The Middle Ages: 1066–1485
Introduction to the Literary Period
Feature Menu
Interactive Time Line
Milestone: The Norman Conquest
Milestone: The Age of Feudalism
Milestone: The Magna Carta
Milestone: The Decline of Feudalism
Milestone: The Black Death
Milestone: The Hundred Years’ War
What Have You Learned?
The Middle Ages: 1066–1485
Choose a link on the time line to go to a milestone.
1066
Norman
Conquest
1000
1100
1000s–1300s
Age of Feudalism
1348–1349
Black Death
1215
Magna Carta
1200
1300
1337–1453
Hundred
Years’ War
1400
1300s–1400s
Decline of Feudalism
1500
The Norman Conquest
William the Conqueror
• a duke from Normandy, France
• claimed the English throne had been promised to
him
In 1066 . . .
• crosses the English Channel
with a huge army
• defeats King Harold at the
Battle of Hastings
The Norman Conquest
The Normans Change England
• land divided among William’s
followers from Normandy
• more contact with European
civilization
• a new language—French
• a new social system—
feudalism
The Age of Feudalism
Feudalism
• social, property, and
military system
King
• based on a religious
concept of rank
Lords
powerful
landowners
• some vassals appointed
Vassals
did work or military
by king in return for
service for feudal lords in
loyalty
• lords (powerful
vassals) appoint
their own vassals
exchange for land
Serfs
servants to lords and vassals,
bound to their master’s land
The Age of Feudalism
Knights in Shining Armor
• provided military
service to lords
• often the sons of
nobles
• began training at an
early age
• wore very heavy
armor into battle
• followed a code
of chivalry
The Age of Feudalism
Code of Chivalry
A code of conduct that
covered
• whom to defend—knight’s
lord, the king, and the
Christian faith
• how to treat a lady—
courtly love
• how to help others
• how to resist the urge to
run away if captured
The Age of Feudalism
Courtly Love
The knight
• adored the lady and
was inspired by her
• glorified the lady in
words
The lady
• remained pure and
out of reach
• was set above her admirer
The Age of Feudalism
The Romance
• new genre of literature
• inspired by legends of chivalrous knights
• hero goes on quest to conquer evil enemy
• hero often has magical help
• includes stories of distant, idealized courtly
love
The Age of Feudalism
The Crusades (1095—1270)
• series of holy wars
• waged by European
Christians against
Muslims in the Middle
East
• ultimately unsuccessful
• Europeans benefit from
contact with Arab
civilization
The Magna Carta
1215
• Magna Carta—“Great
Charter”
• signed by King John,
under pressure from
English barons
• protected rights of
aristocrats
• meant a return to
more democratic
tendencies
No freeman shall be
taken, or imprisoned, or
outlawed, or exiled, or in
any way harmed, nor will
we go upon him nor will
we send upon him,
except by the legal
judgment of his peers or
by the law of the land.
To none will we sell, to
none deny or delay, right
or justice.
—Magna Carta,
clauses 39 and 40
The Decline of Feudalism
Growth of Cities and Towns
• townspeople not tied
to master’s land or to
knighthood
• merchant class—people
earn their own money
• city people’s tastes
influence arts—ballads,
miracle plays, and so on
The Decline of Feudalism
Monetary System
Before the Crusades
• foreign coins are
melted down
• few coins exist
• feudal lords make
coins for use on their
own property only
• serfs use barter
system
After the Crusades
• gold coins are used
• peasants can earn
gold in exchange for
labor or goods
• peasants can save
money, have greater
buying and selling
power
The Black Death
1348–1349
Black Death (bubonic plague)
• highly contagious and fatal disease, spread by
the fleas on infected rats
• factor in decline of feudalism
England’s
population
is reduced
by one-third.
Labor shortage
gives lower
classes more
bargaining
power.
Over time,
serfs gain
freedom.
The Hundred Years’ War
1337–1453
• war between England and
France
• England unsuccessful
• leads to British national
consciousness
Yeoman
• small landowners with
longbows
• begin to become dominant
force (instead of knights)
What Have You Learned?
Match the cause to its effect.
The Crusades Hundred Years’ War
Cause
Black Death
Effect
Black
Death
__________
A labor shortage gives serfs more
bargaining power.
The
Crusades The English are exposed to Eastern
__________
cultures and knowledge.
Hundred
Years’ War
__________
Yeomen replace knights as main
military group.
END
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The Middle Ages