Palmer Chapter 1 Study Guide
A History of the Modern World:
Chapter 1: The Rise of Europe
1. Ancient Times: Greece, Rome, and Christianity (pp. 11-17)
1. "Whatever their backgrounds, and willingly or not, all peoples in the twentieth century are caught up in the process
of modernization or "development" which usually turns out to mean acquiring some of the skills and powers first
exhibited by Europeans."
2. Factors continuing to effect relationships among nations include:
a. interdependence, based on science and technology on one lever trade and finance on another
b. drive for equality, as nations seek to "arouse the energies and support of their populations."
c. questioning of old ways and old values --and the negative reaction by conservative factions
d. demand for individual liberation
e. revolution of rising expectations
1. "The Greeks proved to be as gifted a people as mankind has ever produced, achieving supreme heights in thought
and letters. They absorbed the knowledge of the, to them, mysterious East....They added immediately to
everything they teamed. It was the Greeks of the fourth and fifth centuries BC who first became fully conscious of
the powers of the human mind, who formulated what the Western world long meant by the beautiful, and who
first speculated on political freedom.
2. The Greeks lived in small city-states, independent and frequently at war. "Politics were turbulent. Democracy
alternated with aristocracy, oligarchy, despotism, and tyranny. From this rich fund of experience was born
systematic political science as set forth in the unwritten speculations of Socrates and in the Republic of Plato and
the ~ Politics of Aristotle in the fourth century before Christ. The Greeks were the first to write history as a
subject distinct from myth and legend.... Thucydides, in his account of the wars between Athens and Sparta,
presented history as a guide to enlightened citizenship and constructive statecraft."
3. They prized and defined "classical" virtues: order, balance, symmetry, clarity, and control. "Their statues
revealed their conception of what man ought to be--a noble creature, dignified, poised, unterrified by life or
death, master of himself and of his feelings. Their architecture, as in the Parthenon, made use of exactly measure
angles and rows of columns...." The same sense of form led to the production of epic poems, lyrics, drama,
history, and philosophic dialogues, each with rules and principles of composition--and they long remained the
forms used by Western men to express their thoughts.
4. Greeks created myths, but they "looked for rational or natural explanations of what was at work behind the
variety and confusion they saw." They observed that sickness was the result of natural conditions which could be
understood; they saw the universe as composed of atoms (designated as earth, air, fire, water). Some believed
change to be an illusion, while others saw it as the only reality. Others, like Pythagoras, found the only reality in
mathematics. The final great codifier of Greek thought on virtually all subjects was Aristotle, who lived in
Athens from 384-322 BC.
5. Greek influence spread widely and rapidly in the Mediterranean world. The greatest of the later Greeks came
from Alexandria in Egypt--Strabo in geography, Galen in medicine, and Ptolemy in astronomy --in the first and
second centuries A.D.
Although ruthless conquerors, the Romans were civilizing agents, transmitting a significant portion of earlier cultures to the
Western Mediterranean. The Romans allowed cities and city-states a good deal of autonomy but maintained control through a pyramid
of imperial officials and provincial governors. "The Empire kept peace, the Pax Romana, and even provided a certain justice as between
its many peoples.... Roman law came to hold that no custom is necessarily right, that
there is a higher or universal law by which fair decisions may be made, and that this higher, universal, or 'natural' law, or 'law of nature,'
will be understandable or acceptable to all men since it arises from human nature and reason.... They also held that
law derives its force from being enacted by a proper authority.... Maestas, or sovereign power, and they attributed it to the
emperor." Thus, law was not custom, nor was it capricious. It was formed by enlightened intelligence and was consistent
with the nature of things, and it was associated with official power. Roman law did favor the state, or the public interest as
seen by the government, rather than the interests or liberties of individual persons.
1. "The Christian teaching spread at first among the poor...who had the least to delight in or hope for in the existing world."
But it soon spread; following a half century of heavy persecution (240-290 AD), Constantine became a
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Christian and legalized Christianity. By the fifth century, the Roman world was Christian and tolerated no
2. Christianity brought "an altogether new sense of human life.... Christians explored the soul, and they taught than
in the sight of God all souls were equal, that every human fife was sacrosanct and inviolate, and that all worldly
distinctions of greatness, beauty, and brilliancy were in the last analysis superficial." Love took on overtones of
sacrifice and compassion; Greek and pagan pride was replaced by ideals of humility and the brotherhood of man.
3. The problem was reconciling the place of religion in an all-powerful state where the ruler was regarded as a god.
Jesus solved this dilemma: render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.
This dualism was systematically expressed by one of the greatest early Christian thinkers, St. Augustine of
Hippo, in his book, The City of God. The "city of Man" was Rome, the domain of state and political authority and
obedience; but this "state was not absolute; it could be judged, amended, or corrected. It was...subordinate to the
higher, spiritual authority of the City of God." Yet was this "City of God" only spiritual, or a spirit of idealism
which dwelt in all crude human approximations of the divine, or was it the institution of the Church in the world?
No clear answer was forthcoming, but one result was clear: Caesaropapism (e.g., the control of both church and
state by the same individual--as Byzantine or Russian emperors or the Ayatollah Khomeini) was NOT to become
a permanent part of Western Civilization. Church and state were separate and, in spite of the strong efforts of the
medieval and Renaissance Popes, would remain separate.
2. THE EARLY MIDDLE AGES: THE FORMATION OF EUROPE (pp. 17-26)
A. Disintegration of the Roman Empire:
Rome was split in two halves, with Rome and Constantinople as administrative centers of a Latin (West) and Greek
(East). Rome had fought "barbarians" on its frontiers for nearly a thousand years: Celts in northern Britain, Germans in
central Europe, Parthians in Asia Minor, and Arabs in the desert. Rome had tried building great walls, but about 400 AD it
tried recruiting barbarian tribes to fight another tribes--a concept that was to backfire dramatically. Moreover, the rulers
and bureaucracy had decayed, becoming a great parasite on the body of the Empire, draining off heavy taxes but providing
decreased services. The once powerful army became increasingly self-serving and politicized, and military expenses were
a great drain on the economy. Finally, evidence for a change in long-term weather patterns is strong. A period of longer,
harder winters that reduced crops and diminished trade, bringing a weakened people suffering from plagues and famines,
an administration less able to deal with crises. The weather patterns also brought Attila the Hun, "Scourge of God" from
the East, in raids that sent panicked German tribes across the borders into the Empire. Between 410 and 476, Rome was
The Visigoths sacked Rome in 410 and then conquered Spain. The Vandals pillaged the province of North Africa,
and then crossed to sack Rome about 430. The Anglos and the Saxons overran Britain by 450. The Franks brought Gaul
under their control by 450. The Lombard’s took northern Italy. In 476, the last Roman emperor was deposed by a
Germany chieftain; Rome had fallen.
B. The Byzantine World, the Arabic World, and the West about 700 A.D.
1. Byzantine Empire: "Its people felt themselves to be the truest heirs both of early Christianity and of the Greeks of the golden
age. Art and architecture, trades and crafts, commerce and navigation, thought and writing, government and law, while not so
creative or flexible as in the classical age, were still carried on actively. . .. " [till 1453]
2. Arabic/Islamic: By 640, the Arabs had conquered Syria, Mesopotamia, Persia, and Egypt; old Roman Africa fell
by 700, and shortly thereafter the Visigoth kingdom of Spain. Muslims saw Christians as infidels but were
tolerant. They adapted the civilization they conquered, learning from Graeco-Roman thought and in many cases
surpassing it. Arab geographers, mathematicians, and doctors produced a culture worthy of their predecessors.
3. Germanic: The German invasions of the fifth century AD initially brought chaos, with only local government
surviving under warriors who subdued the local farmers. But these warriors created the new Western Europe. They
were organized into small tribes, and their strong sense of tribal kinship dominated their ideas of law and
government. All free, arms -bearing men held councils and often elected kings. They had a strong sense of loyalty
to persons, but little sense of loyalty to large or general institutions. "They had no sense of the state--of any distant,
impersonal, and continuing source of law and rule." Warriors captured villages and took them under their
protection; "thus originated a new distinction between lord and servant, noble and commoner, martial and menial
class. Life became local and self-sufficient.... Trade died down, the cities became depopulated, money went out of
C. The Papacy: The Church remained the one West European institution with ties to the civilized past; its network of
dioceses remained intact. Monasteries, most adopting the rule of St. Benedict which required prayer but also practical
work (in fields and libraries) and avoidance of unnecessary asceticism, became islands of peace and learning. The Bishop
of Rome (especially St. Gregory the Great) ran Rome and kept contacts with bishops and sent out missionaries to the
Germans. The Franks were converted about 500, the English (St. Augustine of Canterbury and St. Columba) and the Irish
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