Covering the Dark Ages
Were the "Dark Ages" Truly "Dark?" Were the "Middle Ages" Really the "Middle?"
The Early Middle Ages
Key events from the early Middle Ages
Layers of Medieval Society
The king granted the noblemen and bishops land and the land was farmed by serfs who were allowed to live there and to be protected in case of enemy invasion in return for part of the crop.
Charlemagne- "Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire"
The Frankish king Charlemagne was considered the "Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire" (his realm.) He was the first to rule a large realm since the fall of the Roman Empire 300+ years earlier.
Layers of Medieval Society
Catholic Church in the Middle Ages
*Kings, queens & other leaders derived their power from alliances with and protection from the Church.
*In 800 c.e. Pope Leo III called the Frankish king, Charlemagne, the "Emperor of the Romans"--the 1st since the fall of Rome 300+ years earlier.
*Charlemagne's realm became the "Holy Roman Empire," one of several political entities in Europe whose interests aligned with the Church.
*"Normal people" had to tithe 10% of their annual earnings to the Church. But the Church was mostly exempt from taxation. As a result the Church amassed a great deal of money and power.
Islam in the Middle Ages
Cities like Cairo, Baghdad and Damascus fostered a lively intellectual and cultural life in cities with poets, scientists and philosophers making many scholarly advances. Thousands of books were translated on paper (a Chinese invention in the 8th century) from Greek, Iranian and Indian into Arabic. Religious scholars interpreted and taught the Quran to people across the Middle East.
In 1095 Pope Urban summoned Charlemagne to go to Jerusalem to expel the "infidels" and the Crusades lasted until the end of the 15th century. No one "won" the Crusades--1000s on both sides died.
Results of the Crusades include a unifying effect upon Catholics throughout Europe, making them feel a sense of common purpose when they might have been alienated against the Church. Also the Crusades exposed Europeans to Islamic literature, science and technology, an exposure that would change Europe's intellectual life for good.
The Crusades expanded trade routes to the East and gave Europeans a taste of imported goods like wine, olive oil and luxurious textiles.
Art and Architecture in the Middle Ages
*10th-13th Centuries: Cathedrals built in Romanesque style.
*1200: Gothic style cathedrals became in vogue with frescoes, mosaics, and even books that were works of art with gilt edges and colorful illustrations (before the printing press in 1486.)
Economics and Society in the Middle Ages
*The king granted land to noblemen and bishops. Landless peasants called serfs did most of the work, planting and harvesting crops. The serfs gave most of the produce to the landowner. In return the serfs were allowed to live on the land and were promised protection in case of enemy invasion.
*In the 11th century feudal life began to change with the advent of agricultural innovations like heavy plows and three-field crop rotation. Fewer farm workers were needed, so people flocked to the cities. Increased and improved food supply led to population growth.
*Because of the increase in trade with the East, a commercial economy developed and port cities thrived. By 1300 at least 15 port cities in Europe had populations of 50,000+.