Scientific revolution was primarily based on earlier accomplishments especially on the institutional and intellectual foundations of the middle ages. Each of the periods before it seems to have been based on the works and developments of the one coming before it. Early developments in Europe are associated with medieval developments in Italy in the fields of literature, art, economic and civic affairs, medicine, and engineering. These developments are traced back in the 23th and 14th centuries. The 15th century is believed to have facilitated the development of significant changes across Europe as well as expanding European’s perspectives both figuratively and literary. More particularly, four movements that reshaped the world for the 16th and 17th century people are the invention of the movable-type printing, the rise of humanism, the reforms of Christianity, and discovery of the new world (Goldman, n.p).
The Italian Renaissance lasted a generation after the peak plague years and provided the basic background for the scientific revolution. This is regarded as the rise of humanism (Goldman, n.p). It was a period during which the people believed to be living in a new era characterized with modernity and novelty. The first era of this period is presented by the antiquity of Rome and Greece while Renaissance authors constitute the third era. Between the two eras is what is regarded by humanists as the middle ages; a period of dullness and stagnation. The humanists were particularly interested in understanding the happenings of the past era. This was presented though their enormous efforts at finding the long lost classical texts. They were able to recover several Roman learning as well as to revive the study of Greek. The 15th century witnessed the recovery of a number of ancient texts largely on technological and scientific topics.
Notably, humanists were inspired by a quest for pure and accurate texts ion contrast to just love for texts. In contrast to the modern misconception that humanists must have been secularist and anti-religious, most of the humanists were for church reforms and even worked for churches. Renaissance humanists’ impacts on the history of technology and science were both positive and negative. On the positive side, they facilitated the availability of important texts and also promoted a new level of textual criticism.
The invention of a movable-type printing in the mid 13th century served the humanist concerning texts. They could now be able to print a whole page or a set of pages in a single attempt. Prior to this discovery, books could be copied by hand resulting in very slow production and subsequent high prices (Goldman, n.p). The high demand for books created by the medieval growth of universities and increased literacy outstripped their supply and created need for quicker production of books. This facilitated the development of more book-making enterprises outside of the traditional monastic and university scriptoria; and this caused more copying errors. Printing allowed faster and more reliable production. By the 14th century there were about a thousand operational printing presses across Europe. By the 16th and 17th centuries books had become less expensive. Generally, printing facilitated faster communication through newsletters, broadsides, periodicals, and pamphlets.
The renaissance also involved voyages of discovery whereby sailors especially Portuguese hoping to establish new trading routes in Asia came across new and strange cultures and people which they brought back to Europe. The middle ages laid foundations for these renaissance-era voyages most of which involved Asia and sub-Saharan Africa during the 14th and 15th centuries (Goldman, n.p). Medieval travelling mainly involved religious groups; the Franciscans and Dominicans on ambassadorial missions. The medieval travels inspired a broader sense of a larger world within which Europe could be explored. It is these early explorations that led to discovery of America and more about the then little known circumference of the earth.
Information collected from later explorations helped in the establishment of the first empire in history by Spain. As a result, others such as Portugal established similar territories abroad; an aspect that helped bring in to Europe a mass wealth of knowledge and information concerning plants, people, medicines, minerals, languages, and ideas. This created a need for re-evaluation of the traditional systems of classifying plants and animals as well as new ways exploring this new pool of knowledge (Goldman, n.p). Exploration of this new class of knowledge resulted in a number of changes including the refuting of ancient notion that the world was only divided into five basic climatic regions. The discovery of the new world spheres necessitated the establishment of new technological and scientific ideas and skills. As a result, the need for recording of sea routes and geographical data during voyages led to creation of new mapping techniques.
During the voyages, Europe was also exposed to a diversity of religious perspectives. Back in Europe, there was a religious revolution taking place within Christianity. This initiated what is referred to as the Wars of Religion motivated by political and dynastic maneuvers (Goldman, n.p). As a result, there were divisions within Christianity and the creation of other movements such as Lutheran. It also led to formation of new Protestant universities which incorporated new subjects and approaches. The Jesuit schools are in record as the first schools to introduce new scientific ideas of the prevalent Scientific Revolution.
As is evident from the discussion, The Scientific Revolution was an extensive phenomenon in history that not only shaped the world then, but laid foundation for the current scientific advancements. It was also a period of great change in society not only in terms of scientific ideas, but also in terms of religion, economics, and social spheres of life.
Goldman, Steven L. Scientific Revolution. n.p.: Gale, Cengage Learning, 2015.
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