Medieval Europe Notes

Medieval Europe

  1. Legacy of Rome
    1. Large road systems that connect the empire
    2. Legal
      1. Written law
      2. Specific law code that governs all members of the empire
    3. Architecture
    4. City Plan
    5. Centralized government
  2. Fall of Rome (approx 400-476)
    1. Roman Empire is split into East (Byzantine) and West (Rome)
    2. Migrating Germanic Tribes (336- approx. 700)
      1. Anglos, Saxons, Goths, Vandals, Franks, etc.
      2. Unknown why they move south/West
      3. Some were former/current members of Rome’s army
      4. Huns pushing west from Asia
    3. Why Rome falls (Sept. 4, 476)
      1. Extremely weak leadership
      2. No centralized power
      3. Much of military made of barbarians
      4. Powerful barbarian warriors
      5. Defending for about 100-150 years
  3. Migration of Germanic Peoples (336- approx. 700)
    1. Structure
      1. Tribes led by chieftains/kings
      2. Rank based on fighting prowess
      3. Not bound to borders, territories based on region and people
      4. Successful economy based on invading other groups
        1. Plunder, raid, bribe for supplies, gold, and people
    2. Law system
      1. Members of a tribe are bound by the law of the tribe
      2. Unwritten
    3. Culture
      1. Writing
        1. Pre-rome invasion- Mostly unwritten language
        2. Post-rome invasion- used latin alphabet to write language
      2. Unified closely by one’s tribe
      3. War oriented
      4. Migratory
  4. Feudalism
    1. System of granting land to lower Lords in order to farm and cultivate, in return for a tax
    2. The King owns all of the land
      1. He then give fiefs (land grants) to his vassals (lords)
        1. The vassals farm the land
        2. The vassals serve as the king’s knights
          1. The vassal may appoint his own vassals to serve as knights
        3. Vassals rent out their land to peasants- farm the land for a price
          1. Serfs- peasants who are bound to the land for life
  5. Life in Medieval Europe
    1. Development of Town life
      1. Lifestyles revolved around the town
      2. Life based on order and structure
      3. Home to merchants and craftsmen
        1. Farmers lived outside the town on their farms
      4. Governed by a feudal lord
      5. Taxes to support the town
      6. Guilds
        1. Organization of people in a skilled craft or trade (mysterium)
        2. Controlled rates and quality of crafts
        3. Work done by masters and apprentices
          1. Apprentices studied under masters for at least 7 yrs until capable
      7. Growth of Trade Towns
        1. Primary economy was trade or banking
          1. Venice, Florence
        2. Traded goods between towns or East and West
        3. Towns known for producing specific high quality goods
      8. Homes
        1. Mostly built of wood and plaster
        2. Poor
          1. Lived in cramped homes with few rooms
          2. Dark and damp
        3. Wealthy
          1. More spacious
          2. Gardens
        4. Warmed by fireplaces
        5. Cooled by windows
      9. Health and hygiene
        1. Towns very dirty
          1. No system of trash or human waste disposal
          2. No running water
        2. Little understanding of hygiene
          1. Some thought bad smells spread disease
        3. Use of herbs for medicines
        4. Bleeding
        5. Mass spreads of plagues
      10. Leisure
        1. Games, cards
        2. Mystery Cycle plays
        3. Fights (jousting, swordplay, throwing spears…)

  1. Rise and Fall of Feudalism
    1. Frankish Kingdom (Merovingians and Carolingian 486-987)
      1. Clovis
        1. First Frankish king and defeats the Gauls
        2. Converts to Christianity in 496
          1. Secures the support of the Church
      2. Charles Martel
        1. Defeats Muslims at the battle of Tours in 732
          1. Prevents Islamic spread into Europe
      3. Charlemagne (768-814)
        1. Stately, tall, dignified, respected, and good leader
  1. The pioneer of the European Knight and feudal system
  2. Promoted education, culture, and chivalry
  3. Military Leadership
    1. Defeated Muslims from invading Europe at Roncesvalles in 778
    2. Unite most of W. Europe (France , Germany, Switz)
  4. In 800 crowned Holy Roman Emperor
  5. England
    1. Frequent invasions of Normans (787-954)
      1. During this time England develops feudal governments to defend
      2. Eventually they consolidate power under a single king
    2. Legal Reform
      1. Henry II- Common law
        1. All people, even the king, are subject to the law
        2. Pushed for trial by jury
        3. Disputes with Bishop Thomas Becket over trial of clergy
          1. Leads to assassination and martyrdom of Becket
      2. John I- Magna Carta
        1. Lost territory in Normandy (France)
        2. Demanded huge taxes from lords and peasants
        3. In 1215 his lords demand he approve Magna Carta
          1. A system of laws that protects the nobles and limits the power of the king
          2. Habeas Corpus- can’t be jailed without charge of a crime
      3. Edward I- Model Parliament
        1. A body of nobles and commoners who assist in law making and advising
  6. Bubonic Plague and the Great Famine
    1. Famine 1315-1321
      1. The Little Ice Age lead to a 25% decrease in food production
      2. Caused mass starvation