Birth of Medieval Europe

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Birth of Medieval Europe

-The decline of Roman authority gave rise to a new way of life

-Western Europe was in confusion

1. trade was disrupted

-invasions hurt trade

-businesses collapsed

-money scarce

2. Cities declined

-no strong government

3. Population shifts

-people retreated to rural areas

4. Learning declined

-schools disappeared

-usually only church officials were literate

-knowledge of Greek was lost

-very little written literature

5. Latin was no longer the universal language

-different languages developed

no unification

Germanic Influences

-Germanic kingdoms replaced Roman provinces

-Germanic tribes lived in small communities – people pledged loyalty to the chieftains and tribes – not the public state

-made it hard to unify large areas

-no written law

The Franks

-a Germanic tribe in Gaul (France)

-Clovis 496

-adopted Christianity b/c he won a battle

-created an alliance between the Franks and the Catholic Church

-established the Merovingian Dynasty

-Merovingian Dynasty began to decline – power shifted to the Mayors of the Palace” – an office controlled by the Carolingian Family

Carolingian Franks

-Charles Martel (Charles the Hammer)

-expanded Franks reign

-Defeated the Muslims at the Battle of Tours

**stopped the Muslim advance in Western Europe*

--Pepin the Short

-Martel’s son

-aligned with the Church – defeated the Lombards

-Charlemagne – Charles the Great 768-814

Pepin’s son

-strong supporter of the Church through military conquests

-united Western Europe – very powerful

-Pope crowned Charlemagne emperor on Christmas Day 800

-encouraged education

-scholars standardized handwriting

-controlled his large empire through traveling agents

-excellent organizer – he frequently traveled

-forced Christianity on the Saxons to subdue them

-made agreements w/the Abbasids (Muslims)

After Charlemagne’s son died the empire was divided

-Treaty of Verdun 843: divided the empire among his three grandsons

-eventually broke up due to invasions & fighting
-future rulers will look to making alliances with the church

The Catholic Church was the institution that gave a sense of unity to

Western Europe

-The leading power in the Middle Ages

-The guardian and interpreter of religious truth & the way to heaven

Church Organization

-Different levels of clergy- religious officials

-Monks and Nuns

-men & women who serve the church by joining a religious order or

community (monastery or convent)

-lived apart from society: devoted to prayer & good works

-helped sick, preserved learning

-copied books

-Illuminated manuscripts: books w/beautiful illustrations


-main connection with the Church & God

-administered the sacraments – religious ceremonies


-archbishops and bishops – important clergy

-supervised the priests/ settled disputes over church doctrine


-leader of the Church

-responsible for all Christian souls

-his office is called the Papacy

A New Social Order: Feudalism

Due to situation after the fall of Rome, people turned to local lords w/their own armies for protection – not a central ruler

Lords not kings held the most political power


  • a system based on mutual obligations

  • in exchange for military protection a lord grants land –a fief

  • the person receiving the land is called a Vassal

  • The vassal promises military assistance or alliance to the lord for receiving the land. Lords provided land and military assistance

  • Knights were mounted warriors

  • This mutual agreement was called a Feudal Contract

  • A person could be a vassal to a number of Lords

  • Serfs: were people who were bound to the land – not slaves but could not leave the land. Serfs came with the land


Lords (Nobles) Lords (Nobles)

Knights, Knights, Knights, Knights, Knights,

Serfs , Serfs, Serfs, Serfs, Serfs, Serfs, Serfs, Serfs, Serfs, Serfs,

Manorial System

-An economic system that grew out of feudalism

-Manor – lord’s estate

-Serfs worked the land for the Lord

-Lord provided serfs with housing, land to farm, and protection

-All peasants (free or serf) owed the Lord a few days labor a week

-A manor was self contained community

-Usually about 15-30 families


-Tax on all grain ground in the Lord’s mill

-Peasants paid a tax on marriage, needed lord’s permission to marry

-cottages were crowded – lived with the animals

-no chimney

-brown bread and cheese

-not allowed to hunt on lord’s land – death penalty

-if you ran away and stayed away a year and a day – free

Knights and Chivalry

-nobles often warred

-Knights were the most skilled warriors – granted fiefs

-Typically fought 40 days a year – glory & respect

-Tournaments: practice war games – very violent



-a code of ideals to live by

-fought for God, the feudal lord, and lady

-protect the weak & young


-knights wore armor & fought w/sword & lance

-castles protected by towers & walls, - designed for defense

-narrow slats for windows, high on hill

-Archers used crossbows

-p.329 for other things

Life in the castle

-entertained by traveling troubadours- poet/musician

-idealized love & women


-Eleanor of Aquitaine 1122-1204

-From France

-Became Queen of England/ 2 sons kings

-very smart & ruled England when hubby was away

-Chivalry idealized women but the Church taught they were inferior

-Women’s roles more limited to home & hearth


-noblewomen could inherit property

-send Knights to war

-fought to defend the castle

-by the end of the Middle Ages even noblewomen held less power
The Church

-Church’s mission to save souls

-Christians who disobeyed the Church – faced excommunication- could not receive the sacraments therefore -lost property, treated as an outcast and would burn

-Canon Law – law of the Church

-everyone had to obey – mainly social and conduct laws
Church and the Holy Roman Empire

-Otto I

-in the region of Saxony (Germany)

-named HRE – formed an alliance w/the Church to limit the power

of the nobles

-Dominated the Church in that area

-eventually is granted the title Holy Roman Emperor

-Church felt like they could crown or dethrone

-but Italians did not like a German having so much power in the Church

-Church was more involved in government

-the Papacy was a political prize

-Bishops often appointed by Kings/Queens

-Some of the clergy was corrupt

Investiture Struggle

-lay investiture – Kings/Queens appointed church officials

-Issue: Civil rulers and popes each claimed the right to appoint Church officials

-Invest = endow or give power

-Pope Gregory wanted to deny HRE Henry IV of his investiture power

-Henry called the Pope names/ The Pope excommunicated Henry

-This makes him lose the feudal loyalty of his vassals

-Some nobles took advantage and civil war broke out

Showdown at Canossa

-Henry travels to Canossa to beg the Pope’s forgiveness

-It was granted

-Henry goes back home and appoints bishops – excommunicated 2x

-Henry marches on Rome and drives the Pope into exile

Concordat of Worms 1122

-finally settles the investiture struggle

1. Church appoints religious officials – invested w/ religious authority

2. The Emperor had veto power and granted land

The Age of Faith

-in the 1100s a wave of religious piety swept across Europe

-Reformers sought to fix problems in the Church

1. Priests were marrying

2. Simony – selling of Church offices

3. Lay investiture – reformers wanted only the Church to appoint

-Reforms of Cluny

-a very pious order of Monks/Nuns

-spread to other areas: Cistercian Monks – very pious/hard life

-even the Popes were influenced by these reforms

-Popes sent diplomats throughout Europe promoting Canon Law


-Frederick I “Barbarossa” – Red Beard

-wanted to unite German & Italy

-Pope was threatened by this action and encouraged northern Italian cities to unite against Frederick –

-Unification of Italy became impossible

-Popes influence & power became very strong – height by 1100s

-Friars: Spread the “Word”

Lived among the community

Very poor

Two famous orders of Friars/Monks

  • Dominicans: scholars

  • Franciscans: lived among the poor

Cathedrals – BIG Churches – “City of God”

-took many generations- 200 years or more

-Two main styles of architecture

1. Romanesque (800-1100)

-rounded arches, thick walls

-heavy, clunky, small windows

2. Gothic (1100s-1400

-high pointed arches

-spires, stained glass

-“flying buttresses”

-Cathedral at Notre Dame, Chartres ( Rose Window)

-Goal: take back the holy land form the Muslims

  • Pope Urban II called for a holy war - a Crusade

  • Lasted for 200 years

  • Why have the Crusades

  • Wanted Jerusalem to controlled by Christians

-Christians were be persecuted

-Strengthen papal power

-a good channel of energy- got rid of troublesome Knights

-if you died on the Crusade – guaranteed heaven

-People very caught up in the Crusading spirit

-Most never reached the holy lands

-Undisciplined mobs that slaughtered French and German Jews – Peasant Crusade

-Fanaticism- extreme dedication to a belief

1st Crusade

-reached Jerusalem in 1099

-controlled a narrow strip of land – the Crusader States

2nd Crusade 1147-49

-Muslims take the land back

3rd Crusades

-European leaders: Frederick I (Ger), Richard the Lion-hearted (BR) & Philip Augustus (Fr)

-Richard is the only one to reach the holy land

-Saladin – led the Muslims

-Truce: Muslims controlled Jerusalem and Christians would be free to travel

4th Crusade

-Pope Innocent III called for another

-sacked Constantinople

-permanent split between Roman Church and EO

Other Crusades

-Children’s Crusade –

-30,000 French youths set out

-ended in Marseilles – died, sold into slavery

Reconquista – The Recapture of European lands – esp. Spain

-Muslims had taken over Spain in the 700s

-Trade/commerce flourished

-Cordova – modern city

-Muslim/Christians got along

-Moors (Spanish Muslims)

-Spanish Inquisition – a church trial ( Star Chamber) to force Heretics into confessing –trials, torture - then killed

-Muslims finally driven out under Isabella & Ferdinand in 1492
Effects of the Crusades

1.Weakened Papal Prestige

2.Introduced new products: sugar, rice, spices

3.Increased the wealth of the Italian city states – ships

4.Feudalism is weakened greatly – Kings/Queens more power

5.New technology & knowledge – sharing of knowledge/culture

High Middle Ages – 1000-1300

-Same time as: Crusades, Church Reform

-Towns grew/ Food production increased

Why do we have the growth of towns?

1. Increased food production

-used horses now – harness

-3 field system

-one field fallow – other two in production

2. More food resulted in increased population

3. Trade expanded

-people were becoming artisans – craftsmen

-settled in towns

-Trade fairs – big events

Businesses & Guilds

-Guilds – association of people who worked at the same occupation

-controlled wages & prices

-set standards: apprentice, journeyman (worked for a daily wage) then master craftsman

-Finance: cash became a must

-Jewish people were the bankers

Life in towns

-usually walled

-serfs fled to towns – year & day= freedom


-Burghers – trade dwellers

-began to demand more rights

Significance of Towns

1. led to the rise of a middle class


-townsmen had more money & freedom

2. decline in feudalism & serfdom

3. better ways of handling money developed

-moneychangers: exchanged coins from one region to another

-eventually became bankers

-encouraged more trade

4. Revival of Learning

-Universities began to rise up

-Writers began to using the vernacular –everyday language

-Dante – The Divine Comedy

-Geoffry Chaucer – The Canterbury Tales


-learned lots form the Muslims

-Thomas Aquinas: - religious truth could be proved by logic
Rise of National Monarchies

-As feudalism dies – it is replaced by strong monarchies

-Townspeople support monarchies –

  • less disruption of trade

  • uniform laws/less war


-Alfred the Great – turned back the Vikings

-eventually united – England – land of the Angles

-1016 – Danes conquered England

Norman Conquest

-1066 William the Conqueror – Battle of Hastings

-from Normandy

-conquered England

-strong central authority – stern ruler

-Doomsday Book

  • a royal record of economic resources

  • -allowed for better tax collection

Henry II (1154-1189)

-Great king – very smart

-married Eleanor of Aquitaine

-controlled Normandy & SW France /England

-expanded power of royal courts by sending circuit judges to countryside

-juries of local people

-grand juries and trial juries

-**juries were recorded and became basis for common law – unwritten law***

-Church opposed this expanded court authority –

-Thomas Becket – Archbishop of Canterbury – openly opposed Henry

-4 Knights killed him in the Cathedral

-John I

-central govt. became too oppressive

-lost Normandy and land in northern France

-high taxes to finance wars

-nobles revolted and forced John to sign


-the King is not above the law and guaranteed basic political rights – no taxation w/o representation

**these rights eventually extended to all citizens*

**basic principle in American govt**


-law making body of England

-power struggles between Parliament & King

-House of Lords – nobles - inherited

-House of Commons – landowners – more representative

-Kings will gradually lose all power

-Monarchy started 987 with Hugh Capet

-by 1300 French king ruled most of central & southern France

-Philip II

-took Normandy away from King John

-very powerful

-Louis IX

-expanded courts

-weakened feudal ties

-Philip IV

-clashed with the Pope over taxation

-established the Estates General – law making for France

-1st Estate – Church

-2nd Estate – Nobles

-3rd Estate – commoners


-City states

-Trade league – Hanseatic League

-controlled all the trade in Northern Europe along the Baltic

Late Middle Ages 1300-1500

-marked by turmoil between countries and natural disasters

Church Divided

-Philip IV of France and Pope fought

-Pope said the King must answer to him

-Philip captured the Pope and made him prisoner/rescued/died

-eventually got a French Pope elected and moved the Papacy to

-Avignon – just a pawn of the King (67 years

-known as Babylonian Captivity

-Italians demanded a Roman

-For a while two Popes and then a 3rd

-this split is known as the Great Schism

-eventually settled

People Question Papal Authority

-John Wycliff – Pope was not true head of the Church – Jesus was

-Jan Hus – taught the Bible was higher than that of the Pope

-burnt at the stake =heresy

Bubonic Plague – the Black Death

-reached Europe in 1347

-followed trade routes

-carried by fleas on rats

-blamed Jews – thousands massacred

-est. 25 million dead


-town populations fell/trade declined

-peasants demanded better wages

-Church suffered loss in power

-people became more cynical

-speeds up the changes that had been occurring – ending Middle Ages
One Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453)

-France v. England

-England wins in the beginning

-Battle of Crecy

-English use long-bowman

-Battle of Agincourt – again the long bow

-Joan of Arc helps France defeat England

-England captures her and burns her at the stake

-France wins

Effects of the War

1 birth to strong nationalism – identified with one’s country

2. monarchs grew strong

3. French monarchy under Louis XI – becomes absolute – power of the nobles very limited

4.England grew very strong

5. England faced a civil war – War of the Roses

-House of Lancaster (red) vs House of York (white)

-Lancaster wins – establishes the Tudor dynasty

-Henry VII becomes king

6. Middle Ages & Feudalism is DEAD

7. Church power begins to decline

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