Western culture

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Western culture, throughout most of its history, has been nearly equivalent to Christian culture, and a large portion of the population of the Western hemisphere can be described as cultural Christians. The notion of "Europe" and the "Western World" has been intimately connected with the concept of "Christianity and Christendom" many even credit the synthesis of a unified European identity to Christianity. Agnus Dei 01.jpg
Western culture, throughout most of its history, has been nearly equivalent to Christian culture, and a large portion of the population of the Western hemisphere can be described as cultural Christians. The notion of "Europe" and the "Western World" has been intimately connected with the concept of "Christianity and Christendom" many even credit the synthesis of a unified European identity to Christianity.
Da Vinci Vitruve Luc Viatour.jpg
Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian Man . Based on the correlations of ideal human proportions with geometry described by the ancient Roman architect Vitruvius in Book III of his treatise De architectura .
Plato Pio-Clemetino Inv305.jpg
Plato, along with Socrates and Aristotle, helped to establish Western philosophy.
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Apollo, seen as the most beautiful god and the ideal of the kouros (a beardless, athletic youth). [2] The earliest depictions of Jesus Christ would also be beardless and haloed.

Western culture, sometimes equated with Western civilization, Occidental culture, the Western world , Western society, and European civilization, is the heritage of social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, belief systems, political systems, artifacts and technologies that originated in or are associated with Europe. The term also applies beyond Europe to countries and cultures whose histories are strongly connected to Europe by immigration, colonization, or influence. For example, Western culture includes countries in the Americas and Australasia, whose language and demographic ethnicity majorities are of European descent. Western culture has its roots in Greco-Roman culture from classical antiquity (see Western canon).

Western world Countries that identify themselves with an originally European shared culture

The Western world, also known as the West, refers to various regions, nations and states, depending on the context, most often including at least parts of Europe, Australasia, and the Americas. There are many accepted definitions, all closely interrelated. The Western world is also known as the Occident, in contrast to the Orient, or Eastern world. It is often correlated with the Northern half of the North-south divide.

Cultural heritage cultural heritage is a man-made heritage

Cultural heritage is the legacy of physical artifacts and intangible attributes of a group or society that is inherited from past generations. Not all legacies of past generations are "heritage", rather heritage is a product of selection by society.

Tradition belief or behavior passed down within a group or society with symbolic meaning or special significance with origins in the past

A tradition is a belief or behavior passed down within a group or society with symbolic meaning or special significance with origins in the past. Common examples include holidays or impractical but socially meaningful clothes, but the idea has also been applied to social norms such as greetings. Traditions can persist and evolve for thousands of years—the word tradition itself derives from the Latin tradere literally meaning to transmit, to hand over, to give for safekeeping. While it is commonly assumed that traditions have ancient history, many traditions have been invented on purpose, whether that be political or cultural, over short periods of time. Various academic disciplines also use the word in a variety of ways.

Contents

Ancient Greece is considered the birthplace of many elements of Western culture, including the development of a democratic system of government and major advances in philosophy, science and mathematics. The expansion of Greek culture into the Hellenistic world of the eastern Mediterranean led to a synthesis between Greek and Near-Eastern cultures, [3] and major advances in literature, engineering, and science, and provided the culture for the expansion of early Christianity and the Greek New Testament. [4] [5] [6] This period overlapped with and was followed by Rome, which made key contributions in law, government, engineering and political organization. [7] The concept of a "West" dates back to the Roman Empire, where there was a cultural divide between the Greek East and Latin West, a divide that later continued in Medieval Europe between the Catholic Latin Church west and the "Greek" Eastern Orthodox east.

Democracy system of government in which citizens vote directly in or elect representatives to form a governing body, sometimes called "rule of the majority"

Democracy is a system of government where the citizens exercise power by voting. In a direct democracy, the citizens as a whole form a governing body and vote directly on each issue. In a representative democracy the citizens elect representatives from among themselves. These representatives meet to form a governing body, such as a legislature. In a liberal democracy the powers of the majority are exercised within the framework of a representative democracy, but the constitution limits the majority and protects the minority, usually through the enjoyment by all of certain individual rights, e.g. freedom of speech, or freedom of association.

Eastern Mediterranean countries geographically to the east of the Mediterranean Sea

The Eastern Mediterranean denotes the countries geographically to the east of the Mediterranean Sea. Its populations share not only geographic position but also cuisine, certain customs and a long, intertwined history.

New Testament Second division of the Christian biblical canon

The New Testament is the second part of the Christian biblical canon, the first being the Old Testament. The New Testament discusses the teachings and person of Jesus, as well as events in first-century Christianity. Christians regard both the Old and New Testaments together as sacred scripture.

Western culture is characterized by a host of artistic, philosophic, literary and legal themes and traditions. Christianity, including the Roman Catholic Church, [8] [9] [10] Protestantism [11] [12] the Eastern Orthodox Church, and Oriental Orthodoxy, [13] [14] has played a prominent role in the shaping of Western civilization since at least the 4th century, [15] [16] [17] [18] [19] as did Judaism. [20] [21] [22] [23] Before the Cold War era, the traditional English viewpoint identified Western civilization with the Western Christian (CatholicProtestant) countries and culture. [24] [1] A cornerstone of Western thought, beginning in ancient Greece and continuing through the Middle Ages and Renaissance, is the idea of rationalism in various spheres of life, especially religion, developed by Hellenistic philosophy, scholasticism and humanism. The Catholic Church was for centuries at the center of the development of the values, ideas, science, laws and institutions which constitute Western civilization. [25] [26] Empiricism later gave rise to the scientific method, the scientific revolution, and the Age of Enlightenment.

Western law refers to the legal traditions of Western culture. Western culture has an idea of the importance of law which has its roots in both Roman law and canon law. As Western culture has a Graeco-Roman Classical and Renaissance cultural influence, so does its legal systems.

Christianity is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and the savior of all people, whose coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Hebrew Bible, called the Old Testament in Christianity, and chronicled in the New Testament. It is the world's largest religion with about 2.4 billion followers.

Catholic Church Largest Christian church, led by the Bishop of Rome

The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide as of 2017. As the world's oldest and largest continuously functioning international institution, it has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilisation. The church is headed by the Bishop of Rome, known as the pope. Its central administration, the Holy See, is in the Vatican City, an enclave within the city of Rome in Italy.

Western culture continued to develop with the Christianisation of Europe during the Middle Ages, the reforms triggered by the Renaissance of the 12th century and 13th century under the influence of the Islamic world via Spain and Sicily (including the transfer of technology from the East, and Latin translations of Arabic texts on science and philosophy), [27] [28] [29] and the Italian Renaissance as Greek scholars fleeing the fall of the Byzantine Empire brought classical traditions and philosophy. [30] Medieval Christianity is credited with creating the modern university, [31] [32] the modern hospital system, [33] scientific economics, [34] [26] and natural law (which would later influence the creation of international law). [35] Christianity played a role in ending practices common among pagan societies, such as human sacrifice, slavery, [36] infanticide and polygamy. [37] The globalization by successive European colonial empires spread European ways of life and European educational methods around the world between the 16th and 20th centuries.[ citation needed ] European culture developed with a complex range of philosophy, medieval scholasticism, mysticism and Christian and secular humanism. [38] [ page needed ] Rational thinking developed through a long age of change and formation, with the experiments of the Enlightenment and breakthroughs in the sciences. Tendencies that have come to define modern Western societies include the concept of political pluralism, individualism, prominent subcultures or countercultures (such as New Age movements) and increasing cultural syncretism resulting from globalization and human migration.

Renaissance of the 12th century

The Renaissance of the 12th century was a period of many changes at the outset of the high Middle Ages. It included social, political and economic transformations, and an intellectual revitalization of Western Europe with strong philosophical and scientific roots. These changes paved the way for later achievements such as the literary and artistic movement of the Italian Renaissance in the 15th century and the scientific developments of the 17th century.

Islamic world contributions to Medieval Europe

During the high medieval period, the Islamic world was at its cultural peak, supplying information and ideas to Europe, via Andalusia, Sicily and the Crusader kingdoms in the Levant. These included Latin translations of the Greek Classics and of Arabic texts in astronomy, mathematics, science, and medicine. Other contributions included technological and scientific innovations via the Silk Road, including Chinese inventions such as paper and gunpowder.

Al-Andalus in historiography, the territories of the Iberian Peninsula under moorish rule between 711 and 1492

Al-Andalus, also known as Muslim Spain, Muslim Iberia, or Islamic Iberia, was a medieval Muslim territory and cultural domain that in its early period included most of Iberia, today's Portugal and Spain. At its greatest geographical extent, it occupied the northwest of the Iberian peninsula and a part of present-day southern France, Septimania, and for nearly a century extended its control from Fraxinet over the Alpine passes which connect Italy with the remainder of Western Europe. The name more generally describes the parts of the peninsula governed by Muslims at various times between 711 and 1492, though the boundaries changed constantly as the Christian Reconquista progressed, eventually shrinking to the south around modern-day Andalusia and then to the Emirate of Granada.

Terminology

Post-1990 Huntington's major civilizations (Western is colored dark blue). Clash of Civilizations mapn2.png
Post-1990 Huntington's major civilizations (Western is colored dark blue).

The West as a geographical area is unclear and undefined. More often a country's ideology is what will be used to categorize it as a Western society. There is some disagreement about what nations should or should not be included in the category and at what times. Many parts of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire are considered Western today but were considered Eastern in the past. However, in the past it was also the Eastern Roman Empire that had many features now seen as "Western," preserving Roman law, which was first codified by Justinian in the east, [40] as well as the traditions of scholarship around Plato, Aristotle, and Euclid that were later introduced to Italy during the Renaissance by Greek scholars fleeing the fall of Constantinople. [41] Thus, the culture identified with East and West itself interchanges with time and place (from the ancient world to the modern). Geographically, the "West" of today would include Europe (especially the states that collectively form the European Union) together with extra-European territories belonging to the English-speaking world, the Hispanidad, the Lusosphere; and the Francophonie in the wider context. Since the context is highly biased and context-dependent, there is no agreed definition what the "West" is.

Plato Classical Greek philosopher

Plato was an Athenian philosopher during the Classical period in Ancient Greece, founder of the Platonist school of thought, and the Academy, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world.

Aristotle philosopher in ancient Greece

Aristotle was a Greek philosopher during the Classical period in Ancient Greece, the founder of the Lyceum and the Peripatetic school of philosophy and Aristotelian tradition. Along with his teacher Plato, he has been called the "Father of Western Philosophy". His writings cover many subjects – including physics, biology, zoology, metaphysics, logic, ethics, aesthetics, poetry, theatre, music, rhetoric, psychology, linguistics, economics, politics and government. Aristotle provided a complex synthesis of the various philosophies existing prior to him, and it was above all from his teachings that the West inherited its intellectual lexicon, as well as problems and methods of inquiry. As a result, his philosophy has exerted a unique influence on almost every form of knowledge in the West and it continues to be a subject of contemporary philosophical discussion.

Euclid Greek mathematician, inventor of axiomatic geometry

Euclid, sometimes called Euclid of Alexandria to distinguish him from Euclid of Megara, was a Greek mathematician, often referred to as the "founder of geometry" or the "father of geometry". He was active in Alexandria during the reign of Ptolemy I. His Elements is one of the most influential works in the history of mathematics, serving as the main textbook for teaching mathematics from the time of its publication until the late 19th or early 20th century. In the Elements, Euclid deduced the theorems of what is now called Euclidean geometry from a small set of axioms. Euclid also wrote works on perspective, conic sections, spherical geometry, number theory, and mathematical rigour.

It is difficult to determine which individuals fit into which category and the East–West contrast is sometimes criticized as relativistic and arbitrary. [42] [43] [44] [ page needed ] Globalism has spread Western ideas so widely that almost all modern cultures are, to some extent, influenced by aspects of Western culture. Stereotyped views of "the West" have been labeled Occidentalism, paralleling Orientalism—the term for the 19th-century stereotyped views of "the East".

Relativism is the idea that views are relative to differences in perception and consideration. There is no universal, objective truth according to relativism; rather each point of view has its own truth.

Occidentalism refers to and identifies representations of the Western world in two ways: (i) as dehumanizing stereotypes of the Western world, Europe, the Americas, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Israel; and (ii) as ideological representations of the West, as applied in Occidentalism: A Theory of Counter-Discourse in Post-Mao China (1995), by Chen Xiaomei; Occidentalism: Images of the West (1995), by James G. Carrier; and Occidentalism: The West in the Eyes of its Enemies (2004), Ian Buruma and Avishai Margalit. Occidentalism is often counterpart to the term orientalism as used by Edward Said in his book of that title, which refers to and identifies Western stereotypes of the Eastern world, the Orient.

As Europeans discovered the wider world, old concepts adapted. The area that had formerly been considered the Orient ("the East") became the Near East as the interests of the European powers interfered with Meiji Japan and Qing China for the first time in the 19th century. [45] Thus the Sino-Japanese War in 1894–1895 occurred in the Far East while the troubles surrounding the decline of the Ottoman Empire simultaneously occurred in the Near East. [lower-alpha 1] The term Middle East in the mid-19th century included the territory east of the Ottoman Empire, but West of China—Greater Persia and Greater India—is now used synonymously with "Near East" in most languages.

History

Evolutionary flow chart of Eastern Hemisphere Civilizations, extracted from Samuel P. Huntington's 1996 Clash of Civilizations and based off Carroll Quigley's, The Evolution of Civilizations: An Introduction to Historical Analysis . Evolution of Civilizations.jpg
Evolutionary flow chart of Eastern Hemisphere Civilizations, extracted from Samuel P. Huntington's 1996 Clash of Civilizations and based off Carroll Quigley's, The Evolution of Civilizations: An Introduction to Historical Analysis .

The earliest civilizations which influenced the development of Western culture were those of Mesopotamia; the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran: the cradle of civilization. [47] [48] Ancient Egypt similarly had a strong influence on Western culture.

The Greeks contrasted themselves with both their Eastern neighbours (such as the Trojans in Iliad ) as well as their Western neighbours (who they considered barbarians).[ citation needed ] Concepts of what is the West arose out of legacies of the Western Roman Empire and the Eastern Roman Empire. Later, ideas of the West were formed by the concepts of Latin Christendom and the Holy Roman Empire. What is thought of as Western thought today originates primarily from Greco-Roman and Germanic influences, and includes the ideals of the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the Enlightenment, as well as Christian culture.

Classical West

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Alexander the Great

While the concept of a "West" did not exist until the emergence of the Roman Republic, the roots of the concept can be traced back to Ancient Greece. Since Homeric literature (the Trojan Wars), through the accounts of the Persian Wars of Greeks against Persians by Herodotus, and right up until the time of Alexander the Great, there was a paradigm of a contrast between Greeks and other civilizations. Greeks felt they were the most civilized and saw themselves (in the formulation of Aristotle) as something between the advanced civilisations of the Near East (who they viewed as soft and slavish) and the wild barbarians of most of Europe to the west.

Alexander's conquests led to the emergence of a Hellenistic civilization, representing a synthesis of Greek and Near-Eastern cultures in the Eastern Mediterranean region. [3] The Near-Eastern civilizations of Ancient Egypt and the Levant, which came under Greek rule, became part of the Hellenistic world. The most important Hellenistic centre of learning was Ptolemaic Egypt, which attracted Greek, Egyptian, Jewish, Persian, Phoenician and even Indian scholars. [49] Hellenistic science, philosophy, architecture, literature and art later provided a foundation embraced and built upon by the Roman Empire as it swept up Europe and the Mediterranean world, including the Hellenistic world in its conquests in the 1st century BCE.

Following the Roman conquest of the Hellenistic world, the concept of a "West" arose, as there was a cultural divide between the Greek East and Latin West. The Latin-speaking Western Roman Empire consisted of Western Europe and Northwest Africa, while the Greek-speaking Eastern Roman Empire (later the Byzantine Empire) consisted of the Balkans, Asia Minor, Egypt and Levant. The "Greek" East was generally wealthier and more advanced than the "Latin" West. With the exception of Italia, the wealthiest provinces of the Roman Empire were in the East, particularly Roman Egypt which was the wealthiest Roman province outside of Italia. [50] [51] Nevertheless, the Celts in the West created some significant literature in the ancient world whenever they were given the opportunity (an example being the poet Caecilius Statius), and they developed a large amount of scientific knowledge themselves (as seen in their Coligny Calendar).

Representation of Jesus of Nazareth, central figure of Christianity. Christ, by Heinrich Hofmann.jpg
Representation of Jesus of Nazareth, central figure of Christianity.
The Maison Carree in Nimes, one of the best-preserved Roman temples. It is a mid-sized Augustan provincial temple of the theocratic Imperial cult of the Empire. The Imperial cult was inseparable from that of Rome's official deities, whose cult was essential to Rome's survival and whose neglect was therefore treasonous. Traditional cult was a focus of Imperial revivalist legislation under Decius and Diocletian. MaisonCarree.jpeg
The Maison Carrée in Nîmes, one of the best-preserved Roman temples. It is a mid-sized Augustan provincial temple of the theocratic Imperial cult of the Empire. The Imperial cult was inseparable from that of Rome's official deities, whose cult was essential to Rome's survival and whose neglect was therefore treasonous. Traditional cult was a focus of Imperial revivalist legislation under Decius and Diocletian.
The Roman Empire at its greatest extent. Roman Empire Trajan 117AD.png
The Roman Empire at its greatest extent.

For about five hundred years, the Roman Empire maintained the Greek East and consolidated a Latin West, but an East–West division remained, reflected in many cultural norms of the two areas, including language. Eventually, the empire became increasingly split into a Western and Eastern part, reviving old ideas of a contrast between an advanced East, and a rugged West. In the Roman world, one could speak of three main directions: North (Celtic tribal states and Parthians), the East (lux ex oriente), and finally the South (Quid novi ex Africa?), the latter conquered after the Punic Wars.

From the time of Alexander the Great (the Hellenistic period), Greek civilization came in contact with Jewish civilization. Christianity would eventually emerge from the syncretism of Hellenic culture, Roman culture, and Second Temple Judaism, gradually spreading across the Roman Empire and eclipsing its antecedents and influences. [52] The rise of Christianity reshaped much of the Greco-Roman tradition and culture; the Christianised culture would be the basis for the development of Western civilization after the fall of Rome (which resulted from increasing pressure from barbarians outside Roman culture). Roman culture also mixed with Celtic, Germanic, and Slavic cultures, which slowly became integrated into Western culture: starting mainly with their acceptance of Christianity.

Medieval West

Mosaic of Justinian I with his court, circa 547-549, Basilica of San Vitale (Ravenna, Italy) Sanvitale03.jpg
Mosaic of Justinian I with his court, circa 547-549, Basilica of San Vitale (Ravenna, Italy)
Church of St John the Baptist, an example of a Byzantine church exterior, in Kerch (Crimea, Russia) Kerch ChurchOfStJohn.jpg
Church of St John the Baptist, an example of a Byzantine church exterior, in Kerch (Crimea, Russia)
Stone bas-relief of Jesus, from the Vezelay Abbey (Burgundy, France) Vezelay WLM2016 La basilique Sainte-Marie-Madeleine (3).jpg
Stone bas-relief of Jesus, from the Vézelay Abbey (Burgundy, France)
Notre-Dame, the most iconic Gothic cathedral, built between 1163 and 1345 Notre Dame de Paris 2013-07-24.jpg
Notre-Dame , the most iconic Gothic cathedral, built between 1163 and 1345

In a narrow sense, the Medieval West referred specifically to the Catholic "Latin" West, also called "Frankish" during Charlemagne's reign, in contrast to the Orthodox East, where Greek remained the language of the Byzantine Empire. In its broadest sense, the Medieval West refers to the whole of Christendom, [1] [54] including both the Catholic West and the Orthodox East.

After the fall of Rome, much of Greco-Roman art, literature, science and even technology were all but lost in the western part of the old empire. However, this would become the centre of a new West. Europe fell into political anarchy, with many warring kingdoms and principalities. Under the Frankish kings, it eventually, and partially, reunified, and the anarchy evolved into feudalism.

Much of the basis of the post-Roman cultural world had been set before the fall of the Empire, mainly through the integration and reshaping of Roman ideas through Christian thought. The Greek and Roman paganism had been completely replaced by Christianity around the 4th and 5th centuries, since it became the official State religion following the baptism of emperor Constantine I. Orthodox Christian Christianity and the Nicene Creed served as a unifying force in Christian parts of Europe, and in some respects replaced or competed with the secular authorities. The Jewish Christian tradition out of which it had emerged was all but extinguished, and antisemitism became increasingly entrenched or even integral to Christendom. [55] [56] Art and literature, law, education, and politics were preserved in the teachings of the Church, in an environment that, otherwise, would have probably seen their loss. The Church founded many cathedrals, universities, monasteries and seminaries, some of which continue to exist today.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, many of the classical Greek texts were translated into Arabic and preserved in the medieval Islamic world. The Greek classics along with Arabic science, philosophy and technology were transmitted to Western Europe and translated into Latin, sparking the Renaissance of the 12th century and 13th century. [27] [28] [29]

Medieval Christianity is credited with creating the first modern universities. [31] [32] The Catholic Church established a hospital system in Medieval Europe that vastly improved upon the Roman valetudinaria [57] and Greek healing temples. [58] These hospitals were established to cater to "particular social groups marginalized by poverty, sickness, and age," according to historian of hospitals, Guenter Risse. [33] Christianity played a role in ending practices common among pagan societies, such as human sacrifice, slavery, [36] infanticide and polygamy. [37] Francisco de Vitoria, a disciple of Thomas Aquinas and a Catholic thinker who studied the issue regarding the human rights of colonized natives, is recognized by the United Nations as a father of international law, and now also by historians of economics and democracy as a leading light for the West's democracy and rapid economic development. [59] Joseph Schumpeter, an economist of the twentieth century, referring to the Scholastics, wrote, "it is they who come nearer than does any other group to having been the 'founders' of scientific economics." [34] Other economists and historians, such as Raymond de Roover, Marjorie Grice-Hutchinson, and Alejandro Chafuen, have also made similar statements. Historian Paul Legutko of Stanford University said the Catholic Church is "at the center of the development of the values, ideas, science, laws, and institutions which constitute what we call Western civilization." [26]

In a broader sense, the Middle Ages, with its fertile encounter between Greek philosophical reasoning and Levantine monotheism was not confined to the West but also stretched into the old East. The philosophy and science of Classical Greece was largely forgotten in Europe after the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, other than in isolated monastic enclaves (notably in Ireland, which had become Christian but was never conquered by Rome). [60] The learning of Classical Antiquity was better preserved in the Byzantine Eastern Roman Empire. Justinian's Corpus Juris Civilis Roman civil law code was created in the East in his capital of Constantinople, [61] and that city maintained trade and intermittent political control over outposts such as Venice in the West for centuries. Classical Greek learning was also subsumed, preserved and elaborated in the rising Eastern world, which gradually supplanted Roman-Byzantine control as a dominant cultural-political force. Thus, much of the learning of classical antiquity was slowly reintroduced to European civilization in the centuries following the collapse of the Western Roman Empire.

The rediscovery of the Justinian Code in Western Europe early in the 10th century rekindled a passion for the discipline of law, which crossed many of the re-forming boundaries between East and West. In the Catholic or Frankish west, Roman law became the foundation on which all legal concepts and systems were based. Its influence is found in all Western legal systems, although in different manners and to different extents. The study of canon law, the legal system of the Catholic Church, fused with that of Roman law to form the basis of the refounding of Western legal scholarship. During the Reformation and Enlightenment, the ideas of civil rights, equality before the law, procedural justice, and democracy as the ideal form of society began to be institutionalized as principles forming the basis of modern Western culture, particularly in Protestant regions.

Thomas Aquinas, a Catholic philosopher of the Middle Ages, revived and developed natural law from ancient Greek philosophy Carlo Crivelli 007.jpg
Thomas Aquinas, a Catholic philosopher of the Middle Ages, revived and developed natural law from ancient Greek philosophy

In the 14th century, starting from Italy and then spreading throughout Europe, [62] there was a massive artistic, architectural, scientific and philosophical revival, as a result of the Christian revival of Greek philosophy, and the long Christian medieval tradition that established the use of reason as one of the most important of human activities. [63] This period is commonly referred to as the Renaissance. In the following century, this process was further enhanced by an exodus of Greek Christian priests and scholars to Italian cities such as Venice after the end of the Byzantine Empire with the fall of Constantinople.

The discovery of the New World by Christopher Columbus. Landing of Columbus (2).jpg
The discovery of the New World by Christopher Columbus.

From Late Antiquity, through the Middle Ages, and onwards, while Eastern Europe was shaped by the Orthodox Church, Southern and Central Europe were increasingly stabilized by the Catholic Church which, as Roman imperial governance faded from view, was the only consistent force in Western Europe. [64] In 1054 came the so-called Great Schism that, following the Greek East and Latin West divide, separated Europe into religious and cultural regions present to this day. Until the Age of Enlightenment, [65] Christian culture took over as the predominant force in Western civilization, guiding the course of philosophy, art, and science for many years. [64] [66] Movements in art and philosophy, such as the Humanist movement of the Renaissance and the Scholastic movement of the High Middle Ages, were motivated by a drive to connect Catholicism with Greek and Arab thought imported by Christian pilgrims. [67] [68] [69] However, due to the division in Western Christianity caused by the Protestant Reformation and the Enlightenment, religious influence—especially the temporal power of the Pope—began to wane. [70] [71]

From the late 15th century to the 17th century, Western culture began to spread to other parts of the world through explorers and missionaries during the Age of Discovery, and by imperialists from the 17th century to the early 20th century. During the Great Divergence, a term coined by Samuel Huntington [72] the Western world overcame pre-modern growth constraints and emerged during the 19th century as the most powerful and wealthy world civilization of the time, eclipsing Qing China, Mughal India, Tokugawa Japan, and the Ottoman Empire. The process was accompanied and reinforced by the Age of Discovery and continued into the modern period. Scholars have proposed a wide variety of theories to explain why the Great Divergence happened, including lack of government intervention, geography, colonialism, and customary traditions.

Modern era

The United States Constitution Constitution of the United States, page 1.jpg
The United States Constitution

Coming into the modern era, the historical understanding of the East–West contrast—as the opposition of Christendom to its geographical neighbors—began to weaken. As religion became less important, and Europeans came into increasing contact with far away peoples, the old concept of Western culture began a slow evolution towards what it is today. The Age of Discovery faded into the Age of Enlightenment of the 18th century, during which cultural and intellectual forces in Western Europe emphasized reason, analysis, and individualism rather than traditional lines of authority. It challenged the authority of institutions that were deeply rooted in society, such as the Catholic Church; there was much talk of ways to reform society with toleration, science and skepticism.

Philosophers of the Enlightenment included Francis Bacon, René Descartes, John Locke, Baruch Spinoza, Voltaire (1694–1778), David Hume, and Immanuel Kant. [73] influenced society by publishing widely read works. Upon learning about enlightened views, some rulers met with intellectuals and tried to apply their reforms, such as allowing for toleration, or accepting multiple religions, in what became known as enlightened absolutism. New ideas and beliefs spread around Europe and were fostered by an increase in literacy due to a departure from solely religious texts. Publications include Encyclopédie (1751–72) that was edited by Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d'Alembert. The Dictionnaire philosophique (Philosophical Dictionary, 1764) and Letters on the English (1733) written by Voltaire spread the ideals of the Enlightenment.

Coinciding with the Age of Enlightenment was the scientific revolution, spearheaded by Newton. This included the emergence of modern science, during which developments in mathematics, physics, astronomy, biology (including human anatomy) and chemistry transformed views of society and nature. [74] [75] [76] [77] [78] [79] While its dates are disputed, the publication in 1543 of Nicolaus Copernicus's De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres) is often cited as marking the beginning of the scientific revolution, and its completion is attributed to the "grand synthesis" of Newton's 1687 Principia .

The Industrial Revolution was the transition to new manufacturing processes in the period from about 1760 to sometime between 1820 and 1840. This included going from hand production methods to machines, new chemical manufacturing and iron production processes, improved efficiency of water power, the increasing use of steam power, and the development of machine tools. [80] These transitions began in Great Britain, and spread to Western Europe and North America within a few decades. [81]

A Watt steam engine. The steam engine, made of iron and fueled primarily by coal, propelled the Industrial Revolution in Great Britain and the world. Maquina vapor Watt ETSIIM.jpg
A Watt steam engine. The steam engine, made of iron and fueled primarily by coal, propelled the Industrial Revolution in Great Britain and the world.

The Industrial Revolution marks a major turning point in history; almost every aspect of daily life was influenced in some way. In particular, average income and population began to exhibit unprecedented sustained growth. Some economists say that the major impact of the Industrial Revolution was that the standard of living for the general population began to increase consistently for the first time in history, although others have said that it did not begin to meaningfully improve until the late 19th and 20th centuries. [83] [84] [85] The precise start and end of the Industrial Revolution is still debated among historians, as is the pace of economic and social changes. [86] [87] [88] [89] GDP per capita was broadly stable before the Industrial Revolution and the emergence of the modern capitalist economy, [90] while the Industrial Revolution began an era of per-capita economic growth in capitalist economies. [91] Economic historians are in agreement that the onset of the Industrial Revolution is the most important event in the history of humanity since the domestication of animals, plants [92] and fire.

The First Industrial Revolution evolved into the Second Industrial Revolution in the transition years between 1840 and 1870, when technological and economic progress continued with the increasing adoption of steam transport (steam-powered railways, boats, and ships), the large-scale manufacture of machine tools and the increasing use of machinery in steam-powered factories. [93] [94] [95]

Arts and humanities

Detail of the Bayeux Tapestry showing William the Conqueror (centre), his half-brothers Robert, Count of Mortain (right) and Odo, Bishop of Bayeux in the Duchy of Normandy (left). The Bayeux tapestry is one of the supreme achievements of the Norman Romanesque. Bayeux Tapestry scene44 William Odo Robert.jpg
Detail of the Bayeux Tapestry showing William the Conqueror (centre), his half-brothers Robert, Count of Mortain (right) and Odo, Bishop of Bayeux in the Duchy of Normandy (left). The Bayeux tapestry is one of the supreme achievements of the Norman Romanesque.

What is distinctive of European art is that it comments on so many levels-religious, humanistic, satirical, metaphysical, and the purely physical. [96]

Some cultural and artistic modalities are characteristically Western in origin and form. While dance, music, visual art, story-telling, and architecture are human universals, they are expressed in the West in certain characteristic ways.

In Western dance, music, plays and other arts, the performers are only very infrequently masked. There are essentially no taboos against depicting a god, or other religious figures, in a representational fashion.

European art pays deep tribute to human suffering. [96]

Music

In music, Catholic monks developed the first forms of modern Western musical notation in order to standardize liturgy throughout the worldwide Church, [97] and an enormous body of religious music has been composed for it through the ages. This led directly to the emergence and development of European classical music, and its many derivatives. The Baroque style, which encompassed music, art, and architecture, was particularly encouraged by the post-Reformation Catholic Church as such forms offered a means of religious expression that was stirring and emotional, intended to stimulate religious fervor. [98]

The symphony, concerto, sonata, opera, and oratorio have their origins in Italy. Many musical instruments developed in the West have come to see widespread use all over the world; among them are the violin, piano, pipe organ, saxophone, trombone, clarinet, accordion, and the theremin. In turn, most European instruments have roots in earlier Eastern instruments that were adopted from the medieval Islamic world. [99] The solo piano, symphony orchestra, and the string quartet are also significant musical innovations of the West.

Painting and photography

Jan van Eyck, among other renaissance painters, made great advances in oil painting, and perspective drawings and paintings had their earliest practitioners in Florence. [100] In art, the Celtic knot is a very distinctive Western repeated motif. Depictions of the nude human male and female in photography, painting, and sculpture are frequently considered to have special artistic merit. Realistic portraiture is especially valued.

Photography, and the motion picture as both a technology and basis for entirely new art forms were also developed in the West.

Classical music, opera and ballet: Swan lake pictured. Swanlake001.jpg
Classical music, opera and ballet: Swan lake pictured.

Dance and performing arts

The ballet is a distinctively Western form of performance dance. [101] The ballroom dance is an important Western variety of dance for the elite. The polka, the square dance, and the Irish step dance are very well known Western forms of folk dance.

Greek and Roman theatre are considered the antecedents of modern theatre, and forms such as medieval theatre, passion plays, morality plays, and commedia dell'arte are considered highly influential. Elizabethan theatre, with such luminaries as William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, and Ben Jonson, is considered one of the most formative and important eras for modern drama.

The soap opera, a popular culture dramatic form, originated in the United States first on radio in the 1930s, then a couple of decades later on television. The music video was also developed in the West in the middle of the 20th century. Musical theatre was developed in the West in the 19th and 20th Centuries, from music hall, comic opera, and Vaudeville; with significant contributions from the Jewish diaspora, African-Americans, and other marginalized peoples. [102] [103] [104]

Literature

The Divine Comedy is an epic poem by Dante Alighieri. Engraving by Gustave Dore Gustave Dore - Dante Alighieri - Inferno - Plate 9 (Canto III - Charon).jpg
The Divine Comedy is an epic poem by Dante Alighieri. Engraving by Gustave Doré

While epic literary works in verse such as the Mahabharata and Homer's Iliad are ancient and occurred worldwide, the prose novel as a distinct form of storytelling, with developed, consistent human characters and, typically, some connected overall plot (although both of these characteristics have sometimes been modified and played with in later times), was popularized by the West [105] in the 17th and 18th centuries. Of course, extended prose fiction had existed much earlier; both novels of adventure and romance in the Hellenistic world and in Heian Japan. Both Petronius' Satyricon (c. 60 CE) and the Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu (c. 1000 CE) have been cited as the world's first major novel but they had a very limited long-term impact on literary writing beyond their own day until much more recent times.

The novel, which made its appearance in the 18th century, is an essentially European creation. Chinese and Japanese literature contain some works that may be thought of as novels, but only the European novel is couched in terms of a personal analysis of personal dilemmas. [96]

As in its artistic tradition, European literature pays deep tribute to human suffering. [96]

The validity of reason was postulated in both Christian philosophy and the Greco-Roman classics. [96]

Christianity laid a stress on the inward aspects of actions and on motives, notions that were foreign to the ancient world. This subjectivity, which grew out of the Christian belief that man could achieve a personal union with God, resisted all challenges and made itself the fulcrum on which all literary exposition turned, including the 20th-21st century novels. [96]

Tragedy, from its ritually and mythologically inspired Greek origins to modern forms where struggle and downfall are often rooted in psychological or social, rather than mythical, motives, is also widely considered a specifically European creation and can be seen as a forerunner of some aspects of both the novel and of classical opera.

Architecture

Important Western architectural motifs include the Doric, Corinthian, and Ionic columns, and the Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque, and Victorian styles are still widely recognised, and used even today, in the West. Much of Western architecture emphasizes repetition of simple motifs, straight lines and expansive, undecorated planes. A modern ubiquitous architectural form that emphasizes this characteristic is the skyscraper, their modern equivelant first developed in New York, London, and Chicago. The predecessor of the skyscraper can be found in the medieval towers erected in Bologna.

Scientific and technological inventions and discoveries

Medieval Christians believed that to seek the geometric, physical and mathematical principles that govern the world was to seek and worship God. Detail of a scene in the bowl of the letter 'P' with a woman with a set-square and dividers; using a compass to measure distances on a diagram. In her left hand she holds a square, an implement for testing or drawing right angles. She is watched by a group of students. In the Middle Ages, it is unusual to see women represented as teachers, in particular when the students appear to be monks. She is most likely the personification of Geometry, based on Martianus Capella's famous book De Nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii [5th c.], a standard source for allegorical imagery of the seven liberal arts. Illustration at the beginning of Euclid's Elementa, in the translation attributed to Adelard of Bath. Woman teaching geometry.jpg
Medieval Christians believed that to seek the geometric, physical and mathematical principles that govern the world was to seek and worship God. Detail of a scene in the bowl of the letter 'P' with a woman with a set-square and dividers; using a compass to measure distances on a diagram. In her left hand she holds a square, an implement for testing or drawing right angles. She is watched by a group of students. In the Middle Ages, it is unusual to see women represented as teachers, in particular when the students appear to be monks. She is most likely the personification of Geometry, based on Martianus Capella's famous book De Nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii [5th c.], a standard source for allegorical imagery of the seven liberal arts. Illustration at the beginning of Euclid's Elementa, in the translation attributed to Adelard of Bath.
A doctor of philosophy of the University of Oxford, in full academic dress. The typical dress for graduation are gowns and hoods or hats adapted from the daily dress of university staff in the Middle Ages, which was in turn based on the attire worn by medieval clergy. Dphil gown.jpg
A doctor of philosophy of the University of Oxford, in full academic dress. The typical dress for graduation are gowns and hoods or hats adapted from the daily dress of university staff in the Middle Ages, which was in turn based on the attire worn by medieval clergy.
The Greek Antikythera mechanism is generally referred to as the first known analogue computer. Antikythera model front panel Mogi Vicentini 2007.JPG
The Greek Antikythera mechanism is generally referred to as the first known analogue computer.
Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin, Apollo Lunar Module pilot of the first crewed mission to land on the Moon, poses for a photograph beside the deployed United States flag during his Extravehicular Activity (EVA) on the lunar surface. Buzz salutes the U.S. Flag.jpg
Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin, Apollo Lunar Module pilot of the first crewed mission to land on the Moon, poses for a photograph beside the deployed United States flag during his Extravehicular Activity (EVA) on the lunar surface.

A notable feature of Western culture is its strong emphasis and focus on innovation and invention through science and technology, and its ability to generate new processes, materials and material artifacts with its roots dating back to the Ancient Greeks. The scientific method as "a method or procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses" was fashioned by the 17th-century Italian Galileo Galilei, [107] [108] with roots in the work of medieval scholars such as the 11th-century Iraqi physicist Ibn al-Haytham [109] [110] and the 13th-century English friar Roger Bacon. [111]

The Western world has been the leading force in the technological and scientific disciplines in modern history. According to the Dictionary of Scientific Biography (DoSB) sponsored by the American Council of Learned Societies, 81 percent of the most significant scientists and mathematicians come from Europe compared to 76 percent in the Human Accomplishment set, numbers that rise to 94 and 91 percent respectively when the United States and Canada are included. [112] The United Kingdom, France, Germany and Italy alone account for 72 percent of all the significant scientific figures in science from 1400 to 1950. Add in Russia and the Netherlands, and 80 percent of all significant figures are accounted for. [113]

By the will of the Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel the Nobel Prize were established in 1895. The prizes in Chemistry, Literature, Peace, Physics, and Physiology or Medicine were first awarded in 1901. [114] The percentage of ethnically European noble prize winners during the first and second halves of the 20th century were respectively 98 and 94 percent. [115] A study by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) – Japan's equivalent of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) – concluded that 54% of the world's most important inventions were British. Of the rest, 25% were American and 5% Japanese. [116]

The West is credited with the development of the steam engine and adapting its use into factories, and for the generation of electric power. [117] The electrical motor, dynamo, transformer, electric light, and most of the familiar electrical appliances, were inventions of the West. [118] [119] [120] [121] The Otto and the Diesel internal combustion engines are products whose genesis and early development were in the West. [122] [123] Nuclear power stations are derived from the first atomic pile constructed in Chicago in 1942. [124]

Communication devices and systems including the telegraph, the telephone, radio, television, communications and navigation satellites, mobile phone, and the Internet were all invented by Westerners. [125] [126] [127] [128] [129] [130] [131] [132] The pencil, ballpoint pen, Cathode ray tube, liquid-crystal display, light-emitting diode, camera, photocopier, laser printer, ink jet printer, plasma display screen and world wide web were also invented in the West. [133] [134] [135] [136] [137] [138]

Ubiquitous materials including aluminum, clear glass, synthetic rubber, synthetic diamond and the plastics polyethylene, polypropylene, polyvinyl chloride and polystyrene were discovered and developed or invented in the West. Iron and steel ships, bridges and skyscrapers first appeared in the West. Nitrogen fixation and petrochemicals were invented by Westerners. Most of the elements were discovered and named in the West, as well as the contemporary atomic theories to explain them.[ citation needed ]

The transistor, integrated circuit, memory chip, and computer were all first seen in the West. The ship's chronometer, the screw propeller, the locomotive, bicycle, automobile, and airplane were all invented in the West. Eyeglasses, the telescope, the microscope and electron microscope, all the varieties of chromatography, protein and DNA sequencing, computerised tomography, nuclear magnetic resonance, x-rays, and light, ultraviolet and infrared spectroscopy, were all first developed and applied in Western laboratories, hospitals and factories.[ citation needed ]

In medicine, the pure antibiotics were created in the West. The method of preventing Rh disease, the treatment of diabetes, and the germ theory of disease were discovered by Westerners. The eradication of smallpox, was led by a Westerner, Donald Henderson. Radiography, computed tomography, positron emission tomography and medical ultrasonography are important diagnostic tools developed in the West. Other important diagnostic tools of clinical chemistry, including the methods of spectrophotometry, electrophoresis and immunoassay, were first devised by Westerners. So were the stethoscope, the electrocardiograph, and the endoscope. Vitamins, hormonal contraception, hormones, insulin, beta blockers and ACE inhibitors, along with a host of other medically proven drugs, were first utilized to treat disease in the West. The double-blind study and evidence-based medicine are critical scientific techniques widely used in the West for medical purposes.[ citation needed ]

In mathematics, calculus, statistics, logic, vectors, tensors and complex analysis, group theory and topology were developed by Westerners. [139] [140] [141] [142] [143] [144] [145] In biology, evolution, chromosomes, DNA, genetics and the methods of molecular biology are creations of the West. In physics, the science of mechanics and quantum mechanics, relativity, thermodynamics, and statistical mechanics were all developed by Westerners. The discoveries and inventions by Westerners in electromagnetism include Coulomb's law (1785), the first battery (1800), the unity of electricity and magnetism (1820), Biot–Savart law (1820), Ohm's Law (1827), and Maxwell's equations (1871). The atom, nucleus, electron, neutron and proton were all unveiled by Westerners.[ citation needed ]

In business, economics, and finance, double entry bookkeeping, credit cards, and the charge card were all first used in the West. [146] [147]

Westerners are also known for their explorations of the globe and outer space. The first expedition to circumnavigate the Earth (1522) was by Westerners, as well as the first journey to the South Pole (1911), and the first Moon landing (1969). [148] [149] The landing of robots on Mars (2004 and 2012) and on an asteroid (2001), the Voyager 2 explorations of the outer planets (Uranus in 1986 and Neptune in 1989), Voyager 1 's passage into interstellar space (2013), and New Horizons ' flyby of Pluto (2015) were significant recent Western achievements. [150] [151] [152] [153] [154]

Media

The roots of modern-day Western mass media can be traced back to the late 15th century, when printing presses began to operate throughout Western Europe. The emergence of news media in the 17th century has to be seen in close connection with the spread of the printing press, from which the publishing press derives its name. [155]

In the 16th century, a decrease in the preeminence of Latin in its literary use, along with the impact of economic change, the "discoveries" arising from trade and travel, navigation to the "new" world, science and arts and the development of increasingly rapid communications through print led to a rising corpus of vernacular media content in Western Europe. [156]

After the launch of the satellite Sputnik 1 by the Soviet Union in 1957, satellite transmission technology was dramatically realised, with the U.S. launching Telstar in 1962 linking live media broadcasts from the UK to the US. The first digital broadcast satellite (DBS) system began transmitting in America in 1975. [157]

Beginning in the 1990s, the Internet has contributed to a tremendous increase in the accessibility of Western media content. Departing from media offered in bundled content packages (magazines, CDs, television and radio slots), the Internet has primarily offered unbundled content items (articles, audio and video files). [158]

Religion

The native religions of Europe were polytheistic but not homogenous — however, they were similar insofar as they were predominantly Indo-European in origin. Roman religion was similar to but not the same as Hellenic religion — likewise for indigenous Germanic polytheism, Celtic polytheism and Slavic polytheism. Western culture, for at least the last 1000 years, has been considered nearly synonymous with Christian culture. [1] Before this time many Europeans from the north, especially Scandinavians, remained polytheistic, though southern Europe was predominantly Christian from the 5th century onwards.

Western culture, throughout most of its history, has been nearly equivalent to Western Christian culture, and many of the population of the Western hemisphere could broadly be described as cultural Christians. The notion of "Europe" and the "Western World" has been intimately connected with the concept of "Christianity and Christendom"; many even attribute Christianity as the link that created a unified European identity. [1]

As in other areas, the Jewish diaspora and Judaism exist in the Western world. Non-European groups, and Jews in particular, have been subjected to intense racism, ethnic and religious hatred, xenophobia, discrimination, and persecution in the West. [159] [160] This has included pogroms, forced conversion, displacement, segregation and ghettos, ethnic cleansing, genocide, and other forms of violence and prejudice. [161] [162] [163]

Religion has waned in Europe, where people who are agnostic or atheist make up about 18% of the European population today. [164] In particular, over half of the populations of the Czech Republic (79% of the population was agnostic, atheist or irreligious), the United Kingdom (~25%), [165] Germany (25–33%), [166] France (30–35%) [167] [168] [169] and the Netherlands (39–44%) are agnostic or atheist.

However, per another survey by Pew Research Center from 2011, Christianity remains the dominant religion in the Western world where 70–84% are Christians, [170] According to this survey, 76% of Europeans described themselves as Christians, [170] [171] [172] and about 86% of the Americas population identified themselves as Christians, [173] (90% in Latin America and 77% in North America). [174] And 73% in Oceania are self-identify as Christian, and 76% in South Africa is Christian. [170]

According to new polls about religiosity in the European Union in 2012 by Eurobarometer, Christianity is the largest religion in the European Union, accounting for 72% of the EU population. [175] Catholics are the largest Christian group, accounting for 48% of the EU population, while Protestants make up 12%, Eastern Orthodox make up 8% and other Christians make up 4%. [176] Non-believers/Agnostics account for 16%, [175] atheists account for 7%, [175] and Muslims account for 2%. [175]

Throughout the Western world there are increasing numbers of people who seek to revive the indigenous religions of their European ancestors; such groups include Germanic, Roman, Hellenic, Celtic, Slavic, and polytheistic reconstructionist movements. Likewise, Wicca, New Age spirituality and other neo-pagan belief systems enjoy notable minority support in Western states.

Sport

The Bull-Leaping Fresco from the Great Palace at Knossos, Crete. Sport has been an important part of Western cultural expression since Classical Antiquity. Bull-leaping.jpg
The Bull-Leaping Fresco from the Great Palace at Knossos, Crete. Sport has been an important part of Western cultural expression since Classical Antiquity.
Baron Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the International Olympic Committee, and considered father of the modern Olympic Games. Baron Pierre de Coubertin.jpg
Baron Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the International Olympic Committee, and considered father of the modern Olympic Games.

Since classical antiquity, sport has been an important facet of Western cultural expression. A wide range of sports were already established by the time of Ancient Greece and the military culture and the development of sports in Greece influenced one another considerably. Sports became such a prominent part of their culture that the Greeks created the Olympic Games, which in ancient times were held every four years in a small village in the Peloponnesus called Olympia. Baron Pierre de Coubertin, a Frenchman, instigated the modern revival of the Olympic movement. The first modern Olympics were held at 1896 Athens in.

The Romans built immense structures such as the Colisseum in Rome to house their festivals of sport. The Romans exhibited a passion for blood sports, such as the infamous Gladiatorial battles that pitted contestants against one another in a fight to the death. The Olympic Games revived many of the sports of Classical Antiquity—such as Greco-Roman wrestling, discus and javelin. The sport of bullfighting is a traditional spectacle of Spain, Portugal, southern France, and some Latin American countries. It traces its roots to prehistoric bull worship and sacrifice and is often linked to Rome, where many human-versus-animal events were held. Bullfighting spread from Spain to its American colonies, and in the 19th century to France, where it developed into a distinctive form in its own right.

Jousting and hunting were popular sports in the Western Europe of the Middle Ages, and the aristocratic classes of Europe developed passions for leisure activities. A great number of the popular global sports were first developed or codified in Europe. The modern game of golf originated in Scotland, where the first written record of golf is James II's banning of the game in 1457, as an unwelcome distraction to learning archery. The Industrial Revolution that began in Britain in the 18th Century brought increased leisure time, leading to more time for citizens to attend and follow spectator sports, greater participation in athletic activities, and increased accessibility. These trends continued with the advent of mass media and global communication. The bat and ball sport of cricket was first played in England during the 16th century and was exported around the globe via the British Empire. A number of popular modern sports were devised or codified in Britain during the 19th Century and obtained global prominence—these include ping pong, modern tennis, association football, netball and rugby.

Football (also known as soccer) remains hugely popular in Europe, but has grown from its origins to be known as the world game. Similarly, sports such as cricket, rugby, and netball were exported around the world, particularly among countries in the Commonwealth of Nations, thus India and Australia are among the strongest cricketing nations, while victory in the Rugby World Cup has been shared among the Western states of New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and England.

Australian Rules Football, an Australian variation of football with similarities to Gaelic football and rugby evolved in the British colony of Victoria in the mid-19th century. The United States also developed unique variations of English sports. English migrants took antecedents of baseball to America during the colonial period. The history of American football can be traced to early versions of rugby football and association football. Many games known as "football" were being played at colleges and universities in the United States in the first half of the 19th century. American football resulted from several major divergences from rugby, most notably the rule changes instituted by Walter Camp, the "Father of American Football". Basketball was invented in 1891 by James Naismith, a Canadian physical education instructor working in Springfield, Massachusetts in the United States.

Themes and traditions

A Madonna and Child painting by an anonymous Italian from the first half of the 19th century, oil on canvas. Anonymous Madonna with big breasts.jpg
A Madonna and Child painting by an anonymous Italian from the first half of the 19th century, oil on canvas.

Western culture has developed many themes and traditions, the most significant of which are:[ citation needed ]

See also

Notes

  1. British archaeologist D.G. Hogarth published The Nearer East in 1902, which helped to define the term and its extent, including Albania, Montenegro, southern Serbia and Bulgaria, Greece, Egypt, all Ottoman lands, the entire Arabian Peninsula, and Western parts of Iran.

Related Research Articles

Christendom

Christendom has several meanings. In one contemporary sense, as used in a secular or Protestant context, it may refer to the "Christian world": Christian-majority countries and the countries in which Christianity dominates or prevails, or, in the historic, Catholic sense of the word, the nations in which Catholic Christianity is the established religion, having a Catholic Christian polity.

History of Europe History of Europe from the beginnings of recorded history

The history of Europe covers the peoples inhabiting Europe from prehistory to the present. During the Neolithic era and the time of the Indo-European migrations Europe saw human inflows from east and southeast and subsequent important cultural and material exchange. The period known as classical antiquity began with the emergence of the city-states of ancient Greece. Later, the Roman Empire came to dominate the entire Mediterranean basin. The fall of the Roman Empire in AD 476 traditionally marks the start of the Middle Ages. Beginning in the 14th century a Renaissance of knowledge challenged traditional doctrines in science and theology. Simultaneously, the Protestant Reformation set up Protestant churches primarily in Germany, Scandinavia and England. After 1800, the Industrial Revolution brought prosperity to Britain and Western Europe. The main powers set up colonies in most of the Americas and Africa, and parts of Asia. In the 20th century, World War I and World War II resulted in massive numbers of deaths. The Cold War dominated European geo-politics from 1947 to 1989.

Western Europe region comprising the westerly countries of Europe

Western Europe is the region comprising the western part of Europe. Though the term Western Europe is commonly used, there is no commonly agreed-upon definition of the countries that it encompasses.

The Greeks or Hellenes are an ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus, southern Albania, Italy, Turkey, Egypt and, to a lesser extent, other countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world.

Western Christianity is a religious category composed of the Latin Church and Protestantism, together with their offshoots such as Independent Catholicism and Restorationism. The large majority of the world's 2.4 billion Christians are Western Christians. The original and still major part, the Latin Church, developed under the bishop of Rome in the former Western Roman Empire in Antiquity. Out of the Latin Church emerged a wide variety of independent Protestant denominations, including Lutheranism and Anglicanism, starting from the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, as did Independent Catholicism in the 19th century. Thus, the term "Western Christianity" does not describe a single communion or religious denomination, but is applied to distinguish all these denominations collectively from Eastern Christianity.

Eastern Christianity Christian traditions originating from Greek- and Syriac-speaking populations

Eastern Christianity comprises church families that developed outside the Occident, with major bodies including the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Oriental Orthodox churches, the Eastern Catholic Churches, and the denominations descended from the Church of the East. It also includes Reformed Eastern churches such as the Malankara Marthoma Syrian Church which follows a reformed West Syriac Rite and the Ukrainian Lutheran Church that uses the Byzantine Rite. Historically called the Eastern Church in contrast with the (Latin) Western Church, since the Protestant Reformation Eastern Christianity is used in contrast with Western Christianity, comprising both the said Latin Church as well as Protestantism and Independent Catholicism. Eastern Christianity consists of the Christian traditions and churches that developed distinctively over several centuries in the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe, Asia Minor, the Malabar coast of South India, and parts of the Far East. The term does not describe a single communion or religious denomination. Some Eastern churches have more in common historically and theologically with Western Christianity than with one another. The various Eastern churches do not normally refer to themselves as "Eastern", with the exception of the Assyrian Church of the East and the Ancient Church of the East.

Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch Christian Eastern Orthodox-oriented denomination in Greece and the Middle East

The Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch, also known as the Antiochian Orthodox Church and legally as the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East, is an autocephalous Greek Orthodox Church within the wider communion of Eastern Orthodox Christianity. Headed by the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, it considers itself the successor to the Christian community founded in Antioch by the Apostles Peter and Paul.

History of Greece history of Greece

The history of Greece encompasses the history of the territory of the modern nation state of Greece as well as that of the Greek people and the areas they inhabited and ruled historically. The scope of Greek habitation and rule has varied throughout the ages and as a result the history of Greece is similarly elastic in what it includes. Generally, the history of Greece is divided into the following periods:

Hellenization historical spread of ancient Greek culture

Hellenization or Hellenism is the historical spread of ancient Greek culture, religion, and, to a lesser extent, language over foreign peoples conquered by Greeks or brought into their sphere of influence, particularly during the Hellenistic period following the campaigns of Alexander the Great in the fourth century BC. The result of Hellenization was that elements of Greek origin combined in various forms and degrees with local elements, and these Greek influences spread from the Mediterranean basin as far east as modern-day Pakistan. In modern times, Hellenization has been associated with the adoption of modern Greek culture and the ethnic and cultural homogenization of Greece.

Western religions Religions that originated within Western culture

Western religions refers to religions that originated within Western culture, and are thus historically, culturally, and theologically distinct from the Eastern religions. The term Abrahamic religions is often used instead of using the East and West terminology.

Christianity in Europe religion of an area

Christianity is the largest religion in Europe. Christianity has been practiced in Europe since the first century, and a number of the Pauline Epistles were addressed to Christians living in Greece, as well as other parts of the Roman Empire.

Role of Christianity in civilization

The role of Christianity in civilization has been intricately intertwined with the history and formation of Western society. Throughout its long history, the Church has been a major source of social services like schooling and medical care; inspiration for art, culture and philosophy; and influential player in politics and religion. In various ways it has sought to affect Western attitudes to vice and virtue in diverse fields. Festivals like Easter and Christmas are marked as public holidays; the Gregorian Calendar has been adopted internationally as the civil calendar; and the calendar itself is measured from the date of Jesus's birth.

Europeans in Medieval China

Given textual and archaeological evidence, it is thought that thousands of Europeans lived in Imperial China during the period of Mongol rule. These were people from countries traditionally belonging to the lands of Christendom during the High to Late Middle Ages who visited, traded, performed Christian missionary work, or lived in China. This occurred primarily during the second half of the 13th century and the first half of the 14th century, coinciding with the rule of the Mongol Empire, which ruled over a large part of Eurasia and connected Europe with their Chinese dominion of the Yuan dynasty (1271–1368). Whereas the Byzantine Empire centered in Greece and Anatolia maintained rare incidences of correspondence with the Tang, Song and Ming dynasties of China, the Roman papacy sent several missionaries and embassies to the early Mongol Empire as well as to Khanbaliq, the capital of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. These contacts with the West were only preceded by rare interactions between the Han-period Chinese and Hellenistic Greeks and Romans.

Legacy of the Roman Empire impact of ancient Rome on later events

The legacy of the Roman Empire includes sets of cultural values, religious beliefs, technological advances, engineering and language. This legacy survived the demise of the empire itself and went on to shape other civilisations, a process which continues to this day. The city of Rome was the civitas and connected with the actual western civilisation on which subsequent cultures built.

State church of the Roman Empire a form of Christianity in the Roman Empire

With the Edict of Thessalonica in 380 AD, Emperor Theodosius I made Nicene Christianity the Empire's state religion. The Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodoxy, and the Catholic Church each claim to stand in continuity with the church to which Theodosius granted recognition, but do not look on it as specific to the Roman Empire.

Christian culture Cultural practices common to Christianity

Christian culture is the cultural practices common to Christianity. With the rapid expansion of Christianity to Europe, Syria, Mesopotamia, Asia Minor, Egypt, Ethiopia, and India and by the end of the 4th century it had also become the official state church of the Roman Empire. Christian culture has influenced and assimilated much from the Greco-Roman Byzantine, Western culture, Middle Eastern, Slavic, Caucasian, and possibly from Indian.

History of Western civilization before AD 500

Western civilization describes the development of human civilization beginning in Ancient Greece, and generally spreading westwards. However, Western civilization in its more strictly defined sphere traces its roots back to Rome and the Western Mediterranean. It can be strongly associated with nations linked to the former Western Roman Empire and with Medieval Western Christendom.

Christianity and science views of science within Christianity

Most sources of knowledge available to early Christians were connected to pagan world-views. There were various opinions on how Christianity should regard pagan learning, which included its ideas about nature. For instance, among early Christian teachers, Tertullian held a generally negative opinion of Greek philosophy, while Origen regarded it much more favorably and required his students to read nearly every work available to them.

References

Citations

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