Early Modern History: Europe - Time and Space

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22 Mar 2012
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History 2403E
Theme of the course: Change
Building Block Lecture: Time and Space in the 1500s ( Sept 10th)
Category of Geography:
Europe was Geographically closed
It was inwardly focused
There was little knowledge of the wider world and of other parts of Europe
It was regionally focused
Columbus and other people where traveling, trading and discovering but these
people were an exception
Lower class people did not know about the wider world or care to know
People did not move around. Many would live and die without traveling more than
20km outside of their area
The elite moved around more because they had to. Their responsibilities required
them to move but they still stayed within their region.
This would change in the 1700s from an inward focus to an outward one.
The holy roman empire is dominant
Spain, Germany do not exist yet
Italy is not a country but is made up by geographic states
The Papal state is very large
The ottoman Empire is still very powerful
Western Europe is very fragmented politically
Within the HRE there are 300 separate states
Even places with clear borders are still geographical units not politically sound
Powerful nobles verging on independence = a constant threat of power shifting
Deep divisions between urban and Rural areas
90% of people live in the country 10% in cities
What bound people together?
All most everyone was a Christian and Roman Catholic
There are small pockets of jaws and Muslims and they lived in the cities
Different types of Christians but only a few
Most peoples faith was very important
Biggest concern for most people: spiritual wellbeing
All choices are governed by religious doctrine
Take to the field because of religion
Religion matters to them more than anything
1715 this will not be the case due to the protestant reformation
1500 the big concern is faith and church
Social Structure
Deeply divided
Static power
Your position
Your position is determined by blood and family
You would live like your parents for the majority
Limits on how high you could rise/fall
1715 what matters is success and education
Concept of time:
Had no ability to be precise about time
Thought about natural time: Aka morning and night
Length of the work that was determined by the number of available light
Days are measured differently in different places
Most people were not concerned with the measurement of time
Life was very relaxed in terms of breaks holidays. It was slow paced
(September 17th) Building Block Lecture: Daily Life
What was life like for people living in urban environments:
Few people live in the cities
Roads leading up to a city are key to its survival
Very little space within the city walls so the city needs to bring food into its walls
The roads are a means of transporting food and fuel everyday to the city
Citizens take care of their city roads to ensure their survival.
The area around the city is very open (they cut the forest away) so that they can see
any danger approaching the city
The city has its own body of militia
The militia keeps the road safe
The walls are even more important than the roads.
They are a key facet of security
Citizens are deeply proud of their walls it is part of their identity.
Walls are very expensive to build and take a lot of labour
The citizens would have to come together to build wall and so it represents their
The walls are also a psychological barrier. The walls indicate who is part of the city
and who is not.
It is a permeable barrier. There are portals/gates that allow contact between urban
and rural life
The gates serve a verity of functions. Entrance an exit
Peasants come into the city to find jobs as maids and nannies
City people go to the country to work the fields etc
Gates are a means of control. They determine who can come in and who cannot.
city militia ask people a series of questions to see who should come in
Statues and murals at the gates in the form of saints
This is to remind people coming in that the city is spiritually protected
It also costs money to come in to the city. There is an entrance tax which is a source
of income to the city
Cities grow up organically and so there is no plan to the way the streets are set up
Tangled streets that are narrow and dark
You paid property tax based on how much area it took on the ground. So people
built narrow tall homes. In addition the second floor often jutted out over the street.
Streets are unpaved and dirty filled with animal and human waste
Most people took their waste and took it to dead end streets where they would pile