RISE OF THE MODERN WEST II
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BHIC 108 Solved Free Assignment July 2023 & January 2024
Q. 1. Explain why the crisis of the seventeenth century is called the general crises?
Ans. French philosopher Voltaire referred to the concept of general crisis in an essay in 1756. The debate on the crisis among the historians of early modern Europe lasted for almost two decades from 1950s.
The debate was over the experience of each country – whether there was a pattern of change as a part of the entire European experience of pre-modern period or whether each country had a separate path of transformation.
Historians developed their own theoretical explanations that led to a broad agreement on the idea of ‘general crisis of the seventeenth century.’
The historians who wrote on this included Roland Mousnier, Eric Hobsbawm, R.B. Merriman, H.R. Trevor-Roper, Theodore K. Rabb, Niels Steensgaard and J.V. Polisensky. IGNOU BHIC 108 Solved Free Assignment
There are three broad approaches in this debate. First, it was considered as economic in origin. This interpretation also had three approaches:
(a) Arguments based on theoretical classical Marxist interpretation.
(b) Arguments based on economic data over issues such as money and prices.
(c) Arguments focusing on demographic factors. The Marxist writings present this period as a critical phase in the transition from feudalism to capitalism.
Eric Hobsbawm started this debate in 1954 and Boris Porchnev followed it. The crisis was a class conflict that happened at two levels.
In the Eastern Europe, the peasants and feudal nobility clashed in which the latter won. In the Western Europe, the bourgeoisie and feudal nobility clashed and the bourgeoisie got the favour. IGNOU BHIC 108 Solved Free Assignment
For Hobsbawm, it was a major crisis of European economy. Initially, Hobsbawm noted that the seventeenth century was also a period of social revolt.
Later, he considered the crisis as a part of much wider transition from feudalism to capitalism.Ruggiero Romano believed the exact period of the crisis was 1619-1622.
Romano’s thesis provided factual basis to Hobsbawm’s interpretation. Thus, for the Marxist writers, it was a crisis of production and the producing bourgeoisie was the major force behind at least some of the revolutions.
The crisis of production was general across Europe, but England witnessed the feudal monarchical absolutism overthrowing the rising landed gentry and urban bourgeoisie (1642-1660) resulting in the victory of capitalism.
The second approach concentrates on political issues, particularly the mid-century revolts and rebellions. H.R. Trevor- Roper was one of the earliest writers to suggest the thesis of ‘The General Crisis of the Seventeenth Century.’
He picked up the theme that it was not the crisis of the European economy but a crisis in relations between society and the state, a result of the expansion of Renaissance Monarchies and whose financial burden the society could not bear. He sees the major events of this period as political revolution.
R.B. Merriman (in his Six Contemporaneous Revolutions) sees them as a social and political manifestation of the crisis that affected the entire Europe.
Merriman compares various mid-century revolts that took place in France, England, Catalonia, Naples and Holland.IGNOU BHIC 108 Solved Free Assignment
The third approach opposes the theory of general crisis of the seventeenth century. J.H. Elliott doubted whether the instability caused by widespread revolts was in any way exceptional.
He believed there were similar clusters of revolts during 1560s- 1590s. He referred to a series of tensions within early modern political structures that caused frequent revolts.
In 1975, Theodore K. Rabb synthesized the crisis debate of the last twenty five years and sought to rescue the idea of crisis with a more precise definition of the term.
He also widened the scope of the European history between 1500 and 1700.
There were also some other interpretations. Roland Mousnier suggested that the period from 1598 to 1715 had a crisis that could be seen in the fields of demography, economy, administration and in intellectual sphere.
The 1960s and 1970s saw many historians supporting or rejecting the idea of the general crisis.IGNOU BHIC 108 Solved Free Assignment
J.V. Polisensky tried to link the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) and the seventeenth century crisis.
He observed both as the conflict of opposite political and cultural societies – one Protestant that was liberal and the other Catholic that was absolutist in character.
Niels Steensgaard provided an alternative thesis that linked the economic and political by highlighting the impact of increasing taxation and expanding state structure.
This impoverished the population and pushed the people to the margins of subsistence.
It created an economic crisis that was as much a crisis of production as distribution. He suggested that the period 1500-1700 saw extended instability starting with early sixteenth century.
Q. 2. Discuss the nature of European expansion in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.
Ans. European expansion was an expansion in the areas as-well-as items of trade.
In the seventeenth century, new European national states challenged the supremacy of the older empires of Portugal and Spain, new areas were opened up for trade and exploitation of their resources, and transoceanic trade assumed a change, whereby goods could be bought and sold in a second country from where new items could be bought and sold in a third country.
Thus, circular trade patterns started involving the areas that became colonies in later times. IGNOU BHIC 108 Solved Free Assignment
For example, in India, monopoly of trade enabled the East India Company to buy cheap, while competitors were kept out and conquests prevented Indian traders from taking part in the same trade also.
Opium from India was sold in China and tea taken from China was sold in India, in Europe and in North America.
Ultimately, the pattern of agriculture changed, forcing people in the controlled areas in the non-European world to produce items that were lucrative to trade and benefited the western power that controlled the trade in a particular area.
The interests of the monarchical states and their economic policies strongly influenced the nature of European expansion.
Mercantilism entailed protection of economic interests and thus brought the European powers in conflict and competition with each other.
It also necessitated control and hegemony over areas that were being traded with and the resources that promoted and created profit for the states or for the merchant firms which ultimately contributed to the benefit of state revenues.
By the later half of the eighteenth century, even revenue rights were snatched and the goods to be traded were brought not from their own resources but from the economies that were becoming colonized.
In the seventeenth century, trade became synonymous with plunder.
Vast areas were destroyed for profits of the powerful European nations and the merchants and the bourgeoisie involved in manufacturing.
West Indies, East Indies, the continents of Africa, South America, North America and Asia were subjugated.IGNOU BHIC 108 Solved Free Assignment
Huge extraction of surplus and drain of wealth were systematized during what has been euphemistically called the ‘commercial revolution’.
Colonies and the flow of wealth from colonies to the European country concerned held, a foundational place within mercantilist thought.
The seventeenth century is significant for the creation of legislation that chnaged newly gained conquests into colonies.
They were sources of raw materials that could be traded and in the later century used for their own manufacturing, colonies were also markets for goods, not necessarily from their own country, but could be from another territory under their control, these territories were also important transit points.
Q. 3. What do you understand by Reformation? Discuss the major trends within it.
Ans. Reformation was against the medieval religious set-up in Europe. The reformation movement was launched by sincere and devoted Christians of northern Europe. IGNOU BHIC 108 Solved Free Assignment
It was against the abusive attitude and principles of Roman Church and corrupt practices and immoral ways of life of the members of clergy.
It was an unrest against the power and authority of the pope. This movement had dual objectives i.e., renovation of the moral life of the Christendom and the repudiation of the papal claims to ecclesiastical supremacy.
Thus Reformation was both a religious as-well-as a political movement. It was religious as it aimed at the moral rebirth of the people and political because it was a rebellion against the papacy though the movement was organized by different sections under different names.
It is collectively known as reformation as it aimed at reforming the existing Church. However, the church failed to be reformed.
So, the reformers setup their own church i.e. Protestant church bitterly opposed Roman Catholic Church. The reformation movement is also described as protestant movement.IGNOU BHIC 108 Solved Free Assignment
It was first set in Germany under the able leadership of Martin Luther. He vehemently opposed the old practices and corruption of the Church and the Pope. Division of the Christianity was the important output of the Reformation.
The Reformation means religious reform movement. It was a great religious movement in sixteenth century A.D.
Luther urged the German princes and the people to support him in his quest for freedom from the Papal control from Rome.
In 1524, some states formed the first Protestant leagues. In these states, the governments moved against Catholicism, abolished convents and monasteries, and made schools and hospitals.
Huldrych Zwingli (1484-1531) preached Protestantism in Switzerland, in line with Luther.
He preached salvation through faith alone and emphasized that only the scriptures should form the basis of religious activities.
Zwingli went beyond Luther by his aggressive iconoclasm and in his belief that the poor were the real image of God, also in his views on Holy communion.
Calvinism was the third most important stream of thought within Protestant Reformation, emerged in the 1540s.
Calvin put forward his famous doctrine of predestination. According to him, some persons were chosen by God for salvation, while the majority were damned.
Q. 4. Discuss the rationalist philosophy of Descartes.
Ans. All objects, including human bodies, were made of invisibly tiny particles which were combined and arranged in various ways.
All changes in nature and society happened because of the motion and re-arrangement among these particles.
However, these changes happened according to certain natural laws and they were not arbitrary. Motion shifted from one particle to another and so on because of the collision of particles. IGNOU BHIC 108 Solved Free Assignment
Descartes’ system is so materialist that he did not even allow space between the particles. Thus, the Cartesian universe all particles all over and no empty space.
According to Descartes, all objects had two qualities: Extension or dimensions of length, height and breadth, and motion.
Besides, it could reduce the world to two essential substances-mind or ‘thinking substance’ and matter or ‘extended substance’. When the particles moved, gaps were created allowing the light and heat to pass through.
Descartes’ first law of motion stipulated that the things maintained their present state of rest or motion until something made them change it.
According to the second law of motion, every object moved in a straight line until its course was changed because of the encounter with other objects.
Descartes believed in mechanistic philosophy which proposed a dualism between nature and God. It presented nature as a mechanical model whose main elements were matter and motion. IGNOU BHIC 108 Solved Free Assignment
The conception of nature as completely inert and of God as completely above and different from nature, and a radical separation of mind and body were the hallmarks of his philosophy.
He believed that his explanatory system would be able to explain every ‘visible or perceptible’ phenomenon in the universe.
However, to many it appeared as speculative because whole explanation was based on the imperceptible movements of invisible particles which could not be tested.
Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677), a Dutch philosopher and follower of Descartes, proposed that it was not God but human beings whose actions were relevant for society.
He rejected all sensory data of experience as random and irrelevant for an understanding of the nature of universe.
He asserted that one substance called ‘God or nature’ formed essential part of all the things in the world. The occurrence of all events and making of all things were predetermined by God.IGNOU BHIC 108 Solved Free Assignment
Q. 5. Describe the main features of growth of literature in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries in Europe with examples.
Ans. The period saw varieties of writings to suit the varied tastes and intellectual and societal gradations. There were changes in the style and content of existing forms of literature.
The period had several variants of pastoral poetry and novels of chivalry, depictions of the conflict between town and country and a feeling of discomfort.
England produced literature that reflected the changed spirit. Shakespeare’s later plays showed the changed climate of the 17th century.
John Milton, John Bunyan and John Dryden contributed to the baroque literature of grandeur. Bunyan’s The Pilgrims Progress symbolises vision of the good man’s pilgrimage through life.
Milton’s On His Blindness and The Paradise Lost were modern epics that presented the experience of those caught in the politics and religious wars of the 17th century.
La Fontaine’s (1621-95) Fables, John Dryden’s (1631-1700) work, Alexander Pope’s An Essay on Criticism (1711), The Rape of the Lock (1712-14), The Dunciad (1728), and An Essay on Man (1733-34) had the ironies of the time. Jonathan Swift’s satirical novel Gulliver’s Travels critiqued contemporary European prejudices in an emerging age of Science and Technology.
Similarly, Voltaire’s Candide also did the same. Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) produced a varieties of writings including poems, plays, essays and criticisms.
Evelyn Jones and Samuel Pepys’ were known for diaries. Edward Gibbon’s Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire was a landmark. The Scottish Enlightenment led to a flowering of literature.IGNOU BHIC 108 Solved Free Assignment
France also saw production of a variety of writings which reflected the trends that happened during the Enlightenment and Romanticism.
Diderot’s Encyclopedia was notable. The Spirit of the Laws by Montesquieu (1748), An Essay on Tolerance by Voltaire (1763), The Social Contract by Rousseau (1762); The Supplement to a Voyage of Bougainville by Diderot, or The History of the Two Indias by the Abbé Guillaume-Thomas Raynal were some important essays the period saw.
Montesquieu also wrote a satire on French life in letters, presumably from another country. The novel was a more flexible form in terms of the variety of experiences it could express and the social settings it could be placed in.
It underwent changes in content to show the more immediate circumstances and milieu, especially with the expansion of many women readers.
Many women writers too emerged. There were also novels of adventures and fantasy, the most well-known among them being Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe.
There were others that reflected the great moral dilemmas and conflicts of the time, for example, the works of Henry Fielding, Samuel Richardson, Laurence Stern and Tobias Smolding. IGNOU BHIC 108 Solved Free Assignment
The 18th century is the age of realism and the birth of the modern novel. Deheroising and humanizing of heroes were there in these novels.
These writings have a middle class morality and some realism. The French novelists had great versatility. A novel by Radishchev was the first modern writing in Russian.
It was the tale of a Journey from St. Petersburg to Moscow, which criticised Russian society and political system.
In Ottoman Empire, influences by Persian forms was much more varied with Sufi poetry and ghazals and stories linked with folk memories.
In Sweden and Denmark, literature included many works of drama and history and literary criticism.
In its relationship with society, the life of literature was most directly reflected in theatre, both in the plays written and their performance. The writers and the audience together added a new dimension to literary production.
A new trend in drama, called the “Restoration drama”, emerged in England. French Court used theatre as part of enhancing its glories in the 17th century.
Great drama writers Jean Baptiste Moliere (1622-73) and Jean Racine (1639-99) produced a number of plays under the court patronage.
They broke free to write for varied audiences. Moliere plays were bolder and had social and religious satire. Racine relied on traditional classical themes to present modern psychological sensibility.
Q. 6. Legacies of Enlightenment.
Ans. The legacies of Enlightenment are very much relevant even today. The belief in reason as separate from and opposed to tradition, and blind faith and the critical scrutiny of various phenomena are enduring legacies of Enlightenment.
The belief in human potential and the idea that rational human beings can shape their own destinies without any appeal to divine authorities derived from Enlightenment still continue.IGNOU BHIC 108 Solved Free Assignment
The idea that all human beings possessed the same faculties of reasoning and intellect is also a legacy of the enlightenment.
Besides, popular sovereignty and human freedom are core values in today’s world. Cosmopolitanism, tolerance, universalism, secularism, human rights, democracy and even gender equality can be traced to the Enlightenment.
Enlightenment also reinforced the superiority of the modern European countries over the rest of the world.
Enlightenment’s formula of the stages of development placed non-European peoples to the lower stages from which they were to be rescued by the more developed Europeans.
It put forward modern European values as norms for the rest of the world. It also proposed that it was the responsibility of the Europeans to educate and liberate the non-Europeans from superstitions and bondage to priests and rulers.
Enlightenment thinkers were critical of colonial plunder and exploitation through violence, but some of them still believed that the Europeans had a role to play in the colonies. IGNOU BHIC 108 Solved Free Assignment
For example, Condorcet suggested for the colonial people that we would become for them… generous liberators. Rousseau stated that the Europeans should ‘force them to be free’.
Q. 7. The Great Divergence.
Ans. There are three issues involved in the debate on divergence. First, the reasons behind the rise of industrial capitalism in Europe and why Britain became the First Industrial nation.
Second, the understanding when the ascendancy of the west started. Third, why China and India were behind Western Europe.
According to Kenneth Pomeranz, the standard of living in the Yangtze delta of China and southern England was similar.
Their per capita income, levels of urbanization and labour productivity in agriculture were comparable. The land and labour of the New World which made the crucial difference in the later economic trajectories of the two regions.
The Americas were important not because of the flow of capital to finance growth but because they released Britain from an ecological constraint and a foreseeable Malthusian problem.IGNOU BHIC 108 Solved Free Assignment
It could urbanize and industrialize based on the imports of food and raw materials. This development was as important as the change in energy use from wood to coal highlighted by E. A. Wrigley.
Recent work has confirmed Pomeranz’s claims that levels of agricultural productivity in the Yangtze delta and in England were similar.
Thus, he questions the dominant “agrarian fundamentalism” which had asserted that levels of industrialization in Europe were related to differences in levels of agricultural productivity.
At the same time Pomeranz has accepted that he had not considered the importance of war and the rise of the military fiscal state in the rise of industrialization but most notably the role of science and technology.
He believes that the divergence may have started by 1750 or even by 1700.
Q. 8. Proto-industrialization in Early Modern Europe.
Ans. Proto-industries developed in many regions of Europe between the sixteenth and the nineteenth centuries. They mainly grew in the rural areas and co-existed and developed with agriculture.
These indicated the growth of domestic industries that produced goods and commodities for distant markets.
These industries did not use any advanced technology and the labour force was also not centralized in the form of factory-production in these industries.
This extensive industrial growth in domestic domain in early modern Europe evinced considerable interests. In the 1970s, interest in the study of this theme was rekindled and researchers focused attention on ‘proto-industry’.
This emerged in the transition period from feudalism to capitalism and before the emergence of factory industrialization.
The term ‘proto-industrialization’ was used for the first time by Franklin Mendels in 1969. IGNOU BHIC 108 Solved Free Assignment
He argued that the development of proto-industries led to population growth, leading to further expansion of proto-industry and creating a kind of self-sustaining
development. This sustained growth in domestic industry led to many economic changes essential for factory production such as commercialization of agriculture, growth of entrepreneurship, accumulation of capital, capture of overseas markets and creation of an industrial workforce.
Q. 9. Mercantilism.
Ans. Mercantilism is an economic policy in which nations aim to maximize exports and minimize the imports. European nations adopted this policy between 1500 and 1800.
It was based on the idea that the world’s wealth was static and many European nations tried to accumulate the largest possible share of that wealth by maximizing their exports and by limiting their imports via tariffs.
Nations involved their military might to ensure local markets and supply sources were protected, to support the idea that a nation’s economic health heavily relied on its supply of capital. IGNOU BHIC 108 Solved Free Assignment
Mercantilists also believed that a nation’s economic health could be assessed by its levels of ownership of precious metals, like gold or silver, which tended to rise with increased new home construction, increased agricultural output, and a strong merchant fleet to provide additional markets with goods and raw materials.
The mercantilist idea was that more wealth should flow into the country than out of it. Exports must exceed imports and colonial conquests must be made to serve these interests.
They needed to regulate commerce, devise and implement taxation policies and other regulations on a scale throughout the state. They had to protect the interests of merchants and manufacturers against competition from other countries.
Early mercantilist ideas that influenced policies in fifteenth and sixteenth centuries were different from the mercantilism in seventeenth century.
These ideas got more sophisticated in early seventeenth century when they were questioned and critiqued in favour of free trade and different indices of measuring wealth.
Q. 10. Restoration (1660) and Glorious Revolution (1688)
Ans. The Restoration that followed the Commonwealth also failed in creating stability and co-operation with the Parliament despite an official end of the Civil War.
After the restoration of the monarchy, the House of Lords was also restored, where the nominated members of the king held, sway.
The House of Commons in which the elected component was significant also became important. IGNOU BHIC 108 Solved Free Assignment
People who favoured monarchy and those who favoured Parliament as the supreme authority took their fight into the Parliament instead of resolving the matter through armed battles of militias.
Two other groups were Tories and Whigs. Tories favoured court while Whigs were critical of court.
They were based in the country, where ownership of land by them made them powerful and prosperous.
They gained new wealth from commercial capitalism following the Navigation Acts and expansion of legitimate trade and commerce through trade monopolies.
Social and political conflicts also caused religious differences. The preferences of Charles II and James II after him for Catholicism were dubbed as unpatriotic.
The preferences for Catholics and their appointments empowered those who favoured monarchy and provided them control in administration.
Tories and Whigs were well defined political groups within the Parliament by the 1670s. The Whigs pushed through the Habeas Corpus Act in 1679.
It institutionalized the protection and rights of private property, guard against arbitrary power of the king through set procedures for trial and punishment and legal rights of those accused.IGNOU BHIC 108 Solved Free Assignment
When James II stubbornly exercised his prerogatives, the Parliament majority favouring Whigs invited William and Mary of Orange in Holland to accept the throne and restore Protestantism.
The Settlement was called the Glorious Revolution by historians linked with the Whigs because it put the rights of Parliament on a sound foundation, making Parliament a structural part of the English polity.
The Bill of Rights in 1689 institutionalised the structure, by restating the rights of Parliament. It was the origin of the constitutional Parliamentary representative system with two Houses of Parliament.
In terms of class, it established the social and political domination of the landed gentry.
It lasted through the eighteenth century: The elections to the Parliament were based on property qualifications, which restricted franchise.
The elections ensured the pervasive influence of gentry in parliamentary legislation and guaranteed that the social composition of the Parliament was such that most members belonged to this class. IGNOU BHIC 108 Solved Free Assignment
Puritanism that enjoyed adherence among middle classes remained without clout in political affairs and Anglicanism continued to be State religion.
The gentry was far more open to entry of newcomers into their class. They became far more accommodative of the commercial.