Term Paper: History and Culture of the Baroque

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¶ … Culture of the Baroque

The protests against the Roman Catholic church, its doctrines, faith, and practices began with Catholic clergymen like Martin Luther in the 16th century. The protestant reformation protested the exploitation of the peasants, like the sale of indulgences for remission of sins, and salvation by sacraments, fasting, and good works. This led to the differences like baroque art in Catholic churches and institutions to appeal to emotions, while protestants banned baroque art from religious institutions. This caused the catholic counter-reformation that led to structural reconfiguration, religious orders, political dimensions, and spiritual movements like Teresa of Avila's Carmelite Order, Discalced Carmelites. After the counter-reformation period came the post-reformation European political period that sought separation of the church and state. At the same time, states like Spain and Portugal were using their military institutions to conquer Europe from Islam, and expand their trade through exploration. In the event of exploration, they turned their trade posts to conquered territories, as authorized by their monarchs and by the Catholic Church. The process of preferential benefits like land and assets, and the use of military in exploration by Spain saw the conquest and colonization of the New World.

1. Protestant Reformation and Catholic Counter Reformations

The protestant reformation is a 16th century religious movement in western Europe, which began with the reformation of the Roman Catholic Church, and led to the creation of the protestant churches. The protestant reformation begun in 1517 with an attack of the catholic church by Martin Luther in his 95 theses. Martin was reacting to Johann Tetzel (1465-1519) sale of the indulgences, which to the Catholic faith guarantee remission of sins. Tetzel, a Dominican monk made outrageous threats and promises as he sold the indulgences to manipulate listeners into guilt and make them buy the indulgences. The aggravated Martin Luther who was already believed that the Catholic's means of attaining salvation, including sacraments, fasting, and good works were inadequate. In his 95 theses, Martin Luther laid down his points for opposing many of the indulgences of the Catholic Church. this led to the protestant reformation from the Lutheran reforms that identified, "Salvation by faith alone" in the 95 theses.

The catholic counter reformation was actions taken by the Roman Catholic Church against the protestant reformation. This occurred under the Council of Trent, which met on three occasions in Italy until the "Thirty Years War" in 1648. In this era, the church took up structural reconfiguration, spiritual movements, religious orders, and political dimensions. One of the major spiritual movements was the Spanish mystics, which reformed the church spiritual structure in a mystical union with Christ. One of the Spanish mystics was Teresa of Avila, founder of Carmelite Order, Discalced Carmelites and author of El Castillo Interior, which identifies the soul to a crystal globe, and believes the path to spiritual development is through prayer and service, and the seven stages of faith ending with communion with God.

2. Catholic Baroque Art and Protestant Baroque Art

Baroque is Portuguese for Jewelers for irregular, misshapen pearl, hence in art its grotesque, absurd, and imperfect. The baroque art began in 1500s ending in 1800s. This form of art is essential for it was instrumental to the catholic Counter Reformation between 1545 and 1563. The Catholics used spiritual baroque art to play on the emotional reactions of people and bring them back to the church by creating sensations. For example, they used Gentileschi's (1593-1652) painting of dramatic tension and suffering. This artwork depicts suffering of souls in hell, sending a clear message those sinners and Hellenics will go to hell. Since most of the population at the time was illiterate, such an artwork provokes their remission of sin driving many peasants back to the catholic faith. The art works were larger than life, beyond physical boundaries and overpowering the viewer in churches, public places.

This creates the difference between catholic and protestant baroque art, as catholic courtly baroque art is highly sensualistic, monumental, decorative, stricter, and in a rigorous classical style. The catholic baroque art was used for religious themes and ideals. However, protestant baroque art was only used in public places. The Protestant's doctrine did not believe in having religious figures and works of art in places of worship. The protestant baroque art in effect took up the themes of portraits, everyday life, and landscapes. For example, the protestant baroque art by Vermeer, the "Kitchen Maid," show house cleaner pouring water. The artwork also has a mousetrap at the floor at the bottom of the painting. The meaning of Vermeer's painting is that one can afford to have a main but questions their spirituality. The main similarity between catholic and protestant baroque art is the use of open space and the breaking of boundaries. The art works show movement and make the eye move diagonally or in circular motion creating space.

3. Portuguese and Spanish explorations and conquests

The Spanish and Portuguese are considered explorers and conquests in the 14th century, after the Vikings, Greeks, and Romans. The reason for the two to go down in history as major explorers and conquerors since they extensively explored and developed sea routes that joined the entire globe. The Portuguese like Vasco ad Gama, further conquered territories and areas that fell under 7th century Muslim invaders and rebuilt them to major trade centers.

For 15th century Portugal, the drive to explore and conquer areas under Muslims was motivated by Prince Henry the Navigator in 1415. The goal of this monarch was to expand trade and roll back the influence of Islam over Europe. The monarch could not expand east since the exploration route was blocked by Muslim controlled territory, he sent navigator voyagers across the south and west, along the coasts of Africa. This route saw the exploration and conquest of the northern and waster ports of Western Sahara, and major territories of Africa as they turned their trading posts to fortified bases. Later in the late 1480s, the Portuguese explored and conquered major trading ports in the Indian Ocean, to China and Africa to the Cape of Good Hope. The Spanish explorations and conquests were motivated by the translation of Ptolemy's Geography in 1410. Spanish explores as if Christopher Columbus read Ptolemy's book, and using his skills as a chart maker and sea-going entrepreneur, with support from the Portuguese king explored the west to the Americas. Portuguese and Spanish first explored places and seaways set up trading zones and later conquered to adjudicate claim over new territories. In these conquests, under Pope Alexander VI, monarchs were supposed to patronage and evangelize their territories, collect tithes and appoint church officials. This saw the division of the world in terms of non-Christian Philippines and America to Spain, Africa, and Southeast Asia to Portugal by the Pope.

4. Post-Reformation European Politics

The church as a Christian institution and the modern concept of state has their basis in the post-reformation European political period. The period is marked by the end of the Thirty Years War in 1648, during the counter-reformation era by the Catholics. The period after is characterized by political and religious grievances, which intersected in different combinations to create conflict in political communities.

At the heart of the post-reformation issues was Germany, where the ascension of Habsburg as the head of state was commitment to the counter-reformation. This led to the protestant rebellion across Germany, and which late spread to the rest of Europe. This marked the beginning changes in the continent as major European territories sought the separation of church and state, between politics and religion. The conflicts between politics and religion were at first driven by religious interests as indicated in the counter-reformation efforts. This continued but in the post-reformation politics, conflicts increasingly became politically driven. This is seen in an… [END OF PREVIEW]

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