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Western Europe: Civilization's "Late Bloomer

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David Trachtman

on 17 December 2014

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Transcript of Western Europe: Civilization's "Late Bloomer

Western Europe: Civilization's "Late Bloomer"
How it Came Together
550-900: European division would be the single largest problem that all others stem from
-Rome was the center of Catholic Church (most powerful group)
-Italy divided politically
-Spain was Muslim territory, vibrant intellectual and economic life, would remain isolated from the rest of the West until much later on

Where is the center then? France, Low Countries (Flanders, Holland, Luxembourg), southern and western Germany, with England as time got on.

What kept the West Weak?

IMPORTANT: Most cultures are still on subsistence agriculture, intellectual life is in decline
-Literate peoples were kept in hierarchy and church, but that was just copying old texts, mostly Christian Roman thinkers
-Couldn’t understand most of the philosophy
-Apologized for inability to write good latin
Pop Religion
- Raoul de Cambrai, hero of a French epic burns down a convent filled with nuns and asks for food. He is berated by a servant for burning down the convent and that it is lent, meaning he can’t eat. Raoul says the nuns insulted his knights, so burning down the convent is justified, and decides to play chess to distract himself from wanting to eat so he can keep lent

- Rituals certainly increased, placing value on Mary and saints, a more peaceful and human connection to a vengeful God

- Ordinary people celebrated magical rituals and pagan festivals, involving dancing and merriment
It’s in Books and Pictures, Too!
Like in the Islamic Middle East and Hindu India, art served the the purpose of showing and respecting the glory of God
Painting initially on wood panels depicted Christ’s birth and suffering of the saints
- 14-5th Centuries: art improves, more realistic depictions of people, stained glass
- Architecture initially very Roman, rectangular buildings sometimes with domes, changes to Gothic style, tall church spires and arched windows, representation of postclassical Europe
- towers cast to the heavens, built on technical skills and deep devotion, using money collected to build them

Literature and Music
Latin was the intellectual language while vernaculars (common languages) became the language of choice for everyday reading.
- Helped develop separate European languages with a more secular focus
-Focused on the deeds of knights and heroes of old (Beowulf)

Canterbury Tales
- Often performed poetry, cast of characters with a fascination for bad behavior, poking fun at Christian hypocrisy, and capturing tragedies of human existence

The Romance of the Rose
- vivid sexual imagery, wrote in secular terms about the terror and beauty of death, also Troubadours
Family Feudalism
In order to better understand Feudalism, lets look back at the landlord-serf relationship

France
-Capetian royal family used regional power to make almost all local landords vassals, used marriage alliances to increase territory
- Beginning of bureaucracy, separating personal and gov’t accounts, specialization of services
-Centralization through feudalism had gone so far that by the 14th Century, kings were forcing churches to pay taxes
-Mint money and establish professional armies

England
-1066 - William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy invades England and forcefully brings feudalism, but what makes it unique?
-Tied lords of England to his court for land in exchange for military service
- Sheriffs (royal officials) supervised administration of justice
- In time, bureaucracy would begin with urban businessmen, more loyal to the king if appointed directly, eventually moving to taxation and pro militaries
Death and Despair
The Hundred Years War ended up showing Western Europe a great many hard lessons; new military methods encouraged more people to hire private armies, as paid archers got more skilled at picking off soldiers from horses. While the French won the war thanks to Joan of Arc, the devastation and anti feudal attitudes and technology showed that times were changing.

By 1300, sources of Western vitality slowly disappeared.
- Agriculture couldn’t keep up with population growth, and no technology or moving around could compensate for it
- 1348: Black Death, you know what happens here and why
- New social disputes, heightening tensions between landlords/serfs, artisans/employees

Somehow, the economy never collapsed and entered a tailspin, and in many ways manufacturing and mining technology accelerated
- 1300-1500: features of Middle Ages began to blur as new tensions arose. It wasn’t decline, it was just an end to postclassical methods
Mind Your Manors
What kind of gov’t do we see from the fall of Rome to the 10th Century?
-Localism, exception being Germanic kings who held french territory

Manorialism
- system of economic and political relations between landlords and peasant laborers (serfs) living on a self-sufficient agricultural estate (manor)

SERFS WERE NOT SLAVES!
- It was a difficult life, limited equipment (plows too light to work heavy soil) until
moldboard
(curved iron plate)
- Explain the
Three-Field System

Manorial obligations existed on both sides but most of the obligation fell on the serf
- Technological limitations
- Landlord demanded part of crops to allow for animal grazing
- Required to repair castle and buildings
The Church Channel
QUESTION: How was the Catholic church able to maintain control so completely?
- By copying the Roman gov’t structure, of course!
- Pope was top authority, regional churches headed by bishops who swore allegiance to the Pope, who then selected local priests
- Also regulated doctrine and encouraged missionaries (they converted England!) and sometimes competed with Orthodoxy
- Sometimes kings selected bishops (there were many arguments about this) but the Pope’s orders were the final word

The appeal of Christianity was undeniable, as many Germanic kings began to convert, further exerting Papal power

What is the purpose of a monastery? What are the two types?
Champagne for Charlemagne
In the 8th Century, the royal house of the Franks grew in size and power. The Carolingians became the ruling family in territory that spread from Northern France, Belgium, and western Germany

Charlemagne (Charles the Great)
- Established empire in 800, almost as if a new Roman empire would appear
- Used the title emperor
- Restored church-based education, resulting in intellectual recovery in parts

814 - Charlemagne dies, and what happens to his empire?

Rulers of Germany and northern Italy claimed emperor, eventually Holy Roman Emperor, combining both religious and secular
- Hollow title, relied more on claims than state-building, local kingdoms would rise and become strong nations later
Where's My Money, Man?
What are the developments that by 900 would establish sources of strength in Western society?

As the populations grows, so too does economic innovation. Put simply, more people, more markets!

Landlords and serfs found land not being used for agriculture and expanded, as towns began to grow
- NE Germany became totally colonized during this time
- Serfdom still harsh, but in some places serfs only pay rent, some free peasants
- Contact with other regions helped bring in new agriculture
- Durum wheat from Africa (Pasta) and alfalfa from Persia
- Less rigid social structure emerges, adding economic and market motivations to existing military and Christian motives
Not So Fast, Government!
Germany and Italy were feudalist localisms under the Holy Roman Empire, the Pope controlled territory in central Italy, the Low Country was divided regionally, on top of papal interference limiting political claims of kings (state couldn’t intrude on matters of faith except carrying out their will)

The most significant limitation? Aristocrats
- Powerful independent voices and strong military forces larger landowners depended on
- 1215 - King John faced taxation opposition from nobles, townspeople, and church officials
- Defeat in France forced him to sign Magna Carta (Great Charter) forced him to consult with nobles for all decisions, especially taxes and bishops had to be approved by the church
Parliament
- Groups made up of privileged people, rules must consult with vassals for decisions, most popular example is Houses of Lords and Commons in England

Three Estates
- Church, nobles, and urban leaders; the three most powerful groups in the West

Don’t Care How, I Want it Now
- Germanic peoples expanded into new areas of Germany and Poland, clearing forest

- By the 10th Century Spain began “reconquest” of country from Islamic forces, eventually making Spain a Christian country again and taking Muslim center of Toledo, full expulsion 1492
- 15th Century saw marriage of Ferdinand and Isabella, “reconquista” and eventual inquisition

The World is Calling
- Viking voyagers pushed into northern Atlantic, settlements in Iceland
- 11th Century saw expansion into Greenland and Hudson Bay area in Canada, short-lived outposts created

One Quick Crusader Point
The Crusades did not demonstrate a sense of European superiority, but rather a combination of religious zeal and growing military and commercial power, and the aggressive European nature.
Religion Complicates Things
-
Franciscan reform
(Francis of Assisi) stressed poverty and simplicity to grow closer to God, Order of Saint Claire female equivalent
- Clare found monasticism a form of expression

-
Gregory VII
: attempted to purify the church and free it from feudal interference
priests remain unmarried, churches free of state control
- Argued with HRE Henry IV over investiture, state appointment of bishops, excommunicated Henry only to have him beg on his knees for forgiveness
- Church was not just meant to be free from state interference but superior to the state - church courts tried and executed heretics

This eventual tension between the church, local gov’ts, a new intellectual life, and the urbanization and increase of agriculture came to define the 12th and 13th centuries
Faith and Religion: Mutually Exclusive?
-
Peter Abelard
: Author of
Yes and No
, a series of logical contradictions that questioned established Christian doctrine, and in many ways encouraged skepticism and faith at the same time
-
Bernard of Clairvaux
: Stressed the importance of a mystical relationship with God, rationality takes away from from God’s truth that can only be acquired through faith

Thomas Aquinas
: Italian-born monk who taught at the University of Paris, wrote the
Summas
- Stressed that all knowledge could be organized, and reason could explain natural order, moral law, and nature of God

Scholasticism
: philosophical approach using philosophy to resolve theological problems, sometimes devolving into silly discussions

Medieval philosophy did not encourage science, why?
It’s Hard Out There For a Farmer
Agricultural improvements helped some peasants shake off manorialism completely, with only a few obligations to landlords. This was very rare, however.
- Landlords served military functions
- Shunned commerce, though they used it to improve living, as evidenced by court literature

When lords wanted better living conditions, the best way to do that was how?
- Make serfs pay higher rents and taxes, an idea that would cause tensions into the 19th Century
- Peasants wanted natural and traditional right to the land by christian equality
- As the peasant-lord gap widened and the economy became more complex, more egalitarian movements grew
I Make Bank, Cuh!
- Use of money spread quickly despite moralists and ordinary people who valued traditional ways of doing business
- Banking operations in Germany, France, and Low Country were clearly capitalistic
- Merchants invested money into trading ships and goods, hoping to make profits on the investment
- Aquinas disagreed, said prices should be “just” and only labor goes into goods
- Trade brought knowledge of the finer things to wealthy Europeans
- Asian spices used for flavoring and preserving perishables, extracts held medicinal value
- Mediterranean trade redeveloped with the help of Italian merchants where European cloth and goods were exchanged for East Asian luxuries.

Commercial alliances began to develop (Hanseatic League)
Bankers (Jewish businesspeople) were valued for lending money to lords and the papacy

The OG Wolf of Wall Street
Jacques Coeur, who was he and why was he so famous?

What is a
guild
? Why were they created?
Ladies Night
- Christian emphasis on equality of souls and importance of women’s monastic groups as an alternative to marriage had a unique effect on women’s lives
- Veneration of Mary and other female religious figures counterbalanced typical beliefs that Eve represented sin and women couldn’t be trusted
- Women were less segregated in services unlike Islam (though they could not lead a service)

While women were gaining voices in places like guilds and in local commerce, they were increasingly marginalized by male groups

Contrast to Islam: property rights diminished, literature arose by late Middle Ages stressing women as assistants and comforters to men, household tasks and docile virtues
- The patriarchy always seems to come back

I Can't Take it Anymore!
During the 14th Century, the landed aristocracy had claimed its power through two powers, what were they?
- Even as castles became irrelevant, the nobility embraced a very ceremonial life
- Military expertise eventually became a competitive game: jousting and all the other stuff you see at Medieval Times

Chivalry
- careful polite behavior especially when it comes to relations with women
- To many, the elaborate ceremony of chivalry seemed almost silly at times,

Church and/or State
After taxation problems in 14th Century, French kings held influence on papacy
- Relocated from Rome to Avignon, confused issue of papal legitimacy
- Eventually returned to Rome, but the church had clearly been weakened
- So involved with political motivations they neglected the spiritual side

Piety continued to grow so the church wasn’t in decline; devotion just became separate from the church

The church became increasingly disturbing and suspicious of intellect, in some cases declaring the work of people like Thomas Aquinas heretical
What You Leave Behind
After 900, population growth, trade, and intellectual activity kept Europeans active, and would create lasting impacts on society

Gothic style is used in many American universities

Opportunities to advance through imitation show one side of European advancement, the other is shown through the Crusades and desires for expansion
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