During the years 850 to 950 a new system of governing had emerged. This was called feudalism. The feudal system was based on rights and obligations. The feudal system consisted of four roles. On the top was the lord who granted land called a fief to a vassal which in return, the vassal would provide military protection and other services. Under the vassals were the knights who pledged to defend their lords' lands in exchange for fiefs. At the base of the pyramid were the peasants (serfs).
The Manor System
In medieval times the lord's estate was called the manor. The manor system was the basic economic arrangement which rested on a set of rights and obligations between a lord and his serfs. The serfs would tend the lord's land, care for his animals, and executed other tasks to maintain the estate. In return the lord would give the serfs housing, farmland, and protection from bandits.
The role of knights in feudal times was to defend the lord's land in exchange for fiefs. Wealth from these fiefs allowed knights to devote their lives to war. They could afford to buy weapons, armor, and warhorses. The lord would typically demanded 40 days of combat per year. Knights' leisure time revolved around training for war. They would hunt and wrestle which helped them gain strength and practice important skills on the battlefield. In society the ideal knight would be loyal, brave, and courteous.
Warfare Strategy and Technology
Defending a castle was based on the architectural build of the structure. The site of the castle was chosen in consideration. The builders mainly looked for higher land which made defending the castle simpler. The castle would be built with many different sections. The attacker had to get through a series of defenses before reaching the inner sanctum of the castle. Moats were placed around castles which had the option to be filled with wooden stakes or water. A thick outer wall, called a curtain wall, would surround the whole castle complex. There were also various other walls in the inner complex to let the defenders have a clear view of the attackers. There were heavy gateways in the inner complex to seal off different sections of the castle which made it harder for attackers to pass through and it gave time for the defenders to attack. There were also narrow holes in some walls for the defenders to shoot arrows at the attackers.
The role of the Catholic Church was to influence both spiritual and political matters. The Church had its own organization in which power was based on status. The structure consisted of different ranks of clergy. All clergy, bishops and priests, fell under the power of the Roman Pope. Bishops would supervise the lowest ranking members of the clergy, the priests. Bishops also settled disputes over Church teachings and practices. Priests served as the main contact with the church. Feudalism and the manor system created divisions among people. However, the shared beliefs in the teachings of the Church bonded people together. The Church would provide a sense of security and belonging to a religious community. The Church created a system of justice to guide people. All medieval Christians, kings, and peasants, had to follow the canon law, church laws. (marriage and religious practices).
Problems Facing the Catholic Church
During medieval times the Church suffered many problems socially, religiously, and politically. Socially, the Popes and clergy of the church had questionable morals and would get married and start families which would decrease their devotion towards the Church. Politically, simony became present. Simony is the selling of positions with in the Church. Also, the officials of the church were more concerned about land rather than their duties. Religiously, prayers were unable to be read because majority of the prayers were in Latin.
The main cause of the Crusades was Pope Urban ll. Pope Urban ll issued a holy war, a Crusade, against the Muslim Turks to gain control of the Holy Land. Over a 300 year time span many Crusades were launched. Some results of the Crusades were the Byzantine Empire weakened, Muslims began to distrust Christians, and most importantly trade increases between Europe and middle east.
England first started off with having a king as their absolute ruler. Henry ll was succeeded first by his son, Richard the LionHearted. However, once Richard died his younger brother John took over. John failed as a military leader and he lost Normandy and all his land in northern France. This drew attention to some of John's nobles. His nobles drew up the Magna Carta giving basic legal rights to every citizen. Next, under the reign of King Edward l, two burgesses would be summoned to serve as a parliament, or legislative group. These selected served as models for the later kings.
Hundred Year's War
The main cause of the Hundred Year's War was when Capetian, a french king, died without a successor. King Edward ll, from England, claimed the throne and thought he could rule both England and France. The war effected both France and England. France lost lives, property, and money. It also raised power and prestige of the French monarch. England suffered from internal turmoil, and the English Parliament was strengthened. Both gained a sense of nationalism, or pride and devotion to their nation.