Explore Medieval Europe

By Ally Behrens

Feudalism

During the times of Medieval Europe feudalism was the type of government put in place. Feudalism is a system of government based around exchanging land for service or labor. Within the government there were many feudal roles such as serfs, knights, lords, vassals, and kings. The feudal system gave every citizen a role in which they had to fulfill in order to keep the government running smoothly, while still allowing the upper class to control the lower class.

The Manor System

The manor system was the relationship and roles that Lords and Serfs shared with each other. The manor was the lord's estate. On the manor the serfs were obligated to tend the land, care for the Lord's animals, and maintain the estate. The Lord was also responsible for providing the serfs with housing, farmland, and protection. The manor system was considered self sufficient because the serfs raised and produced nearly everything necessary for daily life that the Lords needed.

Knights during Medieval Times

Knights had many roles during the Medieval Times. Knights offered protection and loyalty to a Lord in exchange for land. Knights primary role was to be a mounted solider that lived and fought for God and followed the code of chivalry. Eventually knights would decline as a fighting force because of new technology like the crossbow that could easily be used and could pierce the armor of knights. Knights then became less and less of a force.

Feudal Warfare

During feudal warfare the castle was one of the most important structures. Castles had very high walls and many steel doors that were guarded with men which made it very hard for raiders to enter the castle. The castle also had a drawbridge that could be raised or lowered at any time. Trebuchets, hot substances, and archers were all used to stop the enemy from invading. Attackers would try to get over the walls by using scaling ladders and used battering rams to breach walls.

Role of Catholic Church

During Medieval Europe the church is the single thing that brought all citizens together. The church guided citizens through life by providing sacraments like baptism and confirmation. Religion and politics went hand in hand during this time. The Pope was the head of the church while the king was the ruler, but the pope could threaten kings with interdict or excommunication. After the Pope came the clergy, which were bishops, priests, and cardinals. The church and the king united as a powerful force during this time.

Problems Facing the Catholic Church

There were many problems that the Catholic Church was up against. Priests had questionable morals and many officials became more concerned with land then their religious duties. Simony or the selling of positions within the church also became an issue. The Great Schism which split the church and allowed 3 popes to be in control at once, and the plague that forced the clergy to leave were huge external issues that would lead to the decline of power in the church.

The Crusades

The goal of the crusades was to get Jerusalem and the Holy land back to unite Europe. Pope Urban II called for a holy war against the Muslim Turks. Although the Pope may have had good intentions calling for the crusades, after nothing was really accomplished the Pope would take the all the blame. Because of that, the Popes power would decline as well as the Byzantine Empire and the King's power would increase. Trade would also increase between Europe and the Middle East and technology would improve.

Limiting the King's Power

For a long time in Europe one king had held all the power and had the right to make any decisions he wanted without any consequences. Citizens started to get fed up with harsh rulers such as King John, who raised taxes to an all time high and alienated the church. So the Magna Carta was created to protect the basic rights of citizens and limit the King's power. After this was put in place citizens would never go back to the way they were ruled before.

Hundred Years War

The Hundred Years War began because a French King dies without a successor and Edward III who has French blood claims the throne of England and France. The fight between the English and French would last for 100 years with the French winning. For France the war would cost lives and money, but would ultimately strengthen the power and prestige of the French King. England would suffer some turmoil while the English Parliament would gain power. The concept of nationalism began to flourish for both sides after the war.