Europe's Evolution in Law, Religion, Government, Rights

Europe took alengthy period of time while evolving. This is explained in form of many centuries due to the fact that mankind was simply learning to coexist with each other. Evolving occurred in many forms and sectors with the most notable being in law and leadership. People began to view themselves as superior with every social group trying to outwit another.

The renaissance in Italy is perhaps one of the most talked about form of evolution. Taking a closer look at a book by Jacob Burckhardt, he describes the renaissance as period when people took a steady approach towards art work. Burckhardt claims people accepted the transition to a world that was beyond their understanding. This clearly explains why his critics who are mainly scholars find it hard to come to terms with his work as they are in view of the Christian Character of Humanism. This, they claim is what renaissance is mainly about.

The church dominated the people’s culture until the late 14th century with agriculture as the stronghold of the economy. After this, a rapid growth of cities in Italy was witnessed with this being attributed mainly to the freedom there due to no monarchial dominance. Five competitive states namely the duchy of Milan; Naples kingdom; Papal and the republics of Venice and Florence. There was strong competition for power in these states with an exception in Venice. Social divisions competed for power with new-rich merchants challenging the rich, old nobles who ruled the cities. 

Various forms of explanations differ as regarding humanism. While many view humanism as a society of ‘Authentic Catholic Christianity ‘, others pursue it as a form of civil modernization and political liberty. According to the Western Heritage in the chapter of Late Middle Ages and Renaissance: Decline and Renewal (1300-1527) in page 337 , ‘…first humanists were orators ,poets and  were advocates  of the studia humanitas  , a liberal arts program that embraced grammar , rhetoric, poetry, history, politics and moral philosophy…’ . They strictly emphasized on education and reforms in traditional education. They refused to adhere to tradition and were involved in constant search for new information.

Tyranny is depicted in many ways. It is also viewed by many as evil. Bartolus of Sasssoferato was a doctor of law. Others describe him as a jurist which he was in the 14th and 15th century. He was a survivor of the Black Death and is greatly known for one for his best works, On the Tyrant (De tyranno) which he wrote between the years 1355-1357. With a firm foundation from the Universities of Bologna and Perugia, Bartolus was by far one of the greatest law-scholars. He endorsed city states the authority to promulgate statutes, create new citizens and impose taxes. He was always in constant attack from the humanists who were more inclined to the teachings of Rome. Bartolus oversaw the Justinianic compilation in light of contemporary practice.

Bartolus generally classifies a tyrant as someone, either a king or emperor who rules unlawfully and moreso wickedly. A tyrant causes or oversees an unjust war, imposes heavy burdens and unfair taxes towards his/her people. By virtue of conduct, a tyrant is cruel, unfair and does or wants everything done according to his/her own will. Bartolus gives pride as a source of tyranny and is what makes people become tyrants.  He goes on and quotes Gregory in the twelfth book of his Moralia as claiming that everyone who is proud practices tyranny in his/her own way. Most rulers who are tyrants practice oppression hence, a tyrant is supposed to be deposed or have a death penalty as contained in the lex lulia de ambitu and lex Vectigalia nova.

During the hundred years of war involving the French and England, the French had a larger army but were always subdued by the English. The English were therefore able to rule over cities that caused their conflict with the French. One of the cities, Orleans was among the cities that always caused war between these two rivals. Flanders, another city which got wool from England, was also involved in the rivalry with England having secured support from this city with the virtue of supplying wool to it.

Joan of Arc is fondly remembered as having led the French to victory against the English. A peasant from Domremy, she had appeared before King Charles VII in 1429 claiming that the King of Heaven had called her to liberate Orleans from England. Faced with no option, the king accepted. Joan arrived with an army in Orleans only to find an exhausted English army. She then led the army to getting Orleans back and successfully liberated other cities from the English within months. She had no military tactics but gave inspiration to the army and people helping them to be confident in themselves.

Within months, King Charles VII received his crown in Rheims. Unfortunately, Joan of Arc, the heroine of the French, was captured in 1430.The king forgot about her and though he was in a position to save her from trial, he did nothing. She was mercilessly interrogated by Burgundians in collaboration with the English. She relied on her inner voices and at one time during her trial , she stated , ‘Truly if you were to tear me from limb to limb and separate my soul from my body, I would not tell you anything more: and if I did say anything , I should afterwards declare that you had compelled me to say it by force.’  Despite being threatened with torture, Joan still reluctantly refused to confess to the points read to her and claimed to listen to her inner voices.

In England, the peasants were held in subjection and treated like animals as they claimed. Peasants from Kent County were encouraged by a priest of Kent, John Ball who had severally been imprisoned by the Archbishop of Canterbury. In 1381, peasants from four counties; Kent, Essex, Sussex and Bedford started an uprising. Led by Wat Tyler with his companions, Jack Straw and John Ball, the peasants started marching towards London. They had been inspired by the people of Ghent and Flanders who had revolted against their masters.

Having failed to get a meeting with King Richard II, the peasants in fury marched on destroying houses belonging to abbots, lawyers and court officials. They also set free all prisoners in the king’s prisons (Marshalseas). Arriving at the palace of the Savoy where the King’s uncle lived, the peasants killed the guards and set the palace on fire. They also killed all Flemings they found in churches and houses and robbed the Lombards in their own houses while they watched. Though the revolt was suppressed this serves as a showcase of the extreme hate peasants had on the noblemen.

One of the challenges facing authority since the 11th century was the role of the church and more specifically the papacy. Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) helped strengthen the church politically which made it lose its spiritual form. The pope acknowledged clerical taxation but only with papal consent. Pope Urban IV (1261-1264) had the papacy establish its own law court, the Rota Romana. He also allowed clerical taxation without papal supervision.

Later, Pope Boniface VIII who opposed clerical taxation succeeded the papacy position. King Phillip the Fair thoroughly opposed papal power and especially Pope Boniface VIII. The pope also supported Scottish resistance to England hence more resistance from the king. Pope Clement V who succeeded Boniface VIII cooperated with King Phillip and went to an extent of expanding papal taxes. He established the papal court at Avignon in 1309 and made Avignon his residence and this was referred to as the Avignon Papacy which later brought conflict with Rome. In the late 14th century, restrictions on papal jurisdiction in France, England and Germany were introduced. It was during the papacy of Pope Gregory XI who reestablished papacy in Rome that order was restored in the church.

The Europe evolution was evidently seen and portrayed economically, socially and religiously. It is this revolution that brought to being the mutual coexistence between mankind and brought to being the modernization of culture. Hence we can greatly attribute this evolution to the kind of social life and relations we have today.

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