Instructional objectives

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Christian Europe Emerges, 600–1200


After studying this chapter students should be able to:

1. Understand the political and economic development of Western Europe during the medieval period and undertake a critical analysis of the term feudalism.

2. Explain the development and the significance of Roman Catholic dogma, the hierarchical system of the Roman church, and the monastic movement.

3. Compare medieval Western society, politics, culture, and religion with those of the Byzantine Empire.

4. Understand the respective roles of the Varangians, Vladimir I, and the Byzantine Empire in the rise of the Kievan state.

5. Discuss the possible causes of the European recovery of 1000–1200.

6. Explain the causes of the Crusades and discuss their consequences in Europe and the Middle East.


I. The Byzantine Empire, 600–1200

A. Church and State

1. Constantine in Constantinople leaned toward Christianity.

2. Patriarch of Constantinople is appointed.

3. The Council of Nicaea and the Nicene Creed.

4. The schism begins.

5. Theodosius banned all pagan ceremonies.

6. A formal schism between the Latin Church and the Orthodox Church.

B. Society and Urban Life

1. Byzantium in decline: Arab invaders and bubonic plague.

2. Much government intervention hinders economic growth.

C. Cultural Achievements

1. Justinian revamped the complex Roman law.

2. Constantinople’s cathedral, the Hagia Sophia is presented to Empress Theodora.

3. Cyril and Methodius perfected the Cyrillic writing system.

II. Early Medieval Europe, 600-1000

A. The Time of Insecurity

1. Germanic unrest.

a. Franks in Gaul

b. Visigoths in Spain

c. Ostrogoths in Italy

2. Muslim Arabs and Berbers invade Spain.

3. Frankish leader Charles Martel stops Islam at the Battle of Tours.

4. The rise of the Frankish Carolingian family.

5. Charlemagne

6. The Treaty of Verdun and the three parts of Europe.

7. Viking raiders begin pillaging monasteries, villages and towns.

8. Newfoundland, Normandy under the Vikings.

9. Normans take Sicily back from the Muslims.

B. A Self-Sufficient Economy

1. Development of the self-sufficient manors.

2. Serfdom in the manor system.

C. Early Medieval Society

1. Mounted warriors in the Carolingian army.

2. Feudal society.

a. Kings and lords

b. Vassals and Knights

3. Bayeux Tapestry

III. The Western Church

A. Politics and the Church

1. Holy Roman Emperor and the Holy Roman Empire.

2. Conflicts of power: investiture controversy.

3. Concordat of Worms.

B. Monasticism

1. Monks or Nuns living together in organized religious communities.

2. Benedict of Nursia.

3. Benedictine abbey of Cluny.

IV. Kievan Russia, 900-1200

A. The Rise of the Kievan Empire

1. Topography of the Kievan Empire.

2. The Rus of Novgorod.

3. Vladimir I of Novgorod

a. decided against Islam because of the ban on alcohol

b. rejected Judaism

c. chose Orthodox Christianity

4. Befriended Byzantium and turned its back on Islam.

B. Society and Culture

1. Backward agricultural progress.

2. Construction materials mainly wood from dense forests.

3. Slow to give up superstitions for Christian doctrine.

V. Western Europe Revives, 1000-1200

A. The Role of Technology

1. Improved plows and farming tools.

2. The horse collar.

3. Horses increase productivity and food surplus rises.

B. Cities and the Rebirth of Trade

1. Ghent, Gruges, and Ypres in Flanders begin to rival Italian cities in trade.

2. Coinage increases trade.

VI. The Crusades, 1095-1204

A. The Roots of the Crusades

1. Efforts to combat the growing threat from Islam.

2. Council of Clermont and Pope Urban II

3. “God wills it!”

4. Reclaim lost territories and the city of Jerusalem taken by Muslim invaders.

B. The Impact of the Crusades

1. Changes in the lifestyle of European nobility.

2. Eleanor of Aquitaine.

lecture topics and DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

The Byzantine Empire, 600-1200

Lecture Topic: Church and State

Identify the issues that caused the schism between the Latin Church and the Orthodox Church.

Explain how the two religious orders were different and similar in Christian Doctrine.

Discussion Questions:

1. How is the Patriarch of the Orthodox Church similar to the Pope in the Latin Church?

2. What was the reason for the Council of Nicaea?
Early Medieval Europe, 600-1000

Lecture Topic: The Time of Insecurity

Identify the concept of the Islamic Jihad and discuss the religion’s spread throughout North

Africa. Discuss how the Franks and the Vatican viewed this as a threat to their own existence,

which led to the Battle of Tours and saved Christian Europe.
Discussion Questions:

1. How did the church utilize the military effectiveness of the Carolingian family of the

Frankish kings to help stave off the oncoming Islamic threats?
2. How did the Normans save the Mediterranean from becoming a stronghold for Islam?
The Western Church

Lecture Topic: Politics and the Church

Identify how, in an effort to survive in an unstable world, the kings needed a strong church

while the church needed strong Christian kingdoms.

Discussion Questions:

1. How did Charlemagne become an important asset to the church?

2. What was the significance of the Holy Roman Empire and the stability of a Christian

Kievan Russia, 900-1200

Lecture Topic: The Rise of the Kievan Empire

Explain how the geographical region may have put the Kievan Empire in a difficult position

for trading and economic growth.
Discussion Questions:

1. What were the reasons why Vladimir I decided against Islam and Judaism?

2. Why was the topography a disadvantage for the Kievan Empire?

Western Europe Revives, 1000-1200

Lecture Topic: The Role of Technology

Identify how the use of the horse collar enabled farmers to increase the amount of work

and the size of the farming
Discussion Questions:

1. Why would the use of horses in agriculture allow for a greater possible harvest?

2. Why did China and other parts of the world want to increase their horse population?
The Crusades, 1095-1204

Lecture Topic: The Roots of the Crusades

Discuss how much territory had fallen under Islamic rule and identify that the crusades

were a response to the offensive moves of the Muslim world.

Discussion Questions:

1. Why did many knights view the Crusades as an opportunity to fight against a foe that

was not Christian?
2. What did Pope Urban II mean when he stated, “God wills it!”?


1. Compare the spread of Christianity in western Europe to the spread of Islam.

2. Argue whether or not the Crusades were a response to an expanding Islamic world.

3. Choose one social group or group of people in Christian Europe (knights, aristocrats, women, artisans, or serfs, for example) and research their social status and daily lives.

4. What were the most significant technological innovations of the medieval period?


The following Internet sites contain written and visual material appropriate for use with this chapter.
MRTS Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies

Castles, Abbeys, and Medieval Buildings (photographs by Michael W. Cook)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York—The Glory of Byzantium

Medieval Crusades
Explore Byzantium

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