Review Unit #6
Middle Ages
(Medieval Period)
Fall of the Roman Empire (476 AD):
o Caused by an extended period of chaos and disorder; inability to force back foreign invaders
o Weakened by internal (corruption) and external pressures
o Roman Empire split into two parts
 Western Europe – Fell into the “Dark Ages” (Golden Age ends)
 Eastern Europe – Became the Byzantine Empire (Golden Age continues)
o Without Rome’s organization – Western Europe fell apart
o There was no centralized government (decentralized government)
o Constant invasions force people to focus on their own survival; become poor and uneducated
o Trade declined and bartering was used instead of money
Roman Catholic Church:
o Became the only organized institution in Europe at this time; stabilized Europe by providing unity and order
 Gothic architecture symbolized the grandeur and glory of God; stained glass windows helped teach biblical
stories to the illiterate
o Established a hierarchy (PeoplePriestBishopArch BishopPope)
o Popes and monarchs challenged each other’s authority
o Church had rules that everyone in Europe (Christians) followed
 heresy – speaking out against the Church
 excommunication – being kicked out of the Church
o An economic system based on the ownership of land; land is exchanged for military service and loyalty
o Helped to get Europeans organized again by providing structure at the local level
o Land was awarded to the elite and these landowners held the real power, not the monarchs
o Social system: everyone was born into a social class (Nobles, Merchants, Peasants) – no social mobility
o Political system: the Lord of the manor made all of the rules and acted as judge and jury
o Economic system: everyone got what they needed and everyone contributed to the system as well
o Manorialism – the basis of a feudal economy – based on the self-sufficient manor (land owned by the Lord)
o Medieval knights: followed a moral code of behavior known as chivalry –loyalty pledge to the military leader
o Three-Field System developed: allows for fields to maintain fertility
o Holy wars fought between Christians and Muslims – for control of the “Holy Lands” (Jerusalem)
 Other personal reasons to go? Able to leave the manor, be granted forgiveness for one’s sins, gain wealth
from trade with the Middle East
o These holy wars were important because they helped Europeans to:
 become better educated: Greek and Roman learning was revived
 increase their wealth: introduction to new trade products (cotton, silk, spices, coloring dyes, foods)
 benefit from the revival of trade through cultural diffusion – learned of Muslim ideas and culture
o They helped end Feudalism in Europe:
 People became more aware of the outside world
 Cities grew as a result of trade
 Power of European nobles declined and nation-states began to be built
 European demand for Eastern goods increased, leading to the Age of Exploration (find a faster way to get
to Asia)
 New trade created new markets (cities/towns)  many serfs ran away from manors to live in them
Black Death: the bubonic plague (disease) that spread quickly due to the increased human interaction (caused by trade)
 Killed many people from Asia to Europe to Northern Africa
Helped bring about the end of Feudalism
 Serfs became scarce  Lords began to pay wages for their work (some even bought their freedom)
 The social order on the manor was breaking down
 Eventually led to labor shortages in Europe and later to North and South America