Introduction – our worldviews worldview

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  • interconnected series of ancient trade routes through various regions of the Asian continent mainly connecting China, with Asia Minor and the Mediterranean

  • extends over 8,000 km (5,000 miles) on land and sea

  • trade on the Silk Road was a significant factor in the development of the great civilizations

  • it helped to lay the foundations for the modern world

  • traded exotic goods: silks, glassware, paper, spices (pepper/cinnamon), apples/oranges, etc.

  • trade went both ways from china to Mediterranean and back

  • consumers demands increased the size and links of the trade route both for profit and new businesses

  • ideas and knowledge, understandings of religion, science, technology, philosophy, music, math passes from society to society also on the route – sharing worldviews.

  • inventions such as irrigation waterwheels also moved along the trade route

  • Diseases also passed through the route (ie. black death or plague)

4. What is the Silk Road and what role did it play in the development of the Renaissance? Include at least 5 points.

Role of Islamic Civilization

  • Islamic faith spread from the Arabian area to other areas east to Spain and west to Indonesia

  • Centre of Islamic world was at crossroads of Silk road

  • Muslim became the middlemen for the Silk road and became very wealthy

  • Muslim empire also became the centre of learning during the middle ages

  • Scholars collected knowledge, documents, took math ideas from the far east and refined them into the understanding of numbers known today

  • Invented aids to help with navigation, such as the astrolabe

  • Medical textbooks were written based on studies of disease

5. Islamic civilization impacted the renaissance. In what ways did it impact? Include at least 3 points.

The Crusades

  • Europe tried to recapture areas of Middle East under Muslim control

  • Jews, Christians and Muslims considered these areas holy

  • Sanctioned by the pope, crusades originally had the goal of recapturing Jerusalem and the Holy

land from Muslim rule

  • Campaigns against pagans or heretics and people who had been excommunicated for a mixture

of religious, economic, and political reason

  • Exposed Europeans to more cultures and ways of life

  • Thousands of religious pilgrims traveled to these sites to seek god’s favor

  • Travelers on these pilgrims brought back new ideas and attitudes that led to new ways of thinking about their own lives and society

6. Define crusade:
The Black Death:

  • also known as the bubonic plague

  • a serious, highly contagious, untreatable, and fatal illness

  • it thrived in the unhygienic conditions aboard merchant trading ships on the Black Sea.

  • This illness appeared in 1347 and reappeared 6 times in Europe until its final outbreak in 1410.

  • It was swiftly transmitted amongst the population by rats and lice.

  • Victims suffered symptoms such as painful black lumps under their armpits and in their groin area that would ooze with pus and blood. Internal bleeding would cause their skin to look bruised. The smell of their breath, sweat, blood, urine and excrement was horrible and most would die within 3 to 5 days of contracting the illness.

  • Each outbreak lasted 4 – 6 months; it emerged in the spring time and disappear in the winter

  • It wiped out entire villages and cities, rich and poor alike, diminishing the population by 90%.

  • Some believed the cause was a result of the alignment of planets, others believed that it was a punishment from God, and even more people believed that it was witchcraft or sent by the devil.

  • those who survived were forced to abandon their former way of life, leaving their farmlands in the country to move into cities to make ends meet (urbanization)

Changes to the Spiritual Social Political and Economic structure of society due to the Plague:

  • Because everyone was affected by the plague, even those who strictly believed and practiced the teachings of the Church. This caused them to questions whether or not it was necessary to follow the Church without question.

  • The hierarchy of the feudal system could no longer function as it once did as there were far too few peasants left to cultivate Noble land.

  • Without the work of the peasants and serfs, the Nobles lost money and power, and because there was a shortage of workers, the peasants skills and knowledge was in demand, so if the peasants and serfs weren’t treated well by their noble lord, they could go work elsewhere and get access to more benefits than what they originally made

  • It motivated people to move to cities where they were exposed to people and exchanged knowledge and beliefs.

  • The deterioration of the Feudal system allowed the peasants and serfs to learn that they were not limited in opportunities and could move on to other places and occupations to improve their quality of life.


  • Florence, Genoa, Venice and Milan became very powerful cities due to success in commercial centers of banking, trade, commerce and industry

Italian city-states prospered for the following reasons:

    • Mountains to north help protect Italy from northern invaders and water around Italy helped protect it

    • Italy had been involved in the trade routes since 10th century

    • Feudal system was not strong due urban lifestyle and lack of agricultural land

    • Power of Roman Catholic Church of Italian city-states weakened when they move the papacy to Avignon South France. Pope and top clerics were French.

    • Italian city governed themselves without much interference from church.

    • Many city-states organized themselves into republics (a group of citizens, rather than a monarch, governs the state)

  • By 14th century most city-states had failed and were usually ruled by despots and oligarchies.

  • Warfare among city-states over territory and trading routes was common

  • City-states of Florence, Venice, Milan and Naples signed a Treaty of Lodi 1454 which brought stability to area – basically no city-state was allowed to become powerful enough to overthrow any other city-state. This allowed those cities to focus on improving trade and amassing huge wealth.

  • Around 15th century, city-states sent ambassadors to foreign courts/states to keep in touch with allies and enemies

  • These alliances were achieved through diplomacy and marriages

7. Why was trade so important in the growth of the city-states?

Increased Trade

  • European wanted more exotic spices, silks, etc.,

  • Merchants hired to open new trade routes to all parts of known world (North Africa, Middle East, India and China)

  • New trade routes began a revival in business and shipping

  • Increase contact with traders from Islamic societies

  • Merchants and traders grew wealthy in Europe and a new class outside of the feudal system was forming

  • Increase trading meant increase in city growths (ie. Paris, Florence, Venice, population of at least 100,000 each)

  • Increase population meant demand for foods and products and led to change in way people lived:

    • Establishment of new business

    • Industries began to form (textile, furniture, handicrafts, etc.)

    • Workers finding jobs and less dependent on nobles

    • Communities became prosperous/powerful in trade, industry and banking and formed city-states(a city that governs itself and the countryside surrounding it)

    • Individuals began to feel sense of belonging to a community (citizens) vs serf belonging to a local lord


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