The term general crisis of 17th century refers to the extensive breakdown in European economy, politics, and society during its transition from feudal to capitalist. Generally, this period was not only characterized by demographic and economic setbacks, but also by political problems (Smith & Parker, 1997). Consequently, general crisis marked various historical events in Europe such as English Civil War, revolts, and Thirty Years War. On the other hand, the latter crisis was characterized by an economic depression that predicated the stock market (Supple, 2007). Ideally, the general crisis and the later crisis had varied commonalities especially due to the fact that the emergence of these crises served as a culmination of transition from one system of society to another.

First and foremost, both the general crisis of the 17th century and the later crisis experienced a series of crisis that marked the foundation for the creation of a new system. For instance, the crisis of 17th century marked a moment where Europe went through a general crisis and a transition of its system from a feudal economy bound to a capitalist market. Prior to the transition, most actors had perceived a shortfall with the feudal system, thereby prompting the need for a new system (Williams & Black, 1999). Such system was thought to be devoid of bourgeois and industrial control. As a result, the society opted to embrace capitalist system with an aim of seasoning the then medieval or feudal system. In the same way, the Black Death during the later crisis culminated not only into labour shortage, reduced production and new opportunities for the survivors, but also resulted into decline in the then feudal societal system. In the long run, most parts of Europe especially England and France realized an emergence of social systems and rise in numerous economic opportunities.

The other similarity between the 17th century crisis and the later crisis is that both crises were fundamental to the society since they offered solution to various difficulties which were perceived as stumbling blocks to the emergence and progress of capitalism. The case of the latter crisis involved an era of gun-power that the French and England utilized to change the feudal society. In a similar manner, England was determined to realize capitalist society as opposed to the feudal knights that had continued to make them subservient peasants (Symcox, 1973). Most historians have outlined the fact that the perceived transformation of the society from feudalism to capitalism in both later and 17th century crisis was a form of parasitic operation (Supple, 2007). It is particularly owed to the fact that the strive lacked sufficient accumulated capital that is usually required for a society to realize capitalism expansion; there was little or no division of labour during both eras that was necessary to increase production to capitalism level and insufficient persons to facilitate exchange of goods and services.

Both the 17th century crisis and the latter crisis were characterized by varied forms of war. The latter crisis that is mostly known as the crisis and integration in French history is reported to have been a difficult moment both to the Church and the State. It was composed of warfare, plague, and conflicts. In particular, there was drastic reduction in the power of the Roman Catholic Church following a prolonged power struggle on papacy, thereby leading to remarkable long standing scar know as the Fair of France. It is a classic case on the disagreement between the church and the circular rule. Following the struggle between the spiritual and the secular authority, schismatic Papacy was transformed into conciliarism; a situation where the leadership is disseminated by a single person (Smith & Parker, 1997). Such struggle did not end at the level of the spiritual and the circular world, but continued within each institution with the continued upheavals within the Catholic Church resulting into a strengthened royal authority in the Western Europe. As a matter of fact, the continued struggles within the Roma Catholic Church caused much division and disunity within the spiritual realm that served as the foundation of decline in the Church's power and prestige in the society.

Besides reforms, the two types of crisis were both characterized by rebellion in one way or the other. The first form of rebellion was between the church and the state. Initially, these two institutions had worked and correlated together in harmony. However, when the 17th century and later crisis emerged, the existing kings waged war against the universal Church and the Roman Empire thereby according the kings from both the Protestant and Catholic wing an opportunity to use the churches as departments of state. Smith & Parker (1997) cited that rebellion was also witnessed in the quest for modern state where the government employed bureaucratic control, thereby, baring the kings from fighting the neighbouring states that had the same ideologies. In Williams & Black's (1999) view, ideological innovations overruled the initial orders, thus, forcing the old kings to hand over to new managerial persons where people got treated as important resources and shepherd hood relationship (Bonney, 1991). Rebellion and war associated with taxes resulted into popular reactions; for instance, the Protestants caused restlessness among the Roman Catholic (Williams & Black, 1999). The Croquants in the Southern created an uprising to demand the traditional taxes to be restored. Rebellion against the new forms of taxes was also conveyed by the local officeholders and peasants and other experts within the league.

In addition, both the 17th century general crisis and the latter crisis were experienced in four major areas: food crisis, Roman Catholic Church crisis, health crisis, and political crisis. Categorically, the food crisis experienced in the two forms of crisis though being at different eras involved poor harvests and famine that culminated into decrease in agricultural production in some regions within Europe. With continued struggle and upheavals, the Roman Catholic Church got trapped in the fight to continue exercising its power and authority at various levels in the society (Supple, 2007). In the same way, various plagues such as Black Death became a widespread health calamity in Europe. Lastly, there were an indomitable political crisis that led to prolonged war in the entire continent of Europe; the "Hundred Year's War" being the most known fight between England and France to retain both political and territorial dominance (Supple, 2007).

To some extent, both the 17th century general crisis and the later crisis served as a foundation of reform. Such reforms were not only realized at Church level, but also in the entire European society. For instance, early Church reformers such as John Wyclif became very vocal to an extent that he challenged the origin and the basis of the scripture where the pope's temporal power was founded (Smith & Parker 1997). Such daring spirit transformed the Roman Catholic Church' ideology of the pope being the sole scriptural conveyer into a new quest for everyone to read the scriptures for himself/herself, and the start of biblical translation into vernacular. Smith & Parker (1997) further cited that John Hus played a critical role in both religious and political reform of the European society.

Lastly, the 17th century general crisis and the later crisis were both characterized by oppositions. Most of these oppositions were from the traditional wing that was against new reforms. According to the conservatives, various ways and practices such as constitution were perceived to protect the existing society (Symcox, 1973). Through such move, the traditionalists were committed to fostering a spirit of patriotism as opposed to the nationalism principle that was being propagated by reformists.

Policy Options the General and Later Crisis Presented to the Statesmen

The first policy option that the crisis offered the statesmen is the spirit of patriotism: this policy was advanced by the traditionalist whose main intention was to oppose the new reforms within Europe (Symcox, 1973). It is owed to the fact that no ideological party was willing to commit itself to destroy the existing society for the sake of rebuilding a perfect new one. As a matter of fact, the traditionalists fostered conservation of the entire Europe in areas such as taxation and legal operation with the understanding that new reforms were virtually not tantamount to taking the society where it need to be, but a protection of the existing system. In addition, patriots utilized the patriotic policy to underscore the local and parliamentary institutions as avenues to safeguard people rights.

On the other hand, reformists regarded the crisis as the opportunity to foster nationalism policy. According Symcox (1973) the existing dictates, nationalism policy offered the statesmen an opportunity to foster new ideologies that were critical for the perceived reform of Europe. Political revolution was the other critical policy that the crisis offered to the statesmen (Smith & Parker, 1997). According to the reformers of the time, the perceived new society required the existing state rulers to be replaced with new ones without causing division or societal integration.

In conclusion, the latter and the 17th century general crisis had varied resemblance despite that they existed at different times of the Europe society. Most remarkable seminaries included aspect such as reform, struggle between the church and the state, rebellion from traditionalists and other quarters, revolution, and perceived crisis at all societal institutions.

Feb 9, 2018 in Review Category