“What is Western Civilization?” Western Civilization is the study of western culture. This term also refers to the study of culture that surrounds European heritage that also shares the same ideas, beliefs and philosophy. We began the semester learning about the roots of western civilization since 1500 and christianity behind it all, then wrapping up the semester through the cold war and politics in the 1960s and 70s. Some of the topics that I took a liking to during my time in the class was the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and the Industrial Revolution. Many wonder whether or not, Western Civilization is important or not but is it? The Renaissance was a great era that had its deep interest in classical learning, various art were brought to life, and its values of Greece and Rome. The word Renaissance means “rebirth” or “reawakening”. The Renaissance contained 3 basic forms of government princedoms, monarchies, and oligarchies (also known as republics). One of the biggest changes politically during that time was the split of politics from Christianity. Religion was not a part of government. The government and politics both were affected by the concept of humanism. With humanism society began to value its contribution and opinion in the politics. Hereditary powers decreased because people realized they didn’t have to stay in the class they were born in. That is were the feudal system became no more. As the Renaissance stretched, the Church and Monarch kings would use their assets to take on the new trends to keep pace with the changes. They had faith on the ideas enervated from the Renaissance for their political approaches. One of the most famous political thinkers Niccolo Bernardo dei Machiavelli was well known for a piece he wrote called the Prince. They were instructions for a monarch to strengthen his rule. The piece also contained political theories. Oligarchies, typically strained from the trade classes of the town, ruled the republics. They had a highly professional approach and initially conquered the commerce of the region. Before the Enlightenment, many nations in Europe were monarchies and the king had total power. Nobles and Lords were landowners in which they controlled most of the wealth. The Catholic church in Europe owned land and also held great wealth as well. They were both powerful and influential figures but were very strict when it came to interpreting the Bible. Socially, most people were poor and lived in rural areas. Life was difficult and short for peasants. They were usually uneducated and illiterate. They all paid high taxes to landowners, the monarchy and the church. All in all, they didn’t have much rights nor freedom. The Enlightenment was an intellectual movement. This movement included enlightenment thinker that applied reason and the scientific method to laws that shaped human actions. The enlightenment movement was also known as the Age of Reason. During this time, books had became available in Europe. A few problems came underway with this new invention. There were a few available because they were copied and written by hand. The books printed were usually extremely expensive and were written in Latin. Another problem that occurred was the literacy rate, which happened to be very low, that meant that only a few people owned books such as church’s, monarchs, nobles, etc. In 1440 a man by the name of Johann Gutenberg, created the printing press that would later be used to construct the Gutenberg bible. Some of the many impacts of the printing press included, its increase in production, the cost of books dropped tremendously, people were able to print in native languages, the literacy rate increased which meant that education increased as well, and information spread quickly. Within this era, many other philosophers/ideas sprung such as John Locke, Baron de Montesquieu, Mary Wollstonecraft, etc. John Locke was an english philosopher, who was also famous for his Two Treatises of Government. He believed man had natural rights. He discussed natural rights identifying them as “Life, Liberty and Property”. He believed in democracy and self-government and that the government’s power came from the people. Which meant that people have the right to overthrow a government that doesn’t protect their rights, in which he called it the Social Contract. Montesquieu was a french writer who was famous for writing, The Persian Letters. He believed the power of government should be divided and that monarchs held all power. He also believed that by creating separate branches with powers each will be balanced equally. Mary Wollstonecraft was an English writer, philosopher and advocate of women’s rights. She believed that both men and women are provided with inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. She also pushed for women to have access to education and to have the right to own property and vote. The point of the Enlightenment was to improve and change the society as a whole by advancing knowledge so people could be able to reason and solve problems as a result. The Industrial Revolution led to many new theories, especially in social, economic, and scientific areas. Many of these theories had positive effects, but quite a few had negative effects. The Industrial Revolution started in England during the 18th century. Although, the Industrial Revolution had its pros it also had its cons. The Industrial Revolution brought severe consequences to society. Factory owners hired cheap and unskilled labor by using children and women to run the machines. Children were working at very young ages and working very long hours. They had no free time to do anything else and earned low wages. Many got sick due to toxic air, while others got severely injured and were sometimes killed working at dangerous machines in factories. There were also good things that came out the Industrial Revolution such as inventions that improved the quality of life for most people such as the cotton gin, the light bulb, railroads and more. In conclusion, I believe the topics that I have discussed above are all apart of the concept of Western civilization and the study behind it all. Western civilization has spread to produce the dominant cultures and has had influence in recent centuries in many ways. Therefore, I believe it is what has shaped our nation throughout history.