Causes of the Middle Ages

The Three Main Causes

What are the Middle Ages?

The Middle Ages is a time period from 500-1500. The Fall and Invasion of Rome led to the people of Rome living in fear of invaders for a thousand years. However, the Spread of Christianity brought hope and ended the Middle Ages. In the Middle Ages, there was a definite structure in society. You were born into a class of people and generally stayed in that class for your entire life. Working hard did not change your status. Your clothing, food, marriage, homes, etc., were determined for you. After the rank of king, the hierarchy was the nobles, the knights, the clergy (religious people), the tradesmen and the peasants.One of the most unifying elements of the Middle Ages was the Roman Catholic Church. All classes and ranks of people — nobles, peasants and tradesmen — were profoundly affected by the rulings of the church.The clergy were the religious people of the Middle Ages. Following the pope, in order of rank, there were bishops, priests, monks and nuns.

First Cause: Fall of Rome (Internal Threats)

The Roman Empire had been in place for over 800 years. However, internal threats of the empire's demise were increasing.

  • Public Health:
  • There were many public health and environmental problems. Many of the wealthy had water brought to their homes through lead pipes. The wealthy death rate was very high. The continuous interaction of people at the Colosseum, the blood and death probable spread disease. Those who lived on the streets in continuous contact allowed for an uninterrupted strain of disease much like the homeless in the poorer run shelters of today.
  • Political Corruption:

    One of the most difficult problems was choosing a new emperor.the Romans never created an effective system to determine how new emperors would be selected. in 186 A. D. the army strangled the new emperor, the practice began of selling the throne to the highest bidder. During the next 100 years, Rome had 37 different emperors - 25 of whom were removed from office by assassination. This contributed to the overall weaknesses, decline and fall of the empire.

  • Unemployment:

    During the latter years of the empire farming was done on large estates called latifundia that were owned by wealthy men who used slave labor. A farmer who had to pay workmen could not produce goods as cheaply. Many farmers could not compete with these low prices and lost or sold their farms.

  • Inflation:
  • The Roman economy suffered from inflation (an increase in prices) beginning after the reign of Marcus Aurelius. Once the Romans stopped conquering new lands, the flow of gold into the Roman economy decreased. Yet much gold was being spent by the Romans to pay for luxury items.
  • Urban Decay:

    The upper apartments that the poor rented for $40 a year were hot, dirty, crowed, and dangerous. Anyone who could not pay the rent was forced to move out and live on the crime-infested streets. Because of this cities began to decay.

  • Inferior Technology:

    But since the Romans relied so much on human and animal labor, they failed to invent many new machines or find new technology to produce goods more efficiently. They could not provide enough goods for their growing population.

  • Military Spending:

    Maintaining an army to defend the border of the Empire from barbarian attacks was a constant drain on the government. Military spending left few resources for other vital activities, such as providing public housing and maintaining quality roads and aqueducts. Frustrated Romans lost their desire to defend the Empire.

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The photo above shows how the lead poison led to deaths of the common people, as well as the royals.

Second Cause: Invasion of Rome (The Vikings)

Vikings called themselves Norsemen, “Men from the North”. They were known to pillage, plunder and raid. They were polytheistic. They were the best at sailing. A few facts about the Vikings are:

  1. Raided monastery in 793

  2. Used longships with sails, oars and dragon’s head

  3. Polytheistic (prayed to Thor)

  4. Supplied three English kings

  5. Settled in Normandy and Dublin

  6. Drinking mead

  7. Wear bear fur

  8. Burned ships with their dead bodies

All the invaders of Rome, including the Vikings, were called 'Barbarians'. They were portrayed as ruthless and merciless; as shown in the picture.

Third Cause: The Birth and Spread of Christianity

Rome Empire was polytheistic. They allowed those they conquered to practice their own religion if they accept Roman Gods. E.g; Jupiter, Neptune, Venus, Apollo etc (they just renamed Greek Gods, like Neptune was Poseidon). Jesus was born in a Jewish family, and he began to preach God offered Eternal life (life after death). He taught to help poor people. Rome leaders thought this would lead to another revolt, so they wanted him dead. Jesus is crucified by the age of 32. He was buried on Good Friday, but three days later on Sunday, his tomb was open and he is gone - it was Resurrection (Easter). People who believed he was the Messiah (the promised deliverer of the Jewish nation prophesied in the Hebrew Bible. “God’s appointed one”.) His first twelve followers were called his Apostles or Disciples. The two groups who faced discrimination and persecution were Jews and Christians because they didn’t follow the Roman Gods. But in a turn of events, the Emperor Constantine became Christian and was baptized. Emperor Constantine divided the Roman Empire, he is important because he became Christian and forced Christianity on the Romans. The Empire was divided into Eastern Roman Empire and Western Roman Empire. The capital of West is Rome and capital of East is Constantinople. Christianity provided hope to the people during the Dark Ages. Rome lasts for 250 years and becomes a Christian society, and people forget polytheism.

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