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Flashcards in Europe: 1450-1750 Deck (56)


To raise money to build St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, Pope Leo X (1475-1521) authorized the sale of indulgences. The purchase of an indulgence allowed a person to shorten their (or a deceased loved one's) time in purgatory and, in some cases, forgave sins before they were committed.


How did popes during the Middle Ages ensure obedience from Catholics?

Popes such as Leo X (1475-1521) denied those who opposed them the right to participate in the sacraments, a process termed excommunication. Without participation in the sacraments, a Catholic would be sent to hell.


What event signaled the beginning of the Protestant Reformation?

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther, a priest and professor of theology, nailed his 95 Theses to the door of  a Catholic church in Wittenberg, Germany.

Outraged that church members were forced to pay for the forgiveness that was a free gift from God, Luther's 95 Theses sharply criticized the practice of selling indulgences. The theses were 95 questions designed to provoke debate within the Catholic Church.


What ensured the rapid dissemination of Luther's 95 Theses?

Since it could reproduce materials rapidly, the printing press allowed for the easy distribution of Luther's 95 Theses throughout Germany. The printing press had been invented by Johannes Gutenberg, who first used it to print Bibles.

Although Luther insisted that indulgences were errant since only God could forgive sin, he did not intend to break from the Catholic Church, but merely to start a scholarly debate on the subject of indulgences.


How did Luther's view of salvation differ from that of the Catholic Church?

Luther viewed salvation as stemming from faith alone, as opposed to the Catholic belief that taking the seven sacraments and good works would lead to salvation.

Thus, Luther's views stood directly against those of the Pope and the Catholic Church. Those who opposed Catholic teaching became known as Protestants.


What attracted many of the rulers of the North German states of the Holy Roman Empire to Luther's teachings?

Although Luther's teachings were attractive in their own right, Lutheranism also gave many of the North German rulers the opportunity to seize Church lands, significantly adding to their holdings. Denmark and Sweden also became Lutheran and, by the 1530s, the Catholic Church and the Holy Roman Empire had lost control of most of Northern Europe.


Who followed Luther as the dominant figure of the Protestant Reformation?

John Calvin (1509-1564), a French humanist exiled to Geneva, followed Luther as the leader of the Protestant Reformation. Calvin preached predestination, contending that an omniscient God knew in advance who was going to heaven and hell.

Calvin established a theocracy in Geneva, which became home to Protestant exiles from Scotland, the Netherlands, France, and England. Upon their return to their home countries, these exiles brought Calvin's teachings with them.


What is the most important difference between Lutheranism and Calvinism?

While both Lutheranism and Calvinism share a belief in justification by faith alone, they differ on the concept of predestination.

Lutheranism contends that anyone may attain salvation through faith alone, while Calvinism contends that only those predestined by God will be saved.


What Catholic religious order was founded in the wake of the Protestant Reformation to provide reform within the Catholic Church?

The Jesuits, founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola in 1534, sought to reform the Church from the inside. The Jesuits emphasized education and missionary work, in part to refute Protestant theologians and to prevent Protestantism's further spread.


In the aftermath of the Protestant Reformation, what steps did the Catholic Church take to reform itself, a process known as the Counter-Reformation?

Several church councils were called, including the Council of Trent, which lasted from 1545 to 1563. These councils refined and systematized Catholic belief and remedied most of the excesses that had provoked the Reformation, including banning indulgences.

So effective was the Council of Trent in reforming the Church that another church council was not called for 300 years.


What led King Henry VIII to break with the Catholic Church?

Henry VIII was obsessed with the idea of having a son. When his wife Catherine of Aragon failed to give him one, he asked the Pope for a divorce. The Pope was under the control of Catherine's nephew and denied the request.

Henry banished Catherine, married Anne Boleyn (who he would later behead), and started the Anglican Church. Although technically Protestant, the Anglican Church was far more similar to Catholicism than it was to Lutheranism or Calvinism.


Where did the first conflicts of the Wars of Religion break out?

The first conflicts of the Wars of Religion broke out in Northern Germany and Switzerland in the late 1520s, when Protestants revolted against the Holy Roman Empire, which was Catholic.

The Protestants were aided by France, a Catholic power that cared more about weakening the Holy Roman Empire than about religious unity.


What was the primary motivation of the Dutch revolt against their Spanish rulers in the 1560s?

The primary motivation behind the Dutch Revolt was religion. Although the underlying facts are very complex, the Holy Roman Emperor, a Catholic, was also King of Spain and ruled over the Netherlands, which was Calvinist.

Dutch Calvinists destroyed some Catholic churches, which the Emperor resented, and an 80-year civil war broke out. Eventually, the Spanish abandoned the northern Netherlands and Holland became independent.



Huguenots were French Calvinists -- primarily composed of merchants, the middle and high bourgeoisie, and artisans.

Following French King Charles IX's massacre of Calvinists who'd gathered in Paris for a royal wedding on St. Bartholomew's Day, a revolt broke out that lasted for some 15 years. It ended only when a Huguenot King became heir to the French throne and nominally converted to Catholicism.


In 1588, the Spanish Armada (a naval invasion force) was destroyed by a combination of storms and the plucky English navy. Why was the Armada sailing for England?

The Holy Roman Empire and Spanish King Philip II had dispatched the Armada to re-impose Catholicism on England, which was under the rule of Protestant Queen Elizabeth I. Philip had been married to Elizabeth's sister Mary (who was Catholic) until Mary died.


Which was the deadliest and longest of the religious conflicts that plagued Europe between 1520 to 1648?

The deadliest and longest of the religious conflicts that plagued Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries was the Thirty Years' War, which lasted from 1618 to 1648.

For almost a century, Europe was torn apart by religious wars, as Protestant rulers and states sought to remain free from the Catholic Church, and the Catholic states sought to have them return to the Church.


What was the most important result of the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648?

The Treaty of Westphalia ended the Wars of Religion and established that rulers would be sovereign; i.e. they could choose the religion that would govern their territory.

This concept of national sovereignty in one's own borders marked the foundation of the modern concept of "nation-state."


geocentric universe

A geocentric universe is a planetary system under which the Earth is the center of the galaxy; all the planets and the sun revolve around the Earth. 

The belief in a geocentric universe prevailed from ancient times until it was challenged by Copernicus and Galileo.


Who was Nicolaus Copernicus?

Nicolaus Copernicus was a Polish astronomer, who published On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres in 1543. Copernicus posited a heliocentric universe in which the sun was the center of the solar system and all the planets revolved around it in a circular path.

Copernicus's work, with its emphasis on observation and mathematics, gave birth to the Scientific Revolution. 


What invention did Galileo use for astronomical observation?

Galileo used the telescope to conduct systematic observations of the heavens.

In addition to discovering moons orbiting Jupiter and the rings of Saturn, Galileo was able to confirm for himself that Copernicus's heliocentric model was correct. Galileo publicized his findings but was forced to recant them in 1633 by the Catholic Church, which was still wedded to the geocentric universe.


Which English scientist popularized the Scientific Method?

Francis Bacon popularized the Scientific Method in the early 1600s. The Scientific Method is based on inductive (rather than deductive) reasoning. A hypothesis is generated based on direct observation of a phenomena, and then the hypothesis is tested with further experiments.

Bacon advocated empiricism, a theory that asserted that knowledge came from sensory experience.


_____ _____ proposed the law of universal gravitation.

Isaac Newton

Newton published his Principia in 1687, one of the most important works in the history of science. His mathematically derived theories led to the development of calculus and physics.

Newton's primary achievement was to take all the scientific advances of his day and tie them into a single united theory backed by mathematical proof, which was known as Newtonian physics. Newton's theory prevailed until Einstein developed his theories of relativity in the early 1900s.


The Enlightenment marked the first time a _____ world view predominated among leading intellectuals.


Catholics contended that knowledge came from the Church, and Protestants pointed to Scripture as the source of knowledge. The "light" of the Enlightenment came from man's own ability to reason.


_____ _____ tells the comic story of a Spanish adventurer and his squire, whose attempts at chivalry invariably ended in disaster.

Don Quixote

Written by Miguel de Cervantes in two volumes in 1605 and 1615, Don Quixote poked fun at the chivalric notions of Spanish nobles and the actions of priests, while maintaining its central theme -- that individuals can be right while society as a whole is wrong.


Poet and playwright ______ _____ marked the high point of English sophistication in the 16th and 17th centuries.

William Shakespeare

Shakespeare's sonnets are some of the most romantic ever penned, and his plays are still performed, providing tropes of comedy and romance that are still with us today.



Deism is a belief that God, having established the universe, does not intervene in its functioning. Instead, the universe functions according to natural laws set in place by God. Deism gained prominence during the Enlightenment as scientists and philosophers set about to discover God's natural laws.


Who were the philosophes?

The philosophes were Enlightenment thinkers and writers who were dedicated to discovering social problems and positing resolutions by the implementation of natural law. Most philosophes were French, including Voltaire, Rousseau, and Montesquieu.


Which French writer do historians consider the most influential of the philosophes?

Most historians contend that Voltaire, who lived from 1694-1778, is the most influential of the philosophes.

While most philosophes advanced their arguments through reason, Voltaire relied on ridicule to battle bigotry, intolerance, and the Catholic Church. Voltaire's Candide, his most famous work, managed to satirize almost the entirety of European culture in less than 200 pages.


The philosophes emphasized "natural law." What did they mean by the term? 

Natural law refers to laws that govern both human society and the universe as a whole. Natural law is discoverable by reason and determined by nature. The philosophes viewed natural law as superior to man-made (positive) law.

John Locke was the first philosophe to fully expound natural law. He claimed that merely by his existence, man was endowed with rights, which could not be taken or abridged by government. 



Mercantilism is an economic theory, which posits that because the world's wealth is limited, trade is a "zero-sum" game, i.e. that the balance of trade in one nation's favor is another nation's loss.

Mercantilism dominated European economic thought from the Renaissance until the late 1700s and was practiced by all the major European powers.


Who is considered the father of classical economics?

Adam Smith, a product of the Scottish Enlightenment, gave birth to classical economic theory by publishing The Wealth of Nations in 1776. The Wealth of Nations repudiated mercantilism.


How did Adam Smith view the government's role in the economy?

In The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith argued that the government's only role was to defend the state from external enemies, protect the citizens' property, and enforce contracts. In advocating a laissez-faire ("hands-off" or "let it be") economic approach, Smith contended that government interference in the market hindered trade.


Who wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Woman?

Mary Wollstonecraft wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Woman in 1792. In it, Wollstonecraft argued that all humans (not just men) were capable of reason and that the traditional, unequal treatment of women was outmoded and irrational.


What is a nation-state?

A nation-state is a form of political society that usually possesses three characteristics:

  1. Geographic boundaries
  2. Common culture and language
  3. Sovereignty


French King Louis XIV is reported to have said, "L'État, c'est moi." What did Louis XIV mean?

"L'État, c'est moi" roughly translates to "I am the State," and Louis XIV meant that his person as king was the sole legitimate authority in France, a style of government known as absolute monarchy.

As an absolute monarch, Louis XIV contended that all things revolved around him; hence, he adopted the sun itself as his symbol.


What is the Divine Right of Kings?

The Divine Right of Kings holds that the right to rule comes from God and not from the consent of the governed. The Divine Right of Kings was one of the main underpinnings of absolute monarchy. 


What was the Estates General?

The Estates General was the national assembly of France, comprised of nobles, the Church, and the common people. In 1614, the Estates General dissolved after ceding the right to tax to the French monarchy, giving French monarchs an independent power base.


In relation to taxes, how did the English Parliament differ from the French Estates-General?

Unlike the Estates-General, the English Parliament never ceded the right to tax to the King. As a consequence, English kings were beholden to Parliament for funds, and Parliament exercised some control over the King's activities.


What was the Glorious Revolution?

In 1688, Parliament deposed Catholic monarch James II and replaced him with the Protestant Prince William of Orange. William and his wife Mary would rule as constitutional monarchs, meaning that their power was limited by law. In this case, the law was a bill of rights that they signed in 1689.


William and Mary signed the Bill of Rights in 1689. What did the bill establish?

The English Bill of Rights confirmed the existence of an English constitutional monarchy. The bill required the regular meetings of Parliament, limited the power of the Crown, and guaranteed freedom of speech in Parliament without fear of retribution.


In the wake of the Glorious Revolution, John Locke published his Second Treatise of Government, endorsing a limited government. Why did Locke view a limited government as ideal?

Locke contended that mankind was not selfish nor prone to violence, but rather that mankind was a product of reason and his environment.

Holding that man was born with natural rights, such as a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, Locke contended the rights were superior to the laws of man.

The protection of these natural rights was the primary role of government, and any government who abridged these rights deserved to be replaced.


What dynasty governed the Holy Roman Empire beginning in 1438 until the Empire's destruction by Napoleon?

The Holy Roman Empire was governed by the Habsburg dynasty, which at times ruled Spain, the Netherlands, and parts of Italy.

In 1555, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V split the dynasty into Spanish and Austrian branches, with the Austrian branch ruling over much of Central Europe.


Enlightened Despots

An Enlightened Despot was an absolute monarch who nevertheless subscribed to the principles of the Enlightenment.

Russian Tsarina Catherine the Great, Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II, and Prussian King Frederick II were all considered Enlightened Despots. For instance, Joseph II used his absolute power to end forced labor, ban torture, abolish serfdom, and reform the judiciary.


Which kingdom did the Hohenzollerns rule?

The Hohenzollerns were the Kings of Prussia, a member state in the Holy Roman Empire and one of the strongest of the German principalities.


What reforms highlighted the reign of Prussian King Frederick II, known as Frederick the Great?

In addition to doubling the size of the Prussian Army to 80,000 men, Frederick the Great was an Enlightened Despot. He improved education, allowed freedom of the press and religion, and devoted attention to scientific agriculture.

An ardent devotee of the French Enlightenment, Frederick considered himself the "first servant of the state."


What five powers were considered the strongest nations of Europe in 1715?

The five strongest nations in Europe were France, Britain, Prussia, Austria, and Russia. Formerly powerful nations, such as Sweden, Spain, and the Dutch Republic, had declined in power compared to better organized and/or larger nations.


balance of power

The balance of power was a central tenet of European diplomacy for centuries, dedicated to ensuring that a single nation did not dominate the continent.

If one nation became too strong and upset the balance, the other nations banded together to offset their neighbor's power.


The Seven Years' War (1756 to 1763) took place primarily in what country?

For most of the war, the armies of France, Russia, and Sweden focused on Prussia, devastating the country. Frederick the Great, campaigning in-person, kept his army intact and inflicted serious defeats on all three major powers.

To preserve the balance of power, Great Britain contributed monetarily to the Prussian defense, but mainly concerned herself with acquiring French colonial possessions (including Canada). In the end, the British-Prussian alliance was successful. 


Which Florentine is considered the father of modern political science?

Niccolò Machiavelli's (1469-1527) three works, The Prince, The Discourses, and The History of Florence, provided the first modern analysis of political science and the habits of rulers.

Machiavelli was concerned with virtù, the habits he believed made a ruler successful. Virtù did not always relate to virtue, as Machiavelli's most remembered maxim, "The end justifies the means," demonstrates.


Which artists are considered the Trinity of Italian Renaissance art?

The title of the Trinity is bestowed upon Raphael (1483-1520), Michelangelo (1475-1564), and Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), the three best-known artists of the Renaissance.

Raphael's best-known work is The School of Athens, depicting legendary Greek philosophers.

Michelangelo was a prominent sculptor, painter, architect, and even a poet, whose works conveyed an awe-inspiring grandeur.

A true Renaissance Man, Leonardo da Vinci was an inventor, scientist, and artist, whose famous works include The Last Supper and the Mona Lisa


What events contributed to the Renaissance's outgrowth from Italy to the countries of Western Europe?

The most important event was the invention of the printing press, which made it easier and cheaper to publish books. Printers began publishing the works of Renaissance writers throughout Western Europe in an effort to satisfy insatiable demand.

Other events included the French and Spanish invasions of Italy beginning in the 1490s, which contributed to an exposure and exchange of information between Italy and the West.


Who is considered the finest playwright of the English Renaissance?

William Shakespeare

Shakespeare's works were prolific and drew inspiration from ancient mythology and modern history. While Shakespeare was not the first popular English Renaissance playwright (Christopher Marlowe being one predecessor), he is the most famous. 


What English Renaissance scientist is credited with the creation of the scientific method?

Francis Bacon developed the scientific method, an empirical technique using inductive methodology for scientific inquiry. In addition to being a scientist, Bacon was a legal reformer, philosopher, and novelist.

Later scientists, such as Isaac Newton, would draw on Bacon's techniques in their own scientific pursuits.


How did the Ottoman Empire's conquest of Constantinople in the mid-1400s spur European exploration?

Constantinople served as the trade gateway between Europe and Asia. Following its conquest by the Turks in 1453, Europeans had to find alternative trade routes to gain access to Asian goods, which promoted exploration.


What was the impact of the fall of Constantinople on the Italian Renaissance?

When Constantinople fell in 1453, many of its leading scholars fled west to the Italian city-states. They brought with them many of the classics of Greco-Roman literature.

More importantly, they possessed a knowledge of Greek, which enabled their students to read the works of ancient Greek authors, such as Homer, for the first time. 


What was the primary focus of Portuguese exploration?

The Portuguese were primarily interested in trade with Asia and India.

During the early 1400s, Prince Henry the Navigator funded exploration expeditions primarily to access these markets. In 1488, Bartolomeu Dias rounded the Cape of Good Hope and, in 1498, Vasco da Gama reached India.