Unit 3 Overview
Welcome to Early Europe and the Colonial Americas 🤗! Now that the Roman Empire and ancient civilizations of unit 2 have fallen (or at least settled down a little bit), we get to discover their respective countries and some new ones, too! This unit will go over the artistic movements of Europe from 200 to 1750 CE and explain how peoples' conversions to religions like Christianity and Islam and historical events influenced the art made there. Later in the unit, we'll also get to travel to European-conquered areas of the Americas and see how those traditions have syncretized with the continent's native artistic traditions. So, now that you're all excited for unit 3, let's get into the contextualization!
Contextualization (AKA The Historical Background) 🌍 🌎
Unit 3 is one of the longest units in AP Art History, which means that there's a lot of years and important historical events to cover 😬 Because we could be here all day talking about the contextualization of this unit, we decided to only go over the main events of this time period, which would later influence the art made in their respective movement(s).
Edict of Milan and the "Peace of the Church" 🕊️
In 313 AD, the emperors of the Roman Empire signed the Edict of Milan, which promised that its Christian citizens would no longer be persecuted by the government and that all of its citizens had the right to religious freedom. The period after this is now referred to as the "Peace of the Church," and led to the spread of Christianity across Europe.
Formation of the Byzantine Empire 🤴
One of the greatest empires of all time, the Byzantine Empire, was founded in 330 CE by Emperor Constantine I. After the Great Schism (splitting of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches), the people of the empire began to practice Eastern Orthodoxy, and this religious influence can be seen in Byzantine art.
Iconoclastic Controversy 👼
The Iconoclastic Controversy of the 8th and 9th centuries led to the destruction of and hostility toward artworks with icons (depictions of religious figures) on them. This led to political and social conflict between iconophiles (people who supported their use) and iconoclasts (people who were against their use).
Spread of Islam into al-Andalus ☪️
As Islam spread, it reached Spain in Europe, where the religion began to influence the art made there. The art made in Islamic Spain, especially architecture, began to fuse the artistic traditions of the Muslim world with ones that existed in Spain before being a part of the Umayyad Caliphate.
Hundred Years' War ⚔️
Fought between the French House of Valois and the English House of Plantagenet, the Hundred Years' War determined who had the right to rule over the Kingdom of France. After 116 years of fighting, the House of Valois were allowed to keep the throne, and England was forced to give up part of its territory.
Black Death of 1348 🐀
The Black Death of 1348 (or just the Black Death) was a pandemic across Europe, Asia, and North Africa caused by the transmission of the bubonic plague from fleas to humans. As a result of this event, anywhere from 75-200 million people lost their lives, which caused both social and religious turbulence in the continents.
Italian and Northern Renaissance 🇮🇹 🇧🇪 🇩🇪 🇳🇱
Both the Italian and Northern Renaissances were a time of artistic rebirth in Western and Southern Europe. In Italy, ancient Roman and Greek works became popular again, which inspired Renaissance artists to incorporate some of their elements into new works. The Northern Renaissance was influenced by Greco-Roman and humanistic ideals, as well, but also focused on religion.
Protestant Reformation ⛪
Initiated by monk Martin Luther, leaders of the Protestant Reformation challenged the Catholic Church for selling indulgences (donations that lessen your sins or allow you to go to Heaven) and engaging in heresy (actions or activities against the Christian doctrine) and simony (selling things that are spiritual like church roles). This led to the creation of the Protestant Church and its separation from the Catholic Church.
Spanish conquest of the Americas 🇪🇸
After "discovering" the Americas, Spanish conquistadors (conquerors) began to take land from the native people who were already living there and introduce them to their language, culture, and artistic style. This led to a blending of native and Spanish techniques and motifs (syncretism) in the art of unit 3.