Like many, I have made New Year’s resolutions. Like many, I will undoubtedly not keep all of them . . . but the “post more on your blog” resolution I will try to keep. Here goes.
I thought we could start the New Year by celebrating how students of History can, sometimes, put a unique “spin” on their perception of the past. What I post below I cannot take full credit for — these wonderful and sometimes amusing ideas were taken from essays, exams and other submissions students have made in my various courses. It is a list I have been compiling for over a decade. Some of the observations are quite profound in their own way (I mean, Charlemagne really was the “scaffolding of the Middle Ages” if you think about it) while some . . . well, head shaking may be experienced. (I know I still wonder, at times, what I must have said in lectures to spawn some of this.)
I give you a sampling of the pre-modern observations . . . From the Romans to the dawn of the 18th century. As written by students. All text is reproduced as it was found in essays and exams.
They are divided by period or “historical development,” where possible.
After naming himself dictator, Caesar had a long road ahead of him.
The sacking of Rome put a lot of stress on the relationship between the Romans and the Goths.
The Middle Ages
The Empire of Charlemagne was the scaffolding of the Middle Ages. It was easier for the public to believe that Charlemagne had the right to the throne because he was a very tall leader.
William’s conquest completely transformed the fabric of English fabric forever. The conquest streamlined the common people. Slaves were elevated in class while surfs lost ground in the social ladder. More and more free-holders were gobbled up by the manor lords.
The eleventh century was also the period in which Christians fighting under the Pope was common. The First Crusade set a lot of standards for the Crusades that were used by subsequent Crusades. All in all, the powerful impact and success of the First Crusade was so tremendous that the following crusades were not able to follow in the same footsteps. The crusades ignited many knights to take up the cause of the Lord and be as holy men. Many religious orders were made by this religiously pumped men.
One of Innocent III’s most popular personality traits was his ability to constantly interfere.
The Black Death ravished around Europe.
Independent thinkers [in the Renaissance] were not considered as crazy as they were in previous eras.
Early Modern Europe
In the beginning, or rather 1500, a single monarch was placed in control of a country. Most monarchies are hereditary and not publicly appointed. It is believed that there was great absorption of knowledge in the 15th century.
The discovery of the New World was essential in the history of European expansion and in the development of the world. Christopher Columbus was a real trooper, dealing with the conditions that he and his men faced on his journey, with the sea sickness, the lack of variety of food and heating. When Hernan Cortes showed up [in South America], the Aztecs at the time were waiting for one of their Gods to show up, so they let him in. Further North of Cortes was New France (“Canada”) which showed a different type of colonial warfare as it was taken over by the British after the Plaines of Aberham [sic].
The explanation that has been most often used and held account to the decline of Spain is a series of faults made by the Spanish.
The Protestant Reformation took off by a man by the name of Martin Luther King. Erasmus gave Luther the umph he needed to get things going. Martin Luther’s initial rejection of the ways of the Catholic Church influenced him to make suggestions by nailing his problems to a Catholic Church door. [John Calvin] . . . was educated more than Luther and believed in “Pre-Destiny” which means everything that happens in already decided by God, in essence don’t worry about it. Calvinism as the Protestant movement became to be called spread a lot farther than Lutheranism because Calvin was a lot neater and more organized than Luther so Protestantism was easier understood
The Catholic Reformation grew out of the Protestant Reformers.
The Reformation was important in creating nationalist conditions. Religion was no longer standard.
Early Modern England
Henry [VIII]’s marriage was on a downward path from its conception.
Perhaps if Henry was raised during the time Elizabeth was raised he may have been a Protestant. Protestantism wasn’t very widespread yet.
In 1685 James II succeeded. James campaigned for Catholics. He started off slow but he eventually had Catholics appointed in the Privy, and high offices in the state.
The Glorious Revolution happened in England during King James rule. As we know England was an Anglican country and they did not appreciate the fact that their King was turning Christian.
James may be seen as insane. After all, with all the anti-catholic sentiments still running strong in the nation, who would in their right mind push for Catholicism? Using religion as a battle ground to establish was a big mistake committed by James. He gave parliament a reason to legitimately erode him.
Early Modern France
Charles VII was the ruler who kicked chivalry in the butt.
The Edict of Nantes gave political rights to the Huguenots that were not compatible with the road that France was going down.
Next post: from the 18th Century to the present!