Medieval Europe Middle Ages

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Medieval Europe

  1. Middle Ages- The period of history between the end of the Roman Empire & the beginning of the Modern Age.

  2. St. Benedict- Gave up a life of wealth to devote himself to the teachings of Christianity. St. Benedict is credited with creating the first monastic order called the Benedictines. Benedictine monks believe the solution to problems was education…educate the people.

  3. St. Francis - Left a life of wealth to become someone who begs for food and serves the poorest in society. A famous St. Francis quote is, “Lord, give me the strength to accept the things I can not change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

  4. Chivalry- A Christian warrior’s rules or code of behavior.

  5. Monastery- A cloistered community of men devoted to God. The establishment of monasteries helped spread the ideas and teachings of Christianity. A monk’s life was spent in prayer, as well as copying down by hand ancient manuscripts usually religious in nature. Monasteries also served as places to heal the sick, and provide assistance for the needy, and provided Europe with the first Universities.

  6. Feudalism- Arose after the death of Charlemagne in an effort to establish political and social order in response to Viking invasions, and internal struggles for power; the effect of a weak central government. Feudalism provided a system for providing food, collecting taxes, and providing protection for the people. The highest ranking member of society during feudal times was the monarch or King, followed by the nobles & church leaders, followed by knights, squires and peasants.

  7. Vassal- A vassal took an oath of loyalty to the monarch in exchange for land similar to that of a lord.

  8. Serf- The lowest ranking member in feudal society. The serfs were property of the land, and were often mistreated. Their life was composed of long days laboring in the fields as farmers, and they lived in very basic accommodations. A serf did have the protection of the lord of the manor and were not required to go into battle during times of war.

  9. Charlemagne- Credited for trying to re-start the Roman Empire under Christianity. Charlemagne otherwise known as Charles the Great established some as semblance of law and order under his rule. He was controversially crowned emperor by the Pope of the Catholic Church, which symbolized that the church had the political power to decide who would rule the Kingdom. After the death of Charlemagne, much of the surrounding region under his control fell into chaos, and left people vulnerable to Viking invasions from the north. Feudalism was established to help provide social order and protection during the time of chaos.

  10. Coronation – a crowning ceremony

  11. Roman Catholic Church - The Christian church was established during Roman times, and grew in power and prominence after the fall of the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages. The church served as a spiritual guide for people, and provide a social & political structure in times of chaos. The church also preserved Ancient manuscripts from Greece and Rome, as well as early Christian doctrines. Through the church, monasteries served as early hospitals for the sick, provided alms for the poor, and established the first Universities in Europe.

  12. Excommunicate - The exclusion of a person from a religious community.

  13. Vikings - The Vikings originated in Norway & Denmark. The term to go-a-Viking meant to go on an oversea expedition. The native lands of the Vikings had very little suitable farmland, which lead to the invasion of central Europe to the south in an effort to seek food and resources. The French granted the Vikings a section of land called Normandy, (which translates to people from the North) in an effort to minimize invasion. The Vikings used this land as a launching point to invade England. Viking invasions lead to the establishment of Feudalism, as a way to protect manors from marauding invaders.

  14. William the Conqueror- Expanded the Norman Empire across the English Channel in order to claim the English throne. After several epic battles, which included the battle of Hastings, William’s forces took control of the region, and established the Motte and Bailey castles to protect his newly acquired land.

  15. Battle of Hastings - The famous battle in which William the Conqueror defeated Harold’s army by faking retreat and then turning and attacking the Saxons. As a result of the battle, Norman culture dramatically changes Saxon traditions, French words blended with Anglo-Saxon language, and the feudal system was established in England which increased the power of the English monarch.

  16. King John- He was known for raising taxes to support his failed military campaigns, and his constant abuse of power. English barons banded together & forced King John to sign the Magna Carta, which not only limited his power, but also that of future monarchs. This set the framework for the birth of Parliament, and the Bill of Rights.

  17. Magna Carta- In 1219, England’s leaders had enough of King John’s high taxes and military failures. Rebellious barons forced the king to approve a document that promised all people certain rights. This document was called the Magna Carta, Latin for “Great Charter.” The Magna Carta is most noted for recognizing the right of trial by jury in court cases.

  18. Motte & Bailey castles- built under the orders of William the Conqueror as a way of taking control, and protecting the land throughout England. The castles and surrounding fortification was originally constructed of wood, which were often burned to the ground during invasion. This led to the construction of castles being made of blocks of stone. The castle was usually constructed at the highest part of the village, which helped protect against invasion.

*Be familiar with geographic locations in Medieval Europe, Constantinople, Scandinavia, and the Islamic world.

  • The Islamic world is located between three continents: Europe, Africa & Asia also known as the Middle East. Surrounding bodies of water include; the Mediterranean Sea & the Indian Ocean.

  • climate ranges from mild temperatures to very hot & arid.


  1. Famine- Severe shortage of food.

  2. The Plague or Black Death- Widespread disease that swept across Europe.

  • originated in Mongolia and spread to Europe through trade routes.

  • The disease was carried by fleas on rats.

  • killed 1/3 of all people in Europe, and up to ½ the population in some parts of Europe.

  • People began to question their faith, place in the religious community

  • looked to blame & persecute others for the cause of the Plague.

  1. Scapegoat- people who are blamed for something they did not cause.

*Know the impact of trade between Europe and Asia.

    • After silk, spices, and jewelry were brought back to Europe from Asia after the Crusades, many European sought out these exotic goods. Trade routes were set up which made trade possible with Europe & Asia. Trade also encouraged the exchange of ideas and philosophy. Banking was also created as a way for traders to avoid carrying al of their gold coins with them in fear of robbery.

    • Once again, one major downfall of this trade was the introduction of the Black Plague by was of Mongolia. Fleas and Rats carrying the disease were carried along with traders goods. Once the goods reached their European location, The Bubonic plague spread like wild fire.

Islam and Crusades

  1. Islam - The 2nd largest religion in the world. This monotheistic religion, shares some of the teachings of Christianity & Judaism, along with that of the prophet Muhammad. Muslim beliefs include; that everyone is free to choose between good and evil, and that those who obey God’s words and surrender their lives to God will go to heaven. All knowledge is sacred in the teaching of Islam.

  2. Sunnah- A guide for living based on the words and actions of the Prophet Muhammad.

  3. Sunnis- The majority Islamic group making up 85% of all Muslims. Sunnis believe that the Muslim leaders should select the caliph.

  4. Shiite- The largest minority Islamic group believed that only Muhammad’s relatives should become caliph.

  5. Oasis- A fertile place in the desert, which has a spring or well for water.

  6. Crusades - A Christian religious war aimed to regain what was believed to be their holy land.

  • In 1096, Pope Urban II began to call for a crusade to defend Constantinople & liberate Jerusalem from the Turks. By 1099, the first crusade had captured Jerusalem and protected Constantinople. Europeans mounted three more crusades, but none were as successful as the first.

  • Saladin- Muslim leader during the 3rd Crusade who was known for fairness and compassion.

  • During the 4th Crusade in 1204, crusaders ignored orders, and looted the wealthy city of Constantinople killing Christians as well as Muslims. The Byzantines never forgave Latin Christians.

  1. Pilgrimage/ pilgrim - A journey to a sacred place or shrine. Example: Muslims traveling to Mecca or Medina. A pilgrim is a holy person who makes such a journey.

  2. Heresy - A belief that is rejected by official church policy.

  3. Reconquista - Christians from northern Spain united, they bound together and aimed to persecute or cast out all Jewish & Muslim people from Spain. The loss of these two religious groups did great harm to Spain’s economy & culture.

  4. Inquisition - The punishing, torture, and killing of people that spoke out against church policy or who were non-Christian. Pope Gregory IX- Created the inquisition, which punished, tortured and killed people that spoke out against the church and its beliefs

*Know how Islam spread and why so many converted to the religion

  • The teachings of Islam were spread by:

    • Arab armies,

    • merchants,

    • missionaries, and

    • converts from non-Arab countries

  • Tolerant of other religions

  • Monotheistic, based on the Bible and Torah

  • Travelers, merchants impressed with peaceful devotion.

*Understand the economic implications of a souk and the development of urban centers in the Islamic world.

  • Urban centers had strong economic foundations

  • Letters of credit were developed so merchants could travel with a small, lightweight piece of paper rather than heavy gold or bulky supplies.

  • Souk-Muslim market responsible for the growth of cities, with merchant stalls, beggars, and health official

*Compare and contrast a mosque and a cathedral.

  • Cathedral- A major Christian church, Catholic. Cathedrals controlled the towns and often housed religious relics which drew pilgrims from distant lands, which helped increase the local economy. The increased wealth brought to the church also lead to the creation of the first Universities in Europe & increased the church’s power.

    • Architecture: Usually rectangular, often in the shape of a cross, use of 3s symbolic of trinity

    • Altar, arch, baptismal font, bell tower, cathedra- where the bishop sits, choir loft, crucifix- cross with the image of Christ, façade-outside and front of a building with main entrance, flying buttress-stone pillars on the outside used to support the vaulted ceiling and seem to fly out of walls, gargoyle-rain spout in the shape of a beast to warn people that evil spirits would catch them if they were dishonest and disobedient to the church., nave-place where congregation sits and has higher ceiling, pulpit, rood screen-separates the choir from the nave, sculpture-sacred and used to teach and instruct non-readers as well as show respect for God and saints, stain-glass window, tapestry-woven fabric hung on wall as works of art and to tell stories of the Bible, vault-curved ceiling, votive-candle used for prayers and symbolic offerings to God or saints

  • Mosque- A holy place of worship for Muslims.

    • Architecture: Usually geometric in shape, octagonal;

    • Dome: ceiling, round, welcoming, similar to cathedral’s vaulted ceiling

    • Minaret: tall tower where Muslims are called to worship, similar to cathedral’s bell tower

    • Minbar: raised pulpit where iman leads service, similar to cathedral’s pulpit.

    • Sahn: courtyard where Muslims can meet and greet without disturbing others inside. Ablution fountain where Muslims wash hands, feet and face, symbolic of inner purity.

    • Prayer hall: symbolic for need of humility and obedience.

    • Mihrab: carved curve in wall, symbolizing “cave of the world” and “unified worship”

*List the positive and negative effects of the crusades.

  • Positive effects of the crusades:

    • Lead to increased trade between Europe & the Middle East.

    • Increased sharing of knowledge and ways of life.

    • Sparked Europeans desire to explore new lands.

  • Negative effects of the crusades:

    • Many people were killed or maimed.

    • The persecution of Jews & Muslims.

    • Resentment between Arabs & Europeans, as well as Byzantine Christians (Orthodox), and Roman Catholic Christians after the 4th Crusade.

    • Brought the plague through trade routes

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