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Jump from Medieval to "Early Modern"

Discussion in 'Humankind by Amplitude' started by Stringer1313, Dec 15, 2020.

  1. Solovey

    Solovey Chieftain

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    The deal is simple and somehow funny. The modern era starts soon after inventing the printing press. Here is how it happens ;)
    At that time you need about 50 years to spread the technology and to start using it everywhere. Add to that the fact that it's natural to reffer the time you live in as a "modern era". But with the printing press you don't just call it - you copy-print that naming in thousands. With the printing press all the namings became much more static.
    The printing press invented around 1440, the "modern era" was officially "named" around 1500, soon the modern chronology was created by Scaliger.
    Everythin in Europe btw. So this name is Europe-centric as well :)
     
  2. Gwydden

    Gwydden Warlord

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    I disagree. The big event that happened around 1500 was the beginning of the Columbian exchange (1492), which had absolutely massive and frequently understated repercussions on a global scale, not just in Europe.
     
  3. 8housesofelixir

    8housesofelixir Emperor

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    Not to say that 1400-1500s was also when Ottomans conquered the Byzantines (1453), Timurid Empire falling apart (1470-1507), Mughals entering India (1504-1526), Japan going into Sengoku Period (1467-1477), the end of Khmer (1431) and Sukhothai (1438), Songhai's replacing of Mail Empire (1460s-1480s), etc. The only major civilization that hadn't went though any fundamental changes in this period was Ming China, until Francis Xavier visited China in 1552.

    And, by the way, movable types happened in China, Korea, and Japan roughly 2 centuries before Europe, but hadn't triggered anything dramatic before 16th century.* Chinese society was already been altered heavily in 10th century as a result of the development of woodblock printing.
    *Because they are far more expensive than woodblocks and therefore were not popular.
     
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  4. Boris Gudenuf

    Boris Gudenuf Deity

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    Geoffrey Parker in Global Crisis postulates (with 713 pages of evidence plus Notes) that a major Climate Change event between 1618 and the 1680s also caused massive disruption throughout the world, and details political and economic upheavals stretching from Spain to Japan in this period. One could argue with his postulated Cause, but the facts of disastrous consequences in virtually every state across the Eurasian continent are solid.

    And woodblock printing in China actually dates back to around 220 CE and by 1000 CE had caused the size of 'book collections' among various officials to go up by an order of magnitude. The earliest surviving woodblock-printed 'writing' samples are, I believe, a Buddhist sutra from the 7th century Tang period and a Korean woodblock sutra printed around 704 CE.
    Moveable type printing using bronze was being used in the early 13th century to print money in Chna, but my understanding is that the technology was not used to print books until the 15th century, about the same time that the Koreans were applying moveable type to printing 'general publications' - it had been used there since the early 13th century only for 'Royal' or official publications.
    Since printers in Limoges (France) were using moveable type as early as 1381 CE, the technology has to be regarded as almost contemporary between Europe and East Asia, but East Asian woodblock printed books are about 600 years earlier.
    Gutenberg's breakthrough was not the idea of moveable metal type, which was already in use in both France and the Netherlands, but a new alloy for the metal that was much cheaper than bronze but still durable, a recipe for ink that worked well with the paper and type, and a conversion of a wine press into a flat bed printing press that worked so well it was used virtually unchanged until the 18th century.
     
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  5. 8housesofelixir

    8housesofelixir Emperor

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    Thank you for explaining the actual contribution of Gutenberg's, as well as pointing an earlier date of European moveable types (I genuinely did not know that before! what a find). Also, some additions on the history of East Asian printing part:

    To be fair, even as a Chinese myself, this is the first time I heard people push the invention of Chinese woodblock printing that early, unless one counts seals and stamps as "printing" (there are irresponsible Chinese scholars doing that and I put the blame on them). The 700s CE printed Buddhist texts you mentioned should be the earliest woodblock printings in East Asian history.

    The 1000 CE boom in book collections, which is what I described as "Chinese society was already been altered heavily in 10th century as a result of the development of woodblock printing" in the previous post, was the result of a Five Dynasties stateman, Feng Dao, who mass-printed the Confucian Classics using woodblocks in 930-950s. He did not invented woodblock prints, nor did he use movable types, but he was the first person in Chinese history who mass-printed (semi-)sacred texts (the printed Buddhist texts before him were not that massive in number) and made them more accessible to even common people.

    Feng Dao's mass printing project is also why many Japanese scholars (the Kyoto School) and some US scholars viewing the Song dynasty as the beginning of "Early Modern Era" in China.

    Even after 15th century moveable type printing were rare in China, one major reason was, limited by metalworking technology, it was really hard to engrave a good-looking Chinese character on a small metal cube, and Chinese readers were generally fastidious about the characters in a book. Moveable type printed books were long been regarded as inferior than woodblock prints in Ming and Qing. Even a group of the imperial court authorized classics (called Wuying Dian edition) was being treated as "second-rate", because the court used moveable types to print them.
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2020
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  6. CivLuvah

    CivLuvah Deity

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    So much for calling "Early modern" Eurocentric by using the printing press as an argument point. :mischief:
     
  7. Boris Gudenuf

    Boris Gudenuf Deity

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    Please note I did not say that the 220 CE date was printing text. This was simply the earliest use of the woodblock technique, and my understanding is that it was on cloth and was more artwork than text of any kind. They were using clay/metal molds to print (decorative) patterns on cloth in Egypt even earlier - they are described by Pliny the Elder in the 1st century CE. I agree that the Sutras of the Tang and Korean examples in the late 7th - early 8th century are the earliest examples of printed text.

    I suspect that having a long tradition of calligraphy helped to 'stunt' the use of moveable type or printing techniques in China as much as the mechanical difficulties of carving Chinese characters into the metal: the type could not come close to matching the aesthetics of the calligraphy. Until Gutenberg, they had the same problem in Europe, in that it was very difficult (and expensive) to work detail in bronze or brass. Gutenberg developed a lead alloy that was hard enough not to wear down under the pressure of printing, but had a low melting point so that the type could be cast in quantity - and even then his first 'alphabet' had almost 40 characters because he had to match the differences in the way handwriting shaped letters at the beginning or ending of words - trying to match the appearance of the printed word to the handwritten words people were used to.

    One thing that was 'Eurocentric' about the printing press was the speed with which it spread: within 50 years after Gutenberg started printing in Mainz, Germany, there were printing presses all over Europe. The second thing was that while Gutenberg started with a copy of the Bible - a guaranteed 'Best Seller' - the majority of other titles printed were non-fiction manuals and 'how-to' books on every subject from agriculture to zoology. In that respect, the press did make a huge difference in the spread of knowledge and making knowledge available.
    Remember, though, that one more thing was required: Literacy. That was, as late as the 19th century, not a universal Skillset. In fact, the first country to achieve near-universal adult literacy was (drum roll): Scotland.
    Because, starting in the late 16th century, the Scots Presbyterian Church insisted that everyone should be able to read the bible for themselves - even women - so they established 'kirk schools' all over Scotland. That, in turn, is why the 'Scottish Engineer' became a cliche in historical and science fiction: Scots mechanics as the Industrial Revolution took off in the 18th century were the only ones who you could be sure could Read The Instructions for all the new machinery.
     
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  8. Solovey

    Solovey Chieftain

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    The deal wasn't that the printing press itself changes the world. The deal was that it fixed the names.
    Talking about china, their namings and the fact that they had the printing press earlier - they lost the competition so the Europe spreaded its names all around the globe.
     
  9. 8housesofelixir

    8housesofelixir Emperor

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    The concept of "Early Modern Period" as a form of historical periodization was first established in late 19th century. It was only being popularized by the Annales School in 1930-1970s in the Western World and by the Kyoto School of History in East Asia in 1930-1960s and therefore became the "standard" concept.
    (cf. The Oxford Handbook of Early Modern European History. For Japanese sources I cannot really recommended a book since I don't know if they have any "handbook" culture, and the great works created by Kyoto School of History are numerous - but you can always begin from Katsurou Hara and Naitou Torajirou.)

    Printing press in the 19th and 20th century can basically "fix" every concept which is not a helpful argument at all. Not to say that the idea was not only being popularized by Europeans but also being popularized by the Japanese - now please tell me how "Japanese printing machines" fixed the names of the East Asian historiography.

    How to lost a competition when there was not any competition is beyond my knowledge.

    In terms of "namings", China already used the exact same "namings" of "Ancient-Medieval-Modern" in 300 BCE: "In Ancient Times [people] compete with their morality, in Middle Eras [people] compete with their intelligence, in Modern Ages [people] compete with their powers" (上古競於道德 中世逐於智謀 當今爭於氣力 - Han Fei Zi, Chapter 49). Japan also developed similar ideas around 1300s, many scholarly notes and diaries from that time already considered the Heian Period (794-1185 CE) as the "Middle Ages" of Japan while themselves are "Modern" or "Contemporary".

    Basically, you will be surprised to find that how cultures from different times and different parts of the world can develop similar concepts - "Modern", in this case - independently.
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2020
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  10. Boris Gudenuf

    Boris Gudenuf Deity

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    Should also note that the modern concept of "Modern - Progress" and Probably continuous Improvement in the Human Condition, which was definitely Not present in the Classical thought of the Greeks and Romans (Greek mythological Ages started with the Golden Age and went steadily downhill to the Present Day - no belief in Progress discernable at all) can be traced back to the writers of the Scottish Enlightenment in the early-mid 18th century. See Arthur Herman's How the Scots Invented the Modern World which, aside from perhaps the most OP title in current historical writing, makes a good case that most of the later 19th and 20th century concepts of Modernity and Progress came from the faculties of Edinburgh and Glasgow Universities in the 18th century - including the dominant political and economic philosophies of Democracy and Free Market. Although both and the concept of Progress is taking a hit right now, 275 years is a pretty good run for any set of philosophical concepts . . .
     
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  11. Solovey

    Solovey Chieftain

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    The concept of early modern period was esteblished because the "modern" period became too long so they just divided it into early modern and ... the "newest" modern (don't know the last name in english). And the modern era name itself was esteblished mush earlier.
     
  12. CivLuvah

    CivLuvah Deity

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    There is no "newest" modern, "modern" has always been used to described to whatever present the author who wrote about it is in.

    Here's my answer from the previous page

    It wasn't because it was too long, it was because the common name for the period itself, "Renaissance", was too specific.
     
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  13. Krajzen

    Krajzen Deity

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    After some time of thinking about it and reading more Early Medieval stufff if I had to set ages for my own historical game and assign them some clear dates I'd do it roughly like that:

    Early medieval: 476 od 527 or 632 AD to 1000 or 1066 AD

    476 is obvious symbolic date. But Justinian's reign is the actual moment when Byzantium started considering 476 to be the 'end of Western Rome' and tried to retake it. And ~600 AD is an awesome boundary date for the rest of Eurafrasia, because 1) The Rise of Islam and 2) Tang Dynasty have changed everything everywhere.

    High/Late medieval: 1000 or 1066 to 1492

    1000 is a symbolic date, also I like to see boundary age in 10th century during which the entire "modern setup" of European civilization has been established (with christianization and ancestor kingdoms established everywhere). 1066 however is also very good date because not only it dramatically impacts British Isles, France and Norse, it is also a date close to the Manzikert, peak investiture controversy and the first crusade. 1066 is also closer to the Seljuk Empire and an Islamic expansion towards India.

    Early Modern: 1492 - 1815
    1492 is imo much better boundary date, because 1453 was just symbolic end of a pathetic vestigial remnant of empire dying across two centuries. 1453 in itself didn't change anything in the world too much; it wasnt even that important for Ottoman power, as they have controlled vast lands on both sides of Bosphorus long before that. But 1492 changed everything across the globe very quickly and directly. It was a dramatic date for Europe, Americas, Africa, Asia, global trade and economy etc. 1815 is imo a good moment to "start" industrial age, because it was only after Napoleon when the industrial revolution really expanded outside Britain. Napolenic Wars were also born from Enlightenment and 18th century.
     
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  14. 8housesofelixir

    8housesofelixir Emperor

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    Definitely these, Early and Late Medieval are so different.

    IMHO I would still follow the academic practice and put the end of Early Modern at the French Revolution. The Age of Revolution (1775/1789-1815/1848) very much destroyed the absolute monarchy which was a dominate feature in the Early Modern Era.
     
  15. Boris Gudenuf

    Boris Gudenuf Deity

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    Not just politics. The French Revolution started about money: the French monarchy trying to extract more of it from their French subjects but limiting the extraction to non-aristocratic, non-religious sources and discovering that those sources objected strenuously and murderously to that. But that, in turn, was because the sources of wealth in the state had already changed dramatically: the French aristocracy, in fact, was virtually impoverished as a Class by 1789 because money now came from commerce and manufacturing, not Land. Cue the economic revolution, which was already well along all over western Europe.

    And the period 1789 - 1815 was a watershed in manufacturing techniques. In 1800 Maudslay invented the screw-cutting lathe which, for the first time, allowed parts to be made by machine that were exactly identical: cue really Interchangeable Parts. 5 years later Brunel and Maudslay introduced mass-production of pulley blocks in the Royal Dockyards for the British Navy by specialized purpose-built machinery: from there to Ford's factories turning out a Model T automobile every few minutes is just refining the technique over the next century.

    And finally, ALL modern armies have the same structure as the armies of Revolutionary France and her enemies: regiments and brigades in divisions under Corps HQ and Armies composed of several Corps. The only thing that has been added is the Army Group once forces went beyond a million men in a single campaign. Even basic military staff work today, though electronically mechanized, is based on the principles established by Berthier for Napoleon's Grande Armee.

    The changes were continuous, but by 1815 not only was the legitimacy of all monarchies in serious question, but also all traditional manufacturing, economic, and military techniques and practices were being replaced by entirely new technologies and their consequences.

    Railroads could not have been built at all with the manufacturing and financial mechanisms of the 18th century.
    The armies of the US Civil War (1861 - 65) or the Franco-Prussian War (1870 - 1871) could not have been moved, controlled, or supplied with weapons and ammunition without the changes in industry and military staffing and control introduced between 1789 and 1815.
    No machinery could have been applied to 'mass production' without the changes in precision introduced between 1800 and 1805 and developed further in the following years. The Real "Industrial Revolution" starts in 1800: everything before that was just preliminaries.

    BUT

    My problem with "Eras" as they are being used in both Civ and Humankind is that no Era ever changed the same way in all parts of the world. The "Medieval" Era was indeed very different from early to late timeframe - in Europe and China, but not so much in India, Africa, or the Americas.
    1492 and the "Columbian Exchange" that followed did have massive effects all over the world, but one of those effects was the extermination of up to 90% of the native population of the Americas by introduced diseases, an effect that no one has ever suggested trying to replicate in a game!
     
  16. Krajzen

    Krajzen Deity

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    Okay, you have concinced me that EM era should end by 1789.

    Doesn't "medieval" frame sort of fit India by being simply the era when Islam appeared and started penetrating it? In such way you get early medieval era (7th - 10th century) when Muslims failed to conquer beyond Indus, high medieval (11th - 13th) when Ghaznavids and Ghurids break through, late medieval (14th - 15th) when Delhi dominates subcontinent, and early modern (16th - 18th) marked by Mughals, gunpowder and Europeans. I have also heard the description "classical India" being used for the period from the decline of Maurya (200BC) to the decline of Gupta (6th century). So it seems to me that India is sort of compatible with 'European' framework.

    And imho the "medieval era" in Subsaharan Africa could mean simply a spread of Islam and urbanized civilizations (two prcesses being strongly connected) beyond Axum, Nubia and Punt where they were present since time immemorial.

    If I were really desperate for medieval era in Americas, and wanted to annoy historians, I'd tinker with the fall of classical Maya and rise of Missisipi and Pueblo civilizations all happening around 900 AD (and latter two both declined in 15th century even). But in general yeah, no medieval era in Americas :p
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2020
  17. 8housesofelixir

    8housesofelixir Emperor

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    There is also a huge debate about when Medieval Era ended in China and when Early Modern began (Scholars generally agree that the end of Han dynasty (c.220 CE) is the beginning of Medieval China: the same reason as why the Fall of Rome is considered as the beginning of Medieval Europe).

    The Kyoto School of Historiography and "old-school" US sinologists (cf. Peter Bol, not to say Yu Ying-shih) view Chinese Early Modern beginning from Northern Song (960-1125); people who do traditional "World History" (cf. Fernand Braudel, Okada Hidehiro) view Chinese Early Modern as beginning from Mongol Yuan (1271–1368); and the general perception is to view Chinese Early Modern as beginning from Ming dynasty (1368-1644) (and that's why Ming is an Early Modern in Humankind despite established in "Medieval").

    Basically, Imperial China between 960 and 1644 experienced very dramatic changes per every 200 years, that it is nearly impossible to figure out if these 700 years can be categorized to one or two "era(s)".
     
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  18. Atlas627

    Atlas627 Deity

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    1453 is absolutely critical to the Early Modern period. The educated Greeks fleeing the Ottoman takeover to Italy kicked off the Renaissance, which is what generated the explorers that did that whole 1492 thing, among others. Furthermore, Constantinople itself was a huge trading hub for Europeans until the Ottoman takeover, at which point sailing into the unknown to hopefully get around them became worthwhile.

    And as much as everybody loves Napoleon, the Industrial Revolution led to emancipation, not the other way around. 1800 is a good date for the start of the Industrial era.

    But in general, using "eras" to refer to specific years doesn't really capture how the world changed in all its different ways. Industrialism is a trend that you can see all across the world, but at different times. Referring to Industrialization is useful, and saying that there was a period of time where the main global change was driven by Industrialization is useful, but saying that that period is years 1800-1910 (or whatever) isn't nearly as useful.
     
  19. Boris Gudenuf

    Boris Gudenuf Deity

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    This is the traditional historian's view, but is not as supportable as it once was. The "Renaissance" did not start with a bang of Ottoman Bombards in 1453, it started with a steady seepage of knowledge into Europe.
    Examples:
    The Translation Movement of scholars working at libraries in Spain, especially Toledo, started making Greek and Roman scientific texts available in Medieval Latin around 1000 CE, including Euclid's geometry, Galen's writings on medicine, and Ptolemy's on astronomy. They also translated Arabic dissertations and elaborations on the Greek and Roman works, including the writings of Jabir ibn Hayyan on alchemy (chemistry), al-Khwarizmi on algebra, and al-Zahrawi on medicine.
    Robert Grossteste at Oxford in the early 13th century (so, over 200 years before 1453) wrote on astronomy, cosmology, mathematics, and the use of controlled experiments and Aristotlean Logic to fomulate hypotheses - the scientific method also being written up by his colleague, Roger Bacon. Much of this was based on translations from the Greek or Arabic.
    By the 1350s, 100 years before the Big Bang of Renaissancery, Europe already had mechanical clocks, cast iron or bronze cannon, crucible steel making, watermill-powered sawmills, fuller's mills and other 'industrial' machinery, and had been using 'Arabic' (actually, originated in Cambodia) place notation for mathematical calculations for over 200 years and had invented double-entry bookkeeping and most of the modern (pre-electronic) banking techniques.

    The Fall of Constantinople might have accelerated some changes in some Italian cities, but Europe was already well past the ancient 'Golden Age' in most fields of metalworking, mechanics, chemistry, mathematics, and the application of machinery and non-animal power to production.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2021
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  20. Atlas627

    Atlas627 Deity

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    I think the most important aspect of the Early Modern period was the linking of the whole world via exploration, which is still caused by the desire to bypass Ottoman-held Constantinople for Eastern trade. Certainly there were many other advancements that we could discuss, and I agree that the Fall of Constantinople is not nearly as important to those as it used to be believed. Humanism was already taking shape, the Renaissance was already set to happen, and 1453 merely accelerated those things. But without the loss of Constantinople as a trading hub for Europe, I don't think there would have been nearly as strong a drive to fund exploration. (the Portuguese had nothing better to do, though)
     

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