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Seminar 3 - The Age of Dissent and Division.pdf

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Kenneth Bartlett

HIS109Y1 Western Civilizations: p. 398 - 425 & Vol. 1: p. 409 - 418 & Vol. 1: p. 419 - 454 & Seminar 3 - The Age of Dissent and Division (1500-1600) October 10th & October 17th/2012 Perspectives From the Past: p. 409-418 Ten Colloquies Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam -> believed in the renewal of Christian piety through the study of Christian literature, the bible and Church fathers -> the Colloquies were satires written as popular texts to inspire good Christian conduct - two characters, Polyphemus and Cannius discuss the Gospels and the qualities that good Christians have - Polyphemus walks around with a book of the Gospels which Cannius denounces as hypocrisy since Polyphemus does not present the morals and actions of a good Christian - Cannius informs Polyphemus that not everyone who carries the Gospel is devout, they have to love the Gospel in their hearts - to prove whether Polyphemus is devout, Cannius asks him what he would do if someone hit him hard; Polyphemus says he would break his neck - Cannius asks if he fasts; Polyphemus says he would except his belly tells him to eat - Cannius asks if he is generous to the poor; Polyphemus says he has nothing to give since he spends his excess money on drink and leisure - Polyphemus finally admits that he is not the perfect follower of God - Cannius concludes with the moral of the conversation, that supposedly “Christian” society is perpetuating the sins that were prevalent before the great flood, therefore the end of the world is near 1) Erasmus uses the dialogue form because it is more casual and speaks to a larger audience rather than the traditions latin texts which were largely only viewed by scholars. 2) Through this text, Erasmus indicates that the people who appear to be good Christians are not necessarily so since in many cases, they do not present the same piety. 3) Erasmus compares the current state of society to the older state of christianity where society was dedicated to the Gospel and very pious. 4) The flaws and sins in the new society were hunger and thirst in the poor, robbery, war, plague, sedition and poverty 5) From these conversations the ideal Christian behaviour of piety emerges. This is someone who fasts, gives to the poor, does not perpetuate violence, pays penance for his sins etc... 6) The template for the ideal Christian is something that the old mode of religion perpetuated yet this new era was different, and sin was prominent. 7) This new form might be better suited to the instabilities of life in the Renaissance since it allowed the individual to keep everything they had, since they never knew if they would be in poverty the next day. Utopia Sir Thomas More -> educated by the Archbishop of Canterbury but decided to marry rather than become a monk -> wrote two books to illustrate the difference between the system of European countries and that of Utopia (based upon discoveries in the New World) -> in 1529, More succeeded Cardinal Wolsey as the lord chancellor under Henry VIII, however they fell out over King Henry’s dispute with the Catholic Church -> when he refused to take the Oath of Supremacy so he was executed - More argued that as long as private property existed, it was not possible for a nation to be governed justly - for this reason, Utopians are well governed with few laws - often in societies like European ones, the rich have everything but are greedy and cruel while the poor work hard for the benefit of the public but reap few rewards - everyone in a Utopian society will work in agriculture, and each individual would also learn a trade like wood-working (sons would learn their father’s trade) - the job of the chief is to ensure that no one site idle, and everyone does their share - in the new world, gold and silver do not have the same value that they have in Europe, they would be similarly useless in Utopia - slaves would still exist in Utopia, either voluntarily (they want to work extra hours) or because they committed some crime - if people want to leave, they are free to do so 1) More chose to call this ideal place Utopia (nowhere) because it is an idea which does not actually exist anywhere in Europe; it is a dream/fantasy. 2) More connects the idea of Utopia to the systems of governance in the New World, since collective property was already in place there. 3) More’s Utopians differ from the traditional model of Medieval Christians because hard work and suffering were not the paramount of pious behaviour in Utopia. Leisure and limited work were acceptable. 4) More’s ideas about Utopia reflect some of the ideals of the Renaissance because it promoted time for the study of literature which was a common theme in humanism. This society was also based upon pagan cultures in North America which mirrored the Renaissance throw back to pagan literature (classicalism). 5) Utopia is also critical of the Renaissance because it is a reaction to the loss of Christian piety which Renaissance revolutions have caused. 6) More’s Utopians and Erasmus’ Colloquials have much in common, since they both hope to encourage better Christian behaviour by pointing out what is wrong with Europe. Perspectives From the Past: p. 419 - 454 Western Civilizations... - Martin Luther (1483-1546) set off a chain reaction now known as the reformation, where over the course of a generation, Europe’s political and religious structures were shattered - he began as a reformer seeking changes within the Catholic Church, but seeing that there were flaws in its system that could not be over come, he carried his Reformation outside the Church - in 1513, Luther gained a new insight into God’s justice. He believed that God’s justice had nothing to do with his power to punish but his mercy in saving sinful mortals through faith. Faith comes as a gift from God to humans so therefore humans are made worthy of salvation through faith alone (justification by faith). Piety and charity are therefore not acts to gain salvation but simply signs of God’s gift of faith - opposition to the Church gathered as some of its practices were questioned like paying priests for “indulgences” which would help speed the dead through purgatory and into heaven - this was widely criticized by reformers like Erasmus - there were other cases of a misuse of power within the Church; in 1513 Albert of Hohenzollern paid Pope Leo X to become Bishop of Magdeburg and Halberstadt even though he was not old enough to be a Bishop at all - Luther was greatly offended by these acts of corruption so he published a list of 95 Theses to debate, all aimed at dismantling the doctrine of indulgences - Many religious authorities demanded he withdraw these Theses but this caused Luther to become even bolder - 1519 the Pope charged Luther with heresy which caused Luther to break with the Church entirely (rather than trying to reform Church from within) - 1520 Luther published a series of pamphlets describing his 3 premises: justification by faith, authority of the Scripture, priesthood of all believers (christian believers were all equal before God therefore priests, monks and nuns were no better than any others) - because of justification by faith, fasts/pilgrimages/relics were spiritually valueless to Luther - he called for a dissolution of monasteries and convents as well as a reduction from the number of sacraments from 7 to 2 - Luther believed that the use of bread and wine had the presence of Christ but that this was not an act of Priests who had no deeper connection with God than any other Christian - Luther proposed to destroy the entire ecclesiastical hierarchy from the Pope downward - he also proposed that Ministers should be allowed to marry - with the help of the printing press, Luther pamphlets which were written in colloquial German, gained popular support - in Germany, opposition to the Pope was more intense because Rome had more control over German state
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