The Great Schism

The Great Schism - The Great Schism, 1378-1415 1. There was...

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The Great Schism, 1378-1415 1. There was a general failure of leadership in 14th-century Europe. A. The Monarchy and Aristocracy A. The aristocracy and the monarchies seemed unable to defend their lands in any effective manner. The monarchs involved their subjects in conflicts such as the 100 Years' War. The military strategist von Clauswitz stated that war is politics carried out by other means. There is a good deal of validity in this view. For the most part, warfare can be viewed as a means of settling conflicts that could not be settled by more peaceful means. But leaders must be able to extricate themselves from a war that is no longer directed at accomplishing its original purpose. The warfare between France and England, involving most of the rest of western Europe at one time or another, dragged on and on with no clear resolution in sight. The people who paid heavy taxes to support the monarchies and aristocracies could not have helped but wonder why these groups could not meet their responsibilities and perform the functions for which they claimed the right of taxing the people. In addition to this difficulty, with the increasing use of "new" weapons, the ruling classes - "those who fight" - were losing their traditional superiority on the field of battle. Time after time, armored aristocrats were slaughtered by peasants and urban militia using longbows, crossbows, pikes and gunpowder. The aristocracy of France and England had very little effect on the progress of the conflict and were relegated to the position of paying taxes to the monarchs to support the mercenary armies who now seemed to dominate warfare. Neither the monarchy nor the aristocracy seemed able to provide effective leadership in this matter. The uprising of the Jacquerie in France and the Peasants' Revolt in England were both radical rebellions. Although they failed in their purpose, their leaders demanded nothing less than uprooting of the entire feudal system. B. The Middle Classes The gilds, the basic unit of organization of the middle class, were designed to operate non-competitively within a general framework of economic expansion. They were unable to adapt to the stagnant or shrinking markets of the fourteenth century. In an effort to maintain their status and standard of living, gild masters across Europe began to cut labor costs by exploiting their own workers, reduce production by limiting access to gild membership, and to reduce incidental costs by reducing or eliminating their traditional social contributions. were slowly replaced by capitalist organizations. The "greater" gilds fought the "lesser" for political control of the cities, all the while that both great and lesser gilds were being supplanted by new, capitalist forms of production. In the process, workers and artisans found their compensation and political power steadily shrinking. These conflicts were already underway at the spread of the Black Death. Both
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This note was uploaded on 11/18/2011 for the course HISTORY 170 taught by Professor Romero during the Fall '11 term at Rutgers.

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The Great Schism - The Great Schism, 1378-1415 1. There was...

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