Culture of the high middle ages
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Culture of the High Middle Ages. Chartres Cathedral Symbolizes the Age of Faith. The builders rarely saw the completed Cathedral. Dramatic changes occurred in the way peasants worked the land Soil was rich & deep but required a heavier plow

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Culture of the High Middle Ages

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Culture of the high middle ages

Culture of the High Middle Ages

Chartres cathedral symbolizes the age of faith

Chartres Cathedral Symbolizes the Age of Faith

The builders rarely saw the completed cathedral

The builders rarely saw the completed Cathedral

River valleys in western europe were good for farming

Dramatic changes occurred in the way peasants worked the land

Soil was rich & deep but required a heavier plow

Peasants were better fed since better harvests produced more food

River Valleys in Western Europe were good for farming

Innovations increased food production

Heavier plow needed for the rich deep soil of the Western River Valley area

Innovations increased food production

Heavy plow being used with

an oxen

Innovations increased food production1

Horse collar

Twice as much land could be plowed in a day using a horse rather than oxen

Innovations increased food production

The horse played a vital role

The horse played a vital role

Innovations increased food production2

Three Field System

More land is available for planting increasing the production of food

Peasants have a healthier diet and a longer life span

One field will lay fallow or not planted

Fallow field allows the ground to retain and renew its nutrients

Innovations increased food production

Environment changed

Environment Changed

  • In England, France and Germany forests were cleared to provide more land for farming

  • Peasants built huge seawalls to drain more land for farming

  • Building of towns

Results of the increase in food production in western europe

Results of the increase in food production in Western Europe

  • A surplus of food to trade

  • An increase in the population

  • The rise of towns

  • Decline in feudalism

Medieval walled towns

Medieval Walled Towns

The town was called a burgh.

The town dwellers were know as burghers

Bourgeoisie french for middle class

Bourgeoisie – French for Middle Class

Jews and the middle ages

Jews were not allowed to own land

They were usually segregated in the city but were required to help defend the walls in their area during an attack

Jews and the Middle Ages

Symbol designating

the women is Jewish

The church prohibits usury the charging of interest

The Church insisted that merchants and craftsmen charge a just price – a reasonable profit

The church believed a large profit was sinful

Literate Jews became moneylenders or early bankers

They were active in long-distance trade

Many myths developed about Jews causing them to be attacked & abused

The Church prohibits usury – the charging of interest

Persecution of the jews

Persecution of the Jews

Jews were survivors and their dietary laws often kept them from getting ill.

Unfortunately, they often became the scapegoat and were accused of

starting plagues and causing other disasters which led to their persecution.

The town cathedral

The Cathedral was the most important building in a Medieval town.

Pilgrims visited the Cathedral to honor relics

Relics – items believed to belong to Jesus or the saints

The Town Cathedral

Reliquary of St. Stephen

Reliquaries house the relics

Reliquaries house the relics

Culture of the high middle ages

Reliquary of St. Catherine

Medieval fairs chartres

Peasants came to sell their goods to the towns people during the local fairs.

The great fairs provided customers with goods such as cloth, fur, iron, dyes, honey, oil, butter, fruit, wine, etc. Some goods were from far away places.

No longer was everything produced on the manor

Fairs also provide entertainment.

Medieval Fairs - Chartres


An association of people who worked in the same occupation.

Merchants formed the first guilds

Merchant guilds controlled all the trade in a town


Medieval guild halls

Guild members erected guild halls where they met to make rules and arrange the details of their businesses

Members of the merchant guild controlled all the trade in their town.

Example: Only a member of the local merchants guild could sell Flemish wool in their town

Medieval Guild Halls

Merchant guilds such as the hanseatic league also controlled towns trade routes

Merchant Guilds, such as the Hanseatic League also controlled towns & trade routes

Craft guilds

Skilled artisans also banned together to create craft guilds

Both husbands and wives worked in the family business

Craft guilds also trained new workers

Craft Guilds

Culture of the high middle ages

Since most people could

not read, craftsmen used

signs to advertise their


Culture of the high middle ages



Culture of the high middle ages

Cobbler - Shoemaker


How the guild functions

Each guild had their own standards of quality dealing with the size, weight, and price of an item

Guild members who sold substandard goods could be punished by the guild

Each guild had a monopoly or exclusive control of their product

How the Guild functions

Culture of the high middle ages

Neck violin for feuding women

Bakers Baptism for selling under

weight bread

The church insists on just price

Guilds fixed the price on everything they sold

There was no competition between guild members

The “just price” of an item was based on the cost of labor and materials plus a reasonable profit

The Church viewed making a large profit as a sin.

The Church insists on Just Price

Guild benefits for the master craftsman

Dues functioned as an insurance policy

Funeral expenses were paid

Support of the family continued

Social organization

Political leaders of the town

Guild benefits for the Master Craftsman

Training new workers

Apprentice – person learning a craft, who also lives with the master craftsman.

Parents usually paid a fee to the master to train their child

An apprenticeship lasted for 3 to 12 years, without pay except for room and board

Apprentices were not rapidly promoted

Training new workers



  • After the period of apprenticeship you became a journeyman

  • A journeyman is paid a daily wage

  • A journeyman can become a master if his “masterpiece” meets guild standards

  • If accepted, he can train apprentices, hire journeyman, and open a shop

  • As time went on, it became increasingly difficult to become a master.

Growth of towns

A serf was considered free if they lived in a town for a year and a day

“Town air makes you free”

Feudal lords ruthlessly taxed towns on their lands

Nobles charged fees for everything – fairs, using bridges, holding courts of law

Growth of Towns

Towns gain independence

Burghers worked together to free themselves from the lord or bishop on whose land the town stood

Sometimes the fought for their independence

They also bought their independence since burghers had cash

They received a charter with the lord’s seal which listed the towns special privileges and tax exemptions

Towns gain independence

Medieval walled towns1

Medieval Walled Towns

By 1200, towns were growing in population and gaining liberties.

Towns were independent of the feudal system.

Medieval university

The new educational institution that developed during this period

Most students came from the Middle Class

Classes were held in rented rooms

Books were handwritten and expensive

Women could not attend the University

Medieval University

Culture of the high middle ages

Notice how small the

students are portrayed

Medieval students after a

drinking binge



Language of the educated and the commoners

Latin continued to be the language of the educated

Latin was also used in law and by the church

Vernacular is the term used to describe the common language of the people

Language of the educated and the commoners

Scholars rediscover greek writings

Revival of learning made Europeans more interested in the works of ancient scholars

Growth of trade brought Europeans into contact with Muslims and Byzantines who still had access to the ancient authors

Scholars rediscover Greek writings


The problem with the ancient writings

Greeks were pagans

Their knowledge was based on human reason rather than the Bible

Could Aristotle’s logical approach to truth be used and still keep faith with the Bible?

Scholar, Thomas Aquinas found there was no conflict between faith and reason

The problem with the ancient writings

Thomas Aquinas, author of

Summa Theologiae (21 volumes)

He was a Dominican monk

who taught at the University of Paris

Chansons de geste songs of deeds show how ideals of noble society were changing

Heroic poems sung to a lute in the vernacular or common spoken language

Song of Roland in France

King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table

Tristan and Isolde


Chansons de geste (songs of deeds)show how ideals of noble society were changing

Culture of the high middle ages


Chivalry the knights code of behavior

Cheval & Chevalier – horse & horse riding lord

Knight must fight bravely in defense of:

His earthly lord

His heavenly lord

His chosen lady

He should aid the poor and defend the weak

Chivalry – the Knights code of behavior

Steps to knighthood

Page – age 7 to 14

Sent to another castle

Waited on hosts while learning manners and playing at being a Knight

Squire – 14 – 24 or so

A Knights assistant

Cared for horse & armor


A solemn ceremony

Steps to Knighthood

French page

14th century

A knight and his squire

A knight and his squire

A night of solemn vigil before becoming a knight

A night of solemn vigil before becoming a knight

Tournaments mock battles for glory

Tournamentsmock battles for glory

Culture of the high middle ages

14th Century armor

The idea of romantic love arose

The idea of romantic love arose

  • Under the code of chivalry, a knights duty to his lady became as important as his duty to his lord

  • Poet singers, called troubadours sang praises of noble ladies and the knights who loved them

  • These wandering minstrels even carried their songs to court

Eleanor of aquitaine 1122 1204 the most celebrated women of the age

Troubadours flocked to her court in the French duchy of Aquitaine

While Queen of France she went on a Crusade with her husband Louis VII

She becomes queen of England when she later marries Henry Plantagenet who become Henry II king of England

She was the mother of two English kings, Richard I the lion-hearted and John I

Eleanor of Aquitaine 1122-1204The most celebrated women of the age

Women s roles change during the high middle ages

In the Early Middle Ages many Queens participated in ruling their kingdoms

In the Late Middle Ages Queens did not play a large role in ruling kingdoms

During the High Middle Ages the role of women was limited to the home and convent

The idea of romantic love placed women on a pedestal

Women’s roles change during the High Middle Ages

Tapestry the quest for the holy grail

Tapestry – The Quest for the Holy Grail

Marriage in the high middle ages

Girls from noble families usually married around age 16 to men in their 30’s – 50’s

Young men could not marry until had property of their own

Girls had little choice of a husband

Women had their greatest power and independence while their husbands were away fighting.

Marriage in the High Middle Ages

Culture of the high middle ages

15th century clothing of the nobility

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