Europe 600-1450 - Hinzman`s AP World History & Honors World

Europe 600-1450
Unit 3 Section 4
Early Medieval Western
Europe: 600-1000
• The period from the fall of the Romans until the beginning
of the Renaissance is known as the Medieval period, or the
Middle Ages,
– chiefly because it is bracketed by periods of cultural,
economic, and political ascendancy – the once-great Roman
Empire & the Renaissance
• The fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th Century, brought
drastic changes to western Europe, which entered a
period of economic decline and subsistence living
– Local lords and chieftains replaced Roman imperial rule
– the laws of the Roman Empire were supplanted by the
Germanic traditions and practices of the tribes in the area
– With the absence of centralized imperial authority, safety
became the primary concern, and peasants turned to local
lords rather than faraway kings to provide safety
• This need for protection was the political and cultural context out of
which the feudal system emerged in the 7th century
ZyG2g Charlemagne Song
• One exception to the weak kings of the early
medieval period was Charlemagne, whose
grandfather, Charles Martel, had prevented
the Muslims from taking over France (Gaul at
the time) at the Battle of Tours in 732
– By that time Muslims controlled all of the Iberian
peninsula, having taken over the Visigoth kingdom
and pushed the Christians back
– By then, Charlemagne’s family, the Carolingians,
and created an empire that included all of Gaul
and parts of Germany and Italy
– Charlemagne brought about a brief period of
intellectual revival, but with the death of his son
Louis the Pious, the Treaty of Verdun split the
empire into 3 parts, - one for each of Louis’s sons
and this brief period of empire in Medieval Europe
came to an end.
Collapse of Roman World
• While the Roman Empire had focused on urban
– exemplified by the city of Rome itself, western
European cities declined and in some cases became
smaller villages.
• Roman roads also fell into disrepair, as did
the great buildings of Rome
• The Roman coin became a thing of the past,
and local trade was by barter
– Contact with the larger world through longdistance trade around the Mediterranean
severely declined
• With less communication with the larger
world and no strong central government,
most Europeans relied on their own local
resources for both political control and
economic survival
Medieval Life & Serfdom
• Organization of medieval life thus settled
around the institution of the manor, which
became the primary source of local
agricultural production in both northern
and southern Europe.
• The manor was far more than a single
fortified dwelling
– Life behind its walls sustained a small
community of people and included a mill,
church, workshops and a village where serfs
• Serfs, both men and women, worked the lands of the
manor in exchange for protection and were under
the complete control of the lord of the manor, the
noble whose armed men provided for their safety.
• Serfs were tied to the land and could not leave
• Most peasants across France, England, and
western Germany in the 10th & 11th centuries were
• The rigid system of serfdom did not allow for much
personal or political advancement
• However, for the noble class, opportunities for
political and economic advancement centered on
warfare to protect lands from distant enemies like the
Vikings as well as other competing lords
• This centuries-long traditions of linking land rights to
military service was termed feudalism
– The feudal society was based on the vassal relationship, in
which kings and lords gave land to vassals in exchange for
sworn military allegiance
– This vassal relationship looked different from region to
region, but by the 11th Century the key person in the
medieval military was the knight
– Land given to a knight by his lord or king allowed him to
afford armor and horses, and the land, known as a fief,
could be passed down through generations
– This allowed knights themselves to become wealthy lords,
who could then enter into vassal relationships with other
– Knights could also be in a vassal relationship with more
than one lord at a time
Role of Women
Catholic Church
• The other central institution of medieval
Europe was the Catholic Church, the
strongest unifying force in medieval Europe
– The church created the moral framework for
society, a task it took very seriously
– The church also owned and controlled extensive
lands throughout medieval Europe on which it
placed its monasteries and converts
– The Catholic Church wrestled with secular
lords and kings to be the dominant authority
over all matters, ecclesiastical or not
• This tension was not present in the Byzantine
– because as the appointed patriarch of
Constantinople, the emperor had both political
and religious supremacy (one Guy – Two Jobs but
no competition or battle of Ego)
• The head of the western Church was
the pope, whose authority continued to
grow stronger and stronger in the
early medieval period
• The pope was based in Rome and
controlled territory in Rome and
central Italy
– He exercised authority over all clergy
and, through his councils of bishops, drew
up the rules and doctrines that priests
communicated to lay people
• Catholics who were not part of the clergy
– He also demanded that secular leadership
honor and respect his authority
Investiture Controversy
Fight for power
• One other unique aspect of medieval
European Christian life was monasticism
– Monks and nuns separated themselves from
daily life and lived in gender-specific
communities focused on a celibate life of
devotion, religious work, and simple living
• Nuns provided a refuge for women who were widowed
or selected a spiritual life instead of their
traditional obligations to marry
• Monks served as missionaries, produced foods on
their lands, and made their monasteries resting
places for weary pilgrims and other travelers
• Monks were also the essential link between the past
and the future
– They were the keepers of literacy and learning
– In addition to writing their own books on religious matters,
monks conserved the works of the Latin world by
painstakingly copying them
Late Medieval Western
Europe: 1000-1450
• Important changes occurred in late
medieval Europe between 1000 and
– Increases in population and agricultural
production allowed for a Food surplus,
• This created more opportunities for trade and
• A surplus of food freed people to focus on
other industries in artistry and construction
– These changes resulted from
technological advances in agriculture
• A new plow
• the use of the horse collar
• the use of horses instead of oxen
The Black Death
• The most dramatic shift in population –
a reversal – came to medieval Europe
in the 14th century because of the
bubonic plague
– Known as the Black death, it ravaged
Europe from 1347 to 1351, killing one in
three Europeans
– the plague first hit Mongol armies
stationed in Kaffa, a port on the Black Sea
– Italian traders brought the disease from
Kaffa to Italy, and from there it traveled
across the continent and to England
• Not until 1500 did Europe’s population
rebound to its level before the plague
Aftermath of the Black Death
• The Black death left an impact far more
significant than just demographic change
– In many ways, the Black death killed serfdom
• With so many dead, laborers could charge more for
their services, and they rebelled against nobles who
initially refused to comply
• Demand for the end of serfdom sparked uprisings
across Europe
– Production rose as free laborers bought land for
themselves or became urban workers and could
demand higher wages
– For those still working the land,
• technological improvements such as the waterwheel
and windmill – technologies that had long been in use in
the Muslim world – increasingly came into use in
Western Europe
• These devices improved efficiency by powering a number
of the necessary tasks, from the grinding of grain to
• These technologies were also used for iron production,
which brought about the expansion of iron mining
• In addition to the Muslims, the Scandinavian
Vikings were a formidable presence in
medieval Europe
– The Vikings, excellent shipbuilders, raided
towns along the coasts of England and
France and eventually settled in Normandy
• From there they would conquer parts of England
and take Sicily permanently from the Muslims
– The Vikings were among the earliest European
explorers, also settling Iceland and
• Around 1000 almost 500 years before Columbus they
made it to the North American continent without the
use of maritime technologies such as the compass and
established Vinland, on Newfoundland
Changes to Cities
• Another important change was a revival of trade,
– propelled by the politically independent cities of Italy and
Flanders that were exclusively focused on seaborne trade
• These cities sprang up when individuals banded together to demand
freedom from their lord
– A lord who allowed this independence was sure to benefit from the economic
prosperity of the city brought to the region
– Laws were passed so that serfs who made their way to these cities were
guaranteed their freedom and were able to engage in other forms of
– These laws would be very important after the Black death
– Walled cities like Pisa, Florence, and Siena had to keep
expanding as their population increased
– Other Italian cities that rose to tremendous economic
importance were:
• Genoa, with its access to the western Mediterranean,
• Venice which would become a trading powerhouse on the Adriatic Sea
– Venice engaged in trade with the Muslim courts of North Africa and the
» In this way Western Europe was slowly exposed to the wealth of goods
traveling along the silk Road and circulating in the Indian Ocean
trading system
• Mongol control of the entire Eurasian landmass further
opened trade between Italian ports in the great ports of
the East
Trade and Coinage
• Two other vibrant centers of sea trade in
Europe were:
– The Hanseatic League – a network of trading
cities centered in the Baltic
– Flanders network – which include cities
around the North Sea like Ghent and Bruges
• They focused on the fishing industry and the growing
trade in wool and other textiles
• With the increase in trade came increased
demand for coined money
– Most coinage in the ninth and 10th centuries
came from the Muslim world and Byzantium,
but with trade reviving in the Mediterranean,
gold and silver coinage no longer was a
Society and Scholasticism
• As the autonomous trading cities began to flourish, they
offered more opportunities for social mobility and
individual opportunity
– Most of Europe’s Jews lived in cities, where they experienced
periods of great tolerance, as in Muslim Spain,
– but also periods of horrific persecution most often during
times of uncertainty and disaster like the Black Death
• Cities also became centers of learning as universities
specializing in fields such as education, law, and theology
sprang up across Europe
– Universities allow for new questions about the relationship
between reason and faith, a pursuit that came to be known as
• Scholars like Thomas Aquinas and other pre-Renaissance thinkers
tried to reconcile the Bible with discovered Greek works from
philosophers like Aristotle
– Architecture also flourished; the best example of this is the
Gothic cathedral, which first appeared in France in the 12th
• By trial and error, European architects mastered the mathematical
and engineering skills required to construct these huge soaring
Setting the Stage for the
• All of the changes in the late medieval
period set the stage for the
– A rebirth of classical learning and
artistry stimulated by
• urban revival,
• a growing merchant class,
• renewed economic contact with the Muslim
• the rise of new scholarship and artistry in the
cities of Europe,
– the Renaissance began in Italy and spread
to northern Europe over the coming
The Crusades
• Economic revival in Western Europe
occurred alongside of and
contributed to the Crusades,
– which had a profound effect on Europe as
a whole and on Western Europe in
• The series of military expeditions,
spanning more than 100 years, began
with Pope Urban II’s call in 1095 for
Frankish (a broad term synonymous
with Western European) princes to
take back the holy land from Muslim
The Crusades
nkmA - The Crusade Report with Bob Hale
• Many elements of European culture
contributed to the Crusades:
– In an effort to calm the constant warring
characteristic of the feudal system,
• the church had introduced truces – limits to times of
– These truces redirected warring from Christian versus
Christian to Christian versus the enemies of Christendom
• To a much smaller degree, land was inherited only by
eldest sons, so younger sons could participate in
religious pilgrimage and the proceeds provided an
opportunity for younger sons to gain new lands and
titles for themselves
– Italian merchants, having reestablished a
foothold in Mediterranean trade, encouraged
Crusades as a way to gain access to ports
under the control of Muslims
The Crusades
• By the 11th century, Muslim leaders had long been in
control of the holy Land;
– territory sacred to Christians included cities like
Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria
– Christians had been able to make pilgrimages to the
• but as Islamic control continued to expand into Byzantine –
and therefore Christian – territory, the calls for Crusade
• Despite the differences between the Latin Church and the
Orthodox Church, the Byzantine emperor requested help –
(both secular and religious) – in securing the land in the name
of Christendom
– Pope Urban II raised the call to fight in 1095 and the
first Crusade resulted in the capture of Jerusalem in
1099 and the establishment of four Crusader kingdoms
• The following two crusades focused on holding these
territories, but in 1187 Muslim armies took back Jerusalem
– The fourth Crusade had completely new goals;
• the capture of Constantinople was driven by economic
• it was encouraged by Venetians, who wanted to expand their
trading to ports formally under Byzantine and Muslim control
The Outcome of the Crusades
• The crusades failed in their attempts to take the holy land,
but they had a tremendous, long-lasting impact on
European life (and Really only European Life)
– Exposure to the Muslim world sparked the flow of an
enormous amount of information, ideas, goods, and resources
to Europe (which were now in demand among more classes)
– Crusaders brought back discoveries and manufacturing
techniques that allowed Europeans to make many of the goods
they originally could only import
– Demand for these goods from the Middle East stimulated the
markets of late medieval Europe and also expanded trade
between the Muslim world, Western Europe, and the Byzantine
• The incredible intellectual contributions of Muslims made
their way to Europe in two forms:
– 1st the knowledge of the ancient Greeks preserved by Muslims
– 2nd scientific and technological understanding, which were
enhanced in the Muslim world
• Together they served as the intellectual underpinnings
for Western Europe’s transition from the Middle Ages to
the Renaissance
Byzantine Empire
• After the fall of the Roman Empire, the eastern portion
continued as the Byzantine Empire, with Constantinople as
its great capital, and the empire would endure until its
defeat by the Ottoman Turks in 1453
– Geographically centered in Greek and Anatolian areas, the
Byzantine Empire, or Byzantium, used Greek as its language,
and the empire maintained and built upon many of the
traditions of the Roman Empire in terms of both law and
• Economically, the Byzantine emperors continued to regulate prices,
the trading of luxury goods, and grain shipments, which may have
slowed technological and economic advancements
• Constantinople received the most economic attention to the detriment
of other Byzantine cities and countryside, where farm tools and
practices lagged in efficiency when compared with those in Western
– Part of Constantinople’s appeal was its ideal location
between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, which made it
an ideal center for trade and travel, attracting merchants,
aristocrats, and journeying pilgrims
• For hundreds of years, this port city – one of the five great
patriarchal seats of Europe – would be envied by many
– Constantinople’s glory hid the reality that the Byzantine
Empire was on a slow and steady decline
Byzantine Empire
• The Byzantine Empire enjoyed many
cultural and artistic achievements,
all reflecting the Greek orthodox
interpretations of Christianity as
opposed to the Latin interpretations
used in Western Europe
– The empire reached its height under the
Emperor Justinian who ruled from 527
until 565
• He commissioned the building of the Hagia
Sophia, the greatest example of Byzantine
– Byzantine sacred art had a great
influence on pre-Renaissance painting in
Western Europe
Cyrillic & Orthodox
• The Byzantine Empire also had a
tremendous impact on the religious
and cultural traditions of Slavic
– Followers of two Byzantine
missionaries (Cyril & Methodius) sent in
the ninth century to preach to the
Slavs in their local language developed
the Cyrillic writing system,
• which became the written language of the
Slavic and Russian orthodox Christians
Byzantine Social Structure
• Socially, the Byzantine Empire gradually moved from
an urban way of life to a more rural one,
• although cities, particularly Constantinople, remained
– Local urban elites holding power up through the
seventh century gave way to an increase in the power of
rural landowners and imperial court aristocrats
• This change could in part be the result of the demographic
impact of the bubonic plague, which hit the Byzantine Empire in
the 6th century – much earlier than in Western Europe – as
well as the loss of territory to Muslims
• Byzantine women also saw a change in their position,
– moving from a freer status in the public arena during
the Roman period to a more secluded existence in the
home, marked by wearing the veil in public
– Social interactions with men were limited to family
– Despite this, there are strong examples of women ruling
with their husbands in the 11th century
– the increasing seclusion of women in the Byzantine
Empire can be compared with the seclusion of women in
the neighboring Muslim empires
The Fall of the Byzantines
• The rising strength of the Muslim empire always proved to
be a formidable challenge for the Byzantine Empire,
despite the growing importance of the military, which was
the basis of the aristocratic class by the 11th century
– Arab Muslims quickly took territory away from the Byzantine
Empire in the seventh century
– At the same time, the patriarchal cities of Alexandria,
Antioch, and Jerusalem came under Muslim control
– Other groups, such as the Slavic and Turkic peoples, would
also serve as threats to the borders of the Byzantine Empire
– The Seljuk Turks in particular would establish a Turkish
Muslim state in the early 11th century
• It became the main enemy of the Crusaders
• The fourth Crusade in 1204 was a mortal blow for the
Empire because Western European Crusaders sacked and
destroyed much of Constantinople
– After 1200, the Byzantine empire declined, largely because
of a weak military
– For the next 200 years the empire continued to lose territory
• It would limp along until 1453 when Sultan Mehmed II
captured Constantinople and ended the Byzantine
Empire’s rain of over 1100 years
The Schism
• Not only did the Roman Empire split
politically into east and west; the church
would eventually as well
– A series of doctrinal disputes over issues
weakened the relationship between the
Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman
Catholic Church such as:
– the humanity and divinity of Jesus,
– the place of icons,
– the role of Mary
• At one point the patriarch in Constantinople also
challenged the territorial control that the Western
Church enjoyed
– These disagreements eventually resulted in
schism in 1054, a formal split of Christendom
that has endured through the centuries
• This split produced two different cultural
expressions of Christianity in the period
Kievan Russia
• To the north of the Byzantine Empire, a unique society
developed in Russia that also followed the traditions of
the Orthodox Church
– The word Rus, from which Russia derives, came to refer
to Slavic speaking peoples who were ruled by the
• Swedish Vikings who sailed down into Russia from the Baltic
• Varangian princes lived in cities and focused on trade while the
Slavs worked the lands
– Kiev was one of the key cities for trade with the Byzantine Empire
– In 980, Vladimir I made himself grand Prince of Russia
• He chose Orthodox Christianity as the religion of the region,
married an Orthodox princess of the Byzantine imperial family, and
let in Orthodox missionaries
– Until the arrival of the Mongols in the 13th century,
Kievan Russia stood as an independent state that spread
Orthodox Christianity to Eastern Slavs and prevented
the spread of Latin Christianity from the West
Kievan Russia
• Economic prominence in Kiev came from
– which provided the money to pay soldiers,
– artisans were valued above peasants
• Churches were built in the Byzantine style,
and slowly Christianity obliterated the
polytheistic traditions of the Slavs
– By the 12th century the church had taken over
some economic roles such as tax collection
and had also assumed political responsibilities
• Nonetheless, the large cities of Kiev and
Novgorod never matched the population
levels or cosmopolitan life found in cities
like Constantinople and Baghdad

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