Culture of Middle Ages

Claudia Flores and Anna Peterson

High Middle Ages

Education reached a high and new point during this time. The first universities were established, providing the teachers, administration, lawyers, and medical doctors. Lessons in these universities were given as lectures because books were expensive. Professors would often give a shortened version of the text and add their own explanation. After these teachings a student wasn't required to take a test on the subject, unless they had applied for a degree. An oral test would be given to those who wished to attain a degree, but only after four to six years of study. The first degree earned was a bachelor in arts and after a masters of arts was obtained. After the completion of the liberal arts curriculum, one could go on to study law, medicine, or theology. When one of those areas was passed, one once granted a doctor degree. Although they were able to teach at that point, most chose to pursue other careers.

Development of Scholasticism

The attempt to reconcile faith and reason, harmonizing Christian teachings with the works of Greek philosophers. During the twelfth century western Europe was introduced to the works of Aristotle's work. His work upset many Christian theologians because many of his conclusions contradicted the teaching of the Church. In the thirteenth century the most recognized attempt to reconcile Aristotle with the doctrines of Christianity was done by Saint Thomas Aquinas. He is well known for his Summa Theologica. It was organized using the logical method of intellectual investigation used by scholars.

Vernacular Literature

At this time Latin was the universal, but by the twelfth century new dialects were introduced (Spanish, French, English, and German.) Troubadour poetry had become very popular. Jaufre Rudel was among the most recognized writers of this time, he is renowned for the development of "love from afar" theme in his songs. The works written during this time period often were chanson de geste (heroic epic). Song of Roland is one of the most admired heroic poems. It is based on the Battle of Roncesvalles. At this time women had yet to be an vital role in everyday activities. Even in plays they had no role or a small one, men filled the majority of the roles.
A small snipet of Rudel's work.

Architechture

An explosion of buildings occurred in medieval Europe, especially churches. Cathedrals were built in the Romanesque style. They were typically built in the basilica shape towards the late years of the Roman Empire. They were rectangular buildings with flat wooden roofs, the flat wooden roof was replaced with long round arched structure vault by Romanesque builders, Although they were difficult to create, they were much more beautiful than the flat roofs. Large pillars and walls were used to hold up the stone roofs, as they were excruciatingly heavy. This caused there to be little to no room for windows, resulting in dark churches on the inside.


A new style was introduced in the twelfth century and perfected in the thirteen century, Gothic. The Gothic cathedral remains, to this day, as one of the greatest artistic achievements from the High Middle Ages. It was made possible thanks to two very basic, but efficient innovations. One was the replacement of the round barrel from the Romanesque churches with ribbed vaults and pointed arches. This made it possible for Gothic churches to be built higher than the Romanesque churches. The new innovation also made it appear as if the church was in an upward motion, reaching up to God, The second innovation, and possibly more important, was the use of flying buttress. The flying buttress eliminated the need of the heavy walls used in the Romanesque churches. The Gothic churches were built with relatively thin walls, for the time period. Therefore they were filled with beautiful stained glass windows that contained religious and everyday scenes. These new windows allowed natural light in, which is believed to be a symbol of the divine light of God. The Gothic cathedral soaring towards Heaven and God was witness to a time when nearly everyone believed in a spiritual world.

Clothing

Throughout the middle ages, the clothing the person wore depended on their standing on the social ladder. The peasants wore simple clothing, with little detail. While nobility wore garments that had lots of detail and attractions on the sleeved. Women's clothing consisted of tunics landing on their ankles called kirtles. Married women, and some who weren't, wore tight fitting caps over their hair that was often worn in a bun. Men of this time period wore long lose fitting tunics with an undershirt and briefs covered by a jacket and another tunic.
3 culture of the Middle Ages and Renaissance

Festivities

The celebrations of the middle ages revolved around feasts. Two holidays we know today were Easter and Christmas. They both involved the exchange of gifts. The grandest of feasts was a two week period from Christmas Eve to January 6th, this was the longest vacation workers took. The Lord often provided the servants with food, clothing, drinks, and firewood. On New Year's the first gifts of the year were also given.

Essential Questions

How does education change a society?

How did the culture of the middle ages affect the world we live in today?