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The Late Middle Ages were age of crisis and transformation in Western Civilization.  Plague, warfare, and decline of the authority in the Catholic Church led to an unsettled time as compared to the prior two centuries of history.  Many historians would argue that the modern world, a world that questions authority and pushes for new ideas, was born out of the crisis of the fourteenth and fifteenth century.

Chapter Fourteen also reviews the origins and impact of the Black Death that swept through Europe and appeared, for a time, that is would extinguish the fire of Western society. When we think of great plagues and apocalyptic ideas, it is often with a mind toward this time period of history (television shows and movies based around the zombie theme would have a hard time competing with the terror and insecurity that great plagues brought in the Late Middle Ages.  Persistent warfare and a changing social order also led to a more uncertain time period.

Despite these significant problems and challenges, this time period in Western society continued to see both technological innovation and new styles of literature.  Indeed, the invention of moveable type and the printing press would lead to a new growth of information and, in turn, challenges to the established ideas of the church and monarchy.  These innovations would also allow Europe to begin to take another shot at forging empires overseas.  While China had already produced the most massive maritime exploration the world had seen to this point (the voyages of Zheng He), the explorations of the late fifteenth century would result in a New World.

Read Chapter Fourteen in the textbook (pages 488-525) and answer


of the following questions.  There is also a bonus question worth five points on a video that analyzes the Age of Discovery.

Your response to the question you choose should be approximately 600-800 words in length and double-spaced.  The essay should rely on ideas from the textbook and the documents contained within Chapter Fourteen.  The essay should not use direct quotations from outside sources.

Again, please answer


of the following questions

  1. How did the Black Death affect society, the economy, and culture in Latin Christendom and the Islamic world? In your essay you will wish to discuss the Little Ice Age, the different ways the Christian and Islamic worlds responded to the Black Death, the attempts to rebuild society in Western Europe via stronger monarchies and oligarchy, and the Renaissance.  (Pages 488-497), 517-520).

2.   In what ways did Ming China and the Islamic world expand in the fifteenth century? How were these empires         different from those that had previously existed in China and the Middle East?  In your essay you will wish to discuss the reign of Emperor Yongle, the voyages of Zheng He, the capture of Constantinople, and the growth of Islam in West Africa via the trade diaspora.  (Pages 498-509)