Presentation on theme: "Life in the Middle Ages. The Middle Ages is the name given to a period of history of western Europe. Before the Middle Ages, much of Europe was part of."— Presentation transcript:
The Middle Ages is the name given to a period of history of western Europe. Before the Middle Ages, much of Europe was part of the Roman Empire.
After the Middle Ages, western Europe was controlled by large kingdoms. So the Middle Ages are a very unique time in history. They bridge the gap between ancient times and modern times.
The Middle Ages are also called the medieval period. The word medieval comes from the Latin words for “middle” and “age.” People also sometimes call this period the Dark Ages, because life was hard and most people had little learning.
So these three terms; Middle Ages, Dark Ages, and medieval, all refer to the same time period in European history. From about 500 C.E. until 1500 C.E. Although the Dark Ages refers only to the time from the fall of Rome until about 1000 C.E.
One of the early important leaders from the middle ages was leader of the Franks, a young warrior named Clovis. He became king of the Franks at age 15, and reigned for 30 years.
Clovis lead the Franks into becoming Christian. He married a Christian woman, Clotilda, and eventually was baptized into the Roman Catholic Church.
The most important leader of the Franks was Charlemagne (Charles the Great). Charlemagne ruled for over 40 years. He ruled an empire which was the largest in Europe since Rome, unifying nearly all the Christian lands in Europe.
After Charlemagne's death his empire quickly fell apart. However he created a form of government which lasted throughout the Middle Ages.
Feudalism During the 800s western Europe was briefly united by Charlemagne. His empire however, did not last. After it fell, Europe was divided into many small kingdoms.
This form of government was called feudalism. By 1000 C.E., feudalism was the way of life throughout Western Europe. It lasted for many centuries. Under feudalism, Europe was ruled by nobles, or people of high social rank.
Nobles who were loyal to a king were called vassals of the king. The king was their lord. The king gave each vassal a fief, or an area of land, in exchange for his loyalty.
A fief included the land, the buildings, and even the peasants, poor working people, who lived there. Kingdoms in the Middle Ages were divides into hundreds of fiefs.
Each fief was ruled by a vassal of the king. Most vassals had titles such as baron, earl, or duke. Within their fief, these rulers had supreme power over the people and the land. They collected taxes, served as judges in legal disputes, and supervised the farming of the fief. Many of them were so powerful that they had their own castles.
Relationships under feudalism were often complicated. For example a baron who became a vassal to a king controlled a fief in exchange for his loyalty to the king.
The king was the baron’s lord, but the baron had his own vassals. Each of his vassals was given a fief in exchange for loyalty to the baron. Thus, the baron was both a vassal and a lord at the same time.
During the Middle Ages, there were thousands of feudal relationships. Europe was governed through these feudal relationships.
The people who had no say in these arrangements were the peasants. Peasants had no economic or social power. They led very poor lives. They lived in huts, worked from dusk to dawn, and were at the mercy of their rulers. Most people in Europe during the Middle Ages were peasants.
Knights and Manors Europe during the Middle Ages was a patchwork of dozens of kingdoms and thousands of fiefs. Often, the nobles who ruled the land went to war with one and other. As a result, soldiers, especially those who rode horses, were extremely important during this time.
Everyone has heard of knights in shining armor – noble warriors who defended a princesses' honor.
Tales like this did occur. Mostly, however, knights were fighting men who when into battle on horses. Only nobles could be knights.
Most knights were lords of their own vassals. The knights were also vassals themselves, of kings and lords. Being a vassal meant fighting for the king or lord and raising his land, and leading his armies. So, feudalism was a military system as well as a government system.
Becoming a Knight To become a knight, a boy of noble birth went through three stages. The first was to become a page. When the son of a noble was about seven years old, he left his home to go and live in the house / castle of a knight. There he learned to ride a horse and fight with a sword and other weapons.
When the boy turned 16, he became a squire. That was the second stage toward becoming a knight. As a squire, the boy served as a personal servant to the knight he served.
A squire assisted his knight in battle and even took part in the battle himself. During this time, the squire learned all he could about becoming a fighting man.
A squire also learned the code of chivalry. The word chivalry comes from an old French word that means “horse soldier.” But chivalry came to refer to the code of conduct by which knights were expected to live.
Being chivalrous meant being loyal to one’s lord, treating women with respect, keeping promises, and defending the church. Today the word lives on. Being chivalrous means being respectful to women.
Any knight could make a squire a knight. Usually, though, the know who trained the squire did the honors. Tapping the back of the squire’s neck with a sword, the knight said “I dub you a knight.” With that the squire became a knight.
Manorialism Manorialism was the economic system of the Middle Ages. The system was called manorialism because it was based on the manor. A manor was a large farm or estate.
Manors included the manor house, which was a large home where the lord, or ruler, lived. It also included pastures, farm fields, small farm buildings, and usually an entire village. Remember, a fief was the land given to a vassal in exchange for his support. Small fiefs usually had only one manor. But a large fief could include many manors.
Each manor was self-sufficient. Manors also traded with one another, but only for things they could not make themselves. It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that most of the work done on the manor was by the peasants.
Peasant Life When we think of the Middle Ages we think of knights, castles, and kings. But most of the people during the time were actually peasants. Remember the peasants were the poor people.
Most peasants were serfs. A serf was a peasant who was bound to the manor. Although serfs were not slaves, their lives were not much better. They could not leave the manor without the permission of their lord. They were also required to pay heavy taxes, and they were completely at their lord’s mercy.
Peasant life was hard and short. Men, women, and children spent their days doing backbreaking work in the fields. They were required to farm the lords' fields as well as their own. At night they retired to their homes, crude huts in the manor village.
Peasants usually ate only black bread, cabbage, turnips, and cheese. They rarely ate meat, because the game animals and fish of the manor belonged to the lord. One of their few pleasures was the drinking of beer or wine.
Such a hard life often meant an early death. In fact, historians think that most peasants died by the time they were 30 or 40. A life time of malnutrition, hard labor, and disease took their toll.
Like many people who lived in hard circumstances, peasants found some peace and hope in their religion. Christianity was a central feature of life in the Middle Ages for both peasants and nobles.