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philosophy Middle Ages

The history of the modern world derives from thousands of years of human history.  Embedded in its history are the many eras of man which have constructed our modern learning, art, beliefs, and order.  The middle ages, although represented as dark, backwards, and idle, were in fact a bridge linking the classical and modern world.  Medieval society may not have been in a sense glorious, but the era of itself was a prime foundation of the modern worlds newfound stability, a revival of the law and teachings from the classical era, a reinvestment and reform in the church, and a precursor to the golden age of art.
The government of the middle ages, as convoluted and variable as it was, ended up giving way to a powerful revival of monarchial control.  The feudal age had erupted due to the monarchs inability to rule and defend holistically its country during Norse and foreign invasions in the 700s to 1000s AD.  The emphasis shifted instead to local lords and nobles who drew the kings power for greater local stability.  This system flourished under an influenced and uneducated nation, however, the rise of the middle and working classes put a change to that.  Skilled merchants began to form guilds, universities and learning groups educated citizens, and a strengthening economy led the middle classes to object to feudal lords taxes and form their own charters of towns.  The educated middle class was now able to run their town fairly efficiently, which in turn, decreased influence of feudal lords and revived the power and influence of the monarchy.  The king could now depend on his educated townspeople to run their town.  AS revolutionary as the transition was to the feudal system, the practice proved to be efficient in the modern world.
The influence of universities and merchants, as seen, changed the kingdom.  Medieval universities were first formed in the 12th century AD after a need for educated public officials became evident.  Schools like the Law School at Bologna as well as medical schools gave towns lawyers, judges and capable local officials.  Other schools like the University of Paris taught scholars literature and theology.  The breed of Renaissance thinking was most likely developed in such places.  Scholars like Peter Abelard and Thomas Aquinas led an interest in the study of classical Greek and Roman philosophy.  This interest, along with challenged perspectives of the time eventually led to modern science.  Guilds, as afore-mentioned, were monopolistic practices over certain trades set by merchants.  They virtually eliminated competition and ensured quality.  Compared to Renaissance art, and Shakespearean and Elizabethan literature the precursor saw little.  However, works like Chaucers Canterbury Tales were popular, and the Gothic architectural style laid a foundation for many cathedrals and buildings.  It is still a dominant facade in todays world and was relished in modern Western Europe.  A powerful education system and study of art are necessary for societys to flourish and carry its roots into the next era; the effects of the middle ages therein are obvious.  The middle ages staged to recall and then reform the religious concepts of the day.  Since all aspects of society, including religious, are influenced by a changing society, the religion of the middle ages progressed accordingly.  The feudal age of religion may have witnessed a hierarchy in its system, but as the ages progressed, society, including kings and church scholars, argued for a reform in church government.  Likewise, as scholars found contradictions in religion, church practices were challenged and the very popes and bishops were unpopular.  The ideas and preaching of those like John Wycliffe and Jan Hus faced the church with a possible full-scale rebellion.  The church willingly compromised, however these were early warning signs of the reformations of the modern world.  The church, try as it might, could not barge a developing society and mind.  
The developments of the political, cultural, and religious societies of the middle ages influenced each other and were in turn influenced by the people.  The early middle ages and the whole age in general might be looked at as backward, however the changes it inspired need only be seen in the vibrant modern world that would follow.  Solely based on its ... more

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The Death of woman Wang

The Death of Woman Wang, by Jonathan Spence is an educational historical novel of northeastern China during the seventeenth century. The author's focus was to enlighten a reader on the Chinese people, culture, and traditions. Spence's use of the provoking stories of the Chinese county T'an-ch'eng, in the province of Shantung, brings the reader directly into the course of Chinese history. The use of the sources available to Spence, such as the Local History of T'an-ch'eng, the scholar-official Huang Liu-hung's handbook and stories of the writer P'u Sung-Ling convey the reader directly into the lives of poor farmers, their workers and wives. The intriguing structure of The Death of Woman Wang consists on observing these people working on the land, their family structure, and their local conflicts.
Chapter one, The Observers, in the Death of Woman Wang demonstrates the accuracy of the local historian; Feng K'o-ts'an, who compiled The Local History of T'an-ch'eng in 1673. The descriptive context of the Local History helps the reader to understand and literally penetrate into people's lives. The use of records of the earthquake of 1668, the White Lotus rising of 1622 and rebels rising vividly described by Feng the extent of suffering the people of T'an-ch'eng went through. Jonathan Spence stresses on how miserable the two-quarter of the seventeen-century were to the diminishing population of the county.  The earthquake claimed the lives of nine thousand people, many others died in the White lotus rising, hunger, sickness and banditry. P'u Sung-ling's stories convey that after the loss of the wheat crops there were cases of cannibalism. On top of all of this came the slaughtering of the entire family lines by the bandits. The incredible records of women like Yao and Sun in the Local History present the reader the magnitude of savagery the bandits possessed.  All of these factors led to the rise of suicides. The clarity of events Spence given to the reader is overwhelming.
On the other hand, Spence losses his reader as he introduces the spread of Confucius and other superstitious believes through out the county.  He states that the Local History states that people became unusually superstitious in parts of T'an-ch'eng. Later on he presents the Confucianism and it influence. Confusion especially occurs then he quotes from many different sources and chapters. For instance during the exams of 1669, students were presented with quotes from different chapters, which were supposed to be placed in correct context. An entire paragraph mentions chapters, books and names without any logical order. Of course this may have occurred because of the limited knowledge I have about these chapters.    
Spence gives a reader a clear insight in T'an-ch'eng's economy and it's economic policies in chapter two, The Land. T'an-ch'eng government had a rather simple philosophy, the more you made the more you paid. The taxes were paid based on percentage of what you made or volunteer to work for the government. The government did take interest in its taxpayers only then people were unable to pay at all.  Local History showed that there was a schedule of nine tax payments.  People paid more during the harvest seasons and less during the hottest midsummer months.  Structured Chinese government devised a responsible and supervisory system, which insured that the taxes were collected at full without any spillovers. Theft and cheating was a common occurrence at city's market, thus government officials created collecting points for the farmers to avoid direct contact with middlemen. All of the factors presented by Spence give the reader a closer look on the financial struggle of an ordinary seventeenth century farmer.
Furthermore, in part tree, The Widow, Spence urges the reader of woman's values and her characteristics in T'an-ch'eng county. Through the Local History Spence defines the meaning of property in the seventeen century China. Women like any other piece of property belonged to their alive husbands. Unfortunately, because of the levels of disasters in the county, population of males dropped from 40,002 to 9881 males, leaving a lot of helpless widows. Because of the Legal Code in the county, widows alone had a little chance to inherit deceased husband's property. Spence's vivid use of P'eng's story opens the readers eyes ... more

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