Please answer the following essay question completely and with as many references to the
textbooks, class discussions, and lecture as possible.
“How did the development of England from 1500 to 1814 compare to that of France? Be sure
to reference the development of the two countries through religious upheaval, revolution,
and the establishment of overseas empire.”
Be sure to:
Include as many references as possible to the textbook, source material or outside
reading as possible including but not limited to dates, places, names of people or books.
Be sure to fully address the question by discussing both ENGLAND and FRANCE and
both how they were SIMILAR and DIFFERENT.
Be sure to make some sort of point. This is not a book report: please have a thesis or
agreement in the first paragraph and a conclusion the last.
Enjoy this opportunity to prove that you have been paying attention, completing your
readings and thinking, deeply, about what this class means in your everyday life.
Writing must be 600-700 words, will not count citation words.
• Textbook: Nobel, Strauss, et al., Western Civilization: Beyond Boundaries. Vol. 2, 7th
I uploaded the Lecture note as pdf. Also, textbook for each chapter.
I. Ground Rules: We will be looking at WESTERN history in this class. This is a term
that some of you are familiar with, and that other never heard before signing up for this
class but that deserves some inspection before we progress.
A. History, I hope you know, is many things to many people. It is both a
collection of stories about the past, and a pursuit of truth about our
antecedents and it can be examined through a great many lenses. In the
course of this course you will be required to use more than a few of these
approaches A few examples, although by no means a complete list:
a. Biographic: some historians feel that a few great people have a
decisive role in shaping history, or that the study of certain individuals
provides a window into the subject’s time, culture, society: world
b. Diplomatic: some historians focus instead on the interaction of great
nations, and their political apparatus. These historians feel that the
shortest past to the truth about historic events is through the halls of
power that shape them
c. Social: These historians focus on the everyday lives of people doing
everyday things, often social historians have the most challenging time
as much of what comprises ‘everyday activities’ is by its nature not
d. Military: These focus on the fortunes of nations and peoples at war and
how that shapes history, this hu-rah field of history often attracts
amateurs who re-enact military battles, etc.
e. Historiographers: historians who study how the study of history has
changed over, well, history
B. WESTERN, is a deceptively common word. Here we do not mean cowboys
and cactuses, but instead the cultural prism that the people of Western Europe
(and their direct descendants, US) look at the world through. This prism is
built up of history and ideas that have been handed down through the ages
from the foundation of civilization as we know it to the modern day.
a. Its opposition would be EASTERN, which refers to cultures that draw
their dawning from a source other than the Tigris/Euphrates and Nile
river valley. For example CHINA, INDIA, New World, Africa.
Those last two are notable in that they are not EAST of anything in
particular, but they are not western so I, at least am at a loss as to what
to call them.
C. In this class we will study, then, the history of that western world that draws
its beginnings from the Fertile Crescent and will touch upon the other cultures
when their history intersects with that of the west. This is a limited topic, and
it in no way represents the whole picture of WORLD HISTORY, but we have
to limit our field in order to study with any depth and looking into your own
antecedents is seen as a powerful start to any historian’s career.
D. My goals for you: By the end of this course I hope that you will:
a. See history as a sort of frequency on your minds radio dial: something
that you can tune into in any place, in any situation
b. Find some sort of love/peace with the craft of a historian in
researching sources on the events we study
c. Learn to think critically, keeping a mind’s eye open to who is selling
or telling you a message and what that person has to gain or lose from
d. Have a better understanding of your own culture, you are awash in
references to the history of the western world that may be
misunderstood or just plain missed, I hope that at the end of this class
you pick up on those.
II. Into the Breach: We will begin looking at the ancient world:
A. Pre-Neolithic: The world was inhabited by more or less independent bands of
hunter/gatherers who lived off of megafauna while it was still around and the
products of toilsome labor gathering food.
a. Positives: No epidemic disease, little social stratification, little crime,
few/mild wars, low ecological impact
b. Negatives: standard of living low, little free time, high mortality rate,
little material culture
B. Neolithic revolution: seemingly simultaneously (at least in historic time
frame) people began to settle into semi- and then fully sedentary communities
where they planted wild seeds knowing that at a certain time in the future,
these would spring up food. This is revolutionary on several levels, all of
which you no doubt recall from your world history courses in HS. But to sum
a. As crops improved, fewer farmers could feed more people. This
meant that people could be released from providing food for
themselves leading to Art, rapid improvement in technology,
specialization (whoo-hoo) And also, class structure, oppression and
b. Time, mathematics, organized religion, cities and writing are going to
come out of this revolution too, pretty big steps forward, if you stop
and think about it.
C. Less generally: We will be looking at two of these nascent civilizations as the
foundations on which our culture rests.
a. SUMER: lies in Western Asia (now commonly referred to as the MID
EAST) in an area called MESOPOTAMIA Greek for between rivers.
The beginnings of our recorded history originated there somewhere
around 4000 BCE or 3500 BCE. They pioneered the study of
mathematics and created some of the first writing systems in the
Western world and as such, they were the direct ancestors to the
Greeks and Romans, who we will generally refer to as the Founders of
Western Culture. Look to the Sumerians or cultures that inherited
from them for the first writing (Cuneiform) laws (Hamurabi’s code)
b. EGYPT: Lies along the lower third of the Nile in a strip 15 to 5 miles
wide and 500 miles long. The Nile river held the culture together and
also provided a huge leap forward in technology and agriculture. Tech:
because its annual flood necesscetated an advanced calendar, as well
as fantastic mathematics and info recording technology, as fields had
to be surveyed after the flood had washed out all landmarks.
Agriculture: the flood, the alluvial soil and the tropical climate made it
possible to raise a huge amount of food with (relatively) little labor. In
any event, people came to take advantage of the river around 4000
BCE The area was inhabited as early as 6000 BCE. By 2925 BCE or
so, there were established towns on the high ground out of reach of the
flood, an organized political structure, religion and freaking
D. Major Contributions of each: Not to trivialize, but the real purpose of this
class is post 1680CE, some 5000 years after the period we are talking about.
So to get to brass tacks:
a. mathematics: Ever wonder why there were 360 degrees in a circle? 60
seconds in a minute? 24 hours in a day? Well, because the Akkadians
and later the Babylonians used a base 36 number system and pioneered
the study of the circle. How did you feel about trigonometry in High
School? Well, thank the Egyptians who used the process of
triangulation to measure off fields which had been inundated. Oh,
yeah, the Egyptians also discovered that the ratio of a circle to its
diameter was 22/7. That would be Pi. Not fooling around, were the
b. Literature: Writing was co-discovered in both places, with at least the
Egytians discovering an alphabetic written language that VASTLY
simplifies the process of writing anything. The Sumerians gave us the
first epic, of a man-god and his quest for immortality. Also, the story
of the flood. Yeah, THE flood. Including Noah. The Egyptians came
up with the idea of life after death, or as it was know in the 1930s; Pie
in the sky when you die. Mostly Onions, garlic and coarse bread while
you were alive and presumably toiling on the Pyramids
c. Law: Both civilizations came up with the concept of theocracy, that is
a ruler is placed in authority and answerable only to God. Makes it a
bit difficlt to complain about high taxes. In the case of the Egyptians,
the rulers WERE gods, and not subject to human expectations or laws.
The Babylonians gave us a king named Hamurabi who used the new
medium of writing to transmit his rules of play to all the human world.
E. The little nation that could. We have one more stop on our whirlwind tour of
the ancient world: Israel. Around 1000BC the tribal peoples known as the
Hebrews, up until this point they had been neither united or particularly
powerful in the region, formed a kingdom under kings Saul, David and
Solomon that was a match for its rivials. During these halcyon days the
Hebrews revealed to us their religious vision of a universe in which there was
only ONE GOD. This is the MONOTHEISM, and whats more, the Hebrews
believed tha they had a special pact with that god, called a covenant. This is a
remarkable step forward for civilization as we know it, as this idea of a
covenant with god is going to underlay the foundations of Western morality
down o this day. For examples to the contrary look at Gilgamesh: Gilgamesh
and Enkidnu kill the great bull of heaven, enkidnu tears the leg off and wails it
at Ishtar, Then upon his death, Gilgamesh asks ishtar to ‘walk with Enkidnu in
the afterlife. Clearly Moral behavior was of a different cast before the
creation of a judging god.
III. Minoa, Greeks and Romans
A. The MINOANS- flourished as a distinct culture on Crete from ~2700BCE
to 1450BCE. Little is known for certain about them, our evidence is
archaeological as we have yet to decipher their language, LINEAR A, and
we think that they are a long surviving remnant of the OLD EUROPEAN
CULTURES we looked at early in the semester. Incidentally, we don’t
know what they called themselves- the name Minoans came from a
legendary King, Minos, and was coined in the 19th century.
a. Around 1450 BCE MYCENEAN GREECE- Where the Minoans were
island dwellers and gained their power through the trade across
the Mediterranean the Mycenaeans were powerful through
conquest—this dialect will be set up again soon, so pay attention!
Trading empire v. Land Conquest—They were, by all accounts, less
‘civilized’ than the Minoans, no giant palaces or complex frescos.
However, they were tough mothers and in conjunction with
natural disasters that weakened the Minoans, were able to easily
conquer the island.
B. Archaic and Classical Greece- The end of the Dark ages did not immediately
result in the reestablishment of a world-class trading empire, in fact a period
stretching from the 800s to the 500sBCE is called the ‘archaic’ period.
During this time period, population, material culture and trade all made
1. Rise of cities
2. Political transition- Kings were chased out by TYRANTS
who ruled as often demagogic representatives of the
people (recall that kingly strength was based on the
expense of weapons and armor, with Iron now
widespread and getting better, lower class people seized
power.) Tyrants were, eventually, chased out by the
aristocracy who seized power in the name of the people,
but maintained limited rule.
3. Athens: has been continuously inhabited for 4,500 years.
Think about that next time you pass a historic marker in
the USA. Over this time it fostered, spread and conserved
Western Culture in a way that no other city has. It was
originally group of ten towns (referred to in the plural,
the Athenai) that was drawn into one city by Theseus in
the remotest reaches of legend (he it is who slew the
Minotaur and founded the city, interesting myth if you
think of it…)
a. Democracy is seen as a solution around
b. Firmly in place by 500BCE
c. Just in time fo an explosion in culture,
philosophy, drama, music and theater AND a
disasterous war with SPARTA
4. SPARTA- was a small town during the Mycenaean heyday
that was settled by the Dorians who were busy destroying
other towns and cities. The Dorians expanded the
holdings of Sparta at the expense of their neighbors to the
north and east.
a. Subsisted by enslaving a rival city state
WHOLE- making HELOTS
b. Sociopathic method of raising families.
5. PELOPONNESIAN wars- fought between Athens and Sparta
for 30 years beginning in 431BCE, effectively ended Greek
dominance of the Mediterranean.
E. ALEXANDER the GREAT- Arose amidst the ashes of Greek disarray and led
MACEDON to world precedence in 336 BCE conquers all the major empires
of the world in the ensuing 13 years. His empire barely survives him, but
brings the entire ‘classical’ world in contact with each other, creating a
cultural package that we will call European.
F. ROME- a city that had a lot going against it, that rose to world precedence in
the 4th century BCE and, like Alexander’s empire, unified a great swath of the
world- thus giving us a unified culture/ Unlike Alexander’s this empire lasted
for nearly a millennium.
a. Invented nothing, stole very effectively though.
IV. Collapse of Rome, Middle ages.
A. Rome collapses in the Western part of Europe in the fifth century CE, this leaves
a power vacuum filled by European Barbarians, who create with varying degrees
of success, little Romes of their own kingdoms.
1. Transportation and communication technologies are such, however, that
rulers are unable to achieve any level of centralization- thus power
devolves to local governments. Huge public works, invasions are
2. Into the gap steps the Catholic Church, which uses the model of
organization developed by Rome to organize increasing political and
economic power for itself
B. Until in the 12th century the Catholic church is able to organize a sweeping
invasion of Asia in the crusades.
C. This will lead to its demise as the center of culture for Europe as goods, ideas and
concepts imported (stolen) from the Muslim world will serve to eventually break
the church’s monopoly on education and lead to several rivals for cultural
We left the world pretty well war torn, with the one pan-national organization in ruins. In
its place, were the newly resurgent states (France, England, Spain and to a lesser extent, Russia)
that actively filled the vacuum. These states were created out of the feudal/manorial middle ages
by centralizing power in the hands of a central government, mostly in the hands of the monarch,
who had gathered his or her power through the religious conflicts of the 14-16th century. Lets
examine two test cases of this:
France: When we left France, it was governed by Henry IV, who had made an uneasy
peace with the Huguenots that left them with their own fortified cities and standing army
(and thus a strong nobility that acted as counterweight to the power of the king)
Hank had a bit of a problem in that a fanatical Catholic assassinated him in
1610, on the grounds that peace was impossible with Hell-bound heathenish scum.
This leaves his son Louis XIII to rule, with the help of mommy (marie di
Medici) and her advisor (Concino Concini) Names sound funny to you? Maybe not
really, very, umm FRENCH? Right, they were both Italians, and ruling n her son’s
place Marie and Concino gave out court favors to other Italians and Catholics
preferentially. They continued to do so after Louis reached the age of majority in
In fact, Louis had to take drastic measures to get the throne at all. In
1617 he exiles mom to the south of France and has Concini murdered.
He Rules all by himself, like a big boy, until 1621, when the Huguenots
became a bit restive, mostly concerned that Louis’ impending marriage to a Catholic
Austrian would lead to a diminishment of Protestant autonomy. However, this is an
issue that the young man (20 years old) does not feel equipped to handle alone, so
appoints on Cardinal Richelieu as the nation’s first minister with broad internal and
external powers over France.
Richelieu was a bit of an enigma, a Catholic leader who led, by deputy,
an army. An advisor to the exiled Marie di Medici now working for the son
who exiled her.
Richelieu was very effective in his position of First minister- defeating
the Huguenots in 1629 and curtailing their political and military privileges but
leaving them their religion… a double victory in that it removed from them the
means of rebelling at the same time that it made them even more dependant
on the crown for tolerance.
This dynamic duo also furthered the consolidating the power of the crown.
They increased taxes to pay for the war against the Huguenots, created a
bureaucracy that depended on the king (and not land or a title) for its power and
also made a network of spies that nipped dissent in the bud wherever it raised its
In addition, they made war against Frances rivals a priority, arguing rightly
that a nation at perpetual war was an internally peaceful nation. During their rule,
France expanded onto the world stage at exactly the moment that the power of
Spain and Austria began to ebb… in no small extent because of French Expansion!
But the crowning achievement of Centralization was made not by XIII but his
son, XIV. He came to the throne at the age of four, obviously he was not fit to rule, so
we had another effective interregnum where the Boy’s mother Anne of Austria ruled
in his stead.
Our ever restive nobles took advantage of this lapse in control to
reassert their traditional rights in two rebellions known as the Fronde (1648-9
& 1650-3) Although the Fronde was an abject failure of a rebellion, it scarred
the young king into great fear of popular rebellion.
Upon reaching majority, (well, the age of 12 actually) 1661 Louis XIV took
some extremely effective steps to limit the possibility of a noble rebellion.
Built the palace at Versailles, invited the nobles to live there. In fact
the invitation was not so much an invitation as a command. Once there, they
were kept occupied by various diversions, affairs (yes, that kind) and intrigues.
Essentially, the court was ALL nobles, and ALL they had to do was wait on the
king. And, as a bonus, they were away from their estates where they might
raise an army and get wacky
Not content to limit the nobilities ability to rebel, the king censored the
media, revoked the remaining privileges of the Huguenots, improved the
efficiency of the tax system and built a powerful and disciplined conscript army
that made pretty much constant war over the next 30 odd years.
So this is an absolute monarchy at full flower. Internally peaceful, externally
The power the king wielded was not TOTAL (hence, its an absolute
monarch and not a totalitarian dictator). In large part, the king was
prevented from that total control by the existence of traditional rights given to
towns, councils and guilds that had began in the middle ages. To usurp them,
would have been to provoke a general uprising, not to mention destroy the
Which he did anyway. Through the endless war and building pro…
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