Europe: Age of Monarchy (Exam Two, Spring 2003) What are the strengths of each essay? How could they be improved?
What letter grade would you give each essay? Justify your grade. 1) Sample Essay:
The Central Middle Ages was a time of growth and change economically, religiously, politically, and culturally. These changes began with a rise in population and the changing role of cities. Near the end of the Early Middle Ages several new techniques allowed for the growing population. The three-field system, in which two-thirds of the land was farmed and one-third lay fallow, used more land and restored nutrients to the soil. This differed from the old two-field system where only one half was farmed. Secondly, new mining techniques made more iron available allowing heavy iron plows, tools, and weapons to be made. In addition to an improving climate, the combined use of iron plows, more powerful horses (instead of oxen), and the three-field system made much more food available to support a growing population.
With the swelling population, towns & cities grew rapidly and some became overcrowded. The need for more urban living space brought about tenant housing. These were small apartment-like houses on the second floor above the village shops. Unlike cities in the past, these medieval cities were more than just political and religious centers. They became economic centers where people could buy and sell goods, such as woolen textiles. Many were just local traders, but some, especially Italians and Jews, were long range traders bringing goods from as far away as the Byzantine Empire and the Muslim East. As the economy shifted from a gift to a profit economy, peasants working for their lords no longer gave them things like three bushels of grain and one pig to their lord. Instead they now paid (or were paid) in money. Merchants also had to pay sales tax to the lord. Even with this tax, many merchants became very wealthy. This commercial revolution benefited everyone from the lords to the peasants and all enjoyed a better standard of living.
The commercial revolution also contributed to the formation of guilds. These were groups of tradesmen who joined together to regulate products, protect traders, and set standards of quality. Within the guilds there were three levels: the apprentices, the journeymen, and the masters. The apprentice studied under the master learning the trade for a period of about 5 years until becoming journeymen. The journeymen worked out in the market for wages and, after many years, they could become master of their trade and could take on their own students. Women did not join guilds until much later and even then could only rise to journeymen status.
The commercial revolution had far reaching effects beyond the economy, affecting all aspects of medieval life. The church began reforms as Leo IX expanded papal power. Reforming popes first tried to stop certain sins and abuses of the clergy such as the buying of church offices (simony) and regulating clerical celibacy. The formation of this “papal monarchy” reached its high point during the Investiture Conflict between Pope Gregory VII and Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV. In this case, the major issue was who had the power and authority to invest bishops. It led to a civil war, several excommunications, and eventually the king kept the right to elect bishops but the pope had to approve of the candidates (Diet of Worms, 1122). In the short term this accomplished very little, but people no longer considered secular rulers the head of the church and it laid the groundwork for the separation of church and state.
Many secular rulers, while coming into conflicts with the papacy, began to strengthen and centralize their power. Some followed the English method of using paid officers to run the kingdom instead of relying only on the loyalty of vassals. This started in England after the Norman Conquest of 1066. William the Conqueror used it as a way to have the government run smoothly even when he was in Normandy.
Beginning in 1050, the commercial revolution took hold, influencing the development of a profit economy, which transformed Western Europe into the central middle ages. The economic growth of this period sparked renewal and reform in other areas as well including religion, politics, & new developments in learning, thought, and artistic expression.
Renewal and reform began with the commercial revolution. The population of Europe was expanding so rapidly that different networks decided to come together to create the profit-based economy. Agriculture was enhanced and there was much more land to farm, which meant there were extra crops that helped supporting the growing population. Commercial centers developed along the countryside, within the walls of the towns and near monasteries. Within the centers, items from food surpluses to luxury goods were traded. This brought great wealth to the lords because while it bettered their lifestyle, they also received tolls & sales taxes from the merchants.
The Church was affected by the commercial revolution as well. They began to disagree with the secular power being over the church and decided to start a church reform movement. Their goal was to free the church. One example is the Clunaic reform. They believed in clerical celibacy and thought the laity could become more righteous & discontinue its repression of the poor. They also placed a new emphasis on the sacraments including the sanctity of marriage, establishing guidelines, such as a priest was to conduct the ceremony to make it legal.
The pope’s role was also strengthened with Leo IX. He helped create a canon law book (the collection of 74 titles), which was in strong favor of the pope and the level of his powers. Another reforming pope, Gregory VII was involved in the Investiture Conflict with Emperor Henry IV. This arose over the Emperor’s right to “invest” bishops, but the conflict was not resolved until after they had both died.
The church also began supporting holy wars in the name of Christianity as the papacy tried to gain back the Holy Land from the Muslims. Starting with Urban II in 1095, several crusades combined war with pilgrimage in trying to protect Christians, export violent knights, and unite Eastern Orthodox and Western Catholic Christians who had been split since the Great Schism of 1054. While most crusades failed, they laid the groundwork for later overseas expansion and expanded trade.
The growing economy directly influenced the strong new organization of the political and religious sectors of Western Europe, which laid the foundations for new forms of scholarship and religious expression. As some guilds of students grew into universities in like Bologna, Paris, & Oxford, scholarship was broken into two sections: the trivium began the seven liberal arts with Latin language skills and the quadrivium stressed mathematical subjects. Aristotle and logic were the foundations of the scholastic university curriculum.
New organizations and institutions boosted the confidence of Western Europeans in the Central Middle Ages and culture was influenced by the growth of vernacular language used to write literature & poetry as opposed to Latin. As they grew more confident they began to question the different types of authority & began testing new forms of government.