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Medieval Society:


Medieval Society: Hierarchies, Towns, Universities, and Families – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Medieval Society:

Medieval Society
  • Hierarchies, Towns, Universities, and Families

The Traditional Order of Life
  • Three basic social groups existed during the
    Middle Ages.
  • Clergy
  • Nobility
  • -Peasants
  • After the revival of towns and trade and fourth
    class emerged
  • Traders and merchants

The Church as a State
  • The medieval church was much like a present-day
  • Everyone became a member at birth, just as we
    become citizens.
  • The Church had its own laws (cannon law) and
  • It could enforce these laws, even upon kings, by
    such means as interdict and excommunication.
  • Interdict disallows religious services and
    sacraments to be performed within a region.
  • Excommunication is to be removed from the Church.
  • Like a government, the Church had the power of
  • Tithe 10 of a families income was to go to the
    Church (tithe)

  • In peacetime, the nobility had two favorite forms
    of entertainment hunting and tournaments.
  • Limiting the amount of hunting within the lands
    of the noble usually meant good hunting.
  • This practice brought resentment among the common
  • Tournaments kept knights prepared for war, and
    also brought entertainment to the people.
  • Tournaments often lead to violence among the
    combatants and death.
  • Eventually they will be ended because to many
    knights were being killed.
  • Henry II of France was mortally wounded during a
  • The Church declared them barbaric

The Manor System
  • Feudalism was essentially a governmental and
    military system.
  • The economic system basis of early medieval life
    was a large estate that included a village.
  • These large estates were called a manor.
  • A large fief may have several manors where a
    small fief may have only one.
  • Each manor tried to be self-sufficient.
  • To produce everything they needed.
  • Most manors produced their own food, clothing,
    and leather goods,
  • Only items such as iron, salt,and tar were

Peasant Life
  • Most of the peasants on a manor were serfs, whose
    legal status was less than free but higher than
  • Serfs were bound to the land.
  • They could not leave without the lords
    permission and the price of his permission was
    usually a large sum of money.
  • Serfs were not slaves, for they could not be sold
    away from the land.
  • There were some freemen on the manor who rented
    land from the lord.
  • This group included skilled workers necessary to
    the village economy such as blacksmiths, millers,
    and carpenters.

  • When people think of the Middle Ages they think
    of majestic castles and knights in shining armor.
  • During the early Middle ages, most castles were
    relatively simple structures built of earth and
  • Castles were built for defensive purposes, not
    for luxury.
  • The main part of the castle was called the keep.
  • It was surrounded by a high wall.
  • If the castle was on flat land it would have a
    moat around it with a drawbridge

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Life in the Castle
  • Within the keep, was the lords living quarters.
  • In the great hall, the lord held court and
    received visitors, and here the family lived
    during the day.
  • The lord and his family had separate sleeping
  • There was little furniture and tapestries covered
    the walls.
  • Fowl, dogs and other small animals ran
  • The floors were covered with straw in which filth
    and vermin abounded.

The Rise of Towns
  • During the latter part of the Early Middle ages,
    feudal manors grew in size.
  • Populations grew.
  • The castle as well as the Church became the
    center of the growing town.
  • The economic revival of this period was due to
    the growth of these towns.

An Agricultural Revolution
  • Several improvements in agricultural technology
    occurred during this period.
  • The heavy bottom plow.
  • A new yoke
  • The use of horses instead of oxen.
  • Horses worked faster and ate less than oxen.
  • Windmill Watermills
  • -Provided a power source to grind grains into
  • Due to these improvements, feudal lords had new
    fields cleared to increase food production.
  • With the improvements in agriculture during this
    period population began to grow.
  • Between 1000 and 1300 the population of Europe

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Trade Revives
  • As Europes population grew, so did the demand
    for new products not provided for them on the
    manor estates.
  • As Europe became more settled, trade began to
    flourish again.
  • Merchant companies were formed and established
    new trade routes throughout Europe.
  • Along these routes, merchants traded goods from
    Asia and the Far East.
  • Jewelry, spices, perfumes, silks and other
    products not found in Europe.

Trade Fairs
  • In the beginning of this trade revival, merchants
    and consumers met at trade fairs.
  • These fairs occurred where trade routes crossed.
  • Local people would trade their goods at these
  • They were also entertained by jugglers,
    musicians, and magicians.
  • These fairs were often sponsored by the local
    lords who, for a fee, provided the fair
    protection while in his domain.

Chartered Towns
  • To insure the stability and interests of the
    towns, the merchants asked for charters (written
    document guaranteeing their rights and privileges
    as granted by the lord.)
  • In exchange the town would pay a yearly fee to
    the lord
  • Most charters allowed for self-government and
    control of their own affairs.

A Commercial Revolution
  • As the growth in trade continued during the High
    Middle Ages, a need for capital developed.
  • Capital is money used for investment.
  • A new banking industry developed to provided this
    capital for merchants.

Social Changes
  • Along with the economy of the medieval society
    changing, so did the culture of Europe.
  • The increased use of money was detrimental to
  • Serfs would sell products to merchants and pay
    the lords their dues instead of working them off.
  • By 1300, most peasants either rented their lands
    or were hired laborers.
  • In towns, the old social order of nobles, clergy,
    and peasants began to change.
  • A new middle class began to emerge in the 11th

Role of Guilds
  • Merchant guilds would dominate the towns of the
    high Middle Ages.
  • Guilds ran the chartered cities of Europe.
  • Artisan guilds soon appeared because the
    craftsmen resented the power of the merchants.
  • Each guild represented a specific craft.
  • Worked to protect the interests of its members.
  • Developed stages of membership.
  • Apprentice learn your trade from a master.
  • Journeyman can work for a wage in your craft.
  • Master can start your own shop
  • Women were allowed to become masters in their

City Life
  • Towns of the High Middle Ages were not pleasant
    places to live by our standards of today.
  • Protected by high walls for defensive purposes.
  • Narrow streets
  • No Sewage system.
  • No regular garbage pickup.
  • Open air markets.
  • Disease common and often deadly.

Languages and Literature
  • Latin was the language of the educated.
  • The common person spoke the vernacular everyday
    language of their region.
  • The first vernacular literature consisted of
    troubadour songs.

Dante Chaucer
  • Two great writers, Dante and Chaucer represented
    the flowering of medieval vernacular literature.
  • Dante-father of modern Italian and Divine Comedy
  • Chaucer-father of modern English and Canterbury
  • Dantes use of the Tuscany dialect which would
    eventually become the language of Italy, is known
    as the Father of modern Italian.
  • His greatest work was the Divine Comedy.
  • Dante used this work to criticize the society of
    his time.
  • Geoffrey Chaucer wrote Canterbury Tales, a series
    of short stories told by a group of pilgrims on
    their way to Canterbury.
  • His use of the Midland dialect became poplar and
    was the forerunner of modern English. Father of
    Modern English

Medieval Universities
  • During the Middle Ages only nobles and clergy
    were educated.
  • Gradually, however, schools grew up in which
    anyone could study.
  • These new schools were located in thriving towns.
  • Early schools were simple, with possibly only one
  • As the number of teachers and students increased
    they formed guilds for protection and privileges.
  • Such guilds were called universities (association
    of people).
  • During the Middle Ages the liberal arts included
    logic, rhetoric, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy,
    and music.

Universities Academic Degrees
  • Four great universities developed between 1000
    and 1200.
  • University of Bologna (Roman and Canon Law)
  • University of Salerno (Medicine)
  • University of Paris (Theology)
  • University of Oxford (Liberal Arts)
  • In time, medieval universities established
    standard courses of study with uniform academic
  • Bachelor of Arts (finished your apprenticeship)
  • Master of Arts (allowed to teach the liberal
  • Teachers admitted into the guild in a ceremony
    called a commencement.

  • During the Middle Ages scholars spent much time
    trying to reconcile the ideas of Aristotle, whom
    they revered, and those of early Church writers.
  • The attempts of medieval philosophers to
    reconcile faith and reason is often called
  • The aim of the scholastic philosopher was to
    discover how man could improve himself in this
    life by reason and insure salvation in the life
    to come.
  • Two of the leading scholars of this time were
    Peter Abelard and Thomas Aquinas

Abelard and Aquinas
  • Peter Abelard taught at the University of Paris.
  • In his book Sic et Non (Yes and No), he raised
    many questions about Church doctrine.
  • perceive the truth. By doubting we come to
    inquiry, and by inquiry we perceive the truth.
  • Abelard raised questions about Church doctrine
    and discovered that Church doctrine often
    contradicted itself.
  • Thomas Aquinas a Dominican monk, is best known
    for his work, Summa Theologica.
  • Attempted to use logic and reason to support
    Church doctrine and teachings.

  • There was little scientific progress made during
    the Middle Ages.
  • Many medieval scientists practiced a strange
    craft called alchemy.
  • One basic aim of alchemy was to change other
    metals into gold.
  • Believed all metals were the same and could
    therefore be changed into one another.
  • The Philosophers Stone was a substance
    necessary to perform this change.
  • Could also prolong life.

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Art Architecture
  • Art and architecture of the Middle Ages was used
    almost entirely by the Church. (Cathedrals)
  • Building and beautifying of a church was
    considered a community project during the Middle
  • From 1000 to 1200 most medieval churches were
    built in the Romanesque style.
  • During the mid-1100s, the Gothic style of
    architecture emerged.

  Romanesque Gothic
Mostly barrel-vaults, some groin-vaults. Groin-vaulted cathedrals.
Rounded arches. Pointed arches.
Thick walls, buttresses. Exterior flying buttresses.
Small windows. Large stained-glass windows.
Horizontal, modest height. Vertical, soaring.
Plain, little decoration, solid. Ornate, delicate, lots of sculpture.
Dark, gloomy. Tall, light-filled.
Romanesque vs. Gothic Architecture
Romanesque Architecture
Romanesque Architecture
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Gothic Architecture
Gothic Architecture
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