The Power of Kings

The Power of Kings
The Rise of Nations in Europe & the End of the
Middle Ages
The Church vs. The Nation
The Roman Catholic
◦ Kept legal, economic,
and educational
systems alive in
Europe during Middle
◦ Power—wealth, ability
to grant positions &
What does that mean?
Emerging Nations:
◦ Hadn’t existed until
end of Middle Ages!
◦ Community of people
who share
government &
territory as well as
common language,
culture, & national
◦ Governed by one King
◦ Power—wealthy &
military strength, but
also implied authority
How had the role of King changed?
Used to be little difference between Kings
& Lords
 Control used to be entirely military
(Might=Right), until…
◦ Growing towns paid King taxes directly instead
of through the Lords
◦ Kings used this money to hire his own army,
loyal to just him!
◦ Further consolidated power during Crusades &
Black Death (by taking back land & power from
nobles who died)
So, how did Nations form in
As kings became more &
more powerful they
spread their influence in
many ways:
◦ Germany—challenged
Church for power to name
◦ Spain—united through
◦ France—united people
based upon common
◦ Russia—conquering
England Becomes a Nation
Battle of Hastings
(1066) William of
Normandy (a region in
France) conquered
Became known as the
Norman Conquest
“William the
Conqueror” and his
sons (Henry I & Henry
II) united the nation &
strengthened the
King John Presses His Luck
Son of Henry II
became king in 1199
 Tried to further
increase wealth &
Taxed all heavily
Jailed enemies w/o trial
Seized Church property
Took power to name
Bishops from Pope
Pay Backs for King John
But, I don’t
WANT to!
With Clergy & Nobles
united against him,
John was stuck
June 15, 1215 he met
with about 2,000
nobles in a meadow
called Runnymede
who had a list of
John was forced to
make the demands law
or risk losing his
The Magna Carta
“Great Charter”
Limited King’s power by giving
some of it to the nobles
◦ No longer jail without just cause
◦ Had to consult nobles before
raising taxes (“power of the purse”)
◦ This group of noble eventually
became the Model Parliament (the
earliest form of England’s
Representative Government)
Ironically ended up strengthening
monarchy because now nobles
supported it.
Confusing Name & Amazing Story
Instead of Small Land Disputes Now
Entire Nations Go to War!
Most famous example was The
Hundred Years’ War
◦ Series of clashes 1337-1453 (only
fought during good weather)
◦ England vs. France
◦ Lasted 116 years
◦ Control of French throne & lands
◦ Control of English Channel
◦ Control of trade (and wealth it
The War Drags On…
One king after another
on both sides
England won most of
French wouldn’t
Things got interesting
in 1429 when a French
peasant girl got
Joan of Arc
French Dauphin Charles VII vs. English
King Henry VI
French peasant girl hears voices of
Saints at age 12
Believes that God telling her to help
save France
Goes to Dauphin to offer her help.
He refused.
She returned the next year and with a
small force, won several battles
(despite being shot through the neck
in one and the leg in another!)
Major victory at Orleans
Captured by Burgundians (allied with
English) who put her on trial to avoid
creating a martyr:
◦ Put her on trial for heresy & witch
◦ Then, burned her at the stake!
Joan of Arc
Opps! Turns out she
was turned into a
martyr after all.
 Inspired French to
fight & unite.
 By 1453, English were
driven from most of
France, which was now
strong and united.
 Joan became a saint
and national heroine.
Why do we care about
the Hundred Years’
Changed balance of power in England and
France (to Kings and away from feudalism)
New types of warfare
◦ From a few knights to many foot soldiers
◦ From Hand-to-Hand Combat to Long Bow and
◦ Nationalism—feeling of national identity and
With no chance of another European
empire…where would these powerful nations
look to expand their power?