Europe and the World
- New technologies allowed Europeans to navigate oceans seeking trade and spreading Christianity.
- The Columbian Exchange of people, goods, ideas, and diseases radically reshaped the global community.
- Access to gold, spices, and luxury goods fueled the economic growth of European Atlantic states.
- New commercial networks and a money economy grew.
- The African slave trade was greatly expanded.
- Mercantilism developed as a theory for managing far-flung competing global trading empires.
Poverty and Prosperity
- Agriculture was commercialized. Feudal serfdom grew weaker in Western Europe and stronger in Central and Eastern Europe where traditional peasant rights were limited.
- Urban growth fueled social change and new patterns of interaction. Traditional political and social institutions were challenged.
- Family remained the primary social and economic institution.
- A consumer economy developed. Commercial and professional groups gained in power.
- Governments regulated issues of public morality.
Objective Knowledge and Subjective Visions
- Revival of classical texts, Renaissance arts, humanism, new scholarship, religious pluralism, and printing challenged universal Christendom and led to a new scientific cosmology.
- Truth shifted from the Church and classical authorities to observation of nature, experimentation, mathematics, and reasoning.
- Humanism assessed the role of the individual. New theories offered secular explanations for human political behavior.
- Reformations and wars disrupted the power and influence of the Church. A plurality of Christian doctrines and practices pushed religion from the public to the private realm.
- Belief in alchemy and astrology persisted along with peasant oral traditions and folk culture.
- Contact with Americans, Africans, and Asians expanded cultural horizons.
States and Institutes of Power
- Secular political theories explored the role of the state.
- The struggle for sovereignty and military revolution centralized state power. Nation-states emerged in England, France, and Spain.
- Centralized monarchies led to absolutism. Constitutionalism developed to limit monarchial power.
- Political and Church authorities wrestled for control of religion.
- Religious pluralism splintered universal Christendom and led to war.
- Competition between states extended to colonial empires.
- Art served political agendas. Printing increased censorship.
- The Peace of Westphalia laid the foundations of the modern international order and balance of power.
Individual and Society
- Traditional agricultural aristocracy's power was challenged by the rise of commercial agriculture, bourgeoisie, and urban expansion.
- Religious pluralism challenged universal Christendom.
- The Renaissance and Reformations debated the role of women.
- Exploration, colonization, printing, and reformations transformed social interactions.
- Colonial peoples, urban migrants, and religious minorities were often marginalized. Witch-hunts and pogroms persecuted victims.
- Subsistence agriculture remained the norm for many. Traditions persisted in marriage patterns, gender roles, family economy, folk culture, communal norms, and beliefs in alchemy and astrology.
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