Martin Luther (1483-1546) was a professor of theology the University of Wittenberg. In 1517 he was undergoing a great religious awakening. Luther’s father had sent him to the University of Erfurt, then the most prestigious in Germany, to study law. Luther yearned instead to enter the religious life. On his way back to Erfurt he was terrified by a severe thunderstorm and vowed that he would become a monk. Against his father’s opposition, Luther joined the Augustinian friars.
Mohandas Gandhi was in pursuit of Swaraj (independence), and he wrote of it often. In 1921 he sought to explain “the secret of Swaraj.”
The householder has to revise his or her ideas of fashion and, at least for the time being, suspend the use of fine garments which are not always worn to cover the body. He should train himself to see art and beauty in the spotlessly white Khaddar and to appreciate its soft unevenness. The householder must learn to use cloth as a miser uses his hoard.
Like literature, the arts also gradually moved away from the standardized Roman forms toward newer achievements that introduced as the barbarians merged their arts with of the lands they settled. The early great churches of important imperial cities as Milan or Trier were still secular structures taken over from the secular of the Romans, but innovations were tried former Christian structures, especially baptisteries, detached from the main church. Some were square, others many-sided; rich mosaic decoration became common.
As late as 1792 Catherine the Great predicted that ten thousand soldiers would suffice to douse the “abominable bonfire” in France.
The war that broke out in the spring of 1792 soon destroyed such illusions. Almost all the European powers eventually participated, and the fighting ranged far beyond Europe. By the time the war was a year old, Austria and Prussia had been joined by Holland, Spain, and Great Britain. By 1794 the French had definitely gained the advantage, and in 1795 French troops occupied Belgium, Holland, and the Rhineland.
Scholars refer to “the Russian question” as a means in invoking several historical concerns. What forces were at work to generate a Russian expansionism and consolidation of outlying territories? For how long would an enlarged or enlarging Russia remain stable? Would individual nationalities and languages reassert themselves despite Russian conquest?
In the years immediately after Waterloo, Britain went through an intense postwar economic crisis. Unsold goods accumulated, and the working classes experienced widespread unemployment and misery.
Popular suffering increased as a result of the Corn Law of 1815, which forbade the importation of cheap foreign grain until the price of the home-grown commodity rose to a specified level. This assured the profits of the English grain farmer and probably raised the cost of bread for the average English family.
The third great north Italian state, Venice, enjoyed a political stability that contrasted with the turbulence of Milan and Florence. By the fifteenth century the Republic of Saint Mark, as it was called, was in fact an empire that controlled the lower Po valley on the Italian mainland, the Dalmatian coast of the Adriatic, the Ionian islands, and part of mainland Greece. The Po territories had been annexed to secure the defenses and food supply of the island capital, and the others were the legacy of its aggressive role in the Crusades.
Russian exploration and conquest of Siberia matched European expansion in the New World, both chronologically (the Russians crossed the Urals from Europe into Asia in 1483) and politically, for expanding Muscovite Russia was a “new” monarchy. This Russian movement across the land was remarkably rapid—some five thou¬sand miles in about forty years.
In philosophy, the Muslims eagerly studied Plato, Aristotle, and the Neoplatonists. Like the Byzantines and the western Europeans, they used what they learned to enable them to solve theological problems.
Of all the eighteenth-century rulers, Frederick II, the Great, king of Prussia from 1740 to 1786, appeared best attuned to the Enlightenment. As a youth he had rebelled against the drill-sergeant methods of his father, Frederick William I. An attentive reader of the philosophes, he exchanged letters with them and brought Voltaire to live for a time as his pensioner in his palace at Potsdam, near Berlin.