The Modern Age is the historical stage that takes place between the 15th and 18th centuries. In contrast to the Middle Ages, the Modern Age is characterized by cultural progress, discoveries, the creation of States, the development of the world economy and a greater weight of reason over faith.
Therefore, the starting point of the Modern Age is considered to be the end of the Byzantine Empire (fall of Constantinople in 1453), while the end of this broad historical stage will be the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789.
Political and social changes
Thus, in this historical period, the bourgeoisie will acquire an ever greater importance in society. And it is that, the power of the bourgeoisie was increasing thanks to the fact that it became rich due to its growing power over trade.On the other hand, States will create their own laws, which will no longer be subject to the moral standards of the Church.
In the Modern Age there were also important discoveries, such as the arrival in America and Australia. All this gave rise to a significant expansion of European nations that, in the end, would end up becoming the great world powers.
Economy and trade in the Modern Age
Geographical discoveries led to a great expansion of trade, which developed worldwide. In this way, the great centers of world trade will be the main European and Asian cities. In this context, slavery sadly became a very profitable business. Along with slavery, the smuggling of certain goods also proliferated. In any case, the increase in trade was a great stimulus for the economies of the main powers of the time.
Regarding economic thought, mercantilism was born, which argued that the wealth of a nation was based on the accumulation of precious metals. Already in the final stages of the Modern Age, with the bourgeoisie gaining social power and with the first industrial revolution, capitalism would end up emerging.
The Modern Age is the era of discoveries, of the great navigators. It is here where we find the names of famous sailors such as Christopher Columbus, James Cook, Magellan and Juan Sebastián-Elcano. Thanks to these sailors and maritime exploration, the most remote corners of the world were discovered.
But, beyond geographical exploration, these first trips to the farthest reaches of America, Asia, Africa and Oceania were the beginning of a future colonialism. In this way, France, Spain and England, among others, formed great colonial empires, which brought with it a great cultural and economic exchange.
Thought and religion in the Modern Age
The Modern Age brought with it important changes in philosophy and, therefore, in the way of understanding man and religion. Thus, new religious movements emerged, such as Protestantism. It is here where Martin Luther stands out, who, dissatisfied with the opulence and corruption of the Catholic Church, undertook the Protestant reform. The response of the Catholic Church to a Protestantism that was winning the faithful was the Counter-Reformation. Meanwhile, in the new world, an important work of evangelization to Catholicism was being carried out.
However, the Renaissance gave rise to a new way of understanding human thought. If in the Middle Ages God occupied a central role, in the Renaissance man is given a much greater role, while the classical culture of civilizations such as Greece and Rome is rescued and reason gains ground to faith. Also the invention of the printing press by the German Johannes Gutenberg was decisive in the diffusion of culture. All this translated into a more than remarkable boost to art and science, especially in those countries free from the Inquisition.