; c.1525–1569), are noted for their attention to fine detail. Rembrandt (1606–1669) is recognized for his haunting use of light and shadow.

Humanists promote change The Italian humanist scholar Petrarch (pronounced PEE-trark; 1304–1374) was the first great writer of the Renaissance as well as one of the earliest promoters of a cultural "rebirth." A student and teacher of classical literature, he achieved fame for his Latin writings. He is known today for a series of love sonnets that he dedicated to an idealized woman named Laura. Petrarch is now considered the first modern man.

A central figure in the northern Renaissance was the Dutch humanist Desiderius Erasmus (c. 1466–1536). Unlike Italian Renaissance thinkers, Erasmus applied his study not only to classical civilization but also to early Christianity. He felt that medieval Christian scholars had corrupted the faith, making doctrines, or church teachings, too abstract and complicated, moving Christianity away from its original intent. He produced his own translation of the New Testament (the second part of the Bible), and his book In Praise of Folly (1509) is a scalding criticism of the clergy (church officials), scholars, and philosophers of his day.

Another notable northern Renaissance figure was Thomas More (1478–1535). An English statesman and advisor to King Henry VIII (1491–1547; ruled 1509–47), More shared his friend Erasmus's frustration with human shortcomings. More's Utopia, published in 1516, criticized the times by envisioning an ideal society in which police would be unnecessary, politicians would be honest, and money would cease to exist. A Roman Catholic, More was executed for refusing to sanction Henry VIII's divorce (see "England" in Chapter 3).

Niccoló Machiavelli (pronounced mahk-yah-VEL-lee; 1469– 1527), a Florentine historian, wrote what might be the most important work of the period, The Prince (c. 1513). In his book Machiavelli outlined the requirements of an effective ruler. Rather than seeing politics in terms of morality, The Prince suggests that a successful ruler must disregard such virtues as honesty, justice, and compassion if these qualities stand in the way of political goals. According to Machiavelli, the end justifies the means. In other words, the final result is more important than the methods used to achieve that result. This attitude seems contrary to the humanistic values expressed by other Renaissance philosophers. Nevertheless, Machiavelli arrived at his conclusions using both classical sources and critical reasoning, two prominent aspects of Renaissance ideals.

Shakespeare and novelists explore human nature English Renaissance literature—and perhaps all literature of the modern age—culminated in the career of English playwright William Shakespeare (1564–1616). An actor by trade, Shakespeare embodied in his plays many of the ideals of both Italian and northern Renaissance artists. In addition to refining the English language, Shakespeare used such classical sources as Parallel Lives, biographies of distinguished Greeks and Romans written by the Greek writer Plutarch (pronounced PLOO-tark; c. a.d. 46–c. 119), to create plots and characters that are still popular today. Shakespeare's examination of human nature, his celebration of human potential, his criticism of people's shortcomings, and his understanding of individual personalities place his plays and poems among the greatest artistic achievements of all time.


The Italian poet Petrarch was a scholar of classical antiquity who became one of the most important promoters of humanism. Often called the first modern man, Petrarch observed the world and analyzed his own thoughts and feelings with a new awareness of human experience. According to a famous story, in 1336 Petrarch had a profound experience when he climbed Mount Ventoux in Provence (a region in southern France). Upon reaching the summit he opened his copy of St. Augustine's Confessions, a book written around a.d. 400 by the famous theologian and church leader. Petrarch always carried Confessions with him, and on that day he read that men admire mountains and rivers and seas and stars, yet neglect themselves. This insight was important because at that time in history the life of the individual did not have any special significance. Painfully aware of the fleeting nature of existence, Petrarch embarked on a mission to bridge the ages and to save the works of classical authors. He attained vast knowledge of ancient texts, subjecting them to critical evaluation and prizing them as an expression of the living human spirit. Today he is credited with starting the Renaissance in Europe.

Petrarch is best known for Canzoniere, or Rerum vulgarum fragmenta, (Fragments of common things), a series of 366 poems that he dedicated to a young woman he called Laura. Petrarch fell in love with her in 1327, but she did not return his love. Laura's true identity is not known; however, there is no doubt of her existence or of the intensity of the poet's passion for her, which endured long after she died of the plague. From 1327 until the end of his life. Petrarch composed and revised the poems inspired by Laura. His work became a model for other Italian poets and influenced all European literature for more than three centuries.

Other great writers of the Renaissance include Spanish novelist Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, usually known as Cervantes (pronounced sehr-VAHN-tees; 1547–1616), and François Rabelais (pronounced rah-bleh; c. 1483–1553) of France. In 1605 Cervantes published his famous book Don Quixote, a tale that gently pokes fun at medieval codes of conduct. Rabelais is best known for such works as Pantagruel (1532) and Gargantua (1534), which satirize (criticize with humor) contemporary events and beliefs.

Scientists redefine nature During the Renaissance scientific thinkers attempted to redefine ancient knowledge about the natural world. Foremost among them were Italian artist and architect Leonardo da Vinci, Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus (1473–1543), Italian astronomer Galileo (1564–1642), Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe (1546–1601), and German astronomer Johannes Kepler (1571–1630). Leonardo developed metallurgical techniques (use of metals) that enabled him to make great statues, and his study of anatomy increased the accuracy of his drawings of human figures.

Copernicus posed a revolutionary theory in De revolutionibus (1543), a work in which he placed the Sun at the center of the universe and described the planets as revolving in a semicircular path around it. This view contradicted the church-approved Ptolemaic theory, which stated that the Earth is the center of the universe. In 1609 Galileo invented an accurate telescope through which he was able to observe the heavens and confirm Copernicus's findings. In 1632 he wrote Sopra I due massioni sistiemi del mundo ("Dialogue concerning the two chief world systems"), which supported Copernicus's Sun-centered view of the universe. The following year he was summoned before the Inquisition (official church court) and found guilty of heresy, or violation of church laws. He was placed under house arrest in Siena, a city-state in central Italy, for the remainder of his life.

Brahe gave an accurate estimate of planetary motion (movement of the planets around the Sun), thus refuting the theory of Greek philosopher Aristotle (384–322 b.c.), who stated that the planets revolve within crystal spheres. Kepler was the first astronomer to suggest that planets revolve in an elliptical (oval-shaped) orbit. Ideas about botany (study of plants), zoology (study of animals), magic (use of supernatural powers), alchemy (methods for changing common metals into gold), and astrology (study of the heavens to predict future events) were also developed during the Renaissance.

Influences on the Renaissance

The Renaissance was influenced by several events that took place in the Early and High Middle Ages. The most important was the collapse of feudalism, an economic and social system that began developing in the ninth century. Feudalism left Europe divided into hundreds of separate states, each with its own customs and laws. This situation severely weakened the Holy Roman Empire, which had placed northern and central Europe under the rule of a single emperor since the tenth century. Many states were seeking independence, while others had left the empire and formed their own governments. The result was continuing conflict and war throughout Europe. The Roman Catholic Church was also going into decline. The pope (supreme head of the Roman Catholic Church) approved the appointment of Holy Roman Emperors, and the church had dominated religious and secular life in Europe for hundreds of years. During the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, however, the power of the church had been challenged by the rulers of the states. Similarly, the nobility was being threatened by a middle class that developed along with the rise of cities, as capitalism (an economy driven by private ownership and competition) expanded trade among the European states and into Asia. The new middle class was replacing noblemen, who were once at the top of the social ladder, as the most significant force in business, society, and politics. At the same time, peasants were staging revolts, casting off the chains of servitude that had kept them in bondage for centuries. During the Middle Ages, Europeans also were trying to prevent an invasion by the Ottoman Empire, a vast kingdom headed by Muslims (followers of the Islam religion), on the eastern border of the Holy Roman Empire. All of these factors contributed to ongoing turmoil throughout Europe; at the same time they created the environment that produced the revolution triggered by the Renaissance.


Feudalism was a social and economic system that developed during the ninth and tenth centuries in Europe and, later, in parts of Asia. (The term "feudalism" comes from the medieval Latin word feudum, meaning "fee.") Under feudalism there were distinct social classes whose power came from the amount of land they controlled. At the top were kings, who owned the land. Beneath them were lords (noblemen) and clergymen (church officials), who were granted land by the king. Below the lords were vassals (knights), who held smaller amounts of land awarded to them by lords. At the bottom were serfs (peasants), who farmed the land but had no ownership rights. These classes were dependent on one another through a complex system of pledging loyalty in exchange for goods and services. In the eleventh century, cities began to emerge as commercial centers, bringing about the eventual collapse of feudalism in Europe. Lords were no longer able to maintain their estates when serfs moved to cities and found other jobs. At the same time a new middle class, composed of merchants and bankers, was forming and threatening the power of lords.

Based on seignorialism The beginning of feudalism can be traced to the decline of the West Roman Empire, when Germanic tribes established short-lived kingdoms on former Roman territory. Among these tribes were the Franks, whose leader Clovis (pronounced CLOH-vees; c. 466–511; ruled 481–511) founded the first significant kingdom. He united the Franks and conquered other Germanic groups to create a strong state that occupied much of the territory in present-day France. After Clovis accepted Christianity, he received support from the pope; that support guaranteed Clovis absolute power. Clovis's rule established the Merovingian (pronounced mehr-eh-VIN-jee-ehn) Age, named after Meroveus, his family's founder. Clovis's state was organized in the usual Germanic fashion. In an effort to secure power, conquering Germanic tribes adapted their own laws and customs to the legal and cultural traditions of the Roman state. One of these customs was seignorialism (pronounced san-YOR-ee-al-ism), the Roman practice of forcing poor people to be dependent on a lord (seignor), who controlled a large estate known as a manor. This system established the practice of serfdom, under which a peasant, or serf (the term is derived from the Latin servus, for "slave"), was confined to his lord's manor. In true servitude, serfs worked to support the lord, living in poverty and receiving hardly any benefits from their own labor.

The Merovingian Age ended in 751 when a Frankish king, Pépin III (pronounced PEH-pehn; c. 714–768; ruled 751–68), overthrew the last Merovingian king. Pépin then received the crown with the pope's blessing. Pépin's successor was Charlemagne (pronounced SHAR-leh-main; 742–814; ruled 800–14). His family's reign was called the Carolingian Empire. Charlemagne, whose name comes from the Latin Carolus magnus, or "Charles the Great," expanded Frankish territory, pushing its boundaries south to present-day Spain, north into Saxony (territory that is now in Germany), and southeast as far as the border of the Byzantine Empire in southern Italy. Upon being crowned Roman emperor by Pope Leo III (d. 816; reigned 795–816) in 800, Charlemagne consolidated his rule and claimed to revive the ancient Roman Empire. His theory was that the Roman Empire had merely been suspended, not ended, by the defeat of the last Roman emperor in 476. Although Charlemagne could not read or write, he was a brilliant soldier, administrator, and ruler. He introduced an organized government, supported education, and encouraged the spread of Christianity. Charlemagne initiated a great cultural and artistic period that scholars have named the "Carolingian Renaissance." After Charlemagne's death in 814 the Carolingian kingdom was divided and the empire soon collapsed.

Developed by Carolingians In addition to their cultural achievements, the Carolingians developed feudalism. Based on seignorialism, feudalism was a system in which rulers exchanged land for loyalty. This arrangement originally developed with the use of armored cavalry—warriors who wore protective armor, carried weapons, and rode horses while fighting battles. These soldiers became known as knights. Supporting large numbers of knights involved considerable work and expense because their horses and equipment required constant maintenance. Consequently, large tracts of land called fiefs (pronounced feefs) were established as permanent bases for knights. Fiefs were administered by lords, who swore loyalty to a king. Knights in turn swore their loyalty to a lord. Serfs, the vast majority of the population, farmed the land and turned over most of their harvest to the lords. Because churches, monasteries, and other religious establishments also were considered fiefs, religious officials became known as "knights of Christ."

Lords provided services to a king in exchange for use of a fief, which always remained the property of the king. Lords supplied the king with knights in time of war. They also paid taxes to the king in the form of crops and other products that they collected from the serfs. The relationship between the serf and the lord was essentially the same as that between the lord and the king. In return for providing the lord with a steady supply of agricultural goods, peasants were allowed to grow their own food on small plots of land and to sell any excess crops. They were guaranteed protection by the lord in case of invasion. Churchmen paid their dues to the king in the form of prayer and spiritual strength. They enhanced the power of the king through their direct contact with God, so they were considered valuable allies by rulers.

Feudalism first spread from France to Spain, and then to Italy. It later expanded into Germany and eastern Europe. The English king William I (also know as William the Conqueror; c. 1028–1087; ruled 1066–87) made it the common practice in England after 1066. From England, feudalism extended into the frontier areas of eastern Europe and was partially adopted in Scandinavian countries (present-day Denmark, Norway, and Sweden).

The castle as center of community Another important feature of feudalism was the castle, which was the basis of the Renaissance palace. The castle was primarily the residence of the lord, but it eventually functioned as a treasury (place where valuable items are kept), armory (storage facility for weapons), and center of local government. Lords first built castles in order to defend their fiefs. The original castles were little more than hills surrounded by ditches and topped with wooden forts. These forts were known as motte and bailey castles. "Motte" was the original term for a "moat," a deep ditch that surrounded a castle to provide protection from invaders. The bailey was a hill constructed with the dirt that had been removed in digging the motte. Usually located at the fringes of a territory, a castle could be built quickly and was cheap enough to abandon in a hurry. Eventually castles were massive, elaborate structures built of stone. The medieval castle took on special significance as both the residence of a lord and as a king's primary military base. Lords wanted to live in luxury, so castles were generally grand affairs equipped with the latest technology of the day. As they were designed to be the center of action during war, however, they also served a practical purpose. In addition to providing living quarters for the lord, who was the wealthiest person in the area, the castle contained rooms for his family, staff, servants, and a number of knights. Although knights were granted lands of their own, they usually stayed with their lord for a set number of months every year to be on alert in the event of invasion.

Chivalric Code and Courtly Love

Two traditions arising from feudalism were the chivalric code and courtly love. The chivalric code was a set of rules, or a code of honor, that encouraged a knight to perfect his skill with a sword and a lance (a long polelike weapon with a sharpened steel point) in combat and to practice simple dignity in daily life. According to the chivalric code, a knight was expected to honor the king, be loyal to his lord, fight bravely, and respect human life—even that of his enemies. The code also involved the church giving its blessing to knights in elaborate rituals with a strong religious element.

Courtly love was another chivalric ritual, in which a knight chose a special lady to whom he would dedicate a quest (religious journey) or a tournament (game in which knights engaged in combat with lances on horseback). Courtly love was best documented in such stories as the English legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, as well as the songs of French and Italian troubadours (poet-musicians), which were tributes to the beauty and purity of noblewomen. The chivalric code and courtly love had a strong influence on social customs, art, literature, and music during the Renaissance.

Castles were generally self-sufficient, offering services for meeting daily needs and fighting battles. For instance, most castles had a blacksmith (one who makes objects from iron, such as horseshoes) because a lord caught without his own blacksmith in time of war was destined to lose. Castles became the focal point for villages that eventually grew up around them. All castles had great dining halls that were used primarily by the lord and his knights. However, lords opened their houses to the peasantry on special occasions such as Christmas. The castle also had to be large enough to provide temporary housing for peasants when the land was invaded. Castles were expensive, and the decline of feudalism made it difficult for lords to maintain their sprawling estates. The introduction of gunpowder in the fourteenth century made the castle outmoded as a military fortress because even the thickest stone walls could be penetrated by bullets and cannonballs fired from powerful new weapons. During the Renaissance castles became palaces for kings, popes, emperors, noblemen, and merchants who promoted culture and gracious living. Many well-preserved medieval castles still stand today throughout Europe as lasting reminders of feudalism.

Decline caused by capitalism Feudalism began to decline in the eleventh century with the rise of capitalism, an economy based on investing money and earning profit from business ventures. This development was significant because feudalism was an agriculture-based economy that depended on the exchange of goods and services, not money. Along with capitalism came cities, which were built as hubs in a network of trade routes throughout Europe. The cities replaced fiefs as economic, government, and population centers. The growth of a new economy posed another threat to the feudal system: serfs started escaping to urban areas in search of work. Freedom was granted to any serf who lived in a city and managed to avoid being captured by his lord for one year and one day. The labor force that had once supported the feudal system gradually disappeared and a middle class emerged.

The new middle class, consisting of merchants and bankers, eventually replaced the feudal nobility. Bankers and entrepreneurs (business owners) employed workers, supervised the production of goods, sought new markets, financed wars, and controlled a web of complex financial operations. Freed from the rigid social restrictions of the feudal era, more people had time to think about such things as philosophy and the nature of man. An inquiring spirit stimulated the age of exploration that culminated during the Renaissance (see "The age of European exploration" in Chapter 3). Powerful monarchies, such as those in England and France, responded to these changes by modernizing their governments and replacing the feudal system with centralized rule. In other words, power was no longer held by lords who controlled local communities, but rather by officials in a city that was the center of government for a large area.

The Holy Roman Empire

The Holy Roman Empire, founded in 962, was a continuation of the revived Roman Empire that had been started by Charlemagne in the previous century. It was an effort to unite territory that is now Germany and Italy under a single ruler, the Holy Roman Emperor. From the beginning, however, the empire was beset by numerous problems, which caused continuing conflicts and wars. Emperors, kings, popes, and noblemen competed over land, seeking to expand their territories and gain more power. When feudalism began to decline in the eleventh century, the empire was further weakened by the rise of the middle class and by increasing social unrest. States began withdrawing and forming their own governments, and by the mid-seventeenth century the Holy Roman Empire existed in name only.

Founded by Otto After the fall of the Carolingian Empire, Europe was divided into hundreds of fiefs. Many lords had acquired considerable power, yet their economic control diminished as they continued to divide their lands to win the loyalty of other lords. Consequently, rivalries often led to destructive wars that further weakened the ability of the states to fight outside invaders such as the Vikings, Arabs, and Magyars (people from the region that is now Hungary). Europe then entered a period of economic and cultural decline. Conditions began to improve during the tenth century, however, as rulers in Saxony and Franconia (two of the five main districts of medieval Germany) succeeded in maintaining stability. A Saxon king, Otto I (the Great; 912–973; ruled 936–73), created the Holy Roman Empire when he was crowned in Rome by Pope John XII (c. 937–964; reigned 955–64) in 962. When Otto took the throne, the Holy Roman Empire consisted roughly of territory encompassing Germany, Italy, and parts of what is now France. Over the centuries the empire was expanded by other emperors. Otto reigned until his death in 973. Although less impressive than the Carolingian state, Otto's empire ushered in a period of relative stability that promoted a significant cultural revival.

The Holy Roman Empire received its name from the Bible, which was the basis of Christians' understanding of the world. The first part of the Bible is the Old Testament, which was derived from the Torah, the Jewish holy book. In the Old Testament the Hebrew prophet (wise man) Daniel predicted that four kingdoms would exist before the appearance of a messiah: these were the Babylonian, Persian, Grecian, and Roman empires. The ancient Roman Empire was considered the last empire of the world, at the end of which the Last Judgment (the judgment of human beings by God before the end of the world) was to take place. Christians therefore saw the Holy Roman Empire as a continuation of the last empire on Earth.

Emperors' power weakened The Holy Roman Empire was based on the claim that the emperor was God's representative on Earth in state affairs, just as the pope was God's representative on Earth in spiritual matters. Although the emperor was considered the supreme earthly ruler of Christendom (the kingdom of Christ; the name given by the church to what is now Europe), most emperors were never able to maintain their control over all the kings in the huge empire. By the beginning of the Renaissance, the Holy Roman Emperor had no power in France, southern Italy, Denmark, Poland, and Hungary. Emperors ruled in name only in England, Sweden, and Spain. The emperor's power in northern Italy and Germany was sometimes nonexistent, sometimes real. Countries such as Hungary were headed by the emperor or an imperial prince (a nobleman who was the emperor's representative), but they remained outside the empire. Others, including Flanders (now in Belgium and France), Pomerania (now in Russia and Poland), and Schleswig and Holstein (a region in western Germany), were part of the empire but were ruled by foreign princes who were granted fiefs by the emperor and took part in the election of emperors.

Problems in the Holy Roman Empire can be traced back to the reign of Otto I. Upon taking the throne, he moved the seat of the empire into German territory and maintained connections with the church. This decision created a complicated situation because the capital of the empire was in Germany, but the church was based in Rome. After Otto's death, German kings frequently served as Holy Roman Emperors. Eventually, when a king was elected by German princes, he automatically expected to be crowned emperor by the pope. Even though kings and Holy Roman Emperors were supposed to be elected, these positions gradually became hereditary (passed on from father to son). From time to time German princes were able to exercise their authority in deciding who would become king, but final approval always rested with the pope. After 1045 a king who was not yet crowned emperors was known as king of the Romans, a title that gave him the right to the throne of the Holy Roman Empire. German kings did not always become emperors, however, because the popes sometimes exercised their right to select emperors and chose leaders other than German kings, especially when an election was in dispute.

Middle class poses threat Unifying the Holy Roman Empire was made even more difficult because the emperor was the ruler of both Germany and Italy. Continuing warfare in Italy and the weakness of monarchs in other kingdoms increased the power of German princes, particularly in the kingdoms of Bavaria, Saxony, Swabia, Franconia, Thuringia, and Upper and Lower Lorraine. In 1338, at diets (meetings of church officials and representatives of states) in the German cities of Rhense and Frankfurt, the German princes proclaimed that their appointed electors (voting representatives) had the right to choose the emperor without the intervention of the pope. In 1356 Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV (1316–1378; ruled 1355–78) issued an official declaration called the Golden Bull, which supported the princes' decision and regulated the election procedure. Emperors continued to be crowned by the pope in Rome, however, until after the coronation of Charles V (Charles I of Spain; 1500–1558; king 1516–56, emperor 1519–56). Thereafter they were crowned at Frankfurt. After 1438 all emperors, except for Francis I of Lorraine (1708–1765; ruled 1745–65), came from the house of Habsburg (also Hapsburg), a powerful German family dynasty.

Holy Roman Emperors also were confronted with conflicts between noblemen and merchants. As trade and commerce continued to flourish, German merchants gained increasing wealth and power. They were opposed by the princes, who were still claiming the rights that had been granted to them under feudalism. Partly as a defense against the princes, the merchants had formed a network of trading associations known as the Hanseatic League. They established cities, called Hansa cities, that served as trading centers. Since the Holy Roman Emperors were already having problems with unruly princes, they tended to side with the merchants. In an effort to increase their power base, the emperors declared the Hansa to be free cities that came under the direct control of the emperor and were given voting rights in the diet. This change was a significant step toward expanding the influence of the middle class and weakening the status of noblemen.

Empire shrinks Another problem with the Holy Roman Empire was that emperors put more effort into maintaining a dynasty than into governing the empire. This situation arose because the emperor's throne was usually given to the king who had the most land and wealth. Over time, as kingships became hereditary and kings accumulated vast estates, the throne was held by emperors from just a few families. Most prominent were the Luxembourgs (Henry VII, Charles IV, Wenceslaus, and Sigismund) and the Habsburgs. These emperors were more interested in expanding family territories than in unifying the empire. The problem reached a crisis during the reign of Habsburg emperor Maximilian I (1459–1519; ruled 1493–1519), who also was king of the German nation. The princes became alarmed when Maximilian I seemed to be placing the Habsburgs' interests above the welfare of the empire. He had become involved in the war between Italy and France, which could have resulted in expansion of Habsburg territory into Burgundy (see "Italian Wars dominate Renaissance" in Chapter 2). In 1495 the princes established a supreme court of justice to impose Roman law throughout the empire. Five years later they forced Maximilian I to place administration of the empire in the hands of an imperial council, which would control all external and internal affairs.

These measures simply slowed the disintegration of the Holy Roman Empire. In the sixteenth century, the empire shrank until it was concentrated primarily in Austria. Most of the states were seeking independence, a trend that was encouraged by the Protestant Reformation. The German princes accepted Protestantism, while the emperors remained Roman Catholic. The result was the Thirty Years War (1618–48), in which the Holy Roman Emperors joined Spain against the Protestant princes, who were allied mainly with Sweden and France. The struggle ended in 1648 with the Peace of Westphalia, a treaty that recognized the sovereignty (right to self-rule) of all the states in the Holy Roman Empire. The only limitation was that the princes could not form alliances against the empire or the emperor. The states still belonged to the Holy Roman Empire, and the emperors remained powerful monarchs in their home regions. (The Holy Roman Empire continued until 1806, when Francis II of Austria renounced the title of emperor.)

The Roman Catholic Church

The Roman Catholic Church was the dominant institution in Europe during the Middle Ages. The pope and other church officials were involved in all aspects of life—social, political, and economic as well as religious. Yet the authority of the church, and especially the pope, was constantly being challenged by kings and noblemen, who did not want any interference in their affairs. The church was also plagued by corruption and internal squabbling, which caused numerous problems and crises. In the sixteenth century the power of the church was threatened by a reform movement that soon spread throughout Europe and produced widespread social and political change.

Pope's authority challenged The Catholic Church is headed by the pope, who is appointed by a sacred college (representative group) of cardinals. (Cardinals are officials ranking directly below the pope; they are appointed by the pope himself.) The pope is considered a direct successor of Saint Peter, a disciple, or follower, whom Jesus of Nazareth had named the true spiritual leader of Christianity. The pope is therefore the vicar, or representative, of Christ on Earth, as well as the lawgiver and judge for followers of the Catholic faith. During the Middle Ages the pope was a powerful figure because the church controlled not only Europe but also most of the Middle East (the region now extending from Libya to Afghanistan) and parts of North Africa. Since the ninth century, however, the eastern and western divisions of the church had disagreed over the right of the pope to rule all Catholics. (The eastern division included territory that is now Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa; the western division encompassed present-day Western Europe and Poland and Hungary, which are now in Eastern Europe.) Finally, in 1054, the eastern division established the Orthodox Eastern Church at Constantinople and refused to recognize the legitimacy of the pope. Headed by leaders called patriarchs, the Orthodox Eastern Church continued to observe all other Catholic teachings. The western branch in Rome was called the Roman Catholic Church and retained its authority over western Europe.

The church had been greatly affected by the fall of the Carolingian Empire, which brought corruption, greed, growing secularism, and a general spiritual uneasiness. This decline was reversed in 910 with the creation of the Cluniac monastic order (a group of Catholic men called monks at Cluny, France, who were devoted to the religious life), one of the momentous events of the Middle Ages. The Cluniac order beautified the liturgy (texts used in worship services) and built schools. They revitalized the entire church, initiating reforms that continued for centuries. Inspired by the Cluniac movement, popes tried to create an institution that had spiritual authority over secular rulers. As God's representative on Earth, a pope made it difficult for a secular leader to oppose church meddling in state affairs. Popes such as Gregory VII (c. 1020–1085; reigned 1073–85) initiated the concept known as "fullness of power," which gave them control over both church and state. A pope could therefore undermine secular law by declaring canon (church) law to be above the law of the land. Popes favored particular rulers, launched crusades (holy wars), took sides in political conflicts, and promoted secular laws that were advantageous to the church. The Roman Catholic Church controlled vast amounts of property throughout Europe, including its own fiefs and estates that were used for monasteries and cathedrals (large houses of worship). It also carved out its own territories, known as the Papal States. At various times the Papal States included the coast of France on the Mediterranean Sea, near the city of Avignon, and a large area of central Italy.

Kings in Germany and other states were not willing to give up any of their power to popes. Their resistance became known as the Investiture Struggle, which reached its height when Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV (1050–1106; ruled 1084–1105) challenged the authority of Gregory VII. Henry insisted on the royal right of investiture, a king's right to name bishops (heads of church districts). This power would have made the emperor equal to the pope and weakened church control over government affairs. In 1076 Gregory excommunicated, or expelled Henry from the church, and the emperor lost the support of his nobles. Henry traveled to Italy the following year and received forgiveness from Gregory. The struggle between popes and emperors continued, however, after Henry regained support from his nobles and successfully overthrew Gregory.

The Crusades Another important event of the Middle Ages was the Crusades, a series of religious wars launched by the popes against the Muslims. Starting in 1096 and lasting until 1291, the Crusades united Europeans as "knights of Christ" against a common "pagan" enemy. (A pagan is a person who has no religious beliefs or worships more than one god.) The Christians were trying to recapture the Holy Land (called Palestine at the time; the territory is now in parts of Israel, Jordan, and Egypt), which they considered sacred because it was the place where Jesus of Nazareth founded Christianity. In 1071 Muslim Turks had seized Jerusalem—the center of the Holy Land and a city considered sacred to Jews, Muslims, and Christians—when they conquered the Byzantine Empire. Although the First Crusade provided some victories and enabled the Europeans to establish kingdoms called Crusader States in Muslim territory around the Mediterranean Sea, they were finally driven out by the Muslims in a battle at Acre (in what is now Israel) in 1291. In spite of this loss, the Crusades actually strengthened the European economy by opening new markets for trade in the Near East (the countries of southwest Asia and northeast Africa around the Mediterranean Sea). Europeans came into contact with Eastern culture, which had a significant impact on the Renaissance. Scholars brought ancient texts from the Middle East back to Europe that were later used as models for literary and philosophical works.

The Inquisition The Roman Catholic Church reached the peak of its power as a secular force during the High Middle Ages. Pope Innocent III (c. 1160–1216; reigned 1198–1216) triumphantly oversaw the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215, which formulated church laws. Fearing rebellion against these laws, Innocent had launched a bloody crusade against the Albigensian religious movement in southern France in 1208. The Albigenses (pronounced albeh-JEN-sees) were a Christian sect (small religious group) that had attracted an increasing number of followers during the late twelfth century. Living a strict life independent from the church, they held a complex system of religious beliefs. For instance, they claimed the existence of good (God) and evil (the Evil One) as equal forces, a view that violated Catholic teachings. The pope proclaimed them heretics, those who rebel against or violate church laws, and attempted to bring them under the control of the church. The Albigensian Crusade soon developed into a series of political wars, however, producing no significant religious results by the time the campaign ended in 1229.

Europe Expanded by Crusades

One of the most important events of the Middle Ages was the Crusades, a series of religious wars waged by Christians against the Muslims from 1096 until 1291. (The Crusades also included wars against other non-Christians and against heretics, or Christians who challenged the church.) The Christians were trying to recapture the city of Jerusalem in the Holy Land, which they considered sacred because it was the site of the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth. Muslim Turks had seized Jerusalem in 1071, when they conquered the Byzantine Empire, the center of the Orthodox Eastern Church. In 1095 the Byzantines appealed to Pope Urban II for help against the Turks. By this time western Europeans had a great fear of the "Turkish menace," so when Urban announced the First Crusade in Clermont-Ferrand, France, he received an enthusiastic response.

The First Crusade (1096–99) resulted in the successful Christian conquest of Muslim territory. The Crusaders established feudal states in the Near East around the Mediterranean Sea, expanding European culture and religion outside their own borders and learning about other cultures. The Christians were finally defeated at the end of the Ninth Crusade (1271–91) when the last Christian stronghold, the city of Acre in present-day Israel, fell to the Muslims. The remaining Crusaders withdrew from the region. In spite of this defeat, Europe emerged with a stronger economy: it had acquired new markets in Asia, and its political power remained undiminished. The Crusades had also brought Europeans into contact with Eastern (non-European) cultures, thus contributing to the development of the Renaissance two hundred years later.

In 1233 Innocent's successor, Gregory IX (c. 1170–1241; reigned 1227–41), issued an official pronouncement called a bull that established a tribunal, or formal court, in Albigensian centers in France. The tribunal was given the power to seek out and punish heretics. This event marked the beginning of the Inquisition, which permitted the Roman Catholic Church to wield its power throughout southern France, northern Italy, and Germany for the remainder of the Middle Ages. (Called the medieval Inquisition, this tribunal was separate from the Spanish Inquisition, which was established in 1478; see "Spain" section, Chapter 3). The Inquisition was highly successful, and the Albigensians were completely eliminated in the 1330s. Inquisitors (heads of tribunal proceedings) expanded their search for heretics to other parts of Europe. They targeted anyone who did not seem to be following Christian teachings, such as Jews, Muslims, and other "pagans." The inquisitors punished supposed heretics if they did not accept Christianity according to terms specified by the church. Careful preservation of records promoted the effectiveness of the court, preventing any suspect from escaping punishment. In fact, on the basis of trial records some people were apprehended years later, far from the scene of their original trials.

Heretics punished for sins The Inquisition was supposed to be conducted in cooperation with bishops, but in practice it was usually controlled by the pope. Dominicans (members of a religious order founded by Saint Dominic in 1215) and Franciscans (members the Order of Friars of Minor, founded by Saint Francis of Assisi in 1209) were generally chosen as inquisitors. Given sole responsibility for seeking out heretics, an inquisitor was a privileged person—always male—who answered only to the pope. He was surrounded by numerous assistants: delegates who asked preliminary questions and heard witnesses; familiars who acted as personal guards; and agents, notaries (secretaries), counselors, and servants.

After arriving in a town, the inquisitor let it be known that, for a certain period of time, he would receive testimony, or sworn statements, from witnesses who accused people of being heretics. He would then hear confessions from the accused. He sent out summonses, or court orders, to suspects who had not appeared in court voluntarily. Accused persons were not permitted to question their accusers, but they were permitted to draw up a list of any enemies who might gain from their conviction. Evidence from such enemies was not to be admitted in court. The inquisitor was assisted by a council, and in theory he was to reach his verdict in consultation with the council and the bishop. In reality the verdicts, or court decisions, were often made by the inquisitor alone. The use of torture (infliction of physical injury) was permitted by Pope Innocent IV (d. 1254; reigned 1243–54) in his bull Ad extirpanda (1252) as a means of obtaining a confession.

The inquisitor was confronted with a challenging task because he had to determine the state of a person's religious faith on the basis of a vague definition of heresy. Inquisitors dealt with a complex range of supposed heretics, from those who were merely suspected of guilt to those who refused to admit error. Suspects who refused to admit they had committed sins were quickly handed over to state authorities for execution. Yet all those who came under even the slightest suspicion were given some type of punishment, since letting them escape without penalty was considered an insult to God.

The list of offenses included anticlericalism (opposition to church rule), association with heretics, moral offenses (violation of the concept of correct behavior), sorcery (use of power gained from evil spirits), and witchcraft (use of sorcery or magic). It was rare for an accused heretic to escape some form of punishment, even if he or she claimed to be innocent. Sentences were pronounced at an auto-da-fé ("act of faith"; pronounced awh-toh deh FAY), a public exhibition that all local residents were urged to attend. Punishments included prison terms, confiscation of goods, pilgrimages (religious journeys), and lesser penances (acts performed to seek forgiveness of sins). Although burning at the stake was thought to be fitting punishment for heretics who did not confess their sins, execution by fire was not widely practiced during the medieval Inquisition.

Crisis in the papacy Although the Inquisition gave the Roman Catholic Church absolute power over the lives of ordinary people, the church itself was engaged in bitter conflicts that eventually weakened its authority in Europe. In 1294 church leaders were embroiled in a crisis over the selection of a pope. For eighteen months, since the death of Pope Nicholas IV (1227–1292; reigned 1288–92), the sacred college of cardinals had been divided into two opposing sides and could not reach an agreement. Neither side would recognize the legitimacy of the other. A schism (division) of the church seemed inevitable. Then Pietro da Morrone (c. 1209–1296), an elderly Benedictine (member of a religious order founded by Saint Benedict), wrote the college a letter promising severe divine judgment if a pope was not elected soon. Terrified of God's wrath, the dean of the college called for Morone to be elected pope. The cardinals agreed and quickly approved the decision. Morone became Pope Celestine V (reigned 1294).

As a Benedictine, Celestine had been a hermit, a member of a religious order who retires from society and lives in solitude. He soon found that his new responsibilities did not allow the quiet, reflective life he had been leading before his election. He refused to move to the loud, congested city of Rome, where the papacy had traditionally been centered. Instead, he had a special wooden cell built at the papal castle located in Naples, Italy, so he could escape the constant attention of cardinals, bishops, and other church officials. Celestine became so depressed about his new life that he asked for advice from Benedetto Caetani (pronounced kahay-TAH-nee; c. 1235 or 1240–1303), a respected member of the church and one of the cardinals who had elected him. Caetani, who had aspirations of his own, suggested that Celestine resign. On December 13, 1294, after only fifteen weeks as pope, Celestine stepped down.

On December 23 the college of cardinals met once again in Naples and elected Caetani the new pope. Taking the name of Boniface VIII (pronounced BAHN-ih-fus), he returned the center of the papacy to Rome. Like Gregory VII and Innocent III before him, Boniface focused on expanding his secular authority. In 1296 he found himself in a conflict with King Philip IV (1268–1314; ruled 1285–1314) of France and King Edward I (1239–1307; ruled 1272–1307) of England. Both kings had begun taxing clergymen in order to finance the Hundred Years' War, a conflict between England and France over the French throne. This taxation had been started without the permission of Boniface. Outraged, the pope issued a statement, known as the Clericus laicos, which forbade the taxation of clergy members without the permission of the papacy. The penalty for defying the order would be excommunication (forced to leave) from the church. Threats of excommunication had been used several times by Gregory VII and Innocent III to persuade monarchs to change their countries' political policies to those of the church. By the Late Middle Ages, however, such threats carried less weight. Philip and Edward both refused to give in to Boniface's demands. The pope attempted to strike a compromise, but he was forced to back down when Philip stopped all French money collected for the papacy from leaving his kingdom and being sent to Rome.

The "evil" pope In 1300 thousands of religious pilgrims flocked to Rome for a great church event called the jubilee celebration. The jubilee celebration was normally held every twenty-five years by order of the pope, and it was a time of solemnity and prayer. The church usually received quite a bit of money in donations. Feeling more confident in his authority, Boniface issued another decree, this one known as Unam Sanctam. The order stated that all human beings, regardless of religion or country, were subjects of the pope and Rome. Philip was outraged by this claim. With the support of his nobles, Philip publicly accused Boniface of crimes such as committing murder, practicing black magic (use of supernatural evil forces), and keeping a demon, or evil spirit, as his personal pet. Boniface was soon seen as an evil pope attempting to overthrow a legitimate king.

In 1303 Philip sent armed French soldiers to confront Boniface at his private home in Agnan, Italy. The soldiers ransacked the house, stealing everything of value. They attempted to force Boniface to return to France in order to stand trial. After three days, the pope was rescued from the soldiers. The ordeal proved to be too much for the aging Boniface, however. A few weeks later he died, overcome with humiliation and shock.

Papacy moved to France A new pope was soon elected. This time Bertrand de Got (pronounced deh GOH; c. 1260–1314), a Frenchman, was elevated to the highest post in the church and took the name Clement V (reigned 1304–14). King Philip and Clement, probably because they were fellow countrymen, had a good relationship. In 1307 Clement moved the headquarters of the papacy once again, this time to the city of Avignon in France, a Papal State in his native country. The papacy remained in Avignon for seventy years. Since the city had not been equipped to house the papacy in the manner that popes had enjoyed in Rome, massive building projects commenced. Yet the papacy ran into considerable problems by moving the center of religious authority. Popes had to raise money in order to fund the troops that were necessary to reclaim control over central Italy, where opposition to the move was sometimes violent. Other Papal States lost money because of the move, and the various popes who served during this time were forced to find ways to return the lost revenue.

The massive financial pressure required the Avignon popes to rely on a practice known as simony, or the selling of church offices. Any nobleman who had enough money could become a bishop. For instance, Pope Clement VI (c. 1290–1352; reigned 1342–52) was once heard saying that he would make a donkey bishop if the donkey had enough money. The financial worries of the church began to take a heavy toll on the spiritual authority of the papacy. One pope, John XXII (c. 1235–1334; reigned 1316–34), did try to raise money in ways that did not damage the respectability of the church, but he had limited success. The spiritual authority of the church had already been severely weakened. Furthermore, Rome was still regarded as the rightful home of the papacy. With the pope centered in Avignon, it was widely believed that church interests were controlled by the French monarchy.

Petrarch wrote extensively about conditions in the church at this time. He declared Avignon to be the "Babylon of the West," referring to the story of the Jewish exile in Babylonia (an ancient country in Asia, located between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers) in the Old Testament. According to Petrarch, Catholics were being held captive in Avignon just as the Jews were held against their will by the Babylonians. Many prominent Catholics, such as England's King Edward III (1312–1377; ruled 1327–77), shared this opinion and questioned the motives of the church.

In spite of the controversy, a number of the popes who served in Avignon were among the most talented in the long history of the papacy. And regardless of what many believed, not all of them were controlled by the French monarchy. During the "Babylonian captivity" there were several attempts to move the papacy back to Rome, but internal arguments always prevented it from happening. Finally, in 1376, Pope Gregory XI (1329–1378; reigned 1370–78) returned the papacy to Rome, but only because of mounting pressure from important Catholics. Avignon had been the center of Roman Catholic worship for seventy years, the same length of time as the original Babylonian captivity. Upon returning to Rome, Gregory was horrified to discover extensive corruption in the Italian church. He made plans to return to Avignon, but he died before he could carry them out. Mob rioting forced the sacred college of cardinals to elect an Italian pope, Urban VI (c. 1318–1389; reigned 1378–89).

The Great Schism Pope Urban was determined to end the corrupt practices and extreme wealth of the cardinals. Fearing Urban's reform efforts, the French cardinals declared that his election was invalid because of the pressure put on the college by the mobs. In 1378 they elected as the new pope Robert of Geneva (1342–1394), who became Clement VII (reigned 1378–94). He had been a cardinal from the French-speaking city of Geneva, a city in southwestern Switzerland that was surrounded by French territory. The cardinals returned to Avignon with Clement, who was called an antipope because Urban was still the pope in Rome. Clement intended to establish Avignon as the center of papal authority once again. Urban refused to recognize the legitimacy of the new pope and excommunicated Clement and the French cardinals. Urban then appointed new cardinals to replace those who had been banished. For thirty-seven years, the rival camps in Rome and Avignon each elected new popes and hurled accusations of heresy at one another. This dispute is known as the Great Schism (also called the Schism of the West).

The Roman Catholic Church was now deeply divided as each camp claimed to be the rightful heir to Saint Peter and the legitimate authority for Catholicism. All of western Europe was divided as well. With Catholicism as the only form of Christianity, a choice had to be made by monarchs of Catholic countries: Would they support the popes of Avignon or Rome? France recognized the popes of Avignon, as did Scotland, the Italian island of Sicily, and Portugal. England, still involved in the Hundred Years' War with France, supported the popes of Rome. The papacy in Rome also was recognized in parts of the Holy Roman Empire, northern and central Italy, and Ireland. Loyalty to the two camps was dependent on the individual interests and needs of a country, often changing when these interests were met by one side and not by the other.

During this turmoil Catholics across western Europe began to discuss questions concerning the fate of the individual soul. Many wondered if they would be saved from damnation (being sent to hell after death) if they were represented by a false priest and a false pope. As time dragged on and it seemed that a compromise would never be reached, some Catholics suggested that a general council of church leaders should meet to provide a solution. Yet the popes at Avignon and Rome would not agree to be judged by followers from the other side. In 1409 the situation became even more complicated when a group of five hundred high-ranking bishops, called prelates, met in a council at Pisa, Italy. The prelates decided that both popes should be removed and a new one should be elected. The popes of Avignon and Rome would not accept this solution, and for a while there were three popes claiming to be the legitimate ruler of the Roman Catholic Church.

Sigismund of Luxembourg (1368–1437) was the king of Hungary and several other lands as well as the Holy Roman Emperor (ruled 1433–37). He wanted the papacy to be controlled by a council, not by a pope who made his own decisions. This idea had been suggested years earlier but had not been accepted by church officials. Sigismund hoped to get enough backing to accomplish his goals. In 1414 he called a number of important churchmen to the Swiss town of Constance for a meeting. The council met until 1417, when it was decided that all of the existing popes should be removed and a new one elected. Pope Martin V (1368–1431; reigned 1417–31) was then named the only rightful leader of the Roman Catholic faith. The other three popes did not want to step down, but none of them had enough support to stay in power. The Great Schism came to an end with the Council of Constance. The question remained, however, whether future popes would be required to meet with councils before making decisions about church policy.

The Babylonian Captivity

When the papacy was moved to Avignon, France, by Pope Clement V in 1307, many Roman Catholics protested because they felt that the rightful spiritual center was Rome. When the Italian poet and scholar Petrarch called Avignon the "Babylon of the West," he was referring to the Babylonian captivity of the Jewish people as described in the Old Testament in the Book of Jeremiah, Chapter 20, verse 4. In 586 b.c. the city of Jerusalem, which was the capital of the Jewish empire, fell to the Babylonians. An unknown number of Jews—some estimates place the total in the thousands—were deported, or forcibly sent, to Babylonia. Those who were sent away were picked because of their affluence and intelligence. It is unknown how many Jews remained in Jerusalem. The deportations were meant to separate the Jewish people as a whole; the deported Jews, however, kept close ties with those who remained in Jerusalem. In 538 b.c. Cyrus the Great (c. 585–529 b.c.) took over the Babylonian Empire. He began new relationships with the Jews and decreed that Jerusalem would once again be the center of Jewish worship. In 516 b.c., seventy years after the Babylonian invasion, a new temple, or Jewish house of worship, was built in Jerusalem, officially ending the captivity of the Jews and signifying their return as a united people.

The Hussite Revolt Although the Great Schism had ended, the Council of Constance resulted in another serious challenge to the stability of the church. Among those who attended the council was Jan Hus (c. 1372–1415), a Czechoslovakian priest who had been invited by Sigismund. In 1410 Hus had been excommunicated from the church. One of his crimes was criticizing the church's practice of selling indulgences, which were partial pardons of sins in exchange for money. When Hus was invited to the Council of Constance, he was told that no harm would come to him. Nevertheless, many officials were still angry about his daring to challenge the church. Shortly after arriving in October1414, Hus was arrested and imprisoned. He was kept in prison until June 1415, at which time he was finally given an opportunity to go before the council. When he tried to explain his views, he was shouted down. Hus was heard to say that he expected more piety and order among the council members. He withstood weeks of pressure to recant, or take back, what he had said. A month to the day after his original meeting with the council, Hus was once again given a chance to withdraw his criticism of the church. He refused. He was then stripped of his clerical robes and forced to wear a paper crown painted with three demons and the words "We commit thy soul to the Devil." Hus was led to the town square, where he was burned alive. The members of the council claimed that fire was the only way to cleanse Hus's soul.

After Hus's execution, nobles in Bohemia (located in present-day Czechoslovakia) sent an angry letter to the council and Sigismund, protesting the actions against Hus. Sigismund angrily replied that he would eliminate all followers of Hus, who were called Hussites. Sigismund and Pope Martin began a crusade against the Hussites, who then retaliated by blaming Sigismund for the death of a Czech hero. Rebellion and chaos soon spread throughout Bohemia and Moravia (now territory in the Czech Republic), leading to the Hussite Revolt (also called the Hussite Wars).

The Hussite Revolt lasted from 1420 until 1434. The Hussites issued their demands to Sigismund and Martin in the Four Articles of Prague (1420). They called for freedom of preaching, limits to property holding by the church, and civil punishment of mortal sin (a sin causing spiritual death), among other religious reforms. The Hussites were led by Bohemian nobleman Jan Zizka (c. 1346–1424), who headed their military efforts even after he was blinded in battle. In 1431 the Council of Basel was called for the purpose of drafting an agreement between the church and the Hussites. The war continued, however, as the Hussites argued among themselves; eventually they split into two factions, or opposing sides. Despite this division, Sigismund was unable to achieve victory.

The two Hussite camps continued fighting, with the side known as the Ultraquist Hussites finally winning out in 1434 and ending the hostilities. During peace talks the Ultraquist Hussites demanded that Bohemia and Moravia be granted independence from Germany. They also wanted their own religious practices to be recognized by the Roman Catholic Church. The Council of Basel, not wanting to lose its influence, agreed to these demands. In 1436 the Ultraquist Hussites signed the Compact of Jihlava (also Iglau), in which they agreed to accept Sigismund as king of Bohemia. As a result, Bohemia became independent from Germany; Moravia came under the rule of Bohemia. The Council of Basel was the last influential religious meeting of the medieval period.

Jan Hus Attacks Indulgences

Among those who attended the Council of Constance in 1414 was Jan Hus, a Czechoslovakian priest who had been invited by Sigismund of Luxembourg, king of Hungary. Four years earlier Hus had been excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church. One of his crimes was criticizing the church's practice of selling indulgences, partial pardons of sins in exchange for money. Hus believed that people who purchased indulgences should suffer the full penalty of their actions and should not be allowed to buy God's forgiveness. He claimed that a truly penitent, or sorrowful, soul would be cleansed in purgatory; indulgences were therefore not only useless but also wrong. Hus's view angered many church leaders and state officials, who often split the money raised by the selling of indulgences. This practice had been especially important during the Great Schism, when various popes were competing for support from monarchs. The monarchs frequently depended on the money to fund their wars or to help finance their kingdoms.

Hus continued to be outspoken in his demands for church reform, and he made many powerful enemies. After being excommunicated in 1410, he retired to the Czech countryside to write. Hus had the support and protection of King Wenceslaus of Bavaria. While in the countryside, Hus composed his most famous work, De ecclesia, in which he claimed that Scriptures (text of the Bible), not the pope, had supreme authority over the church. He also wrote that the pope was not a perfect being who was always correct, and that the state had the right and duty to supervise the church. As a result of his outspokenness, Hus is regarded as one of the forefathers of the Protestant Reformation.

Social and political change

Problems in the Holy Roman Empire and the Roman Catholic Church brought political and social unrest in Europe throughout the thirteenth century, the period that led into the Renaissance. During this time King John of England (1167–1216; ruled 1199–1216) began his reign. Eventually he yielded to pressure from unhappy lords, who objected to his misuse of power, and issued the Magna Carta in 1215. A document of great historical importance, the Magna Carta subjected the monarch to the law, paving the way for democracy (government based on the will of the people) movements in the eighteenth century. In contrast, French kings built a strong state by imposing their authority on feudal lords.

Germany was unable to consolidate its territories into a centralized state. During the late twelfth century, unity seemed possible under King Frederick I (also called Frederick of Barbarossa; c. 1123–1190; ruled 1155–90). Nevertheless, the emperor was more interested in foreign conquest and generally neglected his country. His grandson, Frederick II (1194–1250; ruled 1220–50), who also ruled Sicily (an island south of Italy in the Mediterranean Sea), was one of the most fascinating figures of the medieval period. Frederick II presided over his court with a dazzling intellectual brilliance but, like Frederick I, he ignored German affairs. After the death of Frederick II in 1250, Germany found itself in a political struggle with the papacy, or office of the pope, that lasted for centuries.

In Italy, numerous city-states were involved in the conflict between the papacy and Holy Roman Emperors. Therefore, Italy remained politically unstable; the exception was Venice, which became a sea power. The Iberian Peninsula (now Spain and Portugal) was still under the control of the Moors (Arab and Berber tribes). The new kingdoms of eastern and central Europe were struggling to win acceptance from western European states. In central Europe, however, the Habsburg dynasty gained prominence when Rudolf I (1218–1291; ruled 1273–91) became the king of Germany and the uncrowned emperor of Austria.

Culture flourishes Despite the turmoil, the High Middle Ages were a time of intellectual and literary achievement. Scholars studied Greek philosophy, Arabic science, and Christian theology (religious philosophy) in an effort to understand a complicated world. They attempted to combine faith—acceptance of truth without question—with reason, a struggle that created a complex blend of thought. For example, the French philosopher and priest Peter Abelard (1079–1142) concluded that reason could be the basis of religious belief, while his opponent, French church official Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (1090–1153), approached faith as a purely spiritual experience. English bishop Saint Anselm of Canterbury (1033–1109) developed the famous proof for the existence of God that states that God must exist because people can formulate the "concept" of God. The crowning accomplishment of the thirteenth century was the Summa theologica, a work by the Italian theologian (a scholar who formulates religious theories) Saint Thomas Aquinas (1226–1274). This work united Christian theology with the philosophy of Aristotle.

The Black Death

The most devastating event of the High Middle Ages was the Black Death, or plague, a deadly and highly contagious disease that ravaged Europe throughout the fourteenth century. Entire villages were wiped out, and cultural and social progress came to a standstill. At that time medical knowledge was limited, so people did not understand what was causing the plague. In some parts of Europe the Black Death continued into the eighteenth century.

Saint Thomas Aquinas

The Italian philosopher Saint Thomas Aquinas was one of the foremost thinkers of the Middle Ages. He is recognized as the leading theologian of the Roman Catholic Church; he is also one of the principal saints (people who are declared holy) of the church. Saint Thomas resolved the central question facing Christians in the thirteenth century: how to approach the work of the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle.

Specifically, theologians were trying to decide how to utilize Aristotle's view of the nature of God, man, and the universe. For example, Aristotle considered God to be the prime mover of the universe, who exists outside of time and place. He also believed that humans share a single intellect into which souls are absorbed after death, and that all human love is based on self-interest. These ideas caused problems for Christians, who believed that God created the world freely and at a particular point in time. They also thought that God cares about humans, and that a person who loves God rather than himself or herself will be rewarded with eternal life after death.

Christian thinkers, known as scholastics, resolved this dilemma by concluding that there could be no serious conflict between philosophy and theology, or between Aristotle and Christianity. Since for them Christianity could not be wrong and since Aristotle was an esteemed ancient authority, they wanted to bring Aristotle and Christianity into agreement. The foremost scholastic was Saint Thomas. In his Summa theologica (1267–73) he created a system that remained basically Christian while incorporating significant aspects of Aristotle's philosophy. Many modern historians view this system, which is sometimes called the Thomist synthesis, as the most important achievement of medieval thought. (Synthesis is the weaving together of diverse elements.) Saint Thomas's system formed the basis of modern philosophy and theology.

First use of biological warfare

The plague apparently originated near Delhi in northern India in the 1330s. It spread to southern Asia by 1346, and to the cities of Kaffa and Constantinople by the end of the following year. The Black Death was introduced in Europe as the result of the first known incident of biological warfare (use of living organisms, such as disease germs, as weapons against an enemy). In 1343 Tatars (also known as Tartars; a nomadic tribe from east central Asia) flung dead bodies infected with the plague over the walls of an Italian trading post at Kaffa, in the Crimean region of southern Russia. The Tatars hoped that fear of the disease would drive Italian merchants from the western edges of the Mongol Empire (a vast territory in China and east Asia), which was losing much of its power as a result of the European presence in the region. The retreating Italians then carried the plague to the ports of Genoa and Venice in northern Italy, Messina in Sicily, and Marseilles in southern France. As more people became infected and continued to travel, the epidemic spread to Spain, northern France, and England in 1348. By the following year the plague had attacked Scandinavia and north-central Europe. Northern Russia first felt its effects in 1352, after the epidemic had declined in western Europe. China suffered the full impact of the disease between 1352 and 1369.

The plague came to be called the "Black Death" because it produced open sores on the body that turned black. The disease took such a toll on populated areas that by 1350 at least one-fourth of Europe's inhabitants had died from it. The devastating epidemic returned in the latter part of the fourteenth century. Half of Florence's ninety thousand people perished; some two-thirds of the population of Siena, Italy, and Hamburg, Germany, died. By 1400 the death toll in Europe had reached more than one-third of the total population. People did not know how to prevent the disease, so large sections of Europe and Asia were almost entirely wiped out.

Low food supply

Poor health and malnutrition also made Europeans susceptible to the plague. Prior to 1350, the agricultural market had been attempting, with great difficulty, to feed an ever-increasing population. Areas with large numbers of inhabitants had a hard time keeping up with the high demand for food. Compounding the problem was the fact that many farmers had begun growing highly profitable nonfood crops such as textile fibers, so there was less food available. The shortage reached a peak in 1346, thus making people more vulnerable to disease. With large numbers of people starving, it became necessary to transport foods such as cereals, which were immediately infested by rats, to areas where food was especially scarce. Foods therefore arrived infected with the plague, which struck most savagely at under-nourished and weak people. Most of the victims were children, the elderly, laborers, and the poor. Mature adults and wealthy people survived to a greater extent.

The fact that more adults survived the plague helps to explain Europe's fairly swift recovery from the catastrophic death rate. Cities suffered the worst losses in population, yet most soon returned to business as usual. Since many of the plague victims were laborers, in the later fourteenth century there was a desperate need for workers. As a result, wage rates increased. The agricultural areas of Europe suffered more lasting economic effects: central Germany lost at least half of its agricultural settlements after 1352, and numerous French villages disappeared. Many English villages similarly were abandoned.

Causes of Black Death

The Black Death was caused by a bacillus (disease-producing bacterium) that lives in a flea. The unsanitary conditions of the Middle Ages permitted bacillus-carrying fleas to infest and infect black rats, which then bit humans. The bite of the flea produces buboes, or lumps the size of chestnuts, usually in the groin and the armpit. This type of infection is known as the bubonic plague. Healthy people could recover from bubonic plague. Since the disease spread so quickly after 1347, in what is known as a pandemic (widespread) plague, there had to be another form. This form was the pneumonic plague, or plague complicated by pneumonia (infection of the lungs), which scattered a highly contagious form of bacillus. When people who had the pneumonic plague sneezed, coughed, or bled externally, small microbes carrying the disease were released into the air. Healthy people who inhaled the infected air would then catch the disease. This type of bacterial transferal helped spread the disease across Europe. Other strains of plague probably existed, and the population was weakened by diseases such as typhus, which is spread by body lice and is characterized by a high fever, delirium, and a dark red rash. The plague was also spread by influenza, or flu, a highly contagious virus caused by unknown factors and characterized by high fever, body aches, and inflamed nasal tissue.

The main culprit, however, was the black rat, which was the host for the plague flea. The plague was not entirely eradicated (eliminated) until Europeans got rid of black rats by introducing the brown rat in the 1700s. The ferocious brown rat did not carry the plague flea and was a natural enemy of the black rat. Eventually brown rats wiped out black rats, contributing to the decline of the plague after the eighteenth century.

Europe experienced great physical and mental anguish as whole families passed away. Only large trenches could accommodate the corpses; twelve thousand bodies filled eleven such pits in Erfurt, Germany, in 1350. Across Europe, superstition grew and wild rumors about the nature of the disease were started. Some believed the disease was God's punishment for sins. The intellectual class crumbled as no cure for the disease became clear. Roving bands of religious penitents (people who were repenting their sins) traveled from town to town, where they would publicly whip themselves for sins they believed had caused the disease. Their exposed blood released microbes infected with disease into the air, thus spreading the plague even more widely. Anti-Semitism, or prejudice against Jews, raged in central Europe in 1348 and 1349 because many accused Jewish people of causing the plague by poisoning wells. (Medieval Christians were fearful of Jews, whom they mistakenly blamed for crucifying Jesus of Nazareth.)

Positive results of Black Death

The Black Death resulted in two lasting benefits: better medical literature and programs of public sanitation. Medical science in the Middle Ages was heavily influenced by astrology, yet more than seventy medical writings of the late fourteenth century provided practical and sensible advice about the contagious nature of the plague. These works recommended better surgery, more autopsies (examination of corpses to determine the cause of death), and improved health practices. In addition, certain city governments, especially at the ports of southern Europe, imposed programs to prevent contagion (transmission of a disease by direct or indirect contact) and improve sanitation. The Italian cities of Florence and Venice established commissions for public health in 1348, and in the same year Pistoia issued regulations on burial, clothing, and food to counter the spread of plague. Later legislation recommended that those infected with the disease be isolated. Beginning in 1374, Milan, Italy, isolated plague victims until their death or recovery. Ragusa, Italy, isolated such persons for thirty days after 1377. In 1383 the French city of Marseilles extended the period of isolation to forty days in a quarantaine, the origin of the modern term "quarantine." The plague continued to attack Europe in varying cycles until 1666, when it left England, and into the 1720s when it ceased in France.

Peasant uprisings

As the Black Death continued to claim lives, civil unrest in rural and urban areas became more widespread. In 1358 peasants in northern France rebelled after being worn down by the plague, starvation, economic depression, and the violence of the Hundred Years' War with England. So many of the male peasants were named Jacques that the rebellion became known as the "Jacquerie" (pronounced JOCK-ehr-ee). The peasants struck out against the nobles for two weeks. The conflicts were exceptionally brutal and savage. When the nobility regained control, they squashed the rebellion with equal brutality. Other violent uprisings took place in Flanders, Italy, the Netherlands, the Iberian Peninsula, and England.

In the English Peasants' War of 1381, a serious attempt was made to eliminate the remaining elements of serfdom. At the time, many nobles blamed Oxford professor John Wycliffe (1330–1384) for encouraging the revolt. Wycliffe was a religious reformer who challenged the authority of the church. He also questioned how the church obtained its vast wealth. Followers of Wycliffe, called Lollards, insisted on using his English translation of the Bible, which had previously been written only in Latin. The Lollards also questioned the injustices inflicted by both the church and state. At one point in the 1381 rebellion, another uprising erupted in London. Called the Wat Tyler Revolt, this uprising was named for one of its leaders, Wat (Walter) Tyler (d. 1381). Rebels marched around the city carrying the severed head of the archbishop of Canterbury. Like the "Jacquerie" rebellion, this revolt was also put down with extreme violence.

Black Death and Immunity to AIDS

Twentieth-century scientists found that descendants of survivors of the Black Death have apparently inherited a resistance to HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), which causes AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). Often compared to the Black Death, the AIDS epidemic is the most lethal disease in modern history.

The discovery was made in 1998 by molecular biologists (scientists who study the cells of living organisms) at the National Cancer Institute, a U.S. government medical research agency. In a published report the researchers announced that a rare genetic mutation (change in genes) made certain fourteenth-century white Europeans immune to the plague. The mutation was passed down to these people's ancestors who, seven hundred years later, are now immune to HIV infection. According to the study, slightly more than 10 percent of white northern Europeans carry one or two copies of the mutation. It has not been found in East Asians, Africans, and Native Americans whose ancestors were not exposed to the Black Death.

Although employment levels increased at the end of the 1300s and into the 1400s, the European economy had suffered greatly during the height the plague. People from towns that were destroyed by the epidemic would wander to other villages and towns to find work. The Black Death had disrupted trade in much of Europe, resulting in higher than usual unemployment rates. Some guilds (associations of merchants and craftsmen established during the Middle Ages) placed severe restrictions on employment to protect their monopolies, the exclusive control or possession of a trade or business. In some areas, the only way to own and operate a shop was by inheritance. Those who had owned a business or had been in a trade guild before the plague did not experience as much economic hardship as those who had not. Tensions among the social classes increased. Struggles for power, conflicts between guilds, and petty disagreements often resulted in outbreaks of violence. Cities such as Nuremberg, Germany, and Florence, Italy, were sites of civil unrest.

The Ottoman Empire

Adding to the instability of Europe was the threat of invasion by the Ottoman Empire, which bordered Poland and Hungary on the eastern edge of the Holy Roman Empire. This vast kingdom was formed in Asia and North Africa in the 1300s, when the Byzantine Empire was conquered by the Ottoman Turks, who were Muslims from Turkey. For centuries Europeans had feared that they would be overtaken by the Muslims. Not only did Europeans consider Muslims to be pagans, but they also thought the inhabitants of Asia and North Africa were racially and culturally inferior to themselves. Now that the Muslims occupied territory close to Europe, invasion was a real possibility. Throughout the Renaissance, European states were thus involved in ongoing efforts to prevent the Muslims from moving into Europe. Nevertheless, the Renaissance was also heavily influenced by Ottoman culture. In fact, European scholars had been visiting cultural centers in the East since the Crusades.

Osmanli start empire

The history of the Ottoman Empire began when Turkish warrior tribes called the Oghuz moved from central Asia into Asia Minor. Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey) is a large peninsula, or finger of land, that forms western Asia and is bordered by the Black Sea, the Aegean Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea. After accepting Islam in the tenth century, the Oghuz gathered around the Seljuk (Seljuq) family and started expanding their territories. In 1037 they conquered Persia (present-day Iran) and founded the Seljuk empire, which eventually included Syria (a country at the east end of the Mediterranean Sea), Iraq (a country between Turkey and Iran), and Palestine (present-day Israel and surrounding territories). The Seljuks were weakened by squabbles among their own tribes, however, and were defeated by the Mongols (tribes from Mongolia, a region in East Asia) in 1243. This crisis resulted in the rise of Turkish principalities (states ruled by princes) in Anatolia, the western part of Turkey. Among the ruling families of these principalities were the Osmanli.

Historians have found it difficult to separate fact from fiction in stories about the Osmanli. According to legend, they were a noble Oghuz family dedicated to waging a jihad (holy war; pronounced jeh-HAHD) against Christians, who had invaded the region during the Crusades. Yet some scholars believe the Osmanli made up this story to strengthen their power. Even Osman (1258–c. 1326), the first sultan (king) of the Osmanli, was a somewhat shadowy figure. Osman inherited the position of war chieftain from his father around 1300, then set out to expand his kingdom in western Anatolia. The conquest of western Turkey was completed by Osman's oldest son, Orhan I (also spelled Orkhan; c. 1288–1360; ruled 1326–62), who followed him to the throne. In 1327 Orhan chose the city of Bursa, in northwest Turkey on the shore of the Sea of Marmara, as his capital. Bursa remained the seat of the Ottoman Empire until 1402, when it was invaded by the Tatars.

The reign of Orhan is significant because he tried to consolidate Ottoman rule. He was still fighting other Turkish tribes so he needed to build a strong state. Orhan I formed a permanent army and organized a legal system. He also introduced such well-known Ottoman institutions as the divan (council of state) and vezir (also spelled vizier; high executive office). The Ottoman state was now ready to invade Europe. Nevertheless, the first Turkish military presence in Europe came about not through Ottoman invasion but as a result of actions by the Byzantine emperor John VI (also known as John Cantacuzene; 1292–1383; ruled 1347–54). John VI, while possessing virtually all of the power, was actually co-ruler for those years with the rightful emperor, John V (also known as John Paleologus; 1332–1391; ruled 1341–91), who was too young to rule. In 1346 John VI formed an alliance with the Ottomans by arranging for his daughter Theodora to marry Orhan. The Ottomans then provided John VI with military assistance, and in 1353 Orhan was given a base on the Gallipoli peninsula (a strip of land in Europe between the Dardanelles and the Saros Gulf). Turkish presence was now established in Europe.

Ottomans move into Europe

Orhan was succeeded as sultan by his son, Murad I (c. 1326–1389; ruled c. 1360–89). Murad I had his three brothers executed, thus starting the Ottoman custom of eliminating any competition for the throne. From 1361 until 1387 he continued his father's policies. During this time he expanded Ottoman territory in Europe with victories at the Byzantine cities of Edirne, Turkey; Serrai, Greece; Sofia, Bulgaria; Nis, Serbia; and Salonika, Greece. In 1371 Murad moved the capital of the Ottoman Empire to Edirne, deeper into Christian territory. He created the famous Janissaries (Yeniçeri, meaning "new army" in Turkish), an army composed of non-Turks, which eventually developed into a powerful military and political force. While extending his rule in Europe, Murad also overpowered the remaining Turkish principalities in Anatolia. He completed his conquest of southern Europe at the battle of Kosovo, a region in southern Serbia, in 1389.

After the battle of Kosovo, Murad was assassinated by a Serbian officer who had claimed to be an ally. Murad's oldest son Bayezid I (pronounced by-yeh-ZEHD; c. 1360–1403; ruled 1389–1402) immediately took control. He secured Ottoman territory in Europe and subdued the remaining independent Turkish principalities in Anatolia. Western European leaders realized that Bayezid I posed a serious threat to Europe, so they formed an alliance against the Ottomans. In 1396, Pope Boniface IX (1355–1404; reigned 1389–1404) proclaimed a crusade. European and Ottoman armies met at the town of Nicopolis (now in Bulgaria), where the Europeans were crushed by Bayezid's superior forces. Although the Ottomans seemed unconquerable, they were defeated by the Mongols at Ankara, Turkey, in 1402. Led by the fierce warrior Timur Lenk (also known as Timur the Lame, or Tamerlane; 1336–1406), the Mongols gave back all the Anatolian principalities that had been taken by Bayezid.

Empire revived

In spite of this devastating blow, the Ottoman Empire did not vanish. The Mongols were not organized as a state, so they could not hold onto political power. Thus, when Timur died in 1405, Bayezid I's sons and several leaders from other families resumed their struggle for the throne. The struggle ended in 1413, when Bayezid I's son Mehmed I (also known as Mehmet I or Muhammad I; d.1421) defeated his last opponent. Ruling until 1421, Mehmed restored the Ottoman Empire. He was followed by his oldest son, Murad II (1404–1451; ruled 1421–51), who fought off the Europeans during most of his reign. The Italian city-state of Venice challenged Ottoman power in the Aegean Sea, and Hungary threatened Turkish territories in southeast Europe. The Ottomans took Salonika from the Venetians, but had to face revolts in Albania (a country on the west side of the Caspian Sea) and in Anatolia. The Anatolian revolt was led by the Karamanoglu, inhabitants of a Turkish region called Karamania, who were longtime enemies of the Turks. After defeating the Karamanoglu in 1437, the Ottomans were attacked by János Hunyadi (c. 1385–1456), the Hungarian warrior hero and duke of Transylvania. Hunyadi was attempting to liberate the Balkans (the name for countries occupying the Balkan Peninsula) from Turkish rule. Although the Karamanoglu and Hungarians rose again, the Ottomans regained total control in 1448.

Mehmed II consolidates rule

When Murad died, his son Mehmed II (also known as Mehmet II or Muhammad II; 1432–1481; ruled 1444–46 and 1451–81) became sultan. Mehmed was called "the Conqueror" because, in 1453, he seized Constantinople, the seat of the former Byzantine Empire. Mehmed then moved the Ottoman capital to Constantinople. A more important accomplishment, however, was that he consolidated Ottoman power, especially in the newly conquered areas. Mehmed extended his rule to Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Balkans, and in 1461 he took Trebizond, the Greek empire, which was the last state in the Byzantine Empire. Several years later he incorporated Karamania into an Ottoman province. In 1473 the Ottomans won a war against Azerbeijan (then a state in northwest Iran; now East Azerbeijan and West Azerbeijan), and in 1478 the coast of Dalmatia (a region along the Adriatic Sea) came under Ottoman control. Mehmed II passed many reforms, establishing a political and social structure that lasted for centuries. He centralized the government, strengthened the Janissary army, and encouraged legal and religious education. He also introduced a unified legal system and established the tradition of training captured Christian children as civil servants (government workers). In addition, he introduced a comprehensive system of taxation, which also affected the people in conquered territories. They lived in communities called millets and enjoyed many liberties, including religious freedom.

Mehmed was followed by Bayezid II (c. 1447–1512; ruled 1481–1512), who had to contend with the Egyptian Mamluks in southern Anatolia. The Mamluks were descended from the slave army of Saladin, the twelfth-century warrior-sultan of Egypt and Syria. They had ruled Egypt for centuries. The greatest threat to Bayezid II's rule, however, was the Safavid empire in Persia. It was founded by Esmā'īl I (pronounced is-mah-EEL; 1497–1524), the first Shah of Iran, in 1501 (ruled 1501–24). The Safavids became enemies of the Ottomans, primarily because the Safavids, who were Shiites (pronounced SHEE-ites; members of a branch of the Islam religion), viewed the Ottoman Muslims as heretics. The Shiites believed that the prophet Muhammad, the founder of the Islam religion, designated his brother Ali as the only rightful leader of the Islamic state. Therefore they thought the Ottoman government was unlawful. Bayezid's son Selim I (1467–1520; ruled 1512–20) started his reign by defeating the Safavids at Chālirān, in eastern Anatolia, in 1514. Two years later he conquered the Mamluks at Aleppo, Syria. When Selim took Cairo in 1517, he extended Ottoman power to the Arabian peninsula.

Süleyman I: greatest sultan

The Ottoman Empire reached its height under the great sultan Süleyman I (c. 1494–1566; ruled 1520–66). Called "the Magnificent," Süleyman continued Ottoman conquest. He moved against Hungary, initiating a conflict with the Habsburg rulers of Austria. Süleyman took Belgrade, Serbia, in 1521. He then defeated the Hungarian king, Louis II (1506–1526; ruled 1516–26) at Mohács, Hungary, in 1526. He even attacked Vienna, Austria, in 1528 and forced Austria to pay tribute (an amount of money in exchange for protection) sixteen years later. Süleyman's understanding of European politics contributed to Ottoman successes in Europe. For instance, he was able to advance his goals by making alliances with certain European powers such as France, and by playing rival European states against one another. Among Süleyman's greatest accomplishments was making the Ottoman Empire into a mighty sea power. In 1538 the Ottoman navy defeated Andrea Doria (1466–1560), the great admiral from the Italian city-state of Genoa, in a battle at Preveza, Greece. The Ottomans now had control of the Mediterranean, from Egypt to Algeria. Süleyman died during the siege of Szigetvár, Hungary.

Ottomans in decline

After Süleyman's death the Ottoman Empire went into decline. One reason was that the role of the sultan had been weakened. For instance, Murad IV (ruled 1623–40) was the last ruler to command his army in battle. The Janissaries had also gained enough influence to remove some sultans from the throne and to have others murdered. Another reason for the decline was that powerful military families protected their own interests, often ignoring the central government, the Bâbiâli (called the Sublime Porte in French). In 1571 the Ottoman navy was defeated by Holy Roman fleets under the command of the Spanish-born general John of Austria (1545–1578) at Lepanto (now Návpaktos), a seaport in Greece on the strait (thin strip of land) between the Gulfs of Corinth and Patras. Ottoman control of the Mediterranean had come to an end. Finally, the Safavid ruler 'Abbās I (1571–1629; ruled 1588–1629) conquered Baghdad. After concluding a peace treaty with the Safavids in 1639, the Ottomans tried to seize territory in Hungary. For the remainder of the seventeenth century the Ottoman Empire continued its decline in a power struggle with the Habsburgs in Austria. In 1699 Turkey signed the Treaty of Karlowitz, renouncing Hungary and ending the possibility of Ottoman military conquests in the region.

European wars

Although Europeans had a great fear of the Muslims, they were being equally threatened by their own political instability when the Renaissance began in the mid-1300s. The downfall of feudalism and the decline of the Holy Roman Empire had fractured Europe into hundreds of independent states. The result was that the states remained separate from one another and had their own laws. Although borders were continually changing, the states were crowded together on the world's smallest continent. Being close neighbors enabled Europeans to spread new ideas and enjoy prosperity from a thriving economy. Nevertheless, they were constantly embroiled in disputes over control of territory, which then erupted into prolonged wars.

Throughout the Renaissance, Italy was torn apart by the Italian Wars. For sixty-five years France and Spain formed complex and shifting alliances—at one time or another each side was supported by Roman Catholic popes, Holy Roman Emperors, and leaders of various Italian states. The Italian Wars resulted in the Italian Renaissance being taken to France by French armies returning from battle in Italy. (See "Italian Wars dominate the Renaissance" in Chapter 2.) Elsewhere in Europe the major conflicts were the Hundred Years' War (1337–1453) and the War of the Roses (1455–85). The Hundred Years' War was not actually a single war that lasted a hundred years. Instead, it was a series of conflicts mixed with periods of peace that involved the Plantagenets (pronounced plan-TAJ-eh-nets) in England and the Capetians (pronounced keh-PEE-shehns) in France. The wars were triggered by English claims to French territory and ended with the defeat of England by France. The War of the Roses was fought in England by two rival houses (royal families), York and Lancaster, who each claimed to have the right to the English throne. Each house used the image of a rose to represent itself—a red rose for Lancaster and a white rose for York. For this reason the conflict is known as the War of the Roses. The war ended in 1485 with a Lancaster victory. A new royal house, the Tudors, was established and Tudor monarchs played an important role in the English Renaissance.

The idea of Europe

One result of the Renaissance was the idea of Europe as a continent. This was a response to the increasing Muslim threat as well as an effort to promote unity. Europeans wanted to create the concept of Europe as being separate from the continents of Asia and Africa. (Europe is actually the western part of the continent of Asia. Europe is separated from Asia by the Ural Mountains and the Ural River.) Throughout the Middle Ages, popes and emperors had called their kingdom "Christendom" to differentiate it from Muslim kingdoms in the East. However, as the Holy Roman Empire and the Roman Catholic Church went into decline and independent states began emerging, humanists gradually replaced the name Christendom with the more secular term "Europa" (Europe).

Pius II introduces term "Europa"

Historians have found that Pius II (1405–1464; reigned 1458–64), called the humanist pope, was the first to make official use of the term "Europa." He recognized that the emerging states were diminishing the power of the church and making Christians more vulnerable to a Muslim invasion. In 1461 Pius wrote a letter to Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II. The letter stated that if Mehmed accepted baptism (the ceremony that initiates a person into the Christian faith), he would be recognized by all of the Christian world, which Pius II called "Europa." In addition, Pius coined the adjective Europeos (Europeans), making the word equivalent to Christians.

Pope Pius and other humanists considered Europeans superior to the inhabitants of Asia and Africa, and they wanted to promote this image. The idea of European superiority was spread during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, when Spain, Portugal, France, England, and the Netherlands sent explorers to the New World (North and South America). Maps depicting Europe as a separate continent also began appearing on the title pages of geography books. Europe was featured as a mighty military and scientific power in the first atlas (map of the world), Theatrum orbis terrarum ("Theater of the world"; 1570), by the Flemish map maker Abraham Ortel (called Ortelius; 1527–1598). After 1600 European scholars were calling Europe the Republica literaris ("Republic of letters") in an effort to create the image of an intellectually sophisticated culture. Nevertheless, the term Europe was not widely adopted until the eighteenth century.

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A Changing Europe

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