In the West, Russia of the XVI century is represented by a “barbaric state” filled with mass executions, the elimination of political opponents, oppression of the people and other unattractive phenomena. Ivan the Terrible in these descriptions looks like a kind of monster, practically equal to the mythical Dracula.
However, if you look at Western Europe around the same period, you will notice that History Russia, in comparison with the pages of the history of Western European states, in the field of the morals of the rulers, the life of the nobility and the common people, is almost a model of humanity and Christian values.
The dark side of the era of "Renaissance"
When people talk about the Renaissance or the Renaissance (from the French. Renaissance, Italian. Rinascimento; from “ri” - “again” or “reborn”), they usually recall the flourishing of European culture, brilliant thinkers, scientists, artists, the era of Great geographical discoveries. But somehow, they leave aside that this was also the era of the most bloody wars, conspiracies, intrigues, insidious murders, mass terror against political and religious opponents. We must not forget that it was at this time in Europe that a moral breakdown occurred, when the craving for sensual pleasures became higher than chastity.
The epicenter of the "Renaissance" was Italy. At that time, there was no single Italian state and single Italian nation. The peninsula was divided into a number of state entities. Italian cities benefited from the crusades, the decline and destruction of the Byzantine Empire. While the French, German, English, and other warriors were dying in a foreign land, most of their mining flowed into the hands of enterprising Venetian, Genoese, and Florentine merchants and usurers. They provided transportation of troops, their supply by sea, receiving big profits. At the same time, the Italian (conditional name, since there was no single Italian people at that time) the merchant class took control of a large part of the trade in the Mediterranean. Monopolizing the supply of silk and spices from the East to Europe. These were not only the goods of delight, but a direct necessity. Silk saved the rich from parasites - lice, and spices were needed for processing meat. Goods were expensive and Italian merchants made super profits.
The money went to a "beautiful life." The nobility were often related to the banking clans, considered Ancient Rome to be a role model. Wealth went to the construction of luxurious palaces, decorated with exquisite statues, bas-reliefs, paintings. This allowed talented artists, architects, sculptures, and artists to express themselves. Venus began to displace the icon of the Mother of God, the nymph and satire - the apostles and saints. Even the icons began to write in a new fashion, approaching the "ancient" standards. Saints, often undressed, wrote from pretty models and models, from customers, noble and wealthy ladies and gentlemen.
In fact, there was a “revival” not of ancient Rome, but of the worst features of the late Roman empire, the era of decline and decay. In certain circles, “Greek love” - sodomy - came into vogue. Asceticism and visible chastity of the Middle Ages were rejected. Italy is overwhelmed by hedonism, when sensual pleasure is considered the highest goal and the greatest good of human life. The Decameron Boccaccio became more important than the Bible. Adultery was ridiculed. Sated rich sought for newness in perversions.
It would seem that the Catholic Church should have resisted such a serious attack on the souls of its parishioners. However, she herself was affected by the decomposition virus. The church was not only a spiritual, but also a secular institution, which possessed enormous wealth. This wealth was a serious prerequisite for decomposition. Popes and spiritual feudal lords were sovereign masters in their lands. The places of the legates, canons, abbots of the monasteries were considered primarily as sources of income. Posts were sold, given in the awards. Even young children of large secular feudal lords could become abbots and abbess. At that time, many feudal lords, thus, attached their children, since this promised many benefits. Spiritual feudal lords, as well as secular ones, hit upon luxury, excess, debauchery. The catholic elite was badly laid out.
Suffice to say, people became heads of the Catholic Church, who even with a stretch can hardly be called worthy representatives of the human race. So, in 1410 - 1415. Pope was a pirate, murderer and sodomite John XXIII (Balthazar Cossa). Pope Sixtus IV (Francesco della Rovere) - reigned from 1471 to 1484, noted as a bribe taker, killer and sodomite.
Among the rather significant number of criminals and perverts who occupied the post of Pope, apparently, Alexander VI (Rodrigo Bordja), who was the head of the church in 1492 - 1503, belongs to the first place. This Spanish nobleman came to Italy for his career, as his mother was the sister of Cardinal Alfonso Borgia, who became Pope Calixtus III. He cohabited with many women. He was beaten up as a cardinal, and then as a pope, without losing money on bribes (the pope's post could also be bought, like any other order in the church). Thus, the Venetian Cardinal Rodrigo bribed 5 thousand gold and provided his 12-year-old daughter for the night. Having received the desired post, Alexander VI began to glorify children. His son, Giovanni Borgia, received the title of Prince of Gandia and the Session, as well as the "Papal Standard-bearer and General of the Church Captain." Cesare Borgia title of Cardinal and Duke of Romagna and Valentinois. His daughter Lucretia became the personification of sexual promiscuity that prevailed in Rome. She was the mistress of her father - the Pope (!). In addition to sexual promiscuity, the Borgia family was renowned for using poisons to eliminate political opponents and unwanted individuals. It is clear that such a Catholic Church could not resist the “rebirth”.
But even the decaying Catholic Church did not suit certain circles. Work began on creating a more convenient version of Christianity. In principle, various sects and heresies existed in Europe for a long time - even at the beginning of our era, Gnosticism arose, which used motifs from the Old Testament, Eastern mythology and a number of early Christian teachings. There were sects of Manicheans, Kabbalists, Pavlikians, Bogumils, Waldensians, Cathars, etc. In Byzantium, for some time, the iconoclasts gained power. In the south of France, the heresy of the Albigensians spread over the centuries in 12 - 13, leading to a bloody war. The Templar Order was suspected of heresy (the question is ambiguous, since the main reason for the destruction of the order could have been its successful financial activities).
The Renaissance created favorable conditions for the germination of a larger-scale heretical movement. It all began in England, where John Wycliffe (Wycliffe), professor at Oxford University, in 1376 — 1377. He began to condemn the greed and wealth of the clergy, referring to the fact that neither Christ nor his apostles possessed neither property nor secular power. In his lectures, the professor declared that the church should not have property and the king had the right to secularize church lands, and also opposed the papacy’s claims to levy extortion from England. This idea interested the royal power and some major feudal lords. The king liked the idea that the king was the vicar of God and that the bishops should be subject to the king. Wycliffe rejected the episcopal degree, the doctrine of purgatory and indulgences; considered confession violence of conscience and offered to be content with the inner repentance of man before God. He said that there should be no intermediaries between man and God. Wycliffe and his supporters were defeated, but his ideas were taken up by Jan Hus and his followers by the Hussites.
Gus proposed a reform of the church in the Czech Republic, similar to the one proclaimed by Wyclif. He was executed, but the discontent of the Czechs with the church, reinforced by national oppression (the dominance of the Germans), led to an uprising and a long war. Hussites started a war against Rome and the emperor, exterminated and expelled Catholics, smashed monasteries and churches. The Pope declared 1 March 1420, a crusade against the Hussite heretics. In Silesia, Emperor Sigismund gathered an army of German, Polish and Hungarian knights, as well as infantry, which was the militia of the Silesian cities and Italian mercenaries. However, the Hussites created a very efficient army, which was able to repel knightly troops. The war continued until the 1434 year.
In the Czech Republic, church reform was understood ambiguously. The Chashniki demanded the elimination of the dominance of the German feudal lords and the German patrician in the Czech Republic, they wanted the secularization of church lands, the freedom to preach and the creation of a national church. They believed that in the rite of communion people should take communion with bread and wine (as in the Orthodox, with the Catholics only the priests take communion with wine, and the laity with wafers). The Taborites moved on. They wanted to destroy the royal power and establish a republic, denied any hierarchy, both spiritual and secular. They preached the idea of socializing property. There were extreme sects, like Adamites, who wanted to return "in the time of Adam," walked naked and indulged in free love. The Chashniki and the Taborites destroyed the Adamites. Then fought with each other. Finally, in 1433, the cups made a compromise with the Catholic Church (Prague Compacts) and in 1434, together with the Catholics, broke the taborites. During this long and bloody war, the Czech Republic and the neighboring areas were seriously devastated. So, the Czech Republic lost 1,5 million people and became devastated "desert".
But these were only “flowers”, “berries” - the Reformation and the Peasant War in Germany, the Reformation in the Netherlands and the Netherlands Revolution, the Huguenot wars in France, etc., will be yet to come.
Heresy struck and the Catholic elite. After all, hedonism is absolutely not consistent with the basics of Christian morality. The rich, bathed in luxury and sensual pleasures, needed a different teaching that would justify their way of life. Therefore, Christianity remained in the lot of the "dark" common people. And among the nobility, various astrologers, soothsayers, alchemists, “psychics” gained popularity. It is becoming fashionable to teach that God is only a “prime mover,” and elements, planets, and stars control life. Astrology was recognized as the truth of first instance. Know the horoscopes for marriage, the beginning of transactions, the rulers consulted astrologers when to start a war.
True, they did not look at such freethinking everywhere calmly. On the Iberian Peninsula, where under the flag of religion, there was a long and stubborn war with Muslims, the question of faith was more strict. Muslims were expelled, converted to Christianity and slavery. It was not easy for Jews, too, under the rule of the Moors. Many tried to adapt and conditionally converted to Christianity, secretly keeping the old faith. In the 1478 year, an Inquisition led by Thomas Torquemada was instituted to combat heresies and gentiles. The results of his activities were: the expulsion of Jews from Spain, Sardinia and Sicily, the expulsion of the Moors (occurred after the death of the "Grand Inquisitor"); confiscation of the property of convicts by the Inquisition, the burning of hundreds of heretics at the stake.
It should be noted that part of the Jews moved to Italy, and so many of them were associated with trading and usurious activities, they had long-standing ties with local trading and banking circles. In turn, Italian princes and aristocrats were associated with bankers. And churchmen depended on bankers and aristocrats. Therefore, in Italy, in the center of the Catholic world, Jews were not persecuted. Thus, in Italy, the first “financial international” was formed from the “black” (departed from Christianity) aristocracy and Jewish usurers. He later relocated to Holland and England.
Even the fight against "witches" in Europe was selective. At the courts of the aristocracy, including the spiritual, various astrologers, magicians, fortune-tellers, fortune-tellers, and prophets flourished. In Florence, at the Palace of the Medici, the Platonov Academy openly operated, where they studied Kabbalah and other secret teachings. In 1484, Pope Innocent VIII issued the famous “Summis desiderantes affectibus” bull, which served as the basis for a new wave of “witch hunt”. In 1487, a treatise on demonology “The Hammer of the Witches” was published, which was written by two Germanic monks, Dominican inquisitors Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Shprenger. It was a fundamental legal and practical guide to the detection and destruction of "witches". All over Europe fires were blazed. They got midwives and healers, just beautiful women, etc. They destroyed the knowledge holders who did not fit into the official Catholic concept of the picture of the world. They were subjected to savage torture and thousands of innocent people died.
The life of the European population
Europe in the 15-16 centuries still remained agrarian, the land was the main wealth. Actually "wealth", i.e. the products necessary for life, was produced by the peasants. From them both the monarchs, the secular and spiritual feudal lords, the local administration dragged into three skins. Direct requisitions were supplemented with various state monopolies, duties. Often the direct owners of the peasants, in need of cash and getting into debt, gave them away. Tax collectors did not stand on ceremony with the peasants at all. Peasants were considered only as a source of income, were powerless and downtrodden (except for small, remote corners where relatively free peasant communities remained), lived in miserable huts with a dirt floor, without windows and heated by a hearth, since the windows and pipes were subject to a separate tax .
True, classical serfdom in Western Europe in most of the countries died off. But the nobles still lived at the expense of the peasants. Now the nobles preferred to lease the land. But at the same time preserving the legal authority over the peasants, the right of court over them, the land is in their property. Most of the nobles barely make ends meet. Dear weapon and the clothes were inherited. In many ways, the ruin of the nobility was associated with exorbitant spending and inability to manage the economy.
Therefore, they tried to improve their condition by participating in numerous wars, when robbery was a legal phenomenon. The basis of the armies were feudal militias. By order of the suzerain, his vassals led detachments. But aristocrats were often unreliable, betrayed, in no hurry to carry out orders. Therefore, the feudal militia began to supplement the mercenary troops. Entire regions specialize in this craft - Scotland, Switzerland and the German principalities. At war, such troops were distinguished by extreme cruelty and looting, trying to reward themselves with violence and booty. The maintenance of the army was an expensive pleasure, so the monarchs and the great feudal lords tried to gather troops only for the duration of the hostilities. In peacetime, treated with small guard units.
The cult of luxury, which sharply intensified with the beginning of the Renaissance, became ruinous for the nobility. Not only small and medium feudal lords, but the earls, dukes, monarchs were indebted to merchants and usurers, pledging lands, castles and other assets, such as family jewels. As a result, increased taxes on producers - peasants and citizens. The impoverished nobles, trying to rectify the situation, tried to get a retinue to the rich nobles. For this they received various handouts. There were other ways to improve the situation. It was considered good luck to arrange a son along the church line. Spiritual feudal lords prospered (the church was the largest landowner in Europe) and could help relatives. In addition, it was possible to try to make the cute daughter become the lover of a high-ranking official. It was not considered shameful. On the contrary, such a case was considered a great success and luck. In particular, in France, nobles with beautiful daughters actually sold them. Offered to nobles, dukes, princes, kings. The question was in price, not the moral side of things.
According to the present, large cities in Western Europe were few - Rome, Naples, Paris and London. The population of most cities numbered only a few thousand people. They tried to build houses in the ring of the fortress walls, so they were built on the 3-4 floors, and the houses strongly hampered the streets, turning them into streets about 2 wide. The crews could drive only the main streets. For the rest, the cargo was carried in carts, people moved on foot or on horseback, and noble people were worn in porters. There was no sewage system. Various garbage and waste products were simply thrown into the streets, canals, ponds, rivers, ditches. The traveler learned about the approach to the city from a distance - by the smell of sewage. Unsanitary conditions and overcrowding made urban dwellers the first victims of frequent epidemics, which claimed a very large percentage of the population.
Interestingly, wealth often side by side with a lack of basic hygiene. Many thought it was bad to wash. No wonder that lice in England were called “gentleman’s companion”. There were no toilets even in the palaces. Used the night pots or relieved behind the curtains.
To be continued ...