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Medieval Europe. The Rise of Feudalism and Medieval Culture. The Origins of Feudalism. After the Fall of Rome, new powers emerged to take their place (i.e. The Franks, Visigoths etc.) However, the new empires were unable to withstand the constant pressure of war, invasion and infighting.

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medieval europe

Medieval Europe

The Rise of Feudalism and Medieval Culture

the origins of feudalism
The Origins of Feudalism
  • After the Fall of Rome, new powers emerged to take their place (i.e. The Franks, Visigoths etc.)
  • However, the new empires were unable to withstand the constant pressure of war, invasionand infighting.
  • Additionally, land and power were constantly split apart with each passing generation.
  • When Christendom (Christian Europe) was facing destruction from all directions, feudalism saved it.
what is feudalism
What is Feudalism?
  • Feudalism – is political system where land and power are exchanged for military service
  • European Feudalism was further stabilized by the concept of Primogeniture (all land, wealth and power travelled from father to first born son)
  • This ensured that feudal relationships remained intact for decades, sometimes centuries.
the feudal system
The Feudal System
  • Kings granted Fiefs (A large piece of land and all the peasants that lived within it) to a Lord in exchange for his loyalty and a pre-arranged number of knights.
  • Lords then split up there fiefs into many pieces, each piece would belong to a vassal, in exchange for loyalty and 1 knight
  • Knight: a warrior on horseback, heavily armored and highly skilled
  • The knight was the most powerful force in the medieval world – basically a Tank
  • However, it took a lifetime of training, an enormous amount of money and many skilled craftsmen to prepare 1 knight for battle
  • In the feudal system, the true power was in the hands of the knights, without knights a king would be defenseless and powerless
  • Knights operated by a very specific code of behavior (Chivalry)
  • Peasants or Serf: these people where the property of the knights and lords, they worked that land and provided food and taxes to the upper classes in exchange for military protection
trial by ordeal and trial by combat
Trial by Ordeal and Trial by Combat
  • Modern concepts of logic and reason did not exist during the Middle Ages
  • Rather God controlled every aspect of life
  • Therefore, disputes were settled by God
  • A challenge or contest would be created with the assumption that God would help the party whose cause was just.
  • Trail by Ordeal – if someone was suspected of a crime, they would undergo some test examples - the Trial of Boiling Water, Water ordeal, Poison Ordeal, Ordeal of the Cross
  • Trial by Combat – two people would fight with the winner declared the truthful
  • In a Trail by Combat one could appoint a champion to fight on your behalf
europe in general
Europe in General
  • Kings and Lords lived in great castles
  • However, the vast majority lived in straw huts
  • Extremely unhygienic – usually bathed once a year
  • Low life expectancy
  • Rampant illiteracy – even most lords could not read
  • Art and Architecture were created as a tribute to God
  • Some advances if Farming (3 field system) and Military technology – crossbows, chain male and plate armor etc.
summary
Summary
  • Feudalism saved Christianity but cost Europe a thousand years of social and political stagnation
  • Feudalism was based upon military service in exchange for land
  • Primogeniture ensured stability
  • Knights were the foundation of the entire feudal system
  • Medieval life was short, violent, dirty and full of superstition