A World Only Lit by Fire Essay Sample

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Your assignment is to read the book and answer a set of review questions. The questions will be impossible to answer without actually reading the book. The questions do not necessarily address the larger themes discussed in the book, but are intended to highlight interesting details, and simply force a closer reading of the book. I recommend that you keep the questions before you as you read. You will be asked to affirm that you have done your own work. After completing the reading and the questions, you will write an essay based on the book. The essay question is found at the end of the review questions.

The book does deal briefly with the sexual abuses and excesses of the Medieval Catholic Church. Due to the sexual nature of this material on pp. 68-86 of AWLOBF, you are not expected to read these pages. None of the review questions are answered on these pages. If you or your parents object to this material being found in the book (even though you are not required to read it), you may request an alternative assignment.

Please type your answers, and use spell check before submitting the work. Single-space the lines of each answer, and double-space between questions. Type the question AND the answer to each question together. Use a cover sheet with your name, class, and date due.

The essay should begin on a new page, separate from the review questions. Type the essay question at the top, triple-space, and begin the essay. Double-space the lines of the essay. The length of the essay is not to be less than 500 words, and not more than 750 words.

The grade on the assignment will be assessed according to the following criteria:

Review questions: accuracy of answers, completeness. Omitting answers to questions will be penalized in proportion to the number omitted. Incorrect
answers will be treated the same as omitted answers. Most answers will be very brief. Complete sentences are not required.

Essay: The basic elements of an essay are the introduction, the body, and the conclusion. The introduction contains the thesis statement. The body provides supporting arguments to confirm the thesis. The conclusion summarizes the essay briefly. A good thesis statement gives direction to the essay, and addresses the question that is being answered. The arguments and evidence presented in the body should be organized into paragraphs. The five-paragraph essay format is not mandatory, but is a good pattern to follow. Grading criteria are based on good organization, a clear thesis, and adequate supporting information.

1. Whose country was “the back of a horse”? What does it mean?

2. How many conquered rebels did Charlemagne have beheaded for refusing baptism?

3. Who was the first to teach that sex was evil and that salvation was possible only through the intercession of the Virgin Mary?

4. What did Canossa symbolize? Is it a valid symbol?

5. Who was “history’s most celebrated iconoclast” and why?

6. “At any given moment the most dangerous enemy in Europe was ___ .” Who was it? (p.37)

7. Why were papal proclamations called “bulls”?

8. What factors led to the demise of knighthood?

9. When was Aristotle rediscovered by the West?

10. After Magellan, who was the next to navigate the “Straits of Magellan” successfully and survive to tell the tale?

11. What was a “blackbirder”?

12. What was the fate of Iberian Jews near the end of the 15th century?

13. What was “perhaps the most celebrated crime of the Middle Ages”?

14. What country were the Borgia’s from, and how did they become popes?

15. Who said, “God has given us the papacy, let us enjoy it.”

16. When did the Roman Catholic Church establish the rule of celibacy for the clergy?

17. Who was “the ultimate pontifical disaster”, and why?

18. Who declared that the pope “is no longer a Christian.” He is an infidel, a heretic, and as such has ceased to be a pope?”

19. Who attempted to have the leaders of the Medici family in Florence murdered during Mass in the Cathedral?

20. What was Europe’s most populous country in 1500, and what was its population?

style="text-align: justify;">21. What were the 3 largest cities in Europe in 1500, and what were their populations?

22. What was the banking family that became prominent in the Hansa and then in all of Europe?

23. Half of all people died before reaching what age?

24. What were lepers, prostitutes, and Jews required to wear?

25. What was it illegal to wear unless you were nobly born (aristocratic)?

26. Who built the first standing clock in England, and when?

27. What was used as a substitute for long prison sentences?

28. When was the use of a diamond as an engagement ring introduced, and where?

29. At what age could girls legally marry? What about boys?

30. Who were the cleanest people in Europe? (p. 68)

31. Who described life as being “nasty, brutish, and short”? (p. 92)

32. In 1513, who became “first painter and engineer” to Frances I?

33. What subjects made up the trivium and the quadrivium?

34. Who fought and died in “the Great Slaughter”?

35. What did Sir Thomas More denounce as “as profitable as milking a he-goat into a sieve”?

36. What did Martin Luther identify as the greatest enemy of faith?

37. What two challenges did Humanism present to the Church?

38. What was Erasmus’ father’s profession?

39. What special gift did Erasmus possess which gave him a great influence upon the upper and middle classes?

40. Who was the “warrior pope”?

41. What consistent theme of Erasmus’ works enraged the clergy?

42. What crisis led Pope Leo X to announce a “special sale” of indulgences in 1517?

43. Who became “the most famous man to misjudge Professor Martin Luther”?

44. What did Satan and Luther throw at each other (allegedly)?

45. Where was Luther when he experienced his great insight into God’s justice and man’s salvation?

46. To what aspect of indulgences did Luther object most of all?

47. What was suggested by “Pitchfork John”?

48. How did Luther escape arrest in Augsburg in October, 1518?

49. What position taken by Luther in debate with Eck at Leipzig in 1519 revealed him as “an unshriven, unrepentant apostate”?

50. List those who votes elected the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.

51. How did Luther exploit the rising spirit of German nationalism (Herrenvolk)?

52. To what was Luther referring when he wrote in 1520, “We here come to the heart of the matter.”?

53. What did Luther find more acceptable than divorce?

54. What did Erasmus say were Luther’s 2 major blunders?

55. At the Diet of Worms, what did Luther offer to recant?

56. To what was historian Thomas Carlyle referring when he spoke of “the greatest moment in the modern history of man”?

57. Who said, “I do not admit that my doctrine can be judged by anyone, even by angels.”?

58. Who laid the egg that Luther hatched?

59. When was Erasmus excommunicated and branded a heretic?

60. Whose body was quartered and then burned on a pile of excrement?

61. How did Luther view Copernicus?

62. How did Calvin deal with the issues of abortion and illegitimacy?

63. “In truth everyone is convinced that all this has happened as a judgment of God on the great tyranny and disorders of the papal court.” To what was the speaker referring (in 1526)?

64. What is the meaning of the title of the book, “a world lit only by fire”?

65. For what profession had Henry VIII been trained, before his elder brother’s death put him on the throne?

66. Who said (to a Catholic priest), “If God spare me, ere many years I will cause the boy that driveth the plow to know more of the Scripture than you do.”?

67. Which European monarch was designated by the pope in the 1520’s as “Defender of the Faith”? Why was this ironic?

68. What was the consensus of opinion among Catholic scholars across Europe regarding Henry VIII’s request for an annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon?

69. How much of the land in England was owned by the Catholic Church when Henry broke away?

70. Who died “the King’s good servant, but God’s first”?

71. Who was Michelangelo’s lifelong idol?

72. According to William Manchester, what destroyed the Renaissance?

73. Why did the medieval church believe the earth was flat?

74. What were rutters and why were they important?

75. How did Magellan have access to Portuguese rutters?

76. Why didn’t Magellan take the most direct route from Spain to Brazil?

77. What 2 things did Magellan do in Rio de Janeiro in 1519?

78. What event occurred on April 2, 1520 of Magellan’s voyage?

79. What sight caused Magellan to burst into tears in November, 1520?

80. What name did Magellan give the Philippines? For whom were they later renamed?

81. Who was the first person to complete a circumnavigation of the globe?

82. What obsession overcame Magellan while anchored in the Philippines?

83. What part of Magellan’s body was returned to Spain?

84. Why did the friendly Filipinos eventually turn against them?

85. What was ironic about the fact that the one surviving ship of Magellan’s fleet was piloted home by Cano?

86. How many men completed the voyage? How many started it?

87. Of all the tributes to Magellan, which, according to William Manchester, is most appropriate?

88. What problem was discovered with the ship’s log/diary upon its return to Spain on September 7, 1522?

89. When were the works of Copernicus and Galileo removed from the Catholic Index of Forbidden Books?


Analyze William Manchester’s point of view in A WORLD LIT ONLY BY FIRE. Does the title of the book tell you anything? How does he perceive the religious world of that time? How does he evaluate Luther’s and Magellan’s contributions? These are not a list of specific questions to be answered in the essay, but suggested thoughts to help you analyze. You should include brief quotes from the book to illustrate your points. The essence of the essay is to evaluate how objective Manchester is. Does he appear to have a bias?

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