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Lecture 7

HIST 2312 Lecture 7: The Enlightenment Lecture Notes

Course Code
HIST 2312
Brooke Franks

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Enlightenment Notes
It is fair to state that the epoch of Enlightenment is one of the most inspiring in the history
of the Western civilization. In the 15th-16th centuries, the entire structure of medieval social
relations began to change. The fundamental reason for this change was related to the increase in
economic well-being and the subsequent scientific discoveries. This inspiring change reveals the
freedom-loving and inquisitive human nature.
In the Middle Ages, the only source of truth was the church. People worked tirelessly in the
midst of dozens of regular dangers. The gradual accumulation of capital by traders resulted in the
emergence of the middle class. The representatives of this social stratum had an opportunity to
learn and explore the world. As a result, there appeared many universities. The study of the
surrounding world showed the error of many statements made by the church. As a result, artists
and scientists rebelled against the domination of priests and gave birth to the Renaissance1. It is
necessary to note that the momentum gained from a protest against the church designated the
systematic development of the epoch. First, the scientists began to rethink existing ideas about
space and the place of an individual in the social structure2. For instance, Copernicus proposed a
heliocentric system and, thus, started the scientific revolution3. The science no longer relied on
biblical ideas about the universe.
Second, Martin Luther proposed to reform the fundamental principles of the Catholic
Church4. For instance, he criticized the use of indulgences and tried to decrease the impact of the
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