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A World Lit Only by Fire Reading Guide sample essay

1. I know both the Middle Ages and Renaissance took place in Europe. The Middle Ages were terrible times marked by plagues, primitive agricultural machinery, war and lack of proper sanitation. The Renaissance occurred later in Europe, and that was marked by the rebirth of interest in art and intellectual capability. Art usually intertwined religion.

2. Manchester supported using the term “ Dark Ages” to describe the historical period between 400 BCE and 1000 BCE due to the lack of intellectual life, “incessant war”, where multiple groups, including the Goths and Huns took part in the massacre and pillaging of villages.

3. The many dangers that European people faced during the Dark Ages included:

climatic changes
lack of imperial infrastructure

4. Augustine’s ideas led to the Medieval Church gaining power by stating that Rome was paying for it’s past sins and to draw a line Paganism ( which was represented as depraved), and Christianity, ( which was represented as wholesome).

5. An example of how medieval people combined paganism with Christianity was that they built Christian churches on what were once pagan temples.

6. The Middle Ages was not a civilization due to its lack of technological advances and its lack of culture. The major institutions consisted of the Roman Catholic Church and nobles.

7. The largest kingdom in Europe circa 1190 was the Holy Roman Empire. 8. Rule by divine right was the way king’s of the Roman Empire ruled, which was by the laws of the Church. European kings and princes always ruled by divine right, in fear of being kicked of the Church.

9. The Great Schism was caused by Pope Clement V, who moved the papacy to France, where it stayed. Some people wanted an Italian to take over after Pope Gregory XI’s position after his death, while a majority wanted a French pontiff. 10. People could not see the Avignon papacy as a crisis because the actions of the pope directly correlated with the “word of God”, making the decision absolute. 11. Examples of the “lack of ego”during the Middle Ages included: People with creativity has no sense of self

Most people had nicknames because they shared surnames with many other people No one knew the identities of the people who constructed their architecture 12. Unam Sanctum was a “bull affirming papal supremacy.” This proclaimed the book as the one and true leader.

13. The “coming storm” Manchester hinted at that was rapidly approaching medieval Europe was the end of the Middle Ages and beginning of the Renaissance. 14. Knighthood was dying became chivalry was obsolete. The methods the knights used in the battlefield would also now prove ineffective. The future would belong to the Absolute Monarchs because they were the only people able to afford the new-age training and supplies for the infantrymen.

15. Manchester described the Renaissance spirit as “subtle, but powerful”. Artists arrived first. 16. According to Manchester, medieval people couldn’t imagine a different life because they didn’t have the perspective to see in the future. Their daily lives didn’t call for imagination or artistic interpretation.

17. The “dragons” that lurked beyond the borders of medievalism were Johannes Gutenberg, Cesare Borgia, Johann Tetzel, Desiderius Erasmus, Martin Luther, Jakob Fugger, Francois Rabelais, Girolamo Savonarola, Nicolaus Copernicus, Giordano Bruno, Niccolo Machiavelli, William Tyndalem, John Calvin, Vasco Nunec de Balboa, Emperor Charles V, King Henry VII, Tamas de Torquemada, Lucrezia Borgia, William Caxton, Gerardus Mercator, Girolamo Aleandro, Ulrich von Hutton, Marton Walidseemuller, Thomas More, Catherine of Aragon, Christopher Columbus, Vasco de Gama and Ferdinand Magellan.

Part Two: The Shattering

18. This passage suggests that the way history is perceived is based on the effect it has on current events rather than the possibilities of it’s long term effects. 19. Magellan’s discovery of the Philippines was significant because it proved the world was round. He provided a “linchpin” for the Renaissance by giving others the means of challenging medieval assumptions.

20. European “life became very cheap” in the late 1400s and early 1500s because:

bubonic plague
Spanish Inquisition

21. The unchristian acts of the five popes during Magellan’s lifetime included: Innocent VIII (1484-1492) -forged papal bills Julius II (1561-1564) – watched the murders of Christians for amusement Sixtus IV (1471-1485) -anointed family members as cardinals; conspired murder Alexander VI (1492- 1503) – buying off leading candidates

Leo X (1513-1521) -appointed members of family into church; illegitimate children 22. Girolamo Savonarola was a Dominican friar who spoke against the Church and wanted the current pope at the time, Alexander VI, to be removed. Even after reprimanded, continued to continued to go against the Church, was charged with heresy, tortured and hanged. Savonarola’s significance was that his torture and death displayed that even though the Church was corrupted, it was impossible to change it because the Church was supreme power.

23. The social conditions of Europe circa 1500s was laborious for the lower classes. Knights, although now useless, lived comfortably. While many lower classes worked to barely survive, middle and upper classes live a life of decadence. Pre-marital sex wasn’t seen as taboo due to the myths surrounding “mysterious” pregnancies. Famines were common and many lower class families ate only two meals a day. The Church continued to have influence over the daily lives of the people, their luxurious lifestyles becoming a normality for this age. 24. The Hapsburg lands in 1519 included Spain, France England, Ireland, Holy Roman Empire, Poland, Ottoman Empire and Western and Central Europe. 25. The Fuggers were German bankers who had influence and political power over Europe. They controlled a majority of Europe’s economy.

26. The reasons for predominant adultery during the Renaissance was because of artists’ romanticized idea of it, which made it popular amongst many people. Most marriages were arranged and extramarital relations were even seen as obligatory. 27. Many of the reasons why medieval ways were abandoned was due to low morale, which separated the older generations from the newer one. Everyone also lacked the restraint to maintain the order of the old ways.

28. The Borgia’s family story shows that the Church could do anything it pleased without much much consequence. The Church had the power to lie and mislead the general public and turn them against each other in hopes of avoiding personal scandals. 29. The arts flourished during the Renaissance due to the chaos and lack of moral restraint which ran rampant. Artists thrived in the disorder and enjoyed living dangerously. Luca Signorelli painted the Sistine Chapel.

30. Kopernik’s studies and findings included the idea that earth was rotating on its own axis around the sun each year, and that it wasn’t the center of the universe. 31. Da Vinci alone fell from papal grace because he saw how depraved the Church had become and threatened to expose it.

32. Da Vinci’s discoveries included:
transmission gears
screw threads
hydraulic jacks

33. Politicians and ecclesiastics controlled learning before the typographical revolution and post- books were the main source of learning and because of more interest, people wanted to more literate.

34. The first readers were businessmen and middle and upper class women. The men read books for trade and industry while women read romance novels. 35. Before the establishment of universities, illiteracy ran rampant because the idea of learning a trade wasn’t a high priority and lacked the impact it did later on. Pro-university, many people became proficient in not only their perspective languages, but also Latin. 36. Humanists were new professors who embraced new ideas regarding Greek and Roman literature. Due to their new found perspectives, they were able to interpret classical literature in a way that wasn’t censored by the Church.

37. European opinions regarding religion circa 1502 were broadening due to humanism. More ideas regarding religion were being intertwined with more intellectually challenging and open perspectives.

38. Two reasons why humanism would become “the greatest threat the Church had ever faced” because:
It went against “the divine word” of the Gospel
It disregarded the after life for a more carpe diem approach

39. The meaning of Plato’s “Man is the measure of all things” for humanists was that their minds were the limit. Now that they were not as intellectually stunted as they thought they were, they were no longer shackled by ignorance.

40. According to humanists, “mankind’s highest ethical objective” is to not focus on themselves and their souls’ salvation, but to focus on ways to help humanity improve.

41. St. Peter’s Basilica enraged Michaelangelo and Luther because large sums of money were being spent for a dead pope’s ashes while it could have been used to aid those dwelling in poverty.

42. The idea of change was greatly disturbing to Catholics because their faith denied them the ability to speak out for what was just without being labeled a heretic.

43. In my opinion, the statement Manchester made, “faith did hold Europe together. Without the oppressive reigns religion held on the European people, the need for depravity and chaos would be unnecessary, and many artists and philosophers of the Renaissance were inspired by it since it also affected them personally.

44. Erasmus was a humanist, who, while Christian, attacked the Church’s archaic methods via satirical pieces.

45. According to Manchester, the “coming religious movement” was led by the upper and middle classes.

46. Two main arguments of Erasmus’s In Praise of Folly were: The human race owed it’s existence to folly, since without the original folly, or sin (referring to Adam and Eve), things wouldn’t be the way they were The ignorance and gullibility of the Church involving their faith; the Church had lost it’s meaning. 47. Erasmsus criticized Pope Julius II by satirizing him in a work that later became a skit for a Parisian audience. He did this to expose the man who could hide behind the powerful title of pope, even if they were involved in terrible and unchristian things. 48. The forces that Manchester argued “fractured the unity of Christendom” included: humanism the revelation that art and learning had flourished before the birth of Jesus the discreditation of European Christian leaders, who though their belief in God was universal Marguerite of Angouleme’s skepticism and attacks on the popes

49. Evidence to support the public perception of the priesthood includes an Archbishop accusing an abbot of fornication, embezzlement and living publicly. 50. The selling of indulgences sparked the ruin of the Church. 51. The 16th century people across Europe despised Church taxation because the tax they were paying was going towards the Church’s luxuries, including prostitutes. They saw the Church greedy, because while it was gathering money to pay for fine things, many people were starving.

52. included the claim that men would forgiven, no matter their sin. Tetzel extorted those who were weak minded and feared eternal damnation. 53. Luther’s youth involved an abusive childhood amongst his violent and religiously zealous parents. Wanting to rebel against, he went against his parents ideals for him and became a monk. Luther’s visions of the devil led him to be not intimidated by Tetzel’s method for selling indulgences.

54. Luther chose October 31st 1517 to post his 95 Theses because that upcoming day would be All Saints Day, and many people would have been able to view them. 55. Luther was seen as both divine and satanic due to the fact that he taught people to self sufficient regarding the Church, but also spoke against the very basis of what he taught. He also opposed raising more money to build churches, since that could have been used to aid the poor. 56. It took twenty days to travel from Nuremberg to Rome. 57. Many of the lower socioeconomic classes, such as the peasants, saw him as a “great magician” due to the influence he had from being in the Church. The upper socioeconomic classes were wary of the pope due to past indiscretions of the previous popes, including excessive taxation.

58. People “suffered doubly from Renaissance popes” because not only were they extorted by Tetzel, they began to believe their faith was being abused due to the greedy system. 59. Pope Leo reacted to Luther’s calls against selling indulgences by publishing works to assure the Church that he was sincere about his position. He also declined to abandon indulgences. 60. Jan Hus was “the first great Czech patriot” and was the main reason behind the humiliation of Luther. Hus, who alienated men in the Church and offended the king was expected to be condemned by Luther, but was not.

61. The Exsurge Domine was “ a bull condemning Luther’s declarations. The Exsurge Domine also stated the belief that Luther’s books should be burned and wanted him to reconcile with the Church. Pope Leo X issued this against Luther because he continued to protest against the selling of indulgences.

62. Luther’s decision to write the venaculm was based on his fluency in German. Knowing that it it would sound more persuasive in his native tongue, he wanted to create an movement. 63. The meaning of Luther ending with his trial at Worms with the German words, “Here I stand. I can do no more.”, was his stating that he would not take his words against the Church back, because doing so would go against his pride. The significance of Luther ending with this statement was a catalyst for the defiance against the Church. 64. The European people who converted to Protestantism included the educational middle class, nobility, and anticlericals. The reason behind this was because some of these European people believed “ Catholicism was rooted in superstition”, while others believed the Church abusing it’s power to gain more money via high taxes.

65. Early Protestantism was not tolerant of other religions. This was displayed through their acts of violence against people from other religions, which included burning and executing them. Early Protestants even went as far as to disagree with other sectors of Protestantism. 66. The realization of the Reformation was in the hands of the citizens, who, tanks to Luther, started a rebellion that spread throughout Europe. When Muntzer published a work against Luther and tried t lead his own rebellion, he was executed.

67. Reasons involving the alienation of humanists from Luther involved his sense of judgment, which most of the up-risers seemed to loose once the revolt started. Luther’s articulateness regarding whom he stood with included Johannes Cochlaeus, Conradus Mutinanus, Willibald Pirkheimer, Johannes Reuchlin and even Erasmus. Their cruel methods contrasted with Luther’s sense of reasoning.

68. The Reformation victimized humanists intellectuals due to their lack of safe haven, unlike the Catholics. Humanist intellectuals were often martyred. 69. Early Calvinism was an oppressive time period marked by fear and brutality. The tyrannical ruler, John Calvin, banned every type of entertainment and believed natural disasters were caused by the Devil. Those who opposed Calvin were tortured and executed. 70. The Roman Inquisition’s goals included harsh practices to ensure that the Catholic faith would forever be branded into those who practiced it. Possessing Protestant literature was a felony and execution was the only way to eliminate Protestantism. 71. Luther and King Henry VII viewed each other with contempt and scorn. Being Catholic, King Henry VII disagreed with Luther’s practices and Luther believed King Henry VII to be unfit for the throne.

72. King Henry VII left the Catholic church because he wanted to divorce his wife, who was impotent, but that was against the laws of the Church. 73. The downfall of Thomas Moore included his talk against the king, because he thought the king’s absence was the reason for the division in the Church. He was then executed by the king. This action displayed the power the king had.

74. While Mary I and Elizabeth I were both daughters of King Henry VII, their conflicting views on religion conflicted. Mary I’s upbringing in Catholicism led her to be a harsher ruler compared to Elizabeth’s I Protestant upbringing.

Part Three: One Man Alone

75. The factors that destroyed the Renaissance included:
The Religious Revolution
Fall of Constantinople to Muhammad II
Humanists finding wisdom in classical civilization

76. The geographical ideas of Topographia Christiana, Aristotle, Ptolemy and the average European person differed greatly. Topographia Christiana assumed the sun rolled around the mountains while the Earth was flat,Aristotle believed the Earth revolved around the sun, while Ptolemy believed that the sun was not only round, but also revolved around the sun. The average European person though the Earth was flat. 77. Discoveries of the early European settlers included:

San Salvador
Strait of Magellan

78. Magellan’s background included being a Portuguese explorer who wanted to explore the New World’s oceans. His expedition was also funded by Spanish Royalty. 79. The early stages of Magellan’s expedition included finding the Rio de la Plata on accident and surpassing a small uprising and rumors from his shipmates.

80. Magellan’s routes included:

going to south of Africa after leaving Spain
going across the Indian Ocean and going through the Philippines Traveling from the tip of South America to it’s east coast

81. Magellan’s voyage proved that the Earth was spherical.

82. The events that led to Magellan;s downfall included: simmering tensions between crew
crew sleeping with the wives, sisters ad daughters of the Filipino men obsession with converting the Filipinos to Christianity
Fight with Lapulapu
Refusal to leave Philippines

83. Magellan’s true story was preserved by Franciso Albo.

84. According to Manchester, Magellan was a hero of the Renaissance due to his defiance of the rules and his perseverance.

85. In Manchester’s view,the most appropriate tribute to Magellan was the Magellanic clouds. 86. The tripartite was used to describe the belief in heaven, hell and earth (purgatory). Other superstitions believed it was God’s punishments when crops failed. 87. Kipler’s significance included being the first person to prove mathematically that the earth was spherical and revolved around the sun. 88. Heliocentrism- Earth moves in orbit around the sun. 89. Ptolemy’s idea of geocentrism was that the Earth was in a fixed spot, unmoving, and was also the center of the universe while other planets revolved around it.

90. The Copernican Revolution was a revolution based on the geocentric questions of Copernicus. It lead to the question of religion, sine as the revolution traveled, European people began to realize what they believed were facts, were actually incorrect. 91. The Europeans originally view Magellan’s discovery as insignificant compared to it’s significance in history now. His discovery led to an onslaught of others, including different cultures and religions. Archaic, superstitious beliefs began to be disproven. 92. Some of the questions that Magellan’s voyage led Europeans to ask: Where was Heaven? Did the other people who believed in different cultures/religions also have a Heaven? Where was Hell?

93. Galileo was a European astronomer who disproved geocentrism. 94. According to the Manchester, the discovery of the sun as a star, was “one of the greatest paradigm changes in all of science” and “the crowning triumph of the Renaissance”. 95. The pope reacted to the heliocentric system with scorn, and even denied it’s claim as truth because it deified the laws of the Bible.

96. The five factors that challenged and overcame the medieval mindset included: The Renaissance
rising literacy
new horizons of trade

97. Voltaire’s quote is stating that people need something to believe in. Without a belief in something higher than themselves, there would be no hope or purpose. 98. According to Manchester, the legacies of the end of the medieval mind and the Renaissance are perpetual skepticism, the loss of innocence correlated with the knowledge of a supposed absolute religion, the loss of credentials that religion once had in their eyes. 99. An example of how secular humanism and religious fundamentalism remain in conflict is the separation of church and state.

100. I learned that both the Middle Ages and the Renaissance were tumultuous times, but for different reasons after reading A World Lit Only by Fire. The Middle Ages was an almost primitive time that was marked by ignorance and fear. The Renaissance was both a time of fear and enlightenment, marked by a divergence between intellectualism and religion. Many scientific discoveries came to be in the Renaissance age. While the old ways of the Middle Ages were discarded, such as chivalry, knighthood, and paganism, a religion with destructive rulers took their place. But, without this destructiveness, the artists well known today wouldn’t be who they are. The cause and effect of these two conflicted time periods still hold significance today.

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