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CHAPTER 7 SEC 1 - THE

EARLY MIDDLE AGES


I. Western Europe in Decline - At its height, the Roman
empire included much of W Europe. The Germanic
people who settled in Europe and conquered Rome
would later build on these traditions.

A. Collapse of Rome - After Rome's collapse, W. Europe


entered a period of political, social, and economic decline
1. 500-1000 it was politically divided, rural, and cut off
from advanced civilizations in the Middle East, China, & India
2. Invaders swept across the region, trade slowed, towns
emptied, and classical learning ceased
a. This period is often called the "Dark Ages" for these
reasons
3. Historians disagree that this period was "dark"
because Greco-Roman, Germanic, and Christian traditions
slowly blended, creating a new civilizations
a. Much later, this period between ancient and
modern times (500-1500) would be called the Middle Ages
and its culture called medieval, from the Latin words for
"middle age"

II. The Rise of the Germanic Kingdoms Germanic tribes that conquered parts of
Roman empire were the Goths, Vandals,
Saxons, and Franks.
These people had no cities or written laws and
lived in small communities
Kings were often elected by tribal councils
Warriors swore loyalty to the king in exchange
for weapons and land/goods from conquered
people
Between 400 and 700, these Germanic tribes
carved W. Europe into small kingdoms

A. The Franks Extend Their Power - In 486 King


Clovis of the Franks, conquered the former
Roman province of Gaul, which later became
the kingdom of France .
1. He ruled according to Frankish custom
but preserved much of the Roman legacy
2. When Clovis converted to Christianity
he took an important step and earned the
support of the conquered people but also
gained a powerful ally in the pope, leader of
the Christian Church in Rome

B. A Muslim Empire Threatens Europe - The religion of


Islam began in Arabia in the 600s and Muslims, believers
of Islam, created a new civilization and built up a huge and
expanding empire
1. Muslim armies began to overrun Christian lands
from Palestine to N. Africa to present-day Spain
2. When a Muslim army crossed into France,
Charles Martel rallied Frankish warriors
a. At the Battle of Tours in 732, Christian
warriors triumphed and they saw this victory as a sign
that God was on their side
b. Muslims advanced no farther into W Europe, but
did continue to rule most of modern-day Spain
c. This nearby Muslim presence remained a
source of anxiety to many European Christian leaders

III. The Age of Charlemagne - In 768, the


grandson of Charles Martel became king
of the Franks
Charlemagne ("Charles the Great") briefly
united W Europe when he built an empire
reaching across what is now France, Germany,
and part of Italy
He spent much of his 46-year reign fighting off
foreign armies and his conquests reunited
much of the old western Roman empire

A. A New Emperor of the Romans - In 799, Pope Leo III


asked Charlemagne for help against rebellious nobles in
Rome and the delegation that he sent to Rome arrested
Leo's opponents
1. On Christmas Day in the year 800, the pope
showed his gratitude by placing a crown on
Charlemagne's head and proclaiming him Emperor of
the Romans
2. The ceremony would have enormous
significance as a Christian pope had declared a
Germanic king successor to the Roman emperors
a. In doing so, Pope Leo III revived the ideal
of a united Christian community but also sowed the
seeds for desperate power struggles between future
popes and Germanic emperors

3. The pope's actions outraged the


emperor of the eastern Roman empire in
Constantinople
a. While the W. Roman Empire
had been collapsing, the E. Roman Empire
continued to flourish
1. The eastern emperor saw himself
as the sole Roman ruler so the
crowning of Charlemagne furthered the
split between the
eastern and western
Christian worlds

B. A Revival of Learning - Charlemagne


regarded education as another way to unify his
kingdom
1. Although he could read but not
write, he set out to revive Latin learning
throughout his empire and encouraged the
creation of local schools
2. He also wanted to revive the glory
of Rome at his court at Aachen where he
brought many of the best
scholars
of Europe to the Palace School there

IV. Europe After Charlemagne - After he died in 814,


his son Louis I took the throne but later Louis' sons
battled for power. In 843, Charlemagne's grandsons
drew up the Treaty of Verdun, which split the empire
into three regions
A. Charlemagne's Legacy - He extended
Christian civilization into northern Europe and
furthered the blending of Germanic, Roman, and
Christian traditions
1. He also set up a strong, efficient
government and later medieval rulers looked to his
example when they tried to strengthen their own
kingdoms

B. New Waves of Invasions - Charlemagne's heirs


faced new waves of invasions
1. Despite the victory at Tours, Muslim forced
still posed a threat to Christian Europe
2. In the late 800s, they conquered Sicily,
which became a thriving center of Muslim culture
3. Around 900, a new wave of nomadic people,
the Magyars, settled in present-day Hungary
a. From there, they overran eastern
Europe and moved on to plunder Germany, parts
of France, and Italy but were eventually pushed
back into Hungary after about 50 years

C. Raiders from the North - The Vikings broke


the last threads of unity in Charlemagne's empire
1. At home in Scandinavia were independent
farmers and expert sailors
2. Starting in the late 700s, they burst out of
Scandinavia, looting and burning communities
along the coasts and rivers of Europe
3. They were also traders and explorers who
set up a short-lived Viking colony in N America
around the year 1000
4. They opened trade routes that linked N
Europe to Mediterranean lands