The year of Covid 19: Political Religion and the Culture Wars. Part 2.3: The EU’s legacy, 1492-1789: Europe enters into the Devil’s Anus.

This is the fourth chapter in the series on cultural wars. The first essay sets the scene in the post-1990 decades; the second takes us back to the Jewish, Greek, Roman and Christian roots of European culture; the third essay covers the millennium and more referred to as Europe’s “middle ages”; and the fourth spans the years from the fifteenth century to 1789, and the outbreak iof the French revolution. This chapter opens with two key dates: the first, 1453, marks the fall of Constantinople to Sultan Mehmet’s Turkish armies, the conversion of the great cathedral, the Hagia Sophia to a mosque, the subjugation of the mainly Greek Christian population, and the gradual transference of leadership in the Orthodox Church to Moscow. The second key date is 1492, and records events at the other end of the Mediterranean: the armies of the Catholic monarchs of Castille, Ferdinand and Isabelle,capture Granada, the last Moslem stronghold in the Iberian peninsula ; Sephardic Jews are expelled from Iberia or summoned to convert; and  Christopher Columbus, sails the same year under the monarchs’ patronage, landing on Hispaniola, present day Haïti.  Both 1453 and 1492 are intimately linked: the ancient texts from Greece and Rome, preserved for centuries in Constantinople, dispersed across western Europe and stimulated the scholarly discovery of Europe’s past, while the roads across the Asian continent being now blocked, adventurers, such as Columbus, studied the old maps to see if there was an oceanic way to the Indies by sailing westwards. The Sephardic diaspora in Europe was a major contribution to the Golden Age of the Dutch seventeenth century.

These two discoveries of  Europe’s past and of the New World, gradually opened Europe to new markets and cultures, transforming the continent on the way. In particular, the centre of Europe moved from the eastern Mediterranean to the Atlantic seaboard, as first Spain in the sixteenth century, then France, followed by the Netherlands and Great Britain rose to the status of great powers. The revolution of 1789 broke out in France, Europe’s hegemon, and immediately steered a radical path in rejecting Europe’s inheritance, compounding its impact. The article ends on the edge of the French revolution,  Europe’s first, modern cultural war. The seeds of that war were set in our period.

Europe at the turn of the modern era.

The continent could be divided, then, as now, into three separate but linked zones: western, central and eastern. In the eastern zone, the main political protagonists were the Ottoman Empire, Poland-Lithuania and Russia. The fall of Constantinople brought Turkish armies and naval power to the Balkans and into the Mediterranean. Turkish advances in the inland sea received their first major setback at the hand of the Spanish fleet at the sea battle of Lepanto in 1571. The Poland-Lithuania Confederation, created on a dynastic alliance from the fourteenth century, was established just two years before Lepanto, covered an area of a million square kilometres, and developed a monarchical system, answerable to a legislature (the sejm), controlled by the nobility (szlachta). The Commonwealth was regularly in conflict with the emerging state of Muscovy, which first ventured onto the European scene under  Ivan the Terrible (1547-98): his reign was followed by a “Time of Troubles”, which came to an end in 1613, when Mikhail Romanov was crowned Tsar , the first in the dynasty which ruled Russia until 1917. The Tsars established their autocracy, saw off the Swedish and Polish challenges, and then created one of the largest empires in the world, stretching to the Pacific Ocean. In 1721, Peter the Great declared himself the emperor of all the Russias, and forced through a policy of westernization, both technical and  cultural. French became the language of the aristocracy, Russian of the peasantry.

Central Europe included the multiple principalities and territories of the Germans, and of the Italians about whom more later. The Golden Bull of 1356 had fixed key aspects of the de-centralized system of elections to the imperial title of the Holy Roman Empire. The bull proved to be a milestone in the establishment of largely independent states in the Empire, a process to be consolidated centuries later in the treaty of Westphalia of 1648 which confirmed the subdivision of Germany into 300 or so political units. These included territories ruled by a prince, archduke, duke or count; by an archbishop, bishop or abbot, and free imperial cities. Many of these Kleinstaaten covered a few kilometres, and often adjoined  non-contiguous pieces, so giving the empire the title of a Flickenteppich (patchwork carpet).

In western Europe, both central and maritime, the Catholic Church was the central pillar of Latin Christianity. The division between Latin and Orthodox, confirmed in the great split of 1054, remained unbridged. Christians in this wider western Europe looked to the pope as the chief pastor, to the canon law, as the source of public order, and to the continent-wide network of parishes and dioceses. The Church provided for education, for welfare and for the preservation of memory. But Rome’s claims to primacy  prompted excessive claims to  papal monarchy,  ending in schism, until unity was restored at Constanz in 1417; this was  followed by attempts to govern the church by a council, but this too foundered on a failure to achieve consensus on how to define the church. Similar travails beset secular princes: their governing principle was dynasticism, the accumulation of properties by families, such as the Hapsburgs who specialized like glorified farmers in accumulating titles to land by inheritance. The benefit of dynasticism is that it ensured the transfer of wealth, prestige and property from one generation to the next; but dynastic politics were unpredictable, and prone to conflict..

There are countless examples over the centuries between 1492 and 1789 when the chances of dynastic policies led to dire consequences. Pope Leo X had conferred on Henry VIII the title of Fidei Defensor in 1521  for his repudiation of Luther’s arguments. But a few years later, Henry became obsessed with the need for a male heir because he feared that with a Queen on the throne, the country would revert to civil war.  So in 1529, Henry decided to ditch his wife, Catherine of Aragon for Anne Boleyn; divorce ensued; and in 1534, England broke with Rome. In 1555, the Emperor Charles V, whose domains straddled Europe and the Americas, decided to retire as a monk, and divided the empire between his brother, Ferdinand, at the head of the Holy Roman Empire, and his son, Philip, as King of Spain. In 1559, at Cateau-Cambrésis, on the French-Dutch border, France and Spain ended their 65-year struggle for control of Italy. But on June 30, Henry II, King of France, was mortally wounded by a lance during a jousting match, and  died eleven days later. His death precipitated events which led to the outbreak of France’s civil war, lasting from 1562 to 1598, ensuring Spain’s European pre-eminence for the rest of the century. In March 1603, Queen Elizabeth I of England and Ireland died without heir, ending the (Welsh) Tudor dynasty, and was followed on the throne by the (Scots) Stewart dynasty in the form  of the son of her former rival and cousin, Mary Queen of Scots, who succeeded to the throne as James I. The Stewart dynasty is indelibly associated with the civil wars of the 1640s, the Glorious Revolution of 1688, and the wars of the Spanish succession, during the reign of Queen Ann, the last Stewart on the British throne, who suffered 17 miscarriages, died without heir and was followed on the throne of Great Britain by King George I, ruler of Hanover. Great Britain is still governed by his heirs.

Over the three hundred years between the end of the fifteenth century and the outbreak of the French revolution, life evolved at a slow, but gradually accelerating rhythm. The population of Europe, about 90 million strong in 1500, had risen to 150 million by the time of the French revolution.[1] The population of the Holy Roman Empire was just under 20 million; France stood at 27 million; England and Wales, Ireland and Scotland numbered about 15 million, and Russia about 35 million. Life expectancy was much as it had been 500 years previously, and stood at 43 years for British aristocrats who had reached the age of 21.[2] Less fortunate mortals are calculated as living less long, though much would depend on diet and living style. Definitely, by 1800, European diets had seen an influx of new ingredients  from the discoveries of the New World, such as the potato, the tomato, eggplant,  bell pepper, pumpkins, or tea, coffee and chocolate. Coffee houses made their appearance in seventeenth century England . Copy No 403 of The Spectator recorded that: “as every Coffee-house has some particular statesman belonging to it, who is the mouth of the street where he lives, I always take care to place myself near him, in order to know his judgment on the present posture of affairs. » In France, chefs who had worked for monarchy or for the aristocracy, opened their own restaurants to serve their new revolutionary masters: Marie-Antoine Careme cooked for Talleyrand and then for Napoleon, and recorded over one hundred sources-fonds espagnols, veloutés or béchamel- on his roster.

Into the “devil’s anus”

There can be no doubt that the challenges to established religious authorities in the early sixteenth century came as a profound shock to the great majority of practicing Christians. In his book, The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England 1400-1580, Eamon Duffy records the enthusiastic and widespread dedication of both laity and educated élites to the religious beliefs and practices of the Church in England. “The teachings of late medieval Christianity were graphically represented within the liturgy, endlessly reiterated in sermons, rhymed in verse treatises and saints’ lives, enacted in the Corpus Christi and Miracle plays which absorbed so much lay energy and expenditure, and carved and painted on the walls, screens, bench-ends, and windows of the parish churches”. [3] When Henry VIII declared the break of the Church in England from Rome, the news came as a profound shock to the believing multitude. Reformation was, in Duffy’s account, a policy from above imposed on a reluctant public, whom Thomas More, in his Utopia, advised to “playe that aswel as you can and make the best of it”. [4] The effect of the near relentless, top down imposition of the royal supremacy was to create a new culture. As Duffy concludes: “By the end of the 1570s, whatever the instincts and nostalgia of their seniors, a generation was growing up which had known nothing else, which believed the Pope to be Antichrist, the Mass a mummery, which did not look back to the Catholic past as their own, but another country, another world”. [5]

This is not to say that many of the elements which contributed to these cataclysmic series of events had not already been at work across Europe for a long time. The medieval church was far from a monolith. It was regularly wracked by discord, brutality, corruption and greed. There was no dirth of material from the Church’s own archives to drag its denizens through the mud. “We see coming towards us”, wrote the German chronicler Butzbach, a wandering scholar of the late fifteenth century, “our prelates, swollen with pride. They are dressed in their finest English cloth…Their hands, loaded with costly rings, are placed proudly on their thighs. They preen themselves on the finest horses and are followed by a numerous train of domestics in splendid liveries. They build themselves fine palaces where, amid sumptuous entertainments, they give themselves up to a life of orgy”. [6] This was a not untypical German take on the habits of Italian prelates. Erasmus, a Dutchman, has Pope Julius, (1443-1513) explain himself at the Pearly Gates to the beggarly fisherman,  St.Peter, in the following way: “ shall know who and what I am. I am a Ligurian, and not a Jew like you. My mother was the sister of the great pope Sixtus V. The pope made me a rich man out of church property. I became a cardinal…I rose to the top and I have done more for the church and Christ than any pope before me…I annexed Bologna to the Holy See…I drove the French out of Italy, and I would have driven the Spaniards too, if the Fates had not brought me here…This is the modest truth, and my friends at Rome call me more a god than a man”. [7]

A major feature of the early years of what came to be called the Reformation was the admiration among the educated élites for classical antiquity. In preceding centuries, history had been interpreted as a branch of theology, with God and the Angels playing conspicuous parts in human affairs. God’s law applied to princes, as they did to other Christians. Not so, said Machiavelli, in The Prince, written from his observations of how Cesare Borgia ruled Florence. It was better, said Machiavelli, for the Prince to be feared than to be loved; if he wanted to maintain his rule, he had to be prepared not to be virtuous. Guiccardini, author of The History of Italy,  from 1490 to 1534, had concluded by his observations that self-interest was an indispensable guide to action:: “I don’t know anyone who dislikes the ambition, the avarice, and the sensuality of priests more than I do…. Nevertheless, the position I have enjoyed with several popes has forced me to love their greatness for my own self-interest. If it weren’t for this consideration, I would have loved Martin Luther as much as I love myself—not to be released from the laws taught by the Christian religion as it is normally interpreted and understood, but to see this band of ruffians reduced within their correct bounds.”[8]Confidence in their judgement came from humanists’self-belief : in what is often considered to be the humanist’s manual, Oration on the Dignity of Man, composed in 1486,  Pico della Mirandella writes in paragraph 24: “ Philosophy has taught me to rely on my own convictions rather than on the judgments of others and to concern myself less with whether I am well thought of than whether what I do or say is evil. » Sartre, the French existentialist philosopher of the 1950s, would scarcely have said it differently.

Self-confidence was definitely a feature of the man who launched the Church on the path to reforms. Martin Luther, the former Augustinian friar, was anything if not opinionated. He came to his chief conviction while contemplating the words in Romans 1.17-  “The just shall live by faith”- while sitting on the latrine, his Turmerlebnis.  Luther may be epitomized in three formulas : sola fide ; sola scriptura ; sola gratia. His was an uncompromising assertion of St Augustine, of fallen man, proclaiming the humanist project of reform  to be redundant. Man was fallen, weak and evil: “there is in man a positive inclination to evil, a disgust for the good, a hatred of light and wisdom, a delight in error and darkness, a flight from and an abomination of good works, a race toward evil”. [9] Sola fide emphasises the insignificance of reason and the primacy of revelation. Sola scriptura maintains that the only source of religious truth is the word of God, recorded in the pages of the Bible. Sola gratia states that grace and nature are opposed. Grace alone grants the Christian freedom. All wickedness comes from nature.

This latter assertion became central to the European cultural wars, once the dominance of the Christian religion came under attack in the Enlightenment, at the end of the eighteen century. In the early sixteenth century, the papacy was not yet ready to listen to criticism: Pope Alexander VI had Savonarola, the Dominican friar and severe critic of  clerical abuses, hanged then burnt in Florence in 1498. Alexander’s successor, Pope Leo X was a Medici – the son of Lorenzo, born to privilege, interested in art and finances, became a cardinal deacon at 13 years of age, and the last layman to be elected Pope in 1513- did not appreciate the remonstrances of this German monk, Luther, who objected to the granting of indulgences to finance the restoration of St Peter’s Basilica. The Pope had the Roman Curia issue  the bull Exsurge Domine on June 15, 1520 in which Luther was threatened to be charged as a heretic and ordered to halt his preaching. This opened him up to the possibility of arrest and punishment. Luther responded with a fury of activity. To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation was published on August 18, 1520. In it,  he proclaimed the Pope as an enemy of the Holy Roman Empire. He then went on to produce that same year a second treatise, The Babylonian Captivity of the Church, in which he argued that the papacy had perverted the sacraments from their biblical form. In the third tract On the Freedom of the Christian, he wrote that: “A Christian man is the most free lord of all, subject to none. A Christian man is the most dutiful servant of all, and subject to everyone.” [10]  He was summoned by the Emperor to account for his heretical views at the Diet of Worms in 1521, where tradition has it that he said: “Here I stand, I can do no other”. He did not say it, historians now agree, but the phrase accurately captures what he was recorded as saying. [11]

Luther’s imprint on Germany was as large as his ego. Through the century and more of wars that followed his thunderbolts against the papacy, he  left a mighty imprint on the structure, politics, culture, music, and   language of Germany.  Luther supported the Princes in their aversion to central Imperial power, and backed the Princes against the peasants. “Let everyone obey the superior powers, he quoted from Romans 13.1.  for there is no authority except from God”. Two-thirds of Germans in post-Napoleonic Germany were protestant, followers in some form or other of Luther. He translated the Bible into German, performing much the same function to the German language as did the translators of the King James Bible to the English language. He was a prolific hymnodist, a progenitor of the great Protestant musical tradition recorded in the compositions of Schutz (1585-1672), and Bach (1685-1750). He was also  a patriot, writing a prayer for deliverance from the Turks, asking God to “give to our emperor perpetual victory over our enemies”. [12] But he also considered Jews as murderers of Christ. In 1523, he penned a pamphlet, advising kindness given that Jesus Christ was Born a Jew, but then changed his opinions and  gave voice to rabid anti-semitism, arguing that  Jews were “the devil’s people”. His prejudices echoed into the Third Reich, where the likes of Heinrich Himmler and Julius Streicher quoted his words with approval. [13]

The Reformation was launched by men who intended to preserve the Catholic Church in tact. But the gap between intention and result was wide. The doctrine of sola fide is also an invitation to people to become snared in fundamentalist subjectivism. Thomas More made the point in his in his Reponsio ad Lutherum, written in 1523, where he  wrote that Luther acted as if he were “safe in Christ’s bosom,” but in reality, “ he lies shut up in the devil’s anus”. The devil’s anus turned out to excrete the wars of religion which lasted from the 1520s through to the late seventeenth century, and on in parts of Europe, such  as northern Ireland into the late twentieth century.

Europe proved once again to be too complex an entity to be submitted to the will of the reformers. They wanted reform of the Church. But the Church touched every aspect of European life, and changes anywhere had unexpected consequences elsewhere. The Emperor Charles V desired to preserve Christendom’s  unity, but he also had his dynastic ambitions, faced rivalry from the  Valois kings, or had his interests to consider in Spain and the New World. The Church was one among many of his considerations.  German princes, too,  were eager to assert their powers over priests; the Anabaptists, wanted to run their local congregations; Henry VIII in England desperately wanted an heir, lusted after Anne Boleyn, and realized the benefits financially of dissolving the monasteries, which owned one third of the land of England. With equally large egos to Luther’s, the Swiss pastor Zwingli, and the French theologian, Calvin both taught versions of predestination, a doctrine that had a long life ahead of it. According to the theology, God was a severe task master, as St Augustine had taught. He knew ahead of time who was foreordained to enter heaven, and who was not.  The idea that economic success was a visible sign of God’s grace played only a minor role in Calvin’s thinking. It became more important in later secularized forms of Calvinism, and lent itself to racial justifications of supremacy over other peoples or to  Max Weber’s theory about why the protestant world led the way to capitalism.

Efforts to revive  the Church in Rome began well before Luther. They failed and Christian harmony of a sorts was restored. But by the 1540s, the last hopes of restoring religious unity were fast disappearing: the Valois kings allied with the Turks in their rivalry with the Hapsburgs, an important step along the way to the secularization of politics in Europe. The alliance showed that interests of monarchs preceded their loyalty to the faith. In counterpoint, the unlikely figure of Alessandro Farnese, Pope Paul III-nepotist extraordinaire, lavish patron of Michelangelo and Titian, appointed cardinal-it was rumoured-at the behest of his sister Giulia, mistress to Alexander VI, and dubbed cardinale Fregnese (Cardinal Pussy) for his appreciation of the fairer sex- launched what later came to be called the Counter-Reformation. He created new orders, including the Jesuits to propagate the Catholic faith; he launched the Council of Trent to reset Church doctrine; he revived the Inquisition. When the Council of Trent in 1563 finally concluded, way after Paul III’s death, the Church emerged with a much clearer body of faith, a definition of orthodoxy on all disputed points, made possible through the enforcement of uniformity, the confirmation of doctrine, and the rejection of sola fide and sola scriptura: unlike Lutheranism, the Catholic Church has no dogmatic position on sola gratia.

A revived Church became more assertive. It alone could interpret the scriptures; religious truth derived, yes as Luther asserted from the Bible, but also from tradition; the Church upheld the doctrine of original sin, and defined the Tridentine Mass for universal use, a practice which lasted until the late 1970s; it revived the priesthood and its training. With Philip II’s aspirations to inherit the Kingdom of England in tatters following the death of his unconsummated marriage with Queen Mary (1553-1558)-dubbed Bloody Mary by her Protestant opponents- her sister, Elizabeth, reconfirmed England’s Protestant orientation. Elizabeth was subsequently excommunicated by Pope Pius V in 1570,-Jezebel, “the pretended Queen of England”- targeting England for reconversion, and Ireland for support, and thereby prompting  war with Spain, the defeat of Philip’s fleet, the Armada, in 1588, the confirmation of England as a Protestant state, the civil war of 1641-48, the Cromwellian dictatorship and finally the foundation of the Anglo-world with the Bill of Rights of 1688, setting up the British constitutional monarchy, and providing the blueprint for the American constitution.

No less significant was the Massacre of St Bartholomew’s Day in France in August 1572, when Catholic nobles and their followers turned on their Protestant rivals, and massacred three thousand of them in Paris alone. The news of the massacre occasioned much celebration by Philip II of Spain,  as well as by  Pope Gregory XIII, who celebrated the event with a Te Deum at Rome. Instead of crippling the Protestant (Huguenot) party in France’s ongoing civil war (1562-1598), the massacre revived the hatred between Catholics and Protestants and helped a renewal of hostilities. Henceforth, the Huguenots abandoned Calvin’s principle of obedience to the civil authorities-very similar to Luther’s earlier remonstrances to the peasants in their rising against the princes-and adopted the view that tyrannicide and rebellion were justifiable under certain circumstances. This strand of absolute resistance to royal authority ran through the following two centuries of French history, from the flexible tolerance advocated by Henry IV between the two Christian denominations, to the assertion of royal power in the seventeenth century by the monarchy over the aristocracy, and the Jansenist opposition to monarchical power by the parlements in the eighteenth century. The radicalization of the French revolution had deep roots.

No less precarious was the peace in the Germanic lands. A temporary peace was achieved at Augsburg in 1555, recognizing the territorial churches of the princes, subject to their loose loyalty to the Emperor. But the religious peace was tenuous: the Hapsburgs began to dismantle the protections afforded the Protestants, and war-savage war-broke out in 1620, ending only at the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648. As the war proceeded, German cities are recorded as losing one third of their population; rural areas’ populations declined by two thirds; the empire ’s population, at 18 million souls in 1648, had lost about 6 to 8 million since 1618. The end of the war confirmed the religious division of Germany for three centuries;: the northern and eastern part of Germany was protestant, the southern, Austria and Bavaria, were Catholic.

At Westphalia, the Swiss Confederation and the Dutch state were recognized as independent. The long wars of religion revealed the dangers of “sola fide”, which opened the way to unbridled passions, and heralded the Age of Reason, an age of controlled warfare, and a sceptical attitude to religion.  Christianity as it had been known at the end of the fifteenth century was definitely transformed; but it was not shattered: estimates on church attendance across Europe vary from nearly 100% in the UK at the end of the eighteenth century; 80% in mid eighteenth century France; and reports of very high attendance in Spain. What people were worshiping is another matter; but they were still drinking at the well of the Christian tradition.

Europe’s expansion

Hostility to Islam and rivalry with the Moslem trans-Saharan slave traders were prime motives in the initial drive by the Portuguese to expand their overseas domains. The Portuguese had began to explore the western African coast in the early fifteenth century, and appealed to the papacy to confirm their rights to exclusive trade in the region. In late spring of 1452, the Byzantine Emperor Constantine XI wrote to Pope Nicholas V for help against the impending Ottoman siege of Constantinople, and in response Nicolas issued a bull authorizing king Alfonso V of Portugal to “attack, conquer, and subjugate Saracens, pagans, and other enemies of Christ wherever they be found”. The following year, Constantinople fell, to the Pope’s bitter regret,  and Nicolas-an ardent humanist and bibliophile-responded by founding a library of five thousand volumes, including manuscripts rescued from the former Greek capital. He also encouraged scholars to translate Greek histories into Latin.

The Pope was not yet done with Portugal’s claims. A fleet from Cadiz and Seville traded along the African coast, and Alfonso V appealed again to the Pope to support his claims. These were confirmed in the bull, Romanus Pontifex, of 1455,  which granted permission to Alfonso and his heirs to “…make purchases and sales of any things and goods, and victuals whatsoever, as it may seem fit, with any Saracens and infidels in said regions”.[14] The geographic extent of this grant remains controversial, but it was more forceful in stating that the Portuguese were allowed “to invade, search out, capture, vanquish, and subdue all Saracens and pagans whatsoever, and other enemies of Christ wheresoever placed, and the kingdoms, dukedoms, principalities, dominions, possessions, and all movable and immovable goods whatsoever held and possessed by them and to reduce their persons to perpetual slavery”.  The Church in short accepted slavery, as did the holy texts, but its prime purpose was the salvation of souls, all equal one to another in God’s eyes, if not in that of men. As the bull stated, “… many Guineamen and other negroes, taken by force, and some by barter of unprohibited articles, or by other lawful contract of purchase, have been … converted to the Catholic faith, and it is hoped, by the help of divine mercy, that if such progress be continued with them, either those peoples will be converted to the faith or at least the souls of many of them will be gained for Christ.”

The Portuguese explorers, driven by their search for gold, silver or slaves, sailed down the coasts of Africa, rounded the perilous Cape of Good Hope in 1488 and then into the Indian Ocean. The bulls of Pope Nicholas served as the model for subsequent bulls issued by Pope Alexander VI following Columbus discovery of the Americas, in which the Pope conferred similar rights on Spain. In 1494, Portugal and Spain divided the newly discovered lands outside Europe between the Spanish and Portuguese Crowns. In 1498, the Portuguese reached India; the coast of Brazil in 1500; they realized the Americas were a separate continent, and landed on the China coast in  1513, and circumnavigated Latin America in 1520. In 1519, Hernan Cortes conquered the Aztec Empire in Mexico, and in 1532, Francisco Pizarro  seized the empire of the Incas in Peru. The New World became a vast silver mining, and slave economy. Silver bullion from the Potosi and Zacatecas mines fed bullion to Europe; lubricated a global silver dollar economy, embracing China and India; prompted the enslavement of the local populations;  and helped to finance the trade in black slaves, the first cargo of which was delivered by the Portuguese to Brazil in 1526. Over the following four centuries, about 12 million Africans were shipped across the Atlantic, [15] their destination being  to Brazil, the West Indies and north America.

The religious configuration of European possessions in southern, central and northern America tended to duplicate the religion of the home country. The Iberian monarchs impressed Catholicism on their possessions. Conversions were secured by conquest as by consent, by fair means or foul; local languages were studied; the Indian populations aggregated in villages; the Indian workforce hitched to mine, plantation or farm; Indian recruitment to the priesthood was restricted; and the ecclesiastical infrastructure developed over the following four centuries. By the time of the French revolution, the Church was immensely rich- it owned for instance one half of the land of Mexico, its interests being definitely aligned with the wealthy European landowners. One hundred and twenty revolts occurred in the eighteenth century in the Maya region of Mexico; a savage Inca rebellion broke out in 1780-81 in the Peru viceroyalty; in Brazil, slave revolts, where 40% of the population was black, erupted repeatedly at the turn of the century. All were suppressed with great violence. Scholars have not reached a consensus about the impact of Christianization: the most credible argument is that conversions were syncretic, and pre-Columbian rites, gods and habits endured into modern times.

As Spanish power waned, the French monarchy became a contender for the title of Catholic champion. During the seventeenth century, France assumed the role of patron of Christianity in the Ottoman empire; and in 1663, Louis XIV made New France into a royal province, administered by a sovereign council in Quebec, capped by a governor-general, and assisted by an intendant and the bishop of Quebec, with territory extending from Hudson Bay all the way to the Gulf of Mexico by way of the Great Lakes. Louisiana-named after Louis XIV- was founded in 1682, and its capital of New Orléans was founded in 1718. As part of the Sun King’s global ambitions, the Missions Etrangères were established in Paris in 1664, with a brief to work in Vietnam, and then in the Chinese empire;  the Compagnie des Indes was launched the same year, and stations were established on the eastern coast of India at Pondicherry and Karaikal, with staging posts in the Indian Ocean islands founded at Madagascar and the Réunion. The two Catholic monarchies of Spain and France were the dominant imperial powers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

That was all changed in the year 1759, Great Britain’s year of victories, when France was swept from the Americas and India. The English had long fished in Atlantic waters, and established a precarious foothold in Virginia in 1608, where a bishop-free Anglicanism became rooted in the countryside. The godly went to Massachusetts. The joint-stock companies were formed, most notably the East India company which gradually extended its reach to  Bombay, Calcutta and Madras. Sugar plantations, thriving on imported slave labour, modelled on the Brazilian pattern, were set up in the West Indies. The first slaves were landed in Virginia in 1619, and their numbers rocketed in the  southern colonies. To ensure that the increasingly healthy profits of this trade remained in English hands, Parliament decreed in 1651 that only English ships would be able to ply their trade in English colonies. This led to a series of Anglo-Dutch wars, the annexation in 1655 of Jamaica, the capture of New Amsterdam in 1664 (the future New York), and the annexation of the Bahamas two years later. Meanwhile, England came for a decade to be ruled by the godly, as in Massachusetts, so that the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 created a Commonwealth of Massachusetts protest against the renewed privileges of King Charles’ Church. England and Pennsylvania became strongholds of the Quakers-former radical supporters of Cromwell, convinced that the defeat of their cause had been God’s punishment for their trespasses. The Quakers developed a hatred of slavery, and a consistent scepticism about monarchic powers or aristocratic privileges. This was the cocktail of conflicting interests and passions which developed into the Great (religious) Awakening in the American colonies from the 1740s onwards, and then worked its way out in the American Revolution of the 1770s.

European attitudes to the peoples they encountered on their discovery of  a  wider world evolved over time. On the ground, the discoverers looked at religious practices through their local eyes: Here are the Portuguese for the first time in Calicut.”When we arrived they took us to a large church…Within this sanctuary stood a small image which they said represented Our Lady…In this church the captain-major (Vasco da Gama) said his prayers, and we with him…(The servants of the church) threw holy water upon the captain-major. Many other saints were painted on the walls of the church, wearing crowns. They were painted variously, with teeth protruding an inch from the mouth and four or five arms”. [16] Those who converted readily to Christianity also adopted new practices to their own requirements: Cortes found eager listeners among the Tiaxcalan leaders, enemies of the Aztecs who regularly raided their people to harvest them as sacrifices to their gods. They had no problem in adding Spain’s God (Dios) to their own pantheon of gods, as a means to cement the new alliance with the Spaniards. In short, the mandate of the monarchs as  Christianization by the sword differed in no way from the conversion of Constantine in the third century, of Pepin in the fifth, or of Vladimir the Great and the Kievan Rus’ in 988.

For Europeans who had barely explored beyond their immediate horizons, Christianization raised the question whether the peoples discovered were made in the image of God, or were lesser peoples, to be treated differently to human beings. Two views crystallized fast: one was recorded in the Catholic Church’s requirement of 1512  that the new authorities should read out the following statement to native peoples: “The Lord our God…created Heaven and Earth, and one man and one woman, of whom you and I, and all the men of the world, were and are descendants…”. Pope Paul III went on in 1537 to decree that “all Indians are truly men, not only capable of understanding the catholic faith, but exceedingly desirous to receive it”. [17] The other was expounded by Andrea Alciato, (1492-1550), Italian jurist and a founder of the French school of legal humanists, who made explicit the bond between Christendom and the heritage of the Roman empire: “ since…all who were in the Roman world were made Roman citizens, it follows that all Christians are today the Roman people; this principle excludes from citizenship those who in Asia, Africa and other provinces do not profess the faith of CHRIST.  They are the enemies of the Roman people and lose the rights of the Roman civitas”.[18]

The Emperor, Charles V, called for a major debate to be  held on the subject of governing the indigenous peoples of the Americas. It was staged in 1550  in the Collegio de San Gregorio in the city of Valladolid. Bartholome de las Casas, the Dominican friar and bishop of Chiapas in Mexico, defended the position that the natives were human beings, despite their practice of human sacrifices,  and were deserving of the same consideration as  Spaniards. They should not be subject to forced conversion. Juan Gines de Sepulveda, a Spanish Renaissance humanist, defended the Crown’s rights of conquests and argued in favour of the conversion of Indians in order to suppress such practices as idolatry, sodomy and cannibalism.[19] The debate was inconclusive, both sides claiming victory. Sepulveda became the champion of the conquistadors and  the conquests continued; but Las Casas’ ideas lived on. His Brevissima relacion de la destruccion de las Indias, which was published in 1552,[20] became the preferred text of the Dutch and British critics of Spanish imperialism, [21] and in his posthumously produced book, Historia de las Indias, he extended his critique of treatment of the Indians to that of the African slaves.[22]

Brutalities were in fact conducted by all sides of the nominally Christian world: but equally, both Catholics and Protestants could point after the fact to their own anti-slavery champions: in 1686, the Franciscan missionaries secured from the Roman Inquisition an unprecedented condemnation of the slave trade, long predating Protestant action.[23] The Quakers were also early critics of the practice, the first denunciation being recorded in Pennsylvania in 1688. At the time, about 30,000 slaves crossed the Atlantic per year; a century later, the number had risen to 85,000. Over 90% of these went to the Caribbean, Brazil and Latin America. Under 10% went to North America. The Portuguese, British, French and Spanish were the main traders. Opposition to the trade mounted with the religious revival of the mid-century, led in Great Britain, by the Quakers, in alliance with Methodists and Evangelicals. In a famous judgement of 1772, Lord Mansfield-the Chief Justice-delivered judgement in the Somersett case, where he held that slavery had no basis in common law and had never been established by legislation in England.

The abolitionist coalition won the support of parliament in the UK and of Congress in the US, and in 1807, both countries abolished the trade, but the institution itself took longer to outlaw. The British government won a general declaration in 1815 by the Congress of Vienna condemning the slave trade; the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 provided for the immediate abolition of slavery throughout the British Empire, and in 1865, Congress legislated for the thirteenth amendment, abolishing slavery in the United States. “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime …shall exist within the United States”.

It is doubtful that the anti-slavery movement could have won out in Europe without the changes in culture induced by the encounters of Europeans with other cultures. Father Joseph Lafitau,(1681-1746), the Jesuit missionary who worked in Canada with the native Americans, wrote a learned treatise, Customs of the American Indians Compared with the Customs of Primitive Times, published in 1724.  Lafitau posited a primitive monotheism, common to all humans, and was concerned to counter atheists who claimed that religion was the invention of man and the work of politics. The question he was seeking to answer was what could now be called divergence: peoples diverged from the underlying pattern because they were fallen human beings who nonetheless held quite similar customs to diverse peoples from different continents and centuries. Their customs could be compared to the ancients in the holy texts, and thereby become more familiar and less barbarian to Europeans. [24] Peoples remained fundamentally united as humans; they did not evolve in a politically driven evolution away from a standard to become separate peoples. If a biological spin were to be added,  the last phrase would read “evolution away from a standard to become separate races”; Lafitau lived at the cusp of modern racial theory.

Montesquieu (1689-1755), the French political philosopher, advocated reform of slavery on the grounds that the practice was amoral, and that all humans should be treated by the same law; but he also observed the diversity of human customs, most notably in his anonymously published book, The Spirit of the Laws.  Diversity being the way of the world, and also advised by differing climate and conditions, he extended his preference for human plurality to religion: In The Spirit of the Laws, Montesquieu considered religions “in relation only to the good they produce in civil society” and not to their truth or falsity. Different religions he considered as appropriate to different environments and forms of government. Not surprisingly, the book’s criticism of French political arrangements ensured it a poor reception  in France, and its agnosticism on religion had it placed on the Index by the Catholic Church. But in Great Britain, it received high praise- it lauded the British Constitution of 1688- and is recorded as being cited more by the American founders than any source, except the Bible.[25]Montesquieu’s has been called “the most intellectually challenging and inspired contribution to political theory in the eighteenth century…(and) set the tone of modern social and political thought”.[26]

At the time of Columbus’ discovery of the Americas, it was still common to consider Europe to be the centre of the world, the earth to be the centre of the universe, and man to be the centre of God’s creation. But Columbus and Vasco da Gama’s discoveries revealed that Europe was not necessarily at the centre of the world; Copernicus published his book On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres in 1543 just before his death to demonstrate that the earth was not necessarily the centre of the universe; and greater familiarity with the customs and traditions of other peoples began to dent convictions that European peoples stood at the apex of humanity. As Montagne, the French philosopher (1533-1592), wrote in an essay on cannibalism, “every one gives the title of barbarism to everything that is not in use in his own country ».  As the historians Rice and Grafton write, “Knowledge of other worlds and of the past thus fostered a more detached comprehension of the virtues and corruptions of the present, while the comparison of foreign laws and customs with those of Europe suggested the revolutionary possibility of conscious choice among institutional, moral and religious alternatives”. [27]

Towards the nation-state and the Enlightenment.

These centuries from 1492 to 1798 encompass a gradual emancipation of people from religion and theology, and of a coming to terms with things as they were or as they should be. There is of course a big difference: things as they were, were clearly “red in tooth and claw”, and things as they should be were both controversial and the domain of religion. So it has never been true that religion has been vacated from the European public space: it has always been there, either as a great absentee, a rebuke or as an appeal. The most passionate advocate of atheism in the European cultural wars, past and present, has never been able to set religion aside.

This is particularly so of the writings of Machiavelli.. His most famous treatise, The Prince, written about 1513, has been rightly termed a classic of modern political philosophy. [28] Religion takes its place in The Prince as a valuable accessory, helpful to maintain public order, but not as a personal guide to action. What matters is success, and -depending on which means are used- the eventual aim is for the Prince to earn the affections of his people. He will be greatly helped when the people are religious, but he will most certainly not be helped if he follows its prescriptions. The book is a manual on how to gain and to keep power: the most cunning prince must become a “great liar and deceiver”; “he should appear to be compassionate, faithful to his word, guileless, and devout. And indeed he should be so. But his disposition should be such that, if he needs to be the opposite, he knows how.” In 1559, all of Machiavelli’s works were placed on the Church’s Index of Prohibited Books, and in 1576, the Huguenot writer Innocent Gentillet accused Machiavelli of being an atheist, a dangerous epithet to receive at the time. Machiavelli would never have admitted as much, but it is probably not an exaggeration to say that «  he stood so far outside the accepted Christian framework of his age that he might as well have been. »[29]

Machiavelli was definitely describing things as they were in the highly competitive politics of Italy: the  main powers were Naples, the papal states, the republics of Florence and Venice, and the duchy of Milan. Together, they formed a competitive political system, featuring ambassadors, alliances, treaties, spheres of influence, non-aggression pacts and commercial accords. Their guiding principle was the balance of power, described by Francesco Guiccardini thus: “It was the aim of each (of the five main powers) to preserve its own territory and to defend its own interest by carefully making sure that no one of them grew strong enough to enslave the others; and to this end each gave the most careful attention to even minor political events or changes”. [30] Not surprisingly, the peninsula became the cockpit of war, when Charles VIII of France made a grab for the kingdom of Naples in 1494, met with resistance from the Pope in alliance with the Spanish monarchs, and Italy ended in  subjugation to foreign powers- a condition that was only brought to an end in the 1860s, with the unification of Italy under the leadership of Piedmont and its first minister Cavour.

In the last chapter of The Prince, Machiavelli appeals to the Medici family to rid Italy of barbarians, in modern parlance to unite it. These were still early days in the slow formation of nation states, but the stuff of nationalism-the modern answer to the question: “who are we?”- was all there for use. Erasmus (1466-1536),  the Dutch scholar and priest, wrote in his 1516 pamphlet, Education of a Christian Prince, dedicated to  the future Emperor, Charles V: “Every Angle hates the Gaul, and every Gaul the Angle, for no other reason that he is an Angle. The Irishman, just because he is an Irishman, hates the Briton; the Italian hates the German; the Swabian, the Swiss, and so on throughout the list. District hates district and city hates city”.[31] There was no need to whip these hatreds into action, he argued ; wise leaders preempted conflict by timely reforms, for instance in ecclesiastical matters where Erasmus took an optimistic stance in proposing improvements. So did his pupil, Charles V. But passions escaped his control, with the result that the Holy Roman Empire was paralysed by repeated wars, between 1520 and 1555, when the settlement at Augsburg concluded on the principle of “cujus regio, ejus religio”- in other words on territorial religion, predicated on princely or kingly authority, and eventually shaping into a coherent linguistic consciousness. Spain identified with the Catholic religion; Tudor England with a Church of England; the Hapsburg realms with a dynastic union of inheritance; and Valois France as  “un roi, une foi, une loi”. The Hapsburg-Valois rivalry of the sixteenth century presaged the later Franco-German conflicts of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

A major step on the way to a more secular politics was the Treaty of Westphalia, signed in 1648, and ending the Thirty Years War. The Treaty, or more accurately the set of treaties comprising Westphalia required signatory states to ignore any claims based on religious supremacy in replacement of the rule of state consent. States would become sovereign entities, immune from the political demands of any one church, and immune also from the religious demands of the emperor. [32] The treaties also dealt with the nature of war, previously accepted as the legitimate means of settling conflicts. Rather than the outcome determining the distribution of rewards, and losses, principles were inserted in inter-state relations of mediation and compensation.  The third innovation was the concept of sovereignty: Westphalia established the concept of territorial superiority in all matters ecclesiastical and political of the princes in the Empire.  The peace thus reduced the powers of the papacy and the emperor, elevated those of the princes; provided for wider religious freedoms; set the basis for the introduction of the diplomatic profession; and recognized the central political role of sovereign states. Hugo Grotius,-the Dutch lawyer who died shortly before the treaties were signed,-argued that, “kingly states could only achieve complete legitimacy as part of a society of sovereigns to whom they owed certain duties”.[33]  By this measure, the novel source of legitimacy was not emperor or pope but the society of states. Such a society, Hedley Bull has written, comes into existence “when a group of states, conscious of certain common interests and common values, form a society in the sense that they conceive themselves to be bound by a common set of rules in their relations with one another, and share in the working of common institutions.” [34]

One of the mechanisms of the society of states was the balance of power, derived from the experience of Renaissance Italy but growing out of the dynastic politics of the period. In 1700, Louis XIV sought to join the thrones of France and Spain, prompting thereby a Grand Alliance between England, the Dutch and the Holy Roman Empire to declare war. Article II of the Treaty of Utrecht, signed at the conclusion of the conflict in early 1715, stipulated that “because  of the great danger which threatened the liberty and safety of all Europe, from the too close conjunction of the kingdoms of Spain and France, … one and the same person should never become King of both kingdoms”. The clause has been considered by historians as the first treaty reference to the principle of the balance of power in European politics. Other mechanisms of the society of states include international law, diplomacy, the central role of the great powers and war.

The eighteenth century bore witness to almost constant warfare in Europe. There were at least six wars of succession (the Jacobite rebellions, the Spanish succession; the Polish succession; the Austrian succession; the Bavarian succession); the Silesian wars between Prussia and Austria saw the forceful emergence of Prussia as a great power. But the preponderant great power, by a long way, was France, challenged by Great Britain, recently formed in the union with Scotland in 1707: the seven years war of 1756-63 is considered the first global conflict, fought for primacy between France and Great Britain in India, the Caribbean and North America. It ended in the Treaty of Paris, the defeat of France and the confirmation of Great Britain as the world’s pre-eminent power.

Pre-eminence lasted for a few years only. Without a threat from the French in Quebec and Louisiana, the American colonists had less need of naval protection from  the home country. Alliance with the colonial revolt against the arch-enemy, Great Britain, was an offer the French monarchy could not refuse; but the successful prosecution of the war, ending in America’s independence, accelerated the monarchy’s bankruptcy. The American revolution was in many ways a continuation of the civil wars of the 1640s in the British Isles; the French revolution was a radical break with the past. There is a world of differences between the two revolutions-Amlerican, then French- at the end of the eighteenth century.

The French Enlightenment represented a revolution of the mind about human affairs that matured in opposition to the moderate mainstream of thought dominant in Europe and America in the eighteenth century. Such is the thesis of Jonathan Israel,[35] who argues that of the two Enlightenments, “Moderate” and “Radical”, it was the values of the Radical Enlightenment-democracy, free thought and expression, religious tolerance, individual liberty , political self-determination of peoples and sexual and racial equality- that  were enshrined finally in the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Its opponents were those who defended the principles of monarchy, aristocracy, empire, and racial hierarchy—principles linked to the upholding of censorship, church authority, social inequality, racial segregation, religious discrimination, and far-reaching privilege for ruling groups. The original champion of this radical strand of thinking, for Israel, is Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677), author of The Ethics, who wrote, in the words of Roger Scruton, “the last indisputable Latin masterpiece, and one in which the refined conceptions of medieval philosophy are finally turned against themselves and destroyed entirely”. [36]

The Radical Enlightenment was a revolution that was a century in the making, starting in the France of Descartes, the England of Hobbes and Locke, and especially in the Holland of Spinoza and Bayle. The prime progenitor of these ideas, writes Jonathan Israel,  was Spinoza. He “forged the basic metaphysical ground plan, exclusively secular moral values, and culture of individual liberty, democratic politics, and freedom of thought and press that embody today the defining core values of modern secular egalitarianism”. [37] From Holland, Radical Enlightenment ideas   moved to France, where they flourished under Diderot and d’Holbach  They   also developed vigorously in Great Britain where Paine broke with traditional radical Whiggism, and spoke  in terms of universal rights, not the liberties of Englishmen, grounding these universal rights in the freedom carried over from the state of nature into the state of society, loudly echoing Spinoza.  By contrast, the characteristic of the Moderate Enlightenment was its caution in confronting inequalities, and extreme caution when evaluating plans for the future- attributes shared by Gibbon, Hume Smith,  Turgot and Voltaire. Radical ideas stressed atheism, material determinism and saw “la raison” as nothing but “la nature modifiée par l’experience”.[38] The two Enlightenments, Moderate and Radical, were irreconcilable.

Israel defines them thus: “there could be only two Enlightenments-Moderate…Enlightenment, on the one hand, postulating a balance between reason and tradition and broadly supporting the status quo, and on the other, Radical… Enlightenment conflating body and mind into one, reducing God and nature to the same thing, excluding all miracles and spirits separate from bodies, and invoking reason as the sole guide in human life, jettisoning tradition. There was a close allied variant to the latter, also part of the radical Enlightenment, in the shape of philosophical Unitarianism, a variant almost as relentless in proclaiming reason as the sole guide, rejecting tradition as a source of authority and denouncing the existing order more or less in toto. The essence of the Radical Enlightenment both in its atheist and Christian Unitarian modes was that “reason, and law founded on reason” as the point was expressed by Nicolas-Antoine Boulanger (1722-1759) in a classic text of radical philosophical literature, “ should be the only sovereign over mortals”. [39]

We have arrived at the opening of the French Revolution, when Europe embarks upon its first major cultural war. In one corner, the Radicals, proclaiming the oneness of humanity, the moral equality of  all men,  the universal character of the human condition, and their proposition for world revolution.  In the other corner, not the Moderates as portrayed by Jonathan Israel, but the Christians who proclaimed the oneness of humanity, the moral equality of all men, the universal character of the human condition, and eventual world revolution. The main difference between them is that the supporters of a Radical Enlightenment were impatient for revolution now, in the face of all the injustices accumulated from the past; whereas the supporters of a Christian worldview held, and hold,  that tradition and the past had their inner logic, impatience was a vice, and injustices were unfortunately a part of the human condition.They had to be dealt with carefully, because the one rule in politics that consistently applies, is the that unforeseen consequences are certain.

There can be little doubt that the French Revolution was one, or rather a number of versions of secularized Christianity. It sired a   brutal progeny, evident in the treatment of opponents in the Vendée, in the use of the guillotine, in the European wars its secreted; then in the Russian revolution of 1917 which harked back to its example; and the National Socialist revolution of 1933 which was a total rejection of Christianity and of its secularized version. What all these heirs to 1789 held in common was their worship of natural violence. Nature, not Revelation, was the new authority.

The French Revolution was Radical, yes, and impatient; it was the world as they wished it, but without God. Jonathan Israel writes with disapproval that the Moderate Enlightenment took a strongly conservative turn with Burke, and with Burke, mainstream thought in Britain, Ireland and America. But Burke came from Ireland;[40] he realized a Cromwellian when he saw one; he knew that Cromwellians are Radicals, and he sensed that the challenge of the radicals to monarchy, aristocracy, empire and racial hierarchy- yes, principles linked to the upholding of censorship, of church authority, of social inequality, racial segregation, religious discrimination and far-reaching privilege for ruling groups-were embedded in the fabric of human life, sanctioned by tradition, embellished by memories, justified by amnesia, or abhorred and endured.  He realized that there is a world of difference between thinking of something as desirable, and it actually being brought to pass through action in a context as complex as that of the society of states of Europe. There was a world of possible futures between cup and lip.

It was this awareness that we are not masters of the future that prompted Burke to write his Reflections on the French Revolution in early 1790, on the cusp of its radicalization.  What made the future predictable in part was precisely the disasters through which humanity would have to walk  in the coming centuries to the tune of the Radicals’ revolutions. Because revolution took many faces, especially the ones where it would be assumed that reason was nature at work. Hitler said it pithily: Nationalism-Socialism is applied biology.The next chapter in this series deals with the politics of Nature, with a capital N.

[1] B. Urlanis, Рост населения в Европе : опыт исчисления Rost naselenii︠a︡ v Evrope, ОГИЗ-Госполитиздат, [Moskva] : OGIZ-Gospolitizdat, 1941

[2] H.O.Lancaster, Expectations of Life: A Study in the Demography, Statistics and History of World Mortality, Springer Verlag, 1990. p..8.

[3] Eamon Duffy , The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England 1400-1580, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1992, p. 3.

[4] Thomas More, Utopia, London, Everyman Library, 1910, pp.41-42, quoted in Duffy p. 592.

[5] Duffy p.393.

[6] Quoted in J.R.Hale, Renaissance Europe 1480-1520, London, Blackwell 2nd Ed, 1971, 2000. p. 168.

[7] Quoted in J.R. Hale, p. 170, from J.A. Froude’s paraphrase, in his Life and Letters of Erasmus, London, 1984, 142-3.

[8]  Francesco Guicciardini, Maxim 28, in Alison Brown (trans.), Guicciardini: Dialogue on the Government of Florence (Cambridge, 1994), p. 171.

[9] Martin Luthers Werke. Kritische Gesamtausgabe. Vol. LVI Weimar 1938. p.312.

[10] Albrecht Beutel, “Luther’s Life” tr. Katharina Gustavs, in The Cambridge Companion to Martin Luther, ed. Donald K. McKim, New York, Cambrdge University Press, 2003, p. 11.

[11]« Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. May God help me. Amen. »  Martin Brecht, Martin Luther, tr. James. L. Schaaf, Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985-93, Vol 1. p. 460

[12] Brecht, Volume 2, p.365.

[13] Christopher J.Probst, Demonizing the Jews: Luther and the Protestant Church in Nazi Germany, Indiana UniversityPress.2012

[14] The full text is in Frances Gardiner Davenport, European Treaties Bearing on the History of the United States and its Dependencies to 1648, Carnegie Institution of Washington, 1916-37, Google Books, Reprint edition, Google Books, 4 vols. Vol 1. Pp. 20-26.

[15]  Ronald Segal,   The Black Diaspora: Five Centuries of the Black Experience Outside Africa , New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1995,  p. 4

[16] J.R.Hale, Renaissance Europe 1480-1520. p. 162.

[17] Quoted in A.W. Crosby, Jr, “The Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492, Wesport, Connecticut, 1972, p.11.

[18] Mark Greengrass, Christendom Destroyed : Europe 1517-1648, London, Allen Lane, Penguin Books, 2014, p.151.

[19]  Lewis Hanke, All Mankind is One: A study of the Disputation Between Bartolomé de Las Casas and Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda in 1550 on the Intellectual and Religious Capacity of the American Indian. Illinois: Northern Illinois University Press, 1974). 

[20] . The text is available as a Project Gutenberg E-Book in translation.

[21] Jean-Louis Benoit“L’évangélisation des Indiens d’Amérique Autour de la « légende noire »”, Amerika [Online], 8,  2013

[22] Juan Comas, “Historical Reality and the Detractors of Father Las Casas”. In Friede, Juan; Keen, Benjamin (eds.).Bartolomé de las Casas in history: toward an understanding of the man and his work.   Internet Archive. DeKalb : Northern Illinois University Press, 1971, pp.487-537. .

[23] Cited in Diarmaid MacCulloch, 1 History of Christianity,The First Three Thousand Years, London, Allen Lane, 2009. p. .711.


[25] Donald S. Lutz, “The Relative Influence of European Writers on Late Eighteenth-Century American Political Thought”. American Political Science Review, 78 1, 1984, pp189–97.

[26] Sylvana Tomaselli. “The spirit of nations”,  in Mark Goldie and Robert Wokler, eds., The Cambridge History of Eighteenth-Century Political Thought , Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006, . pp. 9–39.

[27] Eugene F.Rice, Jr, Anthony Grafton, The Foundations of Early Modern Europe, 1460-1559, New York, Norton, 1994, p. 87.

[28]  For instance, Gregory Smith, Between Eternities: On the Tradition of Political Philosophy, Past, Present and Future, Lexington Books, 2008, p. 65.

[29] Nick Spencer, “Machiavelll’s The Prince, Part 6: was Machiavelli an atheist? The Guardian April 30, 2012.

[30] Storia fiorentina, ch xi, Opere inedite de Francesco Guiccardini, ed by P and L Guiccardini, Florence, 1859, Vol III, p.105.


[32] Geoffrey Parker, The Thirty Years War, 2nd ed, New York, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1987.

[33] Philip Bobbitt, The Shield of Achilles: War, Peace, and the Course of History, New York, Alkfred Knopf, 2002. P.518.

[34] Hedley Bull, The Anarchical Society: A Study of Order in World Politics, London: Macmillan, 1977

[35] Jonathan Israel, A Revolution of the Mind: Radical Enlightenment and the Intellectual origins of Modern Democracy. Princeton UP, 2010.

[36] Roger Scruton, Spinoza : a very short introduction, Oxford, OUP, 2002. p. 32.

[37] Israel, A Revolution of the Mind:  p 241.

[38] Le vrai sens du Système de la Nature, ouvrage posthume de M. Helvétius, Londres /Amsterdam, 1774, p.25. Quoted in Israel, p. 245.

[39] Israel, A Revolution of the Mind, p.19.

[40] See the great book by Conor Cruise O’Brien, The Great Melody, A Thematic Biography and Commented Anthology of Edmund Burke, London, Minerva, 1992.

About Jonathan Story, Professor Emeritus, INSEAD

Jonathan Story is Emeritus Professor of International Political Economy at INSEAD. Prior to joining INSEAD in 1974, he worked in Brussels and Washington, where he obtained his PhD from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He has held the Marusi Chair of Global Business at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and is currently Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Graduate Schoold of Business, Fordham University, New York. He is preparing a monograph on China’s impact on the world political economy, and another on a proposal for a contextual approach to business studies. He has a chapter forthcoming on the Euro crisis. His latest book is China UnCovered: What you need to know to do business in China, (FT/ Pearson’s, 2010) ( His previous books include “China: The Race to Market” (FT/Pearsons, 2003), The Frontiers of Fortune, (Pitman’s, 1999); and The Political Economy of Financial Integration in Europe : The Battle of the Systems,(MIT Press, 1998) on monetary union and financial markets in the EU, and co-authored with Ingo Walter of NYU. His books have been translated into French, Italian, German, Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Arabic. He is also a co-author in the Oxford Handbook on Business and Government(2010), and has contributed numerous chapters in books and articles in professional journals. He is a regular contributor to newspapers, and has been four times winner of the European Case Clearing House “Best Case of the Year” award. His latest cases detail hotel investments in Egypt and Argentina, as well as a women’s garment manufacturer in Sri Lanka and a Chinese auto parts producer. He teaches courses on international business and the global political economy. At the INSEAD campus, in Fontainebleau and Singapore, he has taught European and world politics, markets, and business in the MBA, and PhD programs. He has taught on INSEAD’s flagship Advanced Management Programme for the last three decades, as well as on other Executive Development and Company Specific courses. Jonathan Story works with governments, international organisations and multinational corporations. He is married with four children, and, now, thirteen grandchildren. Besides English, he is fluent in French, German, Spanish, Italian, reads Portuguese and is learning Russian. He has a bass voice, and gives concerts, including Afro-American spirituals, Russian folk, classical opera and oratorio.
This entry was posted in American Revolution, Christianity, culture wars, English Civil War, Europe, French Revolution, International law, Machiavelli, Martin Luther, Slavery, society of states, The Enlightenment, the EU, The United States, Treaty of Westphalia, Uncategorized, United Kingdom and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The year of Covid 19: Political Religion and the Culture Wars. Part 2.3: The EU’s legacy, 1492-1789: Europe enters into the Devil’s Anus.

  1. Pingback: The Year of Covid 19: Political Religion and the Culture Wars. Part 2.5. The Utilitarians I: Elie Halévy and the Philosophical Radicals 1750-1867. | Writing about history, politics & economics

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