Political and cultural changes and continuities in the Roman civilization from 100 ce – 600 ce continuities

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Political and cultural changes and continuities in the Roman civilization from 100 CE – 600 CE

  • Political:

  • Roman laws were based on the Greek’s foundation of democracy. During the Roman Republic, a constitution was developed which denoted laws about the Senate, separation of powers, and checks and balances. Greco-Roman laws and ideas were preserved for many years to come; in fact, Roman law has remained the foundation of European law to this day.

  • Centralized government remained in the eastern portion of the Roman Empire (Byzantine Empire)

  • A Senate similar to the one found in the Roman Republic also remained in Constantinople (capital of Byzantine Empire) because Constantine decided to move the capital of the Roman Empire from Rome to Constantinople

  • Cultural:

  • Preservation of the Latin language throughout the nation

  • Preservation of the Greek language in the East


  • Political:

  • At first, the Roman emperor was considered to be the protector of the Republic, but this title was diminished by 600 CE, when the Empire became an absolute monarchy. By then, the Emperor was not the protector of the Republic, in fact, he was now considered above the law.

  • Religion and politics became closely tied together; absolute religious monarchism was the main form of government in Europe until the Enlightenment period.

  • Cultural:

  • Transition from a Pagan to Christian culture; Constantine’s embrace of Christianity made it official religion of the empire as he legalized it around 300 CE with the Edict of Milan

  • Lack of culture in the Western portion of the Roman Empire by 600 CE. In 100 CE, the Roman Empire was at the height of the Pax Romana which oversaw the creation amazing architecture and art. After the split of the Roman Empire into the West and the Byzantine Empire, the West certainly lacked the same culture found in 100 CE. The reason for this change is because of the change found in the government. The strong central government in 100 CE allowed citizens to pursue art and learning. However, with the collapse of the Western empire, people became concerned with survival and did not have time for art and culture.

Europe’s Trade 400 - 1600

  • Followed decline of Roman Empire

  • Centralized government disappeared

  • Population and trade declined

  • Invasion of Germanic tribes

  • Relied on local resources instead of export

  • Constantinople: capital of the Byzantine Empire situated between Europe and Asia, therefore having access to trade in the Silk Roads

Political Stability Restored

  • Crusades improved trade relations with Eastern and Western countries

  • Banking: movement of goods

    • Emergence of powerful banking families e.g. Medicis in Italy and Fuggers in Central Europe

  • Creation of markets

  • Rise in cities and urban populations

  • Guild system

  • Trade routes: Mediterranean Sea, Baltic Sea, and English Channel

  • Hanseatic League dominated Baltic trade


  • Growth of interregional trade of luxury goods

  • Crusaders imported perfumes, pearls, Egyptian paper, linen, groceries, spices

  • Received rare metals (e.g. gold) in bars in return

  • Spices, textiles, and jewelry from the East

  • Raw material from the Baltic e.g. timber and fur

  • England prospered from wool trade

Evaluate the political changes and continuities over time in WESTERN AND EASTERN EUROPE during the period 600 to 1450.


  • Ruler or dominant authority:
    Feudalism – King at the top of hierarchy
    Holy Roman Empire : Vladimir passed throne to Yaroslav, division of empire leads to political turmoil -> Mongols take over

  • Byzantine Empires become Christian monarchs; Byzantine empire fell but later new monarchs take over


  • Amount of religious support for king

  • Priests and churches want to create Christendom – single community where church dominates kings

  • Excommunication of rulers for not agreeing with pope

Pope Gregory VII proposed a list of claims to Emperor Henry IV but the emperor defied the reforms.

  • Church has political power of its own.

  • Great Schism: patriarch and pope excommunicate one another

  • Division of church into Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox = division of support

Cultural and Intellectual Changes (1450-1750)


-God was the answer to everything (relied on the Church to tell them what was right or wrong)

-The majority relied on traditional and spiritual beliefs to explain everyday occurrences


-Scientific Revolution began

-Intellectuals challenged old ideas (Galileo, Descartes, Bacon, Newton)


-Scientific Method

-Observation, mathematics, and objective reasoning

-All subjective qualities (aesthetics, emotions, spirit, passion, color, smell, etc.) were not included; only the quantifiable is matter

-Built a telescope to observe more closely (new ideas about the movement of the planets rejected intellectual synthesis of biblical authorities)



-Radical doubt


-Only that which is useful to man is significant

-People began to question the Bible  decreased the influence of the Church


-Enlightenment began

-A frame of mind, in which individuals who embraced it drew inspiration from various sources and promoted the ideas differently

-Influenced to question conventional ideas and practices

-Faith in progress  lead on to foster political and social revolutions after the 1750s


-All of the intellectuals throughout this period were persistent in gaining influence and spreading their ideas regardless of the group of people they represented (beginning- Church (Martin Luther, who objected the Catholic Church and began the Protestant Reformation, end- Scientific Revolution/ Enlightenment thinkers)
Accelerating Global Change and Realignments, c. 1900 to Present

  • Western European trade relations with the rest of the world, and especially with its colonies, weakened.

  • Originally, Western Europe dominated trade patterns and was protective about them.

  • The West needed trade routes, as they were an important part of their economy.

  • The West managed to get some of these trade routes through imperialism.

  • World War II was the main factor in the weakening of the West’s control of trade routes.

  • Since they had to focus on rebuilding their own economies, they had to focus less on their colonies and trade routes with other nations

  • The decolonization process was a key moment for colonies, as it allowed several nations to take back some trade routes.

  • Despite losing some power over trading routes, they still maintained a role in trade, such as with Britain and India.

  • Western Europe continued trading since trading was still an important part of them.

Impact of Religion on Eastern Europe during 1450’s to Present

- Religion in Eastern Europe served as a tool that reflected the policies of its time. Religion became a weaker force over time but was primarily used to prevent outside influence and as another tool a ruler could use to extend his power over people.

Impact of Industrialization

- Industrialization resulted in closer international ties and stronger economies between countries as a result of the increase in trade of raw goods being imported and manufactured goods being exported by industrialized countries. Socially, industrialization helped to create factory jobs with poor working conditions to support a growing urban population. As a result of growing discontent from these poor conditions, policies would be passed to improve these conditions but would not radically change the government themselves in these countries.

Analyze how Eastern Europe’s relationship to global trade patterns changed from 1750 to the present.


  • Trade with Western Europe

  • Reliance on agriculture


  • Illegal activity of women sex trade

  • Trade route increase

  • Merchant carriers and tariffs

  • Balkan and Eastern Route for sex trafficking trade

Western Europe: Impact of religion (1450- present day)

Religion plays a very important role in Western Europe’s history. Before 1450 or during the Dark Ages, it was a force that helped unify the people of Western Europe because of the harsh conditions they were in during those times. However, as time goes on, the impact of religion starts to weaken. It cannot influence the many aspects of the people’s lives as it once did. For example, the church could help pass a law or policy that benefitted itself but now, there a separation of political affairs and religious ones. One reason for the decline is that people started to speak out against the church because of all the corruption within. Also, other faiths emerged and challenged the existing ones and the conflicts that occurred slowly diminished the power and impact that religion had. In addition, ideas based on science and logical thinking did not support what the church believed in. These new scientific ideas focused on what could be seen, analyzed, or deduced rather than what was written in the Bible or what the Catholic Church declared to be true. All these events casted religion aside and empowered other ideas or concepts. Despite the fact that the impact that religion had decreased, it can still unify people under one commonality.

Nationalism in Eastern Europe(1750s to the Present)

  • Nationalism toppled empires. The diverse population of empires like the Ottoman Empire and the Austrian Empire led to their downfall.

  • It gave ethnic groups a sense of unity. With the rise of Nationalism, Macedonia, Bosnia, Crete Albania, Serbia, Romania and Greece pushed the Ottomans back into the Middle East in the early 20th century.

  • This sense of unity among majority ethnic groups resulted in conflict and repression of ethnic minorities.

  • The Young Turks, nationalists that revolted in a coup oppressed Greek and Armenian minorities in the Ottoman empire.

  • The Young Turks supported centralization and Turkization of ethnic minorities, they achieved this by oppression of minorities. After the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in the Balkan Wars, the Turks hired a German general to improve their military. Nationalism contributed to belligerence in Eastern Europe

  • Nationalism culminated in the start of World War 1.

  • The assassination of Franz Ferdinand, the archduke of Austria by a radical Serbian nationalist was the result of rising tensions between the two nations.

  • The two have always been at odds: Austria Hungary was an empire with a diverse population whereas Serbia was the typical Baltic state, with a primarily Slavic population.

  • Nationalism has led to the destabilization of oppressive government in Eastern Europe

  • This trend is easily seen with the overthrow of oppressive regimes in Eastern Europe.

  • The dissolution of the Soviet Union is a parallel to the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire and shows how nationalism breaks oppressive empires.

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