Turning Points in European History

Early Draft The inexorable passage of human history has been punctuated by events that have radically shaped the development of societies throughout the world. These turning points as defined by historians have profoundly affected people lives through their indelible impact on political, economic, and social landscapes. Two such events, the Crusades and the Bubonic plague were pivotal events in European history that saw the traditional framework of Feudalistic Europe dismantled and the seeds of a renaissance planted. The Crusades were a series of military campaigns sanctioned by the Pope in response to the looming Muslim threat in the East. Exhorted by the Catholic Church and enticed by promises of fortune, power, and redemption, the crusaders rose from Europe and set out to wage holy war.

Though failing to achieve their original purpose, the crusades inadvertent success came from managing to facilitate greater contact between Europe and Asia. This Bridging of East and West resulted in an influx of trade and ideas reaching Europe to revive a stagnant economy and spur intellectual activity. These developments would in part give rise to the commercial revolution which would change the course of Europe and definitively erase the last vestiges of feudalism. The Bubonic plague, also known as the “Black Death” left Europe devastated in its wake. As the pandemic swept across Europe, decimating populations, it consequently weakened its central institutions. As the plague forced survivors to question their own morality and outlook on life, what followed was major social upheaval as people demanded more rights and liberties from their rulers.

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The People’s yearnings to enjoy life lead them to start purchasing goods at an unprecedented scale, this nascent consumerism helped stimulate economic growth and create a burgeoning middle class which enjoyed luxuries that in the past had been available to only the upper echelons of society. With their subjects becoming increasingly self-dependent, Feudal lords suffered a substantial loss of power and social hierarchies that had existed for centuries began to crumble. These were decisive points in history that forever altered the state of Europe. The Crusades and the Bubonic Plague introduced significant changes to Europe and initiated a period of transition from Feudalism. Through these events European society underwent a momentous reformation that has had an enduring influence on its development ever since.