chapter
Part III
Pages 5

The transition from the Late Medieval to the Early Modern era in Europe is marked by three events, none of which is directly related to intercommunity relations, let alone to war and peace. The Protestant Reformation initiated by Martin Luther, Jean Calvin and Huldrich Zwingli (since 1517), the ‘discovery’ of America by Christopher Columbus and his successors (since 1492) and the publication of Copernicus’ book De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (1543) all mark the accelerated transformation which took place in European societies around 1500. Though none of these three events was a revolution in the modern sense of the word, each brought about fundamental and far-reaching changes in people’s value systems which in turn influenced European foreign and domestic politics as well as European society as a whole. While Copernicus’ work challenged the prevailing views on the relationship between the earth and the universe, which were hitherto firmly grounded in the Christian dogma of the earth as the centre of every moving thing in the sky, the ‘discovery’ of America questioned the role of Europe as the centre of the earth, and, with the coming of the Reformation, even the relationship between men and God was suddenly at stake. Points of reference which had so far been fixed and reliable all at once started to move, and quite naturally the inner structure of the body politic as well as its relations with other entities also began to alter.