His very difficult indeed to fix a date or a period as a dividing line; between medieval and modern times.
We can justify this by quoting Trevelyan who points out, “It is indeed useless to look for any date or even for any period, when the Middle Age ‘ended’ in England All that one can say is that in the thirteenth century English thought and society were medieval and in the nineteenth century they were not yet even now we retain the medieval institutions of the monarchy, the peerage, the commons in parliament assembled, the English common law, the courts of justice, interpreting the rule of law, the hierarchy of the established church, the Parish system, the universities the public schools and grammar schools. And unless we become a totalitarian state and forget all our English
History, there will always be something medieval in our ways thinking, especially in our idea that people and corporations have rights and liberties which the state ought in some degree, to respect in spite of the legal omni competence of parliament. Conservation and liberation in the broadest sense are both medieval in origin and so are the trade unions.
The men who established our civic liberties in the seventeenth century, appealed to medieval precedents against the modernizing monarchy of the starts. Our pattern of history is indeed a tangled, web No single diagram will explain its infinite complications”.
However, there is no doubt that towards the end of the fifteenth century and at her outset of the sixteenth century a completely new era was a sharing in Europe and in England.
The new society that emerged or was emerging was different from the society existed before this revolution which bought into being the new society. That is why the period of Henery VII is said to be the dividing line between the medieval and modern times.
The reign of Henry VII separated his times from the middle Ages. That is why the date of Henry’s accession 1458 is taken as the date of the end of middle ages and the beginning of the modern times.
The differences between the modern society and the medieval society were specially marked in the following fields:
1. Political Differences,
2. Religious Differences,
3. Social Differences.
4. Intellectual Difference.
These four fields showed marked differences between the two societies stated above. The changes in this four fields separated the existing society from the modern society. We can study these changes in the following categories:
(a) Political changes
(b) Religious change
(c) Social changes (d) Intellectual changes.
(a) Political Changes:
Feudalism was the cardinal principle of the middle Ages. This cult came to an end in Henery VII’s time. After the drought and farmer revolt, the land holders and labourers were further encouraged to pust forward their demands for more rights and privileges! They refused to lead a life of serfdom as in the feudal ages.
Then they had to work for long hours for a paltry payment as wages. In Henery’s time villains were put to an and end they became free throughout the country.
When the age of slaves began, big barons and feudal Lords participated in the wars from both sides. The result was that in the battles many feudal Lords were killed- In short, the death of feudal Lords and the end of villainies brought about the end of feudalism.
This was the age of Henery VII. From now onwards we do not hear of feudalism in the history of England. Whatever remnants or vestiges of feudalism had remained, they were wiped out of existence by Henery VII with a heavy hand.
Henry encouraged the birth of a new order which consisted of the middle class people like Iawers, soldiers and others. To eradicate the power of feudal barons, Henery VII set up a court of Star Chamber. In addition Livery and Maintenance and other.
Acts were also passed.
Another change in Henry VII’s time was the beginning of Tudor despotism, under this system nobody had the right to object to any work of action of the king besides, the concept of ‘nation, state’ and military state also received a fillip at this time.
On the continent. Such national states were -established as in France and Spain. In the same way, England also came to have a national state. The invention of gun-powder enabled the king to put an end the feudal lord’s mare effectively.
Thus Henery VII became the national king of all England. He was no more the overlord of a few. Feudal Lords. The clergy was losing in power and the dominance of the clergy was giving way to the national state.
Yet another change made the task of Henery VII easier. It was that he could accumulate a lot of wealth for the execution of his schemes and projects. He took recourse to such ways and means of raising money that the Parliament could not object to it.
This practice was followed by his son, Henery VII. Where as Henery VII imposed heavy fines on the feudal Lords, Henery VIII sucked the wealth of the Churches. There was no popular reaction against such action of the king.
The reason was that the public had no sympathy for either the feudal Lords or the clergy. On the other hand and the clergy and the feudal barons could not offer any powerful resistance to the kings designs because they had no strength left against the powerful king.
Still another measure adopted was reduction of the power of Parliament which was dominated by feudal Lords. King took care to see that Parliament was deprived of its legal rights but at the same time did not encourage Parliament.
In the words of Ram say Muir. Parliament with a depleted House, of Lords, and a House of Commons………. Sank into the background and no longer dreamt of exercising the supremacy which it had formerly wielded-a supremacy which had been cover for anarchy.”
(b) Religious Changes:
Religious changes in the Tudor period are also known as Reformation. In the middle ages, Pope and clergyman held all the power and the people followed them blindly.
That was an age of illeteracy. That was the reason why people followed the people and the clergy on their beckonings. However, a revolution was brought about with the advent of Greek and Latin Languages.
The new learning proved conducive to developing the critical faculty of human beings. The result was that now people mastered up courage to criticise the words and deeds of the Pope and his agents. These people inspired by the new learning, raised their voice against useless traditions, meaningless customs and degrading situations.
So far the people did not know the reality of religion. They accepted with all good faith what the Pope told them. However, with the advent of the printing press, the Bible was now printed in book from in various languages, and this served as an eye-opner for the people.
They felt that they were going on a wrong path. For reason people started a movement for religious reforms the christened it ‘Reformation’. The result of the reformation movement was that throughout the country foundation of the national religion was laid. It was because of this influence that Henry VIII put an end to the papal power from England by encouraging Reformation in his country.
It was during the Tudor Period that England was divided between the Catholics and the Protestants. The intellectual revolution had radically changed the ideas and broaded mental horizons of the people. If the Protestants got emancipation the Catholics got new enthusiasm and religious morality.
(c) Social Changes:
In the time of Henery VII heart and mind of the people underwent a revolutionary change. People studied Greek and Latin literature and developed scientific outlook. This raised mental stature of the people. The greatest outcome was that instead of blind faith and blind followings, people developed critical faculty for assessing and advising.
They rang the death-knell of superstitions, pomp and the concomitant evils. People became brave and labourious and they came to develop the ideas of appreciating the beauty and romanticism of this world.
Travels unfolded new areas and climes. People undertook long voyages and travels to distant countries. Columbus discovered America and Vascodagama found out sea-route to India.
This was done during the reign of Henery VII Distant countries in the world were explored and searched. Henery encouraged John Cabot and Sebastion Cabot to undertake long voyages. Sebastion Cabot discovered Newfoundland.
In the Middle Ages particularly all power was concentrated in the feudal lords and barons. But in the time of Henery VII a new middle class emerged and became powerful.
They were entrusted with responsibility and were placed in high positions. The middle class comprised lawyers, knights, Church fathers and others. The Tudor family picked out many ministers and advisers from the middle class. These included Empson and Dudley. Poynings and Thomas wast Wolsey, Cromwell and others.
The situation in the country had now improved. Nobles, people and the clergy were treated as equals before the eyes of law and the state. The court of Star Chamber put an end to the arbitrary and irrational activities of the feudal nobles.
The trade of the country was taken out of the hands of trading companies and societies and made state monopoly. The commoners were now given share in the governance of the country by the Tudors; and beginning was made by Henery VII.
The country gentlemen were appointed Justices of peace to maintain law and order. Thus in the social sphere also, modern England is widely different from medieval England.
(d) Intellectual Changes:
London was hit by what is known as the intellectual revolution or renaissance in the time of Henery VII. These intellectual or educational changes also separated the medieval and modern England. In thirteenth and fourteenth centuries Constantinople was the centre of Greek and Latin learning. In 1453 Constantinople passed under the Turks.
The Turks murdered all educated and cultured people that they could lay their hands on. The remainder rushed off to Italy with their books and bundle of learning as such In Italy they started the propagation of Greek and Latin learning. They acquainted the people of Italy with the ancient culture and civilization of Rome. Thus the learning of these languages restored.
Henery VII sent many scholars to Italy to learn these languages. On their return, these scholars started teaching Greek and Latin in the Oxford and Cambridge Universities.
Even the mother of Henry VII opened many schools for this new learning. The famous scholars of the new learning in Henerys time were Thomas in Henery’s time were Thomas more, William Celling, Gorocyn and others.
During this period methods of manufacturing paper and printing press was invented. This boosted the work of publication of books and in no time all the corners of the country were flooding with the books of new learning and education.
This is how new learning received a fillip. It was this time when Arab numerals were invented. This escalated the progress of science and arts.
Those who were responsible for giving motion to this refreshing wave were the members of the famous galaxy of scholars Shakespeare, Marlowe and Spenser. These scholars lent velocity to the progress of modern science, philosophy, art and their critical study.
Thus by the study of the foregoing lines, it becomes clear that in the time of Henery VII the middle ages were ending and modern age was beginning. The study of Greek and Latin languages had restarted. Feudalism and Manorial system were breathing their last and in their place there cropped up national states in all European countries.
The new age was gaining in strength and power and every walk of life was being influenced by new discoveries and inventions like the printing press, the gun-powder and the Arabic numerals. Some of the thinkers are however of the view that reign of Henery VII was not the beginning of modern age and what at the most can be said is that during this period only such tendencies gained momentum which contributed towards modernism. On the whole, it is however safe to conclude that during this period past bade farewell and a new era of modernism ushered.