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High Middle Ages, Early Modern Times

Farming revolution

The farming revolution first took place in the High Middle Ages, between the 10-13th centuries in Western Europe. The innovation of agricultural techniques that were started in the Carolingian period, continued. As the productivity of agriculture was growing, the role and size of manors reduced. The landlords distributed land among the serfs to work on it for rent. Later on, the peasants became personally free, they were free to move, they could possess land and inherit it. The new technologies contained: heavy plough, horseshoes and the 3-field system. New plants were discovered too. People started to exchange goods. This system however, was not favorable for all types of goods, so standard measures were introduced but finally, their role was taken over by money.

Towns and guilds

In Western Europe in the 11-14th centuries, the revival of towns began. Thanks to the growing population, the separation of agriculture, crafts and trade, the development of cities came. They were formed based on the geographical and economic positions e. g. near markets, by rivers. The people, who settled there had commune rights and privileges: annual taxation, right of jurisdiction. Royal towns, however had the most privileges: right to hold fairs, shop goods, to have customs-free places. Craftsmanship was introduced, the time of guilds began. They formed craft guilds in order to perm and guide production, control price and distribution. These were against the competition of burglers and prohibited advertising. They established standard quality and quantity, fixed the price of the goods. This was followed by the apprentice system.


In the Medieval culture (11-13th centuries), feudal lords didn't care about antique writings of philosophers or the scholastic movement. Knights used their mothertongue in their literature. They wrote tales and romantic poems for their madams. Also, their songs celebrated heroes and later in these novels they introduced the whole code of chivalry: true knights should fight to defend 3 things: their heavenly lord, earthly feudal lord and chosen lady. Furthermore, it emphasized that, knights should defend the weak and help the poor. They had special education: at the age of 7, they served as pages, then at 14, their rank raised to squire, that's when they practiced swordsmanship. At the age of 21, as young noblemen, they became dubbed knights, they went on journeys and practiced in tournaments.

Great Discoveries

In the 15th and 16th centuries, the traditional trade routes changed and thus, the people became encouraged towards exploration. Rare ingredients, spices and such came with huge profit, so the traders rapidly had o find another way to India. The first man, ho reached the southermost tip of Asia in 1488 was Diaz and consequently others shared his interests. Vasco da Gama circumnavigated Arica, he found the route to India. Being certain that sailing continuously towards the west would lead them to India, Columbus reached a new continent. Later in the 16th century, Magellan had a similar aim like Columbus: his aim was to circumnavigate the Earth.

Guilds vs. Manufactories

Although guilds were established in the High Middle Ages, manunfactories only spread in the Early Modern Times when the Capitalist world came to being. Before that, artisans worked only after years of training in the apprentice system to become masters but then, since the people in the manufactories didn't have to learn that much, since every peasant worked with only labour division. As a result, the production went faster than in the guilds, though their quality was far better. This led to lower prices for the goods made in the manufactories and guilds' products were too expensive for the people, they went bankrupt. Lots of the workers from there applied to manufactories.

Martin Luther

In the beginning of the 16th century, Pope Leo X tasked the friars and priests to sell indulgences, which were a way to reduce the amount of punishment one had to undergo for sins in the Purgatory. However the Church only needed money to rebuild 1st Peter's Basilica. Martin Luther was strongly against this and as a consequence of these events made him write the 95 Theses. He put it out in Wittemberg on the 31st of October. This was the start of the Protestant Reformation. The main principles were the 5 solas. The sola scriptura meant that the Bible is the ultimate authority. Sola fide is the importance of faith, sola gratia meant the salvation comes by divine grace. Solus Christus meant that there was no need for priests and soli deo gloria meant that all teachings are due to God alone.

John Calvin

In the 16th century, Calvinism became the main religion in Switzerland. Ulrich Zwing and John Calvin established the Reformed Church in Genova. Unlike Luther or the others, he was not a priest but a reforming theologian. In his book, The Institues of the Christian Religion, he explained the Protestant aspect of Christianity, which later became the basis for protestant believers. Predestination: God had known since the beginning, who would go to Heaven and to Hell. The Elect: only a few would be saved from sin through the grace. Theocracy: was the form of government Calvin desired. Revolt: he supported the revolt against an ungodly ruler. Work as a virtue: all kinds of work were appealing but laziness is a sin. And lastly, Church ceremonies: Calvin introduced simple vices and was against monastic orders.

The Enlightenment

The Age of Enlightenment (between 1730-1790) brought together the ideas of the Renaissance and the Scientific Revolution. The artist had a secular look on life, instead of the spiritual look of the Middle Ages. Isaac Newton's laws became the starting point for investigating in nature by applying reason. The most important ideas of the philosophy were the following: they regarded reason as a sort of divine force, which helped to understand to whole Universe. They believed that natural was good and reasonable. They wanted well-being on Earth and thought that people, who lived by nature's laws would find happiness. They believed in the progress of society and that society could be perfected. They hoped that by applying reason, society could be set free from its many restrictions. The social basis was the bourgeoisie.