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Title: Era 4.3: THE MIDDLE AGES in WESTERN EUROPE 500 1500 CE

1500 CE
  • Day Two, Session 4A
  • Craig Benjamin

  • Part One The Early Middle Ages Church and State
  • Part Two Feudal Europe
  • Part Three Medieval Politics 1000 - 1300
  • Part Four The Later Middle Ages1300-1500

PART ONE The Early Middle Ages Church and
  • Roman and Germanic cultures evolved into a
    syncretic European civilization
  • The Church played a central role as popes began
    to assert their political and spiritual authority
  • Pope Gregory (590-604) sent missionaries to
    convert Anglo Saxons
  • English pattern (bishops supervised by
    archbishops who reported to the pope) became
    standard model
  • But from the 9th Century on the church and papacy
    fell increasingly under the control of lords and
Pope Gregory Pope and Administrator
The Preservation of Knowledge
  • Monasteries all over Europe played a vital role
    in preserving the knowledge of the classical
  • Boethius (6th C) translated Plato and Aristotle
    into Latin
  • Cassiodorus encouraged monks to copy valuable
    manuscripts monasteries became centers of
  • Venerable Bede (d. 735) wrote textbooks,
    commentaries and history the Ecclesiastical
    History of the English People

Venerable Bede working on the Ecclesiastical
History 8th Century
Attempts to Establish a New Empire in Western
Europe Clovis and the Merovingians
  • Kingdom of the Franks gained support of the
    church, and attempted to replace the Roman Empire
    in the West
  • Clovis I (Merovingian dynasty) united Franks into
    a single French kingdom by his death in 511
  • Converted to Christianity and formed a close
    alliance with the papacy

The Baptism of Clovis Oil on wood (11th Century)
Decline of the Merovingians
  • Clovis successors expanded to the Mediterranean
    and Germany, but were incompetent
  • Roman administration and taxation collapsed
    trade stopped middle class disappeared free
    peasants became bondage slaves
  • 7th Century Slavic peoples invaded Germany and
    Muslims prepared to invade Spain from North
  • Charles Martel strengthened the army and defeated
    the Muslims at Tours, halting Muslim expansion
  • His son Pepin the Short (741-768) elected king of
    the Franks beginning of the Carolingian Dynasty
  • Supported by the church donated Ravenna to the

Charles Martel defeats the Muslims at Tours
Charlemagne Charles the Great (768-814)
  • Under Pepins son Charlemagne, the Frankish state
    reached height of its power, controlling most of
    western Roman Empire
  • Charlemagne was a warrior, administrator and
    patron of the arts
  • Drove the Muslims into southern Spain, and French
    immigrants moved into the north (Catalonia today)
  • Conquered the Germanic Bavarian and Saxon tribes,
    then defeated the Avars
  • Established a military province in the Danube
  • called the East March (later became Austria)
  • Defeated the Lombards in Northern Italy
  • restored the Pope after he had been overthrown
  • by Roman nobles
  • Pope crowned him Charles Augustus
  • Emperor of the Romans

Charlemagne crowned by the pope
Charlemagnes Legacy
  • Christian civilization and order extended
    throughout Western Europe
  • Spread of Slavs and Muslims halted
  • A cultural revival began in western Europe,
    leading to the emergence of a unique European
  • After Charlemagnes death in 814, his three
    grandsons agreed on a three-way split of the
    empire at the Treaty of Verdun in 843
  • Charles the Bald - western parts (France)
  • Louis the German - eastern (Germany)
  • Lothair - long middle kingdom from North Sea to
  • (Lothairs kingdom collapsed into Lorraine,
    Burgundy and Italy)
  • Lorraine (Latin and German cultures) became one
    of the most frequent battlegrounds of Europe

The Moselle River winds through the German
region of Lorraine
Europe Under Attack Muslims
  • As the Empire collapsed in the 9th and 10th
    Centuries, Europe came under attack from Vikings
    in the north, Muslims in the South and Magyars in
    the east
  • Muslims plundered the coast of Italy and France,
    and moved inland to attack caravans in the Alps
  • Mediterranean was under Muslim control, cutting
    off trade between Byzantium and the west

The Moors plunder the cities of the
Mediterranean 19th C Etching
  • Scandinavian peoples (Vikings) began to raid
    south because of overpopulation
  • Ships seaworthy, carried 100 men, powered by oars
    and sails
  • The Vikings expanded as far as North America,
    Caspian Sea and the Mediterranean colonies
    established in Greenland and Russia
  • Britain, Germany, France and Spain all raided
    northern Britain occupied, northwestern France
  • Eventually Vikings (Northmen) established their
    own state in France called Normandy
PART 2 FEUDAL EUROPE Responses to the Invasions
  • In England reaction to the Vikings led to a
    unified kingdom by 900
  • German response to the Magyars led to powerful
    German kings
  • Viking attacks in France accelerated
  • fragmentation (king lost central power
  • as power of local lords increased)
  • Large estates (manors) economically and
  • militarily self-sufficient
  • Nobles had their own professional force
  • of heavily-armed mounted cavalry
  • (knights) who lived in the noble houses
  • in return for their military service
Three Elements of Feudalism
  • With no central authority, feudalism became a
    means of guaranteeing personal security
  • Political power in hands of private individuals,
    not centralized king. Three basic elements
  • Personal relationship (vassalage) one nobleman
    (vassal) becomes the loyal follower of another
  • Property element vassal receives land (fief)
    from lord
  • Government functions - exercised privately by
    lords over vassals and fiefs
Feudal lord and his vassals
Practical Feudalism
  • Feudalism was a vast hierarchy
  • King at the top with large royal estates
  • he invested highest nobles with honors
  • and royal lands for supporting the crown
  • with military forces
  • These nobles (to meet their military
    requirements) parceled out portions of their
    fiefs to lesser nobles
  • All the way down to a single knight with a small
  • Warfare the normal occupation of vassals and
    lords to die in battle was a noble end for a
  • Society divided into three classes nobles,
    peasants, clergy nobles were honored warriors
    distinct from peasants clergy drew its members
    from both classes

The Church and Feudalism - Chivalry
  • During the invasions, church formed close
    relationship with nobles for protection
  • Also influenced nobility for the better, adding
    Christian values to the knightly code of chivalry
  • Early chivalry a code of conduct to maintain
    military virtue prowess in combat, courage and
  • Boys trained for the knighthood from the age of
    seven, became a knight at twenty-one
  • By the 12th Century the church had a major role
    in impressing upon the new knight that he must be
    virtuous, valiant and loyal to God

Later chivalry stressed reverence an protection
of women (in reality most knights plundered and
abused women) Legendary Spanish knight El Cid
Life of the Nobles
  • Nobles lived in castles built from stone from
    the 12th century
  • Donjon the focal point, surrounded by an open
    space with storerooms, workshops then outer
    walls with turrets and moat
  • Castles were cramped, gloomy and cold stone
    walls bare apart from tapestries fireplace the
    only warmth
  • Nobles enjoyed outdoor pursuits warfare,
    jousting, hunting, falconry
  • Indoor amusements - chess, entertainment from
    jesters and minstrels
  • Noble women involved in administration of the
    manor and regulation of the peasants
Early Medieval Economy
  • Economy local and self-sufficient
  • Economy and society based on the manors the
    great estates of the nobles (350-5000 acres) and
    the village
  • Manors contained arable (farm land) and
    non-arable land (the commons)
  • Each tenant farmer a shareholder in the village
    community in the arable land, pasture, commons
    and woodland
Medieval Farming
  • Peasant farming crude oxen and horses pulled
    the plows
  • Soil exhausted quickly two-field system used
    (half planted, half fallow)
  • Peasant women endured backbreaking labor
    cleaned, cooked, made clothing, milked cows, made
    butter, cheese and beer and gardened
  • Manor administered by officials steward (general
    overseer) bailiff (in charge of cultivation and
    rent collection) and reeve (village foreman)
  • Serfs bound to the manor for life, as were their
Hand drawn map of English feudal manor, 11th
Life of the Peasants
Painting by Brueghel
Margin between starvation and survival narrow
famines frequent, pestilence and plague common
Peasant cottage had mud walls, clay floor,
thatched roof windows had no glass (stuffed with
straw in the winter) Furnishings meager
table, cupboard and bed pigs and chickens
wandered in at will Popular pastimes
wrestling, cockfighting, football, dancing and
  • European monarchs struggled to emerge from
    feudalism, in which the king was a figurehead
  • Most European monarchs increased their power as
    feudalism declined, leading to the
  • emergence of national
  • monarchies
  • Church also became
  • more powerful
  • Flourishing trade led to
  • growth in towns and the
  • decline of the manor

France and the Capetian Kings
  • 10th C France controlled by feudal nobles who
    elected Hugh Capet (987-996) to be king
  • Capetian kings kept throne for the next 300
    years, increasing their influence
  • Phillip II Augustus (1180-1223) tripled the size
    of crown lands by capturing Normandy, Maine,
    Anjou and Touraine from the English
  • Devious Philip the Fair (1285-1314) expelled the
    Jews from France and humiliated Pope Boniface
  • He increased the power of the crown recruited
    civil servants from the middle class enlarged
    the feudal council to include middle-class
  • By the end of his reign France was organized,
    unified and ready to reassert itself as a power
    in Europe
King Louis IX (1226-1270) at Court Louis was
devout, just, peace-loving and very popular. His
subjects called him St. Louis
England to 1300 William the Conqueror
  • In 1000 England was ruled by Anglo-Saxon kings
    (controlled by the Dane King Canute from
  • In 1066 England conquered by William, Duke of
    Normandy (Battle of Hastings)
  • William ruled England until 1087, retaining some
    lands as his royal domain, and granting the rest
    to loyal vassals (who provided William with
  • Williams successors weak, but the monarchy was
    strengthened by Henry II, founder of the
    Plantagenet (Angevin) Dynasty

The Normans (on horseback) attack the
English foot soldiers at The Battle of
Hastings Bayeux Tapestry
Henry II (1154-1189) and Thomas a Becket
  • Henry had extensive lands in France and Britain -
    rebuilt the power of the monarchy in England
  • Increased power of the English royal court over
    feudal lords strengthened English common law
    (important factor in unifying the English
  • Henry appointed his friend Thomas a Becket as
    Archbishop of Canterbury in the hope that he
    could be manipulated to place the church under
    crown authority
  • When Becket refused to cooperate, four knights
    murdered him on the high altar

The Murder of Thomas a Becket 13th Century
Henrys Successors and the Magna Carta
  • Henrys successors were inept
  • Richard the Lionheart spent most of his reign
    fighting in the Crusades had no interest in
  • His brother John involved in struggles with
    Philip II of France and Pope Innocent, both of
    which he lost
  • By 1215 John had alienated British barons forced
    to sign the Magna Carta reducing the power of the
  • Two important principles the law is above the
    king the king can be forced to obey the law
Magna Carta Original
The English Parliament
  • The Normans used the word parlement (from parler
    to speak) to describe their great council
  • English Parliament became influential during the
    reign of Edward I (1272-1307) who summoned
    representatives of shires and towns to meetings
    of the great council
  • In 14th C representatives of the knights and
    townspeople (House the Commons) began to meet
    separately from the nobles (House of Lords)
  • The Commons powerful because it was a major
    source of revenue and would withhold money from
    the king until grievances were redressed
  • Eventually Parliament could initiate legislation
    when petitions to the king were recognized as
  • By Edwards death, England was efficient and well
    organized, ready to assert itself on Europe

English parliament 14th C
Spain to 1300
  • Unification in Spain was complicated by Muslim
    occupation of a large part of the country
  • The long struggle to drive out the Muslims saw
    patriotism blend with fierce Christian
  • Seville recaptured from the Moors early in the
    13th Century until the 15th Century Muslim
    control was confined to Granada
  • Muslim culture profoundly influenced Spanish

The Moorish city of Granada in Central Spain
Otto the Great and the Holy Roman Empire
  • Otto the Great (936-973) founded the Saxon
    dynasty of kings, which curtailed the power of
    the German dukes and strengthened the monarchy
  • Otto himself appointed German bishops (lay
    investiture) so their first loyalty was to the
  • Attempted to establish a German empire by
    incorporating Italy eventually crowned emperor
    by the pope (Holy Roman Empire)
  • The powerful Saxon kings halted the Magyars,
    reduced feudal fragmentation and encouraged trade
    over the Alpine passes

Otto the Great, founder of The Saxon Dynasty
Decline of the Holy Roman Empire
  • Ottos successors powerful, but Henry IV
    (1056-1106) became involved in a biter struggle
    over lay investiture with the pope, which lost
    Henry support of the Church
  • Frederick I Barbarossa (1152-1190) spent 25 years
    fighting the Lombard League, an alliance of
    northern Italian cities encouraged by the papacy
  • Grandson Frederick II (1212-1250) tried to unite
    Italy under his rule Kingdom of Sicily (where he
    was born) shaped into a vibrant and well
    organized state
  • After Frederick IIs death later Holy Roman
    Emperors ceased interfering in Italy, and also
    lost control of the independent German nobles

Frederick I Barbarossa (1152-1190)
The Church in the Middle Ages
  • Religious revival took place between the 10th and
    13th Centuries papacy gathered greater power
    (e.g. Pope Gregory VII 1073-1085) and attempted
    to free church from secular control
  • New orders of monks also emerged Cistercians -
    discipline and manual labor
  • Dominicans (founded by St. Dominic 1170-1221) -
    friar-preachers who preached with dedication of
  • Popes like Innocent III (1198-1216)
  • who were trained in church (canon) law
  • created the best organized administrative system
  • in the West he used threats of excommunication
  • to control disobedient kings

The Franciscan Order was founded by St. Francis
of Assisi (1182-1226) who rejected wealth and
spread the gospel of love for all of Gods
Heresy and the Inquisition
  • Heresy (belief in doctrines condemned by the
    church) a problem for the papacy
  • Innocent III launched a crusade against the
    wealthy heretics of Toulouse in 1208, but
    religious motive swamped in a rush to seize the
    wealth of the accused
  • In 1233 a special papal court the Inquisition
    established to bring about conformity to the
    official church position
  • The courts were secret no legal representation
    for the accused if they failed to confess they
    were tortured, and then burned at the stake
The Crusades
  • Crusades were a series of military campaigns that
    began late in the 11th Century as a result of
    pressure from the church to recapture the Holy
    Land from the Muslims
  • By the end of the crusading era the church and
    papacy had suffered a major loss of prestige due
    to the actions of the Crusaders
  • In 1095 Pope Urban II proclaimed the First
    Crusade, calling for Christians to recapture the
    Holy Land, and promising spiritual and material
  • Seven crusades were launched against the Muslims
    (Saracens) First was the most successful when
    5000 feudal knights defeated the Turks and
    captured Jerusalem

Later Crusades
  • Muslims recaptured Jerusalem in 1187 the famous
    Third Crusade of 1189 was led by three medieval
    kings Frederick Barbarossa of Germany, Richard
    the Lionheart of England, and Philip Augustus of
  • Frederick drowned en route Richard and Philip
    quarreled so Phillip went home and Richard
    negotiated a truce with the Muslims
  • Fourth Crusade (1202-1204) a disaster Venetians
    used the knights to capture a Christian
    commercial rival, and then sack Constantinople
  • In 1212 thousands of children participated in the
    Childrens Crusade many sold into slavery
  • In 1291 Acre (last Christian stronghold in the
    Holy Land) retaken by the Muslims, and the
    Crusades were over
  • Crusades weakened Byzantine Empire and the
    papacy, but did lead to the reopening of trade
    between the eastern Mediterranean and the West,
    which influenced the revival of economy of
    western Europe

Child Crusader - 1212
Crusades 1095 - 1281
Crusaders sack Constantinople - 1204
Revival of Trade and Towns
  • First Crusade revived trade with the east by
    14th C trade between the Mediterranean and
    northern Europe was flourishing by sea and over
    the Alpine passes
  • Led to the revival of towns, which provided
    markets and produced goods for merchants to sell
  • Population growth also led to a growth in towns
    (British pop. trebled between 1066 and 1350)
  • Medieval towns in the West small compared to the
    East Baghdad, Cairo and had well over 50,000
    Constantinople 800,000

Merchant and Craft Guilds
  • Merchant guilds emerged which monopolized trade
    and imposed standards of weights, quality and
    fair prices
  • Craft guilds also emerged which recognized
    different classes of workers apprentices,
    journeymen and master craftsmen
  • Apprenticeship lasted 7 years before graduation
    to journeyman
  • Journeyman sought admission to master by
    producing a master piece (e.g. a superb pair of
  • Some women were admitted to craft guilds, and
    some crafts were exclusively for women (garment
    making in lace and silk)
  • Wives of master craftsmen supervised apprentices
    and ran the business
  • Guilds played important role in local government,
    increasingly representing demands in the towns
    for self government and undermining the local
    feudal lords

Black Death and Economic Stagnation
  • 12th and 13th Centuries periods of growth 14th
    and 15th of stagnation
  • By 1350 Europe in the grips of economic
    depression which lasted for a century and led to
    social unrest and tension
  • Major cause was the Black Death, a bubonic plague
    carried by fleas on rats which spread along the
    Silk Roads from China
  • Black Death struck Europe in 1347, and lasted for
    two centuries
  • 1/3rd of the population of Europe died towns
    were hardest hit (e.g. Florence fell from 114,000
    to 50,000)
  • Another cause of stagnation was the 100 Years War
    between France and England but by 1450 revival
    had begun
Black death strikes the Saxon King
Black Death
Spread of the bubonic plague in Europe
between December 1347 and December 1350
Medieval Politics Germany
  • Series of strong kings emerged who put national
    interest ahead of submission to the Pope and
    feudal lords
  • In Germany from 1273 the Hapsburg rulers expanded
    into Austria and ruled from Vienna
  • In 1356 a document called the Golden Bull
    established a procedure whereby seven German
    electors (3 archbishops and 4 lay princes) chose
    the emperor
  • This decentralized authority and increased the
    power of the Electors and the Diet (feudal

Hapsburg Royal Family 14th Century
Spain Under Isabella and Ferdinand
  • Spain united under the centralized monarchy of
    Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon
    power of the crown increased at expense of papal
    control and authority of local assemblies
  • Established an independent Court of Inquisition
    that confiscated the property of Jews and Muslims
    and terrified the Christians into accepting royal
  • 150,000 Jews fled to the Netherlands, England,
    North Africa and the Ottoman Empire (Sephardin)
  • Ferdinand and Isabella conquered Granada from the
    Muslims in 1492, the same year the Columbus
    claimed the New World for Spain

Torture the Spanish Inquisition
The Hundred Years War Between England and France
  • English kings claimed much of French territory as
    their own, and were opposed by French kings who
    wanted a united France under their centralized
  • War lasted from 1337 to 1453 began with a string
    of English victories won by their longbowmen,
    which defeated the French knights
  • Bows were six feet long and made of special wood
    which fired a deadly steel-tipped arrow 400 yards

English victory at the Battle of Crecy 1346
Joan of Arc
  • Joan of Arc inspired a French nationalist spirit
    persuaded king to allow her to attempt the relief
    of the besieged city of Orleans
  • Successful against all the odds in 1429
  • Captured by the English and accused of
    witchcraft, then burned at the stake
  • Gradually the French gained military superiority
    and drove the English out of all French territory
    (except Calais) by the time the war ended in 1453
Joan of Arc burned at the stake
Effects of the 100 Years War
  • England exhausted discontent with the monarchy
    erupted into full-scale civil war (Wars of the
    Roses) between the houses of York and Lancaster
  • Henry Tudor won the Battle of Bosworth in 1485,
    becoming Henry VII, the first of the Tudor kings
  • His rule (1485-1509) popular brought national
    unity to the English
  • In France Louis XI (1461-1483) consolidated
    royal power through a series of intrigues
  • He reduced the power of the nobles, restored
    prosperity to France, and established a personal
    subject-sovereign relationship with his people

Battle of Bosworth Won By Henry Tudor
The Church in Crisis Rival Popes
  • Papal power threatened by the growth of
    nation-states and strong modern rulers
  • Church criticized by reformers who objected to
    the corruption of the papacy, and by the middle
    class who were increasingly skeptical and
    religiously self-reliant
  • Pope Boniface VIII (1294-1303)
    attempted to declare papal authority in
    the Unam Sanctum bull, but the French king
    humiliated him by attempting his kidnapping
  • In 1305 the French chose a French
    archbishop as their own pope and installed
    him in Avignon
  • The papacy was thus split between the
    Roman and Avignon popes from 1305- 1377,
    undermining and dividing the

Charles VI in Avignon
  • Middle Ages an era of significant political
    development in Europe strong monarchs replaced
    feudal decentralization with national unity and
    centralized administration
  • Through corruption and abuse of power the church
    lost credibility and fell from its position as
    the sole source of religious authority and
    political power
  • Church remained the dominant influence on
    learning, literature and art, although before
    long artists like Dante and Chaucer began
    expressing national themes in a more secular
  • When we return to Europe in Era 5, one of the
    themes we need to explore is how the economic and
    cultural forces that culminated in the High
    Middle Ages resulted in a great European cultural
    revolution historians call the Renaissance!