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I am self studding European History

  • ThomPaine (4757 posts)
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    I am self studding European History

    and have a question.  I understand that the Renaissance didn’t start overnight but it’s given a date for the start that’s fairly specific, 1450 AD.   Did something specific happen in 1450 AD to tie the beginning to?

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  • RadicleFantast (1636 posts)
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    1. Just a nice round number, is my guess

    halfway between 1400 and 1500. They like zeroes.

    “We’re not going to accept no more hemming and hawing. No more game playing. Make your stand.”

  • Rozinante (3874 posts)
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    2. Mainly, the fall of Constantinople.

    As the seat of the Roman Empire it was the primary center of learning, and scholars gathered there…primarily Greeks. When the city fell to the Ottoman Empire the scholars fled to Southern Europe, primarily cities of Italy, and began spreading their knowledge.

  • happyslug (369 posts)
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    3. The fall of Constantinople in 1453

    The real start was 1204, when the fourth Crusade (a crusade condemned by the Pope as it was forming up).  Constantinople was the largest city in the world in 1204 (we know that for in 1258, the Mongols took Baghdad and commented it was the largest city they ever took, by 1258, the Mongols had taken cities in China.  Baghdad always considered itself second to Constantinople before 1204).

    Now Constantinople was NOT destroyed in 1204, but the control of Constantinople’s trade came under Italian Control.  This lead to a movement of Greek intellectuals to Northern Italian cities. This brought with it a massive reintroduction in Greek philosophy and the reintroduction of Roman Law to Northern Italy and from Northern Italy to the rest of Western Europe.

    More on the Fourth Crusade:


    The “Latin Empire”, as the western rulers of Constantinople is called after 1204, was basicly the City and both sides of the of the straits, but NOT the rest of the former Byzantine Empire.  On what is the north coast of Modern day Turkey, came under the rule of the city of Trapazoid, Modern Greece and Modern Western Turkey came under the city of Nicea (who would retake Constantinople in 1261).

    More on the History of the Restored Byzantine Empire from 1261 to its fall in 1453:


    A side affect of the Crusades was modern Lebanon ended up in the hands the Crusaders who then proceeded to reestablish the old Tyre (replaced by Beirut by the time of the Crusades) to Damascus to Aleppo to Baghdad trade route.  Under Roman and later Byzantine rule the trade route was directed to Constantinople.  Under Arab rule the Arabs liked the existing trade routes and perserved it,  along with the Greeks in Constantinople.   This changed with the Crusades, the Italians who controlled the shipping in Western Mediterranean finally had a place to bypass Constantinople.  When the Crusades started the Italians shipped the Crusaders to the Near East for Western Europe for almost free, for Western Europe had almost nothing the Arabs or Greeks wanted thus ships went to the Near East from Western Europe almost empty prior to the Crusades.  As the Crusades came to an end, trade had increased for Western Europe had found things it could ship (weapons and slaves were top items) and the Italians started to charge top prices for shipping, thus making further Crusades to expensive.

    This lost of trade was the first indications of the decline in Constantinople.  By the time the Turks took Constantinople in 1453, it was a shadow of its former size. Huge areas had been abandoned within its walls built by Justinian in the 500s.  Prior to 1204, Constantinople was a packed city with suburbs outside its walls.  Population of Constantinople in 1204 was at least half a million, other say over a million.  By 1453 Constantinople was no more then 30,000 people.  


    That movement of trade, education, and other intellectual ideas to Northern Italy started the Renaissance. The base started after 1204, then built on that base for the next 200 years.  Now, we have reports of Turks burning books when they took Constantinople in 1453, but the Caliph put his foot down against such destruction as soon as he saw it.  A lot of additional books were shipped to Western Europe after 1453, but most had already been shipped prior to that date.

    Thus as you enter the 1300s, you seen the Renaissance start in Italy, then grows throughout the 1300s and 1400s.  You see Greeks going to Italy all through the 1200s and 1300s abandoning Constantinople as that City lost more and more land to the Turks (who had been in the interior of Modern day Turkey since the battle of Manzikert in the 1071, that defeat left the Greeks controlling the coasts of modern Turkey after 1071 and the Greeks then requested help to undo that defeat and that request lead to the Crusades).


    Side Note: During the Middle age Warm Period, Asia Minor dried out and ceased to be a farming area, to dry for farming but wet enough for herding.  Thus the Greeks, who tended to be farmers, had to abandon central Asia Minor and the Seljuk Turks moved in and then made it permanent when the Turks won the Battle of Manzikert in 1071.  By the time of the Little Ice Age, post 1300, he Greeks who controlled Constantinople were to weak and divided to reclaim any part of Asia Minor (Modern Day Asiatic Turkey).


    More on the Middle Age Warm Period, about 950 AD to 1300 AD:


    Thus by the 1450s the Renaissance was in full bloom for no one went to Constantinople to look at ancient books, they were by the 1450s in Northern Italy.

    The Turks were divided in the 1200s and then in 1258 had to deal with the Mongols of Genghis Khan’s Empire.  This permitted the Greeks to retake Constantinople in 1261.  The Mongol Empire also saw the Seljuk Turks breaking up and being replaced by Ottoman Empire in the 1300s.  The Ottoman Empire from its start in the 1200s till religious reforms in the 1600s was always a mix Turkish and Greek Empire, with many top Ottoman Families staying Orthodox Christians till the 1600s (The present day hatred of these two people stems from the collapse of the “joint” part of the Empire as the Turks turned to more Fundamental Islam.  A good Comparison in the Modern Greeks and Turks dislike each other like couple grow to hate each other after a nasty divorce).

    See the Legend of Osman I:



    From 1300 till 1453 the Greek Rulers of Constantinople and the Ottoman often married each other’s sisters and worked together when it benefited both sides,.  The best example of this is when Timurlane  (short for Timur the Lame) defeated the Ottomans in Asia Minor   This stopped when Timurlane from invading Europe for he had no fleet.

    Timurlane’s victory over the Ottoman Empire:



    Timurlane was stopped in the 1402 when the Turks and Greeks worked together, the Greeks held Constantinople and the Bosphorus and the Turks held the Dallaneles thus working together they denied  Timurlane from invading Europe. Timurlane subsequently decided to invade China, but died in 1405 as his army marched to China.   This delayed the Turkish taking of Constantinople for 50 years (the Sultan of the Turks was Captured by Timurlane and died in Timurlane’s care, leading to a 16 year civil war among the Ottoman Turks after Timurlane died and Timurlane’s empire collapsed without him.

    Timurlane had sacked Dehli in 1398, just four years before defeating the Turks in Asia Minor. Timurlane all but destroyed the Golden Horde (the Western Most successor state of Genghis Khan’s Empire) in 1395 in present day Russia.  The Golden Horde lasted a few more years but broke up and its successor states were taken over by Moscow (The Golden Horde is the name given to this Mongol group in the west, but its Color was White, the Chinese Color for the West and the Color adopted by the Czars of Russia as their Color when the Czars took over the remains of the Golden Horde).


    Now, after 1300 the Golden Horde came under more and more Turkish and Persian influence. Under Persian traditions Blue and White are opposite to each other (Zoroastrianism the pre Islamic Religion of Persia, was big into opposites and its influence can seen be seen in parts of the Bible).  Thus the White and Blue Hordes that the Golden Horde broke down into may just be two branches of the same horde.  The history of the Hordes is at time sketchy.

    In China, Green means East, white is West, Yellow is Center, Black in north and Red is South.


    Timurlane by himself, conquered more land then any other single general in history, Alexander the Great is #2.  Timurlane controlled land from modern day Turkey to Northern India to Moscow.  That threat did not make Constantinople a safe place to live if you were an intellectual thus even more movement out of Constantinople.  After the death of Timurlane in 1405, the Ottoman Turks turned to taking Greece, Serbia and then Constantinople in 1453. This lead to even more Greek intellectuals to Italy in the 1300s  and 1400s.

    The period from 1200 to 1500 often ignores what was going on in the middle east and the Mongol conquest (1200s) and the conquests of Timurlane (about 1400), but they had affects on Europe and the shift of knowledge from China to Europe for, for the first time with the Mongols, you had a single country from China to the middle east.  It broke up by 1300, but Timurlane tried to rebuild it in the late 1300s (Timurlane died of old age in 1405 on his way to conquer China, that was his goal, to rebuild the Empire of Genghis Khan).

    The decline of Constantinople started with the Crusades.  Prior to the Crusades trade was Constantinople to Baghdad, to Basra then the Persian Gulf and then to India AND FROM Baghdad to Northern Iran to Modern Kazakhstan to Mongolia to China.  The two main cities on these two trade routes were Constantinople and Baghdad, and both became rich on the trade.   A side route by passed Baghdad, but that meant from Kazakhstan to the Volga river then to the Don River to the Black Sea to Constantinople.

    Thus Constantinople could bypass Baghdad as to trade with China, but not as to trade India or East Africa. Thus both cities were important to international trade and with that trade came wealth and support for intellectual concepts. Little trade came via the Red Sea from India to Egypt. On the other hand Egypt controlled the trade from East Africa but NOT the East coast of Africa, that went to Yemen (ancient Sheba), to the Persian Gulf to Baghdad to Constantinople.

    Ancient Carthage controlled the trade from west Africa.  The Atlas Mountains prevented trade to modern Algeria the best route was up the Niger River and other rivers to modern Mali, just south of Algeria and then through the low valley running west from Carthage.  This is why Carthage was so important to Ancient Rome and later the Byzantine Empire.  After the Arab Conquest modern Tunis replaced Carthage but the  trade routes remained the same till the Portuguese found a way to sail to modern day Nigeria by the mid 1400s and then to India by sea by 1500.


    Timbuktu is where you left (or join) the Niger River on your way to (or from) Carthage and modern Tunisia (and according to wikipedia, disappeared sometime after 1000 AD.  During the time of Ancient Carthage, horses were used from Carthage to the Niger River, by the time of Christ, the Sahara Desert had become to dry, so the Roman imported Camels from Arabia to replace the Horses.


    With the Portuguese reaching India that shifted trade to Portugal and Spain and from them to Northern Italy.  That route shift prevented Baghdad and Constantinople from ever regaining they previous domination of trade.  Thus brought wealth through trade to Western Europe, via Portugal and Spain, and cutting the costs of goods from China and India (the Spanish Conquests of the Americas brought with it little wealth, a lot of Gold And Silver but little actual wealth).  

    This shift in trade lead to shift in alliances, England joining with the lowlands of the Netherlands (which had been allied with Germany, then Spain and during the Reformation reconnected to England as it separated from Spain).  Then England and Scotland joined together (mostly Low land Scotland, taking the highland Kicking and Screaming with them) thus the Scots abandoned their long alliance with France, and the English alliance with Spain.  France losing its long time ally of Scotland and the Byzantine empire and in response kicking the English out of France and then invading Italy.   France has a long history of robbing banks (the French king arrested the Templars knights for the same reason, to rob them).

    Trade is the leading cause of wars, for with trade you have wealth.  Thus when you read history remember follow the money it leads to the reason any war is fought.  Money is created by trade and who controls that trade gets the wealth and thus the cause of most wars.

    Side note: the conquest of America was caused by smallpox (which kill off as many as 90% of first America) but also a shift in trade routes from what existed prior to Columbus to trade with  Europe and those new trade routes. Trade instead of being between tribes and then along the Mississippi River, became East to West from French and English Colonies for that is where first Americans could get western goods like iron cookware, axes and muskets.

    Please note my comment on paper below, it is another factor in creating the Renaissance. A lot of things came together to create the Renaissance.

    Please note I recently read an article about Two Spaniards, Two  Portuguese and Two Italians who were speaking to each other.   They understood each other for all are variation of what is called Vulgar Latin (what is believed the ancient Romans actually spoke, Classic Latin was taught in schools for it was the common written language).   The people speaking had to explain certain words the others did not know, but overall they understood each other.  That is how close those three languages are.  Provence, the traditional language of Southern France, is very close to those languages, must more than French (French has a lot  more German and Celtic influences then the above four languages).

    I bring up language for these four languages are close for those four languages were the language of trade in the Western Mediterranean during the middle ages till the 1800s (and till to day used to a degree).  Common languages is an indication of extensive communication, and such communications help spread ideas and concepts.

    The effect of a common language is Not studied today, English is that dominate. The closest language to English is Swedish, but it is not as close as the four above mentioned Romance Language. I bring up the concept of a common language to show how the effect of trade even on the language we speak.

  • RadicleFantast (1636 posts)
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    4. Gutenberg was setting up shop right around 1450 too

    Which led inexorably to the publication of Agrarian Justice, so there’s that.

    “We’re not going to accept no more hemming and hawing. No more game playing. Make your stand.”

    • happyslug (369 posts)
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      5. Linen paper was the key.

      Prior to the 1300s linen paper was only in China, where production was a state secret. With the Mongols, the secret of making Linen paper reached the Middle East and then Europe by 1300.

      Prior to the introduction of linen paper, the only paper in use in Europe was parchment.  Parchment is produced from animal skin   It lasts for over 1000 years but expensive. Linen paper is a lot cheaper.  A good comparison would be like writing on a leather jacket (Parchment) and a t-shirt (linen).  Modern paper is pulp paper, from trees.  Linen is from the flax plant and was the most common form of materials for clothing till cotton replaced it starting after 1800.   Linen is a plant derived material, like cotton but linen is from the flax plant, while. Cotton cones from the Cotton plant.

      I bring this up for without linen paper the printing press was not profitable.  When the only paper was parchment the parchment was more expensive than any printing press.  Given the price of parchment you only saw people only wanted a book once at a time.  Sometimes a dozen copies at a time but that is not enough to pay for a printing press.   When you are speaking of dozen of copies then a printing press makes sense, but given the price of parchment dozen of people could NOT afford the price of the parchment the copies would be printed on.

      Think about it. Could you afford to buy dozens of leather jackets?  Can you afford dozens of T-Shirts?   How about most people? The price of Linen permitted many people to buy a family bible, but few other books (and then only after linen paper became the standard paper after 1300 and mostly after the reformation for we know Martin Luther commented he did not even see a bible in his monastery before he launched the Protestant reformation).

      The rich could afford more books but the poor could not even afford a bible.   Until pulp paper was invented in 1801, and become common by the 1840s, most people did not even learned to read and write.  The reason was you rarely engaged writing prior to 1800.   When they “read a book”, prior to about 1840, that meant sitting in a hall and having someone read a book to the people in the hall (this was common by the time of Ancient Greece and remained common till public education became the norm after 1840).

      Thus the real invention that started the modern information system was the introduction of linen paper in the 1300s.  Books became affordable to the Middle Class (the top 10% of income earners excluding the top 3% who were the nobility, the other 87 % could only afford books till the invention of pulp paper in 1801 and its wide spread adoption by the 1840s).

      Yes, modern electronics has dropped the price of information even more, but the biggest spreading of information was the result of introduction of linen and then pulp paper.

      More in Linen Paper:

      Linen paper was invented around 105 AD in China, the Arabs are believed to adopted at the height of the Arab Empire around 750 AD, but kept  it secret till the Reconquest of Spain in the 1300.  One reason for this was it was slow to spread through the Arab World, only reaching Egypt in 900 and Morocco in 1100.   From Morocco it went to Spain, from Spain to France and then to Italy and Germany.  England was late in adopting Linen Paper.  This is from Wikipedia:

      “Papermaking reached Europe as early as 1085 in Toledo and was firmly established in Xàtiva, Spain by 1150. It is clear that France had a paper mill by 1190, and by 1276 mills were established in Fabriano, Italy and in Treviso and other northern Italian towns by 1340. Papermaking then spread further northwards, with evidence of paper being made in Troyes, France by 1348, in Holland sometime around 1340–1350, in Mainz, Germany in 1320, and in Nuremberg by 1390 in a mill set up by Ulman Stromer.[29] This was just about the time when the woodcut printmaking technique was transferred from fabric to paper in the old master print and popular prints. There was a paper mill in Switzerland by 1432 and the first mill in England was set up by John Tate in 1490 near Stevenage in Hertfordshire,[30] but the first commercially successful paper mill in Britain did not occur before 1588 when John Spilman set up a mill near Dartford in Kent.[31] During this time, paper making spread to Poland by 1491, to Austria by 1498, to Russia by 1576, to the Netherlands by 1586, to Denmark by 1596, and to Sweden by 1612.


      Now Linen paper entered into these countries while before the above dates, the above dates is when someone set up a paper making plant.  Trade was extensive and given the skills to make paper, unless you wanted to pay top dollar to a paper maker for the move, you imported.




      • jdpriestly (5877 posts)
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        7. Thanks for your informative posts. Really appreciate them.

        No Truth!  No Trust!  Bernie or Bust!
    • Rozinante (3874 posts)
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      6. Yes, Gutenburgs invention of printing was a factor.

      However, he was a German living just across the border in Strassbourg, NE France. The Renaissance is regarded as beginning in Italy. The Greek scholars and manuscripts they brought from Constantinople  created the demand for more knowledge, which the printers supplied. Previously, manuscripts were copied by hand by scribe monks, very expensive, and education controlled by the Church. Education was thus only available to the nobles, and even then only what the Church would permit.

      Another factor was several outbreaks of plague which decimated the peasant class. This led to a labor shortage and land surplus (it couldn’t be farmed without labor), and led to peasants demanding their own land, thus the beginning of the end of feudalism. This increased economic power led to a demand in knowledge.

  • jeepers (77 posts)
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    8. The Greek renaissance in art, science and philosophy

    happened about the time of the development of large sailing ships, the triemme  expanding  world trade and travel. The same thing happened in Europe around 1400. In 1415 Vasgo De Gamma sailed around  the Horn of Africa opening  China and India to european trade. The Americas , Magellan sailed  around the world Trade expanded everywhere, Money and patronage flowed into the seaports of the old world and Italy  was a major financial center,