Changing Cultural Traditions NCERT Notes for Class 11 history chapter 7

Class 11 History Chapter 7 Changing Cultural Traditions

BoardCBSE Board, UP board, JAC board, HBSE Board, Bihar Board, PSEB board, RBSE Board, UBSE Board
Class11th Class
ChapterChapter 7
Chapter NameChanging Cultural Traditions
TopicChanging Cultural Traditions NCERT Notes for Class 11 History Chapter 7
Especially Designed Notes forCBSE, ICSE, IAS, NET, NRA, UPSC, SSC, NDA, All Govt. Exam

NCERT Notes for Class 11 history chapter 7 Changing Cultural Traditions, (History) exam are Students are taught thru NCERT books in some of state board and CBSE Schools. As the chapter involves an end, there is an exercise provided to assist students prepare for evaluation. Students need to clear up those exercises very well because the questions with inside the very last asked from those.

This chapter deals with some of the earliest cities of Mesopotamia i.e. present day Iraq. These cities were developed around temples and were the important centres of long distance trade. Archaeological evidence, remains of old settlements, huge written material have been used to reconstruct the history of people who lived here. We will study the role of pastoral people, settled agriculture and writing in development of cities. Important developments like settled communities, use of metals and increase in trade and commerce with other people from distant lands will also be studied in detail.

NCERT Notes for Class 11 history chapter 7 Changing Cultural Traditions

Class 11 history chapter 7 Changing Cultural Traditions

It was Renaissance that marked the change of cultural traditions in Europe

Sources of History

  • From 14th century, There is a lot of material in the form of documents, printed books, paintings, sculptures ,buildings, textiles etc.
  • Many of these material has been carefully preserved in archives, art galleries and museums in Europe and America.
  • Historians from 19th century started using term renaissance(rebirth) to describe the cultural changes of this period.

Jacob Burckhardt and his view about Renaissance

  • Jacob Burckhardt(1818-97) was a Swiss scholar from the University of Basle of Switzerland.
  • he was a student of the German historian Leopold von Ranke (1795-1886 CE).
  • Ranke had taught him that the historian should write about states and politics using papers and files of government departments.
  • Jacob was dissatisfied with these very limited goals that his master had set out for him.
  • For Jacob, politics was not the only thing in history writing. Culture was as important as the politics in history.
  • In 1860 CE, Jacob wrote in his book ‘The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy’, he referred the literature, architecture and painting to describe how a new humanist culture had flowered in Italian towns from the 14thcentury to seventeenth century.
  • He also wrote the development of new beliefs of this culture as the man of that age was capable of making his own decisions and developing his skills as an individual.
  • He further wrote that man was modern in matters of thinking in contrast to the medieval man whose thinking was controlled by the Church.

Changes that occurred in Europe between 14thcentury and 17thcentury A.D

  • In Europe from 14th century to the end of 17th century, a number of towns had grown in different countries together with distinctive ‘urban culture’.
  • The people of towns started to think that they were more civilised than the people of villages.
  • Many towns developed as centers of art and education such as Florence, Venice and Rome of Italy.
  • The rich and aristocratic class began to patronise artists and writers.
  • The invention of printing press made books and other printed materials easily available.
  • A new sense of history developed in Europe and people divided history as medieval and modern.
  • The developments in science and geography broke all the traditional notions of church like earth was the centre of solar system and Mediterranean sea was the center of the world.

The Revival of Italian Cities

Factors that led to the revival of Italian Cities

  • After the decline of the Roman Empire, the towns of Italy which were political and cultural center, were fell into ruin.
  • This was so because there was no unified government and the pope in Rome was not a strong political figure.
  • After the fall of Roman Empire, western Europe was restructured by feudal bonds and unified under the Latin Church.
  • Eastern Europe went under the rule of Byzantine Empire and Islam was building a common society further west.
  • At this time, Italy was weak and fragmented.
  • All these developments indirectly helped in the revival of the Italian culture.

Growth of Italian Town

  • The ports on the Italian coast revived because of the developments of trade between the Byzantine empire and the Islamic countries.
  • From the 12th century, the Mongols started trading with china through the Silk Route and as trade increased with European countries, Italian cities played a vital role.
    • Italian town no longer saw themselves as past of powerful empire but cities kept their identity as independent city states.
    • Florence and Venice were republics and many other were court-cities, ruled by princes.
  • One of the most vibrant cities was Venice and another was Genoa.
    • They were different from other parts of Europe in many ways.
    • For example, neither the clergy nor feudal lords were politically dominant here.
  • Rich merchants and bankers participated in governing the city which helped in establishing the idea of citizenship.
    • The pride felt by the townspeople in being citizens was very strong even when these towns were ruled by cruel military rulers.

Universities and Humanism

Role of Universities in spreading Humanism

  • In Europe ,earlier universities were established in Italian towns.
  • The universities Padua and Bologna had been center of legal studies from 11th century.
  • There was increasing demand for lawyers and notaries (a combination of solicitor and record-keeper) because commerce was the chief activity in the city.
  • Only these professionals could write and interpret rules and write agreements, without which trade on a large scale was not possible.
  • Due to this, law became the popular subject of study. It was studied in the context of earlier Roman culture.
  • Francisco Petrarch represented this change and stressed the significance of a deep reading of ancient authors.
  • The educational programme of that period was a means of study more which religious teaching alone could not give.
  • The historians in the 19th century labelled this culture as humanism.


  • The term humanist began to be applied in early 15th century for masters who could teach grammar, rhetoric, poetry, history and philosophy.
    • Humanities was derived from Latin word ‘Humanitas’.
  • These subjects had no connection with religion.
    • They were developed through discussions and debates of individuals.
  • These ideas influenced other universities also especially in newly established university in Florence, the home town of Petrarch.
    • By 15th century, Florence became famous as trade and education center.
  • A city was known not only for its wealth but also for its citizens and Florence had become popular because of Dante Alighieri a layman who wrote religious themes and Giotto, an artist who painted lifelike portraits.
  • From then Florence was developed as the most exciting intellectual city in Italy and a center of artistic creativity.
  • Persons with many interests and skill were referred as renaissance man.

The Humanist View of History

  • The humanists thought that an age of darkness existed for centuries after the decline of the Roman Empire, which they termed as ‘dark age’.
    • Later scholars assumed that ‘new age’ began after the 14thcentury.
  • The period of thousand years(a millennium) after the fall of Roman Empire was considered as ‘Middle Ages’ or ‘Medieval Period’.
  • About ‘middle ages’ they said that religion or church controlled the minds of all men in a way that all the learning of the Greeks and Romans had been washed out.
  • The humanists termed the period from the 15th century as ‘modern’.
  • Modern historians were debating over labelling of an age as dark which they thought as an unfair thing.

Periodisation used by humanists

5th-14th centuryThe Middle Ages
5th -9th centuryThe Dark Ages
9th-11th centuryThe Early Middle Ages
11th-14th centuryThe Late Middle Ages
15th century onwardsThe Modern Age

Science and philosophy: the Arab’s Contribution

Developments in Science and Philosophy and Arab’s Contribution.

  • The monks and clergymen were familiar with the works of Greek and Roman scholars from the ‘middle Ages’ but they did not left them get known to other people.
  • By 14th century many scholars started to read the translation of Greek writers like Plato and Aristotle.
  • They were translated and preserved by Arab translators.
  • Some Europeans read Greek works in Arabic translation and the Greek translated Arabic and Persian scholars work in European languages.
  • These works were on natural science, mathematics, astronomy, medicine and chemistry.
  • The Almagest of Ptolemy was the work of 140 CE on astronomy in Greek language and was translated into Arabic.
  • It carried in Arabic alphabet ‘al’ which shows connection with Arabs.
  • Ibn Sina, an Arb physician and philosopher of Bukhara and al-Razi the author of medieval encyclopaedia were considered as men of knowledge in Italian states.
  • The Christian thinkers adopted the method of Arab philosopher of Spain(Ibn Rushd) who tried to resolve the tension between philosophical knowledge and religious faith.

Artists and Realism

  • Humanism was not only propagated through education but also by art, architecture and books.
  • The artists were inspired by studying the works of the past.
  • The material remains including fragments of art wee found on the ruins of ancient Rome and other deserted cities .
  • Italian sculptors were influenced with perfectly proportioned male and female figures Donatello initiated the new ground with his life like statues.

Artists and Science

  • The artists were helped by the scientists by making accurate human figures.
  • The artists went to laboratories of medical schools for studying bone structures.
  • A professor of medicine Andreas Vesalius at the university of Padua first dissected the human body, which was the beginning of modern physiology.


  • Painters did not get any older work.
  • So they painted as realistically and their pictures had a three-dimensional effect due to the use of light effect of colour.
  • The use of anatomy, geometry and physics together with logic of ‘what is beautiful’ created a quality called realism introduced in Italian art which continued up to the 19th century.

Architecture: Paintings, Sculptors, Relief

Architectural Developments of the Period

  • In the 15thcentury, Rome made its mark in a spectacular way.
  • Since the Popes were politically stronger by 1417, after the weakness caused by the election of two rival Popes in 1378,they actively encouraged study of Rome.
  • The new classical architecture was actually a revival of the Imperial Roman Style.
  • The wealthy merchants ,popes and aristocrats engaged those architects who were familiar with classical architecture.
  • Artists and sculptors began to decorate buildings with paintings ,sculptures and reliefs.
  • Several persons were expert equally as painters, sculptors and architects.

Famous Architects

  • Michaelangelo Buonarroti is remembered for his immortal work in Rome such as the painted ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
    • The sculpture called ‘The Pieta’ and the design of the dome of St. Peter’s Church.
    • Filippo Brunelleschi started his career as a sculptor but became famous for designing the Duomo of Florence.
  • By this time artists were famous individually, by their name instead being a member of a group or a guild.

Development of Printing technology

  • Europeans borrowed the idea of printing technology from Chinese people because the European traders and diplomats became familiar with it during their visits to the Mongol rulers’ courts. Earlier texts were found in hand written form.

Advantages of Printing Technology

  • Johannes Gutenberg, a German ,made first printing press and printed 150 copies of the Bible in 1455 .
    • The same time was taken by a monk to write a single copy of the Bible.
  • All classical texts in Latin had been printed in Italy by 1500 AD. With he availability of printed books ,the dependency of students over lecture notes was ended.
    • The ideas, opinions and information spread widely and rapidly.
  • The printed books promoted new views rapidly.
    • This made it possible for individuals to read books ,as it was possible to buy a copy for oneself.
  • The printed books were the chief factor to spread humanist culture quickly across the Alps by the end of 15th century.

The New Concept of Human Beings

  • One of the features of humanist culture was a loosening of the control of religion over human life.
  • Italians remained religious though they were attracted by material wealth, power and glory.
  • A humanist from Venice, Francesco Barbaro wrote pamphlet in defence of the possession of the wealth and called it a virtue.
  • Lorenzo Valla who thought that the study of history leads a man to attempt for a life of perfection, he in his book On Pleasure condemned the Christian restriction against pleasure.
  • There was a concern over good manners that how one should speak politely and dress properly.
  • Humanism stressed that individuals were able of shaping their own lives through resources rather than the mere search of power and money.
  • This belief was linked with view that human nature was many-sided which went against the three separate orders that feudal society believed in.
  • Machiavelli believed that ‘all men are bad and ever ready to display their vicious nature partly because of the fact that human desires are insatiable’.

The Aspiration of Women(Condition of Women)

  • The new ideas like individuality and citizenship regarding human beings excluded women.
  • Men from aristocratic families led the public life and were the decision-makers of their families. The sons were provided with education to lead a family business or public life.
  • Women had no say in business matters though their dowries were invested in family business, marriages were a means to support business alliances.
  • Those girls whose dowry was not arranged were sent to convents to lead the life of nuns.
    • The women were looked upon as keeper of households only.
    • The condition of women in families of merchants was in contrast to that of aristocratic families.
  • They assisted their husbands in running the business.
    • The wives of merchants and bankers looked after their business when they were away.
    • The early death of a merchant forced his widow to play a bigger public role rather than the women of aristocratic family.
  • Several women were intellectual humanists. Venetian Cassandra Fedele was one of them.
    • She was known for her proficiency in Greek and Latin language and was invited to deliver lectures at the University of Padua.
  • Her works focus the general regard the general regard for education.
    • Fedele was among those women who criticised the republic for creating a highly limited definition of liberty that favoured the wishes of men over those of women.
  • Another outstanding woman was the Marches of Mantua, Isabella d’Este.
  • She ruled the state in the absence of her husband and the court of that small state got fame for its intellectual vividness.
  • The writings of women of that period revealed their confidence that they should have economic power, property and education to get individuality in a world dominated by men.

Changes within the Christianity

  • In the 15th and 16th centuries, the north European universities’ scholars were attracted by humanist ideas.
  • Like Italian scholars they also paid attention to classical Greek and Roman texts together with the sacred books of the Christians.
  • The professional scholars led the humanist movement which also influenced the members of the church.
  • They discarded the meaningless rites which they considered as later additions and directed the Christians to follow the religion mentioned in ancient texts of their religion.

The Christian humanists like Thomas More of England and Erasmus of Holland assumed that the church in their respective country had become a center of greed and extortion money forcibly from common men.

  • The selling of ‘indulgence’ document was one of the method to obtain money.
  • The Indulgences promised the people to free them from the sins committed by them in the past.
  • The printed Bible in local languages disclosed the Christians that their religion did not allow such practises.
  • The peasants ,commons and the princes began to rebel against taxes imposed by the Church and their increasing interference in the work of the state.

In 1517,Martin Luther ,a German monk, started the protestant Reformation against the Catholic Church.

  • He said that a person did not need priest to set up contact with God.
  • That led to the break-up of German and Swiss Churches with the Pope and Catholic Church.

In Switzerland, Ulrich Zwingli and Jean Calvin followed Martin Luther’s ideas.

  • These reformers had greater popular support in towns and rural areas.
  • Other German reformers like Anabaptists were more radical.
  • They blended the idea of salvation to all kinds of social oppression.
  • They argued that God has created all men as equals and therefore ,they are not expected to pay tax and have the right to choose their priests.
  • These ideas influenced the feudal oppressed peasantry and they revolted.
  • Martin Luther opposed radicalism and asked the German rulers to suppress the rebellions in 1525.
  • In England, the rulers broke the connection with the Pope.
    • The King or queen was the head of the church from then onwards.

In Spain, Ignatius Loyola organised the Society of Jesus in 1540.

  • His followers were called Jesuits.
  • The aim of the society was to serve poor and to widen their knowledge of other cultures.

The Developments in Science and Astronomy (The Copernican Revolution)

  • The scientists had questioned the Christian notion of man as a sinner.
  • The Christians believed that the earth was a place of sin and the burden of sin made it stationary.
  • The earth was centre of universe around which celestial planets moved.
  • Copernicus developed a theory that earth together with other planets revolved around the sun.
  • He handed over his manuscript De revolutioni bus (The Rotation) to his disciple Joachim Rheticus before his death. People took time to accept the truth.

Johannes Kepler popularised the theory that earth is a part of sun-centred solar system. In his Cosmographical

  1. Mystery, he demonstrated that planets revolved around the sun not in circle but in eclipses.
    • Galileo Galilee in his work ‘The Motion’ proved the notion of dynamic world.
    • The revolution in science reached its climax with the theory of gravitation by Isaac Newton.
    • The works of extended rapidly into the forms of physics ,chemistry and biology.
    • Historians termed this new approach to the knowledge of man and nature as the Scientific Revolution.
  2. As a result of this ,in the minds of sceptics and non-believers Nature replaced God as a source of creation.
    • The believers of God said that their God did not directly control the act of living in the world.
    • A new scientific culture came into existence as several scientific societies popularised distant God’s idea.
    • The scientific societies were formed like the Royal Society of London in 1662 and the Paris Academy in 1670.
    • They held lectures and carried out experiments for public viewing.

The concept of Renaissance

  • Modern writers like Peter Burke of England suggested that Burckhardt exaggerated the sharp distinction between this period and the one that preceded it by terming it as ‘Renaissance’.
  • The term implied the rebirth of the Greek and Roman civilizations and the substitution of the pre-Christian world for the Christian world by the artists and scholars of that period. Both these arguments were exaggerated.
  • By terming the Renaissance as a period of imaginative creativity and the Middle Ages as a period of darkness is a easy generalisation.
  • The elements of Renaissance were already seen from 12th and 13th centuries. Even in 9th century in France ,same type of literary and artistic efforts flourished.

The archaeological and literary findings of Roman culture show that the technologies and skills in Asia had contributed to the cultural changes of Europe.

  • The expansion of Islam and Mongol invasions linked Asia and North Africa with Europe in trade and learning skills along with political connections.
  • Europe along with Romans and Greeks got knowledge from India, China, Iran, Arabia and Central Asia.
  • The Asian contributions were soon forgotten with the writing of history from the Europe-centred viewpoint.

An important change that did happen in this period was the gradual separation of the public and private life of a person.

  • By 18th century ,in political sense all men had equal political rights.
  • Europe which was united earlier, now got dissolved into states, each united on the basis of common language.

Important events

I. Important events of the 14th century

  • Humanism taught as subject in Padua University in Italy(1300)
  • Petrarch given the title of ‘Poet Laureate’ in Rome(1341)
  • Establishment of University in Florence (1349)
  • Publication of Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer(1390)

II. Important events of the 15th century

  • Designing of the Duomo in Florence by Brunelleschi(1436)
  • Defeat of the Byzantine ruler of Constantinople by the Ottoman Turks (1453)
  • Printing of the Bible with movable type by Gutenberg(1454)
  • Calculation of latitude by observing the sun by Portuguese mathematicians(1484)
  • Columbus reached America (1492)
  • The Last Supper painted by Leonardo da Vinci(1495)
  • Painting of the Sistine Chapel ceiling by Michaelangelo(1512)

III. Important events of the 16th century

  • Publication of Utopia by Thomas More(1516)
  • Martin Luther gave the Ninety Five Theses(1517)and translated the Bible into German (1522)
  • Peasant uprising in Germany(1525)
  • Andreas Vesalius wrote ‘On Anatomy’ (1543)
  • Anglican church with king/queen as head was established in England (1559)
  • Gerhardus Mercator prepared cylindrical map of the earth(1569)
  • Pope Gregory XIII Introduced the Gregorian calendar(1582) IV.

Important events of the 17th century

  • William Harvey linked the heart with blood circulation(1628)
  • Academy of sciences founded in Paris (1673)
  • Isaac Newton published ‘Principia Mathematica'(1687)

Leonardo Davinci (1452-1519)

  • Leonardo Davinci was a versatile genius who had command over botany, anatomy, mathematics, art etc.
  • He painted the Monalisa and The Last Supper.
  • He dreamed for ability to fly and spent so many years observing birds in flight and designed a flying machine.
  • He used to sign his name ‘Leonardo da Vinci’ meaning ‘disciple of experiment.

NCERT Notes for Class 11 History

NCERT Notes for Class 11 History
Chapter 1 From the Beginning of Time
Chapter 2 Writing and City Life
Chapter 3 An Empire Across Three Continents
Chapter 4 The Central Islamic Lands
Chapter 5 Nomadic Empires
Chapter 6 The Three Orders
Chapter 7 Changing Cultural Traditions
Chapter 8 Confrontation of Cultures
Chapter 9 The Industrial Revolution
Chapter 10 Displacing Indigenous Peoples
Chapter 11 Paths to Modernisation

Key words

Humanism: The Latin word humanists from which ‘humanities was derived had been used many centuries ago by the Roman lawyer and essayist Cicero. It is not drawn from or connected with religion.

Renaissance Man :The term Renaissance man is often used to describe a person with many interests and skills. They were scholar-diplomat-theologian-artist combined in one

The New Testament:The New Testament is the section of the Bible dealing with the life and teachings of Christ and his early followers.

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