1. What were the causes of the economic depression that lasted roughly a century and a half in the later Middle Ages?
  2. Summarize the effects of the Black Death upon the following:
      a. demographic trends
      b. the condition of agriculture
      c. the role of towns and cities
  3. What new business techniques came into operation during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries?
  4. How do you account for the rash of lower-class revolts in the later Middle Ages?
  5. How did the English Peasants' Revolt of 1381 differ from the French Jacquerie of two decades earlier? In what ways was the Ciompi uprising in Florence, in spite of its failure, still more significant for future history?
  6. "Religion in the Later Middle Ages was a more effective rallying ground for large numbers of people than political, economic, and social demands." What are the reasons for this?
  7. How do you explain the aristocracy's obsession with luxury and extravagant display during the later Middle Ages?
  8. What did the papacy gain in power and why did it at the same time lose respect during the period of residence at Avignon?
  9. What caused the Great Schism of 1378-1417? How was it ended?
  10. What were the objectives of the conciliar movement within the Church and by what means did the popes defeat it?
  11. What was the connection between the increase in literacy and the decline of clerical prestige during the Middle Ages?
  12. How do you explain the late-medieval "hunger for the divine"? What forms did it take?
  13. Explain the "practical mysticism" of the religious handbook attributed to Thomas Kempis.
  14. Why did John Wyclif's teachings win support among the English aristocracy? In what way did his work anticipate the later Protestant Revolution?
  15. Name the major political divisions of Italy around 1450.
  16. What were the causes of the Hundred Years' War? How do you explain the spectacular victories of the English armies and also their ultimate defeat?
  17. How did the results of the Hundred Years' War strengthen the French monarchy and also promote national unity in England in spite of internal conflict there?
  18. Account for the expansion of the Kingdom of Poland in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. What factors eventually checked this expansion?
  19. List the principal stages in the evolution of the Russian state in the later Middle Ages. What circumstances led to Russia's separation from western Europe?
  20. What were the contributions of Ivan III ("the Great") to the Russian imperial tradition?
  21. How does William of Ockham's philosophy represent a significant departure from that of St. Thomas Aquinas? Are the differences related to changes in the condition of society during the fourteenth century?
  22. If Ockham rejected Aquinas's confidence in human reason, how could he have contributed to the rise of the scientific method?
  23. What qualities entitle Boccaccio's Decameron to rank as a landmark in the evolution of European literature?
  24. How is naturalism illustrated in late-medieval art?
  25. Summarize the technological advances made during the later Middle Ages. Which do you consider the most important? Why?
  1. Investigate further any of the following:
      a. Changes in the techniques of warfare between 1300 and 1500
      b. The English Wars of the Roses
      c. The effects of the Black Death
      d. The conciliar reform movement
      e. The teachings and influence of John Wyclif or of John Hus
      f. The nominalism of William of Ockham
      g. Byzantine influence upon Russian culture and institutions
  2. Read George Bernard Shaw's play Saint Joan and evaluate it as an exposition of political trends and concepts in the later Middle Ages.
  3. Compare the Decameron with the Canterbury Tales as commentaries upon human nature and society.
  4. Read Jean Froissart's Chronicles for his account of the period of the Hundred Years' War. Note what he chooses to emphasize. Assess the historical and literary value of this document.
  5. Read the Imitation of Christ by Thomas Kempis. What in this book helps explain why it has been second only to the Bible in popularity among Christians?


W.W. Norton
REVIEW: World Civilizations
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