The last project that our Age of Ex class tackled was based on the Reformation. In my research I specifically focused on Calvinism and the concept of predestination. Earlier this week, we started reading a basic overview of the Political Enlightenment, focusing mainly on the beginning of the 17th century. In reading The Seventeenth Century: Europe 1558-1715, edited by Joseph Bergin, I was able to make a few connections between the revolutionary thinking that John Calvin introduced to Europe during his lifetime, and the new political difficulties that rulers at the time were facing.
“Is it faith to understand nothing, and merely submit your convictions implicitly to the Church?” -John Calvin
For one, as stated by Bergin, “all lawful authority derived from God and was exercised by divine right” (80). People who followed Calvin followed the bible, or the scripture, almost exclusively. According to Calvin, the scripture is the only reliable source of information. That being said, not relying on a monarch’s word, proclaiming that they are divinely appointed to rule. Also, in places where monarchs were Catholic and a large majority of the population was Protestant, difficulties in controlling the population would have arose. Because the subjects and the rulers were of different religions the “Chain of Being” (illustrated on the left) was broken, giving the subjects the will power to disobey their sovereign (Bergin 83).
Even though we just started to read and discover information about the Enlightenment, I am already excited to explore deeper into the inner workings of the Enlightenment. Discovering more specific knowledge about the political structure of Europe at the time will help to put existing knowledge about the Reformation into a better perspective. The reading that the class is currently tackling is undeniably hefty but still maintains the ability to retain interest and provide the proper platform in which to learn the basic information about the political enlightenment. In this project I will, hopefully, be utilizing the skills that I have learned and used in previous projects. Needless to say, I am excited about starting a new Age of Ex project, and I’m excited to see what the information that I am about to learn will teach me about Europe during the 16th century.
Blanning, T.C.W. “The Seventeenth Century”, Short Oxford History of Europe. Oxford University Press, 2000.