Western Europe During the High Middle Ages

The Establishment of Regional
 While German princes established the confederation
of states known as the Holy Roman Empire, western
monarchs consolidated power over France and
 On the Iberian Peninsula, there were five regional
kingdoms and the Italian cities worked toward
independence from regional authority.
 These states frequently clashed with one another but
were very effective at organizing their own territories.
The Establishment of Regional
 The Holy Roman Empire
 German King of Saxony, Otto, had defeated so many of his
neighbors that by 962 the pope named him the Holy Roman
 However, there was enormous tension between the
succeeding emperors and popes as emperors sought to
control the Catholic church and the popes attempted to exert
their own authority over all monarchs.
Example – Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV excommunicated by Pope
Gregory VII for attempting to name his own regional bishops.
(Known as the Investiture Contest Controversy)
Voltaire (18th Century Philosopher) – Liked to say, “The Holy Roman
Empire was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire.”
 Really, it was secular, German, and a group of states!!!
The Establishment of Regional
 Regional Monarchies in France and England
 Both the French and English consolidated their feudal estates
into the centralized governments of French kings.
 France
Hugh Capet and his descendents formed strong monarchy
 England
William the Conqueror defeated the Anglo Saxon King of England in
Normans (William the Conq) reorganized the English government to
maintain strong central authority
Successive generations of French and English kings fought each
other and faced internal challenges as well.
The Establishment of Regional
 The Regional States of Italy and Iberia
 Italy
Decentralized during the High Middle Ages
Popes influenced most Italian States, but ruled central Italy as the
Papal State
Florence, Bologna, Genoa, Milan, and Venice grew prosperous from
trade and dominated the northern regions of Europe.
Naples (formed out of old Byzantine empire) also became powerful
 Iberian Peninsula (Present day Spain and Portugal)
Split b/t Catholics in the North and Muslims in the South
By 13 Century Christian armies had pressed south and conquered the
regions that became Castile, Aragon, and Portugal.
Only Granada Remain Muslim
Economic Growth and Social
 In the middle of all the political warfare, Europe
experienced notable growth in trade which changed the
social hierarchy.
 Growth of the Agricultural Economy
 Horseshoes, horse collars, crop rotation, field rotation, and
animal fertilizer
 Experimented with many new crops
 Publicized agricultural improvements to spread knowledge.
 Improvements led to significant population growth between
1000 and 1300 CE.
Fueled urbanization and trade
Economic Growth and Social
 The Revival of Towns and Trade
 Increased trade and economic activity encouraged
peasants to make their way to towns.
 Roman cities like London, Paris, and Toledo became
regional trading centers
 Italian cities along the Mediterranean and northern
cities along the Baltic and North Seas were cross cultural
trading ports
Hanseatic League – Port city trading network along the Baltic
and North Seas
 Banking and credit helped enhance European trade
Economic Growth of the
Agricultural Community
 Social Change
 Three Estates of medieval Europe (those who pray, those who
fight, those who labor) changed as the High Middle Ages set
 Code of Chivalry implemented – governed the manners and
actions of the fighting classes of Europe
 Merchants became more powerful and demanded charters –
agreements that exempted them from the control of local
feudal lords
 Craftsmen for guilds – Associations to protect prices and
standardize production
 Women had more opportunities due to urbanization –
Opportunities to work the same jobs as men.
European Christianity During the
High Middle Ages
 The Roman Catholic church dominated the lives of
medieval Europeans.
 Served as the major cultural influence on literature and
the arts as well as dominating the city scene with its
churches and cathedrals.
 Average Europeans adopted a new form of popular
religion that challenged the church while Catholic
scholars adopted the long forgotten ideas of Aristotle.
European Christianity During the
High Middle Ages
 Schools, Universities, and Scholastic Theology
 As Europeans grew wealthier, education became more
 Cathedral Schools – Northern Italy and France, people
studied Latin, the Bible, and Christian Theologians.
 Universities – Bologna, Paris, Salerno – People
specialized in medicine, law, and theology
 Saint Thomas Aquinas wrote books that merged
Christianity with Greek philosophy (Aristotle)
Helped people better understand the complex ideas of
European Christianity during the
High Middle Ages
 Popular Religion
 Common people were interested in the vibrant and
emotional brand of Christianity that venerated saints,
relics, and the Virgin Mary.
 People would travel all over seeing artifacts left behind
by the saints who they often prayed to.
Led to a sort of travel industry and inns sprang up along
popular routes travelled by Christians paying homage to their
favorite saints.
Most popular saint was the Virgin Mary
European Christianity During the
High Middle Ages
 Reform Movements and Popular Heresies
 As wealth increased and pilgrimage sites raked in the
riches, reformers within the church became concerned
with the materialism of the church.
 St. Dominic and St. Francis founded orders of
mendicant monks who preaches messages of simple
faith and begged for donations of food and clothing.
 In parts of northern Italy and France people rejected the
Catholic Church:
The Medieval Expansion of Europe
 A strengthened medieval Europe began to expand into
new regions of the Atlantic, Baltic, and
 Colonies established in Iceland, Greenland, and
Canada and Christianity was introduced in the Baltic.
 Christian Spain conquered Muslim Spain.
The Medieval Expansion of Europe
 Atlantic and Baltic Colonization
 When the Vikings of Scandinavia were turned back from
continental Europe, they began to expand westward to
the islands of the north Atlantic
 While they were exploring, the Scandinavian monarchs
converted to Christianity and began to press it on their
 The Teutonic Knights (Christian Soldiers) conquered
the Baltic regions of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia.
The Medieval Expansion of Europe
 The Reconquest of Sicily and Spain
 As European interest in the Mediterranean increased,
they confronted the Muslim states of Sicily and
 By the mid-thirteenth century Christians had conquered
Sicily and almost all of Granada.
 Dominican friars played a large part in the conversion of
Spaniards from Islam to Catholicism.
Medieval Expansion in Europe
 Crusades
 Attempts by European Christians to retake the Holy lands of
the Bible which were controlled by Muslims
 First Crusade – Jerusalem captured from Muslims, but later
 Second Crusade – Attempt to retake Jerusalem after Muslims
regained control following the first Crusade
 Series of Crusades followed that were never as successful as
the first
 Although they were largely unsuccessful, the crusades were
beneficial for Europe because it exposed them to Muslim
ideas (math, theology, medicine) and new goods, which
reinvigorated Europe’s trade with the rest of the world.