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BHIC-106: Rise of the Modern West – I

BHIC-106: Rise of the Modern West – I

IGNOU Solved Assignment Solution for 2022-23

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Assignment Code: BHIC-106/ASST/TMA/2022-23

Course Code: BHIC-106

Assignment Name: Rise of Modern West-1

Year: 2022-2023

Verification Status: Verified by Professor


There are three Sections in the Assignment. You have to answer all questions in the Sections.



Answer the following in about 500 words each. 20x2


Q1) Discuss Takahashi and Rodney Hilton’s views on the debate on transition from feudalism to capitalism.

Ans) Kohachiro Takahashi, a Marxist economist historian, insisted in the beginning that the discussion be expanded beyond the English situation to take into account the experience of feudalism in Continental Europe. Takahashi disagreed with Sweezy's interpretation of feudalism as an isolated, closed economic system that produced primarily for consumption and not for trade. Different production methods, including feudalism, were used to manufacture and distribute commodities. Understanding the production process is crucial. Takahashi thus firmly backed Dobb's contention that rather than an external force like trade, the demise of feudalism was caused by internal causes like class conflict.


Takahashi, however, argues that Dobb's description of feudalism was flawed because it began with the abstractions of feudal landed property and serfdom. Rodney Hilton disagreed with Sweezy's assertion and contended that the demise of feudalism was not caused by international trade. Sweezy's perspective was founded on the infamous Pirenne thesis. Famous mediaeval historian from Belgium, Henri Pirenne. He asserted that the economic downturn in the West did not correlate with the collapse of the Western Roman Empire but rather with the Mediterranean's closing as a result of Muslim rule over the region's eastern shore in the seventh century. On the other hand, the reopening of the Mediterranean during the Crusades of the eleventh century marked the beginning of Western Europe's economic recovery.


Like Dobb, Hilton agreed that internal class conflict had a role in the fall of feudalism. It was the primary factor in the decline of feudalism, which was a result of the expansion of the productive forces. The feudal system of production saw periods of prosperity and periods of decline as a result of the dynamic element of class conflict between the overlords and the peasants. While attempting to maximise their rental income, the nobility and princes also participated in political rivalry. The ensuing search for higher rent first encouraged technological advancement, the growth of towns and commerce, and productivity gains, only to subsequently contribute to the decline of feudalism. Hilton emphasised how the forces of production expanded when feudalism reached its pinnacle of development.


Rent disputes become more intense in the fourteenth century. Declining rent revenue is only partially countered by increases in governmental taxation, violence, and looting. Landlords who relied on feudal rent as a source of revenue turned to the state for support as it no longer served as a motivator for production. Both the quantity of tenants made to work on their lord's estate and the cost of rent decreased. In general, landlords' legal rights over tenants declined. The manor's rich and poor were stratified in part by money rent. A land market was established by land sales and purchases. Estates of wealthy manor peasants increased at the expense of everyone else. More farmers accepted wage jobs. In a market-driven, capitalist economy, wealthy peasants and lower nobility were the most productive producers. Peasant social differentiation and Hilton's vivid analysis of the role of class conflict in the rise and fall of feudalism were the main topics of discussion. Merrington's ideas served as a potent reminder of the significance of class conflict and the internal consistency of feudalism's demise.


Q2) Comment on the nature of trade and exchange in the sixteenth century.

Ans) In the 1600s, European trade changed dramatically. With Ottoman authority developing in the East, Italian businessmen faced challenges in the Eastern Mediterranean. The dominance of Italian merchant-bankers in Asiatic commodity trade, such as spices and cotton, became too suffocating for other merchant communities. The trips and considerable investment in their success show Italy's attempt to break away from its dominance in the eastern trade.


Italian City States

There were two distinct phases in the 16th century when the economies of the Italian states developed:

  1. The first half of the sixteenth century, which was characterised by political strife and war, saw a progressive fall in production capabilities in significant industries like textiles as well as in the overall volume of trade, particularly on the peninsula.

  2. Although there was some recovery in the second half of the century, it was not at the levels of the first. This was primarily due to the fact that goods like silk, which were once monopolised and supplied only by the Italians, had spread to other parts of the continent. The items were no longer exclusively supplied by Italian merchants.


During the sixteenth century, the types of goods that passed through the ports and along the routes of the peninsula did not change signiûcantly; however, what changed were the quantities. In the Mediterranean basin, there was a trade in local products as food products cereals, wine and oil and other commodities which included sea salt from the islands, sugar, raw wool, cotton, alum, dyes, and leather hides. In addition, there was iron, as well as manufactured goods such as textiles from Tuscany and Lombardy, Lombard armaments, books, Venetian glass, and paper.


Sixteenth century Italy thus saw many changes that affected practically every sector of economic life. They brought about profound changes in the systems that had sustained the development of the economic and social life of previous centuries. The outcome was a changed equilibrium between the different regions. Some, such as those of the central and northern areas, appeared to regress, at least in comparison with other strong European areas; others managed to find room for great development, as in the case of Genoa, and Venice continued to play an important role, whereas regions in south suffered greatly on account of the wars and conflicts in the eastern Mediterranean on account of rising Ottoman power.



The beginning of the sixteenth century saw the Portuguese traders involving themselves primarily in the trade of Africa and Asia. Great ships were assembled with armed retinues to ensure dominance and encroach over the ancient routes across west and north Africa, which supplied important commodities as bullions, primarily gold. The Portuguese organized the expeditions to the East on an annual basis. At the start of the century, the ships left with cargoes of minerals and metals, including copper, cinnabar, coral, lead, and above all silver and coins.



Spanish investment in Americas was more intensive and consuming than the Portuguese. Unlike the Portuguese, who only desired to create a structure of transference of produce from East to Europe and did not really invest heavily in its possessions in Americas, the Spaniards, undertook long and acrimonious campaigns of conflict and conquest over the indigenous cultures. The result was the Spanish empire which covered most of the explored new world, south of equator. The organization of the inûux of precious metals to Seville certainly left the greatest mark on the sixteenth century, but during that period, colonial policies were developed and pursued that exclusively affected relations between America and Spain; they were later to have consequences for the whole of Europe, reaching far beyond that century.




Answer the following questions in about 250 words each. 10x3


Q1) How do you understand the rural base for the commercial revolution?

Ans) In the realm of trade, commerce, and related institutional developments, the entire infrastructure development of what became known as the "commercial revolution" took place against the backdrop of swift changes in the agrarian economy. The introduction of the three-cropping system, new implements and tools for farming, the building of dikes to reclaim land from the sea in the north, the draining of marshes in England and France, along with the introduction of new crops from the New World, completely changed how agriculture was organised and carried out in different parts of Europe.


The feudal system broke down as a result of internal rifts brought on by the demographic changes of the 14th century, which were principally brought on by widespread depopulation brought on by the plague and other diseases as well as by ongoing conflicts and misery and deaths brought on by them. Through a significant portion of the 14th century, these actions and occurrences caused agrarian areas and marketplaces for agriculturally related goods to contract. Various regions of Europe did not experience a new population surge until the end of the 15th century. Due to the increased need, this increase in population put strain on the land.


A lot of literature about agriculture started to appear. With the invention of the printing press, many of these were later printed and widely disseminated. Major works on agriculture and animal husbandry were written by Martin Grosser, Johann Coler, and Conrad Heresbach in Germany; Oliver de Serres and Jean Libault in France; Anthony Fitzherbert and Thomas Tusser in England. Cottage industries expanded quickly between the 14th to the middle of the 16th centuries, mainly in the countryside and away from cities and towns. The development of agriculture and the increased demand for textiles necessitated the use of new tools and energy sources. As a result, several began to diversify their businesses by making agricultural tools and textiles closer to the locations where raw materials were produced.


Q2) Discuss the link between science and the Renaissance.

Ans) There are undeniable parallels between science and the Renaissance. Extremely significant concepts on the nature of the physical cosmos were developed as a result of astronomical research. These concepts were interpreted as direct challenges to the current scholastic and religious cosmos-theory. The heavenly bodies had only been seen by mediaeval theologians in the context of their rigorous vision of the cosmos. According to Ptolemy, the earth is at the centre of the universe. Ptolemy's framework. Theological reasoning and biblical scriptures were regarded as the ultimate sources of truth. As scientific curiosity rose in the 15th century, a Polish astronomer proved that the earth and planets orbit the sun. Christopher Copernicus He developed the heliocentric theory, which described the earth as a sphere that rotated once every 24 hours around the sun and its own axis. The Ptolemaic viewpoint caused this theory to be long disproved.


Galileo Galilei, who was in charge of the development of astronomy afterward, studied this work. He questioned the Aristotelian view of the universe and was heavily inspired by Platonic notions. Galileo was able to create a brand-new vision of the cosmos, in large part because he observed the stars via the telescope, the greatest invention of his day. His research threw new light on the solar system by highlighting the moons of Jupiter, the rings of Saturn, and the fact that the earth was just like any other planet. The church did not accept these viewpoints. He became well-known for his work in Italian Dialogue in the two main global systems, but the church tried him for heresy. The development of empiricism as a result of the scientific revolution was crucial to humanism. This approach called for gathering information through data collection, experimentation, and observation in order to create general laws.


Q3) Comment on the rise of the print culture and Reformation.

Ans) While research on the Renaissance frequently ignores the influence of print culture, in the case of the Reformation it is hardly possible to do so. The Reformation was the first religious movement to utilise the printing press, as Geoffroy Atkinson notes. Then, we truly witness a movement that was influenced by press forces from the start. In actuality, the printing press was crucial in starting the Reformation. The Reformation was the first movement to use the press as a mass medium to mobilise public support for its cause, it can be further argued. Printing, according to Luther, was "God's highest and most extreme work of grace, whereby the business of the Gospel is pressed forward."


The extensive notoriety they gained was made possible by the German translation, printing, and dissemination of the theses. It would not be feasible to comprehend how a message intended for a small group of academics might gain such enormous popularity unless we take a closer look at these processes. This implies that we must carefully examine the individual and collective actions of the printers, translators, proof-readers, and distributors in order to understand how three distinct editions of the theses were printed and distributed in three different German towns almost simultaneously. By no means was there a certain class of individuals who harboured a strong dislike of clericalism. In fact, it crossed class boundaries and expressed itself among upper-class, middle-class, and bourgeois segments of society. As Hexter notes, new polarities, such as lay-clerical, secular-religious, or church-state, formed that crossed status and class boundaries.




Answer the following questions in about 100 words each. 6x5


Q1) Maritime Insurance

Ans) Brokers and merchants oversaw the development of maritime insurance as a commercial practise to protect against the risks of oceanic trade. By 1504, the business of offering insurance had grown to the point that it was supported by over 600 persons in the city of Antwerp alone. Over the years, many types of insurance have been developed to protect against losses to goods caused by war, conflicts, and highway looting as well as losses caused by fire in storage facilities among other facilities.


In Italian cities like Pisa and Genoa, some of the first written insurance contracts date all the way back to the 1340s. Italian markets were the first in Europe to learn about and use insurance contracts. The practise started to spread throughout England, France, and the Netherlands during the 16th century. The laws governing insurance were initially applied globally to marine insurance and were derived from Italian businessmen known as "Law Merchants." In the event of a dispute, the policy writer, and the policy holder both select one arbitrator, and these two arbitrators select a third impartial arbitrator. The parties are obligated to accept the majority judgement.


Q2) The ‘Great Discoveries’ of the late fifteenth century

Ans) The "Great Discoveries" of the late fifteenth century were a result of European colonialism and exploration; Spain and Portugal's victories marked a significant turning point in human history. The three main oceans bordered European exploration, expansion, colonialism, and possessions. Braudel claims that the conquest of the high seas gave Europe long-lasting world dominance. For Portugal, colonies included the Cape Verde, Madeira, and Azores atolls, the Brazilian coast, fortified communities in East and West Africa, stretches of coastline in Africa like Angola and Mozambique, outposts in the Indian Ocean like Ormuz, Goa, Calicut, and Colombo, and outposts in the East in Macao, Malacca, Java, the Celebes, and the Moluccas. The Canaries, West Indian Islands, all of Central America, some of South America, and the Philippines were among Spain's more condensed territories.


Q3) Maurice Dobb on the transition from feudalism to capitalism

Ans) The subject of switching from one form of production to another has been a major topic of the publications on the European economy that have been tried. Thus, the study of the "transition from feudalism to capitalism" has been the early modern period's major focus. Studies focused on the issue have been built on Maurice Dobb's concept of transition, and much debate has taken place over its causes and contributing aspects. Although "feudalism" and "capitalism," the two fundamental poles, remained firmly established inside the Marxist framework.


Similarly, Robert Brenner criticised what he saw as a sort of demographic determinism utilised by "Neo-Malthusian" historians to explain the developments and transformations in pre-industrial agrarian societies in his analysis of agrarian class structure and economic developments in pre-industrial Europe. Scholars like M. M. Postan, John Hatcher, and Emanuel Le Roy Ladurie responded angrily to this. Scholars like Guy Bois, Patricia Croot, David Parker, T. H. Aston, and many more have actively participated in the discussion over the years as its form and breadth have grown and extended. 


Q4) The demographic trends in the sixteenth century

Ans) By the sixteenth century, different facets of the age's economic and social life began to show the population rebound, not only in the records of the churches and parishes but also in other areas. There was a clear drive toward the development of the "megapolis" of the later period, even while the geographical division, in terms of the rural or urban bases of the scattered people, followed patterns similar to those of the previous century. With the advent of Palermo, Rome, London, and Lisbon by the turn of the century, there were around eight cities. Similar to this, there are now thirteen middle-sized cities, up from seven, with a population of about 50,000. Overall, the percentage of the people living in urban areas increased significantly, rising from 5.6% at the start of the 16th century to around 7.6% by the end. A portion of the influence of the preceding period's poor agrarian growth and food scarcity on population trends was lessened by improvements in diet and the inflow of food commodities from the New World.


Q5) Features of Western Absolutism

Ans) The older feudal social forms were distinct from the centralised monarchy of France, England, and Spain. The characteristics of these absolutist states have been the subject of ongoing discussion. The gradual abolition of serfdom, the waning of the vassalage system, the abolition of the necessity to pay feudal taxes to the overlords, and the rise of the mercantile bourgeoisie that had emerged in the mediaeval towns all reduced the class power of the feudal lords. A militarised Absolutist State was created in its place, with a centralised system of political and legal repression.


The new monarch was given new and exceptional powers. This strengthened the royal power structure that was used to suppress the peasant masses at the bottom of the social scale. These new absolute states were weapons designed for conflict. They were innovators of the professional army, which was made up of both local recruits and foreign mercenaries who were very important. The kingdoms of Western Europe had made enormous strides by 1560 in the areas of territorial unity, administrative centralization, and growth of royal power, which caused them to change from feudal monarchies into independent territorial states. Because of their unique approaches to government, they were referred to as the New Monarchies.

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