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Chapter 1 The Legacy of the Roman Empire

Chapter 2 The Development of Feudalism in Western Europe

Chapter 3 The Role of the Church in Medieval Europe

Chapter 4 Life in Medieval Towns

Chapter 5 The Decline of Feudalism

Chapter 6 The Byzantine Empire

Chapter 2:

The Development of Feudalism

in Western Europe

Standards Used

7.6 Students analyze the geographic, political, economic, religious, and social structures of the civilizations of Medieval Europe.

      1. Describe the spread of Christianity north of the Alps and the roles played by the early church and by monasteries in its diffusion after the fall of the western half of the Roman Empire.

      2. Understand the development of feudalism, its role in the medieval European economy, the way in which it was influenced by physical geography (the role of the manor and the growth of towns), and how feudal relationships provided the foundation of political order.

      3. Demonstrate an understanding of the conflict and cooperation between the Papacy and European monarchs (e.g., Charlemagne, Gregory VII, Emperor Henry IV).


• describe the accomplishments of Charlemagne & how his cooperation with the Pope fostered temporary order and unity in Western Europe.

• explain how invasions during the 9th and 10th centuries created a need for a new type of political and economic system in Western Europe.

• describe the land divisions and political organization of European feudal society.

• compare and contrast the lives of nobles, knights, and serfs.
In this lesson, students learn about the development of feudalism in Western Europe.

In an Experiential Exercise, they assume the roles of serfs, knights, lords, and a monarch to re-create the vassal-lord relationships that defined European feudal society.

Then, after reading about the development of feudalism and its impact on daily life, they create a diagram comparing relationships in modern society with those of European feudal society.

Students will discover more about an aspect of Roman culture, such as art, architecture and engineering, or language that influences us today.
Reading for Understanding

Have students turn to Reading Notes 2 in their Interactive Student Notebooks, read Section 2.2 in History Alive! The Medieval

World and Beyond, and take notes. This reading supplies background information on Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire and the factors that encouraged the development of feudalism. Discuss the reading and students’ answers.


2.2 Western Europe during the Middle Ages
What were Charlemagne’s greatest accomplishments? How was he helped by the Catholic Church?
Charlemagne unified nearly all the Christian lands of Europe into a single empire. Pope Leo III helped him by giving him the blessing of the church (the church was a central part of society) and by crowning him Holy Roman emperor in 800 C.E.
Why was there a need for order after the death of Charlemagne in 814?
The rulers who came after Charlemagne failed to defend the empire against invasions. In addition, Europe was threatened by Muslims, Magyars, and Vikings in the 9th and 10th centuries.

2.4 Monarchs During Feudal Times
What responsibilities did monarchs have in the feudal system?
Monarchs kept order and supplied protection to their vassals.
Why is William the Conqueror considered an important monarch?
After his victory at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, William brought the idea of feudalism to England.
2.5 Lords and Ladies During Feudal Times
What responsibilities did lords have in the feudal system?
Lords were responsible for managing and defending

their manors and acting as judges. They fought for

their own lords in times of war, and supplied soldiers.

They also appointed officials.
What was the role of noblewomen in the feudal system?
Noblewomen were responsible for raising and training their children and sometimes the children of other noble families. They were also responsible for overseeing their household(s).
2.6 Knights During Feudal Times
What responsibilities did knights have in the feudal system?
Knights were the mounted soldiers in the feudal system and were expected to be loyal to their church and lord, to be fair, and to protect the helpless.
What was the code of chivalry? What stages did a boy go through to become a knight?
The code of chivalry was the set of rules of behavior that all knights were expected to live by. A boy started training for knighthood by becoming a page, where he learned skills such as how to ride a horse, and how to sing. After seven years, he became a squire and learned how to fight as a warrior. A deserving squire was made a knight in his early 20s at a special ceremony.
2.7 Peasants During Feudal Times
What responsibilities did peasants have in the feudal system?
Most peasants worked at raising crops and tending livestock. Some worked as carpenters, shoemakers, and smiths. Peasants paid taxes to lords.
How were the lives of male and female peasants different?
In addition to working in the fields, peasant women had to care for their families and homes.

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