The Middle Ages: Myth and Reality The Middle Ages: The Myth We think of knights in shining armor, lavish banquets, wandering minstrels, kings, queens, bishops, monks, pilgrims, and glorious pageantry. In film and in literature, medieval life seems heroic, entertaining, and romantic. The Middle Ages: The Reality In reality, life in the Middle Ages, a period that extended from approximately the 5th century to the 15th century in Western Europe, could also be harsh, uncertain, and dangerous. The Feudal System Under the feudal system, the king awarded land grants or fiefs to his most important nobles, barons, and bishops, in return for their contribution of soldiers for the king's armies. The Lord of the Manor Lord – nobility who owns the land given by the King. For safety and defense, people in the Middle Ages formed small communities around a central lord or master. Nobles and Vassals Lords would give land to lesser nobility called Vassals under a contract. Vassal – A recipient of a fief (land grant). Homage Homage was the cermony by which a man became a vassal. Ceremony took place in the lord’s court with many witnesses. The Vassal knelt before the lord, and placed his hands between the lord’s hands. He professed to be “the lord’s man”, and with a ceremonial kiss, the lord recognized him as his vassal. After homage, the vassal took an oath of fidelity, and the lord handed the vassal a small stick, or lance. This act known as investiture, was symbolic of the lord giving the vassal the right to use a fief. Knighthood Early in the Middle Ages, anyone who was brave and strong enough, could become a knight. Later, only the Nobility were given this option. 3 Stages of Knighthood Page Squire Knighthood Stages of Knighthood 1st Stage: Page At 7 years of age, a boy’s parents placed him in the care of a knight for special training. For the next several years he developed mind & body. Studied academic subjects such as science, history, and religion. Learned how to fight with a sword, ride a horse, and how to with falcons and dogs. Stages of Knighthood (Cont) 2nd Stage: Squire Midteens, the page became the personal servant of the knight. His training became more intense as he cared for the knight’s armor, weapons, and horse. He dressed the knight each morning and waited on him, his family, and his guests as they ate. Stages of Knighthood (Cont) 3rd Stage: Knighthood 21 years of age eligible for knighthood. Knighted in a special religious ceremony The night before the ceremony, the squire prayed before his armor which laid on the altar of the church. During the ceremony, the squire knelt before an elder knight and was dubbed on the shoulders with the flat side of a sword’s blade. The ceremony usually ended with a display of the young knight’s skills. Code of Chivalry Knights lived by a strict code of behavior known as Chivalry Knights were expected to be brave in battle, skillful with weapons, and loyal to their lord. Never attack an unarmed knight, but allow him the opportunity to pu ton their armor before engaging him in battle. Improper for an entire company of knights to attack of a single knight; they were to fight him one at a time. Chivalry and the Catholic Church The Roman Catholic Church influenced Chivalry as knights were to “Defend the Church, venerate the priesthood, etc.) Peace of God – The church forbade the pillage of her property and extended protection to all noncombatants in society Truce of God – Fighting was forbidden from Wednesday evening to Monday morning. The church wasn’t always effective in enforcing these rules, but they helped improve the harsh and brutal conditions of the feudal period. Tournaments and Jousting During peaceful times at home, knights competed in a mock war called a tournament. Two types of contests: Jousting and Melee Jousting was a competition between two knights on horseback who charged at each other carrying lances to try to unseat their opponent. Melee – Hand-to-hand combat with weapons, usually blunted. Resulted in injuries and death. One historian claimed the tournaments, “satisfied the craving of both fighters and spectators for redblooded excitement.” From your knowledge of World History, can you think of other games similar to this? The Manor Most people lived on a manor, which consisted of the castle (or manor house), the church, the village, and the surrounding farm land. The castle was the center of life for the nobility. It also served as the jail, treasury, armory, court, and seat of government. It was the lord’s responsibility to protect all the inhabitants on the manor. Cultivating Land 1/6th to 1/3rd of land was set aside as the lord’s demesne. (Land reserved for the lord) The rest of the land was allotted to the villagers. The peasants worked together to plow the land, sow the seed, and harvest the crops. Open fields were divided into narrow strips. Many times the lord’s demesne were the most fertile strips in each open field. The peasants had to work the lord’s demesne. Two-field vs. Three-field Systems Two-field System During the early middle ages, peasants planted crops on only half of the cultivated land, leaving the other half to lie fallow (uncultivated) to recover its fertility. The following year they would switch. Three-field System More common in Europe during the later Middle Ages. A system of rotating planting among three fields. In the spring, the peasants planted one field with barley, oats or beans, and in the fall they planted a second field with rye or wheat. The third field was left fallow. Increased productivity of the land, because one crop put the nutrients back into the soil that was taken out by another crop. Self-Sufficiency Each manor was largely selfsufficient, growing or producing all of the basic items needed for food, clothing, and shelter. To meet these needs, the manor had buildings devoted to special purposes, such as: The mill for grinding grain The bake house for making bread The blacksmith shop for creating metal goods. Isolation These manors were isolated, with occasional visits from peddlers, pilgrims on their way to the Crusades, or soldiers from other fiefdoms. The Peasants At the lowest level of society were the peasants, also called serfs The lord offered his peasants protection in exchange for living and working on his land. Hard Work & High Taxes Peasants worked hard to cultivate the land and produce the goods that the lord and his manor needed. They were heavily taxed and were required to relinquish much of what they harvested. They were not allowed to leave the manor under any circumstances. Worked sunrise to sunset and suffered from both poverty and misery. The little money he made off the land went to the lord in rent/fees or to the church in tithes. Famines ruined the land, and constant feudal wars killed livestock and ruined crops. The average peasant had a very short lifespan. Bound by law and custom… It is the custom in England, as with other countries, for the nobility to have great power over the common people, who are serfs. This means that they are bound by law and custom to plough the field of their masters, harvest the corn, gather it into barns, and thresh and winnow the grain; they must also mow and carry home the hay, cut and collect wood, and perform all manner of tasks of this kind. -- Jean Froissart, 1395 MEDIEVAL LIFE Cooperation and Mutual Obligations KING MANORIALISM: ECONOMIC SYSTEM FEUDALISM: POLITICAL SYSTEM Fief and Peasants Decentralized, local government Dependent upon the relationship between members of the nobility Lord and his vassals administered justice and were the highest authority in their land Agriculture the basis for wealth Lands divided up into self-sufficient manors Peasants (serfs) worked the land and paid rent In exchange for protection Barter the usual form of exchange Military Aid Loyalty LORDS (VASSALS TO KING) Food Protection Shelter Military Service Homage KNIGHTS (VASSALS TO LORDS) Food Protection Farm the Land PEASANTS (SERFS) Shelter Pay Rent Freemen A small percentage of those on the manor were more privileged peasants who held skilled labor positions. They were blacksmiths, merchants, apothecaries, carpenters, etc. Freemen did not have the same obligations as the average peasant. They were exempt from working in the fields, and they had the freedom to leave the manor. However living conditions were the same as an average peasant. Women: Household Chores Whether they were nobles or peasants, women held a difficult position in society. They were largely confined to household tasks such as cooking, baking bread, sewing, weaving, and spinning. Hunting & Fighting However, they also hunted for food and fought in battles, learning to use weapons to defend their homes and castles. The Role of the Church in Medieval Europe Introduction Center of religious and social life All Christians belonged to one church – Roman Catholic Church Provided leadership in an unstable time The church was as important, if not more important, than many kings/queen Clergy – the people who perform sacred functions of a church (ex: priest) Power of the church Owned 1/3 of all land in Europe – largest landholder in Europe Collected a tithe – 1/10 of income or 1 penny from peasants Generally, the clergy were the only people who could read; often kept records for kings Power struggles were common between Pope and King (ex: Pope Gregory VII and Henry IV) Gregory I Commonly recognized as the first true pope, a title which he would disclaim A man of deep devotion and piety. Promoted mass, transubstantiation, penance, equality of tradition & scripture, and purgatory. Roman Catholic Church would later adopt and embrace these sacraments. Purgatory – a place of temporary punishment where souls bound for heaven must go after death to atone for their “minor” unconfessed sins or for sins which they have not done enough penance. Sacraments and Salvation The church taught that receiving the 7 sacraments were an essential part of salvation 1. baptism 2. Confirmation – formal declaration of belief in God and the church 3. Eucharist – like the Lord’s Supper (bread and wine) During Mass, the priest transforms the bread and wine of Christ into the actually body and blood of Christ. This process is known as Transubstantiation. 4. Marriage 5. Holy Orders – when a man becomes a priest 6. Penance – confession of sins to priest (Reconciliation) 7. Extreme Unction – blessing when sick or dying Pilgrimages Christians tried to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and Rome at least once Visited churches that supposedly housed relics (holy items) $975 Sold for $430.000 $1,800 Geoffrey Chaucer wrote a popular book about pilgrims called the Canterbury Tales Art & Architecture Most art was for religious purposes Most people couldn’t read, art helped tell Christ’s story Towns spent 50 – 100 years building cathedrals Gothic style was popular Monasticism (life devoted to religion) St. Benedict - Benedictine rule of poverty, chastity, and obedience Monasteries Monasteries in the Middle Ages were based on the rules set down by St. Benedict in the sixth century. The monks became known as Benedictines and took vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience to their leaders. Monks Monks were required to perform manual labor and were forbidden to own property, leave the monastery, or become entangled in the concerns of society. Daily tasks were often carried out in silence. Nuns Monks and their female counterparts, nuns, who lived in convents, provided for the lessfortunate members of the community. Monasteries and nunneries were safe havens for pilgrims and other travelers. Monastic Life Monks and nuns went to the monastery church eight times a day in a routine of worship that involved singing, chanting, and reciting prayers from the divine offices and from the service for Mass.