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Tutor profile: Louis T.

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Louis T.
Oxford student offering History tuition
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Questions

Subject: World History

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Question:

Why were Jesuit missionaries relatively successful at converting the indigenous population of Central and South America?

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Louis T.
Answer:

The secret to the success of missionaries in the New World, particularly those operating as the thin end of an Iberian imperialist wedge, was compromise. Compromising Christian monotheism with native polytheism, hybridising Catholic and 'pagan' imagery. The teachings of the Society of Jesus were assimilated with such ease, relative to Jesuit missionary efforts in East Asia, for example, because they were modulated with native tradition in order to make them more acceptable. For example, the cult of St. Anne, a fixture of Counter-Reformation Catholicism, was deliberately conflated with that of Toci: both were maternal figures, though the former was the mother of the Virgin Mary and the latter was worshipped by the Aztecs as a goddess. Much of the art produced in this period, particularly feather mosaics (a traditional indigenous art form) depicts St. Anne in a manner similar to that of Toci. By permitting this hybridisation, missionaries made Christian doctrine more palatable, to use a colloquialism. A further example of this tolerance for aspects of indigenous culture was learning and preaching in native languages: by giving sermons in the vernacular, rather than in Spanish, Portuguese or Latin, it was possible for the native population to understand the 'word of God'. Where translations fell short, visual imagery could assist in conveying the Jesuit's message. The flexibility of these missionaries enabled one of the greatest successes of Tridentine Catholicism: the relatively peaceful Christianisation of the Americas.

Subject: European History

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Question:

To what extent was the 'Military Revolution' in the Early Modern period unique to Western Europe?

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Louis T.
Answer:

The notion of a 'Military Revolution', first articulated by Roberts in the mid-20th century, was expanded upon by Parker in order to consider other aspects of warfare in Early Modern Europe, particularly in terms of fortifications and naval conflict. Parker suggested that these technological developments ultimately enabled the triumph of the West by the mid-17th century, enabling overseas expansion and the emergence of global imperialism. A compelling thesis, and one which has many merits. However, if we are to fully understand these technological developments, we must look Eastwards - the gunpowder empire of the Ottomans, centred in the imperial cannon foundries of Istanbul. The artillery developments there threatened Christendom, particularly Habsburg territories. The resultant arms race provoked Western kingdoms and republics to centralise military production, particularly of powder mills and ammunition - effectively organising into proto-states. Centralisation in order to achieve standardisation was a direct response to Ottoman expansion. In order to resist this expansion, Western powers had to adopt and innovate the technologies first utilised to great effect by the Sultan's armies.

Subject: Art History

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Question:

Should interwar British artistic output be regarded as gendered more towards the feminine than the masculine?

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Louis T.
Answer:

It might certainly be argued that the trauma of the First World War, particularly on the Western Front, resulted in many British painters and sculptors, some of whom were veterans themselves, making a conscious decision to move away from aggressively masculine subjects. Certainly, one can detect in the works of Augustus John and Eric Kennington, for example, a more sedately masculine, even feminine (particularly in John's case) quality to their works. The crisis of British self-assurance was exposed under the conditions of mechanised war in Europe, a far cry from the imperial domination of jingoistic art and literature, works which usually played upon the notion of robust masculinity - the so called 'stiff upper lip'.

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