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Essay #1

Late medevial Germany lacked the political unity to enforce a “national”

religious belief. What happened on a national, unified level in France and England
happened locally and in pieces in Germany. A popular resentment for ecclesiastical
abuses and indulgences made for an unorganized “national” resentment to Rome
which lay the foundation for Martin Luther’s reformation.

People were becoming more aware of the world around them to and the age
of books and libraries increased literacy. After the Bible was printed, people were
able to discuss and debate scriptures more than ever before. People wanted to gain
more religious piety and a simpler church, but they felt that the church was bullying
them, therefore any Protestant reformation was welcome. Resentment grew from
the failure of the church to provide full personal or intellectual satisfaction. The
church would sell indulgences or “get out of purgatory free” passes to people, and
the clergy would get special privileges. An even more despicable indulgence was
called the “jubilee indulgence” which was made to gain funds for Saint Peters
Basilica. Martin Luther in particular came to despise the phrase “righteousness of
God” because the church at this time preached that you basically had to be sinless
to gain salvation from God. The more popular belief was that if you had a firm belief
and love for Christ, you would be saved. Under this new thought process, living your
life through faith in Christ, indulgences were unacceptable. At this point, people
would pay money that was seen as an almsgiving to release themselves and their
ancestors from purgatory.
On the door outside the church, Luther posted his 95 thesis’s which spoke out
against indulgences. As more offense, he defended a known heretic John Pym and
attacked the 7 original sacraments. He was firm in his belief and at the Diet of
Worms, when asked to recant by Charles V, the things he said and refused to take
back got him excommunicated from the church. However, a war with France got
Charles V to attempt to get on the good side of the nobles. He did so by declaring
the Edict of worms against Luther which said people could practice religion “so as to
be able to answer in conscience to God and the emperor.” Now German princes had
territorial sovereignty in religious matters and the Reformation had time to put
down deep roots.
Although Germany was the first with the reformation, other countries followed
suit. Ulrich Zwingli, leader of the Swiss reformation, was widely known for his
opposition to the sale of indulgences and religious superstition. His main belief was
that unless it had literal support in scripture, it was not to be believed. Because his
reforms were so strict, the reform became one of the first examples of a
“puritanical” protestant society
Zwingli and Luther disagreed on one main point: the Eucharist. Zwingli argued
that the body and blood of Christ were simply symbolic while Luther was adamant
that Christ could very well be both spiritually and physically present. This
disagreement split the reformation both theologically and politically.
Whereas in Saxony, religious reform paved the way for political reformation, in
Geneva, a political revolution against the local prince-bishop laid the foundation for
religious change.
After the Protestant city of Bern chose to send reformers to Geneva, the Protestants
triumphed and the people chose to adopt the Reformation. John Calvin, a reform
minded humanist, arrived in Geneva after these events and local protestant
reformers convinced him to stay and help with the reformation. Because of the
extreme measures the reformers posed to the Genevan government, they were
accused of trying to start a new papacy and were banished from the city. Calvin
went to Strasbourg where he got married and was the pastor to the French exiles.
He learned from a Strasbourg reformer Martin Bucer how to properly implement the
protestant reformation. When Calvin was invited back to the city of Geneva, he and
his followers were motivated to create a godly society. They also believed in divine
predestination. He preached that the “elect” or the elders of the society should lead
god pleasing lives and enforced strict moral discipline. By 1555, all magistrates
(judicial court people) were devout Calvinists, and although the religion was fairly
unpopular to many Genevans, it was a home to many Protestants who had been
The reform began to spread all over Europe. In Germany, the reformation brought
about new educational reforms that continued to boost the religious reformation. In
Denmark, Lutheranism became the state religion and in Poland, protestants and
Calvinists practiced alongside Catholics. People were so divided in religions that it
brought about tension. Charles V couldn’t make up a compromise so he crushed the
Protestant Confederation of Germany with his military and tried to make all
Protestants readopt Catholicism. However, the reformation was too vast at this point
to break their spirits that easily. He made a compromise with the Peace at Augsburg
which stated that the ruler of the land would determine the religion of the land. All
Christendom was allowed (note that Calvinism was not recognized as a religion at
this point) and those not in a religion could convert to one of their choice. This final
point in the reformation truly showed the change from the allowance of only one
religion to some religious freedom, at least for the time being.

Essay #2
By the end of the 17th century, France and England were two main world
powers but both had extremely different systems of government. In the second half
of the 16th century, military organization increased the cost of warfare. Because
traditional ways of gaining funds did not suffice, monarchs sought ways to get new
revenues. Only monarchies that built a stable financial base without the help of
nobles or assemblies achieved a monarchy. France at this point in time succeeded in
making an absolute monarchy because the previous king Henry IV established
monopolies in gunpowder, mines and salt. France was a predominately Catholic
nation, however, until Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes, people were allowed to
worship as they pleased. Although this forced peace between the two religions,
there was still hostility. The personalities of the two able statesmen Cardinal Mazarin
and Richelieu who guided Louis XIV to be a hardworking monarch also made an
influence on France because people trusted the monarchy. At this point in time, the
monarchy was secure and religion was not a big problem.

England in contrast was set up as a parliamentary monarchy where they was

a ruler whose power was limited by the parliament. Because of the Magna Carta in
1215, the royal power was limited by a counteractive force and this principle carried
over through the 17th century. The main religion in England was Protestantism, but
as England moved into the 17th century and the Stuart monarchs took control,
people’s insecurity in their religion being supreme caused them to become paranoid
that Catholicism was taking hold which led to disunity. The fact that the people
distrusted their kings led to civil war in the country over matters of religion.

Things in France seemed to be going fine until the reign of Louis XIV. Louis
sought to make the monarchy the most powerful institution in France, and by
keeping his courts guessing and in his favor, he convinced the nobles that they still
had power over decisions made. Louis reigned from his palace Versailles where daily
life revolved around intricate routines suited to fit the king. He never announced a
chief minister because he sought to keep his courts guessing. He recognized
Parlement in matters of taxes which made them believe that they had some power,
but they were still dependent on his goodwill. His main goal in his reign was to
extend the borders of France and to make a completely unified French state, so it
was suited to be a world power. Determined to unify France religiously, Louis
revoked the Edict of Nantes and French Protestants joined the resistance against
France in England. France was now divided on a religious level. After the War of
Austrian succession and the death of Louis XIV, France’s monarchy was weakened
which made way for later reform.

Under the reign of Elizabeth, the English had religious freedom and there was
a solid state of England. However, once she was overthrown by James I, things
quickly turned to chaos. James I inherited a huge royal debt and he asked
Parliament if he could gain more funds. Parliament, who was only called under the
king’s approval, refused and James instated impositions in order to make money,
which the parliament regarded as a direct threat to their authority. Before this time,
parliament expected to be consulted in all matter, but the refusal of the stuart
monarchs to do so split up the nation. James was suspected of having Catholic
sympathies because of his treaty with Spain, his son’s marriage to a Spanish
princess, and his hesitancy to aid the German Protestants in the outbreak of the
Thirty Years War. James’ successor Charles I attempted to get more funds from
Parliament for the war with Spain, and when they refused, he resorted to extra
parliamentary measures. He levied new taxes, forced landowners to extend loans to
monarchy, and quartered troops in private homes. The Petition of Right, passed by
parliament, went against everything he just did and, because he saw this as a
threat to his power, Charles disbanded parliament. Losing to the Scots forced
Charles to reconvene them after 11 years of personal rule. When asked to fund a
rebellion against Scotland, parliament presented the king with the Grand
Remonstrance, a large list of grievances directed him. Charles created his own army
once passing the militia ordinance and England engaged in a 4 year civil war.
Religious imbalance as well as kings who were questioned destroyed the
government in England.

Exam Essay Question 3

Discuss the Age of the European Enlightenment. What were the contributions of
Copernicus, Galileo, and Newton? Who were the philosophes? Compare and contrast
the philosophy of Locke, Voltaire, and Rousseau. Conclude with a discussion of the
monarch and his/ her policies that you feel most embodied the values of the

The age of the European enlightenment brought about a new way of thinking
by embracing different writers and thinkers from various places around the world.
The main contributors to the enlightenment were the philosophes. They were
writers and critics and social reformers that popularized rationalism and scientific
ideas, and exposed social and political abuses and confronted religious
condemnation. The philosophes were inspired by astronomers, mathematicians, and
scientists, especially Copernicus, Galileo, and Newton.

Prior to Copernicus, people believed in the Ptolemaic system, which said that
the earth was the center of the universe. Copernicus was the first to challenge the
idea that the earth was not the center of the Universe in his work, “On the
Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres.” He concluded that the sun was the center of
the universe which made people begin to question their role in the world.
Galileo used the telescope to observe the heavens. He used mathematics to
explain his beliefs of the earth’s motion, and recorded all of his findings in his book,
“Dialogues on the Two Chief Systems of the World.” Because the Church had always
tought that God had made his people the center of all things, the church
condemned him for the new evidence he presented. He stated that even if they
condemn him, “It still moves.”

Newton believed that science and religion were compatible. He invented the
laws of physics and discovered the concept of gravity. This was his explanation of
why the planets moved in a orderly manner, and to him, the natural universe
became a realm of law and regularity. He believed that god must be rational and
that to study the natural world was to learn more about the Creator. Science and
faith were now mutually supporting which led to people wanting to find out more
about their world.

Inspired by these men, John Locke wanted to create an organized picture of

the human mind as Newton did for the natural world. In his “Essay Concerning
Human Understanding,” he described tabula rasa, the belief that everyone is born
with a blank slate, which rejected the Christian view of original sin. He also believed
that people are the outcome of their environment, and that all men are created
equal. His philosophies gave inspiration to the American and French revolution.

Voltaire, the most influential of the philosphes, and a strong monarchist,

believed that the only way to find truth was in the nature God created. He
published, “Letters to the English, praising the English and their intellectual and
political freedom, and the most famous of his writings, “Candide,” which expressed
his opposition the war, religious prosecution, and optimism about the human
condition. He believed that human society could and should be improved and
although he was optimistic about the human outcome, he was never certain on

Rousseau, heavily influenced by John Locke, published the “Social Contract,”

stating, “All men are born free, but everywhere they are in chains.” He believed that
people are tainted by the societies which they live in and that is why he had such a
low view on society. He argued that law should be dictated by general will and if the
general will was correct, to obey it was to be free.

The philosophes inspired many monarchs; however, the most enlightened

monarch was Joseph II of Austria. He embodied rational, impersonal force and really
strived to improve the lot of his people. He wanted to extend the power of the
central monarchy and did so by first allowing freedom of religion to a certain extent,
which was deemed important. He also abolished serfdom because he was trying to
embrace the fact that all men are created equal.
Exam Essay Question 4

Provide a summary of the French Revolutions between 1789 and 1795. Discuss the
changes in the legislative bodies and the overall construct of government. Address
the shortcomings of the first revolution that led to the second revolution.

The French Monarchy emerged from the Seven Years War deeply indebted,
and their support in the American Revolution had only exacerbated the problem. In
need for money, Louis XIV’s ministers attempted to gain more funds by taxing the
Aristocracy, but they failed because parliament at the time stated that only the
Estates General, which had not been called upon since 1614, could assign new
taxes. Louis was forced to call upon them for their help, whereupon the Third Estate
of the Estate’s General broke apart and became the National Assembly. This new
assembly, along with other members of the aristocracy took up position on a tennis
court, vowing not to move until Louis allowed them to make a constitution for
France. This “Tennis court oath” finally forced Louis into declaring them he National
Constituent Assembly, though he had no intention of letting them make a

Louis XIV tried to resist the transition by organizing troops near Versailles
and refusing to cooperate with the National Constituent Assembly to make a
constitution because he still wanted complete power. The assembly of Louis’s troops
scared the revolutionaries and they created citizen militias. On July 14, they
stormed the Bastille looking for weapons, but found none. There were several other
uprisings, and Louis was finally forced back into Paris to recognize their newly
elected government and it’s National Guard. After more and more disturbances, the
Great Fear took hold of the countryside and the peasants reclaimed rights and
properties taken by aristocracy. There were multiple uprisings and in order to halt
the revolts, the aristocracy gave up some of their special privileges.

On August 27th, the NCA signed the Declaration of the Rights of Man and
Citizen, which said, all men are born free and equal, all equal before the law,
(including the king) all were innocent until proven guilty, and freedom of religion.
This was not a social revolution, just a reorganization of government.

The National Assembly continued to try to reorganize France and they

administered an economic policy that resembled Adam Smith’s idea of laizze faire.
They also had no consideration for the lower class, which eventually led to the
rebellion. The NCA issued the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, which transformed the
Roman Catholic Church into a branch of the state. The French government had gone
from a monarchy to a constitutional monarchy.

In the summer of 1791, the Louis was persuaded to flee France but when he
was caught, the NCA realized that he was the main counter-revolutionary and this
was threatening. A little later on, Austria and Prussia signed the declaration at
Pillnitz which said that they were planning on interfering on behalf of the French
monarchy if other world powers agreed. This was never going to happen of course
since England and France were rivals but the threat this caused the revolution
instigated a war with Austria. The Jacobins were radicals who aimed to forward the
revolution, and realizing that Austria was a threat, the Girondists, a subgroup of
Jacobins pressured the Legislative Assembly to go to War with Austria. The war
radicalized the revolution and led to the second revolution. Under radical working
pressure the government in Paris was reelected to make a Commune. The invasion
of the Tuilerie gardens forced the king to take refuge in the Legislative and from this
point on, the King was kicked out of government affairs. The Commune, who were
gaining power, placed a lot of pressure on the Legislative Assembly to make a new
democratic constitution, and to hold another election to form the Convention. The
formation of the Convention declared France a republic on September 21, 1792.
Three months later, Louis was beheaded.

After the death of Louis, a period of time known as the Reign of Terror came
about. The Convention made the Committee for Public Safety which soon killed
everyone who was not “for the revolution.” The Girondists, who were part of the
original Jacobins who started the revolution, were persecuted and the Mountain, a
super conservative sect of the Jacobins, soon held almost dictatorial power. Soon a
levee en masse, a draft, was instituted for military purposes. Notre Dame and other
important churches were soon made unreligious and into temples of the Cult of
Reason. Maximillian Robespierre, who had gained power through his work as a
revolutionary, became paranoid and began killing anyone who he thought went
against the revolution. The ending of this time of terror is known as the
Thermodorian Revolution, a period of calm. The club of the Jacobins closed and the
Convention issued a new constitution in the year III. There was now a bicameral
(two houses) system of government and 5 people were elected to the legislative
house. Price caps, which were instated at the request of the sans-culottes, were
repealed, leading to riots because of food shortages. Napoleon Bonaparte stopped
the food rebellion in 1795.