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Medieval Europe

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Matthew Mastrilli

on 28 January 2014

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Transcript of Medieval Europe

Medieval Europe
Geography
Europe had many natural resources, which
made it a perfect place to live for many people. It had many dense forests around northern Europe that were perfect for lumber, and is surrounded by the ocean, which was used for fishing and large rivers provided a means of transportation. In the central area is a vast, fertile plain that was very good for cultivation, with many rivers running through it, perfect for commerce. The climate is varied, some areas with mild temperatures all year, and some with extreme cold, like the north and south. Many valuable resources came from Europe, like timber, furs, and tin. The rivers in this area were used the same way in ancient Egypt, to provide transportation and a way to trade with other people.

General History
Medieval Europe started in the 5th century and ended around the 15th century. During that time, many things happened. The times of the middle ages came after the fall of Rome, and went from the Early Middle Ages through to the Late Middle Ages. After Rome fell, the continent was taken over by Germanic tribes, who established small independent kingdoms. These kingdoms grew through feudalism, and the Europe grew to become the Middle Ages. Throughout these times, many people ruled, many battles were fought, and many important events happened that sculpted Europe as it is today. Many holy wars were fought, the black death plagued the continent, and great people like Joan of Arc lived to make their marks on the world.
Government
In the Early Middle Ages, people were ruled by an overlord or king, which was a strong royal government called a monarchy. The first ruler of England was William the Conqueror. Henry I was his son, who created a tax system that allowed landowners to pay money instead of providing military service. This allowed him to finance large projects, such as war campaigns. This kind of ruling would not, of course go unopposed, and Henry II faced a rebellion in 1215. This lead to the signing of the Magna Carta that same year. The Magna Carta made sure that the king could not make sudden changes without consent of the people or a court. Although that helped most problems, there were still arguments and fights through out the Middle Ages about how people were ruled over.
Religion
Everyday Life
A person's life in the medieval times depended on their social status and wealth. Many things were privileges that only the wealthy could have in their lives, such as having manors and living in castles. For a lord living in this time, the day would start with a morning mass, followed by breakfast. During the day they would do business, settling complaints, financing, taxes, and weapon practice. Later in the day they wold hunt and inspect their estate. After dinner there could be entertainment, with performers coming in to please the lord. The time to go to bed was determined by when the nobleman retired.
Being a peasant was a different type of day altogether. They got up early, around 3am,had breakfast and went to work in the fields, sowing, plowing, haymaking, threshing, and hedging. The work finished at dusk, and they had dinner. The days were very long.
In medieval life, the family was very important, and the oldest son was vassal to his father. Sons born into peasant families worked as laborers, as well as daughters, who also worked at home. In these families, children were put to work early, doing chores. They didn't receive very much education. The children of nobles, on the other hand, were sent to the household of their lord to learn to be a knight.
Education was not very big within medieval Europe, because there were no schools except the few in the church. Education was later introduced when Charlemagne came into power. Under his direction, monks began copying ancient Greek and Latin manuscripts. Education for women in noble families focused on household skills, like spinning, weaving, embroidery, and medical remedies.
The Arts
The arts were a very important part of medieval history. Art from the Early Middle Ages was called Byzantine Art. Byzantine art was mostly religious art, where they used sombre tones, there were no shadows or perspective, and most people were made to be fron-facing. In the Late Middle Ages, art came to be known as Gothic art. This type of art was brighter, more realistic, used shadows, light, and perspective, and had different themes other that religion. There were many types of art forms, a few being ceramic, mosaic, embroidery, sculptures, and stained glass.
Living Conditions
Entertainment
Social Structure
The Economy
Sometimes called the "age of faith", the middle ages were very religious. Everybody was expected to live according to the rules set down by the Roman Catholic Church. The church had everything: its own laws, courts, and taxes. It also provided education through its schools and looked after the poor and sick. Basically, the church was everywhere. In the Early Middle Ages, they were completely focused on converting non-Christians, and sent missionaries all over Europe to convert non-believers. By the year 1100, almost all of Europe was Christian. The leader of the church was the pope, and any Christian that disobeyed the rules of the church could be faced with excommunication. Christianity basically taught that life on earth was less important than life in heaven, and that all people were equal in the sight of God. Anyone who was a good Christian, no matter what class or gender, could get into heaven.
Law and Justice
Women
In the Middle Ages, women were put in a secondary position. The church taught that women were inferior to men and that they led men to sin. Noblewomen could not be mistresses to their own estates, unless they were widowed, and they could not own a fief. When a woman's husband was away fighting, she was head of the manor. she had to know how to supervise vassals and serfs, do business, collect taxes, and direct the defense of the castle when necessary. There were people there to help her, but she made the final decisions.
For peasant women, they were more equal to their husbands. They were responsible for the children, prepared food, weaved cloth, and did the same work as their husbands. This was very similar to many of the civilizations that came before the Middle Ages. For example, in Ancient Rome, women were expected to stay at home and do housework and take care of the children. They didn't get much education and they couldn't go to war or become powerful.
Living in a castle was not as great as it sounds. In reality, castles were made for protection rather than comfort. Early castles only had two rooms, a lower hall, where affairs were dealt with and an upper private bedroom. There were no windows, and the walls were thick and damp. In the great hall when families ate, they ate with either daggers or their hands, and gave food to the dogs.
In the Late Middle Ages, castles were larger and more comfortable, with multiple rooms and more furnishings. Castles were thought of as homes rather than defenses. Although this sounds better, they still weren't very comfortable. They were very crowded, with not only the lords family but servants, knights, cooks, blacksmiths, brewers, and other workers around. When it was attacked, other people from the countryside would take refuge in it, adding to the crowds.
Noblemen mostly spent their relaxing time hunting, and hawking was a favorite sport among men and women. Along with that, knights spent time participating in tournaments, to keep themselves from fighting in between battles. Noblewomen and noblemen liked viewing these contests, and even peasants were allowed to go to the events. These events included activities like jousting and tournaments. There were many games that rich people and peasants alike liked to play, including chess, backgammon, and knuckle bones, which was an early game of dice. Other than that, a person could go outdoors and play sports. Popular sports included archery, colf (like golf), horseshoes, and wrestling. Other than theses fun events, rich people like to have big feasts entertained by musicians, jesters, and acrobats! The people of the Middle Ages sure knew how to have fun!
The social structure was kept going by feudalism, which meant that the king was at the top, the peasants at the bottom, and lords, lesser lords and knights in between the two. The system was made out of early Germanic tribes, who swore loyalty to a chief and fought for him whenever he required it. The chief then looked after their needs and gave them weapons and horses. Later on, these warriors were named knights, and they became nobility. Paying these knights was very expensive, so they were given land instead of money, called fiefs. These lords would sometimes build up so much land and wealth that they would divide up their land to give to lesser lords, who served them. These lesser lords then gave lands to their own people, and the trend continued down to the lowest knight. The only person who didn’t have a lord was the king. He relied on the highest lords to do his bidding, which made his power very limited, as he relied on them fully. The commoners e]were below the knights, and the peasants were below them. The peasants had to do manual labour for the lords, and in return the lords gave them protection and a place to live. The social structure of this time was very similar to Ancient Egypt, where the pharaoh ruled over everyone else, with warriors, priests, and slaves at the bottom.

In Europe the crops could not be grown year round, as they could be further south. In the Early Middle Ages, the crops that could be grown could barely support the population, but later on production increased because of some inventions that were made. A few of these were the plough, better horseshoes and harnesses, and a crop rotation. The lords that owned the land in each area cleared their lands, so as to grow a lot of food, and farming became an industry. In town, people who owned shops formed guilds to protect and make sure their business was regular. Only master craftspeople could own their own shops. Women formed their own guilds in silk-spinning, weaving, and lace-making, where most people were women.

Not much trade happened during the Early Middle Ages, but later on trade began to come back. Goods were mostly transported on rivers, which were much faster and safer than going over land. Europe traded mostly wool, fur, and skins, which were traded to other nearby civilizations. Local people could trade at fairs, and could earn a lot of money from it. The fairs lasted about a month, as people had to travel long distances to get to the large cities. There was entertainment too, like jugglers, tumblers, and even dancing bears!

In the Middle Ages, justice was given to people by their lords. Most were fines that were used for punishment for specific crimes. Laws were generally made to prevent fights form happening between families. Custom was that a person had the right to be tried in front of equals or peers. Charlemagne was the first to set up a royal court, where royal justices were sent to keep law and order. Most courts were held in the lords hall, and most disputes were minor. If a person was not able to be fined for whatever reason, they could be tried by ordeal, where the person had to go through a horrible task. They might be forced to carry a red-hot poker over a certain distance, or put their own hand into a boiling pot of water. Their hand was bandaged, and if the blisters had festered, they would be guilty. In other trials they could have their hands and legs tied together and get thrown into a pond or river, and if they floated, they were guilty.Not many people liked this way of dealing with things, so Henry II replaced it with people who went around towns to investigate crimes, who were called royal justices. Later on Henry II made the Common Law, which was a recorded book of all the decisions the royal courts had made. These laws were the same for all people in England.

Sciences
There were many sciences used in the middle ages. One of the most important was philosophy. When Aristotle’s works were rediscovered in that time, it started much debate among the Christian scholars. However, people were not allowed to believe in it, or it would be considered heresy, and they may be excommunicated. Many philosophers worked hard to resolve the conflict between faith and philosophy. One scholar, Thomas Aquinas, became one of the most famous religious philosophers, and wrote a huge book called Summa Theologica, which asked questions about the reality of God. The philosophy in the Middle Ages was of course the same as ancient Rome, as the texts studied came from Aristotle. Rome was more philosophical though, because they didn't have a church to hold them back.

By the 9th century, scientific advances had made their way to Europe, but any real advancement in the continent was stopped by the church, and peoples acceptance of what the Bible said. Roger Bacon was one of the few people who used the scientific method, and predicted what was to come in the future. He predicted the invention of engines and their use in cars, and also flying machines and ships. Predictably, the church confronted him, and he was imprisoned for 24 years, long before his methods were accepted.

Alchemy and Tech
Most people didn’t have access to doctors in the medieval times. They mostly relied on folk medicine, which was a combination of superstition, traditional remedies, and Christian beliefs. They prayed to saints for their health, and traveled to holy shrines. Most natural remedies were made from things like roots, herbs, and flower essences, most of which had little effect. Most medieval people believed that if you got sick, it was because of an imbalance in your humours: blood, phlegm, black bile, and yellow bile. This was mostly treated by bleeding out the patient, which they believed would balance out the humours, but in reality, it probably made them worse, due to dirty surgical equipment and infection.

Alchemy was a popular science during those times, with scientists wanted to turn lead into gold, and to find the “elixir of life”. Nobody actually succeeded in doing any of these things, but these trials led to the making of chemistry and medicine.

Many things were invented during the Middle Ages, such as the windmill, the water-wheel, and the mechanical clock.
Medicine,
In the Middle Ages, justice was given to people by their lords. Most were fines that were used for punishment for specific crimes. Laws were generally made to prevent fights form happening between families. Custom was that a person had the right to be tried in front of equals or peers. Charlemagne was the first to set up a royal court, where royal justices were sent to keep law and order. Most courts were held in the lords hall, and most disputes were minor. If a person was not able to be fined for whatever reason, they could be tried by ordeal, where the person had to go through a horrible task. They might be forced to carry a red-hot poker over a certain distance, or put their own hand into a boiling pot of water. Their hand was bandaged, and if the blisters had festered, they would be guilty. In other trials they could have their hands and legs tied together and get thrown into a pond or river, and if they floated, they were guilty.Not many people liked this way of dealing with things, so Henry II replaced it with people who went around towns to investigate crimes, who were called royal justices. Later on Henry II made the Common Law, which was a recorded book of all the decisions the royal courts had made. These laws were the same for all people in England.

Byzantine Art
Gothic Stained Glass Art
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