Andrew Koh
Period 3
November 4, 2011
AP European History DBQ
From the Renaissance to the Modern era, festivals and carnivals were one way to release the tensions between the upper and lower classes. Festivities ranged from simple charivari to mockery as people became heedless to the social structure and class to all come together and just have some fun. However, the upper class members were using these festivals and carnivals in order to prevent any reformation, opposition, or revolution from the lower classes, and keep their hold on their country regardless of how badly oppressed the lower classes were.
The nature of these festivities was generally wild and anarchic as one Lutheran pastor, Baltasar Rusow, describes, as he frowned upon the actions of the people during these festivities, that many were in disorder, whoring, fighting, and even killing.(doc 2) Even the paintings of Pieter Brueghel the Elder had shown, particularly in “Battle Between Carnival and Lent” painted in 1559, the chaos and disorder the lower classes caused during these carnivals.(doc 3) The unrestrained nature of these festivities was, however, supported by the nobles as they enjoyed along with the lower class men of their mockery by the lower classes, as a Dominican monk, Brother Ciovanni di Carlo in Florence, had described.(doc 1) This was a tactic used by the upper class to lighten the tension and relations between them and the lower class. Such as Juvenal’s famous statement “panem et circenses”, bread and circus, was a metaphor to the people’s appeasement despite any oppressive rule, so as long as that they are kept busy with free food and a spectacle. Thereby encouraging the lower classes to have their festivals with such little control over these carnivals, the upper class were able to prevent upward mobility from the middle class as well as any hint of revolution or reformation. To further this point R. Lassels, a French traveler commenting on an Italian Carnival, claims that...