Jeremy Keeshin Medieval western European civilization was a synthesis of classical, Christian and Germanic elements in the areas

of government and the social structure of daily life. Many ideas, such as the setup of land in Europe at this time were greatly influenced by the Romans. The church dioceses were the equivalent of the prior Roman division of provinces. Also the Ostrogoths kept the Roman structure of government for the simple reason that it worked. The only modification was that there were separate systems for the Ostrogoths and the Romans. Roman ideas were carried on when the Pope named Charlemagne Emperor of the Romans in the year 800. This was a symbolic naming showing that the Carolingian Era was a powerful time and that Charlemagne was great and strong similar to the Roman Empire. Charlemagne was the epitome of the combination of Germanic, Christian and classical influences. He was a Germanic ruler named the Emperor of the Romans by a leader of Christianity. In addition to classical influences, many Germanic influences were present at this time in Europe. Germanic ideas regarding family were shown in the government. A criminal offense was an offense against a person as an individual, and therefore the punishment was personal. This was the reason for the wergeld, a fine from the offender to the family of the victim. One way for determining guilt in Germanic society was the compurgation. This was the swearing of an oath by the accused, backed up by twelve or twenty-five others. This went with the Germanic concept of the individualism of Germanic law. Germanic influence was also present in the feudal system. The vassal knew his lord personally, and this complied with the Germanic idea of close bonds. Christianity was the major influence on medieval European society. Christianity was the uniting idea between the people in Europe because there was no common link

Jeremy Keeshin like citizenship in the Roman Empire. The way to determine guilt was influenced by Christianity. The belief was that during the ordeal, if a person were innocent, divine intervention would protect them. Clovis, Germanic king and the founder of the Frankish Kingdom, converted to Christianity after being saved in a battle in which doom was certain. Also, monasticism, which was living in isolation to pursue dedication to God, was the highest ideal of Christian life. Charlemagne tried to stimulate learning and because of this monks would copy classical works in rooms known as scriptoria. The Carolingian Empire fell after the death of Charlemagne, and a new organizational system for government and military came about. The royal governments broke down and the powerful nobles took over in a system called feudalism. In feudalism, Christian influence was also present. When the vassal would swear loyalty to his lord he would do so in a charter with evident Christian influence. The duties in this relationship were that the lord would grant a fief and offer justice, while the vassal would offer his loyalty and service. The unwritten rules for a vassal-lord relationship were set out in the feudal contract. Since fighting was such a noble occupation at this time, knights were of a high stature. However killings went out of control and the church helped instate chivalry, or a code of ethics for knights. The church also established the Peace of God and Truce of God to try and control unnecessary bloodshed. Like in Rome, forms of entertainment were organized as distraction from the government. Tournaments were set up as a way for knights to keep busy and keep from killing. The church’s influence was apparent in almost every aspect of life. The classical Roman, Christian and Germanic influences all had an impact on the way that the government, military system and daily social structure ran in medieval Western Europe.

Master your semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Special offer for students: Only $4.99/month.

Master your semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Cancel anytime.