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The Middle Ages And The Renaissance

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The word "renaissance" refers to the time period in which, described by Jules Michelet, was "discovery of the world and of man." Literally, "renaissance" means "rebirth." The renaissance movement began in the 14th century Italy and spread to rest of Europe during the 16th and 17th century. During this time, many traditional ideas along with the feudal society changed as the Europeans began to learn about new things and expand their horizon. Before the renaissance movement was the Middle Ages.
Italy of the Middle Ages faced much turmoil. After the Ostrogoths, the Lombards took control from the north of Italy to Tuscany and Umbria. Although much of southern and eastern Italy remained in Byzantine influence. The Italian popes had resisted the Lombards as much as they could. In fact, Gregory I, who acted as the "de facto" political and military and as ecclesiastical leaders and had land that later became the papal states, was most known for his resistance against the Lombards. By 7th century, Lombards' sphere of influence was contained in only the northern part of Italy as a result of the resistance faced by the popes. There, the Lombards were able to strengthen and unify their political structure.
As the Lombards were becoming more politically unified, southern Italy was becoming a place for revolts. As a result, the Lombards, lead by Liutprand, were able to break through the resistance in the now unstable southern Italy. Liutprand's rule over Italy had caused some Lombards to convert from Arianism to Roman Catholicism. In addition, they accepted many other parts of the Roman culture, including speaking Lain, using Roman laws, and administrating, which reflected both Roman and Germanic influences.
While it seemed that the Lombards would have total control of Italy, there was still some resistance from the popes. In fact, Pope Stephen II had invited the Franks to invade Italy, thereby attacking the Lombards. In 774, the Lombard rulers were overthrown and their territory passed to the hands of Charlemagne, a Frankish ruler. He was crowned emperor in 800.
After the defeat of the Lombards, there were constant conflict between the Franks and the Byzantines. The main group involved was the Saracens, who had newly arrived from North Africa. They had come to assist the rebels fight the Byzantine Empire. They had conquered Sicily and had also attacked Rome itself. Byzantine fell under the Macedonian dynasty at the same time that the Carolingian empire had collapsed. As a result, there was a brief time in which eastern Italy held control. Still, the control was given to petty kings and power had vacillate between one ruler to the next, until the rule of German king Otto I. Although his crowning as Holy roman emperor had temporarily stopped the alternating of power, the dynasty collapsed and the north became a gathering for local small landowners and town merchants. The southern Saracens weakened and lost strong hold of southern coastal cities as a result of local revolting.
As the northern and southern Italy slowly lost control over areas, individual cities began to grow strong and form some sort of guide for ruling their region. During the 11th century, a communal government pattern had formed under the leadership of a burgher class that had become wealthy as a result of trading, banking, and creating industries. Florence, Genoa, Pisa, and other like places became powerful and independent, creating city-states. These independent factions resisted the efforts of the nobles and emperors who tried to control them and as a result, hastened the end of feudalism in northern Italy and planted the foundation to identity with the city as opposed to the larger region or country. However, there were still disputes among the citizens of a city as to support the emperor, the citizens called Ghibellines, or the city, called Guelphs.
In this time of the Middle Ages, as the northern Italy became independent urban centers, southern Italy became more and more unified after the conquest by the Normans who arrived in Italy in the 11th century. The Saracens and Byzantines were expelled and as time progressed, papal overlordship became a formality rather than an actual lord. In the north however, the struggle for dominance continued and in 1077, Pope Gregory VII faced Emperor Henry IV at Canossa during the Investiture Controversy. Pope Alexander III successfully supported a northern cities' alliance known as the Lombard League in a effort to fight against Emperor Frederick I who tried to impose imperial authority over them. Frederick II united thrones of German and Norman Sicily, even though Pope Innocent III opposed the emperor and declared political and religious supremacy over him.
The "pope versus emperor" conflict continued through out the 13th century as Charles of Anjou received papal invitation to conquer Sicily. He ruled as Charles I, king of Naples and Sicily until a revolt in Sicily caused its separation from the mainland. Peter III of Aragon became king of the now separated Sicily and the other former Norman domains on the mainland was under rule of Angevin as the Kingdom of Naples. Only later did souther Italy become one again, but under Spanish rule.
As the uniting, dividing, and reuniting in Italy took place, Europe was also going through a phase during the Middle Ages. Various people in Europe began to accept Christianity. Even kings, such as the Frankish king Clovis, were being converted, resulting in the spread of Christianity as the subjects followed the king. However, the faction that grew from the divided Roman Empire had caused two branches to form in practice of Christianity. In the larger cities, important congregation so Christians gathered, resulting in choosing a leader such as a bishop to guide the community. However, in Constantinople, the Byzantine emperors assumed the right to appoint the chief religious figure. As a result, the close connection between the church and state gave the emperors, in return for the appointing, a "religious sense" to guide the people. Latin Christendom's church was able to keep the church and state separate.
In the 7th century, Arabs spread their Islamic religion as they conquered lands. United by the message of Muhammad, they banded together, and conquered all of North Africa by 700s. Only in 733, the Franks were able to stop them and drive them back over the Pyrenees, resulting in a division between the Mediterranean, the Muslim civilization from the Byzantine rival and Germanic and Latin peoples of Wester Europe.
The Franks rapidly became the mainstay of Lain culture, especially under the dynasty of the Carolingians. They crushed opposing Germanic tribes and covered others who lived east of the Rhine River. In 800, Charlemagne had united the west in to one empire, but was rather short-lived. After his death, new attacks by more tribes caused destruction; the Vikings virtually destroyed the Christian kingdoms ...

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