600 ce – 1450 ce the Life of Muhammad

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7. Medieval Europe

AP students will need to know about the political, social, and economic structures of Post-classical Europe (typically referred to as the Medieval time period in European History). Additionally, students will also need to know about cultural characteristics and achievements in this time period.


Early Middle Ages

High Middle Ages


        • Manorialism: typically organized into feudal estates as small landowners sold land to larger landowners; some peasants moved to cities, others stayed to work the lands of those they sold to

        • Feudalism: large landowners (nobles, lords) gave parcels of land to vassals (sometimes knights, sometimes lesser nobles/lords) in exchange for military service; serfs worked the lands of the lords and vassals in exchange for protection

        • Loose kingdoms/Empires developed (Charlemagne, Holy Roman)

        • Sometimes conflicts between estates; largest threat to security were Viking invasions from the North and the Crusades

        • nation-states begin to develop in England (after invasion of William in 1066) and France

        • Italy, Germany remain a collection of large estates (princedoms, duchies)

        • Spain continued to be ruled by Muslims

        • Development of Parliaments: an extension/evolution of feudal relationship between lord and vassal; England, France, Germany

        • Conflict between Catholic Church and monarchs: power struggle for who has more influence (investiture)

        • Hundred Years’ War: between England and France


        • trade diminished, estates had to become self-sufficient

        • Feudalism: serfs gave a portion of their crops and had to work the lands of their lords

        • Technology: renewed contacts with the East ~900 brought plows and improved agricultural techniques

        • An increase in trade sparked peasant migration to cities which allowed landowners to buy more land and pay serfs wages to work the land

        • Crusades: brought attention to products from the East, Europeans wanted these goods; led to an increase in trade and an increase in rivalries between Christian and Muslim merchants

        • renewed trade opportunities and motivations after the crusades

        • early banking systems

        • technology: gunpowder, cannons



        • Feudalism: lords, vassals, knights, serfs

        • Status of women generally declined

        • Serfs could be freed from obligations by living in a city for a year and a day

        • Laws/punishments tended to favor higher classes over lower, men over women

        • Nobility through landownership, military accomplishments, alliances, service to the state

        • Gradual increase in status of most peasants

        • Urbanization

        • Increased population due to better agricultural techniques

        • Increase in rights for peasants/serfs (especially after the development of Parliaments that attempted to protect their rights

        • Development of primitive middle class: wealthy families from banking and commerce


        • Chivalry: code of conduct for knights and lords; unlike bushido in that it involves a reciprocal relationship and does not apply to women

        • Religion: Catholic Church dominated cultural beliefs and traditions (architecture, art, literature), especially before the revival of trade and the development of early kingdoms

        • Viking invaders tended to settle and adopt the culture of where they settled (Normandy)

        • Departure from Roman and Greek traditions after the fall of Rome and throughout the Early Medieval times

        • Gothic architecture: influences from Muslims

        • Expansion of universities, increased emphasis on learning

        • Renewed interest in Greco-Roman heritage

        • Increases sense of national identity

        • Development of literature in vernacular languages

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