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Posted on August 21st, 2012, by

Godfrey de Bouillon (1058-1100) is known as the French Duke of Lower Lorraine and is considered to be one of the leaders of the First Crusade. He was the first to reach Constantinople and conquer Antioch and Nicaea. He participated in Jerusalem’s invasion in 1099 and contributed greatly to the development of the crusaders’ impact all over the world. In 1099, he also conquered the city of Jaffa and reorganized it into a port for crusaders. He died in Jerusalem in 1100 because of plague but before the death he managed to make an agreement of great importance with the Venetians. However, he could not realize it because of his illness and death.

2. Saladin

Saladin (1138-1193) is known as the main representative of the opposition to the Third Crusade. Saladin, whose real name is Salahuddin Ayyubi, was a Egyptian and Syrian Sultan. Later he also gained power in Iraq, Hejaz and Yemen. Being a notable figure in the Muslim culture he headed the Muslim resistance to the Crusaders of the Catholic Church and, all in all, conquered Palestine in the fight with the crusaders.

3. Richard the Lionheart

Richard I the Lionheart (1189-1199) was the second king of the Plantagenet dynasty. His contemporaries described his as a man of excellent manners, kind to his friends and cruel and merciless to his enemies. He was seldom seen in England, spending most of his time taking part in the crusades in Palestine. Richard the Lionheart was killed in one of the battles in France, and the English thrown passed to his brother, John.

4. St. Thomas Aquinas

Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) is the founder of the Thomistic philosophy and theology. He used to be a Catholic priest in Italy in the Dominican Order. He was the representative of the scholastic tradition in the theology. He is one of the 33 Doctors of the Church, an influential and prominent theologian and philosopher. His contribution to the development of the theological thought is great. His main works are the Summa Theologica and the The Summa Contra Gentiles.

5. Scholasticism

Scholasticism is a form of philosophy and theology which aims to combine traditional Christian theology and the Greek philosophy presented by Aristotle. It dominated in Europe beginning from the 12th century and ending with the 14th  century. The leading methods proposed by scholasticism were the deductive and a priori methods which later were followed by the inductive method and method of the inductive reasoning. The brightest representatives of the scholastic tradition were Thomas Aquinas, Albertus Magnus, Duns Scotus, Peter Abelard, Bonaventure, William of Ockham and others.

1. Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc (1412-1431) is a national heroine in France. She was considered to have divine guidance and under her heading the French army won several strategically important fights during a difficult period of the Hundred Years’ War between England and France. Being not seriously accepted at first she had become a real threat for the English army. She was sent to Orleans to free it from English domination.

Despite most French generals’ defiance and numerical superiority from the English side she managed to complete her relief mission only in nine days. From then on, she was believed to have visions from God.

2. Babylonian Captivity (Avignon Papacy)

Avignon Papacy, also known as Babylonian Captivity, is a period in the theological history when the Papacy was placed in Avignon, France.

An open conflict between King Philip IV and Pope Boniface VIII in 1305 led to such serious consequences. In the period of 1307-1377 the Papacy was under the influence of the French king. As a result, the Papacy had lost its significance and political power.

3. John Wycliffe

John Wycliffe (1320s – 1384) is known as a theologian and translator. Some scientists also call him “The Morning Star of the Reformation”ť because he put forward brave ideas about Church Reformation which were further realized in the Protestant doctrine. He was one of the first figures who translated the Bible into vernacular English in 1382. He is supposed to translate the New Testament, while his supporters worked on the translation of the Old Testament. The result of their work is known as Wycliff’s Bible, which appeared in 1384.

4. John Huss

John Huss (1369-1415) was John Wycliffe’s follower and made statements against the Catholic Church. He was a Bohemian priest and was hoped to involve the laity in Church life with the help of Church reformation. The representatives of the Church were furious because of these innovative ideas and in 1411 he was excommunicated from the Catholic Church. He was condemned as a heretic by the representatives of the Council of Constance in 1415 then burned at the stake.

1. Humanism

Humanism is the leading tendency in Renaissance in literature, philosophy, science and art. It had changed the world culture and the way of thinking in the Medieval Europe. Such outstanding artists as Leonardo da Vince, Michelangelo, Raphael, Botticelli, Donatello, Antonio Pollaiuolo, Castagno, Petrarch and Boccaccio and many others were the brightest representatives of the Renaissance Humanism. The Renaissance with its new ideas in art, astronomy, science, literature, mathematics, philosophy, religion, and politics became a breath of fresh air for the society suppressed by the religious dogmas and rules. Not satisfied with the existing state of events, Italian Humanists of the Renaissance period turned back to the culture of Ancient Greece and Rome. This ancient culture with its cult of human beauty, naturalness and thirst for life became a source of inspiration for the progressive intellectuals.

2. Petrarch

Francesco Petrarca (1304-1374) is a bright representative of the Italian Renaissance. He is often called as the “father of humanism”ť. Petrarca is famous for his unique style and form.  He developed the sonnetto ”“ a new form of lyrical poetry – which later was taken in other European languages. His sonnets were imitated by the Europeans during that period and are popular till today. It is thought that Petraraca together with Pietro Bembo, Giovanni Boccaccio and Dante Alighieri in their works formed a model for the modern Italian language.

3. Medici

Lorenzo de Medici (1449-1492), known also as Lorenzo the Magnificent, is another representative of the Italian Renaissance. Being born in Florence, he was a politician, a diplomat, a statesmen and, in fact, the ruler of the Republic in Florence. During his ruling Florence reached its culmination in the development of arts in the period of the early Italian Renaissance. Lorenzo de Medici also patronized and financially supported talented scholars, poets and artists of that time.

4. Michelangelo

Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (1475-1564) was an architect, painter, poet, sculptor, engineer and doctor during the period of the Italian Renaissance. His best-known sculptures are David and Pieta. It is interesting to note that he made them when he was not even thirty years old. He did not accept his painting talent, however, his fresco works which include the scenes from Genesis and the Last Judgment on the altar in the Sistine Chapel of Rome have become real masterpieces. Designing the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica he was the first to use the giant order of pilasters and this was a step forward in the contemporary architecture.    

5. Thomas More

Sir Thomas More (1478-1535) was a humanist scholar who is famous for his work “Utopia”ť.  Utopia is written in a form of the converse of three characters. In the society described by More people live in ideal society and everyone is happy. The Utopian society describes the principles of modern socialism as all the citizens of the country work in equal conditions and are paid equally. Such a work division is described as extremely effective and productive. Individual interests are subdued to the interests of the society as a whole.

6. Erasmus

Erasmus Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus (1466-1536) was the representative of the Dutch Renaissance. At the same time he was a theologian of Catholic Church. He criticized some Christian services and practices and rejected the authority of the Pope  and in such a way had become a predecessor of Protestantism. However, he insisted on some Catholic doctrines, for example a doctrine of a free will, while Protestants were against it and introduced the doctrine of predestination instead of it. With the help of new humanistic techniques Erasmus prepared Greek and Latin editions of the New Testament making the basis for the Protestant doctrine.

1. Martin Luther

Martin Luther (1483-1546) is the Father of Protestantism and the Reformer of the Catholic Church. His ideas about Church Reformation became the ground of Protestantism and changed the whole European civilization. Luther proposed to treat the Bible as the only credible source of the God’s will. He translated the Bible and made it acceptable for common people. His principles led to the confrontation with the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and, as a result, he was excommunicated from the Catholic Church.


2. John Calvin

John Calvin (1509-1564) continued Protestantism tradition in France and the Protestant Reformation there was called Calvinism. He was repressed by the Catholic Church and was forced to move to Switzerland. There he published his meaningful theological work “Institutes of the Christian Religion”ť. Calvin introduced his reform in Geneva which despite strong resistance was successfully applied there. In his final years he was spreading Calvinism in Geneva and throughout the whole Europe.


3. Puritans

There were people in the country who disagreed with the teachings of the Church of England in the 16th century. These group of people was called Puritans. Puritans insisted that the services of the Church of England had become too complicated and too rich and took too much money. They wanted to make the Church of England more modest, to “purify”ť it. Puritans were for moral, religious and social reforms of the Church. In accordance with Puritans, the Bible was a true law and every person should have followed its rules. It is obvious that the Catholic Church reacted aggressively to Puritans’ actions. However, the influence of Puritanism increased greatly during the 17th century, especially among the classes of merchants and the lesser gentry. The new translation of the Bible encouraged Bible reading among all those who could read.


4. Ignatius Loyola

Saint Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) was an active fighter against the Protestant Reformation and was the main founder of the Society of Jesus. Being the leader of the Jesuits he popularized Counter-Reformation. The Jesuits held a number of transformations in the Catholic Church and fought against Martin Luther and John Calvin’s theological innovations. In 1622 he was canonized and was made the patron Saint of GuipĂşzcoa and Biscay. Pope Benedict XVI considered him to be above all a man of God.


5. Henry VIII

During his early years of reign Henry III was interested mainly in foreign policy. Western Europe was the main object of his interest.  Henry has also strengthened the navy of the country. Henry III became more involved in the politics during the later period of his reign.

During his reign the process of the Church reformation was established. The appearance of the English Church was conditioned by Henry’s reforms. Actually, the most important deed Henry is remembered for is the break up with the Roman Church and establishing the Church of England.


1. Marco Polo

Marco Polo (1254-1325) is a creator of a world-famous book The Travels of Marco Polo known also as The Million or Oriento Poliano. Together with his uncle Maffeo and his father Niccolo he was the first to travel China and find the so-called “Silk Road”ť. In 1292 they left the Empire on fourteen huge boats.  They came through Indonesia and India and reached the Persian Gulf. The voyage was very dangerous and from 600 people that were on a board only 18 came back. However, the discovery made by Marco Polo was of great significance for the entire western civilization.

2. Spanish Inquisition of 1492

In 1492 the Spanish army broke down the Muslims’ resistance in Granada and Father Tomas de Torquemada proposed Ferdinand and Isabella to expel all the Jews from the territory of Spain. The Jews continued spreading Judaism and so were a threat to the Catholic Church.

At first, Ferdinand and Isabella rejected but the threat became more and more obvious. So, on March 30 they gave a decree to expel the Jews just in four months. This phenomenon is known as the Spanish Inquisition of 1492.


3. Vasco da Gama

Vasco da Gama (1460-1524) is a bright representative of the European Age of Discovery and the Portuguese explorer who found a direct rout from Europe to India. In 1497 he sailed from Lisbon and started his dangerous trip. He came back in 1499 and became a national hero. In 1502-1503 he made one more trip to India. He died in India in 1524 of an illness and was buried in Portugal.

4. Ferdinand Magellan

Ferdinand Magellan (1480-1521) was the first European who discovered the eponymous Strait of Magellan and then entered the Pacific from its side. He also reached the archipelago, today known as the Philippines. He was the first to organize the circumnavigation of the globe with a crew of 237 men from which only 18 came back to Spain in 1522.


5. Hernando Cortes

Hernan Cortes (1485-1547) was a Spanish conquistador and one of the first Spanish colonizers who started colonization of America in the 16th century. As a result of his expedition the Aztec empire was destroyed and Cortes conquered a great territory of Mexico and made it the King of Castile’s ownership.

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