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Western Civilization

Western Civilization

Western Civilization is a broad term that denotes the world of European and Mediterranean classical antiquity. The Era's encompassed in the history of Western Civilization include:

The Western world's ancient civilizations are well known for their accomplishments and contributions to modern civilization. However, it may be more beneficial to study the roots of their decline as a lesson on the dynamics of powerful civilizations. Study of the decline of several civilizations reveals class differences and power struggles as common threads. Paper Masters can help you get started with a research paper on Western Civilization.

Western Civilization and Politics

The common theme in the early era's covered in Western Civilization is the destruction of these civilizations' political influence is societal disunity. In the case of the Hebrews, a major split in religious doctrine emphasized the conflict between rich and poor. When the ruling family dissolved into power struggles, Judea was left with no unifying force. Years of warfare left the Greek city-states militarily and economically exhausted. Because the aristocrats failed to provide for the poorer classes, the city-states experienced mass emigration that eliminated their ability to recover their former glory. The Hellenistic kingdoms suffered from mismanagement and famine once the wealthy classes usurped political power from the common citizens. The fall of the Roman Republic was initiated by fears that Caesar was eliminating the exclusivity offered to Rome's wealthy citizens. And, finally, the Christian Romans were divided by class conflict that left them open to foreign invasion. From these examples, it is clear that societal cleavages are an important catalyst for erosion of political importance in the international arena.

The European landscape between the years of 1517-1817 experienced a significant paradigm shift in thought, practice, and philosophy. During this era, many extensive changes took place as European expansion thrived in an unsettling environment. As a result, European citizens from a variety of countries experienced extreme revolutions in cultural and religious beliefs. The following discussion will provide an analysis of the most significant influences on the European expansion and the subsequent changes that occurred during this time period. Following this discussion, a number of key events and individuals will be briefly referenced to provide background into these transformations.

During the late 17th Century, Europeans experienced a wave of religious upheaval and a change in cultural identity. During this period, British and French rule were governed by monarchies, and each body was destined to unite Church and State. In the mid-1600s, the turmoil in the religious and political sectors significantly weakened the stability of the religious landscape in England, and its citizens were faced with a strongly divided nation based on religious beliefs. It became commonplace to find religious persecution across English lands, and no religion was protected. Eventually, religious toleration and diversity became a routine occurrence, and this acceptance, albeit difficult for some to recognize, became the norm in a tumultuous environment.

Western Civilization and Science

The best way to characterize thought in the Modern period is through the Applied Scientific Method. Applied science introduced devices such as the compass, used to navigate the world and give rise to the new role of sea power. European dominance of sea gave rise to new physical worlds that had previously only been tall tales. Through the development of latitude calculation sea captains could navigate the oceans. Various mathematical calculations illustrated changes to design of ships that increased speed and sail power. Larger ships could be built greater distances could be forged.

European dominance slowly emerged after the early 1500's. Reaction to the emergence of Europe as the dominant culture and society in the world was taken as the natural order of things. Since Europe dominated the seas, military conquests, economics, and virtually all areas of global expansion, little thought was given to the fact that they had become the dominant culture. Not until the 19th Century was European colonialism questioned.

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