Defining The Modern Era Essay

1735 words - 7 pages


The early modern era is said to have been between the years 1500 and 1800. It's held to have begun during the Late Renaissance period and ended about the time industrialization changed the face of the world. It was an amazing time of scientific discovery, an age of exploration and a time where the very boundaries of knowledge were expanded since the end of the Roman Empire. One of the first things a student of the time is struck by is how similar the arguments at the dawn of this age are with the ones faced by contemporary people. Before analyzing that, it may be a good idea to get an idea of what the world was like, how people thought and what the hopes ...view middle of the document...

Malnutrition led to less productivity. In a preindustrial society, labor is done by people, not machines, so anything that saps people's strength is deleterious to the economy. As a result, landowners began raising rents, which has an effect on further damaging the economy. Since people at that time had less cash on hand to due to higher rents and since the price of food was increasing due to poorer and poorer harvests and less productive workers, a vicious cycle emerged that dragged the economy down into what we now call a depression. The previous centuries saw the revival of ancient trade routes to the East through Central Asia and the Near East. It was along these routes that the Black Death traveled. It's estimated that up to half of the population of Europe perished in this cataclysm. This had profound social and economic effects that would shape the world of a person living in the Early Modern Era.
One of the events of modern era that shape how western Europeans define it was the economy effect of plague years. After the mass destruction, death and devastation of two World Wars in the last century, the deaths of the plague years dwarfs anything a modern person can understand. The Black Death led to the end of serfdom, rise of the Protestant Reformation and loosened the stranglehold the elites of the time had on society. With half of its population gone, the pressures to increase food production were gone. The serf now had a sort of economic clout as the labor of a serf was worth much more in this devastated world than it had in the previous world that had been teeming with farmers. In an effort to attract workers to their manors, one of the first laws to go was the age old laws tying the serf to the land. This created a free worker and was a prototype of the modern citizen. In addition, the value of a serf was much more now because they were so scarce after the plague years. This led to a decrease in rent and an increase in pay as landlords attempted to entice serfs to work for them.
Modern era is all defined by the western Europeans by the war of religion. This was probably the defining event of the Early Modern Era. While this war began as a war over religion, it ended as a war of nations. Many modern European nations were formed in this crucible of war. It ended feudal notions of society and paved the way for absolute monarchs. It was at this time that the Church finally lost all control over Northern Europe, England and the Northeast of Germany. France and England consolidated their hold over territory in their possession and began a series of wars contesting overseas colonies. The failure to stamp out Protestantism also led to the establishment of more universities to meet the new churches needs for trained theologians and further increased the educational opportunities of people living in Protestant lands. One of the problems of the period concerned the merchants, bankers and artisans of Europe's largest...

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