Kings Gain Power:

Martin Luther

  • Martin Luther founded the Protestant religion

  • All Europeans had been Roman Catholics up until then
  • This was the beginning of the reformation
  • He nailed his 95 Theses to the door of Wittenberg's All Saints Church in 1517
  • Martin Luther complained about some of the practices of the Roman Catholic Church in 1517 which resulted in huge changes in European religious life
    • Church opponents felt that the Church had been growing away from its teachings of Christ and they were becoming too wealthy and powerful
    • Martin Luther was followed by many other reformers called protestants
    • They believed that the church should be based on the word of God and rejected the authority of the pope and other church officials
    • Also believed that services and buildings of the Church should be plain and simple
    • Protestants angered by the fact that the Church was focused on wealth and decorations
    • After the reformation the different kingdoms in Europe had different religions which made political disputes worse

Kings and the Church

  • While Europe was being divided by religion, Kings found more power for themselves
  • In the past the pope interfered with the running of kingdoms using religion as reasoning which had left the kings sometimes no more powerful then their Nobles
  • Kings became supreme authority in their kingdoms by
    • Claiming religious control by deciding the religion of their kingdom
    • Undermining the power of their nobles by replacing them (replaced them with loyal people from the middle class)
    • Paid for professional armies other than relying on the nobles to supply them
  • To pay for all this Kings started to tax their subjects
  • Kings started to take away the importance of “nobles” and started to create a nation
  • People started to think of themselves as subjects to a king instead of serfs to a noble
  • Kings began to be thought of as kingly people and were raised high above the status of ordinary people
  • Kings become equal to, if not greater, than the pope in status

external image catholic_church.jpg external image protestant_church2.jpg

A Catholic church A Protestant church

A Prosperous Age

  • Agriculture was the basis of the economy
  • Multiple improvements in agriculture such as more efficient farming techniques and high yield crops resulted in a huge increase in population.
  • Many people moved to cities to take advantage of the jobs that were opening up there.
  • As a result, cities became the dominant feature of countries, instead of the rural areas.
  • With Feudalism rapidly declining, serfs often owned their own land, or rented it from landlords.
  • Trade expanded to suit the increasingly large and populous cities, resulting in extensive exploration and connecting the world together more closely.
  • Africa, the Americas, India, and the Indonesian region were where most exploration and colonies were concentrated.
  • The Spanish and the Portuguese were the first to go exploring and set up colonies in these places, but the British, French, and Dutch followed soon after.
  • By the year 1700, these nations had developed extensive empires.
  • The increase of trade and industry gave rise to a middle class composed mainly of merchants and landowners.

external image colonial_dominion_1700_1763.jpg
More information on the first European empires.
More information on European exploration.

A New View of Humanity


  • Printers began to print illustrations
    • Used to spread knowledge and ideas to people who could not read / write
  • Year 1500 – 6 million books printed in Europe
  • Books were everywhere
    • No longer just libraries of monasteries and wealthy households
    • Florence, 1571, one of the first public libraries was built
  • Books stored flat or on lecterns

Theatre / Popular Culture

  • Shakespeare and other authors began to write about everyday things
  • Popular culture became important
  • Theatres spread more ideas to public
    • Globe Theatre built in London in 1599
      • Plays by Shakespeare (and other playwrights) were performed for the public
    • Could accommodate 3000 people
    • Open every day except Sunday
    • All classes of society attended
    • Actors were all male
      • Female characters played by younger boys
    • Very few props
    • Audience very rowdy
      • Shouting, hissing, clapping
      • Threw apple cores, etc. at performers
    • Theatre was burnt down in 1613
    • Rebuilt in 1996


  • Led to a whole new way of viewing the world
    • People more interested in the world around them
  • Less interested in religion and the world to come
    • Idea was created that anything humans wished to do and put their mind to, could be done
  • This was humanism


  • Impact on art
      • §Art was unlike medieval art
    • not stylized
      • Art was more devoted to realistic themes as opposed to religion
    • Often represented Roman and Greek themes
  • Europeans were rediscovering the ways of the Greek and Roman
    • Began to concentrate on the daily life of an ordinary citizen
  • Impact on literature
    • Religious themes were less common
      • People began writing on everyday life, or historic events
      • Poets began creating pieces about love
    • More writings were in the vernacular
    • People started posing questions about life
  • Led to new philosophies
    • Printing press had large impact on society
      • Spread word of ideas regarding to humanism
    • Books became more available
      • More and more people learned to read and write
    • More schools opened, especially in towns
      • More children attended school


  • Humanism
    • A system or mode of thought in which human interests predominate
  • Philosophy
    • The pursuit of the principles underlying all knowledge
    • The pursuit of wisdom
  • Lectern
    • A reading desk
  • Thatch
    • A roof made of straw

Resources (Pictures and Links)

external image 0530_globe_theatre_london.jpg

ii.Original Globe Theatre
external image globe.jpg

iii. Gutenberg printing press

external image printing_press.jpg

iv.Renaissance clothing
external image renaissance-clothing-1.jpg
v.Renaissance art
external image p74330-Las_Vegas-Renaissance_Art_in_the_Venetian.jpg

A New View of the World

  • The 16th and 17th century was a time of incredible change in the way people viewed the world around them.
  • In the sciences, many scientists we now know today made important revelations
  • Scientists include Copernicus, Galileo, Francis Bacon, Isaac Newton, Andreas Vesalius,
  • Copernicus
  • Galileo
  • Francis Bacon
  • Isaac Newton
  • Andreas Vesalius