Covid19 and Its Political Aspect in Europe

It is often forgotten by many political commentators that the most revolutionary modern
movements of Renaissance and Religious Reformation since the 14th century onward was
launched after the arrival of the largest and longest ever pandemic of plague in Europe
(from 1346 to 1350). Statistics were still patchy indeed, nevertheless, it was claimed that
one third of the total population of Europe had to be perished. Some say, the virus had
spread from the most-extended Eurasian Empire of Mongols, which then occupied the
eastern half of today’s European continent, and China was at the eastern fringe of the
empire. As realistically depicted in Boccaccio’s The Decameron, people were struggling to
cope with their lives, while both Copernicus and Galileo were yet to be born, safe from their
insane critics.

After experiencing such agony, however, the modern spirit was created somehow by the
efforts of city states in Italy and spread to all other places in Europe who had the serious
business relationship with them. As Yuji Aida argued in Japan, ‘Renaissance and the
Reformation emerged almost simultaneously in the same sort of formation…back to its
tradition. The former was launched by the recognition of classical art and literature, the
latter by returning to the Bible from distorted medieval-teaching of priests.’

Together with the constant scientific and technological advancements, two great human
movements were trying to consolidate a new economic expansion by the emancipation of
individualism, where rulers had to give people a minimum form of economic assurance. By
the 16th century, the efforts were fortified by establishing the practices of international
diplomacy searching for eternal peace among the states that all equipped with the modern
common sense in Europe…This was a history, of course, but we need to do it again now
globally. And perhaps, in a much quicker pace.

Among the good things happening from this pandemic, everybody would agree to its
positive impact on reducing the risk of the approaching environmental disaster, while its
required economic policies are still arguable. It was not the issue at the time luckily on earth
and we cannot learn much from this history. However, how can we tackle and resolve such a
serious global issue with the current reality of the ideologically-divided world?

Yuji Aida

           Yuji Aida

                                              (1916 – 1997)

       Area of expertise: Academic Research/Renaissance and Reformation

       The Book selected: Renaissance, Kodan-sha, 1973

       Alma Mater: Kyoto University


It is our opinion that he analysed these two historical events most accurately as he firmly captured the existence and importance of precursory developments for both Renaissance and Reformation. It was all about the modern concept and its venture spirit, which led the world ever since.

The salient points of his findings are as follows:

1) Renaissance, or by Aida’s expression – ‘Centuries of Genius’, started in Milan first. When the power of the principal city opened for trade with all richest regions beyond its Northern Alps was taken over by, a parvenu, Gian Galeazzo Visconti (1351 – 1402), despite papal opposition. He was a tough and shrewd politician and the man who promoted new trend in art and literature, and built the city’s stunning Cathedral. Galeazzo insisted that government must be a rational enterprise that had to achieve a certain economic development for every participant in politics.

 2) For the Reformation, Aida insisted that John Wycliffe (1324 – 1384) started this movement initially in England, criticizing superstitious beliefs advocated by many priests such as selling remission of a sin. Despite the threatening pressures directed to him, the conscientious arguments put forward by Wycliffe had eventually influenced even a most prominent figure of the Reformation, such as Jan Hus who was pivotal to all German/French speaking regions and its dignitaries including Martin Luther and Jean Calvin.

So, what was Aida’s personal-geopolitical advantage? For instance, what would have happened, If Yukichi Fukuzawa wasn’t born in Nakatsu city in Kyushu as Samurai-class child in his time…instead, if he was living as a Marchant-class kid somewhere in Honshu? Then, Fukuzawa couldn’t have learned Dutch properly in Nagasaki, so most likely-scenario would have been, he had to abandon his brilliant career as the fatal detriment to the Japanese modernisation.

For Aida’s case, his most extraordinary experience occurred when he was contemplating his career as university lecturer. Then, he was suddenly enlisted to join the Japanese army as a soldier in Burma (…not in China, Indonesia, nor anywhere else but), and subsequently detained in a Rangoon’s British prison camp. During this period, he vividly saw the commanding system of two (one ancient and one modern) nations in the close vicinity. In that particular time, he had convincingly learned something about modern European organisation, its philosophy and culture, which was definitely positive for writing his own version of European history with such forceful observations.

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