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Name ____________________________________________________

Ms. K. Demircanli
Global 9S
9 March 2012

Europe during the Middle Ages

The medieval period of European history, also known as the Middle Ages, is considered to have lasted from 500-1500.
Traditionally, the medieval era is broken down into three phases: the Early Middle Ages (500-1000), the High Middle
Ages (1000-1300), and the Late Middle Ages (1300-1500).
The decline and eventual fall of the Roman Empire led to the Dark Ages. Europe became known as an
undeveloped area. Intellect, taste and imagination disappeared from art and literature. During the Early Middle Ages
the years 500-1000 was a period of political decentralization and overall backwardness. From 1000-1300, Europe
enjoyed a revival. Nations became stronger, the economy grew healthier, and the level of technological and cultural
knowledge improved. The concept of Europe as a single civilization, joined together by a common cultural heritage and
the Christian religion, took greater shape during these years. The period between 1300-1500 was a complex one,
marked by both crisis and advancement. On one hand, Europe was struck by social unrest, constant warfare, and struck
by the Black Death. On the other hand, these years were the start of major advancement. The Renaissance began in
Italy, ushering in a period of tremendous artistic and intellectual achievement.

Describe what the three periods of the Middle Ages were like in the following graphic organizer.
The Early Middle Ages The High Middle Ages The Late Middle Ages

The Rise of Regional States in Western Europe

After the chaos of the fall of the Roman Empire, some areas of Western Europe witnessed the rise of powerful nobles
and monarchs who established unified regional governments that provided a glimpse of the future of Western Europe.
In the decades following the fall of Rome, local governments in the form of small Germanic kingdoms replaced
imperial rule. At the same time, the Catholic Church served as a unifying force in the territories of the former Roman
Empire. Eventually many of the Germanic tribes surrounding the former Roman Empire converted to Christianity.
Germanic rule structured itself around loyalties to family and the individual, such as the Germanic chiefs. In the former
Roman province of Gaul, power was in the hands of a Germanic people called the Franks. Clovis the leader of the
Franks converted to Christianity along with his army. Their adoption of Roman Christianity gained the Franks the
support of the pope, thereby strengthening the power of the Frankish leaders.
1. After the fall of Rome, how was the west ruled?

2. How was Christianity adopted, and how did it help the Franks?
Monastic Life
During the rule of the Frankish kings, the Roman Catholic Church established monasteries and convents where monks
and nuns relinquished their private possessions in order to serve God. One order was the Benedictine Order, founded
around 520 by and Italian monk named St. Benedict. The Rule of St. Benedict required its monks to observe the rules
of poverty, charity and obedience. They also divided the monks day into hours of meditation and hours of manual
labor. St. Benedicts sister, the nun St. Scholastica, adapted the rule to guide the lives of women in convents as well.
Within the walls of the monasteries of Western Europe, monks preserved education by maintaining schools and
libraries. An accomplishment of the monks was the hand copying of books and manuscripts. They enhanced the beauty
of the manuscripts by illustrating them with elaborate letters and detailed pictures. These illuminated manuscripts
preserved Greco-Roman culture until the invention of the printing press in the 1400s. In addition to preserving the
Roman culture, the Church continued to solidify its authority over secular as well as spiritual matters. When Gregory
the Great (Gregory I) became pope in 590, he used church finances to engage in traditionally secular roles of repairing
public works, raising armies, and establishing public welfare programs. The concept of secular kingdoms under church
authority would prove a source of increasing tension between popes and kings throughout the medieval period.
1. Who was St. Benedict and what was his order?

2. What were some effects of the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages?

The Battle of Tours

October 10, 732 AD marks the conclusion of the Battle of Tours, arguably one of the most decisive battles in all of
history. A Muslim army, in a crusading search for land and the end of Christianity, after the conquest of Syria, Egypt,
and North Africa, began to invade Western Europe. The Muslims led an infantry of 60,000 and 400,000 soldiers toward
Tours, but they were met just outside the city by Charles Martel, known as the Hammer, and the Frankish Army.
Martel gathered his forces directly in the path of the oncoming Muslim army and prepared to defend their land by using
a phalanx style of combat. The invading Muslims rushed forward; however, the French Army was well trained. Despite
the effectiveness of the Muslim army in previous battles, the terrain caused them a disadvantage. Their strength lay
within their cavalry, armed with large swords and lances, the terrain limited their mobility. The French army held their
ground. It was one of the rare times in the Middle Ages when infantry held its ground against a mounted attack. The
battle ended when the French captured and killed the Muslim leader. The Muslim army withdrew peacefully overnight
and even though Martel expected a surprise retaliation, there was none. For the Muslims, the death of their leader
caused a sharp setback and they had no choice but to retreat, never to return again. Not only did this prove to be a
decisive battle for the Christians, but the Battle of Tours is considered the height of the Muslim invasion of Western
Europe. Many historians say that if Martel had fallen at Tours the long term implications for European Christianity
would likely have been devastating.
1. What were the Muslims searching for before the Battle of Tours?

2. Why is this battle so significant?

Charlemagne and the Carolingian Dynasty

In 768, when Charlemagne was 26, he and his younger brother inherited the kingdom of the Franks. In 771 his brother
died, and Charlemagne became sole ruler of the kingdom. At that time the Franks were falling back into barbarian
ways, neglecting their education and religion. In the south, the Roman Catholic Church was asserting its power to
recover land confiscated by the Lombard kingdom of Italy. Europe was in turmoil.
Charlemagne was determined to strengthen his realm and to bring order to Europe. In 772 he launched a 30-year
military campaign to accomplish this objective. He defeated the Avars in 791, and the conquest of Saxony took thirty
years. Any Saxon who would not convert to Christianity would be killed. By 800 Charlemagne was the undisputed
ruler of Western Europe. His vast realm encompassed what are now France, Switzerland, Belgium, and the
Netherlands. It included half of present-day Italy and Germany; Charlemagne restored much of the unity of the old
Roman Empire and paved the way for the development of modern Europe.
On Christmas Day in 800, while Charlemagne knelt in prayer in Saint Peter's in Rome, Pope Leo III placed a golden
crown on the head of the king. Once crowned king, Charlemagne used Christianity to protect any Christian land against
Muslim attacks. He was devout Christian who spread Christianity throughout his empire and he also built new churches
facing Jerusalem. Charlemagne was constantly reforming his empire. He placed a large emphasis on education and
built schools where clergy could study ancient texts and philosophers.
Religion was not his only motivator. Charlemagne also focused on government problems. He established a central
government, he developed a new administrative system and sent officials throughout the empire known as missi
dominici to listen to legal cases and spread laws. His empire was very large so he instituted feudalism, where the land is
ruled by local lords who pay homage to the king. The lords rule the land but the king still has all the power. His empire
also did not levy taxes, and arts and education rose during his reign.

Describe the political, military, and religious achievements of Charlemagne in the following graphic
Political Military Religious

Death of Charlemagne
At Charlemagne's death in 814 only one of his three sons, Louis, was living. Louis's weak rule brought on the rise of
civil wars and revolts. After his death, Louis three sons split the empire between them by the Treaty of Verdun in 843.
The Frankish practice of dividing the realm led to further splits, not only of land but of rights and powers. No king
emerged from these families to unite the lands, and many of the kings were outright incompetent. To add to their woes,
the hundred year stretch from 850 to 950 was filled with the worst of the Viking invasions from Scandinavia, Moslem
raids and pirates in the south and Magyar raids from Hungary. Against these pressures the Carolingians could not stand.
Charles' great empire collapsed steadily, fragmenting into dozens of pieces. The monasteries were plundered, the towns
burned. Even the very title of emperor was lost again for a time. When it reappeared, it was taken by a German king.
These constant attacks in the empire gave birth to a new era. During this time the cultures of all these areas began to
blend. These areas developed many common features, but none more important than Christianity. At this time the
Catholic Church was becoming the most powerful institution in the world.
1. How did Charlemagnes empire get divided?
2. How did the role of Christianity improve during this time?

As the Roman Empire crumbled, and Charlemagnes empire was weakening German, Viking and Magyar tribes
overran homes and farms throughout Europe. Emperors granted land to nobles in exchange for their loyalty. This
system known as Feudalism was a system of loyalties and protections during the Middle Ages and was most common
in Great Britain and France.
A king, queen or lord would grant a fief, or land estates to their supporters in return for money, goods, and
service in war. These supporters are known as vassals. Vassals were required to attend the lord at his court, help
administer justice, and contribute money if needed. He must answer a summons to battle, bringing an agreed upon
number of soldiers, equipment and provisions. They were also required to pay ransom for a kidnapped lord, pay taxes
to the lord and provide accommodations when the lord visited. In return the lord was obliged to protect the vassal, give
military aid, and guard his children.
At the bottom of the feudal society were the serfs. Although not technically a slave, a serf was bound to a lord
for life. He could own no property and needed the lord's permission to marry. Serfs would often have to work three or
four days a week for the lord as rent. They would spend the rest of their week growing crops to feed their families.
Other serfs worked as sharecroppers. A sharecropper would be required to turn over most of what he grew in order to
be able to live on the land. However, the serf did have rights. He could not be displaced if the manor changed hands. He
could not be required to fight, and he was entitled to the protection of the lord.
1. Why was feudalism created?

2. How did it work? Fill in the feudal pyramid.

3. Describe the life of a serf.

4. Is a feudalist society in any way like our society today? Why or why not?

Manorialism, otherwise known as the Manorial System, is the political, economic, and social system by which
peasants of medieval Europe were made dependent on their land and on their lord. Its basic unit was the manor,
a self-sufficient estate that was under the control of a lord who enjoyed variety of rights over it and the peasants
attached to it. The manorial system was the most convenient device for organizing the estates of the aristocracy
and the clergy in the European Middle Ages, and it made feudalism possible.
Manorialism had its origins in the late Roman Empire, when large landowners had to consolidate their
hold over both their lands and the laborers who worked them. This was a necessity in the midst of the civil
disorders, enfeebled governments, and barbarian invasions that wracked Europe in the 5th and 6th centuries
AD. In such conditions, small farmers and landless laborers exchanged their land or their freedom and pledged
their services in exchange for the protection of powerful landowners who had the military strength to defend
them. In this manner, the poor, defenseless, landless, and weak were ensured permanent access to plots of land
which they could work in return for economic service to the lord who held that land. This arrangement
developed into the manorial system, which in turn supported the feudal aristocracy of kings, lords, and vassals.
The typical western European manner in the 13th century consisted partly of the cottages, huts, and barns and
gardens of its peasants or serfs, which were usually clustered together to form a small village. There might also
be a church, a mill, and a wine or oil press in the village. Close by was the fortified dwelling, or manor house, of
the lord. The village was surrounded by the arable land that was divided into three large fields that were farmed
in rotation, with one allowed to lie fallow each year. There were also usually meadows for supplying hay,
pastures for livestock, pools for steaming fish, and forests and wastelands for wood gathering and foraging.
The Manorial System provided stability in those ancient and dark times where the only safety was behind the
thick impenetrable walls of a mighty manor, or even more effective, castle.
1. What is Manorialism?

2. What caused the start of Manorialism?

3. What are some things you might find in a manor?

The Role of the Roman Catholic Church

The Christian or Roman Catholic Church was the most powerful and influential institution in Europe in the
Middle Ages. It was the only institution able to provide some order amid the chaos in Europe. The Roman
Catholic Church was a major force in the lives of the people, providing education, the means of salvation, and
many services usually provided by governments.
Although early Christians were persecuted in the Roman Empire for almost 300 years after the crucifixion
of Jesus Christ, Christianity continued to gain converts and to grow in power. Christianity was spread through the
efforts of St. Paul and other followers of Jesus. In 313 the Edict of Milan, under the Emperor Constantine,
permitted religious freedom for Christians. In 392 the Emperor Theodosius made Christianity the official state
religion of the empire. By this time the Roman Empire had split into two into an eastern part centered in
Constantinople and a western part centered in Rome. Different views on religious authority and teachings
developed between the church in Rome (headed by the Pope) and the church in Constantinople (headed by the
Patriarch). Eventually, these differences led to an official division of the Christian Church in 1054 into the Roman
Catholic Church in Rome and the Greek Orthodox Church in Constantinople. While the Greek Orthodox Church
divided into several Eastern Orthodox churches in Eastern Europe, it was the Roman Catholic Church that was to
exert a strong influence in Western Europe.
The Catholic Church influenced every aspect of life in different ways.
Political: Besides having the power to crown Charlemagne as Holy Roman Emperor in 800, the Church
could use excommunication as a weapon against any ruler or person who did not follow the Churchs teachings. A
person who was excommunicated was no longer considered a member of the Christian faith and was thus denied
salvation. In an era of faith, this was a very strong threat. In the 13 th century, the Church created a special court,
called the Holy Inquisition, to investigate anyone who disobeyed or disagreed with its teachings. If a person was
found guilty as a heretic, that individual could be tortured or put to death.
Economic: The Church grew wealthy from its many lands and from taxes such as the tithe. A tithe is one
tenth of one's annual income that is contributed voluntarily or due as a tax, for the support of the church. With this
wealth, convents, monasteries, and great cathedrals were built. Many were built in the Gothic style. The Churchs
role in the economy of Western Europe was so great that it was able to forbid usury, the practice of lending money
with interest. However, the prohibition on interest was only for Christians; Jews were permitted to become
moneylenders and to charge interest. As a result, many Jews created banking houses. Some became wealthy but
suffered prejudice because of their financial activities.
Social and Cultural: The Churchs teachings were the rules by which most people led their lives. Bishops,
priests, and other religious figures looked to for guidance, especially since they could explain the Bible and were
usually the only people who could read and write. Members of the clergy were educated and preserved the
classical culture of ancient Greece and Rome. Many members of the clergy encouraged writers, painters, and
sculptors to produce works with religious themes. The Church was a stabilizing and unifying influence at a time
when Western Europe was going through a period of disorder and confusion.
Since the Jews of Western Europe did not follow Church teaching, they were often the target of prejudice,
persecution, and expulsion. Moreover, laws that restricted where Jews could worship and live were frequent. This
led to the creation ghettos and many forced conversions. These anti-Jewish actions are an example of anti-
Based on the reading, fill out the chart placing facts about the political, economic and social aspects
of the Roman Catholic Church in the appropriate column.

Political Economic Social & Cultural