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God, Gold and Glory: the Age of Exploration

  • Date Submitted: 02/21/2013 07:11 AM
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God, Gold and Glory:   The Age of Exploration


The decline of the Mongol Empire in the fifteenth century, as well as the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks in 1453 was a major block to trade, making goods from the East harder to get and far more expensive.   Actually, it seems the whole of the Age of Exploration was at least in part inspired by the Europeans’ dealings with the East.   After Europe’s defeat by the Muslims for the Holy Land, the people began to question the ideas of the Church.   This bout of questioning eventually led up to a period in European history known as the Renaissance—a word that stems from the Latin for “rebirth.”   The exploration of new ideas which accentuated the Renaissance eventually led to the exploration of new lands and ways of doing things.   With the feudal system having fallen away to monarchies, competition for wealth and prestige erupted across Europe.   These newfound beliefs about God, gold and glory became the prime motives of the Age of Discovery.

The Renaissance began in the 1300s, creating a great revival of learning that swept through Europe, and increased the number of people outside the clergy and monasteries getting educated—and thus having the ability to read the Holy Scriptures in their original written languages (Hebrew and Greek).   Now that “ordinary” people had the ability to see just how much the Church had changed through the centuries, religion no longer gave the papacy a superhuman characteristic.   But it wasn’t until the early sixteenth century when a German theology professor named Martin Luther began to see just how against the scriptures that the practices of the Church had become.   He called for a reformation of the Church—an idea that grew like wildfire within the peasantry because of how easily accessed Luther’s teachings was for the poor.   The wavering faith that the common people had with the clergy greatly favored Luther’s Reformation, allowing him to exploit the widespread...

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