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The First Feudal Age (300-1000 AD). -Key Concepts-. I. Successors to Rome: “Shadows of the Empire”. A. Byzantine Empire. Greatest Emperor: Justinian (527-565 AD) Handed classical learning and science back to the west --Justinian’s Code of Laws (533) Rebuilding program in Constantinople

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A. Byzantine Empire

  • Greatest Emperor: Justinian (527-565 AD)

  • Handed classical learning and science back to the west

    --Justinian’s Code of Laws (533)

  • Rebuilding program in Constantinople

  • The Hagia Sophia (537)

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A. Byzantine Empire (cont)

  • The Hippodrome

  • Justinian’s wife Theodora—life and influence

  • Autocratic nature of the Eastern Emperors

  • Selection of the Emperor and his administration

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A. Byzantine Empire (cont)

  • Warfare and the enemies of the Empire

    -- “Greek fire”

    --Ottoman Turks capture Constantinople (1453)

  • Tension between the eastern and western churches over icons

  • Solemn, otherworldly preoccupation

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B. Islam and the Islamic World

  • The life of Muhammad (570-632 AD)

  • The Koran: “recitings”

  • “Islam”: submission to Allah

  • The “Hegira” or flight to Medina (622)

  • The notion of “jihad”

  • The Ka’ba and the Black Stone

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B. Islam and the Islamic World (cont)

  • The relationship of men to women

  • No distinction between clergy and laity

  • The five pillars of Islam

  • Differences from Christianity

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B. Islam and the Islamic World (cont)

  • Successors to Muhammad

    --Shi’ites vs. Sunnies

  • The Muslim Empire (632-732 AD)

  • Muslim intellectual and scientific achievements

    --studied the Greco-Roman classics

    --the number “0”

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(1) Germanic Culture

  • Centrality of the tribal unit or family

  • The leadership of the war chieftain

  • Characteristics of Germanic law

    -- “wergeld”

    --trial by ordeal

  • Germanic treatment of women

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(1) Germanic Culture (cont)

  • Blending of Germanic and Roman culture

  • The decline of town life and trade

  • The role of forests in Germanic thinking

  • Settlement patterns

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(1) Germanic Culture (cont)

  • Views of Disease

  • Treatment of Disease

    --Eye Disease

    --Frequent Stomach Disorders

    -- “Leech”

    --Broken bones, wounds and burns

  • Cavities below the gum line were prevalent

  • The role of monasteries in providing medical care

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(2) The Merovingian Dynasty

  • The Franks: least romanized and most orthodox of the Germanic tribes

    --Clovis: 1st Frankish King

  • The struggles and ineffectiveness of the Merovingian kings

  • The “Mayor of the Palace”

  • Charles Martel’s defeat of the Muslims at Tours

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(3) The Carolingian Dynasty and Charlemagne

  • Pepin the Short, the first Carolingian king (751)

    --The “Donation of Pepin”

  • Pepin’s son, Charles the Great, or Charlemagne (768-814)

  • Charlemagne’s military exploits

  • Continued reciprocal relationship with the Pope

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(3) Charlemagne (cont)

  • Crowned Holy Roman Emperor (Christmas Day, 800)

  • Charlemagne’s palace city of Aachen

  • Charlemagne’s challenges in administering such a vast empire

    --missi dominici

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(3) Charlemagne (cont)

  • The Carolingian Renaissance

    --Alcuin of York

  • The Disintegration of the Carolingian Empire

  • The Treaty of Verdun (843)

    --Louis the German

    --Charles the Bald


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II. The “Dark Ages” (9th and 10th Centuries)

  • Agricultural Difficulties and Violence

  • Population Decline

  • Muslim and Magyar invaders

  • Chief Threat = Vikings

  • Viking strategy of terror

  • Effectiveness of Viking boats

  • The extent of Viking raids

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A. Physical Protection

  • Offered safe haven to neighbors

  • Some churchmen were renowned fighters

  • Monasteries preserved important arts of manufacturing

  • Popes fill political vacuum in the west

    --Leo I and Attila the Hun

    --Gregory I and the Lombards

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B. Preservers of Greco-Roman Culture

  • Significance of copying manuscripts

  • The role of Pope Gregory I

    --had been secular Roman administrator

  • Realized early on that no help would be forthcoming from the Byzantine Empire

  • Church split in 1054

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C. Spiritual Protection

  • Superstitious, illiterate age

  • The Church was the door to salvation

  • Seven Deadly sins: pride, envy, anger, greed, lust, gluttony, and sloth

  • Seven sacraments

  • Sacraments of ordination and extreme unction

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C. Spiritual Protection (cont)

  • Sacrament of Matrimony

  • Sacrament of the Eucharist

    -- “transubstantiation”

  • Duties and categories of the clergy

    -- “regular” vs. “secular” clergy

  • The Sacrament of Penance

    -- “Purgatory”

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C. Spiritual Protection (cont)

  • The Power of “Holy” Intercessors

  • Veneration of the Saints

  • Shift in the pattern of sainthood into the Middle Ages

  • The growing importance of female saints

    --In 1100, only 10% of saints were female; by 15th Century, 29% were female

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C. Spiritual Protection (cont)

  • The cultural power of calling on saints for help

  • The Supernatural power of Relics

  • Christian burial near the Church altar

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A. Physical Protection

  • The origins of feudalism

  • The lord as the central figure of the feudal system

  • The expense of medieval warfare

  • Contractual nature of feudalism

  • The local and emotional nature of feudalism

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A. Physical Protection (cont)

  • The lord’s obligations to his vassal


  • The vassal’s obligations to his lord


  • The complexity of feudal relationships

    -- “subinfeudation”

    --liege lord

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B. Life in a Medieval Castle

  • William Manchester’s A World Lit by Fire and Joseph and Frances Gies’ Life in a Medieval Castle

  • Interior and furnishings of the castle

  • Servants in the castle

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B. Life in a Medieval Castle (cont)

  • Daily routine and dining

  • The marriage of aristocratic women

  • The life of aristocratic women

  • The church’s view of women

  • Women and sex

  • The early life of young noblemen

  • The ceremony of knighthood

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B. Life in a Medieval Castle (cont)

  • The travels of the young knight

  • Tournaments and Jousts

  • Tension surrounding the life of a young knight

  • The ideal of chivalry

    -- “troubadours”

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A. Function

  • Western Europe was much more rural than Eastern Europe

  • Manorialism was the economic foundation of feudal society

  • The “open field” system of medieval farming

  • Origin and status of serfdom

  • By 800 AD, nearly 60% of western Europe was enserfed

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A. Function (cont)

  • Composition and administration of the manor

  • “Custom of the Manor”

  • Tax obligations of the serfs

    -- “banalities”

  • Other limitations on the activities of the serfs

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B. Life in a Medieval Village

  • Living conditions of the serfs

  • Striking lack of privacy for family members

  • Variety of dietary options for peasants

  • The central role of bread in the peasant diet—80% of caloric content

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B. Life in a Medieval Village (cont)

  • Types of meals eaten by villagers

  • Beer: the universal drink of northern Europe

  • Accidents as a way of life in manorial villages

  • The role of women and village clothing

  • Medieval view of children

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B. Life in a Medieval Village (cont)

  • Center of manorial life was the village church

  • Village church services

  • Life was short and frightening for village peasants

  • Village life was strictly hierarchical

  • Village life was also very communal

  • Village life was always very local