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The "Babylonian Captivity" and the "Great Schism" which followed were proof that the Church was losing its hold. The "Babylonian Captivity" was a period of seventy years in which the popes lived in the south of France. This event came about when henchmen of the French king, Philip IV, severely manhandled Pope Boniface, who died three days later. Philip was able to get a French pope, Clement V, elected and Clement established his court at Avignon. The papacy lost much respect during this period. At Avignon the court was corrupt, extravagant and licencious. Moreover, a French pope who lived in France where he was dominated by a French king was not recognized elsewhere as the leader of a universal church.
Nor did the situation which followed increase the prestige of the Church. In 1377, an attempt was made to recall the French pope, Gregory XI, and the French cardinals who had elected him. This development resulted in a disputed election. Two popes were elected and two courts, one in Rome and the other in France were set up. Each Pope excommunicated the other and devoted much of his time and attention to denouncing his rival as "anti-Christ." This period, known as the "Great Schism," lasted for 39 years. The division in religious authority was finally ended by a series of councils which created a third pope before the schism was ultimately ended.
The first council, the Council of Pisa, began a series of meetings and a wave of controversy. The Church had to face the problem of whether the council or the papacy was supreme. While the controversy raged, the popes concentrated their attention upon financial and administrative tasks. They built up their arms and treasuries and set up highly centralized governments in the Italian Papal States. Because they became secular rulers, they were soon treated as simply another force to be dealt with in a worldly way.
The Great Schism was ended at the Council of Constance in 1414 with the election of Martin V. The popes gradually recovered their position of power in the Church. They could never recover their universal moral control, howe ever, nor the political supremacy they once enjoyed. In the meantime, a new secular culture had come into being.
The Conciliar movement also tried to reform the Church but its attacks were directed against those who criticized Catholicism rather than at internal abuses. As a result the members of the Roman Catholic Church in the west were divided in their allegiance. Furthermore, scholars called humanists, who had taken a renewed interest in the ancient world, began to criticize the institutions of the Church and to question its secular authority. Those who felt that the Church was no longer fulf1111ng its spiritual role questioned whether the worldly activities of the papacy and clergy served the people. Movements for genuine reform began, led by the Franciscan friars and by men such as Savonarola, John Wycliff, Peter Waldo, and John Hus.
In the meantime, the popes turned to Italian affairs and planned Crusades against heretics and Moslems. Many became patrons of the arts and sciences. One or two of the popes, such as Nicholas V who founded the Vatican library,
were learned men. Other secularly-oriented popes were Plus II, a humanist, Paul II, a lover of art, Alexander VI, who was the father of Caesar and Lucretia Borgia, and Leo X.
Patronage of the arts and sciences in Renaissance Italy came as the result of the new social and cultural life generated by the economic, political and religious changes which we have discussed. The transition froin a rural to an urban life and the accompanying changes in class structure and distribution of wealth had a dynamic impact upon the intellectual and aesthetic life of Renaissance Italy. Wealthy bankers, merchants, and manufacturers commissioned painters, sculptors, and architects, Educated in Italy's new schools and having the wealth and leisure to indulge their tastes, the new men of wealth helped to promote a brilliant epoch of art. So did the new secular clergy and the despots who ruled the cities.
A new social structure and the intense interest in the arts influenced both the arts and their creators. The artist had a new role in society. painter, a poet, or a scholar without funds could interest a wealthy banker, merchant, duke or clergyman, he could get money to support him while he worked. He not only received financial aid but often access to libraries, studios and stimulating company, as well. When the search for works of art became competitive, good artists such as Michelangelo, Botticelli, Cellini, Raphael and Titian became men of importance and wealth. The change in patronage from the Church to individuals and the change in the social status of the artist himself were reflected in the style, mood, subject matter and techniques of art.
Each artist strove for unique methods and also tried out new materials. In their experiments they studied the human body carefully, in order to render it more perfectly on canvas. Artists such as Leonardo Da Vinci and Benvenuto Cellini had a wide range of interests in sciences such as physics, astronomy and mathematics. Much of their work was derived from Greek and Roman models. All these developments can be seen in their painting and sculpture.
The inheritance of the ancients and the inventiveness of the present created new forms and ideals in art unique to the Renaissance. Architecture, too, was influenced by the ancients. Renaissance architects measured the dimensions of Roman ruins in the Italian cities and began to use columns, arches and domes, just as the Greeks and Romans had, Gothic art was ignored and many churches and public buildings were built in the "new" style by such inen as Brunelleschi and Alberti. Monumental or free standing sculpture in the manner of the ancients came into wide use. The pieces which the Renaissance artists created were left unadorned like those of the historic remains of Greece and Rome which they saw about them. Other artistic techniques developed by the Italian Renaissance artists were the use of perspective, new spatial relationships and the wide use of color. The independence of expression 8o valued by the Renaissance artists contributed greatly to their work.
The Renaissance also saw an outburst of scholarship by writers who called themselves humanists. Inspired by the classics, Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio and a host of others began to imitate classic models and to write new works in the vernacular. The works which they prized the most -- their Latin letters written in imitation of men like Cicero are little valued today but some of their original compositions -- Petrarch's sonnets to Laura, Boccaccio's THE DECAMERON, Dante's DIVINE COMEDY, Machiavell1'8 THE PRINCE -universally recognized as classics in their own right. Through all of them run some common themes: individualism, secularism, skepticism, materialism, classicism and the ideal of the well-rounded man. The painters and sculptors of the Renaissance had many of these same qualities. Together the writers and artists painted onto canvas, chiseled into stone, and lettered onto parchment the story of their lives and the enthusiasms of their age.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF PARLIAMENTARY GOVERNMENT IN ENGLAND
Stating the Issue
While dramatic developments were reshaping the culture of the Italian Renaissance, equally exciting changes transformed the political system of England. Feudal practices began to give way before the more modern institutions of the nation-state. These institutions grew out of a continuing contest for authority between the powerful men of medieval England--the King, the nobles, the country gentry and the political and economic leaders of the towns. The forerunner of modern representative Institutions, Parliament, developed out of this long struggle.
The creation of Parliament as a functioning and powerful institution took place over several centuries. As it finally emerged in the eighteenth century, Parliament consisted of two houses. The House of Lords represented the old aristocracy, the warriorgoverning class of medieval England. Its members included lineal descendants of men who held a title of nobility in the Middle Ages. In addition, those who had been elevated to the peerage by the King, as well as the bishops and archbishops of the Church of England were members. The House of Commons represented everyone else in the land. Its membership was elected by a small proportion of the population and consisted largely of wealthy and powerful men most of whom owned large tracts of land. Ordinary tradesmen and peasants did not sit in the House of Commons in the eighteenth century although a few of them could vote in some areas of the country.
The readings in this unit contain some of the documents that cast light on the evolution of Parliament. From these documents you should be able to construct some hypotheses to answer the following questions: What constitutional basis for parliamentary government was established by Magna Carta? What factors contributed to the growth of parliamentary power? What were the functions of Parliament as it evolved during these centuries? How much power did Parliament have at the end of the seventeenth century?
A MILESTONE IN CONSTITUTIONAL GOVERNMENT *
From Edwin Fenton, 32 PROBLEMS IN WORLD HISTORY (Chicago: Scott, Foresman and Co., 1964) 88-92.
This entire reading is taken from Edwin Fenton's book of historical problems.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF PARLIAMENT UNDER EDWARD I
Three developments marked the reign of Edward I (1272-1307). The first was a series of wars against Wales, Scotland and France. The Welsh wars finally brought the tough clansmen from the eastern part of the island under the control of the royal authority. Since Edward's day, the oldest son of the King has always been called the Prince of Wales as a symbol of this development. Edward's wars against Scotland and France were less successful, however. All three of these wars placed serious strains on the English treasury and forced Edward to find new ways to raise money.
The second major development was a codification and centralization of English law. The medieval belief that law was custom and custom alone had been disappearing throughout the thirteenth century. During Edward's reign, and with the support of the small council, a series of comprehensive statutes were enacted codifying and clarifying the law of the land. These statutes helped to establish the precedent that central authorities could make law and opened the way for Parliament to become the major law making institution of the realm in the future.
Finally Edward's reign saw the development of the institution of parliament. Simon de Montfort had called together an assembly which included knights and burgesses as well as members of the nobility and clergy in 1265. In Edward's reign this practice became a custom, a custom which helped to establish the membership of Parliament and eventually led to the development of the two houses, the House of Lords and the House of Commons.
Reading XXIV consists of four documents which throw light upon the development of the parliament under Edward. Study questions precede each document.