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The thirteenth century saw the triumph of the Gothic style in architecture in the building of great cathedrals all across Europe, a phenomenon much celebrated by modern art historians. The material support offered to ecclesiastical institutions is probably most often explored by historians with regard to aristocratic patronage and to donations made in connection with the preparations for a 'Good Death'. The Fourth Lateran Council, for example, apparently dealt with the issue by decreeing that all sacraments had to be administered for free, contrary to customary practice. The papacy not only tried to control lay payments to local churches more vigorously but ecclesiastical expenditure also became the object of scrutiny and legislation in the thirteenth century. The earliest English examples show that initially bishops who approved such grants considered them to be temporary and required owners to attend parish services as well. One document from the city hospital in Vienna can illustrate the new directions of material support.
Late medieval Europe had long been linked with Asia via tenuous land routes, as had Asia with America across the Pacific, but it was not until the Portuguese thrust into the Atlantic early in the fifteenth century that the last great oceanic hiatus in global intercommunication came to be closed. The Portuguese thrust outward, however, was not limited to pushing down the west coast of Africa, important though that finally proved to be. These sailings inevitably brought them into contact with the islands of the Atlantic, nearby Madeira and the Canaries to begin with, the Azores and the Cape Verdes later. In the context of Portugal's prior Atlantic experience, the nature of Brazil was ambiguous. In most respects, it appeared to be simply another Atlantic island, but unlike Madeira or the Azores, it was populated by savage though comely natives. During the factory period, Portuguese relations with the Indians had been generally amicable.
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