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A New Civilization Emerges in Western Europe
Transcript of A New Civilization Emerges in Western Europe
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From Humble Beginnings: The Inception of Western European Civilization
The Post Classical period began with the fall of the Roman Empire in about 500 and lasted until the 15th century
Witnessed the spread of new religious beliefs with beliefs in magic and the supernatural coexisting with Christianity
Started with gradual recovery after Rome's fall and interaction with other societies began to grow
Western Europe is now participating in the international community, giving Western Europe more developed culture and technology.
How 'Dark' Were the Dark Ages?
Compared to other civilizations that were thriving at the time, medieval Western Europe was a backwards society.
Although it was backwards, medieval Western Europe advanced rapidly in all SPICE areas.
Post Classical Development
After Rome's fall, Manorialism became popularized, causing nobility to be characterized by land ownership and military power.
The Catholic church was one of the only examples of solid organization, with the Pope being the church's leader.
A ruler named Charlemagne starts empire and it looks to be the next Roman Empire, but his successors failed at doing so.
Afterward, Europe's political history was focused on regional empires, but still possessed cultural unity through Catholicism.
Economic innovation was driven through agricultural development, population growth, and contacts with other societies
Western European Politics: What is Feudalism?
Lords would use vassals for protection of their land in exchange for goods or payments.
Feudalism also created limitations in government, with divisions within feudal monarchies, cuts into aristocratic power due to growing monarchies, and soon enough, limitations of kings, with the Magna Carta being written in 1215
Feudal division then led to the creation of parliaments
Even though there were limitations in government, there was certainly no equality or democracy.
Western Europe's Expansionist Impulse
Due to population growth, memory of Rome's fall, and zeal provided by Christianity, Western Europe's people wanted to expand their borders
The most dramatic of these border expansions were the Crusades.
Not only did the Crusades exhibit Western Europe's military vigor, but they also opened up Western Europe to the world's other thriving cultures.
Religion in Western Europe
The Catholic Church went through many periods of reform and revolution, most notably, with Pope Gregory VII attempting to purify the church from feudal lords, which is the origin of Western beliefs of church-state separation.
From 1000 on, clerics began to make advance philosophy and theology, causing much debate on whether not classical Mediterranean philosophy must be amalgamated with Christian doctrine or if God's word must be received through faith alone. Either way, combining rational philosophy and Christian faith was a theme of the postclassical West.
Because of the studies in philosophy and theology in Western Europe, an intellectual uproar arose in the 12th century, with schools being the base of all learning.
Christian art reflected both popular and formal outlook of the religion, with religious art being a cultural region in which Western Europe excelled. Medieval literature and music also reflected strong religious interests.
The Canterbury Cathedral
Fluctuating Economy and Social Forms
Just as in culture, medieval Western European social structure and economy innovated.
Western Europe became a commercial zone in the 10th century as trade revived.
Serfs almost became free farmers with only having to fulfill a few obligations for their landlords.
While the upper-class did not highly participate in trade, they did use it to improve their standard of living.
A complex economy brought new social strains, with peasants having egalitarian ideas.
Banking was introduced in the West to facilitate long-distance exchange of money and goods, which soon became clearly capitalistic.
The Crusades allowed for international products to be traded in Western Europe.
Because Western governments were weak, with few economic functions, merchants had a freer hand than in many other civilizations.
Women had more equality than their Muslim sisters, but were still under the grip of patriarchy.
The Decline of the Medieval Synthesis
After about 1300, characteristics of medieval life at its height began to give way.
The Hundred Years' War between France and England demonstrated the futility of the military and organizational methods of feudalism.
Medieval agriculture could no longer keep pace with Western Europe's rapid population growth.
Various plagues and famines challenged Western Europe's population and social structure, including the infamous Black Death that occurred in 1348.
Decline did not mark the end of medieval society, but rather it marked change, with the land-owning aristocracies' ways of being questioned.
Shifts in balance between the church and state is seen, with church leaders becoming so involved in politics that they forget the spiritual aspect of the church.
Medievalism also faded in intellectual and artistic synthesis, with the amalgamation of rationalism and Christian doctrine becoming less feasible due to disapproval by the church leaders.
Blad771. "Medieval Europe: Knights." Youtube. Google, 12 Mar. 2010. Web. 14 Oct. 2013. <
Canterbury Cathedral. N.d. Photograph. N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. History Learning Site. Web. 13 Oct. 2013. <http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/canterbury_cathedral.htm>.
Stearns, Peter N. "Chapter 10: A New Civilization Emerges in Western Europe." AP Edition World Civilizations: The Global Experience 3rd Edition. New York: Pearson Longman, 2000. 212-37. Print.