Historical Questions-Answers

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1) In what ways was Christianity shaped by Judaism, Greek philosophy, Rome and Eastern mystery religions?

Christianity started with Jesus of Nazareth who was a Jewish prophet and also a teacher who came to be believed as the son of God. Jesus taught in Israel during the time of Augustus urging for purification of the Jewish religion. Jesus won many followers to Christianity including the poor. As it spread, Christianity connected increasingly with the main themes in Roman history. Christianity was well placed to social grievances in an empire which were highly marked by inequality and promised rewards after death.

Christianity also addressed spiritual and cultural needs. The Roman values stressed on political goals that were suitable in the world. The early church grew and developed in the Greco-Roman world and was one of the diverse religions. The conditions of that time made it possible for the religions to sweep like a tidal wave on the contemporary world. In the current state, people are able to see the reason why the mystery of religions is important. The first oriental religion to invade the West was the Great Mother of the Gods.

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2) What was the historical significance of medieval Muslim intellectual life in western history?

Islam’s history during the medieval times was highly related to the Arab speaking world. It was ruled by several caliphates, scientific experiences, economic and prospering cultures. In the literature of the 19th-century, there was use and application of the metaphor of the golden age referring to Islamic history. There is no unequivocal definition of terms, and depending on whether it is used focusing on military or cultural achievement it may be used to refer to incommensurable time spans.

During the 20th century, the term was used occasionally to refer to the earlier military successes. It was only in the second half of the 20th century that the term came to be used with any reference. Mostly referring to the cultural excellence of science and mathematics during the 9th – 11th century, there were organized scholarships in the house of wisdom and also the crusades begun. Islam brought about religious influence whereby the various Quran and Hadith injunctions took place in education and presented some values basic for human living. They emphasized the importance of acquiring knowledge. They also played a vital role in influencing the Muslims of that time in the search for knowledge and development of science.

3) What prompted the crusades in the 11th and 12th centuries? Who gained or lost from them?

For more than 200 years during the Middle Ages, Christian crusades wrestled control in the Palestine religion. This was due to a series of military incursions that were made up by Christian armies. The control that the Christians crusade exerted over the holy land was tenuous at best. The army belonging to Christians was able to stand in Jerusalem for only about 90 years which was a shorter period compared with any other period in history. Easily the most successful of these campaigns was the first crusade 1096-1099.

The first crusade was led by the noble families of Europe, and they raised armies and funds from their estates. One army, for example, was led by three brothers with possessions in Lorraine-Eustace. The armies marched overland to Constantinople near Antioch. Most of the crusaders in forces continued toward the south, facing little resistance as they moved down the Levantine coast. The crusaders built churches, some of which survived and are still in good condition. The crusader rule in Jerusalem lasted only for 90 years and the unified Syrian and Egyptian territories defeated the army in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem and took control of Jerusalem in the 13th century for two periods during 1229 – 1244. The Crusaders gained control of Jerusalem but only due to the treaty with the Muslims who denied Christians the right to visit their sacred temple-mountain.

4) What conditions led to the rise of centralized kingdoms in Europe between 1000 and 1500?

Centralized kingdom in Europe was likely due to the endowment with fertile soils, lakes, and rivers with fish, abundant rain and in societies with enjoyable plentiful opportunities to trade. The conditions to centralize kingdoms led to an increase in their economic growth. The economy became more diverse and productive and as a division of labor within the kingdom became more elaborate, the artists and craftsmen became specialized and refined their skills and, therefore, settled down in the kingdoms. In the manufacturing of the smoking pipes, for example, some carvers specialized in making bowls of the pipes while others specialized in the stems.

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Settlement into kingdoms doubled the output of farming communities and improved the standards of living of all citizens. Production of agricultural surplus also made the citizens increase in trade, hence, making the kingdom more centralized and stable. Not only did the citizens participate in the trade networks which reached the Atlantic coast, but they also traded with people from other stations.

5) What is the historical significance of the Black Death for European society?

The historical significance of Black Death to the European society could not be underscored. Black Death meant a precipitous drop in agricultural prices, hence, endangering the power and fortunes of the aristocracy whose dominance and wealth was based on the land. Similarly, following the deaths of a large number of people, there was a dramatic rise in wages offering some chance to the laborers for the improvement of their own conditions of employment.

Another historical significance of Black Death was a societal decline as a result of the number of deaths and hence, economic loss to the world. One-quarter of the population of Europe was destroyed by the Black Death. For instance, more than a million children, men, and women died in England between 1348 and 1351. This represented more than a third of the population of England dead as a result of the deadly virus.

Moreover, there was a loss of status among the aristocracy. This occurred as a result of a large number of deaths experienced among the peasants due to Black Death, hence, meaning that there was no more payment of rents. The shortage of labor and the unavailability of serfs to serve in the regional military forces in the moments of need also came up.

6) What is the historical significance of Renaissance humanism?

As we look at the historical significance of Renaissance humanism, it is good to start with the understanding of what is humanism. This term is generally applicable to the social philosophy, and to the literary and intellectual currents that existed during 1400 – 1650. This had a lot of historical significance as was seen among the intellectuals of antiquity, unlike the Christians. These intellectuals lacked relative concern on the supernatural world and the soul’s eternal destiny. Their interest was majorly based on efficient and adequate life here on Earth. For instance, Hellenic philosophy was designed to offer teachings to a man on how to live successfully rather than how to go through death with the ultimate assurance of salvation. Such pagan attitude was lost for approximately a thousand years, the moment Europe adhered Augustine’s warning not to be too much engrossed in the affairs of the Earth.

The rebirth of individualism was another historical significance of the Renaissance humanism. This was developed by Rome and Greece and was subdued by the caste system growth in the Roman Empire, in the Middle Ages by feudalism as well as the church. The church made the assertion that raving individualism was similar to sin, rebellion, and arrogance. Medieval Christianity brought restrictions to the expression of the individual. On the other hand, it encouraged self-annihilation and self-abnegation demanding absolute obedience and faith. Moreover, the church made an official overlook of man and nature.

7) What were the major effects of early modern European expansion, both commercially and internationally?

The early modern European expansion which was characterized by great discoveries led to the revolutionization of the European economy and society. In the lengthy inflation and expansion process, there was the gaining of some groups while others lost. Generally, merchants, business people, and financiers enjoyed a rising living standard. Those who lived on incomes that are relatively fixed, for instance, landed proprietors went through suffering unless they went to large-scale capitalist farming. Governments also went through suffering unless they were able to find new income sources. Wage-earners, peasants, and artisans did not usually find their incomes to be in pace with the price increments. Hence, it is possible to talk about the impacts of expansion as being stimulating as well as unsettling.

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Modern expansion was also marked by European expansion. Indeed, the making of one vast nation which is new in North America, which was at first a product of European history, followed by an independent piece of history and finally a major power within that particular history, was one of the major outcomes of the colonial empires. It was also one of the hallmarks in the movement from medieval times to modern times. Even with the decline of Spain, the fact its empire would be partly inherited by another monarchy which is centralizing, translated to mean that the world was developing.

8) Explain the historical significance of the Scientific Revolution for humanity.

Scientific Revolution is a historical change in thought and belief to a social and institutional organization and it unfolded in Europe roughly during 1550-1700. Scientific Revolution provided a better way of thinking for human beings on how periodization serves, emerges, develops and matures. Periodization serves as a paradigm. Good periodization encourages debates and the best among them grow richer. The scientific revolution provides enlightenment to the people. Through scientific revolution, there is an improvement in technology, hence, better means of communication. There is also the emergence of improved tools and equipment that people can use to improve their economy.

The scientific revolution provides fast growth in an economy whereby the living standards of people improve due to increased income. With the scientific revolution, people get better tools to work efficiently and this, in turn, brings out high-quality yield, hence, raising the standard of living. The scientific revolution comes with efficient ways of doing things whereby it makes work simpler, hence, a better mode of life. Through a scientific revolution, people have better health care whereby people have better vaccines and better machines in health care centers.

9) See Steven Pinker’s article on peace and violence, how do you evaluate his argument?

Prof. Steven Pinker argues about the decline in violence in the current years saying that the world of the past was worse. He claims that human beings have been blessed with six declines of violence. Through his argument, Pinker tries to bring out the point of testing mental suffering. However, on the other hand, terrorism is highly increasing on a daily basis. Through keen observation, it can be noticed that many attacks leading to the death of many people occur on daily basis. Therefore, it is hard to support the professor in his argument.

Professor Pinker claims that the government and churches have long maintained order by punishing nonconformists with mutilation and other forms of execution. However, the issue is that with churches, as much as they try to maintain law and order, people have a difference in religion which is a major cause of violence in the world today. In the current world, as professor Pinker claims, people have experienced reduced terrorist attacks and violence; however, through observation, it is in this world currently whereby people are experiencing wars in countries due to political power whereby leaders struggle for power and violence arises.

10) How do you evaluate the claims made by Juan in light of learning the history of Western civilization?

In his article, Juan Cole tries to do an evaluation of terrorism with respect to religion. He is keen to point out the incidences and occurrences of war or rather a terrorism and he tries to relate this to religion. Cole comes up with the proposition that the two are intertwined as per their chain of command and authority is one and the same. He points out the example of the British monarch who is also the head of the Anglican Church as a key figure in an event of war. This makes terrorism and religion inseparable.

Juan is also keen to put a new outlook on some of the inclined perceptions on the case of terrorism among the Muslims with a comparison to similar occurrences among Christians. He points out that though the Muslims are associated with terrorism more than Christianity of which the opposite is true according to the statistics he gives about the same. In fact, the difference is so high to overlook. This has, however, been changed by the Western Civilization history which tries to bring out the Europeans as exclusive from acts of terrorism yet a lot of terrorism is seen in Europe. Therefore, it can be assumed that terrorism is not an issue whose inclination is the religion, but it is purely dependent on the individual who is undertaking it. Moreover, western Europeans cannot be excluded in any way.

11) What were the causes and consequences of the protestant reformation? Consider its chief characters, regional variations, and outcomes, both short and long term.

One of the causes of the protestant reformation is that there had been many attempts to reform the Roman Church before the 16th century. This was evidenced by the words of such men like John Wycliffe who openly opposed the papacy. Other causes included religious, political and economic factors that had brewed for centuries and that existed at that time. This is due to the fact that the Roman Church controlled everything, hence, the need to include political and economic elements.

Turning to the results of the reformation, it can be noted that it led to a better understanding of European, English or American history. It also affected the modern view of law and politics. A new meaning was also brought to literature with such individuals as Martin Luther stabilizing the German language. The reformation gave birth to modern science as well as laying down the right and obligation of individual conscience.

12) How has European expansion after 1500 shaped the world today?

One of the ways in which the European expansion has shaped the world today is through the opening of new sources of wealth to the commercial part of Europe. This came as a result of the discovery of the Americas. It also came to denote the Native Americans as savage societies, meaning societies and individuals who not only differed in language or religion.

The other manner in which the expansion has shaped the world today is by the development of a tendency of analyzing different social organizations and cultures in the European culture. This came to develop later into ethnographic, historical and anthropological disciplines. The first contribution to this field came from religious authors abut not secular. These were the missionaries who devoted themselves to the task of understanding new cultures.

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