The creation of a unified Italy and Germany altered the balance of power in Europe in the 1860s and 1870s. Nationalism, imperialism, great-power alliances, and public opinion—influenced by newspapers and photos—helped fuel tensions. By the early 1900s the Triple Alliance and the Triple Entente had taken shape. A naval arms race between Germany and Britain as well as diplomatic and military crises in Morocco, the Balkans, and elsewhere contributed to an uneasy peace.
In October 1517, at Wittenberg in the German electorate of Saxony, the Augustinian monk Martin Luther drew up ninety-five theses for theological disputation and thereby touched off the sequence of events that produced the Protestant Reformation. Luther’s provocative theses were soon translated from Latin into German and, when printed, were read and debated far beyond the local academic and religious community for which he originally intended them.
Long before Arianism disappeared, a new and related controversy had shaken the Eastern portion of the Empire to its foundations. Exactly what was the relationship of Christ the god and Christ the man? He was both man and god, but how was this possible? And was the Virgin Mary the mother only of his human aspect, or, if not, how could a human being be the mother of god?
Louis was fortunate in securing the assistance of the remarkably talented duc de Richelieu (1585-1642), who was an efficient administrator as bishop of the remote diocese of Autun. Tiring of provincial life, Richelieu moved to Paris and showed unscrupulous skill in political maneuvering during the confused days of the regency.
Humanism both aided and impeded the advance of science. The Renaissance was less a dramatic rebirth of science than an age of preparation for the scientific revolution that was to come in the seventeenth century. The major contribution of the humanists was increased availability of ancient scientific authorities, as works by Galen, Ptolemy, Archimedes, and others were for the first time translated from Greek to Latin.
The Hellenistic period is usually said to be the three hundred years between the reign of Alexander the Great, who died in 323 B.C., and of Augustus, the first Roman emperor, who ruled from 31 B.C. until .A.D. 14. As soon as the news of Alexander’s death became known, his generals began a fierce scramble for portions of his empire. The generals combined against each other in various shifting alliances and arranged many intermarriages and murders in a confusing period of political and military change. By c. 280-279 B.C.
Henry IV owed his position in part to confirmation by Parliament was sensitive about allowing any assertion of royal authority. Moreover, Henry faced a series of revolts. The last years of his reign were troubled by poor health and by the hostility of his son, Henry V (r. 1413-1422). Henry V renewed the Hundred Years’ War with spectacular victories and reasserted royal power at home, tempered by his need to secure parliamentary support to finance his French campaigns. He also vigorously persecuted the Lollards.
An age that had mastered the industrial arts so well produced monumental statues, of which the most famous was Liberty in New York harbor, the work of the French sculptor Frederic Bartholdi (1834-1904), a gift from the Third French Republic to the American republic.
By the time of Abelard’s death, the Greek scientific writings of antiquity were starting to be recovered, often through translations from Arabic into Latin. In the second half of the century came the recovery of Aristotle’s lost treatises on logic, which dealt with such subjects as how to build a syllogism (an expression of deductive reasoning),how to prove a point, and how to refute false conclusions.
In 312, the year before he associated himself with the edict of toleration, Constantine had a religious experience akin to that of Paul. Just before going into battle against his rival Maxentius, the emperor supposedly saw in the heavens the sign of a cross against the sun and the words, “Conquer in this sign.” He put the sign on the battle standards of his army, won the battle, and attributed the victory to the Christian god.