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The Sixteenth Century: Characteristics of Early Modern England

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1 The Sixteenth Century: Characteristics of Early Modern England

2 “Early Modern” V. “Renaissance”: Which Term Should you Use?
First, the term Renaissance: “…is commonly applied to the historical period which follows the Middle Ages, but when the Middle Ages ended and when the Renaissance began has been a source of much debate. A long accepted view was that the Renaissance began in the latter half of the 14th c. and that it continued throughout the 15th and 16th c. and perhaps even later” (Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory 739).

3 There is little dispute that the ideas from the Italian Renaissance moved from the continent to the UK. A great example of the culture exchange and development is the history of the English sonnet. The flowering and changes in art, music, science, government, literature, drama, religion, geography, world view, architecture, communication, transportation, and population cannot be denied, regardless of what its called. In the end, both words are acceptable. Just the second term helps us see how ideas of the 15th, 16th, and early 17th centuries inform contemporary issues.

4 Events that Shaped Early Modern England (1476-1603):
1476: William Caxton prints an edition of The Canterbury Tales on the first printing press in England. 1485: Accession of Henry VII inaugurates Tudor Dynasty 1492: Columbus lands in the Caribbean on his first voyage 1509: Accession of Henry VIII 1515: Sir Thomas More begins writing Utopia 1517: Martin Luther’s Wittenberg Theses; beginning of the Reformation 1534: Henry VIII declares himself head of the English church 1558: Accession of Elizabeth I 1585-7: Colony of settlers disappears at Roanoke 1603: Death of Elizabeth I and accession of James I

5 Cultural Issues that Shaped Early Modern England (1476-1603)
Renaissance Humanism The Reformation “The New World” and European Expansion Beginning of the Scientific Revolution Rise of Nations

6 Renaissance Humanism “…what is a man/If his chief good and market of his time/Be but to sleep and feed? A beast, no more./Sure he that made us with such large discourse,/Looking before and after, gave us not/That capability of godlike reason/To fust in us unus’d” (Hamlet IV.31-7).

7 Some Characteristics of Renaissance Humanism…
Humanism stressed the revival of classic learning that often came at the expense of medieval worldview and scholarship. For example Renaissaince Humanists stressed the power individual choice over man that the medievel world view defined as a only a subject of God's will. In this way Humanists, like Thomas More, understood identity as something that could and should be “fashioned.” In this sense they were very much like us, thinking that identity is not born by made-nurture over nature. In their more extreme forms, humanistic attitudes regarded man as the crown of creation. In England and elsewhere, Humanism was bound up with the struggles over the purposes of education and curriculum reform. During the Renaissance, emphasis shifted from training students exclusively to work in the Catholic Church to training students to be priests, lawyers, and public servants.

8 Humanism and Language Leading scholars of the Renaissance period were called “Humanists” because they were students of humanist literature: the literature of the Greek and Latin poets, dramatists, philosophers, historians and rhetoricians. A newly revived interest in Latin and Greek texts, along with Hebrew, also gave rise to Humanists writing in their own vernacular, modern langauges. Remember that the court langauge, the language of the nobility in England, was French well into the 14th century. While works like Thomas More’s Utopia and Thomas Bacon’s Essays were written in Latin, the authors of the Elizabethean theater and court poets wrote in English. Such authors combatted the assumption that “…the English language had almost no pretige abroad, and there were those at home who doubted that it could serve as a suitable medium for serious, elevated or elgant discourse” (Norton 485).

9 The Printing Press Humanists, like Thomas More, could not have spread their ideas as widely or quite possibly may not have conceived of their ideas at all without the invention of the printing press. The goldsmith Johann Gutenberg first assembled the systems involved in Germany in Printing methods based on Gutenberg's printing press spread rapidly throughout Europe replacing most block printing and making it the progenitor of modern movable type printing. William Caxton brought the press to England in 1476-the impact of the press on rhetoric and writing is so great that it is difficult to overestimate.

10 The Reformation “My God, my God, thou art a direct God, may I not say a literal God, a God that wouldst be understood literally and according to the plain sense of all that thou sayest. But thou art also (Lord, I intend to thy glory, and let no profane misinterpreter abuse it to thy diminution), thou art a figurative, a metaphorical God too” (John Donne).

11 Life Before the Reformation
Like the Renaissance itself, The Reformation of the Catholic Church into several Protestant sects in the 16th c. may seem like it happened in just one or two generations, but the stirring of discontent with in the Catholic dominated Middle Ages had long been felt.

12 Catholic practice and history is too vast to summarize here, but before Henry VIII in England there existed, “A vast system of confession, pardons, penance, absolution, indulgences, sacred relics, and ceremonies that gave the unmarried male clerical hierarchy great power over their largely illiterate flocks. The Bible, the liturgy, and most of the theological discussions were in Latin, which few lay people could understand; however, religious doctrine and spirituality were mediated to them by the priests, by beautiful church art and music, and by the liturgical ceremonies of daily life-festivals, holy days, baptisms, marriages, exorcisms, and funerals” (Norton 490).

13 Martin Luther and Some Key Dissenting Concerns
Though by no means the first person to express dissenting concerns, Martin Luther’s challenges to the Catholic Church in 1517 turned into a revolt very quickly. Luther stressed the importance of parishioners reading the Bible for themselves in their vernacular languages instead of having faith mediated to them by priests. “Luther charged that the pope and his hierarchy were the servants of Satan and that the Church had degenerated into a corrupt, worldly conspiracy designed to bilk the credulous and subvert secular authority” (Norton 491). He stressed that people could be saved through faith in God alone and not through good works or indulgences.

14 The Reformation in England
In England the Reformation began less with popular dissent than with political desire. The popular narrative is Henry VIII wanted a legitimate son to succeed him and his wife Catherine of Aragon, aunt to Ferdinand I, failed to give him one. Pope Clement VII also failed to give Henry the divorce he wanted. In 1533 Henry had his marriage to Catherine of Aragon declared invalid on the pretence that the marriage was never consummated and he married Anne Boleyn. 1534 Henry issued The Act of Succession which required an oath of loyalty from all male subjects who wished to inherit property. In 1534 Henry also seized all lands and property held by the Catholic church.

15 The “New World” and European Expansion
“…on that branch which is called Caora are a nation of people, whose heads appear not above their shoulders, which though it may be a mere fable, yet for mine own part I am resolved it is true, because every child in the provinces affirm the same: they are called Ewaipanoma: they are reported to have their eyes in their shoulders, and their mouths in the middle of their breasts, & that a long train of hair growth backward between their shoulders” (Sir Walter Raleigh) .

16 England in Ireland The medieval English presence in Ireland was deeply shaken by Black Death, which arrived in Ireland in 1348. From the late 15th century English rule was once again expanded in Ireland following the Black Death, first through the efforts of the Earls of Kildare and Ormond then through the activities of the Tudor State under Henry VIII, Mary, and Elizabeth.

17 England saw the complete conquest of Ireland by 1603 and the final collapse of the Gaelic social and political superstructure at the end of the 17th century as a result of English and Scottish Protestant colonization in the Plantations of Ireland, the disastrous Wars of the Three Kingdoms, and the Williamite War in Ireland.

18 England in the “Americas”
England rejected Christopher Columbus’s requests to fund his voyage to the “New World,” Preferring to concentrate on their settlement of Ireland. In 1586 and again in 1587, Sir Walter Raleigh attempted to establish permanent settlements on Roanoke Island. 4 years later, in 1591, all colonists had disappeared. The only clue to their fate was the word "CROATOAN" and letters "CRO" carved into separate tree trunks, suggesting the possibility that they were either massacred, absorbed, or taken away by Croatoans or perhaps another native tribe.

19 England's first permanent overseas settlement was founded in 1607 in Jamestown, led by Captain John Smith and managed by the Virginia Company, an offshoot of which established a colony on Bermuda, which had been discovered in 1609. Plymouth was founded in 1620.

20 The Beginning of the Scientific Revolution
Like every other aspect of the Renaissance or early modern period, the beginning of the Scientific Revolution is a challenge to pin down. Though many historians date the Scientific Revolution to the publication of On the Revolution of Heavenly Spheres by Nicolas Copernicus in 1543, they also suggest science was in a state of constant development till the 19th century.

21 Some Significant Inventions and Discoveries that Shaped the Renaissance:
On The Revolution of Heavenly Spheres (1543) challenged Church approved earth centered model of the universe (geocentric), with the sun-centered model of the universe (heliocentric). In Novum Organum (1620), Francis Bacon introduced his “Scientific Method” that combined empirical investigation with carefully limited and tested generalizations that could be repeated with the same results over and over. In a direct challenge to Aristotle, he believed this to be the best method to investigate “nature.”

22 In 1628 William Harvey published An Anatomical Exercise on the Motion of the Heart and Blood in Animals, where, based on scientific methodology, he argued for the idea that blood was pumped around the body by the heart before retuning to the heart and being re-circulated. Based only on uncertain descriptions of the telescope, invented in the Netherlands in 1608, Galileo, in that same year, made a telescope with about 3x magnification, and later made others with up to about 32x magnification. He published his initial telescopic astronomical observations in March 1610 in a short treatise entitled Sidereus Nuncius (Starry Messenger).

23 Rise of Nations out of Feudal City-States
“For in whatever parts of the land the sheep yield the softest and most expensive wool, there the nobility and gentry, yes, and even some abbots though other wise holy men, are not content with the old rents that the land yielded to their predecessors. Living in idleness and luxury, without doing any good to society, no longer satisfies them; they have to do positive evil, For they leave no land free for the plow. They enclose every acre for pasture they destroy houses and abolish towns, keeping only the churches for sheep barns” (More 12).

24 Characteristics of the English Nation-State
Markets in early modern England expanded significantly, international trade flourished, and cities throughout the realm experienced a rapid surge in size and importance. London’s population in particular soared, from 60,000 in 1520, to 120,000 in 1550, to 375,000 a century later, making it the largest and fastest-growing city in Europe. Elizabeth also engaged in other enterprises that combined aggressive nationalism with the pursuit of profit” in other words imperialism and empire building. Like most nations, when England was struggling into nationhood and to define itself, citizens often defined “Englishness” as what is was not. Englishness was not: Catholics, although they all had been until recently Elizabethan England had a lot of foreign artisans from Spain, Portugal, Italy, and above all France and the Netherlands living mostly in London. During the 16th c. there were several riots and bloody demonstrations protesting foreign artisans who were accused of taking English jobs away from English people. England, and again esp. London had a small population of Jews. During the Middle Ages the Jewish community was continually persecuted, massacred, and excommunicated in European countries.

25 Sir Thomas More and Utopia
“He likes to be dressed simple, and does not wear silk, or purple or gold chains, except when it is not allowable to dispense with them. He cares marvelously little for those formalities…as he does not exact these ceremonies form others, so he is not scrupulous in observing them himself, though he understand how to use them if he thinks proper to do so; but he holds it to be effeminate and unworthy of a man to waste much of his time on such trifles”(Erasmus 127).

26 Characteristics/Background: Sir Thomas More
Sir/Saint Thomas More was an English lawyer, author, and statesman. During his lifetime he earned a reputation as a leading humanist scholar and occupied many public offices, including that of Lord Chancellor from 1529 to He very much embodies and champoined ideas like Renaissance Humanism and rational investigation of the natural world.

27 More coined the word "utopia", a name he gave to an ideal, imaginary island nation whose political system he described in a book published in 1516. He is chiefly remembered for his principled refusal to accept King Henry VIII's claim to be the supreme head of the Church of England, a decision which ended his political career and led to his execution as a traitor. In 1935 Pope Pius XI canonized St Thomas More in the Roman Catholic Church; More was declared Patron Saint of politicians and statesmen by Pope John Paul II in 1980.

28 Summary Characteristics of Early Modern English period
Early Modern Vs. Renaissance Humanism and Language English Reformations Key figures in the History

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