The Middle Ages Frankish Rulers



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The Middle Ages




Frankish Rulers




    • Franks- conquered the former Roman province of Gaul (Germany)

    • The strongest Germanic group.

    • Clovis- became king of the Franks in 481

    • Was the first Germanic ruler to accept Catholicism.

    • Mayors of the palace- government official that obtained power from the kings in the 700’s.

    • Charles Martel- “Charles the Hammer”, became mayor of the palace.

    • Stopped Muslim advance into Europe in the Battle of Tours.

    • Pepin the Short- son of Charles Martel, became king.

    • Anointed by the Pope, making him a divinely chosen ruler in the eyes of the people.

    • Charlemagne- son of Pepin, became king.

    • Also known as “Charles the Great.”

    • Doubled the borders of the empire, known as the Frankish Empire.

    • He defended Pope Leo III against Roman nobles.

      • In return he was crowned the new Roman emperor.

      • Counts- local officials that assisted Charlemagne run the empire.

    • After his death, Charlemagne’s 3 grandsons fought for control.

    • Treaty of Verdun- signed by the 3, agreeing to divide up the empire.

    • Vikings- raiders from Scandinavia that invaded the Frankish empire.

    • Skilled explorers and traders.

    • Very ferocious warriors.

    • Severely weakened the authority of the monarchs.

    • As a result, a new political and social system would be created to bring stability.




Medieval Life

    • Feudalism- a highly decentralized form of government that stressed alliances of mutual protection between monarchs and nobles of varying degrees of power.

    • In short, giving land to nobles in exchange for loyalty and military aid.

    • Started during the time of Charles Martel.

    • Fiefs- large estates with peasants granted to warriors and nobles.


    • Peasants were the largest social group.
    • Nobles would eventually assume the power of the government.

    • Knights- mounted warriors provided by nobles for the royal army.

    • Feudal relationships were like a pyramid.

    • Vassal- a noble who served a lord of the next higher rank.

    • Homage- solemn ceremony that officially tied a lord and a vassal.

    • Castle- fortified manor house for defense against enemies.

    • Tournaments- mock battles between knights.

    • Becoming a knight.

    • Page-nobleman’s son started at age 7.

    • Squire-at 15 learned to use the weapons.

    • Once proved in battle, he officially became a knight.

    • Chivalry- code of conduct for knights.

    • Peasants- lived and worked on the lord’s land.

    • Manorialism- a economic system of agricultural production.

    • In exchange for a fee, peasants provided various services for the lord.


  • Manor system based on trade.

  • Three-Field System- new way of farming that allowed serfs to produce more crops.
    • Serfs- people who were bound to the manor and could not leave.




The Medieval Church

    • During the middle ages, the Catholic Church was the dominant spiritual influence.


  • The church decided who would receive salvation.
    • The Pope would become the strongest political leader in W. Europe

    • Sacraments- church rituals that were the only way to receive salvation.

    • Most people only have contact with parish priests.


    • Tithe- money given to church. Often associated with salvation.
    • Secular clergy- pope, bishops, and priests that are among society.

    • Regular clergy- includes monks and nuns that live apart from society.

    • Benedict- Roman official that founded a monastery at Monte Cassino.

    • Benedictine Rule-list of rules for monks to live by.

    • Abbot- monastery head or leader.

    • Pope Gregory I- adopted Benedictine Rule to spread Christianity in Europe.

    • The church would help to govern western Europe.

    • It had its own laws and courts.

      • Disobedience resulted in severe punishment for all.

    • Church also had feudal ties that boosted wealth and political power.

    • Many high church officials were nobles.

    • Church frequently received donations from nobles to ensure salvation.

    • This would lead to nobles influencing the church, having relatives appointed to church positions.

    • Many Christians would call for church reform.

    • A council would declare that political leaders could no longer choose the pope.

    • Cardinals- high ranking church officials that would now choose the pope.

    • Gregory VII- reform minded pope selected by cardinals in 1073.

      • Lay investiture- practice where secular rulers gave the symbols of office to the bishops they had appointed.

    • Innocent III- one of the most powerful popes that tried to reform the church.

      • Heresy- denial of basic church teachings.

      • Excommunication- expulsion from the church for crimes or heresy.

    • Inquisition- a court set up by the church to seek out and punish heretics.

    • Friars- wandering preachers that wanted to reform the church.

    • Followed monastic rules but did not isolate themselves from society.

    • Francis of Assisi- founded the Franciscan friars

    • Dominic- Spanish priest that organized the Dominican friars.

    • Anti-Semitism- very strong hatred of Jews.

    • Slowly monarchs began to build strong states.

    • King Alfred of Wessex- known as Alfred the Great, defeated the Danes and united the kingdom known as England.

    • When last Anglo-Saxon king died, there was a fight for the throne.

    • Battle of Hastings- fought in 1066 for the English throne.

    • Was between William, Duke of Normandy, and Harold Godwinson.

    • William would win, now known as William the Conqueror.

    • Henry II- set up system of common law, with grand and petit juries.

    • Eleanor of Aquitaine- Henry’s wife.

    • Thomas a Becket- archbishop of Canterbury, murdered by knights of Henry II.

    • Magna Carta- called the Great Charter, created in 1215.

    • Signed by King John, son of Henry II.


    • King must obey the law.
    • Prevented king from collecting taxes without the consent of the Great Council.

    • Intended to protect feudal rights, but protected all people.

    • Middle class- emerged during the reign of Henry III, John’s son.

    • A class between nobles and peasants.

    • Recognizing their increasing power, Henry III added knights and burgesses to his Great Council.

      • The Great Council would be soon be called Parliament.

    • In France, Louis VI started granting townspeople positions on his court.

    • Philip II- known as Philip Augustus, was determined to strengthen the French monarchy.

    • Louis IX- Philip’s grandson, made royal courts dominant over feudal courts.

    • Philip IV- called Philip the Fair, was Louis IX’s grandson.

    • Defeated both England and Flanders in war, increasing the empire.

    • In Germany, rulers remained weak and ineffective.

    • King Otto I- known as Otto the Great, tried to restore Charlemagne’s empire.

    • Pope John XII asked for Otto’s help against Roman nobles.

    • In return, he crowned Otto Holy Roman Emperor.

    • Powerful German lords prevented the Holy Roman Emperor from building a strong empire.

    • Henry VI- had a big argument with Pope Gregory VII over who appoints bishops.

    • The pope disposed Henry.

      • Concordat of Worms- agreement between the two that allowed the king to name bishops and grant them land, with the pope able to reject them.



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