The economic developments of the early nineteenth century had rendered the system of serfdom less and less profitable. In the south, where land was fertile and crops were produced for sale as well as for use, the serf usually tilled his master’s land three days a week, but sometimes more. In the north, where the land was less fertile and could not produce a surplus, the serfs often had a special arrangement with their masters called quit-rent.
Along the coasts of Africa, India, and China, the Portuguese established a series of trading posts over which they hoisted their flag as a sign that these bits of territory had been annexed to the Portuguese Crown. Such posts were often called factories after the factors, or commercial agents, who were stationed there to trade with the local population.
Once the Japanese occupation ended in southeast Asia, the major Western colonial powers found that they could not revert to the prewar status quo. The United States had granted the Philippines independence in 1946. In 1949 the Dutch had to recognize the independence of the Netherlands East Indies as the republic of Indonesia, with a population of 100 million people.
A vigorous and ambitious monarch, King Christian IV sought to extend Danish political and economic power over northern Germany. To check the Danish invasion, the German Catholics enlisted the help of the private army of Albert of Wallenstein (1583-1634). Wallenstein recruited and paid an army that lived off the land.
Spanish supremacy, though short-lived, was real enough. The Spanish “style” was set in this Golden Age, which has left the West magnificent paintings, architecture, and decoration, and one of the few really universal books, Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616).
This Spanish style is not at all like those of France and Italy, even though they are often tied with Spain as “Latin.” Many historians see the Spanish spirit as among the most serious, most darkly passionate, in the West—a striving spirit, carrying to an extreme the chivalric concept of honor.
Octavian was too shrewd to alienate the people of Rome by formally breaking with the past and proclaiming an empire. He sought to preserve republican forms, but also to remake the government along the lines suggested by Caesar. After sixty years of internal strife, the population welcomed a ruler who promised order.
But the economic depression had begun to knock the foundations out from under prosperity and moderation. An economic depression is a sharp and deep decline in trade and general prosperity.
In the worldwide depression of 1873 to 1896, prices had fallen, agricultural distress had intensified—made worse in Europe by bad harvests followed by wet summers and by competition from Argentine and Australian meat and Canadian and American grain—and banks had collapsed, especially in Austria and France.
The Reformation has often been interpreted, especially by Protestants, as peculiarly modern, forward-looking, and democratic—as distinguished from the stagnant and class-conscious Middle Ages.
This view seems to gain support from the fact that those parts of the West that in the last three centuries have been most prosperous, that have seemed to have worked out democratic government most successfully, and that have often made the most striking contributions to science, technology, and culture were predominantly Protestant.
The decisive event in the early medieval history of the Iberian peninsula was the conquest by the Muslims, who brought almost the whole of the peninsula under their control. In the eighth and ninth centuries, Christian communities free of Muslim domination survived only in the extreme north.
The incalculably rich legacy left by the Greeks in literature w-as well matched by their achievements in the public arts. In architecture their characteristic public building was a rectangle, with a roof supported by fluted columns. Over the centuries, the Greeks developed three principal types or orders of columns, still used today in “classical” buildings: the Doric, the Ionic, and the Corinthian. Fluting gave an impression of greater height than the simple cylindrical Egyptian columns.