HIST 303 EUROPE IN THE MIDDLE AGES by HC120831094521

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									         HIST 303
EUROPE IN THE MIDDLE AGES
      GENERAL OBSERVATION
• Civilization of the Middle Ages grew out of the fusion
  between the institutions of the Roman Empire, the religion
  of the Christian Church, and the cultures of the relatively
  primitive peoples the Romans called “barbarians”
• Institutions of the Roman Empire had been originally
  shaped by the emperor Augustus
   – But they had been changed beyond recognition by 284
     AD when Diocletian became emperor
   – Diocletian and Constantine created a new empire that
     only bore a slight resemblance to the old one
     established by Augustus
       • It was this new empire, increasingly influenced by the
         growth of a Christian Church, that merged with the
         cultures of the Germans and Celts to form the early
         medieval world
                                                  Egypt, Greece, Asia West,
                                             While Rome civilized the Minor,
                                                    Syria, and Rome had
                                                     At its height of the had
                                            the East,themanyPalestine2
                                                                          nd
                                                  Territory north in the sea
                                                   In in east, ways, civilized
                                                     had been Mediterranean
                                     But it was an essentiallylastas common
                                                 Greek, not Latin Roman
                                                      century AD, to be
                                                            Rome
                                               conquered territory that had
                                                    Empirelanguagerichest
                                                              and its
                                        state—Rome itselfstretchedthe
                                                     assimilated into from
                                             civilizations that were older and
                                     provincesRichest and most heavily the
                                                 were all grouped around
                                                    northern Britain to the
                                                   empire and was always
                                                    Rome drew much of its
                                                more sophisticated thanits in
                                            populated provincesand thinly
                                                  relatively poor were also
                                                          sea the
                                                     fringes of the Sahara
                                                  culturetheown Hellenized
                                                           fromeast
                                                              Desert
                                                           populated
                                                               East




In Gaul, Spain, and Britain, Rome
   had established its rule were
    high civilization had never
    Difference between eastern and
           existed before
     western halves of the empire
      People of these regions
  West was more heavily Romanized
 generally adopted Roman ways
              than the east
  and took Latin culture as their
            own heritage
      THE ROMAN “GENIUS”
                  • Empire governed by all-powerful
                    emperor and bureaucracy of
                    professional administrators
                     – Unity also assisted by network of
                       excellent roads
                  • Romans were inferior to Greeks in
                    artistic and intellectual achievemnt
                    but they were very good at practical
                    things
                     – Talented builders, administrators,
                       engineers, and lawyers
                  • Long success in establishing peace
                    and order over huge empire is
                    testament to Roman practical genius
Emperor Hadrian
                     – Also its establishment of just and
                       uniform law code
    REASONS FOR FALL: ARMY



• Army was originally recruited exclusively from Italy
   – A good career
      • Received citizenship and good retirement benefits
• By 200 AD, however, Italy good no longer meet military
  manpower needs
   – Began to recruit from the provincial population
      • Especially those who lived near frontiers
• By 250 AD, Rome began to recruit barbarians, living just on
  the other side of the frontier
   – No instinctive attachment to Rome
   – Loyalty tended to focus on their commander, not the
     emperor
   REASON FOR FALL: ECONOMIC
     AND CULTURAL DISUNITY
• Common Roman culture only
  affected an educated minority
   – Most people had no common
     world view, language, religion, or
     ideals
• East and West had been knit
  together by a commercial network
   – But this had broken down by 200
     AD as the West began to
     manufacture its own stuff and
     imported less from East
      • Plunged Empire into
        depression
      • International trade tapered off
        and various regions tended
        more and more towards self-
        sufficiency
            REASONS FOR FALL:
           POPULATION DECLINE
• New slaves became increasingly
  scarce and expensive in 2nd
  century AD as Rome stabilized its
  borders
   – Problem made worse by general
     decline in population at about
     the same time
      • Caused by major epidemic
        between 165 and 180 AD
          – Followed by succession of
            other severe epidemics
• Population decline had disastrous
  consequences
   – Shortage of soldiers, declining
     consumption, declining
     productions, declining tax
     revenues, etc.
          REASONS FOR FALL:
         POLITICAL INSTABILITY I
• System of imperial succession
  broke down in 180 AD with
  accession of Commodus to throne
   – Vicious and incompetent
   – Assassinated in 192 AD
• Followed by Septimius Severus
   – 193-211 AD
   – Ruled as virtual military dictator
• After 211, army took control of
  situation
   – Made and broke emperors at will
      • In return for promises of
        rewards
                                          Septimius Severus
         REASONS FOR FALL:
        POLITICAL INSTABILITY II
• Generals marched on Rome time and
  time again
   – Either killed reigning emperor or
     were killed trying
   – Weakened Roman borders
   – Undermined financial structure
      • Each new emperor had to provide
        huge “donations” to troops
      • Exhausted treasury, aggravated
        depression, and provoked bad
        inflation
• Lowest point occurred in 259 AD         Valerian
   – Emperor Valerian defeated and
     executed by Persians
   – Provoked new civil war and
     barbarian invasions escalated
               DIOCLETIAN AND
                CONSTANTINE
• Empire survived because
  of reforms of Diocletian
  and Constantine
   – Increased emphasis on
     the absolute power of
     the emperor
   – Reorganized the civil
     service and military
   – Created new tax
     structure
   – Implemented very strict
     economic regulation
                               Constantine
DIOCLETIAN
• Recognized that most obvious
  weakness of the empire was absence
  of stable central authority that was
  universally respected and obeyed
   – Transformed emperor into an overt,
     divine-right absolute monarch
      • Ruled through edicts without
        approval or consent of anyone
      • Presented and acted as god on
        earth
          – Elaborate protocol for visitors,
            splendid robes, gold crown,
            gold scepter, etc
          – Common people not even
            allowed to see him
    ADMINISTRATIVE OVERHAUL
Divided empire      Goal was to permanently
into 4            separate civilian and military
Officials were      functions of government
prefectures.
only civilian         and make both utterly
Each governed
administrators     dependent on the emperor
by a Praetorian
Prefect
Separate
hierarchy of
Each
commanders
prefecture
and generals
divided intoof
had charge
three dioceses.
Army. But they
Each civilian
had no
administered
power
by a vicar
                  SUCCESSION
• Appointed a co-emperor to rule West
  while he ruled East
   – Both appointed a deputy (called
     Caesars) who would automatically
     move up when either co-emperor
     died or abdicated
• Diocletian and co-emperor abdicated in
  305 and were succeeded by their
  Caesars
   – New civil wars erupted immediately
   – Winner was Constantine
      • Never appointed a co-emperor
      • Empire divided between two sons
        when he died in 337
         – Usual situation from this point
           on was that one emperor
           would rule East and the other
           would rule the West
                CONSTANTINE
• All Constantine did was
  continue and intensify
  Diocletian’s policies
• But he did make two important
  innovations
   – Decided to embrace
     Christianity
   – Established new imperial
     capital at old Greek city-
     state of Byzantium
      • Called Constantinople
      • Would be greatest city in
        the world for 1000 years
        after collapse of Western
        Roman Empire
      • But never became “New
        Rome” because culture
        was heavily Greek
                 WEAKNESSES
• Neither Diocletian nor Constantine understood underlying
  social and economic weaknesses of the empire
   – In fact, their policies tended to make existing
     weaknesses worse, not better
• Example
   – Population had been declining for a long time and many
     fields were left uncultivated
       • Obvious solution would be to increase individual
         productivity by improving technology
          – Romans never did this
          – They preferred slaves, even when they had
            become scarce and expensive
              » Declining farming population was therefore
                unable to support huge urban population,
                army, and bureaucracy
     ECONOMIC REGULATION I
• Only policy Diocletian and
  successors could come up with
  was to regulate economic activity
  in order to guarantee that tax
  revenue continued to flow into the
  treasury
   – New tax system in which each
     district was taxed according to
     fertility of soil and number of
     inhabitants
   – Tax was collected in kind and
     became basic source of imperial
     revenue
      • Supplemented by indirect
        taxes and frequent forced
        contributions from the
        wealthy
      • Common people also forced
        to maintain roads and public
        buildings for no pay
     ECONOMIC REGULATION II
• Taxes could only be collected from
  land that was occupied and
  cultivated
   – When small farmers tried to
     escape tax burden by fleeing
     their farms, emperor decreed
     that they and their descendants
     were bound to their land
       • Could not leave under pain of
         death
• Urban tradesmen also bound to
  their residences and trades
• All occupations in the empire were
  made hereditary and those
  engaged in them were forbidden to
  change jobs or move
     ECONOMIC REGULATION III
• Wealthy upper classes in cities had
  traditionally volunteered to run local
  government
   – Diocletian made these people
     responsible for collecting taxes in
     their cities
      • If they did not collect assigned
        quota, their property would be
        confiscated and they would be
        publicly flogged
      • As a result, no one volunteered    Diocletian’s palace
        to serve in local government
           – Diocletian therefore forced
             them to take these jobs,
             made them hereditary, and
             prohibited anyone from
             quitting them
                RESULTS
• Rigid stratification of society
   – No mobility
   – Everyone frozen in their positions
• Economic initiative was destroyed
   – Why work hard when you had no chance
     to move up and taxation took all your
     profits
• Terrible corruption
   – Officials collected more than they passed
     on to the treasury
        TRANSFORMATION IN THE
               WEST
• Wealthy Eastern half of
  empire suffered under this
  system but managed to
  survive
• Totally transformed the
  structure of society in the
  West
   – Upper class fled cities and
     moved to rural estates
      • Organizing them into
        self-supporting little
        communities
      • Maintained bodyguards
        to defy imperial
        officials
                        COLONI
• Landlords worked their land
  with coloni
   – Each coloni given piece of
     land for which he paid rent
       • Some were descendants
         of slaves
       • Most were small free
         farmers who had given up
         their land to escape their
         tax burden
• Some estates survived the
  chaos of the coming barbarian
  invasions
• Even before invasions,
  ruralization and
  decentralization already
  existed in Western Europe
                   SUMMARY
• Some have accused Diocletian and Constantine of
  turning the Roman Empire into a huge prison
  camp
   – But they did not take over a vigorous, healthy
     society and reduce it to slavery
   – Severe policies were designed to hold together
     an empire that was on the verge of total
     disintegration
      • And it worked for a while
      • But in the long run their policies stifled the
        creativity, vitality, and social flexibility need
        for survival

								
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