The Mayflower Compact

The Mayflower CompactThe Mayflower Compact is known as a historic agreement created and signed by the new Settlers (the Pilgrims). In the end of 1620, over a hundred of the Pilgrims crossed the Atlantic on the ship Mayflower and arrived to the New World near Cape Cod, the coast of Massachusetts.

They established a new colony there and, knowing that earlier settlements failed because of the absence of proper government and strong leadership, they signed the Mayflower Compact. Formally, this agreement was setting up the government of the colony and, by signing this document, the settlers declared their willingness to abide the rules and laws established by the government for the sake of survival of the colony.

The idea of creating and signing the Compact came from the belief in covenants. The Puritans of the Old World believed that covenants can also take place between man and man. At that, the Puritans had honored covenants as one of the key elements shaping their social behavior and attitude. Therefore, the Mayflower Compact must be considered as a covenant of equal laws and equal rights for the colonists, which provided for their social and civil equality, economic and religious freedom, and so on.

This document has a great historic meaning and significance. First of all, it was the first agreement enforced on American territories, which was declaring self-government. By signing the Mayflower Compact, the settlers established the tradition of social contract: a political concept that means giving up certain rights to the authorities (government) in order to maintain social order. However, the most important initiative was to originate the institution of government based on the consent of the governed.

The Age of Exploration

The age of exploration began in the 15th century and lasted for about 200 years. It is the period of time, connected with the effort of the Europeans (mainly the Spaniards and the Portuguese) to explore new lands in Western Hemisphere. During this historical period a lot of new territories were discovered, as well as a great advancement was achieved in shipbuilding technology, navigation, cartography, and so on.

The main motifs driving the Europeans to discover new lands included the desire to spread European domination and religion around new territories and demonstrate the power of Europe. Some were driven by the idea to establish new opportunities for commerce. Also, many were simply overfilled with the desire to find new lands and remain in the world’s history. Finally, a lot of explorers were looking for gold, treasures, richness and wealthy life.

One of the most known and key breakthroughs of that time was the discovery of American lands by Christopher Columbus, a Spanish navigator, who intended to travel to India on his ship Santa Maria and reached the islands of Central America. He made several successful attempts to cross the Atlantic Ocean and became the first European to discover the Caribbean, the Bahamas, Cuba, Haiti, Trinidad and various parts of American continent.
Nevertheless, not every important discovery during the age of exploration had positive effects in historical framework. In particular, a Spanish explorer Hernan Cortes discovered Mexican lands, where the Aztec and Inca Empires built a developed civilization.  As a result, the Spaniards ruined the Empire, expropriated all its treasures and enslaved its population. Therefore, one of the most advanced cultures of those times was laid to waste.

The Dark Ages

The Dark AgesHistorical period of the Early Middle Ages (500 – 1000 AD) in Europe is called the Dark Ages. It was marked by the fall of Roman Empire, one of the most advanced and powerful world’s civilizations. Negative outcomes of the collapse included economic depression, recession of trade, as well as social and technological development, population decrease, a great number of armed conflicts and violence throughout the continent. Finally, numerous invaders, including the Vandals or Goths, aspired to dominate in Europe and within a century almost devastated the territories of its Western and Central parts.

As a result of territorial split and continuous wars, a great migration of population started. It caused a lot of cultural, language and religious conflicts throughout European lands. Migration seriously affected the development of some cultures in the northern parts of Europe, including Viking or Pict cultures. Besides, a lot of valuable historical monuments and records were ravaged and destroyed. Therefore, a gradual recovery and resurrection of the Western Europe started only in the end of the eighth century with the rise of Italian, French and Anglo-Saxon kingdoms.

It is impossible to say that there was nothing positive and progressive going on in Europe during this historical period. In Early Middle Ages a powerful Byzantine Empire (the Eastern Roman Empire) became a center of economic development and cultural evolution. Besides, Christianization of Western Europe became a new cultural landmark, which played a crucial role and had a huge cultural impact due to popularization of secular learning. It laid the foundation for another historical epoch of enlightenment.