Medieval Europe
Recap over empires
Holy Roman Empire
The Church
Eastern Roman Empire
The Church
When the Roman Catholic Church first ordained
popes, they were good, pious, hard-working men.
Over time, like civilizations, those religious leaders
became corrupt and abused their power. During
the Middle Ages, the church grew in strength, then
abused that power. It wouldn’t be until later that
the Roman Catholic Church cleaned up some it’s
more twisted members.
The Role of the Church
Remember that in the Roman Empire (old),
Christianity became accepted.
 When they split the Roman Empire (old), they
split the church too.
 There was a ranking system among the clergy
POPE – from the Latin word papa, meaning father
Bishop of a Diocese Bishop of a Diocese Bishop of a Diocese Bishop of a Diocese
Priest of a
Priest of a
Priest of a
Priest of a
Priest of a
Priest of a
Priest of a
Priest of a
Some history of the Church
 The
bishop of Rome claimed he was the
leader of the church because Jesus gave
Peter the keys to Heaven. Peter was
considered the chief apostle and the first
bishop of Rome. Later, the bishops that
succeeded him were called Popes.
 People couldn’t agree on how much power
the Pope had.
Gregory I strengthened the power of the papacy. He
took over Rome and the surrounding areas and
converted people via the monastic movement.
 Monasticism – the practice of living the life of a
monk (a man who separates himself from the world
to get closer to God) by emphasizing prayer and
physical labor. Jobs available to monks: heroes of
Christian civilization, social workers, teachers of
centers of learning, and missionary work.
 Women who lived the same kind of life were called
The Split
In the early 11th century, problems grew
between the Eastern Orthodox Church
and the Roman Catholic Church. The
Eastern Church would not accept the pope
because he was in Rome, not out west. In
1054 Pope Leo IX (of Rome) and Patriarch
Michael Cerularius (of Constantinople)
excommunicated each
other. This caused a
schism between the two
Papal Monarchy
• Since the popes had control over the Papal States, they were involved
in politics. The Church became increasingly involved in the feudal
system. Bishops saw their offices as presents from the nobles and
therefore cared little about spiritual duties.
• By the eleventh century Church leaders realized the need to be free
from the interference of lords when choosing clergy. Pope Gregory VII
decided to fight the practice of lay investiture
New clergy were given a ring and a staff as
symbols of authority. Secular officials began
granting this investiture. Pope Gregory VII
wanted to stop this. Only then could the Church
regain its freedom, the sole right to appoint clergy
and run its own affairs. If secular rulers wouldn’t
accept this, then the pope would remove them.
Gregory VII believed the pope’s authority
extended over all rulers.
Gregory VII fought with Henry IV over lay investiture.
Gregory VII stated forbiddance. This became known
as the Investiture Controversy
 In 1122, the Concordat of Worms was agreed upon.
Church officials first elected the German bishop. The
bishop would then pay respects to the king. The king
would then invest that bishop with the symbols of
earthly office. A representative of the pope then
invested the bishop with symbols of his spiritual office.
 The twelfth-century popes were most interested in
strengthening their papal power. The Catholic Church
reached the height of its political power during the
papacy of Pope Innocent III.
He believed the pope was the supreme judge and ruler of
European affairs.
He loved to use the interdict. When people lost the comforts
of religion, they would apply pressure on their ruler to do
whatever it was that the pope wanted.
New Religious Orders
A wave of religious enthusiasm seized Europe in the first half of
the twelfth century and led to a spectacular growth in the
number of monasteries and new orders.
Cistercians – founded by a group of disgruntled Benedictine
monks, 1098. Strict and active.
Women joined in record numbers as nuns.
1200’s • Franciscans founded by Saint Francis of Assisi. Goal was to
abandon material pursuits and preach poverty. Simplicity, joy, and
love attracted followers. They rejected all property and lived by
working and begging by food.
• Dominicans founded by Dominic de Guzman to defend Church
teachings from heresy by living in poverty and preaching effectively.
Inquisition was used to deal with heretics. Confessors
were flogged. After 1252, those who didn’t confess were
tortured. For these people, using force to save souls was
the right thing to do because heresy was a crime against
God, and people’s salvation hung in the balance.
Popular religion
Sacraments were important because it was the means
to receive God’s grace. Since clergy were the only
ones who could give it, that made people dependent
on them.
 Saints were important because they held a special
place in heaven and you could ask favors of them.
 Relics were important and were worshipped because
it was believed that they offered a connection between
the earthly world and God.
 It was believed that pilgrimages to a holy shrine
produced spiritual benefits. Jerusalem was the
greatest site, Rome had relics of Saints Peter and
Paul, and the Spanish town of Santiago de
Compostela where the Apostle James is supposedly
buried, are all important.
The Decline of the Church
The Roman Catholic popes reached the height of their
power in the 1200’s, but then they faced problems.
Kings grew unwilling to accept the papal claims of
supremacy. King Philip IV claimed he could tax the clergy.
Pope Boniface VIII said the clergy needed his permission, so
the king had him arrested. The pope escapes, but dies. So
King Philip gets a Frenchman, Clement V, elected pope.
Popes lost prestige due to Clement living in France and the
splendor in which he lived.
Splitting the papacy wasn’t smart. At risk for their lives,
Rome chose a Italian pope, but France refused him and
chose their own. This divided Europe politically, and ruined
people’s faith in the papacy
These crisis in the catholic Church led to cries for
an end to the clergy’s corruption and the papacy’s
excessive power. By the early 1400’s, the Church
had lost much of its political and spiritual power.
Recap over government
Hammurabi’s Code, the
first written law, talked
about an eye for an eye.
Thanks to invaders, and
several governments that
apparently didn’t work, single
strong rulers took power.
The new government is
called feudalism.
In Greece, they let
everyone vote in a
In Rome (a republic), they
chose representatives to
choose the leader. Don’t
forget the Law of Nations.
Rulers and Leaders of Western
The Germans…
Remember the Visigoths that attacked Rome when it
fell? Well, Visigoths were German, and the Germans
took power.
 The longest lasting German kingdom was the Franks,
ruled by Clovis – he converted to Christianity due to a
plea with Jesus
 Culture:
 Germans and Romans intermarried
 Extended families (unlike American & Roman laws,
crimes were personal instead of against the state)
allowed for blood feuds
• Wergild – wrongdoes pays injured party’s family $$ to
avoid feud
• Ordeal – physical act to determine guilt – the gods
wouldn’t let an innocent person be hurt
 Charles
the Great/ Charlemagne
supported learning. His prompting
renewed interest in Latin culture and
classical works of
Greece and Rome.
Benedictine monks
copied Christian and
classical Latin
manuscripts throughout
the Middle Ages.
 Charles
the Great/ Charlemagne
expanded the Frankish kingdom and
administered the missi dominici to make
sure people followed his orders.
He was crowned emperor of the Romans.
This testifies to the enduring nature of the idea
of the Roman Empire. The coronation also
symbolized the coming together of the
Roman, Christian, and Germanic elements
that forged European
civilization. The spiritual
leader of western
Christendom – the pope –
had crowned a Germanic
king Roman emperor.
The French…
What we know as France today was carved out
of Frankish (Germany) and English lands.
 Hugh Capet was the first French king, but his
power included only the area around Paris.
 The French monarchy’s power grew under King
Philip II Augustus because he took lands away
from England (increase of income and power).
 Philip the Fair expanded the bureaucracy, began
the first French parliament by meeting with
representatives of the three classes (estates).
Germany + France + Italy = Holy
Roman Empire??
Frederick I considered Italy the center of a “holy
empire,” hence the name Holy Roman Empire. He
tried to rule both German and Italian lands, but Italian
cities and the pope unified against him.
 The struggle between popes and emperors had
profound effects on the Holy Roman Empire. With the
emperor gone to war, the German nobles created
many independent states & the German monarch
could not maintain a strong monarchy
The French philosopher Voltaire observed ironically that the Holy
Roman Empire was not holy, Roman, or an empire. What do you
think he meant?
Rulers and Leaders of Eastern
Eastern Europe & the Slavs
Western (Roman
Polish kingdom
Bohemia kingdom
Southern (linked
to Byzantine state)
Croats – Roman
Catholic Church
Serbs – Eastern
Bulgarians –
Eastern Orthodox
 Vikings
arrived for plunder and trade
 Viking leader Oleg created Kiev and as it
grew, it attracted people.
 The Vikings called the native people Rus –
that’s where we got the name Russia.
So here’s a song. What does it have to do
with this unit?
Immigrant Song
Written by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant; Performed by Led Zepplin
Ah, ah…
We come from the land of the ice and snow,
from the midnight sun where the hot springs blow.
The hammer of the gods
Will drive our ships to new lands,
To fight the horde, singing and crying:
Valhalla, I am coming!
On we sweep with threshing oar,
Our only goal will be the western shore.
Ah, ah…
We come from the land of the ice and snow,
from the midnight sun where the hot springs blow.
How soft your fields so green,
Can whisper tales of gore,
Of how we calmed the tides of war.
We are your overlords.
On we sweep with threshing oar,
Our only goal will be the western shore.
So now you’d better stop and rebuild all your ruins,
For peace and trust can win the day
Despite of all your losing.
 Kiev
attracted Byzantine missionaries and
the ruler Vladimir accepted Eastern
Orthodox Christianity for himself and his
people in 988.
 Kiev fell in 1169 due to civil wars and
invasions. Mongols conquered Russia,
and required the princes to pay tribute.
Became emperor of the Eastern Roman
Empire in 527, even though he wanted
to restore the full Roman Empire.
His most important contribution was his
codification of Roman law in the Body
of Civil Law. It became the basis for
much of the legal system of Europe.
He rebuilt Constantinople in 532 after riots had destroyed
most of the city. It was the largest
city in Europe during the Middle
Ages and was the chief center for
trading goods. He also built the
Hagia Sophia.
 Justinian’s
conquests left the Eastern Roman
Empire in serious trouble…
Too much territory far from Constantinople
An empty treasury
Population decline (plague)
Renewed threats along frontier
Islam (unified attack force)
 Justinian’s
empire was stripped down, and the
eastern Balkans and Asia Minor that was left
was called the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The empire expanded due to the trade of its leaders,
the Macedonians.
 The empire fell due to incompetent successors,
internal struggles, the schism between the Eastern
Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church,
and external threats.
 The Seljuk Turks
defeated Byzantine
forces, and Emperor
Alexius I turned to
Europe for help, causing
the Crusades.
The Crusades
From 1000-1200, European Christians went on a
series of military campaigns (we call them the
Crusades) to regain the Holy Land from the
They started when Pope Urban II agree to Alexius
I’s request to help against the Turks (Muslims).
The pope agreed because it would provide papal
At the council of Clermont in 1095, Pope Urban II
urged Christians to take up arms in a holy war.
Fighters joined because:
1) some were moved by the cause
2) others were moved by adventure
3) the prospect of fighting
4) the opportunity to gain territory, riches, or even a title.
 The
First Crusade - An army of several
thousand cavalry and 10,000 infantry took
Jerusalem in 1099, massacring
thousands. Four Latin crusader states
were formed, and
were surrounded by
Muslims. These
kingdoms depended
on supplies from
Europe to survive.
That means Christians
Second Crusade – By the 1140’s, the
Muslims began to strike back. A Latin
state fell, and Saint Bernard of Clairvaux
got King Louis VII (France) and Emperor
Conrad III (Germany) to help in the
Second Crusade. They failed miserably.
 The
Third Crusade – In 1187, Jerusalem
fell to the Muslims under Saladin,
prompting the Third Crusade. Three
Christian rulers wanted to help out:
Emperor Frederick Barbarossa of
Germany, Richard I of England, and Philip
II Augustus of France.
Frederick drowned, Philip went
home and Richard negotiated
an agreement. They did not
win, but pilgrims were allowed
access to Jerusalem.
 The
Fourth Crusade – in 1199, Pope Innocent
III started another crusade. Venetian leaders
used this situation to weaken their largest
competitor, the Byzantine Empire, concerning
trade. They sacked Constantinople in 1204.
The Byzantine army recaptured the city in 1261,
but it was never a superpower again. The
Ottoman Turks then conquer the area in 1453.
 The
 The
two “children crusades” started in
1212 when thousands of German children
petitioned the pope to lead them to the
Holy Land. The pope sent them home.
Twenty thousand French children sailed to
the Holy Land about the same time. Two
ships went down at sea, and the
remainder were sold into slavery in Africa.
People disagree on the effects of the Crusades
They benefitted some Italian cities economically,
but then again, it should have happened anyway.
It was the first widespread European attacks on
the Jews.
Politically, it helped break down feudalism.
 Battle
of Hastings - 1066. France
(William of Normandy) invades England,
and England lost. With this win, came
the improvement of castles and the
dominance of France and their more
sophisticated governments
The Hundred Years’ War
 In
addition to economic crises, plague, and the
decline of the Church, political instability was
also a problem.
 Remember that England still held a little of
continental France. King Philip VI of France
wanted it back, King Edward III of England
didn’t agree, so war was declared in 1337 till
The war began as an explosion of knightly
enthusiasm. (the guys on horses) It was a turning
point in warfare though because peasant foot soldiers
won the chief battles.
 English foot soldiers were armed not only with pikes,
but the longbow, which replaced the crossbow. It
went farther, faster, and more accurately.
 The cannon was made possible by the invention of
English dominance: first major battle at Crecy in
1346 won by English archers. Henry V was eager to
push forward. In 1415 at the Battle of Agincourt,
England won.
French king Charles was convinced that Joan of Arc
was deeply religious and had visions from saints
demanding she free France. Inspired by Joan, France
captured Orleans. She was captured in
1430 and was tried in the
Inquisition for witchcraft. She was
condemned as a heretic and
executed. She still inspired
France, which defeated
England at Normandy and
Aquitaine and won the war
in 1453.
Political Recovery
 The
1300’s European monarchies
experienced many difficulties over
succession and finances. The 1400’s saw
a recovery of the centralized power of
monarchies, however. Some historians
refer to these reestablished states as the
new monarchies. This term applies
especially to France, England, and Spain.
 France
was weak after the Hundred Years
war. The kings used the new national
feeling to reestablish royal power.
 King Louis XI increased the use
of taille – an annual tax on
property or land
 The
Hundred Years War
strained England’s economy.
 War of Roses broke out –
nobles tried to control the monarchy unit
1485, when Henry Tudor (Henry VII)
established a new dynasty.
 Henry VII abolished the nobles’ private
armies, and did not overtax the nobles or
middle class.
Muslims had conquered much of Spain by 725,
even though many Christian rulers had tried to win
it back.
 When Isabella of Castile married Ferdinand of
Aragon in 1469, it was a big step towards unifying
power in Spain.
 They adopted Catholicism,
and in 1492, expelled all
Jews from Spain. Muslims
were “encouraged” to convert to Catholicism. Within
a few years, they too were
The Holy Roman Empire did not develop a strong
monarchical authority. After 1438, the Hapsburg
dynasty held the position of Holy Roman emperor. By
the mid-1400’s century, these wealthy rulers were
playing an important role in Europe.
 Religious differences made it hard for rulers in eastern
Europe to unify their states. In Poland, the nobles
established the right to elect their king, which
weakened the monarchy.
 Gradually the princes of Moscow gained power from
the Mongols. The great prince Ivan III established a
new Russian state. By 1480, he had thrown off the
yoke of the Mongols.
Society and Culture
The Manorial System
Vassals &
Serfs &
Compare the
feudal manor to
the plantation of
the antebellum
South in the
United States.
(social classes)
Lords owned manors and had legal rights
over serfs (their permission was needed to
marry or leave the manor, as well as try
serfs in home courts).
Vassals owed their military allegiance
to their lord in the hope of receiving
land gifts.
Serfs (about 60% of the population) were
legally bound to the land. They would
work the lord’s share and their own share.
They also had to pay to use pasture lands,
fishing ponds and to grind one’s grain.
Serfs were not slaves – their land could
not be taken away, and the lord was
obliged to protect his serfs
Daily Life - farm
Little privacy
Small homes
Life & work were
decided by the season.
 Catholic feast days
broke up work.
 Church was crucial.
 Women worked the fields, had children and managed
the household.
 Diet included dark breads, vegetables, and meat only on
feast days. They drank ale.
What do you think is the most fundamental difference
between life for the medieval peasant and life for the small
farmer in the United States?
•The number of people almost doubled in Europe between 1000
and 1300 because of increased stability and peace enabling
increased food production.
• Food production increased because of a climate change and
more land was cleared for cultivation. Europe had more
farmland in 1200 than it does today. Technological changes like
water and wind power, iron use in axes, hoes, and hammers
helped. The wheeled plow pulled by animals was invented,
along with the horseshoe. The use of a three-field system of
crop rotation helped as well.
The modern-day university is a product of the High
Middle Ages. The word university comes from the
Latin universitas, meaning “corporation” or “guild.”
Medieval universities were guilds that produced
educated and trained individuals.
 First university – Bologna, Italy
 First university in Northern Europe – University of
Paris. Students left this school though, and founded
Oxford, in England.
 Over 80 universities by 1500
 Taught the traditional liberal arts
through lecture – no written exams
 Women did not attend
Theology was the most highly regarded subject at
medieval universities.
 Scholasticism - a philosophical & theological
system. To harmonize Christian teachings with
Greek philosophy
 Greek philosophical ideas of Aristotle (brought by
Muslim and Jewish scholars)
 Saint Thomas Aquinas combined the
knowledge through Scripture with the
knowledge through reason and experience.
His method of investigation first posed a
question, then cited sources offering
opposing opinions and then reconciling
them and arriving at his own conclusions.
 Latin
was the universal language
 By 1100, vernacular writings appeared –
especially Spanish or English
 Most popular – poetry, chanson de geste
(heroic epic describing battles and political
- Originally churches built in Romanesque
style, but later in Gothic style
- Romanesque – stone Roofs, massive
pillars, Little windows, dark, arched
windows & doors
Gothic – replaced barrel vault with ribbed
vaults and pointed arches allowing more
height; flying buttress supported the stone,
allowing bigger windows with stained glass
Daily Life - city
Houses were close to each other with narrow streets.
Fire was a great danger.
In general, the environment was unpleasant
There were baths (like from Rome), but they were
closed due to the plagues of the 1300’s.
There were more men than women.
Cities became important manufacturing centers.
Guilds arose. They set quality standards, specified methods
of production and fixed the prices on goods.
A person who wanted to learn a trade first became an
apprentice at about age 10. They received room and board
but no pay. After about 5-7 years, apprentices became
journeymen and could be paid. To eventually become a
master, a journeymen had to produce a masterpiece and
that piece was also their ticket into the guild.
 Trade
led to the revival of cities. Merchants
began to settle in the old Roman cities.
Artisans followed.
 New cities and towns were also founded.
Merchants built near a castle for trade and the
lord’s protection. Walls were built for
protection. Cities were small.
 The merchants and artisans of these cities later
came to be called the bourgeoisie.
 Towns were tied to lords, and the lords wanted
to treat the townspeople as serfs, but that didn’t
go over. Cities eventually develop their own
governments where patricians usually ruled.
From 1000 to 1100, trade was revived due to fairs
held six times a year, and with it, the growth of cities
became apparent.
In Italy, there was Venice. Venice traded mostly in the
Farther north, Flanders traded woolen cloth in northern
Demand for gold and silver rose. A money economy
arose to replace the pervious barter economy. New
practices of trading companies and banks allowed for
commercial capitalism – an economic system in which
people invest in trade and goods to make profit.
 Don’t forget about the Silk Road
Bubonic Plague
 Fleas,
riding on rats and other furry
animals, traveled from China, along the
Silk Road, to Europe.
 1347-1351
 Many
people believed the plague was a
punishment sent by God for their sins
or was caused by the devil.
The plague led to an outbreak of antiSemitism, with persecution being the worst in
 Some
people thought
the plague was caused
by Jews poisoning their
towns’ wells. So Jews
fled to Poland, where
the king protected them.
 The
death of so many people had
strong economic consequences:
Trade declined (not as many people to buy)
 Price of labor rose (shortage of workers)
 Lowered demand of food (falling prices)
Landlords paid more for labor than they took in
from rent. So serfs and peasants bargained
to pay rent instead of owing services. This
change in effect freed them from serfdom,
which had been declining throughout the High
Middle Ages.
527 – Justinian
becomes emperor of
Eastern Roman Empire
988- Vladimir
accepts Eastern
Christianity for
himself and his
590-604 Pope Gregory I
strengthens the power of
the papacy.
800-900 feudalism
emerges & lasts for
400 years
200’s – Germanic
people move into
Roman territory
987- Capet, the
first French king
500-1000 Early Middle Ages
532- Constantinople
rebuilt by Justinian
By 500, the
Western Roman
Empire was
ruled by
German kings.
Also, Clovis
converts to
725 –
most of
begin ruling
911 Vikings
given Normandy
by Frankish ruler
Mid 800’s Vikings began to
settle areas of Europe
1180-1223 Philip II
Augustus empowers Fr
1169- Kiev, the 1st
Russian state, falls
1066 Battle of
1054- Pope Leo
IX & Patriarch
each other
1095- Pope
Urban II
to take up
arms in a
holy war
1453- end of the
Byzantine Empire;
Ottoman Turks
conquer Byzantine
1337-1453 Hundred
Years War
1305-1377 The Pope
lives in Avignon,
1400’s –
the Church
has lost
most of its
1187- Jerusalem falls to
the Muslims, Second
1000-1300 High Middle Ages
the Crusades;
1081- the end of
Macedonian rule of
Byzantine Empire
1099- Christians
win Jerusalem in
the First Crusade
of Worms
Henry II
power of
monarchy &
sets up jury
1199- Pope Innocent
III starts 4th Crusade
1215 Magna
Carta signed
by King John
1212- the
Europe split
between the
popes of
Rome and
1300’s- Public
baths close due
to plague.
of Arc

Medieval Europe