The Foundations of Christian Society in Western Europe

The Foundations of Christian
Society in Western Society
 Before we start:
 Up to 30 percent of the national exam is drawn from
western European content.
 Think about comparisons and contrasts you could make
with other places during this era:
Eastern Europe (Chapter 13)
Islamic World (Chapter 14)
Tang, Song, and Ming Dynasties (Chapter 15)
India and Indian Ocean Basin (Chapter 16)
Continued Christianity in Western Europe (Chapter 20)
The Quest for Political Order
 500-1500 CE in western Europe – Middle Ages
 500-1000 CE in western Europe – Medieval period
 During the medieval period, western Europe
developed an agricultural economy with a
decentralized political order in which most political
authority was invested in local and regional
 The Roman Catholic church emerged as the dominant
source of cultural authority.
The Quest for Political Order
 Germanic Successor States
 After the fall of the Roman empire in the west in 476 CE,
Germanic peoples gradually displaced Roman authority and
 Visogoths – Spain
 Ostrogoths and Lombards – Italy
 Burgundians – Gaul
 Angles and Saxons – Britain
 Franks – Northern and Western Gaul emerged as the most
powerfully influential of these Germanic Groups.
Developed agricultural based, decentralized society which “shifted
the European Center of Gravity” from Italy to France.
The Quest for Political Order
 The Franks and the Temporary Revival of Europe
 Franks emerged as the dominant military and political
power in western Europe.
 Beginning in the fifth century with Clovis and
continuing into the ninth century with Charlemagne,
the Franks used religious ties with the Roman Catholic
Church to secure and maintain authority.
 Charlemagne used his military, judicial, and intellectual
powers to build a centralized empire and was granted
the title of Roman Emperor on Christmas Day in 800
The Quest for Political Order
 Decline and Dissolution of the Carolingian Empire
 After Charlemagne’s death, internal disunity and
external invasions brought the Carolingian empire to an
 Invasions:
Muslims from the Mediterranean
Magyars from Hungary
Vikings from Northern Europe
 Used shallow draft boats to launch raids on coastal and inland
sites attacking monasteries, villages, and cities throughout
northern and southern Europe.
The Quest for Political Order
 The Establishment of Regional Authorities
Regions within the former Roman Empire responded to foreign
invasions in different ways.
Angles and Saxons led by King Alfred held of Viking invasions to lay
the foundation for the future nation of England.
King Otto of Saxony led the fight against the Magyar invasion in
Germany, forming the basis for German identity and earning the
title of Holy Roman Emperor.
Vikings established permanent settlements in northern France.
End of the invasions and establishment of stable, decentralized
political order laid the foundation for social, economic, and cultural
development in western Europe.
Early Medieval Society
 Feudalism is the term traditionally used to describe
the political and social order of medieval Europe.
 Today, it is considered more accurate to describe it as a
range of ways to maintain order, rather than a single
monolithic system.
Early Medieval Society
 Organizing a Decentralized Society
 After Charlemagne’s death, European nobles built a
system to protect their lands and maintain order in a
decentralized society.
 Built military and political relationships with other
prominent individuals within their territories.
 As time went on, these relationships between lords and
retainers were formalized, often with church approval
and sanction, becoming increasingly complex and
complicated as lands and titles became hereditary.
Early Medieval Society
 Serfs and Manors
 Serfs
People who cultivated the land and made Feudalism (system
of nobles, lords, etc) work.
Not fully free, not fully slave, but somewhere in between
Cultivated land owned by lords in exchange for protection and
small plots of land to cultivate.
Usually had the right to cultivate their land and pass it along
to offspring as long as they fulfilled their duties to their lord,
which could include a wide variety of things.
Early Medieval Society
 Manors
 Principal form of agricultural organization in western Europe.
 Included land, crops, animals, tools, and serfs necessary to
produce the agricultural surplus which kept the system
 The lord acted as the government, providing justice and
limited services.
 Over time, manors became largely self sufficient communities
and developed impressive craft skills.
 Monasteries and cathedrals often served as small markets to
acquire goods not produced on the manors.
The Economy of Early and
Medieval Europe
 By the 10th Century political stability led to a renewed
trading relationship with the eastern hemisphere.
 Moldboard plow, watermills, and horse collars allowed
cultivators to put more land to use and to experiment
with new crops and crop rotation systems.
 Led to agricultural surpluses, but still not enough for
urban cities.
 Maritime trade continued to grow as the Norsemen,
descendents of Viking invaders, established ports in
Russia and Ireland.
 These ports linked Europe with the Islamic world.
The Formation of Christian Europe
 The adoption of Roman Christianity, finalized with the
Frankish king, Clovis, ensured western Europe would
inherit crucial cultural elements from Rome including
language and institutions.
 Politics of Conversion
 Church provided educated workplace and legitimacy to
the Frankish Bureaucracy.
 Franks, especially Charlemagne, helped convert
reluctant pagans to Christianity for the church.
The Formation of Christian Europe
 The Papacy
 Strong papal leadership also contributed to the power of
Roman Christianity
 Great Schism of East and West in 1054 permanently forged
separate identities for the Roman Catholic and Eastern
Orthodox churches.
 Pope Gregory I ensured the survival of Roman Catholic
Church and Rome itself by:
Consistently asserting papal primacy
Emphasizing the sacraments
Promoting an active missionary movement in England, France, and
Promoting Monasticism as a way to serve God and church.
 Emphasized poverty, chastity, and obedience
 Helped expand agricultural production
 Provided range of social services – Medical care,
shelter for travelers, orphanages.
 Education centers
 Spread Christianity to rural peasant populations

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