The Rise of Medieval Europe Frankish Rulers
By AD 500… • Invasions by German tribes had destroyed much of the Roman Empire • Trade slowed down • Cities, bridges, roads were crumbling • Law and order vanished • Education almost disappeared • Money was no longer used • People stayed within tiny villages where they were born, lived and died
Dark Ages OR Middle Ages? • Because Western Europe had declined so badly, this period in history was originally called the DARK AGES • However, it is now recognized as a time of TRANSITION and the Latin words: medium (middle) and aevum (age) were used to describe this time period Ancient Times Middle Ages Modern Times
Roots of Medieval Culture • Classical Culture (Greeks and Romans) • Germanic Culture • Christian Beliefs
Merovingian Rulers • The Franks who settle into the areas of France and western Germany become the strongest Germanic group. • Their kings are named for the ruler Merowig. • The Merovingian kings hold power until the early AD 700’s
Clovis • Clovis becomes king of the Franks in AD 481 • He is known to be a brutal and wily warrior • He became the first Germanic ruler to accept Catholicism • His military victories and religious conversion gave his throne stability and success. • A century later, things start to fall apart when his heirs begin fighting one another for land. • Around AD 700, political power passes from… Kings Mayors of the palace
Other Merovingian Rulers Charles Martel • “Charles the Hammer” became mayor of the palace in AD 741. • He defeated Muslim forces who threaten Europe. • This victory ensured that Christianity remained the dominant religion of Europe. • Pepin the Short • Backed by nobles and church officials, Pepin the Short (the son of Charles Martel) became king of the Franks. • He was anointed by the pope. • Because he had gotten the pope’s blessing, Pepin was expected to help the Church defeat its enemies.
Charlemagne • Pepin’s son, Charlemagne became the Frankish king in 768AD • He was also known as Charles the Great • Charlemagne doubled the borders of the kingdom which now included Germany, France, northern Spain, and most of Italy – it was called the FRANKISH EMPIRE • Charlemagne wanted to revive education (since very people could read or write) • He educated his officials at a palace school in the capital city of Alcuin • His school helped provide western Europeans with a common set of ideas
The Frankish Empire – A Christian Realm • Charlemagne came to Rome and defended the Pope Leo III against Roman nobles. • As a reward, Leo crowned Charlemagne the new “Roman Emperor” • Charlemagne became the protector of the Church and ruler of much of western Europe • He relied on counts to assist him in government by solving local problem, stopping feuds, protecting the weak, and raising armies for the emperor • Royal messengers, called missidominici, went on inspections once a year to make sure that the counts were doing a good job.
Collapse of the Frankish Empire • Charlemagne’s forceful personality held the empire together until his death in 814AD • His son, Louis the Pious, could not run the empire well and when he died, Charlemagne’s three grandsons began to fight over control of the empire • The three brothers agreed to split the empire into three parts… Western Region (present day France) Charles the Bald Middle Region (towards Italy) Lothair- became Roman Emperor Eastern Region (present day Germany) Louis the German
Invasions, Invasions and More Invasions • There was a lot of internal disunity when the empire was divided up but… • There were a lot of groups that invaded the region from outside as well! Magyars from Central Asia destroy their way westward… Muslims from North Africa seize Southern Italy and parts of Mediterranean Slavs march from the East and invade central Europe
Viking Invasions • From Scandinavia the Vikings traveled on their ships southward to seek riches and adventures • They were great traders, especially along the coastlines, using the sturdy ships to transport goods • They also explored and settled in many of the North Atlantic islands of Greenland and Iceland. • The Danes established the Viking state of Normandy in north-western France • The Swedes settled into present-day Ukraine and Russia • In Scandinavia, the Vikings worshipped many gods and told stories of their great deeds in epic sagas.