Introduction to the Middle Ages(1066-1485) A.k.a. The Dark Ages or the Medieval Period
William the Conqueror & the Norman Influence • Battle of Hastings was said to change the course of human history. • It began the Norman Conquest • This radically affected English history, character, & language
Who is William the Conqueror? • William was the illegitimate son of the previous Duke of Normandy – The Duke was a cousin to the current king-King Edward the Confessor • Edward died childless & Harold, earl of Wessex was crowned the next day • William said the old king had promised the throne to him.
William the Conqueror & the Norman Influence • William the Conqueror was determined to seize the throne –seized the English Channel in 1066 which began the Battle of Hastings.
William the Conqueror • William’s other names: • William, Duke of Normandy • William the Bastard • William the Conqueror
William the Conqueror & the Norman Influence • William created a book that went down in history as the first time in European history that people were taxed on what they owned • Domesday Book • Just as Christians must account for the sins they committed in life on Earth, the European people had to account for what they owned and pay taxes on it. – Domesday or Last Judgment
William the Conqueror & the Norman Influence • William brought the new social system of feudalism to England.
Feudalism: From the Top Down • Feudalism is a new social system based on putting people into certain levels or a hierarchy. • Based on the religious concept of hierarchy- • The Great Chain of Being
Great Chain of Being • Definition: It was an order given to the universe from God to the soil and rocks. • Every link represented every aspect of earthly life and heavenly life – “a place for everything and everything in its place.” • Macrocosm (big world) – Universe • Microcosm (smaller worlds) – Individual communities
Great Chain of Being: Order of the Universe God Angels Spiritual Temporal Man_____________Man Pope King Cardinals Nobles Bishops Merchant/Craftsmen Priests Peasants/Serfs Faithful Animals Plants Inanimates
Feudal System • God was the supreme overlord • King was chosen by God – He had Divine Right – His laws were infallible because he spoke in the name of God. • Barrons were his vassals (people who served and answered to the king) • The king gave them portions of land in return for military/economic allegiance • Barrons appoint vassals of their own – Landless Knights • Serfs (not free to leave the land they work)
Feudal System Pyramid God- King- Barons- Landless Knights- Serfs- Women- Children-
Knighthood • Primary duty of serf males – military service • Trained at an early age to be warriors • “Dubbed” – ceremonially tapped on the shoulder with a sword by the king (who is the agent of God on Earth). Originally they received a hard blow to the face to test their strength and bravery • Title of “Sir” was given to them – Now he has full rights of the warrior caste
Knighthood • Oaths of Fealty – Solemn & unbreakable vow sworn by a vassal to a chosen lord – usually the higher classes participated in the actual ceremony • Lord promises expected faithfulness & service without deception • Vassals made pledges over religious relics • Sealed with a kiss
Holy Relics • These are physical proof of religious faith in the everyday world • “Souvenirs” of holy people thought to have religious significance & the power of God to heal
Three Types of Relics • 1st Degree: Actual body part of a saint or holy person • Ex.: finger, skull, hair, entire skeleton, etc. • 2nd Degree: Item that was touched by and belonged to the saint or holy person • Ex.: clothing, shoes, jewelry • 3rd Degree: Item that came in contact with the saint or holy person • Ex.: piece of his/her home, book, crucifix or rosary
Economics of Feudalism • Basic economic unit, property system – Manor • Lord of manor owns a piece of property with a manor house and smaller plots reserved for serfs to live on and farm. The entire property was usually protected by a castle &/or defensive wall. • Serfs give a large percentage of what they produce to the lord and he offers them a place to live and protection from invaders.
Economics of Feudalism Continued • Serfs could not leave the land they worked • Indentured servants • Serfs could not be sold like slaves.
The Role of Women • They were subservient to men • Husband, father, brother, uncle • His class determined how she was treated • Higher class women – responsible for childbearing, supervising housework • Lower class women – responsible for childbearing, executing the household chores, and may even work in the fields. • Without a man who was responsible for their well-being, women would die of starvation, alone.
Chivalry • Definition: System of ideals and social codes governing the behavior of knights and gentlewomen. • It was a complete code of conduct • Knight’s Obligations: 1. Defend his lord, king, & Christian faith 2. Treat women with respect & modesty 3. Defend the helpless (women, children, the poor) from bandits and scoundrels
Knight’s Obligations • Rules of warfare: • Never attack an unarmed man • Resist the urge to run away if captured
Definition: Platonic (nonsexual) love for a particular lady • Definition: Platonic (nonsexual) love for a particular lady • Would wear her colors in battle • Would glorify her in words • Would fight to win her favor • He would adore a lady as a means of achieving self-improvement. • Lady must remain pure and “out of reach.”
Cult of the Virgin • Stems from the Cult of the Virgin • Cult of knights or warriors who considered the Virgin Mary as the perfect woman; therefore, they would fight in her name and try to improve themselves in her name • She was often depicted in statues on pedestals; therefore, we get the idea of “putting a woman on a pedestal” or raising her above other women.
Courtly Love Continued… • The only time we know that the “line was crossed” between the knight and the woman he adored was Sir Lancelot and Guinevere (wife of King Arthur) • He adores her, goes to far, they have an intimate relationship and are “caught in the act” • As a result, the marriage dissolves, the friendship is destroyed, and the Arthur’s Round Table crumbles. • Chivalry idealizes women; however, her value was placed on the lands she brought into the marriage. (dowry)
Boom of Cities • Population grows – people move into towns and cities – Feudalism becomes obsolete. • City classes develop (lower, middle, upper-middle) based on feudalism • Seen in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales • Emerging merchant class
Drama • Began in the Church – most of the population was illiterate and plays taught stories of the Bible • Miracle Plays – Based on the legends of saints • Mystery Plays – Based on Biblical stories • Passion Plays- reenacted the last week and crucifixion of Christ’s life • Morality Plays – personified virtues and vices
Drama • Performances of the plays was taken over by the trade guilds • Groups of men of the same trade • Pageant wagons or carts were movable stages on wagons that depicted different scenes of a skit and processed through the town • Modern-day parades are modeled after this
Thomas a’ Becket • Chaucer’s pilgrims are on a pilgrimage to the shrine of Thomas a’ Becket • Thomas was the Prime Minister under King Henry II (1118-1170) • King Henry was a vassal to the Pope • At this point all Christians are Catholic • Pope was powerful and controlled most of the crowned heads of Europe.
Thomas a’ Becket • Thomas was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury – Head of the Catholic Church in England • Thomas takes the side of the Pope a lot • Makes King Henry angry • Henry shouts, “Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?” • Henry’s knights take him seriously and murder Thomas in his own cathedral
Thomas a’ Becket • Public outrage made Thomas a martyr • Backlash against King Henry • Monarchy as a constant struggle with the Catholic Church • Corruption in the Church ensues
Good Things About the Church at the Time • Fosters cultural unity • Continues to be a center for learning • Monasteries- libraries and publishers • Latin – international language of educated Europeans • Pope- “King of Kings” – his kingdom had no boundaries
Magna Carta- “Great Charter” • King John was backed by the Pope but English barrons forced him to sign the document to curb the Church’s power • Later it becomes the basis for English constitutional law • Trial by Jury • Legislative taxation
Hundred Years’ War 1337-1453 • 1st national war between England & France • 2 British kings (Edward III & Henry V) claimed the throne of France • English lost • English yeoman- small landowners form nucleus of the army – replace knights • Yeoman class, modern democratic England is born
Joan of Arc1412-1431 • Young French girl who had visions of Christ as a child • Persuaded King of France to allow her to lead the French army into battle – was told by God she would be victorious • Captured in Burgundy and sold to the English • English turned her over to the Catholic Church for trial – tried for heresy (speaking out against the Catholic Church and her beliefs), witchcraft, and wearing men’s clothes • Burned to death and canonized as a saint
Black Death: Bubonic Plague or “Bring out your dead!” • 1348-1349 • Spread by fleas and rats • Reduced England’s population by a 1/3 • Caused labor shortage • Feudalism dies – serfs are freed
End of the Middle Ages • King Henry VII’s marriage reconciles warring houses of York and Lancaster • War of the Roses-over which house would rule England • York – red rose • Lancaster-white rose • Lancaster won – strong king started the Tudor line – King Henry VIII’s family – England’s Renaissance begins