Western Civilization Essay

1433 Words Oct 28th, 2012 6 Pages
Western Civilization: Beginnings to Present Although Western culture has been defined by both Christian and secular values across the course of time, the West’s primary goal is to achieve economic supremacy, using Christian and secular philosophies, as well as colonization and technological innovation as means to achieve this goal. Of the features that define western culture, the most unique is democracy. Originating in ancient Athens, democracy created a sense of pride in one’s government which, in later centuries, would evolve into nationalism. In Athens, democracy allowed the people to have a say in their government, furthering the unification of their empire and thus strengthening it. Out of this democratic world came many of the …show more content…
This however ended as Emperor Constantine adopted Christianity in the fourth century A.D. As emperor Constantine saw that it would be more beneficial to stop persecuting the Christians and accept them to avoid another civil war, he became a Christian. This was only the start as Christianity spread throughout the European continent and Emperor Theodosius established it as the official religion of Rome in 380. This proved especially beneficial for the empire as it allowed Rome to be governed during its greatest extent. When Rome official fell in 476 to the barbaric tribes of the Germanic region, Christianity was the uniting factor as the chaos of local groups sought to hold power. Out of this developed a complex feudal system comprised of lords, vassals, and serfs along with the power and wealth of the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church demanded enormous amounts of money from the people as they sought redemption in times stricken with the Black Death and famine thus allowing the monasteries to emerge as the source of riches and the Church as the largest landholder in all of Europe. As the Church’s power grew towards the first millennia, and had sucked the wealth from nearly all of its local citizens, they desired to find the holy land. Despite the first commandment of “thou shall not murder” and the Christian idea of “turn the other cheek,” the Crusades were some of the bloodiest battles in European history. These crusades, although against Christian