Earned Knowledge, L12, P3

At The End…

At the end of these changes we see a very different world than Europe under monarchs. Here are some of the major differences:

    • People thought forward more than they had. “New” became attractive and progress was expected.
    • Technology overcame tradition, and to a significant extent replaced it.
    • Non-elite people were able to live comfortably and demanded to live comfortably.
    • Specialization became the norm.
    • New forms of rulership promised people a voice in governments and were demanded.
    • The old aristocracies faded away.
    • Land was no longer the measure of wealth, money was. Again this made the aristocracies fade away, especially because almost none of them moved into industry, even though many of them could have.
    • Farmers were no longer a central unit of power. Power shifted to new groups of people, nearly all of them living in cities: Workers, bosses, investors, new immigrant groups, religious groups and so on.
    • Monarchs vanished and politicians replaced them, gaining and holding power by manipulating the emotions of the populace.

At the end of these changes, then, the world looked a good deal like our present world.



As always, go slowly and be sure the students understand the lesson as completely as possible.

This lesson shows how the “Second Europe” of Lesson 11 (up to 1500 AD or so) moved directly toward our modern world. We’ll continue this process in Lesson 14, after we take more time for science and technology in Lesson 13.

And, as always, don’t be hesitant to take side-paths that seem fruitful. Sometimes they will be, and perhaps sometimes they won’t, but until you try, you’ll never know. Take some risks.

For this lesson, it’s important to emphasize that these changes were unexpected, broadly unwelcome, and fatally disruptive to many old ways. But because they made so many people’s lives better, all the power of the old era couldn’t stop them.

It’s also worth noting that the new manufacturing machines of the industrial revolution were mostly elaborate combinations of the simple machines we’ve already covered.

I didn’t go through the various wars and revolutions that were involved with the changeover, but as we move into Lesson 14 and the 19th and 20th centuries, that will be unavoidable. And so be forewarned that Lesson 14 will have to cover immense wars and immense death.

I’m being blunt in describing how politicians get and hold power (by manipulating the emotions of the populace), which can seem a bit harsh within the present environment. Nonetheless, it’s true all the same, and if children aren’t told, they’ll run into it unprepared and unwarned. Our students deserve the plain truth, as best we can give it to them. We are not to place ideologies that make others comfortable above reality. And again bear in mind that I’ll have to go further into this in Lesson 14.

There are a number of promising side-paths that can be pulled from this lesson, including the following:

    • When you get to port cities becoming very rich before 1400 AD, you can show some photos of Venice (include some of the Scuola Grande di San Rocca), and you can continue onward from there.
    • Sending boats in search of new markets and resources can lead to geography, and also to basic commerce, as in supply and demand.
    • On opening minds and imaginations, it’s useful to compare new continents to new planets, as in space travel. What if functional space ships multiplied and were soon accessible to millions? Asteroid mining would be an immensely profitable new business and we have no way of knowing what other surprises would be waiting for us… but we’d know that it was just a short time before people like us would be finding them. In fact, new stories would be reaching us almost daily.
    • Statements that are stacked up, one upon another,” is worthy of some examination. You may have some examples of your own, but one that stood out to me was a political fight, wherein one man said, “We must respect democracy and democratic elections, right?” Whereupon the other replied, “Yes, of course!” Then the first said, “So, you have to support Hamas, which was democratically elected!” Hamas was, at the time, purposely bombing families in their suburban homes.
    • During the science section, it would be good to add that “consensus” is actually the negation of science, and that reliance upon authority is likewise the negation of science. The first scientists were ever so right when they made “take no one’s word for it” their motto.
    • Locke’s Second Treatise on Government, isn’t terribly long, and might make an interesting study for older kids. It might also be useful to question why he didn’t attach his name to the book.
    • Another important side discussion would be the ability of people to exit from arrangements they don’t like. And if they are forbidden from doing so, why? And who does that serve?
    • The Industrial Revolution rolls seamlessly into important economic topics, such as specialization of labor and economies of scale. If you’d like some background on that, I recommend the first ten chapters of The Third Wave by Alvin Toffler.

Again I’ve italicized new and significant words. You may want to spend some time on these with your students:



Old World. Europe.

New World. North America.





Removed the ground from beneath their feet. (Makes for a nice discussion of metaphor.)

Masses. As in masses of people.

The Caroll Quigley passage is from The Evolution of Civilizations.



Paul Rosenberg