Protestant Reformation, Imperialism, and WW1: Impact on History Term Paper

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Protestant Ref., Imperialism, and WWI

An Analysis of the Effects of Protestantism, Imperialism, and WWI on History

The medieval world had been one in which the "age of faith" and the might of arms (thanks to men like Charlemagne) had unified Europe (Haaren, 1904, p. 102). The popes of the Church had been granted a certain authority by kings and princes, and State and Church ruled as one (in theory, if not always in practice) (Laux, 1989, p. 517). The scholastics, like Thomas Aquinas, had used Aristotelian philosophy to help prove the existence of God and the truth of Christianity. All of that would change in the 14th century when William of Occam challenged the Aristotelian notion of universals (Weaver, 1984, p. 7). Thereupon followed the unraveling of medieval transcendental truth: the religious/philosophical hierarchy soon tumbled, the Protestant Reformation shattered Europe, and the modern world became a place of precarious posturing. This paper will examine the effects of the Protestant Reformation, Imperialism, and WWI on the course of history.Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Term Paper on Protestant Reformation, Imperialism, and WW1: Impact on History Assignment

By the time Jean Wycliffe's works had been condemned by the pope, the papacy itself had already been assaulted by King Philip of France and moved to Avignon to be the French king's puppet. The Black Plague had swept through Europe eliminating a quarter of the population and disrupting the order of society. Revolts in England had been based, in part, on the new ideology of Wycliffe, which was Protestant in essence, even if not in name. Protestantism was unleashed in full force the following century, however. All over Europe, men like Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, and Knox drew followers who despised the corruption of clergy. Catholic Europe, on the face of it, wanted virtue and piety -- but by rejecting the cornerstone, Rome, it rejected the basis of its doctrine and introduced Occam's philosophy into the objectivity of Thomistic philosophy: subjectivity ruled the day as war, economics, and scientific inquiry all changed from what they had been in the medieval world. The Ptolemaic model of the world, in which the universe revolved around the Earth (where God Himself had walked), was replaced by the Copernican model in which the Earth revolved around the sun. The philosophical ramifications of this model were poisonous to the medieval faith, for they diminished the prominence of place where Jesus had been born: the universe was random, and little was certain.

The Protestant Reformation coincided with this new "scientific" philosophy. And as wars between Protestants and Catholics broke out (especially brutally in England, where the Catholic King Henry VIII broke with Rome and posited himself as head of the Church in England -- and proceeded to execute those who refused their assent), the need for political stability became apparent. However, since the assent of kings was no longer given to the Papacy, political stability would not be based on religious conviction -- but on religious liberty, as the Peace of Westphalia proved. As John Laux describes it, "The apostasy from the Catholic Church in the sixteenth century was followed in the seventeenth and eighteenth by wholesale apostasy from Christianity itself" (Laux, 517), and the Peace of Westphalia was apostasy's official induction.

What the Peace offered politically was a new model of government that would take hold around the world and continue into our own day. John Elliott notes that Voltaire described the "celebrated peace of Westphalia…as having become 'the basis for all future treaties.' In other words, it marked the beginning of a new international order in which the European state system was henceforth to be regulated on the basis of a set of political arrangements made in the middle years of the seventeenth century and agreed by the leading European powers (Elliott, 2009, p. 92)." The sovereignty of the Dutch Republic and Swiss Confederation were acknowledged by the treaties signed, and the Holy Roman Empire was dealt a constitution that… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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