The Decameron

The Decameron

The Decameron

There are three sections to this midterm. For the first section you will need to answer two of the questions, for the other sections you only need to answer one. Each answer should be around 250 to 300 words each (about a page to a page and half double spaced).
• Your answers should reflect the knowledge you gained from lectures and from the readings. You should cite the reading or the lecture (putting the date of the lecture in parentheses is a fine way to cite)
• Be specific in your answers. Use people, places, events, and dates to anchor your answers.
• Do NOT use resources beyond the lectures and readings to support your answers. We are
testing you on your ability to navigate the information provided for you by the class, not
your ability to find more information.
• This exam tests your ability to synthesize the information learned from the class and to
deploy specifics to show your larger understanding of the period.

Section 1: Identification
Pick TWO questions to address (40 points total)
1. All of the following are important texts from the period. Pick the text you think had the biggest impact on society at the time. Tell us what the text was about, who authored it, and why it had the biggest impact. Pick between: The Decameron, On the Donation of Constantine; Oration on the Dignity of Man; Gutenberg Bible; “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”; 95 Theses.
2. Pick one of the following terms, define it, and tell us what it suggests about how everyday society functioned in the early modern period. Choose between: Skimington; “Shutting In”; Carnival; Spinning Party; Church Ales.
3. 3 crop rotation and milpas show two different ways to approach agriculture. Define each and show how they illustrate a difference between the ways the people of America and the people of Europe approached their land.
4. Bartolome de las Casas, Mennochio, Erasmus, Jan Hus, the Zwickau Prophets, and Lucas
Cranach all thought long and hard about religion. Pick one to focus on and describe the
place of religion in their life and how their thoughts on it did or did not impact the society
around them.
5. Pick one of the following events: The Field of the Cloth of Gold, Revolt of the Comuneros, or the Diet of Worms. Tell us what happened during that event and what it tells us about political power at the time.

Section 2: Humanism and Renaissance Culture
Pick ONE question to address (30 points)
1. Explain why we consider either Ficino, Valla, Erasmus, OR Thomas More humanists.
2. Pick one example where someone used humanist ideas to promote change.
3. How does Vasari’s work show a change in the way society viewed artists? Why did such
a change matter or what does it illustrate about the period?
4. Pick one piece of art from the Renaissance that we’ve touched on in class and explain
what it shows about society at the time.5. Pick one way that life was different for people (ex: giving birth, thoughts about death,
sleep patterns, social hierarchy…) in the early modern period than for us today and
explain why recognizing that difference helps us understand the period more broadly.
6. Pick one person from the period and explain what their life shows us about the power
structures that underlined the early modern period.
7. What does the fact that people began to worry about how they blew their noses tell us
about social divides and changing values? Where were these ideas popular and who
published on them?
8. Pick one of the items viewed in Special Collections – what does it tell us about the power
of print and the culture of the period?

Section 3: Europe and the World
Pick ONE question to address (30 points)
1. Pick a specific instance where people, things, or knowledge from the East influenced European society. Why is this important to recognize?
2. Pick a European, fictional or real, who travels to the East between 1400 and 1550 (thus, not Marco Polo). How do their travels show European weakness rather than European strength?
3. How does the Hereford Mappa Mundi (c. 1300) project a different view of the world than
the Fra Mauro map (c. 1450)?
4. Pick one place where we see a non-European surfacing in Europe during this period.
Why are they there? What does their presence tell us about Europe’s relationship with
other places during the period?
5. If a panel of European judges met in 1520 who would they say had the most powerful
empire – the Portuguese or the Spanish – and why?
6. Why did the “Spanish” monarchs both expel the Jewish populations from their lands and
sponsor Columbus’ voyage in 1492? What ties the two events together?
7. Why were the “Spanish” able to gain control over the Tainos and/or the Aztecs? Did
8. Pick one way that the European encounter with the indigenous populations in the
Americans changed Europe and explore if or why that changed mattered.

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