The Domesday Book was written to help the rulers keep track of people in England during the Middle Ages. The rulers used this information for tax purposes. Similar to the census in our country taken every ten years.
Vikings (from Scandinavia) – invaded empire, looted and killed many people.
William the Conqueror – leader of the Normans (group of Vikings) that settled in northern France (present day Normandy). Under his leadership, his rule extended to England and southern Italy.
King John – governed around A. D. 1200
LIFE IN THE MIDDLE AGES CHURCH The Church was the center of life in the Middle Ages. In order to show their devotion to the church, they built beautiful cathedrals. Entire town worked on the project of building the cathedral.
Monks studied, prayed & lived in communities called monasteries. These monasteries, like the manors, were self-sufficient (provided everything they needed themselves). Some monks spent their time copying the Bible and other manuscripts. (Remember: There were no copiers). Thanks to them we have the writings of Plato and other classics. Nuns lived in similar communities called convents.
FEUDALISM Feudalism was a political, social and economic system. It provided needed protection for the people from the invading Vikings. Life revolved around the manor or fief. They were self-sustaining (able to provide for all they needed). If there was a surplus, it was sold in the local towns. People very rarely ventured outside the manor. However, as the number of raids from the northern invaders began to decrease, people started to venture outside the manor and into the towns. Gradually towns and cities began to grow.
REFER TO YOUR NOTES FOR THE SOCIAL STRUCTURE OF FEUDALISM, STEPS TO BECOMING A KNIGHT AND STEPS TO BECOMING A MASTER CRAFTMAN.
A guild was a group of people united by a common interest. The guild bought large quantities of goods cheaply and to control the market (supply and demand). Also guilds set quality standards for different crafts.
Feudalism started to decline as a result of the Crusades and the Plague. SEE THE SECTION ON THE CRUSADES AND THE PLAGUE.
CRUSADES In the mid-1000’s the Muslim Seljuk Turks took control of the Holy Land. Pope Urban II called for Christian knights and other able Christians to become crusaders and take back the
holy land from the Muslims. Christians set out on this “sacred” mission. However, along the way they looted and killed Muslims they encountered. This was not very Christian.
Many of the crusaders fought for themselves. They sought to increase their power,
territory, and riches. After the Crusades, the wealthy lords became independent of the monarch.
They began to pay in money rather than military support. The framework of feudalism was starting to collapse.
The Crusades exposed the people from the East and the West to goods from other regions. These contacts led to additional trade. In addition to trade, the Crusades brought about the spread of religions, ideas, and diseases.
TRADE As the demand for goods that were not available on the manor grew and the decrease of invasions by the Vikings continued, towns and cities grew and trade flourished with the East.
A network of European trade routes developed to supply the town fairs where people shopped.
One of these trade routes was the Silk Road. Gold, ivory and precious stones went to the East.
Furs, silks, ceramics, jade, bronze objects, lacquer, and iron came from the East to Europe.
Marco Polo was an Italian merchant from Venice who traveled the Silk Road to China, stayed in China for 17 years and wrote about his experiences. He was responsible for introducing the Chinese noodle to Italy. It later developed into spaghetti.
THE PLAGUE The bacteria that triggered this bubonic plague was carried by rodents. Fleas transferred the bacteria from rodents to humans through a bite. Some historians believe that the plague began in Central Asia and spread to Europe via the Silk Road. Rodent infested cargo ships would also travel from port to port spreading the rodents carrying the deathly bacteria.
The plague killed close to one third the population of Europe.
Effects of the Plague
One third of the population dies in Europe
Businesses go bankrupt
Deaths cause labor shortages – serfs become more valuable to the lords on the manor