Final Paper

Final Paper - Ryan Lee HIST 151 Bullard/Vierra December 4...

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Ryan Lee HIST 151 Bullard/Vierra December 4, 2007 The Foundations of Modernity “Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence,” said Renaissance artist and inventor Leonardo da Vinci. Allotment of authority was a prominent conflict throughout Early Modern Europe, as feudalism was slowly being eroded by emerging nobilities forming autocratic states. Silence from the oppressed people had prevented any avoidance of the lack of unity plaguing the modernization of European nations during the Middle Ages. The Renaissance and the Protestant Reformation were the two most significant, non-revolutionary challenges to authority to occur in Europe in centuries. Both reform movements broke the centuries of silence and challenged the authority of traditional thought as well as that of secular and religious institutions. The Renaissance began in the warring city-states of northern Italy in 1350, and it continued to spread through Europe until the 17 th Century. In 1513, Niccoló Machiavelli wrote The Prince as a book of advice to anyone capable of uniting the Italian city-states to defend against French and Spanish invaders and the domestic conflicts between mercenary armies. The Protestant Reformation was triggered in 1517 by a German monk named Martin Luther who attacked the papacy’s authority to sell indulgences. At a time when central authority was unstable and religious institutions were becoming increasingly corrupt, the emergence of fresh, humanist ideas was necessary for the maturity and unity of European cultures. Humanism was an intellectual movement based on education and culture from
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ancient Greek and Roman texts, and it became the basis for both the Renaissance and Reformation. Europe plunged into centuries of inquiry and change in views towards authority in regard to institutions, human nature and concepts of virtue. Machiavelli and Luther represent two separate but almost concurrent reform movements, but the different driving factors and methods of action allowed for the collaboration of both in laying the foundation for modern ideals such as individualism and liberty. While Luther openly challenged the authority and corruption of the papacy, Machiavelli targeted individuals capable of uniting the city-states of Italy, most specifically Lorenzo the Magnificent. Martin Luther began his attack on the papal authority in 1517, when he posted his Ninety-Five Theses, a written attack on the corrupt practice of selling indulgences, on the door of the Wittenberg castle church in Germany. He began his revered work,
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Final Paper - Ryan Lee HIST 151 Bullard/Vierra December 4...

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