Culture and the world (1450-1750)

By Mason Bivins

The age of discovery

Between 1450 and 1750 there were a lot of events that drastically changed the known world and its culture. From the splitting of possibly the most powerful religion at the time, to discovering a whole new continent, with entire previously unknown civilizations. And with these revolutions came changes that would shape culture of people living in all parts of the world, forever. This, was the age of discovery.

Protestant Reformation

Protestant Reform was essentially a splitting of the church into the Catholics and Protestants. Although members of the two different versions of christianity get along for the most part. However, when the split first occurred both sides strongly believed that their slightly different outlook on life and way of worship was correct and anyone who opposed was (for lack of better words) dammed to hell. This caused not only conflict, but also a whole new way of life, thus a change in culture. And although this change might not be as great as the impact of an event like the Columbian Exchange, but it does still change the way that religion, especially Christianity, can be modified based on individual interpretation. One source that I found extremely useful when looking into the Protestant Reform was a video made by Crash Course, a youtube channel that produces educational and reliable. At the beginning of the video John Green states that "Roman Catholicism was the dominant for of christianity and had been like since the 4th century. [Until the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century]" -John Green Crash Course World History. This illustrates how popular and widespread Christianity had become. Furthering the point that a split in the followers of this popular belief system really had a big impact on culture in Europe, with the impact still present in modern society with Roman Catholicism and Protestant Christianity still having great influence on the lives of the followers.
Luther and the Protestant Reformation: Crash Course World History #218


The European Renaissance was a rebirth of Greco-Roman ideas and culture. Prier to the renaissance Europe had fallen into a "the dark ages", and time of societal regression. However after the walls of Constantinople fell the citizens of the citizens moved back to Italy. Bringing with them the preserved ideas of the Greeks and Romans. And it is this influx of new culture that sparked the renaissance movement. This was a time of great advancement in education, technology, and art, all of which had an enormous impact on European culture. The rebirth of education helped educate more people than ever, which in turn allowed people to think more independently without having to rely on the often corrupt teachings of the church. To help drive my point home I found a quote that expresses the importance of the printing press creating an opportunity to educate the middle class. The quote states; "The printing press revolutionized communication -- suddenly, the middle classes were able to educate themselves." -Abruzzo, Kimberly. "How Did the Renaissance Change European Culture & Society?" Web.

This quote emphasizes the impact that the printing press was able to make on the middle class. Without the printing press it is unlikely that Luther would have been able to spread his translated bible without the printing press, and that alone caused a whole other cultural change on its own.

Age of Exploration

The Age of Exploration began in the 15th century and continued until about the mid 1700's. This was a time in which European countries began to send people to the newly discovered Americas to claim land, gather resources, spread their ideals, and generally strengthen their empire. England, Spain, and Portugal were the three most influential countries with flags in the new world. England controlled most of modern day North America, while Spain had conquered from Modern day Mexico south. And Portugal ruled one large section of land in South America now known as the country of Brasil. However, when the new world was discovered the Europeans were not the first inhabitants. Before even the first voyage to the new world there were inhabitants living throughout the Americas. Nomadic people lived in the north while fairly advanced civilizations of people lived all across what would come be known as Latin America, and unfortunate the merging of the two cultures was not a peaceful process. When they Europeans came their weaponry dominated that of the natives, however it was not their gunpowder or metal weapons that inflicted the most damage; disease brought by the Europeans ravished the native population, decreasing it to only a fraction of what it once was. And with the natives being defeated, they were forced to accept the culture and tradition of the Europeans as their own.

The Mughal Empire

The Mughal Empire was a land empire that controlled most of the the Indian subcontinent. The empire was founded in 1526 and wasn't dissolved until 1857. The Mughal Empire was very unique in the since that it was ruled by a people of Islamic faith, despite that the majority of its citizens were Hindu. However, the Islamic leader Akbar actually made the empire tolerant towards all religions and cultures as apposed to forcing his people to convert. This allowed the culture in this area to remain relatively unchanged during the time of Akbar's rule. Thanks to Akbar's policies, not only were people free to practice their religion of choice, but there was also a great deal of cultural change due to the mixing of religious groups. After doing some research I found an article to support my claims from the BBC's website. The quote is as follows; "Akbar believed that all religions should be tolerated, and that a ruler's duty was to treat all believers equally, whatever their belief." Mughal Empire (1500s, 1600s)." This quote shows the level of carry Akbar took to try to keep an equal society, thus maintaining a lot of the culture and way of life.
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Trade Routes

Though out history trade routes have been a key part of the spread of ideas, religion, and most of all culture, That is why it comes as no surprise that the Columbian Exchange, one of the biggest trade routes to date, would have the biggest impact on global culture than any other previous trade routes. Unlike other trade routes, like the Silk Road, the Columbian Exchange allowed the transfer of ideas, crops, domestic animals, religions, culture, technology, and even disease between different continents that had since never even known of the others existence. Because of the isolation when contact was made almost everything introduced to either the new or the old world was practically unheard of, from new foods and animal, culture and religion, and even a new color! The Columbian Exchange had such a global impact that life never went back to the way it was before the discovery of the Americas. One author describes the impact that the new crops brought from the Americas had on the old world. "The Columbian exchange of crops affected both the Old World and the New. Amerindian crops that have crossed oceans—for example, maize to China and the white potato to Ireland—have been stimulants to population growth in the Old World." Crosby, Alfred W. "The Columbian Exchange."The Glider Lehrman Institute of American History. Because of the Columbian Exchange the old world, which had been previously had a continuous famine, could then use the imported crops to more efficiently feed its citizens. Thus allowing for yet another spike in population.
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Work Cited page

-Green, John, and Elisabeh Sperling. "Luther and the Protestant Reformation: Crash Course

World History #218." YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2016.

-"Mughal Empire (1500s, 1600s)." BBC News. BBC, n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2016.

-Crosby, Alfred W. "The Columbian Exchange."The Glider Lehrman Institute of American History.

-Abruzzo, Kimberly. "How Did the Renaissance Change European Culture & Society? | The Classroom