Cultural and Construction History of Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Charles Van Doren has concluded that the Copernican Revolution is actually the Galilean Revolution because of the scale of change introduced by Galileo's work.

The technological innovation of the Renaissance era started with the invention of the printing press (the Renaissance). Even though the printing press, a mechanical device for printing multiple copies of a text on sheets of paper, was first invented in China, it was reinvented in the West by a German goldsmith and eventual printer, Johann Gutenberg, in the 1450s. Before Gutenberg's invention, each part of metal type for printing presses had to be individually engraved by hand. Gutenberg developed molds that permitted for the mass production of individual pieces of metal type. This permitted a widespread use of movable type, where each character is a separate block, in mirror image, and these blocks are assembled into a frame to form text. Because of his molds, a complete upper case and lower case alphabet set could be made much more rapidly than if they were individually hand carved (Science and Technology).

Prior to the invention of the printing press, books in Europe were copied mainly in monasteries, or in commercial scriptoria, where scribes wrote them out by hand. For that reason, books were a scarce resource. The rise of printed works was not right away popular, however. Not only did the papal court contemplate making printing presses an industry requiring a license from the Catholic Church, but as early as the 15th century, some nobles refused to have printed books in their libraries, thinking that to do so would sully their valuable hand copied manuscripts (Science and Technology). Similar conflict was later come across in much of the Islamic world, where calligraphic traditions were tremendously important, and also in the Far East. Despite this resistance, Gutenberg's printing press spread quickly, and within thirty years of its invention, towns and cities across Europe had working printing presses (the Printing Press).

The finding and organization of the printing of books with movable type marks a paradigm change in the way information was conveyed in Europe. The impact of printing is similar to the development of language, and the creation of the alphabet, as far as its effects on the society. They also led to the founding of a community of scientists who could easily communicate their discoveries, bringing on the scientific revolution. It can also be disputed that printing changed the way Europeans thought. With the older illuminated manuscripts, the stress was on the images and the loveliness of the page. Early printed works highlighted principally the text and the line of argument. In the sciences, the introduction of the printing press marked a move from the medieval language of metaphors to the implementation of the scientific method. In general, knowledge came nearer to the hands of the people, since printed books could be sold for a portion of the cost of illuminated manuscripts. There were also more copies of each book accessible, so that more people could talk about them (the invention of the printing press and its effects).

A lot of great thinkers of this era developed and initiated concepts that form the foundation of modern scientific theory. For instance, Galileo Galilei, an Italian physicist, astronomer, and philosopher, made major improvements to the telescope, as well developed an assortment of astronomical observations, the first law of motion, and the second law of motion. He has been referred to as the father of modern astronomy, as the father of modern physics, and as father of science (Science and Technology). The Renaissance revitalized science, religion, and art. Many of the theories and discoveries of the time had an enormous impact; they have endured to the present day.

Economic Environment

3.0 Background

The civilization of the Renaissance was the formation of affluent cities and of rulers who drew considerable income from their urban subjects in the Italian city-states and the countries of England and France. The trade that kept cities alive also provided the capital and the flow of ideas that helped construct Renaissance culture. Throughout the early Middle Ages foreign trade had nearly come to a halt. By the 11th century, though, population growth and contact with other cultures by way of military efforts such as the Crusades helped revitalize commercial movement (Renaissance). Trade slowly improved with the exchange of luxury goods in the Mediterranean area and various commodities such as fish, furs, and metals across the North and Baltic seas. Commerce soon moved inland, bringing new affluence to the citizens of towns along major trade routes. As traffic along these routes augmented, existing settlements grew and new ones were founded.

3.1 Medici -- the Banking Family

While the Medici family has all the power, Florence became the cultural center of Europe and also became the cradle of new Humanism. The Medici family was perhaps the richest family in Italy and thus had a lot of influence. In the 13th century the family began to increase their wealth through banking. At the end of the thirteenth century, the family's wealth enlarged when one of the members of the family served as gonfalero or bearer of a high ceremonial office. In the fourteenth century their wealth increased again (the Medici Family). With this wealth the Medici family was very helpful.

While this family ruled the city of Florence they did many unbelievable acts, such as spending money on their city, and making it the most influential state in Italy. They also made it the world's most stunning city. It turned into the cultural center of Europe and was known as an art center and the cradle of New Humanism. They also spent some of their wealth on putting together the largest library in all of Europe. And because of this they brought in a lot of Greek sources. They founded the Platonic Academy and supported many artists by feeding them, educating them, and providing them with the necessities that they needed in order to be successful. Some of those artists included Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael. The family also did a lot of charitable acts such as cultivating literature and the arts all throughout Europe (History of the Medici).

3.2 Mercantilism (300 words)

Mercantilism is the economic system of the major trading nations throughout the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, based on the idea that national wealth and power were best served by growing exports and collecting valuable metals in return. It outdated the medieval feudal organization in Western Europe, particularly in Holland, France, and England. The era 1500 -- 1800 was one of religious and commercial wars, and large revenues were required to uphold armies and pay the mounting expenses of civil government. Mercantilist nations were overwhelmed by the fact that the precious metals, particularly gold, were in universal demand as the ready means of getting hold of other commodities; therefore they tended to recognize money with wealth. As the best means of attaining bullion, foreign trade was favored above domestic trade, and manufacturing or processing, which provided the goods for foreign trade, was favored at the cost of the extractive industries like agriculture (the Renaissance and Reformation-Rise of Nation-State and Mercantilism).

State action, a necessary characteristic of the mercantile system, was used to achieve its purposes. Under a mercantilist policy a nation sought to sell more than it bought so as to mount up bullion. Besides bullion, raw materials for domestic manufacturers were also wanted, and duties were charged on the importation of such goods in order to offer revenue for the government. The state exercised much control over financial life, predominantly by way of corporations and trading companies. Production was cautiously regulated with the object of securing goods of high quality and low cost, therefore facilitating the nation to hold its place in foreign markets. Treaties were made to get hold of exclusive trading privileges, and the trade of colonies was exploited for the benefit of the mother country. In England mercantilist policies were successful in creating a skilled industrial population and a large shipping industry (Mercantilism).

3.3 New World and International Trade (1450-1600)

In 1492, a trip to the East, made by sailing westward around the world, brought Columbus to the New World and the lands known today as the Americas. Columbus had initially set out to find an all-water route to the East Indies. When he saw the Americas, he believed he had arrived at his planned destination. It was ten years later than the Europeans comprehended that he had found a new land. These new continents offered riches other than spices, in the appearance of gold and silver. The finding of silver led to the beginning of silver mining in Mexico and South America. Other finds in the New World introduced Europeans to corn, tomatoes, tobacco, and chocolate (the Age of Discovery).

The New World is one of the names used for the Western Hemisphere,…

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