Revolutions Essay, Research Paper
Revolution can be defined as radical or rapid change. Revolutions, whether called by that name or not have greatly changed the world. Three revolutions prior to 1700 were the Enlightenment, the Crusades, and the Renaissance.
The enlightenment was a movement that sought to shine the ?light? of reason on traditional ideas about government and society. During the Enlightenment, sometimes called the Age of Reason, thinkers fought against superstition, ignorance, intolerance, and tyranny. Enlightenment thinkers promoted goals of material well-being, social justice, and worldly happiness. Their ideas about government and society stood in sharp contrast to the old principles of divine right rule, a rigid social hierarchy, and the promise of a better life in heaven. Since the 1700?s enlightenment ideas have spread, challenging established traditions around the world. During the Enlightenment, two English thinkers, Thomas Hobbes and John Locke set forth ideas that became key to the Enlightenment. Hobbes believed that people were naturally cruel, greedy, and selfish. If not strictly controlled, they would fight, rob, and oppress one another. Life in the ?state of nature? without laws or other controls ? would be ?solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.? To escape the brutish life, people entered into a social contract, an agreement by which they gave up the state of nature for an organized society. He believed that only a powerful government could ensure an orderly society. Such a government was an absolute monarchy, which could impose order and compel obedience. John Locke believed that people were reasonable and moral. Further, they had natural rights, or rights that belonged to all humans from birth. These included the rights to life, liberty, and property. He said the best government, had limited power, and was accepted by all its citizens. Locke rejected absolute monarchy. He said that if a government fails to fulfill its obligations to its people, then the people have the right to either overthrow or change the government.
Another Revolution was the Crusades. In the 1050?s, the Turks invaded the Byzantine Empire. The Turks migrated from Central Asia into the middle east where the converted to Islam. As the threat of the Turks grew, the Byzantine emperor Alexius I, sent an urgent plea to Pope Urban II in Rome. He asked for Christian knights to help him fight the Turks. There were many reasons for people taking up the cross. First were religious reasons. They hoped to attain salvation. The second reason was to win wealth and land. Also some sought to escape troubles at home, and just for adventure. The Crusades failed in their chief goal ? the conquest of the holy land. The Crusades did have some positive effects; it helped to quicken the changes already underway. Before the crusades, Europeans traded little with merchants from the Byzantine Empire. The crusades increased the level of trade. Returning crusaders brought fabrics, spices, and perfumes from the Middle East to a larger market. Enthusiasm for the Crusades brought papal power to its highest. This did not last long though because; popes soon were involved in clashes for power. The Crusades helped increase the power of feudal monarchs. It also encouraged the growth of a money economy. Marco Polo was a merchant who traveled to china with his father and told stories of china?s great wonders.
The experiences of crusaders and of travelers like Marco polo expanded European horizons. They brought Europe into a wider world from which it had been cut of since the fall of Rome. This would later lead Europe into a new age of Exploration.
A third revolution was the Renaissance. The Renaissance was a period of cultural rebirth that transformed Europe between the 1300?s and 1500?s. The renaissance began in northern Italy and spread through Europe. It ushered in a golden age in the arts and literature and a revolution in the sciences. The Renaissance was a time of creativity and change in many areas ? political, social, economic, and cultural. People were spurred by a reawakening in classical learning. Nicolaus Copernicus was the scientist who revolutionized the way people viewed the universe. At the heart of the Renaissance was an intellectual movement known as humanism. It focused on worldly subject rather than the religious issues that occupied medieval thinkers. Humanists believed that the education should stimulate the individuals? creative powers. Francesco Petrarch was an early Renaissance humanist. He hunted down and assembled a library of Greek and Roman manuscripts. Petrarch also wrote literature of his own. His sonnets to Laura, love poems written in the vernacular and inspired by a woman he knew only from a distance. The renaissance reached its most glorious expression in its paintings, sculpture, and architecture. Renaissance art reflected humanist concerns. Like artist of the middle ages, Renaissance artist portrayed religious figures such as Mary, Jesus, and the saints. Three famous artists of the Renaissance were Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Raphael.
Revolutions such as the three mentioned above have changed the world. Some of our knowledge of today comes from these revolutions.