During steam-driven threshers. The combinations of all

During the 16th
through 18th centuries, European civilization experienced big
changes to its social, political, and economic structures. A break from the
Middle Ages began during the Scientific Revolution when respected thinkers of
the time began to explore new possibilities, such as the likelihood of a
sun-centered universe instead of an earth-centered one. The Enlightenment was
an intellectual and cultural movement that pointed out the danger of unchecked
authority and concentrated on values of law, reason, humanity, and religious toleration.
The French Revolution represented a broad wave of political changes and
democratic ideas that splashed France, and subsequently, all of Europe. The Industrial
Revolution changed the way people lived and worked by introducing the steam
engine, mechanical looms, industrial sawmills, and steam-driven threshers. The
combinations of all of these revolutions, triggered many profound changes in
European society beginning with new scientific view of the world and nature
that led to intellectual and cultural movements which in turn caused political
movements that toppled old monarchies establishing new, democratic societies
powered by industrialization.

            The
Scientific Revolution produced new form of thought. People started to look at
the world through their experiences rather than through the Churches’ dogmatic
theories that the world was created by God. Changes were slow in the beginning
and many notable thinkers of that time still believed that their work proved that
God created the world, like Isaac Newton for example. Nicolaus Copernicus, also
believed in God’s creation of Earth, but by using mathematical calculations, he
came to the conclusion that Earth is not the center of the Universe and that it
is not stationary, but revolves on its own axis and around the Sun.

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Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler who are considered
the greatest astronomers, also tried to explain the discrepancies in the
leading church theories through their own observations and calculations. Tycho
suggested that the planets orbit the sun and the whole planetary system orbits
the Earth. After Tycho’s death, his assistant, young mathematician Johannes
Kepler used Tycho’s observations and came up with his First Law that orbits of
the planets are elliptical instead of round like Copernicus believed. With his
Second Law, Kepler stated that the speed of the planets depends on their
distance from the sun which helped English astronomer and physicist Isaac
Newton, to come up with his Law of Universal Gravitation.

Galileo Galilei built a telescope in 1609, and
he studied the night sky, observing the earth like features of the Moon, moons
orbiting Jupiter, and sun spots. He published his work, which later earned him
a trial by the church and a house arrest for life. “According to a story that began to circulate shortly afterward, as he left the court for house
arrest he stamped his foot and muttered de?antly, looking down at the earth: Still,
it moves” . Francis Bacon and René Descartes established
standards of practice and scientific evidence, and they were true believers in
human thinking. Physician, William Harvey contributed to science by observing
dissected living animals and experimented on himself that the blood circulates
in our bodies through veins, heart, and arteries. Inventor and experimenter
Robert Hooke introduced microscope into the laboratory and studied the
structure of plants on the cellular level. Isaac Newton gave us laws of motion,
universal gravity, the reflecting telescope, optic theories, and Calculus.

            The advancement of science
led to the Enlightenment era in which people started to think about social
problems, good government, morality, and social order. At the beginning of the
18th century, both England and France represented political and economic
powers in Europe and the world. The population grew due to cheaper food and
less infectious diseases, the introduction to new crops from the Americas like
corn and potatoes, manufacturing and trade prospered, while transportation was
improved. “The result of all these developments was a European economy
vastly more complex, more specialized, more inte-grated, more commercialized,
and more productive than anything  the
world had seen before.

               The
thinkers of the Enlightenment concentrated on three major questions in the
society: law and punishment, religious toleration, and government
administration including taxes and economic policies. In the heart of the Enlightenment
most thinking revolved around the question of slavery. As colonial powers, “European slave traders sent
at least 1 million Africans into New World slavery in the late seventeenth
century, and at least 6 million in the eighteenth century. Control of the slave
trade became fundamental to great power politics in Europe” (page 558, chapter
17). The question of women’s rights was also raised and many thinkers were
writing and acting upon it.

The rulers of Europe were implementing
centralized government, the increase in taxes, formed paid military, and
enforced greater control over the Church. Ideas during the Enlightenment were
playing a major role also in the American Revolution, which resulted in 13
colonies proclaiming their independence from Great Britain. As people searched
for equality and freedom, the prosperity was not evenly distributed and there
were great differences between the rich and poor.

As North American colonies boldly proclaimed the
independence, the enlightened French people sought changes in their political
system too. “The American Revolution of 1776 was a crisis of the British Empire, linked to a long
series of con?icts between England and France over colonial control of
North America. It led to a major crisis of the old regime in France” . Revolutionaries overthrew Louis XVI and established a democratic
society. They eliminated the church tax on harvest, and they cut many
privileges for nobility such as hunting and buying offices, which severed the
ties with the last remnants of Feudalism. Their Declaration of the Rights of
Man stated equality for all citizens before the law, freedom of speech, natural
right to property, security, liberty and resistance to oppression. Women took an
active part in the revolution, became more organized, and more publicly visible.

The Industrial Revolution started when Scottish
mechanic, James Watt, improved the primitive steam engine of Thomas Newcomen.
This improved steam engine found use in many areas of life. Transportation,
agriculture, and manufacturing experienced a fundamental change. People now had
machines to do work for them, which increased the amount of goods that could be
manufactured. New resources were more in use like coal and iron. Cities became
more populated and urbanized, and new social classes like the middle and working class emerged along with new social inequalities.
Cities became overpopulated, factories started employing women and children, and
environmental pollution was a fact. “Over all of England, air pollution took an
enormous toll on health, contributing to the bronchitis and tuberculosis that
accounted for 25 percent of British deaths”.

The old ways of life, politics, and economy were
crumbling under the waves of progress that came first with the intellectual
thought and different outlook on the world and nature. After many changes in the
scientific world, the ideas spread to society and people became aware that they
can change the order of things for the better. Political uprisings produced the
toppling of the monarchy in France and established a more democratic society. The
great innovations of the steam engine and other machines ushered many changes
in manufacturing, agriculture, transportation, trade, and economy. These
changes also had a great effect on the everyday lives of people, on how they
lived and worked. The social structure was changed with the emerging of new
classes. New social problems developed like child labor, women’s role in the
society, living conditions, working conditions, environmental pollution, and the
distribution of wealth. Consequently the Scientific Revolution, the Enlightenment, the
French Revolution, and the Industrial Revolution were very powerful forces that
rocked and shaped Europe’s social, political and economic structures.