Changes in Thought Between 1301 and 1350
The time between 1301 and 1350 was a very chaotic period in human evolution. All factions of society were undergoing turbulent changes, which had a profound effect on society.
During the latter part of the 13th and early 14th century there was an increase in the amount of cultivable land, thus production of crops was greater. The extra profit from these crops allowed former slaves to have enough money to buy their freedom and try to make a living on their own. Mostly uneducated, the slaves would eventually return to what they knew best, which was farming. The former slaves would be given a small piece of land by the lord of the manor in return for a portion of their crops. These people formed a new social class known as serfs. They were low on the social ladder, only a step above the slaves, but they were free men.
The threat of war always loomed ominously on the horizon and the serfs were defenseless against the roving armies of looters and pillagers. These serfs were forced to hand over even larger amounts of their crops in order to receive protection from the more powerful lords. The serfs were left with little or no money and without enough food to support themselves or their families. Their outlook shifted from looking towards a brighter future at the beginning of the 14th century, to a struggle for mere survival by the middle of the century.
Prior to the early 14th century the society revolved around the church. Government, trade, and learning were all regulated by the church; thus all thought was strictly controlled by the church. The church then was similar to the modern day Mafia in its ties with government. If a church official did not like or agree with a political leader, he could have that person removed from their position. An example of this occurred when King Louis IV of Germany, along with other German officials, issued the Declaration of Rense, which stated that papal approval was no longer necessary when electing a political leader. With this decree Pope Clement VI tried to depose Louis as ruler and elected in his place Charles IV. Though Louis ruled until his death in 1347, Charles did eventually ascend to the throne.
The church also controlled the amount and type of knowledge people could possess. The church believed that true knowledge could only be attained through divine revelation. Any type of teaching that implied that God was not the creator was strictly condemned and the writer was often severely punished. Even with the domination of the church, the number of well-educated people began to rise. The increase in commercial and social interests allowed for more universities to be constructed and educational activities became more readily available to the public. The more educated people no longer heeded the strict teachings of the church, but could now comprehend a more
scientific approach to life.
An early philosopher named St....