Christianopolis by the German Johann Valentin Andreae likewise resembles Utopia in many respects. It is presented as told by one who was shipwrecked on a distant island whose capital city was Christianopolis. The citizens there use no money or own no property; thus all are on an equal basis economically and socially. Houses, furniture, food, and clothing are provided by the state without any discrimination. Men are married at 24, women at 18. Children are under their parents' care until they are of school age. After that they are reared by the community. Housekeeping arrangements are adequate but somewhat spartan. Husbands share in cooking, washing dishes, and making clothes.
On becoming Lord Chancellor after the fall of Cardinal Wolsey he was zealous in the persecution and burning of reformers and Protestant. More opposed the English translation of the Bible by William Tyndale. He could be cruel and was a bitter enemy of anyone who opposed the Church. Like most people of the age he was superstitious believing firmly in ghosts, omens in dreams and the literal interpretation of the Bible. More called for reform in the existing church but believed everyone should obey the Pope in Rome as a father is obeyed in the well ordered home. He would not brook breaking away from Roman Catholicism.
Still further afield from sailors' tales of island kingdoms but nevertheless enlightening in the broad study of man's aspirations toward a better world, one may consider some of the more sober expository documents such as: Rousseau's Discourse on the Origins of Inequality and his Social Contract, De Tocqueville's Democracy in America, Carlyle's Past and Present, Karl Marx's The Communist Manifesto, and Engel's "On Authority" from Socialism: Utopian and Scientific.
The religious history of the period is a dramatic one. Christianity, which for more than a thousand years had been represented throughout all of Western Europe by one church, the Roman Catholic Church, experienced a tremendous upheaval during the 16th century. The first overt action of revolt came in 1517 when Luther defied the authority of Rome. That marked the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, the consequences of which were that Europe was divided into numerous divergent sects and into warring camps. Actually, all of that turmoil occurred after More wrote his Utopia, but the causes of the Reformation were of long standing and had been a source of concern to conscientious Christians for at least two centuries. Among the principal evils alleged in the attacks against the church were arbitrary exercise of papal authority, greed of the clergy as revealed in the selling of pardons and of church offices, and the traffic in holy relics. Intelligent people were indignant over the propagation of superstitions to anesthetize the common people, and social critics were bitter over the enormous opulence of the church amid the poverty and squalor of the majority of Christians.
The Renaissance age has been styled "this brave new world" by many historians, viewing it as a radically new and brilliant development in Western civilization. That view, however, is not universal, some scholars quarreling with the claim that it was new, representing a great change from the late Middle Ages, and other scholars doubting its brilliance. Debate seems perpetual over the nature and the importance of the Renaissance; nevertheless, it can scarcely be denied that the outlook and the life style of Western people were greatly affected by certain achievements of the period; namely, the invention of printing, the development of gunpowder, and the improvement of navigational instruments and ship designs. Somewhat later than those developments, but still important contributions of the Renaissance, were the Copernican revolution in astronomy and the development of the telescope by Galileo. All of these factors not only produced substantial changes in people's lives, but they also generated a charged atmosphere of excitement and curiosity throughout Europe.
Denis Diderot's Supplement to Bougainville's "Voyage" (1772) is a prime example of the eighteenth-century vogue of primitivism which was spurred by Rousseau's thesis of the "noble savage" and which generated such novels as St. Pierre's Paul and Virginia and Chateaubriand's Atala. Diderot's book makes a case for the simple, natural ways of a South Sea Island culture as reported by Bougainville, a French explorer. The central portion of the story presents an imaginary dialogue between a French chaplain and a native of Tahiti (Orou) in which a comparison is made between the customs and institutions of Europe and those of Tahiti. The way of life of the islanders is eloquently defended, and that of the Europeans discredited. According to the Tahitian, man's natural instincts, which are equated with the laws of nature, are interpreted as justifying complete freedom in sexual relations. Their observance of community property is defended as minimizing personal conflicts and legal entanglements and promoting a general concern for the welfare of the community as a whole.