Europe in the middle ages
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Europe in the Middle Ages. Feudalism and the Manor System. Chapter 5 Section 1. The Middle Ages. The Middle Ages began with the collapse of the Roman Empire. The term “Middle Ages” (also called the “Medieval” period) describes the years between ancient times and modern times.

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Europe in the Middle Ages

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Europe in the middle ages

Europe in the Middle Ages

Feudalism and the manor system

Feudalism and the Manor System

Chapter 5 Section 1

The middle ages

The Middle Ages

  • The Middle Ages began with the collapse of the Roman Empire.

  • The term “Middle Ages” (also called the “Medieval” period) describes the years between ancient times and modern times.

The fall of the roman empire

The Fall of the Roman Empire

  • Invaders destroyed Roman towns and cut off trade routes

  • By about 500 A.D., the Roman Empire in Western Europe had completely collapsed

  • It was replaced by a patchwork of small kingdoms.

The franks

The Franks

  • They claimed the area called Gaul (modern day France)

    • The name “France” comes from the word “Franks”

  • In 768, a skilled military leader named Charlemagne became king of the Franks.

Charlemagne s empire

Charlemagne's Empire

  • At the time, many small kingdoms in Europe were often at war with on another.

  • Charlemagne expanded his kingdom by conquering these weaker kingdoms

  • He ruled an empire that stretched across Western Europe

King charlemagne

King Charlemagne

  • Charlemagne ruled for nearly 50 years

  • During his reign he worked hard to keep Western Europe united

  • He established schools to promote learning, issued money and improve the economy and spread Christianity.

Charlemagne s death

Charlemagne’s Death

  • After Charlemagne’s death his empire was divided among his three sons.

  • They fought each other, weakening the empire.

  • Other groups also attacked the weakened empire, perhaps the fiercest attacks were made by the Vikings

Attacks from the north

Attacks From the North

  • The Vikings came from the far north of Europe (present day Denmark, Sweden, and Norway)

  • They were skilled sailors and tough warriors

  • Relying on surprise, the Vikings burned and looted European towns

  • They also reopened trade routes throughout Europe

The feudal system

The Feudal System

  • Under feudalism, land was owned by kings or lords but held by vassals in return for their loyalty

  • In medieval Europe, power belonged to those who controlled the land.

  • They gave a share of land, called a fief to each of their vassals

    • A vassal promised to follow the landowners laws and fight for him

The feudal system1

The Feudal System

The manor system

The Manor System

  • Feudalism was the way medieval Europeans organized power and government.

  • Manorialism was the way they organized their economy

  • The Manor was a large estate that included farm fields, pastures, and often and entire village

    • It also included a large house called the manor house, where the lord, or ruler, of the manor lived

Lords and manors

Lords and Manors

  • The lord of the manor was typically a vassal of a king or of a more powerful lord.

    • The manor was part of his fief

  • Most manors were far from towns, villages and other manors so they had to be self-sufficient (or able to supply their own needs)

  • Food, clothing, and other things needed by the people who lived on the manor were made there.

The role of noblewomen

The Role of Noblewomen

  • Women of the noble class also played an important part in the feudal system

  • She managed the household, performed necessary medical tasks, and supervised servants

  • When her husband or father was away fighting she often served as “lord of the Manor” making important decisions.



  • The majority of people in medieval Europe were peasants

  • Peasants made their living as farmers or laborers

  • They were often very poor and did all of the work on the manor

  • They farmed the lord’s fields to raise food for the household.

  • They were only allowed to farm a small strip of land for themselves (even so they had to give part of their own harvest to their lord)



  • Serfs were peasants who were considered to be part of the manor

  • When a noble was given a manor as part of his fief, its serfs became his

  • They could not leave the manor or even get married without his permission

A hard life

A Hard Life

  • Medieval peasants lived and worked a hard life

  • Men, women and children were all required to work

  • They often lived in one-room huts

  • For heating and cooking they built a fire on the dirt floor

  • Smoke filled the dark, cramped interior before drifting out of a hole in the roof

A hard life1

A Hard Life

  • Peasants ate simple foods such as black bread, cabbage, and turnips

  • They rarely ate meat, since animals of the manor and surrounding the land were reserved for the lord

  • At night they slept on mattresses made out of cloth and stuffed with straw

The church and the rise of cities

The Church and the Rise of Cities

Chapter 5 Section 2

Gothic cathedrals

Gothic Cathedrals

  • Most Gothic cathedrals were built in Western Europe between 1100 and 1400.

    • Gothic refers to the style of architecture

  • A cathedral was the church of a bishop (an important leader of the Roman Catholic Church)

  • During the Middle Ages, nearly all people in Western Europe were Roman Catholic.

Religious power of the church

Religious Power of the Church

  • During the Middle Ages life was short and hard for most people

  • They were comforted by the Christian belief that they would enjoy the rewards of heaven after death if they lived according to the Church teachings

  • The Church also held that if people didn’t obey those rules, they would be punished after death.

  • The promise of reward combined with the threat of punishment made most people follow the teachings of the Church

Economic power of the church

Economic Power of the Church

  • The Church gained great wealth by collecting taxes

  • It also took fiefs from lords in exchange for services performed by the clergy

    • In fact the Church was the single largest owner of land in Europe during the Middle Ages!

Political power of the church

Political Power of the Church

  • The combination of religious and economic power allowed the church to grow politically

  • They made laws and set up courts to enforce them

  • People who did not obey the Church were threatened with excommunication

    • Excommunication means being from membership in the Church and participation in Church life

Church organization

Church Organization

  • The Church was highly organized

  • Almost every village had a Priest

  • Bishops supervised the Priests

  • An Archbishop supervised several Bishops

  • Archbishops were under the authority of the Pope

  • The Papacy was based in Rome

The church in everyday life

The Church in Everyday Life

  • The Medieval Church touched nearly all aspects of life

  • During the Middle Ages, the clergy were almost always in attendance to offer a blessing or to perform a service

Monasteries and convents

Monasteries and Convents

  • Some religious men felt that they should dedicate their lives to God by living together in religious communities called monasteries.

  • Religious women, called nuns, lived in similar communities called covenants



  • Some Christian scholars studies ancient Greek texts that said people should use reason to discover truth

    • This went against the teachings of the Church

  • So medieval scholars made a system that used reason to support Christian beliefs

The revival of trade

The Revival of Trade

  • As people felt safer they began to travel more and learn more about distant places

  • Ancient trade routes came into use again bringing goods from Africa and Asia into Europe

The growth of towns

The Growth of Towns

  • At first, local goods were traded in markets of small villages

  • As trade grew so did these markets

  • Traders chose convenient locations for travelers

  • Also at this time manors were becoming overcrowded

    • Many lords gladly allowed peasants to buy their freedom and move to the new growing towns

The rise of the middle class

The Rise of the Middle Class

  • Town life was very different than the farm or manor life

  • Towns and cities were not self-sufficient

    • Their economies were based on the exchange of goods and services

  • A new class developed between nobles and peasants made up of merchants, traders and craft workers

The role of guilds

The Role of Guilds

  • A guild included all the people who practiced a certain trade or craft

  • Guilds set prices and prevented outsiders from selling goods in town

  • It took a long time to become a member of a guild

  • Between the ages of 8 to 14, a boy who wanted to learn a certain trade became an apprentice (an unpaid worker being trained in a craft)

  • He would then work in the home of the master of that trade for as long as 7 years

  • Then he could become a journeyman (salaried worker), in time if guild officials judged that the journeyman’s work met their standards, he could join the guild

Medieval culture

Medieval Culture

  • The growing cities attracted traveling scholars and young men flocked to schools

  • Knights also lived by a code of honorable conduct called Chivalry

  • Many stories were told about knights and their brave deeds

Overcrowding and disease

Overcrowding and Disease

  • Medieval towns and cities were extremely crowded

  • These towns also had a lack of sanitation

  • The Bubonic Plague, called the Black Death, killed 1/3 of Europe's population between 1347 and 1351

    • It was spread by fleas living on rats that thrived in the unsanitary towns

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