Chapter 14 –The Latin West (1200-1500

Steven Apsley I. Rural Growth and Crisis A. Peasants and Population -During the 1200s, most of the European population consisted of poor peasants, living on wealthy lords manors. The contrast in wealth between the serfs and the nobles was dramatic; the a serf and his family lived in a small one room hut, while the nobles lived in huge manor houses, surrounded by anywhere from 15 to 30 serf families to meet their needs. The lord would tax them heavily, taking half of the crops each family grew. Serfs also sometimes lived and worked on Church land, however they were no better off than any of the other serfs. -Daily serf life centered on the large amount of work they would be doing everyday. Women worked alongside men in the fields; however they were socially subordinate to males and the men made all of the household decisions. -As the population of Europe grew between 1000 and 1445, more and more farmers began to use the three-field system (They would cultivate 2/3 of their land, and grow oats on the last 1/3 to feed to their pack animals. The oats replenished the nitrogen in the soil, and the farmers would shift the oat area around each year) However, since the peasants lived in extreme poverty and most of their day was taken up by work, new agricultural technologies in Europe were scarce. -At one point the population grew so large that swamps were drained and areas with poor soil were used for the cultivation of crops. This led to an overall decline in crop output and quality. B. The Black Death and Social Change -The Black Plague helped to end Europe’s overpopulation crisis by practically eliminating 2/3 of the population. The plague killed of many people and destroyed cites, where city officials tried to avoid contracting the plague by quarantining the city and burning the bodies and possessions of those who had been affected. - During the two-year period in which the plague wreaked havoc, many people became more religious, paying the church and whipping themselves in order to remain spiritually pure, and hopefully plague-free. -After the brunt of the plague had disappeared, the demand for skilled labor was high; however the supply was low due to the disease. The remaining laborers demanded better wages as a result. When the government tried to stop this, mass revolts broke out and the peasants killed many of the surviving upper class. Eventually the nobles complied and this lead to an overall rise in the quality of life for peasants. Serfdom became very scarce in Western Europe and as a result, the gap between rural and urban decreased in size. C. Mines and Mills -During the period of 1100-1500, England had its own small industrial revolution. People began to create and embrace new technologies such as the water wheel. Most lords began creating them on their land by the river and using it to grind grain and flour, crush olives, saw wood, make paper and other monumental but useful tasks. The lords could then charge the people on his land for using the mill too, making the expensive wheel worth it. People also used windmills in areas where the water would freeze, making a water wheel impractical.

-Usually, a group of people would all invest in creating a water wheel because of its great expense. However since it was free to run these mills, they became very profitable very quickly. -England also started to use the power of water to further advance their iron making capabilities. Now that blacksmiths could mold iron and create high-quality iron, the demand for iron spiked dramatically. Therefore new mines opened up and the mining industry increased. -In 1388, the first anti-pollution law was introduced, because of people and shops duping waste into the river where it contaminated the drinking water. II. Urban Revival A. Trading Cites -After the 1200s, there was a dramatic growth in cites due to the increase in trade and manufacturing. People began to re-establish long-distance trading routes and the Mongol’s control over Asia helped to facilitate that process. There was an especially high demand for Chinese luxury items -This high demand for Chinese goods helped to increase Europe’s trade output, as it needed materials to trade with. After the fall of the Mongol’s, trading with China became harder, sparking exploration expeditions. -Areas in Italy like Venice profited greatly from all of this long-distance trade, as they had direct access to the Mediterranean maritime trading system. -The Europeans also furthered their textile industries, using wind and water mills to produce large quantities of wool for clothes. This led to even more specialization of labor as local businesses stated to focus on how to meet the growing consumer demand. B. Civic Life -Most people who lived in the urban cities enjoyed more freedom and social mobility than those who lived in rural areas. This caused many people to flock to cities where they might be free after living there for a year. This also helped the cities because it brought new diverse peoples and cultures, along with their specialization of labor. -During this period Jews faced heavy and harsh persecution from other religious groups. Many people blamed the Jews for the plague and they were expelled and shunned in once welcome areas such as Spain. -This time period also brought the creation of guilds. Guilds were created to help shorten the apprenticeship time and to help regulate certain areas of labor. It helped to regulate trade and how it was practiced. -Women were still social unequal to men during this time, and were not allowed to join guilds. They were allowed to work in unskilled areas of work such as in the food and textile industry, though they received lower wages than men. Some women tried to improve their social status through marriage. -The sudden growth in commerce also led to the growth of banking institutions. The banks specialized in everything from investments to loans and even checking accounts! Some of the wealthier banks even wrote news about the economy and what was affecting it, much like the Wall Street Journal today. These banks did business with all people, from the lowest merchants to kings and queens needing loans for war campaigns. The banking industry was mostly controlled by the Jewish since the Christian Church did not allow usury, or interest. Some Christian bankers got around that however, by asking for gifts in return for their services.

-Most people living in cities however, were still very poor and lived in filthy and poverty-stricken areas. C. Gothic Cathedrals -The style of gothic cathedrals was extremely popular during this period of Europe. They were characterized by their pointing steeples, flying buttresses, and their enormous stained glass windows. Most of the cities would try to out do each other, building more and more magnificent and giant cathedrals. Yet the builders and engineers had little formal training or knowledge like our civil engineers have today. They learned purely though trial and error, and that error happened more than once throughout history. III. Learning, Literature, and the Renaissance A. University and Learning -After 1100, Jewish scholars began to translate manuscripts written by the Greeks and Arabs concerning ideas of science, philosophy, and medicine. These writings were then studied at Christian monasteries, the schools of that time. -After the 1200s, universities and colleges began emerging over the Churches and monasteries as learning centers. They were created mostly by guilds in order to educate their students. Most of the colleges and universities focused on one subject or specialization, such as medicine or theology. B. Humanists and Printers -During the Renaissance, great writers emerged and offered a cross-section of renaissance life and outlook. Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales offered a look at the different occupations and mindsets of the Renaissance man/women, in a funny and humorous way. Many authors of the time wrote in vernacular and Latin, regardless of their spoken language so that they could reach a larger audience. -The humanists of that time focused on social reform and the texts and writings from Classical Greece and Rome. They helped to influence the reform of Renaissance society. They were helped by John Gutenberg, who perfected the printing press and helped to publish all of these works. C. Renaissance Artists -Many Renaissance artists were influenced by earlier artists, painting in a more natural style, rather than in the staring blank look style of the Byzantium. Many artists also started to paint more earthy and rich scenes, rather than laying it on a gold leaf background. New art technologies came into existence as well, such as the artists mixing their pigments with oil rather than with egg yolk, giving it a better finish and making it more versatile. -Wealthy families also helped this process by paying enormous amounts of money to fund the artists. IV. Political and Military Transformations A. Monarch, Nobles, and the Clergy -The Renaissance social classes and structure were still very much like the medieval times. Monarchs who inherited power from the family (hereditary) were at the top of the social and political hierarchy. Next came the powerful nobles and vassals. However unlike in medieval times when the vassals were required to give military service to their lord, the renaissance vassals tried every way to take away power from the Monarch and give it to themselves. -The knights were still the predominant force of Europe’s army, but the advent of two new weapons helped to weaken their social standing in society. The firearm

and the piercing crossbow were two powerful new weapons that upset the noble knights high standing, and lowered their status. This also meant that Europe’s knights lost some of their wealth. -The church and nobles undermined the monarchy of the royal family. When Pope Boniface VIII tried to resist their power though, the reigning monarch, King Philip went as far as to arrest the pope! The monarchy was also limited in power by the wealthy vassals who held enough money to stop the kings from having complete control. Also, when the king tried to raise taxes, it led to a revolt of the nobles, and the Magna Carta was signed, further limiting the king’s power. -In order to try to gain more control over the nobles, kings would marry off sons and daughters to powerful vassals, in an attempt to control that family. However it was not always successful because the marriages didn’t always work out. -The Great Schism between the Roman and Latin Church also happened during this time period, weakening the Churches power. B. The Hundred Years War (1337-1453) -The Hundred Years War consisted of the English King Edward III fighting for the French throne. The war was almost like a showcase of new military technologies, like the piercing crossbow, the firearm, the cannon, and the pike. The French won the war in 1453, after rallying around Joan of Arc and using their cannons to demolish the English walls and castles. Both countries came away learning something from one another, however the French were now in the lead over the English. C. New Monarchies in France and England -The Hundred Years war helped both France and England centralize their governments and gain control over the nobles. The war also motivated them to create stronger boundaries and build up better armies. These armies now relied on professional soldiers using the new military technology, instead of relying on the Knights. This made the Knight class drop way down in status, and it eventually became obsolete. -Because the new central governments had more control over their nobles and the church, they raised taxes and taxed more items. This helped them build up their armies and create a better state. However, the nobles still held some power in the political institutions like parliament.

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