17th Century Europe: Crisis and Resolution - Essay Example

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The first few decades of the seventeenth century saw a stable change occurring in both social and economic sectors. However, in the later years to come, the prices of grain and other necessities rose to increase famine in major parts of Europe…
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17th Century Europe: Crisis and Resolution
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"17th Century Europe: Crisis and Resolution"

This question remains by far the most controversial and nobody can give a concrete answer to it. However no one can either deny the religious aspect and how it affected the progress in Europe. While the Renaissance was a Catholic phenomenon, the age of Enlightenment was originated by the Protestants. Speaking in terms of economic and intellectual progress, Protestant countries took over the Catholic countries in Europe around the year 1620 which is considered the end of Renaissance (Trevor-Roper 1968). Neither the government nor the laymen had any clue as to their own region’s economic conditions with the exception of some Italian cities. This led to a disadvantageous conclusion of the century when the government could have given incentives to move forward in the direction of progress based on the statistical records if they maintained any. Hence the seventeenth century marked the major “secular depression in industrial Europe” (Munck 1990). For instance in Vienna during the 1620s the prices of staple bread cereal, rye was priced twenty times more than its lowest cost almost a decade ago. The era which is being discussed is famous for receiving many controversies in the name of the royal kingdom. Unfortunately the corrupt churches which were taking money from the people in the form of charity were spending it on themselves leaving the rest of the population to starve on the streets. This led to retaliation from the bourgeoisies (Wiesner 2006). The Protestant societies had somehow started appearing more intellectually forward-looking and economically sound. The Protestant entrepreneurs not only industrialized France, but also Europe during the rule of Louis-Philippe’s, Napoleon III and the Third Republic. According to Karl Marx, Protestantism was a capitalistic ideology. However, Weber and Sombart called it the “spirit of capitalism” which affected the new “Protestant ethics”. Sombart further exemplified that these modern capitalists were originally Jews who had fled from Lisbon and Seville to Amsterdam and Hamburg (Trevor-Roper 1968). The crisis of the seventeenth century was a result of many other factors as well. The political and economic achievements gained in one part of Europe were not the same as in the other parts. Just like in the Protestant countries, in Catholic, the Calvinists were the great entrepreneurs. It is studied that they alone can run the industry and commerce in Europe (Wiesner 2006). According to Max Weber the Calvinism was an ideology of the “worldly asceticism” which went against the real definition of their lifestyle. They lived magnificently but portrayed a non-feudal approach and stinginess in life (Trevor-Roper 1968). Major deteriorating phases emerged in Europe especially in Ireland, Scotland, Portugal, England and Catalonia. Other affected areas included, France, Sicily, Naples, Denmark, and Sweden. These places underwent civil war and major shortage in food and grain. The most bitter and destructive Thirty Year War in Germany which gave this phase a title, “the general crisis of the seventeenth century” had led several people to believe that there would be no coming back from this downfall. This, however, was not true since the revolutions did come and the Restoration period did bring many changes and improvement in the whole of Europe (Munck 1990). Hence the regression Read More
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