The Renaissance begins in Italy and ultimately spreads throughout Europe. This era can be distinguished by its emphasis on the rebirth of humanism and new discoveries in the fine arts, literature, philosophy, science, technology, architecture, religion, and spirituality. The Renaissance is often thought of as the bridge from the Middle Ages to the Modern Era.
Johannes Gutenberg invents the printing press. This pivotal invention allowed people to access knowledge more freely and at a low cost, improved the literacy of the average person, and standardized language.
3) 1488: Portuguese explorer, Bartolome Diaz becomes the first European to round the Cape of Good Hope (the southernmost tip of Africa). This trip revealed to the Europeans that they could trade directly with India by bypassing the overland route through the Middle East, which would make getting resources, such as silk, less expensive.
Italian explorer, Christopher Columbus, discovers the Caribbean Islands while trying to reach India by sea under the support of the Spanish crown. Columbus called the islands “San Salvador” and believed that the islands were a part of India. Word of the fresh discovery of these islands reached Europe and the British, French and Dutch eventually joined the Spaniards in the Caribbean.
Vasco Da Gama, a Portuguese explorer, sails to India, becoming the first European to reach India by sea. Gama’s adventure cleared the way for the age of imperialism and expansion. This allowed Portugal to establish a colony in Asia.
The Atlantic slave trade starts to pick up by capturing Africans and selling them into slavery. By the 1800’s, around 12,000,000 Africans were sold. This expansion of the slave trade helped with the cottage industries, expanded banking, helped develop a need for maritime insurance, and caused joint-stock companies such as Dutch East Indian Company and the British East India Company to emerge.
Pope Julius II commissioned Italian artist, Michelangelo, to repaint the vaulted ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. This painting, which portrays creation, the fall of man, God’s promise of salvation through the prophets and the genealogy of Jesus Christ, is now considered one of the major artistic accomplishments of mankind.
John Calvin is born in France and later becomes enthralled with Luther’s revolt which is shaped by his teachings. He eventually flees to Geneva, Switzerland from France and writes the Institutes of the Christian Religion. Calvin made a powerful impact on the fundamental doctrines of Protestantism, and is often thought of as one of the most important figures in the second generation of the Protestant Reformation
Martin Luther publicly criticizes the sale of indulgences and nails his 95 theses to the door of the church in Wittenburg, Germany. This act eventually leads to the emergence of Protestantism.
Herman Cortes, a Spanish conquistador, defeats the Aztec Empire in Mexico by using the natives against each other and using their superior European weapons. Cortes’s conquest helps Spain colonize the Americas.
Portuguese explorer, Ferdinand Magellan's sets off and eventually becomes the first person in history to circumnavigates the Earth. This expedition proved that the globe could be completely circled by sea and was also much larger than had previously been thought.
Martin Luther breaks away from the Catholic church and openly argues that faith alone is necessary for salvation (Sola Fides) and that scripture alone is the final authority (Sola Scriptura). Pope Leo X excommunicates Luther and Luther burns the papal bull of excommunication.
Francisco Pizarro, a Spanish conquistador, conquers the Incan Empire in South America by introducing deadly diseases such as smallpox, typhus, measles, and the plague. Over 90% of the native population died as a result and allowed Spain to claim the land.
King Henry VIII seeks a divorce from his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. Pope Clement VII refuses to grant the divorce so the King forces English parliament to pass an act denying the Pope’s authority. This act was controversial because before this period of time, the Pope was seen as a person with authority greater than that of the King.
The parliament passes a second act which declared the King as the “supreme head of the church of England,” which allows King Henry VIII to grant himself a divorce and ignore the authority of the Pope. During his reign, King Henry VIII greatly expanded the power of royalty and ushered in the beginning of the idea of the “divine right of kings.”
The mathematician Nicolaus Copernicus writes his book, “On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres,” where he proposes a heliocentric view of the universe which claims that the sun does not revolve around the earth, but instead, the earth revolves around the sun. This view is heavily rejected by the church on the premise that it goes against a literal interpretation of the Bible.
The first meeting of the Council of Trent is held in Bologna, Italy. These meetings were held by the Roman Catholic Church in order to clarify and define the doctrines of the church. At the council, they condemned the protestant idea that faith alone is necessary for salvation as well as the legitimacy of an individual interpretation of the Bible. They also wanted authority to be placed on the Pope and the bishops and created the index of prohibited books. These meetings were important because they gave the Roman Catholic Church a foundation which united their beliefs and their practices.
Jacques Bossuet, a French theologian and bishop, is born. Bossuet believed in the “divine right of kings,” which argued that the government and kings were divine and ordained by God. He claimed that “It is through them that he [God] exercises his Empire.” Because of this belief, he advocated for political absolutism and said that “He who does not want to obey the prince, is…condemned…as an enemy of the public peace.”
Louis XIV becomes King of France. He embodies the idea of political absolutism and uses his authority to weaken the nobles. He remodeled the Palace of Versailles to demonstrate his power and majesty and moved the Royal Court there from Paris. Louis XIV eventually makes Protestantism illegal.
Peter the Great, a Russian Tsar, comes into power. He transformed Russia into a major European power and westernizes it by adopting western values and ideas in military, science, architecture, etc.
English philosopher, John Locke, publishes his “Essay Concerning Human Understanding” where he makes the epistemological claim that knowledge is derived by sensory experience and therefore, are born as “blank slates” and have no innate ideas. This view contrasted earlier beliefs which claimed that mankind was born sinful and were innately rebellious against God. According to Locke, morality is derived from reason and not from revelation. This essay became the “psychological bible of the French Enlightenment.”
Hanoverian succession is accomplished. The Hanoverian monarchy was threatened by revolutions and rebellions led by the Jacobites who supported the exiled James II and his heirs. Because of this, parliament becomes increasingly important as a focal point of British politics and after almost twenty-five years of peace, European nations wage war
The first global war, The Seven Years War, begins. The Anglo-Prusso-Portuguese Collation wins and as a result, Britain acquires French Canada and gains greater control of trade and territory in India.
American War for Independence begins and is a concrete example of the impact of Enlightenment ideals. The independence which they fought for was justified by the philosophies of John Locke which claimed that the government was to be owned by the people and their purpose is to protect the people’s life, liberty, and property.
The Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, which was inspired directly by Thomas Jefferson, is created. This document shows the influence of Enlightened thought and was an integral step toward writing a constitution for France.
The Third Estate of France declares itself a national assembly. This got rid of feudal privileges of the first and second estates and made the common man equal to those in the clergy and in nobility
The Parisians storm the Bastille which served as a symbol of Absolutist oppression. This revolt eventually forced the King to begin concessions and inspired the people to overthrow him through revolution.
The September Massacres, which consisted over five days’ worth of attacks on prisons in Paris. During the massacres, almost half of the prison population in Paris died. These massacres were rooted in the fear of counter revolution within the walls of Paris.
King Louis XVI is convicted of treason and is beheaded by guillotine. This event leads to war as well as counter-revolution. Nine months later, his wife, Marie Antoinette was convicted of treason by a tribunal, and was also killed by guillotine.
Napoleon Bonaparte rises to power as Emperor of France. Bonaparte led the French to many victories and built his empire greatly. Under his rule, France dominated a large portion of continental Europe.