Foundations of Western Civilization

Topics: Middle Ages, Europe, Roman Empire Pages: 7 (2334 words) Published: March 13, 2006
The Roman Empire was a great empire full of riches, a massive army, and a wide area of land, but they also were plagued by disease, poverty and corruption. After many years of Roman rule the empire lost its final battle. Luckily the Roman dream was preserved through many new empires, events and groups of people which included the Muslims, the Catholic Church, the Barbarian invasion, and the Byzantium Empire. These people and events influenced the way Western civilization has developed today.

One period in history that had many contributions to the way western civilization has developed today is the middle ages. The idea that the Middle Ages were "dark ages" has been exaggerated a lot. In fact the middle ages are split into three distinct time periods, which were all quite different from each other. There are the Early, High, and Late Middle Ages. Despite the reputation for being a time when there were no moves forward in Europe, there were actually many important achievements.

During the middle Ages there was as much cultural turmoil as in the periods prior to it, if not more. Each new conflict and war, each new voyage, each new opened trade route brought new ideas, new worldviews, broadened the medieval people's perspective and laid the base for the beginning of the Renaissance later. And of course, looked on its own and not in the context of other historical phases, the Medieval age is best suited for the needs of the people that lived in it with their cultural necessities set to a lower priority in favor of religious and physical ones (Hooker). This was due to the unstable character of that era. As there was no central authority or authorities to call upon, people were largely left on their own, creating a sense of insecurity and dread which could only be overcome by the strict adhesion to religion. It can be said that the period of the Middle ages was mainly a period in which Europeans battled not only their enemies and among themselves, but most importantly their own psychological insecurity and fear, created by the fall of almost all previous institutions (Hooker). Muslims

Let's first look at one of the major influencing factors – the Muslim civilization. It was not troubled by the insecurity crisis that shook Europeans. On the contrary, they had no far of the outside world, they explored it with a fervor which can only be compared with the scientific boom of the twentieth century. The attitude of Europe to the Arabs and Islam was at first a contrast of fear and admiration coupled with acknowledgement of superiority. This was altered with the capture of Toledo in 1085, the conquest of Sicily in 1091 and fall of Jerusalem in 1099 (Wikipedia). These events brought the Western Europe in contact with Islamic Civilization in Muslim Spain and in Palestine. There for the first time they realized that the Islamic culture and Science is far more superior that they ever seen before (Kinshlansky 247). Thus started the translation of Arabic science into Latin and its integration into European culture, on the foundation of which Europe later developed what we call the modern science. Islam did not only share with Western Europe many material products and technological discoveries. It did not merely stimulate Europe internationally in the fields of science, art and culture. On top of all that it provoked Europe in the forming a new image of itself.

They made Algebra and exact science and laid the foundation of analytical Geometry plans and spherical Trigonometry, which did not exit among the Greek. In Astronomy they made valuable contributions (mainly because they had to know the direction of Mecca)(Hooker). It was in fact in the sphere of Mathematics and Astronomy that the fast advances were made by the Arabs in Islam. They also made a considerable contribution and sea fearing and discovered the telescope and mariners compass. All this helped the Europeans not only by the discoveries made, but also by setting their...

Cited: Bible History. Com accessed June 18-24, 2005.
Hooker, Richard. "The European Middle Ages" Washington University 1996 accessed June 18-24, 2005
Kishlansky Mark, Geary Patrick, and O 'Brien, Patricia. Civilization in the West 6th
Edition New York: Pearson Longman 2003.
"Roman Empire" Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia accessed June 18-24, 2005
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