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1. The Crusades represent a significant moment of contact between Muslims and
European Christians that would shape the relationship between the two for
centuries. What were the social, cultural, and political forces that led to the
Crusades? What were the outcomes of these military campaigns? How was Europe
changed by the Crusades?
2. Although the Protestant Reformation may have begun as a reform movement, it
unleashed a wave of change that swept across Europe. Why did Protestantism
spread so far so quickly? What did the Catholic Church do in response? In what
ways was Protestant an both a reflection and cause of the changes that occurred in
the course of the 16th century?
3. The Scientific Revolution ushered in a radical shift in how many of Europe’s
brightest thinkers thought about the world around them. Trace the rise of scientific
thinking during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries? What economic and cultural
factors allowed the Scientific Revolution to unfold? What impact did the new
understanding of the world have on the world?
4. Many of the first encounters between Europeans and the indigenous peoples of
the Americas were surrounded by violence and cultural conflict. Compare the cases
of Christopher Columbus and Hernan Cortez. What were these two men intending
to do? How did they see their missions? Why is the case of Columbus often view
much more favorably than that of Cortez?
5. During the late medieval and early modern period, the Ottoman, Safavid, and
Mughal empires all reached the height of their power and wealth. Comparing these
three empires, what elements did they share in common and what different
challenges did they face? What cultural advances were made in these different
states and how did they manage their diverse populations?
6. The seventeenth century could be described as the century of royal absolutism.
Using to examples, compare how royal absolutism help create strong centralized
states. What are the similarities and differences between the two cases? Were
these states necessarily bad given the absence of any power sharing at the highest
levels or did some carry out positive reforms even though power was concentrated
in the hands of the sovereign?