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The Middle Ages and the Renaissance: Different or the Same?

An analysis of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Was the Renaissance really a rebirth, or were the Middle Ages a corridor gradually leading into it?

The Dark Ages and the Renaissance are two periods in history that are disputed among between historians, as to whether they are connected, or opposites. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, “darkness descended upon the devastated, unstable continent” (William Manchester) which was Europe. In a sense, Europe began the act of progress from the start. The society they created was characteristic to Europe. After once more building the continent up, through the time period referred to as the Middle Ages (5th to 16th centuries), Europe could continue advancing (excluding “the introduction of waterwheels in the 800s and windmills in the late 1100s” (Manchester)) where it had left off in the 5th century, by going straight to the Renaissance. Comparing the views of historians William Manchester and James M. Powell, the dispute can be resolved. Based on the lord and vassal relationships, the Church, and the education, that lived on, one can conclude that Medieval Europe was a preclude to the modern world (i.e. the Renaissance that followed).

Based on the lord and vassal relationship that lived on, one can determine that Medieval Europe was a preclude to the modern world (i.e. the Renaissance that followed). The lord-vassal relationship that was established during the Middle Ages due to the need of protection, lived on to the Renaissance. The most powerful lord became king, and other lords became his vassals. Therefore, how could the Middle Ages and the Renaissance be separate, if the Medieval governmental system was passed on to the Renaissance? On this issue, Manchester states that “[In the Middle Ages] any leader with a large following of free men was eligible [to be king]”. However, does not that statement still stands today? A leader with followers, could be ruler. In America, the followers of a leader, vote for her/him and s/he becomes ruler. In most other ‘modern’ countries, the idea is similar. Thus, this idea was passed on. On the same issue, Powell states that “the feudal system can . . . be regarded as . . . [the product of] the breakdown of the central authority”. The feudal system, became the new government system. He also states that “the role of feudalism was in the direction of unifying . . . political and social life in Western Europe”. Feudalism was the new governmental system created in the Middle Ages, characteristic to Europe. This system lived on in the Renaissance. Thus, based on the lord and vassal relationship that lived on, one can determine that Medieval Europe was a preclude to the modern world.

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