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Medieval Europe. World History. Aftermath of the Roman Empire. Germanic successor states: Spain: Visigoths (West Goths) Italy: Ostrogoths , then Lombards Gaul: Celtic Franks Britain: Angles, Saxons

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Medieval Europe

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Medieval Europe

World History


Aftermath of the Roman Empire

  • Germanic successor states:

    • Spain: Visigoths (West Goths)

    • Italy: Ostrogoths, then Lombards

    • Gaul: Celtic Franks

    • Britain: Angles, Saxons

  • Roman administrative apparatus still in place (continuity), but cities lose population (change), pagan invaders convert to Christianity


Successor States to the Roman Empire c. 500


Carolingians - Germanic Frankish dynasty

  • Clovis ––led Germanic Franks 481-511

    • Becomes Roman Christian w/ wife Clotilde’s influence –Roman Christians like him

    • Takes over fr. Romans in Gaul, transforms Franks into powerful state

  • Charlemagne, ruled 768-814 –conqueror, illiterate who advocated education, culture

    • Enlarged empire and spread Christianity militarily – saved pope from the Lombards


Charlemagne’s Administration

  • Capital at Aachen– traveled empire constantly – couldn’t afford bureaucracy

  • Pope Leo III crowns him “Holy Roman Emperor” in 800 – but title dies w/ him

  • Charlemagne concerned that crown a challenge to Byzantine Emperor’s authority (E. Roman Empire)


Leo Crowns Charlemagne


HRE = Holy Roman Empire

  • NOT the same as the Roman Empire 500 BCE – 500 CE, centered in Rome (Italy)

  • NEW – makes a comeback w/ Otto the German

  • 962 - 1806 ; ended by Napoleon

  • Includes Germany, Austria, parts of Italy, Spain

  • Voltaire: “Neither Holy, nor Roman, nor Empire”


End of the Carolingian Empire

Charlemagne’s grandsons split it into 3 parts 


9th – 10th c. The “Second Wave” of Barbarian Invasions

from North: Vikings

from East: Maygars

from South: Muslims

leads to localized rule – feudal system


1.Viking invaders (Norsemen fr. Norway, Denmark, Sweden)

  • 800 CE –to Spain, Black Sea, across Atlantic

  • Shallow boats travel both river and sea- head down Volga to Russian cities, down Thames to London

  • lightning raiders – attacked London, Paris, Constantinople - Carolingians fall w/out navy


2. Magyar invasions - 10th c.

  • Magyars = ethnic Hungarians

  • Otto of Saxony (r. 936-973) defeats Magyars in 955, emerges as ruler

  • Proclaimed emperor by Pope in 962

  • Beg. Of Holy Roman Empire (really Germany)


3. Muslims control Iberian peninsula, 8th-12th centuries

  • Ummayads invade in 8th c. (Tariq the Berber), take most of Iberia, “stopped” by Carolingians at Battle of Tours, 732 C.E.

  • 12th-14 c. - Gradual Christian conquest of Muslim territories in Spain

  • 1492 Siege of Granada - Reconquista by Ferdinand and Isabella – exiled Jews, Muslims


Feudalism – social and political units

  • Feudalism – contractual relationship, little loyalty beyond local lord

    • Lords give fiefs (land) to vassals (knights) who pledge military allegiance in return - private armies

    • Manorialism – knights are lords of the manor; serfs (not QUITE slaves) bound to land, owe labor, agricultural payments - in exchange for small plots of land


Religion: Spread of Christianity

  • Charlemagne fights pagan Saxons

    • Saxons later adopt Christianity

  • pockets of paganism until c. 1000 CE

  • 7th c. Pope “Gregory the Great” (Gregory I)

    • Declared self ruler of the Church

    • Theologian –created sacrament of penance

    • Sent missionaries to convert pagan English


Christian Monasticism

  • Egyptian origins (Coptic)

  • St. Benedict (480-547)

    • His Rule for monasteries relatively lenient: Poverty, Chastity, Obedience, wake up lazy monks, ok to drink wine but not in excess

  • St. Scholastica (482-543) - Sister of St. Benedict - Adapts Benedictine Rule for convents


Economic and social effects of European Monasticism

  • Monasteries accumulate large landholdings, serfs, tax exemptions in exchange for salvation

  • Social welfare projects: orphanages, hospitals

  • Monastic schools expand literacy


Emerging monarchies and papal power

  • Hugh Capet – elected French king - starts w/ small area around Paris but absorbed feudal inheritances to gain territory and power.

  • William the Conqueror – Norman – Duke of Normandy; descended from Vikings -> Conquers England in 1066 – Normans destroy Anglo-Saxon monarchy and impose tightly-controlled reign – Domesday Book survey of all property

  • Frederick Barbarossa – HRE in 12th century who wanted Lombardy– threatened Pope but failed –shows pope’s power

  • Pope was effectively a monarch – direct rule of Papal States but also ruled the Church, a powerful, unifying institution in Europe


“High” Middle Ages– 1000-1500lay Investiture controversy

  • investiture = appointing bishops and other church officials - pope supposed to do this, not “lay”people like kings.

  • Pope Gregory VII (1073-85) :“No more lay investiture”

  • HRE Henry IV protested and got into big trouble, having eventually to beg for pope’s mercy, “kneeling in the snow.”

  • Result: Church 1, King 0


Religious philosophy in Medieval Christian Europe

  • Aristotle major influence

  • Byzantine Greek texts translated into Latin

  • Jewish and Muslim scholars provide translations from Arabic

  • St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) major proponent of Scholasticism

    • Synthesis of Christianity and Aristotle; reconcile faith and reason but don’t question Church


Popular Religion and Religious Movements

  • The Seven Sacraments gain popularity – esp. Eucharist (communion)

  • Personal devotion

    • Heavenly intercession, pilgrimages, veneration of relics – cult of The Virgin Mary

  • Monastic rebellion against perceived materialism of Roman Catholic Church

    • Dominic (1170-1221) and St. Francis (1182-1226) create orders of mendicants (beggars)

      • Vow of poverty


Social codes of conduct

  • Chivalry

    • Code of conduct

    • Church-sponsored due to rowdy knights

    • knights supposed to promote Christianity, protect women

  • Romantic love

    • Troubadours sing about new idea

    • Nobility liked this – such as Eleanor of Aquitaine, mother of Fr. King.


Beginning of the Crusades

  • Pope Urban II calls for liberation of Jerusalem from Muslim control, 1095

  • Salvation promised for casualties

  • Rapid, enthusiastic response

  • First Crusade (1096-99) (Song of Roland c. 1100)

    • Captures Jerusalem, largely due to poor Muslim organization

    • Salah al-Din (Saladin) recaptures Jerusalem in 1187


Song of Roland c. 1100 (beg. of Crusades)– all about chivalry, loosely based on Charles Martel (Charlemagne’s grandpa) Battle of Tours in 732 CE , “good” Christians vs. “bad” Muslims


Crusading Orders

  • Religious Christians form military-religious orders

    • Templars, Teutonic Knights

  • Religious vows of opposition to Islam, paganism

  • Re-conquering Sicily and Spain from “infidels”– simultaneous cross-cultural fertilization


ThCrusade Routes


Crusades and their Consequences

  • Five crusades by mid-13th century, only the First Crusade is successful

  • Fourth Crusade destroys Constantinople, 1202-1204

  • Benefit for European Crusaders: Crusades provide direct contact with Muslim ideologies, trade

    • Aristotle, “Arabic” numerals, paper production


Crusades Debate

  • Did the Crusades have a positive or negative impact on history?

  • Consider: purpose, methods, results (both short-term and long-term) in the areas of politics, economies, religion, social structure, the arts, intellectual developments.


Extra info. (not required for 1stsem final but helpful in understanding context of Crusades):


The medieval expansion of Europe, 1000-1250 C.E.


European economic growth thanks to agricultural improvements (“revolution”)

  • Increasing development of arable (farmable) lands

    • Clearing of swamps, forests

  • Improved agricultural techniques

    • Crop rotation

    • Horseshoes

    • Heavier plow (yay!)

    • Harness for horses/oxen instead of strangling them w/ rope


11th/12th Century Revival of Towns

  • increase in food supply, excess serfs go to towns

  • labor specialization – textile industry

  • Hanseatic League – “free” city-states in Baltic/North Sea area of HRE and other places

  • Growth of Mediterranean Trade

    • Italian city-states build ships, connect to Islamic Empire


City/town government

  • towns demand charters for self-government

  • Guilds

    • Organizations of merchants, workers, artisans

    • Hierarchy of masters, journeymen, apprentices

      • Price and quality control

      • Membership limited

      • At first women admitted, then restricted


Schools and Universities

  • High middle ages (1000-1300 CE) increasing wealth makes education possible

    • Cathedral-based schools

    • Curriculum in Latin

    • Literature, philosophy, some law, medicine

  • Universities

    • Academic guilds formed in 12th century

    • Higher standards of education

    • Town vs. Gown controversy (continues today)


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