The most important invention of the Renaissance—the technology for printing books—furnishes a case history of how many individual advances contribute to an end result. The revolution in book production began in the twelfth century, when Muslims in Spain introduced a technique first developed by the Chinese in the second century and began to make paper by shredding old rags, processing them with water, and then pressing the liquid out of the finished sheets.
In the long run British sea power and American supplies proved decisive. The Allied command of the sea made it possible to draw on the resources of the rest of the world, and in particular to transfer large numbers of British and later American troops to the crucial western front.
The Byzantines, however, preferred negotiating to fighting, and they brought diplomacy to a high level. The subtlety of the instructions given their envoys has made “Byzantine” a lasting word for complexity and intrigue. First Persia and then to some extent the Muslim caliphate were the only states whose rulers the Byzantine emperors regarded as equals. All others were “barbarians.”
In their endless effort to protect their frontiers the
In 1947, at the outset of the cold war, as the Soviet Union continued to expand its influence through¬out Europe, a leading American policy analyst, George Kennan (1904— ), published a highly influential article in the American journal Foreign Affairs. In it he discussed what the United States should do to offset Soviet influence. He wrote under the pseudonym “X,” though he had, in March 1946, sent the text of his argument, called “The Sources of Soviet Conduct,” as a cable directly to the U.S. Department of State.
In the long struggle between the European nations for hegemony, there was an enduring theme—a “long sixteenth century,” or long duree, of population growth and price inflation during which the Mediterranean basin largely remained the economic and military heart of Europe. In the past a steady increase in population tended to exceed the capacity of a society to feed the new mouths.
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.
To many in France, Napoleon was and remains the most brilliant ruler in French history.
To many Europeans, on the other hand, Napoleon was a foreigner who imposed French control and French reforms.
Napoleonic France succeeded in building up a vast and generally stable empire, but only at the cost of arousing the enmity of other European nations.
The men of letters of this period may be divided into three groups: First were the conservers of classical culture, heirs of Petrarch’s humanistic enthusiasm for the classical past; second were the vernacular writers who took the path marked out by the Decameron, from Chaucer at the close of the fourteenth century down to Rabelais and Cervantes in the sixteenth; and third were the synthesizers—philosophical humanists who tried to fuse Christianity, classicism, and other elements into a universal human philosophy.
In the medieval curriculum music was grouped with the sciences because mathematics underlies musical theory and notation. The mainstay of medieval sacred music was the Gregorian chant or plainsong, which relied on a single voice. At the close of the Middle Ages musicians in the Low Countries and northern France developed the technique of polyphony, which combined several voices in complicated harmony.
The mention of Uruk provides an opportunity to discuss a special problem in history, namely that places change their names. In the Bible the city called Uruk, its ancient Sumerian name, was referred to as Erech, one of the cities of Nimrod. Today the same location appears on the map as Warka. Geographically each of the three names designates the same place; historically the names indicate different times, just as the name of the czarist capital of St. Petersburg was changed to Leningrad, and then changed back to St. Petersburg in recent years.