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Western Europe Chapter 10 . Dark Ages – the Waning Empire. Bishops ( Christian leaders of cities ) given judicial powers & responsibility of urban poor Peasants weakened by debt became tenants of landlords Late Rome pressured by Germanic barbarians ( Goths, Vandals, Franks )

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dark ages the waning empire
Dark Ages – the Waning Empire
  • Bishops (Christian leaders of cities) given judicial powers & responsibility of urban poor
  • Peasants weakened by debt became tenants of landlords
  • Late Rome pressured by Germanic barbarians (Goths, Vandals, Franks)
    • Mercenaries, migrations
  • 500-1000 CE— Early Middle Ages
    • Agriculture, trade & politics slow but reviving
    • Catholic church becomes a spiritual & political power
  • 900-1100—Transition
  • 1000-1338— High Middle Ages
    • Gains in population, trade & intellectual activity as well as political growth
  • 1338-1450— Late Middle Ages

Western Europe During the

Early Middle Ages

(500 CE to 1000 CE)

~the Foundations of Christian Society

in Western Europe~

Dark Ages?

christianity political order
Christianity & Political Order
  • Christianity
    • Unites masses amid chaos
    • Barbarians convert for legitimacy
christianity political order1
Christianity & Political Order
  • Christianity
    • Hierarchy provides practical leadership
      • Judges & educators
      • Based on tradition, land ownership, ceremonies
political order christianity
Political Order & Christianity
  • But, little formal government
  • Violence & blood feuds common
  • Some order from Roman landlords & barbarian warlords
    • Aristocrats: control of land lends resources (peasants, food, new warriors)
    • Germanic warriors: military might lends order
  • Franks were most powerful Germanic state
    • Example: Clovis
life of the peasantry
Life of the Peasantry
  • Culture minimal & rough
    • Hierarchy of needs?
      • Rome: population from 500,000 to 80,000
      • Paris: population of 20,000
    • Rural villages as population centers
      • Little education or literacy
      • Little trade
      • Focus on subsistence
life of the peasantry1
Life of the Peasantry

→ Peasants become serfs

      • Unfree farm labor tied to land
  • Subsistence difficult while lacking technology
  • Sought safety through landlords
men of cloth men of letters
Men of Cloth; Men of Letters
  • Culture maintained by Christian clergy
    • Only literate members of society
      • Latin
      • Scriptoriums
    • Aided religious & political authority
    • “Rome” lived on in churches & became spiritual capital
in summary
In Summary

Manor System

  • Self-sufficient manors organize society
  • Mutual obligations b/t lord & serf


  • Decentralized, informal military rule
  • Mutual obligations b/t lords & lords

In groups of 4:

  • Analyze the daily life of each of the following people during the Carolingian dynasty:
      • Charlemagne; Nobleman; Priest; Serf
    • What is their motivation? What is their fear? How is their life impacted by other members of society?
  • Create a script for a skit or write a series of / diary entries letters
carolingians charlemagne
Carolingians & Charlemagne
  • Exception to divided informal rule
  • Carolingian dynasty (686 – 9th c)
    • Frankish
    • Charles Martel: starts dynasty
      • noted for ending Muslim attempts to conquer France
    • Charlemagne: most important ruler
carolingians charlemagne1
Carolingians & Charlemagne
  • Charlemagne
    • Desired Christianizing & politically uniting all Germanic peoples
    • Centralized authority
      • Crowned by Pope in 800 CE (reflected church power)
      • Gave land to warriors to cement loyalty
      • Traveled 2000 miles/yr to maintain direct contact with those governed
carolingians charlemagne2
Carolingians & Charlemagne
  • Charlemagne
    • Fostered “Carolingian Renaissance”
      • Trade initiated
        • Minted silver coins
        • Manufacturing improved (swords, pottery, glassware)
      • Learning emphasized
        • Punctuation, capitalization, & spacing added to script
        • Curriculum standardized (grammar, rhetoric, logic, math, astronomy)
carolingians charlemagne3
Carolingians & Charlemagne
  • Charlemagne
    • Still…comparatively weak
      • 15 mil inhabitants vs. 50 mil in Abbasid or 100 mil in China
      • 50 acre palace complex vs. 250 acres in Baghdad
    • Personalist rule meant that when reign ended, so to did many advancements
carolingians ended by invasion
Carolingians ended by invasion

Muslims, Magyar nomads, Vikings

viking origins
Viking Origins
  • Norse people from Scandinavia
    • Think: North, Normans, Normandy, Norway
  • “Vik” = on the war path
  • Lifestyle:
    • Tribal, warrior culture
    • Polytheistic
  • Expansion fueled by population pressure
vikings in eastern europe
Vikings in Eastern Europe
  • Sailed Russian river systems until reaching Black Sea & Constantinople
    • Opened trade links b/t Russia & Byzantium
    • Exported furs & slaves for Byzantine manufactures
  • Kievian-Rus (proto-Russia)
    • Mixture of Viking & Slavic ethnic groups
    • Christianized by Cyril & Methodius (Orthodox)
vikings in eastern europe1
Vikings in Eastern Europe
  • Russian envoys reported:

“We went among the Germans [the Catholic Franks] and we saw them performing many ceremonies in their churches; but we beheld no glory there. Then we went to Greece [in fact, to Constantinople and Hagia Sophia], and the Greeks led us to the edifices where they worship their God, and we knew not whether we were in heaven or on earth. For on earth there is no such splendor or such beauty, and we are at a loss to describe it. We only know that God dwells there among men…”

vikings in western europe
Vikings in Western Europe
  • Explored & raided coastal France & Britain
    • Longships & weapons became sources of fear
    • Plundering, killing, burning
  • Wealth & prisoners aided exploration & expansion of slave trade
  • Settle eventually & Christianized
    • Normans
viking impact
Viking Impact
  • Fostered expanded trade links in Europe
  • Intensified local rule
    • Eastern Europe = city-states
    • Western Europe = feudalism
      • Looked to local lords to protect them


(900 CE to 1100 CE)

~Steps toward Progress~

End of raids

Warming of climate

causes for transition
Causes for Transition
  • Agricultural innovation
    • Expansion of arable land
    • Three-field system
    • Mold-board Plow
causes for transition1
Causes for Transition
  • Population growth fuels urbanization
causes for transition2
Causes for Transition
  • Diffusion of new ideas
    • Crusades brought contact with Muslims & Byzantium
the crusades
The Crusades
  • Catholic Pope Urban II called First Crusade in 1096
    • Originally effort to retake Holy Land from Islamic Empires
      • Resulted in small crusader states in eastern Mediterranean
    • Supported by Byzantium for striking at longstanding enemy
the crusades1
The Crusades
  • Later Crusades lacked success & focus
    • Crusading hordes disrupted Constantinople’s economy
    • Italian city-states (Genoa & Venice) desired trade in eastern Mediterranean
      • Engineered 4th Crusade, which temporarily conquered Constantinople
other conquests
Other Conquests
  • Christian Reconquista of Islamic Spain began in 1061
  • Christians wrestled control of Sicily from Muslims in 1091
impact of crusades on w eur
Impact of Crusades on W. Eur
  • One Muslim observer:

“Their bodies large, their manners harsh, their understanding dull, and their tongues heavy. …Those of them who are the farthest to the north are the most subject to stupidity, grossness, and brutishness.”

impact of crusades on w eur1
Impact of Crusades on W. Eur
  • Contact w/ more advanced societies yielded:
    • Adoption of innovations
      • Arabic numerals
      • Recovery of Greek & Roman learning
      • Architectural engineering
      • Windmills & watermills
    • Greater trade
      • Increased demand for silk, cotton textiles, & spices
      • Desire for direct trade in Asian markets

Western Europe During the

High Middle Ages

(1000 CE to 1300 CE)

economic growth
Economic Growth

Early Middle Ages

High Middle Ages

Towns grew with commerce & people moving to urban areas

Population growth during transition sparked revival of towns & trade

  • Towns were small with rural agriculture dominating
towns trade
Towns & Trade
  • Town life exemplified by artisan guilds
    • Occupations were licensed, standards of quality
    • Politically & socially influential
    • Emphasized Christianity
      • Contributed to building of cathedrals
      • Adopted patron saints & sponsoring parades
  • Trade networks develop
    • Hanseatic League
    • Italian city-states & Mediterranean

Royal Kingdoms and Formation of States

  • Towns and urban population aid in strengthening royal governments
    • States
  • England pioneer in creating modern state
    • William the Conqueror, 1066
  • France developed slower than England
    • Hugh Capet, a minor and weak noble, was elected king in 987
  • Modern German state not created until 19th century

The Establishment of Regional States

  • The Holy Roman Empire
  • Feudal Monarchies in France and England
  • Regional States in Italy and Iberia
  • Church influence in Italy
    • A complex of principalities and city-states, undergoes rapid urbanization
  • Muslim influence in Iberia
    • The focus of the reconquista
mosaic of political control
Mosaic of Political Control
  • Some still dreamed of recapturing a “Rome”
    • Holy Roman Empire
      • Otto
      • Investiture
mosaic of political control1
Mosaic of Political Control
  • Yet regional states emerged
    • France
      • Capetians
    • England
      • The Normans & William the Conqueror
mosaic of political control2
Mosaic of Political Control
  • Still Spain & Italy remained more complex
    • Europeans expand & conquer Muslim held lands
social development
Social Development
  • Three Estates
    • “those who work, those who pray, and those who fight”
social development1
Social Development
  • Social change: Chivalry
social development2
Social Development
  • Social change: Cities
    • Independent cities
    • Guilds
social development3
Social Development
  • Social change: Women
    • Rural
    • Urban
  • Continued to define W. Euro society
  • High Theology
    • Cathedral schools → universities
    • Scholasticism & St. Thomas Aquinas
      • Blend Aristotle & Faith
  • Popular Religion
    • Sacraments & saints
    • Monasticism & heresies
compare with china
Compare with China
  • Catching up
  • Pluralism in Politics
  • Reason & Faith
12 th and 13 th centuries
12th and 13th Centuries
  • Religion
    • Is represented in art and architecture
      • Romanesque and Gothic styles
      • Vernacular literature (Beowulf, Canterbury Tales) and secular art forms develop as well
    • Scholasticism combines faith and reason
      • Peter Abelard
      • St. Thomas Aquinas
      • St. Bernard of Clairvaux
12 th and 13 th centuries1
12th and 13th Centuries
  • Economy
    • Improvements in Agriculture
      • Peasant condition improves; landlord power weakens
    • Growth of Trade and Banking
      • Use of currency
      • Market system develops
      • Guilds organized
late postclassical decline
Late Postclassical Decline
  • Key Developments
    • Professional militaries & use of gunpowder
    • Population boom & mini ice age
    • Bubonic plague
  • Decline of “Postclassical” characteristics
    • Feudalism in decline, serfdom ending
    • Aristocracy loses power
    • Church loses power to State
    • Intellectual inquiries become separate from state
fishbowl discussion questions
Fishbowl Discussion Questions
  • To what extent were the Middle Ages a Dark Age?
  • To what extent do you agree that Charlemagne’s family was a family that forged Europe.
  • Why might the Middle Ages be a misnomer for this period?
  • What postclassical themes are present in Western Europe between 550 and 1000 CE?
  • Why is the term Western Civilization hard to define?
  • Compare Postclassical Europe to the Byzantine and Muslim Empires.
  • What was the status of women during the Middle Ages?
  • What does the interaction between cultures suggest about how Christianity spread in Europe during the postclassical period?