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Essay Exam Questions for Medieval and Early Modern Europe

One Hour Questions

1. What is a "nation state?" What conditions are necessary for its development? Choose an example of a "nation state" and show how your generalizations apply to a specific example.

2. The growth of nationalism rather than the weakness or failures in the Catholic Church itself explain the triumphs and also the defeats of the Protestant Reformation. Discuss.

3. It has been stated that the feudal system incorporated elements from the three great contributors to medieval civilization: the Roman Empire, the Germanic barbarians, and the Christian Church. Examine this statement and indicate how each made its contribution to the formation of the feudal system and also comment on the extent to which that system was a coherent political, social, and economic whole.

4. Western Europe began an expansion into the non-European world in the 11th century. This was but a first stage of a process which would see European civilization expand throughout the world. Discuss the process from the 11th to the end of the 16th century.

5. Both the Carolingian Empire and Holy Roman Empire claim to be legitimately descended from the roman Empire. What grounds did they have for this claim? What was the view of the Church?

6. From the early centuries of the Christian ere there was a reforming tradition which manifested itself at periodic intervals until the great period of reform—Protestant and Roman Catholic—in the 16th century. Discuss these various periods of reform beginning with the Cluniac movement. Why did the Protestant Reformation break the pattern of reform within the existing framework of the Church?

7. How do you explain the rise of representative assemblies in the Middle Ages, and why was it only in England that Parliament became the essential part of the government in the 16th century?

8. Scholasticism is used to characterize the thought of the Middle Ages, humanism that of the Renaissance. What does each term mean? What os the view of each towards man in the world? 9. Is it true to say that from Charlemagne to Henry III (771-1056) the authority of the popes depended on the strength of the emperors, yet Gregory VII to Innocent IV (1073-1254) the popes considered the emperors the greatest threat to their authority and worked to destroy imperial power? How do you account for this change?

10. The influence of classical literature never died out in Vietnam in Western Europe, but its importance and use varied considerably. What was its importance and to what use was it put in the Carolingian Renaissance, the Renaissance of the 12th century, and the Italian Renaissance?

11 In feudalism, were there the seeds of constitutionalism, absolutism, and anarchy? Look at England, France, and Germany in the 11th through 16th centuries.

12. How united was Western Christendom before the Reformation; how important was it for producing capitalism, nationalism, the absolute state, religious toleration, and the right to resist legally established authority?