How the Renaissance, Reformation and Nation-States Contributed to the Concept of European Identity?
I would like to study the connection between the material culture that sprang to life after the Reformation in Europe and the urbanization that came with the Industrial Revolution in order to see if or if not it had any effects on constituting the European Identity. Starting first with analyzing the material culture of which the Italian Renaissance movement and then the Reformation planted its seeds, I want to follow the dynamics of social changes that slowly transformed the life in Europe from peasantry with only ...view middle of the document...
Another invention that marked this era was the printing machine as “the manufacture of paper, the discovery of the arts of printing and engraving, multiplied the possession of the treasures of the intelligence and of artistic genius, and combined to make art and literature democratic.” This development enabled masses of people access to knowledge and this had changed the societies of Europe slowly yet irrevocably from being ignorant and unaware to literate and freethinking while it substantially decreased the power of the Catholic Church.
By the late 18th century, the industrialization process was on the way and the significant increase in production, accelerated trade throughout the continent. Mercantilism was the domineering economic structure in the Middle Ages and it provided great protection to traders and businesses whereas it required strong nation-states.
With this study, I want to figure how the material culture that occured as a result of Protestant Reformation paved the way for the then-modern cities in Europe. It is also a fact that the trend was towards the nation-states in the 19th century and many such states were formed around a national identity. Therefore it is interesting to see if and how a broader sense of European identity had flourished in European people’s minds and in which ways had it been affected by the material culture. European identity is not used in a post-nationalist notion as is understood today but a general understanding and a feeling of belonging in a wider range is meant.
2. State of the Field
The reformation process the Europe has gone through, starting with Martin Luther’s 95 Theses in 1517 and going through centuries towards the end of 18th century where it sparked another revolutionary movement, has been widely researched and discussed. This social transformations went hand in hand with economical dynamics, as in almost all sources we can find explanations such as the one below by Lindsay, that depict the average European’s change from rural peasant to urban manufacturers and traders:
Beneath the whole mediæval system lay the idea that the land was the only economic basis of wealth. During the earlier Middle Ages this was largely true everywhere, and was specially so in Germany. Each little district produced almost all that it needed for its own wants; and the economic value of the town consisted in its being a corporation of artisans exchanging the fruits of their industries for the surplus of farm produce which the peasants brought to their market-place. But the increasing trade of the towns, developed at first along the greater rivers, the arteries of the countries, gradually produced another source of wealth; and this commerce made great strides after the Crusades had opened the Eastern markets to European traders. Trade, commerce, and manufactures were the life of the towns, and were rapidly increasing their importance.
This change of...