Art After the Renaissance

After the Renaissance and the amazing arts created in that period, new styles of art began to grow in popularity.  Two of these styles were Mannerism and Baroque.  These styles embraced the concept of creating art in a way peculiar and specific to the artist’s talents, and adding a sense of drama or emotion to a painting.  I’ve selected four of the most famous artists from both periods, and I would like to help you learn about some of the characteristics of their painting styles.

I. Tintoretto

Italian born, Jacopo Comin, who went by Tintoretto, was a very talented artist involved in the Mannerism movement.  One of his unique styles was his use of perspective, which can be depicted in his portrayal of the Last Supper.  The way he angles the table where Christ and His apostles sit is very different from Renaissance contemporary, Leonardo DaVinci, who made his painting of the Last Supper very symmetrical.

 

II. El Greco

The Greek, Mannerism artist and sculptor, Doménikos Theotokópoulos, more commonly known as, “El Greco”, which simply translates to “The Greek” definitely had a more unique style of painting.  He elongated and stretched his human depictions, as a way to show spiritual suffering.  This is depicted in his painting called “Christ On the Cross Adored by Two Donors”,  you can see that Christ’s body is clearly stretched than a normal body would be, showing that he is in a state of spiritual anguish.

 

III. Peter Paul Rubens

Peter Paul Rubens was a Flemish Dutch and an amazing artist during the Baroque movement.  He painted over 1400 paintings.  His unique painting ability was making his images like moments frozen in time and making it look like his figures were alive and moving.  This painting style is depicted in his painting titled, Consequences of War.

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Peter Paul Rubens added a sense of drama and realism to his painted characters.
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Peter Paul Rubens

IV. Carravaggio

Michelangelo Carravaggio, an Italian painter, was a famous and well-known painter of the Baroque movement.  One of his talents that I personally admire, was making his paintings look more dramatic through the use of lighting.  His rendering of the The Calling of Saint Matthew really showcased this style and talent.

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Carravaggio’s use of lighting in this painting just adds more of a dramatic feel and makes the painting look alive.
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Michelangelo Carravaggio

V.  Conclusion

Sometimes, we forget that history is more than just kings, wars and kingdoms.  History shows us the progression and development of a lot of things, including art, music and cultures.  These four examples of art and the changes it went through since the Renaissance are proof of that.

Quinn Palmer

RPC Student

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Three Mercantilist Theories

Mercantilism was a failed economic theory created and used during the 17th-19th centuries.  It failed because it was created by selfish merchants and traders who wanted more money and power for themselves.  There were many fallacies in their arguments but its main reason for failure was probably just because it was not a well thought-out idea.  I will share its main ideas in these three observations: mercantilism is the opposite of a free market, that government was nepotistic towards certain groups or businesses, and the encouragement of exporting but not importing for the sake of treasure.

Opposite of the free-market

The focus of a free-market society is to satisfy the needs and wants of individuals; it responds to the market demands of the people.  In contrast, mercantilism’s fundamental aim was to meet the needs and wants of the government.  This then created a government that was highly motivated to control the market to its own benefit.  It would have so much control, in fact, that it dictated what, to who, and where anything could be sold.  Chi-Yuen Wen described the view of the mercantilists this way:

“…the interests of the state were, in their eyes, by no means necessarily in harmony with the activities of the individual. According to them, wages, interest, industry, and trade should be regulated so as to benefit the State.” (Mercantilism vs. Free Trade: The Early Years)

Unfortunately, many companies and trading establishments readily agreed that the state should have total control. They had all been convinced by the mercantilist literature and saw this as their opportunity to ask for special privileges and power from the government.  Businesses wanted mercantilist rule so that they could be one of the few to be chosen as an agency to sell their item.  If it is not obvious, this blurring of the lines between government and the market can only lead to corruption.

Nepotism

The easiest way to define mercantilism is as the improving of specific groups at the cost of others welfare.  According to Murray Rothbard,

“…their aim was to confer special privilege and subsidy on favored groups; since subsidy and privilege can only be conferred by government at the expense of the remainder of its citizens, the fact that the bulk of the consumers lost in the process should occasion little surprise.” (Mercantilism: A Lesson for Our Times?)

A The aim of a nepotistic economy is to eliminate the need for a consumer-seller relationship and set up government control of all control of trading in its place.  In reality, the only real beneficiaries of a mercantilist society would be those in the government and any of its favored groups.

One of these privileged companies was the East India Trading Company (EIT).  Many English textile traders lost their businesses and jobs to the EIT because it was the only company allowed by the government to sell Indian textiles and cloth—hot items that everybody wanted.  Nepotism destroyed the livelihood of ‘unconnected’ traders, and improved only those connected to the government’s favored one.

Exports? Yes!  Imports? No!

Mercantilists had a flawed understanding of trade.  They loved exporting but were very reluctant to purchase foreign goods.  This short-sighted tenet of their theory was one created out of pure greed.  They wanted to hold on to their ‘treasures’—the gold and silver brought in from selling their commodities to others—and the more they exported the more gold they could pile up and hoard (and just look at)!  While saving is usually wise, they took this to an extreme and did not want to spend any of their ‘treasure’ on imports.

Mercantilists did not view their treasures as money, and therefore not practical for purchases.  Instead, in their mind, gold and silver was simply meant to be accumulated; it satisfied their greed and the pride that came with being wealthy.  Of all the points so far, the discouragement of imports in order to save their treasure seems to reveal the true motives and designs behind their market creation.  They wanted to get rich without at the expense of their fellowmen.  What they did not consider was that, in a crisis or famine, you cannot eat gold or silver and if you suddenly need goods and foods you cannot produce, well, you might just die before any ships willingly sail in to your port.  This shows how unthought-out mercantilism was when created by short-sighted merchants.

Conclusion

The three aspects I explained relating to mercantilism were about how it was fundamentally different from the free-market, how it encouraged nepotism within the government, and how gold and silver were seen as collectibles, and not as means to purchasing wanted or necessary goods.

Mercantilism was a failure.  Its proponents created for themselves a very unstable way to run a government and an economy.  However, it is good to review history and see which ideas worked and which of them did not, that way we can learn and improve our current economic and government situations. Nonetheless, in my opinion, mercantilism is clearly not the model to follow.

Reasons Why the Edict of Nantes was Revoked

On October 22, 1685, catholic King Louis XIV of France revoked the Edict of Nantes to begin his conquest of bringing France under the one religion of catholicism and eliminating the Huguenots, a nickname given to French Protestants.  Now, Louis XIV was taking promised rights away from the Huguenots by withdrawing the Edict, and declaring to have reasons of justification for revoking their promised protection.  He claimed that there was not a big Huguenot influence, that the Edict of Nantes was not even valid and finally, he revoked the Edict of Nantes because there were no Huguenots left in France.

Not as Much Influence

The Protestant reformation started in 1517 and was a time of upheaval and disruption all over Europe.  This reformation even started a war!  Many nobles, like King Henry IV converted to Protestantism and gave the push necessary to obtain peace and freedom for all Huguenots.

However, into the 17th Century, Protestantism started losing momentum and fading into the background of state priorities.  In fact, the whole concept of religion itself was becoming less important to the government and the citizens.  State control through economy and government was becoming more popular.  This settling of religion conveyed the message to King Louis that nobody would care if he repealed the Edict of Nantes.  Louis XIV thought this, of course, only to benefit his own actions and plans for France.

No Application

To the catholic Louis XIV, not only did it seem that nobody would care if he nullified the Edict of Nantes, he believed that it no longer had any application to 17th Century France.  Since 17th Century France was different than the 16th Century version, it was no longer applicable.

Since Louis XIV believed the Edict of Nantes was no longer valid before even revoking it, he made normal life normal life for Huguenots very hard.  Louis XIV enforced many restrictions and laws on the Huguenots.  For example, Huguenots of both high and low standard were forced to house French soldiers that would harass the women, and force other members of the family to do chores, and many ridiculing, hurtful acts like holding holding hot coals in their bare hands.  Many Huguenots decided not to put up with the trouble and pain Louis was forcing upon them, so they left to other countries.   These migrations were exactly what Louis XIV wanted.  He was getting closer to creating a uniform society where there was only one religion and one ruler.

No Huguenots Left

By 1685, the year the Edict of Nantes was revoked, thousands of Huguenots had already fled from France.  Fleeing to places like England, Germany and the Netherlands.

Because almost all the Huguenots were gone,  Louis XIV justified revoking the Edict by claiming that because there were so few Protestants left, they had no need for the Edict of Nantes at all anymore.  With the Edict gone, nothing was stopping the French soldiers and people from persecuting and doing whatever they pleased to the remaining Huguenots.  Protestant worship was forbidden, and Catholicism became the state religion.

Conclusion

Louis XIV wanted so much power and uniformity, that he expelled hundreds of thousands of good and innocent people just because of their religion and differences.  My opinion is that no matter what Louis’ reasons were, they were not good enough to justify revoking the Edict of Nantes for power.  If anything, the Huguenots were better off anyway!  The Huguenots were welcomed into their homes in different countries where they were accepted and flourished.  Their new lives were better, and the economies of their surrogate countries thrived, while France became more unstable, both in an economic and government aspect after the loss of the Huguenots.  In a way, Louis XIV did them a favor.

Thomas Hobbes’ main arguments on absolutism

Thomas Hobbes was a 17th Century philosopher who is famous for his work on absolutist governments and what life would be like if the powers of government were run in an absolutist fashion.  He captured his main theories and arguments in his book Leviathan.  I read a small excerpt, chapters 13-14, from this book and, combined with my RPC course lectures, found he had three main arguments on absolutism.  Hobbes’ worldview was extreme.  He argued that, in a state of nature, everyone is the potential murderer of everyone else, that societies would be in constant war if it were not for governments, and that the only real solution to attain peace is for people to give up their rights to one sovereign ruler.

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The Basics of Constitutionalism

I recently learned about constitutionalism as an important feature in the fabric of Western Civilization.  I had heard of the US Constitution as a document, but I now realize I was mostly ignorant of the underlying principles and historical basis that influenced the Founding Fathers. Tom Woods helped me understand that any “fundamental power that limits government powers” (RPC lecture no. 33) is the essence of constitutionalism. Continue reading “The Basics of Constitutionalism”

The biggest economic decline of the 17th Century

Since starting my RPC course on Western Civilization history, I have learned about things in European history that I didn’t even know happened and events that were incredibly devastating.  The French Wars of Religion and Oliver Cromwell’s tyrannical rule are just a few examples.  However, one event stands out and that is the economic decline of Spain in the 1600’s.

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John Locke: Owning property to keep government in it’s place

Government has no other end, but the preservation of property. — John Locke

I think this quote means that government has no other purpose but to help it’s citizens acquire property and to protect them from anybody that might try to take it from them.

Wow.  If you’ve ever followed politics, this is definitely not the focus of our government today!  Imagine someone advocating this on Fox News or radio talk show.  They’d cut him right off.  Who is this Locke dude?  Before learning about him this week I did not know anything about him.  I want to share with you why I instantly admired his views and his life’s work.  In particular, I am intrigued by his thoughts on private property

Continue reading “John Locke: Owning property to keep government in it’s place”

Oliver Cromwell’s Rule: Unpleasant for Everyone

While I was learning about Oliver Cromwell this week, I not only thought about what it was that he did, but I also thought about what it was like for all the people under his rule.  What was life like for them?

Continue reading “Oliver Cromwell’s Rule: Unpleasant for Everyone”

The First Libertarians

This week in my Western Civilization course on the Ron Paul Curriculum, I learned about the Levellers, the first organized Libertarian society.  Now, I will answer this question from my instructor: Dr. Tom Woods.

Who were the Levellers, and what did they believe in?”

Continue reading “The First Libertarians”