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AP European History

Advanced Placement European History (commonly known as AP Modern European History, AP Euro, AP European, APEH, or MEHAP), is a course and examination offered by the College Board through the Advanced Placement Program. This course is for high school students who are interested in a first year university level course in European history. The course surveys European history from between 1300-1450 CE to the present, focusing on religious, social, economic, and political themes. In the United States, the course is usually taken in sophomore year of high school.

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Far before the sixteenth century, the Roman Catholic Church had developed an “impure” reputation. The church had a history for desired reform as expressed by people like John Wycliffe and Jan Hus. John Wycliffe believed that the Pope was not upholding his obligations then the people should not be obligated to listen to him either. They became known as the Lolards, and when Jan Hus expanded on their beliefs, these new followers were known as the Hussites. Additionally, the Catholic Church faced criticism at the hands of states men who believed the Pope had became too involved in temporal affairs while the monasteries had also gained a lot of property. However, the most focused issues surrounding the Church were its sell of indulgences. In this act, a piece of paper was sold to raise money for the church to use in cathedral construction and so forth, while promising its owner time out of purgatory for him and his loved ones. The purchase of indulgences was also used to pay off debts from acts of simony, which in its self was a criticized act. Furthermore, the church made canon law hard for any laymen to read while also increasing the traditional ten percent tithe. Consequently, this led to the biggest challenge the church would face, in the form of a German monk, Martin Luther would challenge these criticized church practices and lead his followers to something even Martin Luther had not intended.

Contributed by Jazz DK

Luther The Movie: This movie tells the story of Martin Luther, lead figure in the Protestant Reformation, during sixteenth century Europe. Further detail about the Protestant Reformation, its causes and effects, will be presented in a separate post. However, this educational movie was a fun way that I was taught about the Reformation. Enjoy!

Contributed by Jazz DK

Renaissance society changed significantly from the middle ages. As seen by the various works of art and their funding, it became more common for families to be involved as patrons and/or in banking such as the Medici. Society was split into two, those who earned enough money to feed themselves and their family (upper and middle classes) and the working class who were considered “little people”. Peasants and slaves were always at the bottom. During this period there were also two types of families the extended and the nuclear. The extended family’s characteristics include having the same sir name and living in the same district. They usually have more kids because they can afford it and the women of the house did not usually raise their own children; having more children guaranteed a male heir to carry on their sir name. The nuclear family was much smaller and they often could not afford children so infant mortality rates were high; they tried to cause miscarriages and death caused by “laying over” was a common cause of death. Additionally, life expectancy was low during this period and women were able to own property and join guilds. The three-field system was also common in farming and men were seen doing most of the work. Further more, the church was omnipresent and influenced the lives of many.

Contributed by Jazz DK

The Hundred Years’ War was a contributing factor to the calamitous fourteenth century. Now don’t be fooled by the name, the Hundred Years’ War was actually a hundred and sixteen years from 1337-1453. This war began when William the Conqueror became the king of England in 1066 (after the Battle of Hastings) but remained the duke of Normandy and therefore a vassal of the king of France. This idea was disputed between the French and English kings as Edward I of England did not want to give homage to French lands. As many European families, they attempted to solve the problem through a marriage alliance. Edward II was to marry Isabelle of France; but, in 1337, the French king died with only female heirs and that the closest male heir was Edward III of England. The French then invoked the Salic law, which stated that the throne could not be traced through the matrilineal line; therefore, Edward III could not claim the throne. During the war, Edward III received support from the Low Countries and England was smaller than France was and ran better therefore giving them the ability to mobilize their resources effectively. It is also important to understand that this was not a continuous war lasting a hundred and sixteen years, there were long periods of truce in between. Most of the war was pillaging and siege with the suffering of the French army. There were three key battles during the Hundred Years War: the Battle of Crecy (1346), the Battle Poitiers (1356), and the Battle of Agincourt (1415). They all had relatively the same results and formed under the same conditions. The feudalistic knights that were used in the French army were made up of nobles with heavy armor and cavalry. The French army’s battle strategy was basically to charge the English army whose war tactics had evolved with dismounted armies and heavily armed infantry groups and the use of the long bow (and as mentioned before the long bow defeated the purpose of the knights heavy armor). By 1415, the English had taken over much of the French territory and had allied with the French state of Burgundy. At this point France had also descended into chaos because of the state increasing taxes and the lack of a government structure. This led to a peasant revolt called the Jacquerie. One of the most memorable figures from this war was Joan of Arc, a peasant girl from the French land of Champagne. The legend says she had visions of St. Catherine whom urged her to go to the French king and convince him to give her command of the army. Joan of Arc along with the French army traveled to the city of Corilon and raked the siege of the English army. However, she was captured in 1430 by the English Burgendians, charged as a heretic, and burned at the stake. The Hundred Years’ War resulted in the emergence of France and England as the first modern city-states, both of which had some sort of parliamentary or law making body. These new states developed innovative ways to operate tax policies and economic control while also developing professional armies and a more distinct bureaucratic class. It was previously mentioned that new technological innovations emerged from the Hundred Years’ War, but social differences also emerged. There was less dependence on the lay nobility and a more distinct middle class in both France and England. A sense of nationalism also developed as it was less about what country you were from and more of a codified identity of the English and French. Additionally, France experienced enormous losses in population (as much as 75%), became less significant, and no longer considered the “jewel” of Europe… like ever again.

Contributed by Jazz DK

The middle ages began to decline as the culture of the medieval era was challenged. The medieval use of castles began to decline with the development of gunpowder as it defeated the purpose of them. Additionally, the development of the longbow and the cross bow at the end of the Hundred Years War (1453) defeated the purpose of a knight because even with all his armor, this new technology could still wound him and make his training pointless when an armed peasant could hurt him. The knight’s age of chivalry fueled the decline in the use of nights. This age of chivalry rose in the eleventh century and considered the role of violence and the ideas behind masculinity in Europe. This period was also marked with the development of a money economy and a bureaucracy that led to the rise of the middle class (merchants etc.), rise of banking, and more centralized rule. This allowed the class of lets say merchants to pay to be trained for combat, allowing for a blurred distinction between the knightly class and others. The end of the fourteenth century has been labeled the “calamitous fourteenth century” as it was filled with false religion, war, famine, and disease. Beginning with famine, the eleventh and twelfth century saw many agricultural leaps such as the development of the heavy iron plow, horse collar, and the use of the three-field system. However, there was also a period called the “little ice age” in which climate cooled and winters became longer leading to a shorter growing season. Additionally, between the years, 1320 and 1350 there was a series of bad harvests and peasants began to starve; even as people began to recover from this lower crop yields were seen. The false religion seen during this period refers to the Avignon Papacy. The Roman papacy was in conflict with the French king who was inflicting taxes on the clergy in order to pay for wars. The church also had a negative view on the secular rulers having authority within the church as the king took away traditional rights of the bishops within the government. In 1305, pope Clement V was elected and moved the papal court from Rome to Avignon, France. This led to a shift in power as the church becomes more secular and becomes a puppet to the French crown. Additionally, the church was creating a greater bureaucracy and increasing acts of simony. In 1376, Pope Gregory IX attempted to transfer the papacy back to Rome but died before the attempt could take full affect. The pope now has Roman supporters and some of the French who do not, and then who elect a new pope. So now, there is a pope in France and another in Rome leading to the second great schism that lasted twenty years. However, the results of the Avignon Papacy proved to have lasting effects. The church was weakened and became more involved in temporal and political problems. Additionally, the term Gallicanism developed referring to the attitude by the French church that see their responsibility to obey the papacy to be lessened. As mentioned previously, the Hundred Years War played a role in the end of the middle ages and there will be a separate posting on that. Finally, the plague brought the disease that helped coin the term “calamitous fourteenth century”. It was believed to have begun in china (although anti-Semites would tend to disagree), and by 1348 it spread to Southern France and Spain. The plague attributed to the deaths of a third of the European population and engendered social change as people lost faith in the church. Though I could go on and on about the plague, I won’t. This is a basic overview of its significant effects. So, by the end of the fourteenth century there was an end to feudalism and a decrease in the power of the church. However, there was a rise in technology like gunpowder and the longbow, a change in nobility, as they became more bureaucratic and less warrior based, and an increase in commerce and industry. Additionally, this period witnessed the development of nation states and more centralized monarchies in the years leading up to the Renaissance.

Contributed by Jazz DK

Society during the middle ages is far different from the monarchial hierarchy we are used to in Europe. In the words of Alfred the Great, every kingdom consists of three types of people “those who work, those who pray, and those who fight”. We will begin with those who work. After the fall of the Roman Empire, literacy and knowledge of the Latin language deteriorated; consequently romance languages developed (like French) that were a mix of Latin and the language of the Germanic invaders. As the culture of the Romans declined, people returned to a rural society and by the time of Charlemagne people lived on manors, small agricultural villages. These manors consisted of peasants and serfs. Now, there is a difference between a peasant and a serf. A peasant was a lower class agricultural worker and was largely a free parcel; however, the serf was specifically bound to the land and was not allowed to leave the land without the lord’s permission. This led to an economic system called Manorialism, in which protection and access for certain services was in exchange for a percentage of the harvest or labor. Those who pray were a big one because the church was the center of the community. The church was also the center of charity and education in the monastic communities. Those who fight were considered knights and they had their own code of chivalry. There were also legal ideals that supported the knight. One of which was trial by ordeal, in which the accuser would have the defendant experience some sort of punishment and if it became infected the defendant was thought to have been guilty. The second one was trial by arms in which trial was settled by combat. This put the knights in higher grace because they have trained for battle all their life while a peasant for example has not. Finally, the status for women differed based on class. In the working class women were fairly equal to men working side by side, allowed to own property, and buy land. However, in the nobility the women were treated as just baby makers.

Contributed by Jazz DK

** I am going back, this is before the Renaissance** So, after the fall of Rome, the western half of Europe was left to invaders like the Ostrogoths, Lombards, Visigoths, and other Germanic groups. These invasions led to a diverse society and very little centralization and political order. Subsequently, the overall goal was to return to the great Roman Empire’s centralized political authority. During this time Gaul, present day France, was considered to be the most related to roman society (If you recall, Gaul was conquered by the Romans during the reign of Julius Caesar). The Gaul’s stability led to the rise of the Franks. Clovis (b. 466-511) is the most significant Frankish ruler because he united them through subjugating the Germanic tribes and converting to Roman Catholicism, as majority of the surrounding population was. His rule led to the establishment of the Merovingian dynasty; however, they did not do a good job of administering their kingdom and therefore began to give power to the local nobility creating a decentralized political order. As these local nobility (known as the mayor of the palace) gained power and political responsibility, the emperor lost power. A specific mayor of the palace, and perhaps the most significant was Charles Martel. He was from the Carolingian family and is well known for his role in the Battle of Tour. The Battle of Tour occurred in 732 and its singular importance was to prevent the spread of Islam into Western Europe. So down the line, Charles has a son named Pepin who then has two other sons, of which only one survives. That was his son Charles the great or Charlemagne. Charlemagne participated in several military conflicts, which included Bavaria, the Byzantines, and Italy. His role in Italy allowed the Pope to declare him “Emperor of the Romans” and led to an increase in church support. Charlemagne further established a new bureaucratic role, the count. The count had rule over the provinces that the region was broken into. The counts were then checked on by the micci dominici (envoys of the lord), further expanding the bureaucracy. So in all, Charlemagne’s greatest accomplishments include his positive connection with religious authority, solid military system, well working bureaucracy, and flowering education as he sponsored tutors for his children. However, Charlemagne’s empire had some weaknesses. There was a lack of cultural unity and succession problems as well as outside pressure such as the Arabs right around the death of Charlemagne. The group with the most affect on the empire was the Vikings. The Vikings raided coastal towns and monasteries because they held all the wealth and food. The Carolingians soon realized that they did not have the tools to fight the large Viking threat they faced. Luckily, under Charles the Simple the empire was restored in a sense because of overtures made to the Vikings. An important pattern to notice during this period marked by the Vikings is that the states seen rising towards the end of this period are those able to deal with the nomad problem. This can be seen in the rise of a West Saxon group led by King Alfred. He won key battles pushing the Vikings back and allowing them to establish a kingdom. King Alfred was also known for an elaborate bureaucracy with an exchequer and a chancellor.

Contributed by Jazz DK

Renaissance art was characterized by expression, classicism, perspective, and perfection of the human body. This was expressed in the works of artists like Michelangelo and Raphael. This art form originating in Italy emphasized classicism and showed the effort to return to the Greco-Roman culture and style as represented by the Birth of Venus by Botticelli. The omnipresent church was also a key feature in Renaissance art. The frescos of Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel and the various sculptures of David are a clear reflection of the focus on the church as they represent biblical stories. However, these very representations of the church illustrate a change in what was accepted by the church and new challenges to its practices. The two sculptures of David shared both show a nude figure thereby illustrating the perfection in the human body and a challenge to what was previously accepted. Furthermore, while other patterns can be seen in the art shared, a significant characteristic of renaissance art is the use of perspective. Perspective allowed the illustration of portraits that appeared to be three-dimensional. A famous representation of perspective is Raphael’s School of Athens, in which the picture appears to be emerging from a single point.

Contributed by Jazz DK

Titan's Rape of Lucretia Renaissance art * There will be a post on characteristics of Renaissance art *

Contributed by Jazz DK

El Greco's The Baptism of Christ Renaissance art * There will be a post on characteristics of Renaissance art *

Contributed by Jazz DK

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