Wednesday, October 1, 2014

HWH Notes 10-1-14

The Early Middle Ages

Ø Rome had unified western Europe and spread classical ideas; Example: the Latin Language and Christianity

Ø With the collapse of Rome; Western Europe entered a period of political, social, and economic decline

Ø Period of 500 to 1500 referred to as Dark Ages, which saw the following:

a) Politically divided

b) Rural and cut off from the advanced civilizations of the Middle East, China, and India

c)  Waves of intruders

d) Trade slowed to a trickle

e)  Towns and villages emptied as people spread out to find resources and to survive

f)    Classical learning disappeared (kept alive by Muslim scholars)

ü Blending of Greco-Roman, Germanic, and Christian traditions developed into a Medieval Civilization

Germanic Kingdoms

ü Goths, Vandals, Saxons, and Franks conquered parts of the Roman Empire

ü These groups were mostly farmers and herders

ü No cities or written laws

ü Governed by unwritten customs

ü Kings elected by tribal councils

ü Warriors swore loyalty to the king in exchange for weapons and part of the plunder as rewards



·       486 – Clovis, King of the Franks, conquered the old Roman area of Gaul

·       Clovis converted to Christianity and gained an ally in the Roman Pope

·       At the same time – Islam was spreading towards Europe

·       Islam began on the Arabian Peninsula in the 600s

·       Overran Christian lands from Palestine to North Africa to Spain; this alarmed the Christian Kingdoms of Europe and the Roman Pope

·       Muslim army spread until it tried to cross France

·       Charles Martel – the son of Clovis – rallied Frankish warriors

·       732 – Martel led his army against the Muslims at the Battle of Tours and won; the Christians had stopped the Muslims and would hold them to the south in Spain, where they were called Moors

·       768 – Martel’s grandson, Charlemagne or Charles or Charles the Great, briefly united Western Europe during a time called the Age of Charlemagne – his empire included France, Germany, and parts of Italy


Age of Charlemagne

v Charlemagne ruled for 46 years

v There was no idea of separation of Religion and Politics

v 799 – Pope Leo III asked Charlemagne for help against aggressive nobles in Rome who were rebelling

v Charlemagne had the nobles arrested and gained an alliance with the Pope

v 800 – on Christmas Day – Pope Leo crowned Charlemagne as Emperor of the Romans

v Pope had revived the idea of a united Christian community, which came to be called Christendom

v Popes could now break or make an emperor

v This outraged the emperor of  eastern Rome in Constantinople, who saw himself as the sole Roman ruler

v This deepened the divide between eastern and western world

v Charlemagne tried to unite Christian Europe

v The spread of Christianity to those on the fringes of his power by sending out missionaries to convert the Saxons and the Slavs

v He appointed powerful nobles to rule local regions

v Sent out officials called missi dominici – to check on roads, listen to grievances, and see that justice was done; they were instructed to “administer the law fully and justly in the case of the holy church of God and of the poor, of wards and of widows, and of the whole people.”

v Charlemagne regarded education as a way to unite his kingdom; history tells us that Charlemagne could read but  could not write

v Saw the need to accurate record keeping and reports

v Latin was spread and encouraged in local schools

v Wanted to revive the glory of Rome at his capital at Aachen

v Established a Palace School where he, his family, nobles and the children of the nobles attended school

v This became the curriculum of Medieval Europe

Charlemagne died in 814

His throne was inherited by his son, Louis I, or as he was known – Louis the Pious

Louis was a weak ruler and his three sons quickly took over

843 – the three grandsons of Charlemagne signed the Treaty of Verdun that divided the empire into three regions

The Legacy of Charlemagne:

Extended Christian civilization into Northern Europe

Furthered the blending of German, Roman, and Christian Traditions

Set up the concept of a strong, efficient government

The Invaders

By the 800s, the Muslims had taken Sicily

900s – the power struggle in the Middle East caused Muslim attacks in Europe to subside

Ca. 900 – Magyars- a nomadic people settled in present day place of Hungary and they plundered Europe until 950 when they pushed back to the Hungary area

Vikings – from Scandinavia, made of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark – made of independent farmers who were ruled by Chieftains; master sailors; attacked in the late 700s – looting and burning communities along the coast and the rivers of Europe; they were experienced sailors who sailed the Mediterranean Sea and even to North American, where they temporarily established a colony there; they eventually settled in areas and mixed with the local population

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