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Western European Middle Ages (Medieval Europe). I. The “Dark Ages”. CHALLENGE QUESTION!. After division of Roman Empire, a new way of life emerges in the West Mix of old Roman and Germanic customs, authority of Roman Catholic Church End of civilization??? (not really, but…)

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i the dark ages
I. The “Dark Ages”


  • After division of Roman Empire, a new way of life emerges in the West
    • Mix of old Roman and Germanic customs, authority of Roman Catholic Church
  • End of civilization??? (not really, but…)
    • Disruption of trade
    • Downfall of cities
    • Population shift
    • Decline of learning
    • Loss of common language
      • New languages evolve from Latin and Germanic-languages
        • French, Spanish, Italian

Move to the countryside

ii germanic kingdoms
II. Germanic Kingdoms
  • Small, shifting kingdoms become dominant form of governing
  • Loyalty to family and personal relationships more important than citizenship in an empire
  • Church becomes a stabilizing factor in chaotic times
  • The Franks
    • Held power in Gaul (France) in late 400s, 500s
      • Clovis– leader of the Franks
        • Converted to Christianity
        • Church supported his campaigns against other Germanic peoples
iii expansion of christianity
III. Expansion of Christianity
  • 600 – many Germanic people have converted to Christianity (sometimes out of fear)
  • Monasteries – religious communities started in rural areas
    • Were primary centers of education – opened schools, small libraries
  • Pope’s authority expands beyond church
    • Catholic Church increases authority over secularworld
    • Uses power to raise armies, negotiate treaties with kings/enemies
iv charlemagne 742 814
IV. Charlemagne (742-814)
  • 4th in line of Carolingian Dynasty
    • Charles the Hammer (1st) – extends Frankish kingdom
    • Pepin the Short (2nd) – cooperated with the pope
    • Carloman (3rd) – brother of Charlemagne
  • Known as Charles the Great, Charlemagnetakes throne in 771
  • Built Western European empire greater than any since ancient Rome
  • 800 – larger than Byzantine Empire
    • Charlemagne crowned first emperor of Holy Roman Empire
      • Signified the combining of powers of Church and Germanic peoples
iv continued
IV. Continued…
  • United much of Western Europe
    • Spreads Christianity throughout
  • Centralization of power
    • Limited authority of nobles
    • Ruled justly through royal agents
  • Return to learning
    • Promoted education, surrounded himself with scholars
  • Died 814
    • After death, 3 grandsons fight over empire
    • Treaty of Verdun, 843 – breaks up empire into 3 kingdoms
      • Erodes centralized power structure
      • Growth of new way of governing – feudalism
v feudalism
V. Feudalism


  • What is it?
    • A system of governing and landowning based on specific rights and obligations
      • Lord= landowner
      • Fief= piece of land owned by lord
      • Vassal= received a fief in exchange for protection and services to lord
      • Serfs= peasants who could not lawfully leave the place where they were born
        • Not slaves
        • What they produced on the land belonged to the lord
v continued
V. Continued…

Plus, the pope.






v continued1
V. Continued…
  • Manor system – the lord’s estate (property) was called a manor
    • Basic economic system of middle ages
    • Serfs provided with housing, farmland, protection from bandits
    • Manor life was not easy
      • No protection against vengeful knights/nobles
      • Taxes – on food, marriage
      • Tithe – church tax
vi women s role
VI. Women’s Role
  • Women considered inferior to men
    • View of Church and general society (patriarchal)
  • Noblewoman
    • Could inherit estate from husband
    • Wife was in charge when husband was away
    • Still limited – mostly stayed at home or lived in a convent
      • Property was not handed down to a daughters
  • Peasants
    • Life based on raising families, working land
    • Daughters not formally educated (unlike noble daughters)
vii church power
VII. Church Power
  • By 800 – Church was looking to strengthen its power
  • Church and kings competed for authority over population
  • Law of Church
    • Canon law = church law
      • All medieval Christians were subject to certain religious laws
      • Could face punishment for not following canon law
        • Excommunication = banishment from Church
        • Interdict = the removal of sacraments/religious services from a person or region
vii continued
VII. Continued…
  • Emperor clashes with the pope
    • Church disliked the practice of lay investiture– kings and nobles appointed church officials
    • Whoever appointed church officials held real power in church
    • Concordant of Worms, 1112 – compromise over lay investiture
      • Only church had power to appoint bishops, but emperor had power to veto (override)
viii medieval european economy
VIII. Medieval European Economy
  • By 900s, new agricultural techniques
    • Moldboardplow – curved iron plate, allowed deeper turning of soil
    • New horse collar – would not choke horse
    • Three-field system – leave 1/3 of land unplowed (fallow) to regain fertility
  • Political stability began to take hold in 10th century
  • Combination leads to population growth, which leads to economic growth (Commercial Revolution)
viii continued
VIII. Continued…
  • Growth of towns and cities, beginning in 900s
  • Trade & Banking
    • Growth of cities leads to specialization of manufacturing & artisanal techniques
    • Exchange of goods between Europe and Asia
      • Crusadesinto Middle East helped bring Asian goods and ideas into Europe
    • Guilds– Groups of people in the same business/trade
      • Offered some level of control over prices, quality
    • Banks – Helped facilitate long-distance trade by standardizing monetary system
      • Banking and profit-making were looked down upon by many Christian scholars
ix changes in medieval government
IX. Changes in Medieval Government
  • Conflicts between nobles and kings led to compromises over power
    • Magna Carta (Great Charter)
      • 1215 – King John of England agreed to sign the charter, promising to limit his power over nobles and Church
        • No new taxes w/out nobles’ permission
        • Could not appoint bishops w/out Church permission
    • Parliaments
      • Governing bodies representing interests of nobles, Church, urban leaders (three estates)
        • 1265 – first English parliament
ix continued
IX. Continued…
  • Emerging nations
    • By 14th century, England and France begin to develop as independent nations
    • Hundred Years War
      • Battle over territory and feudal rights between England & France
      • Lasted more than 100 years, weakened both France & England
      • Kings relied less on feudal lords and their knights, more on paid, professional armies
x the crusades
X. The Crusades
  • Crusadesrepresented the most dramatic expansion effort by the West
    • First crusade called by Pope Urban II in 1095
      • Successful in reclaiming Jerusalem, but would eventually lose it to the great Muslim leader, Saladin.
      • Later Crusades varied in levels of success
    • Motives
      • Reclaim Holy Land, reunite Christendom
      • Remove “undesirables” from society
      • Profits – merchants made money off of loans, sales of goods, prospect of opening new trade routes
      • A guaranteed spot in heaven, all sins forgiven if died in battle
x continued
X. continued…
  • Effects of Crusades
    • Expanded trade between Europe and Asia
    • Weakened the power of the pope, increased power of kings
      • People were upset with the Church after Crusades seen as unsuccessful
    • Legacy of intolerance/prejudice between Christians and Muslims
    • Increased persecution of Jews in Europe
    • Women in position of authority – had a chance to run estates
xi leaving the dark ages
XI. Leaving the “Dark Ages”
  • Rapid population growth causes problems
    • Agricultural techniques can’t keep up - famine and starvation
  • Black Death/bubonic plague
    • Series of plagues, beginning in 1348 – severe decrease in population (at least 1/3)
    • Resulted in increase of peasant rights, decline of feudalism
  • Growth of professional armies/weapon technologies strengthen kings/emerging nations
  • Slow development of arts and secular thinking eventually paves way for Renaissance (thanks to the Byzantines and Muslims)
challenge question

What comes to mind when you hear the term “Dark Ages?” What’s going on in society? What’s NOT going on in society?

  • 3-4 complete sentences


challenge question1



What does the painting tell us about life in Medieval Europe? Address each of the Social Studies themes: Political, Social, Economic, Technological, Religious.

exit ticket quiz 2 7
  • Describe two things that plagued western Europe immediately following the fall of Rome.
  • What was Clovis responsible for?
  • Why were monasteries important in the Middle Ages?
  • Describe the social organization associated with feudalism.