Hi, this is the latest essay I wrote. This essay is for my history class, and I have to give it on Thursday. If you have time and patience to read my essay (It is a bit long) and to tell your suggestions, I will very happy. I am expected to write the reasons for the 12th century renaissance and the results of it. Thanks a lot.THE 12th CENTURY RENAISSANCE
According to the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictinory "renaissance" means a situation when there is new interest in a particular subject, form of art after a period when it was not very popular. The other meaning of "renaissance" in the same dictionary stands for the Italian renaissance. However, there is an other period which is called "The Twelfth Century Renaissance" which played a significant role in Europe's history. In order to understand The 12th Century Renaissance, the circumstances in Europe before that period should be discussed.
The Germanic invasions played a major role in the collapse of the Roman Empire. Afterwards, about 7th and 8th centuries, Muslims attacked the Mediterranean and the trade and communication between East Europe and West Europe ceased. These two significant events culminated in a rural society, quite different from the Roman Empire which was an urban civilization. With the changes, a new economic system was founded, feudalism. In feudalism the lords who owned the lands had serfs to work for them, yet serfs were in better condition than the Roman slaves in this new system. Feudalism was a kind of chain organization, in which everyone depends on each other. The lord provided the protection for the peasants against the barbarian invasions, while the peasants worked for the lords. During this process Christianity that was inherited from the Roman Empire determined everything about this society. Within the lord's castle and land, there was a perish church, which systemized the life. The most important medieval institution was the Church.
Until the revival of trade, during feudalism, people lived in a small world which was the castle. Many members of the feudalic society were illiterate and they knew nothing but work. In addition, Christianity supported this system with its ideology. For example, by declaring, "People who suffer in this world will find happiness in the presence of God", the Church made the poor peasants feel better and work within the feudalism. However, feudalism like many other economic systems came to an end with the revival of trade. It did not disappear promptly, yet the system weakened. The weaking of feudalism was the signal of a new process in the history of Europe.
Christianity, while leading the social and economic life in many aspects, directed the lords, chivalries, and other eager feudal warriors to the lands of Muslim. By this way, the Church was planning to expand the christianity to muslims and also to capture the Holy lands. Crusaders were on the scene of the Medieval Age. Crusades took place from the beginning of the 11th century. The raids of the Crusades did not reach the targets of the Church, while it played an important role in the revival of the trade. As a result of the Crusades, the land routes were put in order, and this led to the revival of the land trade. Furthermore, the Crusades provided an advantegeous position in the Mediterranean Sea for Christians against the Muslims, weakened the papacy, and lastly, the aristocrats, in other words, the land lords lost power because of the Crusades.
The revival of trade caused significant changes in economic and social life from the beginning of the 11th century. During the feudal system there were not markets; therefore, everyone was producing only what they needed. People were unaware of money, and they were imprisoned in their lords' land. Trade transformed the feudal society which is rural, into an urban civilization like the Roman Empire. The new markets, and the new inventions such as plow increased the agricultural production. The peasants searched for new lands, at the end, forests and also marshes transformed into agricultural lands. The peasants were in better conditions by the help of the trade and the urban life; consequentl, the population increased during this period. Aristocrats freed their peasants, rent hem lands in order to gain money, because money was important again, and the lords were eager to take part in this new life style. In line with these changes in the feudal life style, a new group of people appeared in the scene of Europe, merchants. The revival of trade and the revival of cities made the capital important, the importance of land decreased.
The changes during the 11th century, changed the structure of Europe. If it these changes had not taken place, Europe probably would be a different society, maybe a society which is based on agriculture.
The revival of trade changed the economic system of Europe completely, and in general changes in the economic systems lead changes in the social and culturel lives of people. As I mentioned above, the lives of peasants and aristocrats changed during this process. However, the lives of the clergy also changed during this time. The Church, like the aristocrats, was very rich, by the help of the feudal system. After urbanization and the revival of the trade, the Church adopted a hostile attitude towards merchants and their demands for trading such as borrowing money, paying and requiring interests. Nevertheless, in time the Church accepted the merchants' demands and told that they are in line with Christianity.
The 11th century was the birth of the Europe. Production, trade, agriculture, inventions, transformations, and lots of different things were taking place during this period. The necessities for this new life required knowledge in some issues. For example, people wanted to learn about trade and law. Hence, adult males congregated in Bologna, Italy, in the end of the 11th century, and established the first university in Europe. Paris, Oxford and other universities followed Bologna university. People studied law, medicine, philosophy, theology in these universities. With the knowledge they acquired from the universities, people began to interrogate the system. The desire to learn new things, the process of translating texts from antiquity and from the Muslim writings, learning about the ancient philosophers such as Aristotle, Platon, and in addition studying the Muslim philosophers culminated in The 12th Century Renaissance. Intellectuals such as Abelard appeared. There were efforts underway to make Christianity more human. The spirit of the people changed. A desire for knowledge growed in all around the Europe. Most importantly people began to think, to discuss, to write, to read. However, these changes disturbed the Church, because the new thoughts seemed to contradict Christian dogma. In addition the efforts to find a logical explanation for everyting feared the Church. In addition to these people began to oppose the ideology of the Church, because from the beginning of the 11th century, people realized that there were rewards to be found in the life of the material world. These thoughts, studying philosophers from antiquity, developing new logical systems were all against the Church .
The Medieval World which was nothing less than an Age of Faith, began to transform during the 12th Century Renaissance. The 12th Century Renaissance, was based on philosophy and cultural enlightment, and provided the adequate circumstance for the further evolutions such as the Italian Renaissance. As we know Roman people were both thinkers and doers. They sought for good life. This had changed after the barbarian invasions and the Muslim attacks towards the Mediterranean. Nevertheless, with the 12th Century Renaissance, seven centuries after the collapse of the Roman Empire, people freed their mind, they discovered their personal potential, and many of them began to think and ask. Lastly, for me, the 12th Century Renaissance played a very important role in the destiny of Europe, if it had not occurred, Europe would be quite different civilization today.