The Middle Ages

Europe 400-1400 AD

Feudalism & Manorialism

Feudalism first came about in Europe in France and Germany in the 9th and 10th century. Then it spread to Europe. Feudalism in Europe is when nobles give soldiers or knights land in exchange for military services. Peasants and serfs also had to live on the king's land and work in exchange for military protection. All of the people involved in a feudal system lived on a manor. Feudalism lasted in Europe until the 15th century.

Manorialism was another system of life in Europe. It was an element of the feudal society. It is the was that people are organized in a manor. Each person has a job. Jobs consisted of

blacksmiths, tailors, farmers, and maids.


A monarch is a "sovereign head of state". In medieval Europe this means a king. The kings have power over everyone in what they do, what laws they follow, basically how they live their lives. Kings inherited their power through their family. So if your father was king, eventually you will be king. Someone such as a peasant or the son/daughter of a peasant could not become a king.

Catholic Church

In the Middle Ages, people's lives revolved around the Roman Catholic Church. From 590 to 1517, the church was dominant in Europe. Whenever something went wrong, such as the Black Plague, people looked to the church. Since the church was the center of their lives, they also blamed the church for bad things. The pope is the head of the church, as well as the caste system. The pope can excommunicate someone from the church, which basically means to banish them. The pope can excommunicate a king, although the king still has more power than the pope.

Bubonic Plague (Black Death)

The Black Death was an epidemic that swept through Europe from 1346-1353. About 75 to 200 million people died from this disease. It originated from fleas. The fleas bit rats, so then rats and fleas both were spreading the disease. The Black Death came from South East Asia through trade. Silk was a huge import that Europe got from Asia, so fleas were on the silk and other products from there. Then ships were unloaded (carrying products) and the spreading begins. People did not know of germs or cleanliness at that time, so it spread from person to person easily. Symptoms include excessive sneezing, high fever, infected places on the body, skin turning black, and death. It took 5 hours to 2 days for someone to die from the plague. Eventually, 2/3 of Europe's population is dead. This causes the manor system and many other things to collapse.


The Crusades was a war between the Christians and Muslims for the Holy Land(Jerusalem). The first crusade started in 1095 when Pope Urban II told the Christians to take back the Holy Land. The Christians won the first crusade. There were seven major crusades, including the Children's Crusade. This is when thousands of children marched to the Holy Land, but only a handful actually made it there. Many ended up dying before getting there. In the end, the Holy Land ended up in the same hands it started with; the Muslims. This was thanks to many great Muslim leaders such as Saladin who led the Muslims to victory in the third crusade.


Knights were a major part of the European Feudal Society. Knights served their lord in wars in exchange for land. Knights also had to follow their code of honor called "Chivalry". Knights were like the Samurai of the Middle Ages. They were very educated with weapons such as swords, and riding horses. Knights also had jousting tournaments. Jousting is when two people ride on horses at each other and try to knock the other off with a pole. Although, this sometimes resulted in injury. Knights played a great role in how we see Medieval Europe today.

Popes & Kings

Popes and kings did not always get along. Popes are at the top of the caste system along with the church. Around 100, Pope Gregory VII excommunicated King Henry IV from the church. To be excommunicated means to be banished or banned from the church. Pope Gregory VII did this because King Henry tested his power. Pope Gregory later decided to let King Henry back into the church. As you can see, popes and kings did not always coexist very well.

Spanish Inquisition

The Spanish Inquisiton was a time devoted to purifying Spain of Non-Catholic people. It lasted from 1478 to 1834. These non believers were also called Heretics. Heretics were mainly Jews and Muslims. King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella told all the heretics that they had to either convert to Catholic religion or leave Spain. If they did neither, they would be killed. Torture devices such as the rack were introduced at this time. The purpose of using torture was to get Heretics to give the location of all other Heretics. In the end, the goal was accomplished. Spain was "purified" of all Heretics for the time being.


Many advancements and inventions were made in the Middle Ages. One main invention was the cannon. Gunpowder was also adopted by Europe at this time. Glasses, vertical windmills, and mechanical clocks were all invented. Water mills were impropved, which helped out in the Manor System. Gothic architecture was also invented. This type of architecture is still used today. When you think of castles, you think of them made of stone with moats and big towers. Those castles were built in the Middle Ages. These things have really effected our world today and how we look at Medieval Europe.

Growth of Cities

Many cities in the Middle Ages became popular because of trade. To be able to trade you have to be in a good position. You need to be near the water. This is because many trade routes were along the water, such as the Mediterranean Sea. Cities such as Genoa, Naples, and Pisa are located along the coast of Italy. They could export products to Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica by the Tyrrhenian Sea. Most of the major cites were relatively close to each other so they could also travel by land to each other also. The cities' population also grew because goods were being produced in these cities. This makes job opportunities available, so more people move there.