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• Tournaments, mock battles
• Knights chose lady to fight for
    – Usually married to gentleman of higher status
•   Tournaments could be dangerous
•   Church looked down on them
•   Large group of armed men in one place
•   Winning ladies hearts was large part of it
•   Hunting
    – Both men and women learned falconry and archery
        Becoming a Knight
• Nobleman’s son begins training for
  knighthood at age of seven
• Starts as a page, assistant to a lord
• At 15, he becomes a squire who assists
  knights and studies weapon and battle
• Once proven in battle, he is knighted
• Behavior of knight governed by code of
  – Brave in battle
  – Fight fairly
  – Keep promises
  – Defend the church
  – Treat women with noble birth in a courteous
• Chivalry became basis of good manners in
  Western society
      • The wealth of a feudal
        lord came from the
        labor of the peasants
        who lived on and
        worked the lord’s land
        – Since the Romans,
          peasants had worked
          for large land owners
      Manorialism v. Feudalism
• Manorialism: Economic        • Feudalism: Political
Economic system                Political System
• Originated from latifundia   • Mutual obligations
• Lords owned land             • Fiefs awarded to vassals
• Serfs controlled land        • Lords minted coins and
• Property was shared            made laws
• Lords headed manors          • Lords headed manors
• Lords protected people       • Loyalty
                               • Pyramid structure
• By the Middle Ages, economic life across
  Europe centered around a system of agricultural
  production called “manorialism”
  – Provided peasants with food, shelter, and protection
• Sizes of estates varied from several hundred to
  several thousand acres
  – Included lord’s house, pastures, crop fields, forests,
    and peasant village
• Manorialism concerns economic ties between
  nobles and peasants
           Work on a Manor
• In return for the lord’s protection, peasants
  provided various services to the lord
  – Farming the land
  – Payments for goods, e.g. when a peasant
    ground grain, a portion was left to the lord
  – Road and bridge repair
• Warfare made trade near impossible so
  manors had to produce what was needed
• Most peasants farmed or herded sheep
• Some were artisans like blacksmiths,
  carpenters, millers (grain grounding),
  shoemakers, brewers, etc.
• Most peasants were
  “serfs”—could not
  leave the manor
  without permission
  – Serfs were not slaves
    and could not be sold
• Cruck houses
  – Wood, straw, mud,
            Increased Production
• Agricultural improvements eased the threat of
   – Heavier plow
      •   Deeper cuts
      •   Mould-board pushed the soil sideways
      •   Farmers spent less time in the field
      •   Developed better method of planting
• Planting rotation of fields
   – Planted fields
   – Fallow fields
   – Seasonal adjustments
                Peasant Life
• Poverty and hardship • Most people rarely
  characterized peasant       bathed
                            • Didn’t know about
   – Famine, disease, and
      warfare were constant   germs
      dangers               • Toilets were buckets
   – Few peasants live        emptied into rivers or
      beyond 40
                              – Same stream used for
                                cooking and drinking,
                 Peasant Life
• Invading knights trampled crops and burned
• Dirt-floor houses, no chimney, one or two crude
  pieces of furniture
• People huddled together for warmth
• Animals inside
• Not large variety of food
  –   Few vegetables from the garden
  –   Grain for porridge
  –   Meat was rarity
• Relaxed Sundays
  – Dancing, singing,
    sports like wrestling
    and archery
  – Plays, pageants, and
    shows by minstrels
• Despite differences
  between nobles and
  serfs, they shared an
  interest in the land
• Medieval Europeans
  believed all were
  equal in the eyes of
• requiring duties to
   – Very young cleared
   – Many died at birth
   – No school
• Peasant life: “nasty,
  brutish, and short”
• Although manorial system lacked freedom
  and opportunity for people, it created a
  stable and secure way of life during a
  violent and uncertain time
 The Medieval Church

The Catholic Church shaped the
development of medieval Europe
• During Middle Ages, the Catholic Church
  was the dominant spiritual influence in
  western Europe
• Church was the center of their lives
• Small number of Jews, Muslims, and non-
  Catholic Christians
• Although the Church’s
  primary mission was
  spiritual, the decline
  of Rome in the A.D.
  400s led the Church
  to assume many
  political and social
• Pope: Strongest
  political leader in
  western Europe
• The pope claimed
  spiritual authority over
  Christians since Peter
  the Apostle, Rome’s
  first bishop, was
  chosen by Jesus to
  lead the Church
• The Catholic Church      • Sacraments
  taught that all people     –   Baptism
  were sinners and           –   Penance
  dependent on God’s         –   Eucharist
  grace                      –   Confirmation
• The only way to            –   Matrimony
  receive grace was to       –   Anointing of sick
  take part in the           –   Holy orders
• The church hierarchy
  remained largely
  unchanged during the
  Middle Ages
  – Parish priests oversaw
    the spiritual life of the
  – Bishops occasionally
    visited parishes to
• People had limited understanding of
  church rituals
  – Masses said Latin
  – Many priests poorly educated
  – Few people could read or write
• People would learn about their faith from
  paintings, sculptors, and stain glass
• Church hierarchy remained basically the
• People contacted mostly through priests
• The pope, bishops, and priests lived in the
  world—”in saeculo”
• Regular clergy like monks and nuns lived
  apart from society –”regula”
  – Played an important role in strengthening the
    medieval Church
           Benedict’s Rule
• A.D. 529, a Roman official named
  Benedict founded a monastery that
  became a model for other monasteries
  – Monte Cassino in Italy
  – Drew up list of rules
  – Could not own goods, marry, and are bound
    by monastic laws
  – Poverty, chastity, and obedience
  – Obey directives of abbot (monastery head)
                  Monastic Life
• Monks and nuns played a crucial role in medieval
  intellectual and social life, preserving ancient religious
  works and classical writings
• Long robes, course materials
• Rule of silence
• Women (nuns) lived in convents under direction of an
• Wore simple clothes and wrapped white cloth around
  face and neck called a wimple
• Spinning, weaving, and embroidering items such as
  tapestries and banners
• Taught needlework and use of herbs
      Influence of Monastics
• Not completely isolated
• Crucial role in medieval intellectual and
  social life
• Preserved ancient religious works and
  classical writings
• Scribes laboriously copied books by hand,
  working in a small room with only a candle
  and window for light
• Monasteries and convents provided
  schools, hospitals, food, and guest houses
• Taught carpentry and weaving to peasants
• Pioneered agricultural improvement
         Missionary Efforts
• Pope Gregory I adopted the Benedictine
  Rule to spread Christianity in Europe
• Sent monks and missionaries throughout
• By A.D. mid-1000s, most western
  Europeans had become Catholics
        Power of the Church
• The medieval Catholic Church helped to
  govern western Europe, meting out sever
  penalties for violation of doctrine and
• Even rulers could face and interdict for an
  entire region or country—people could not
  receive the sacraments necessary for
• The Church had feudal ties that boosted
  its wealth and political power but often
  undermined its spiritual vitality
  – Many high Church officials were nobles who
    held land from kings in return for military
    service. Church officials gave land to knights
    who would fight for them
• Many high Church officials were nobles
  who had little devotion to their spiritual
• Church officials received donations from nobles
  wanting to receive salvation
• Nobles would influence religion by having
  relatives receive positions in the Church—they
  were not prepared for such duty
• Gregory VII tried to reform the Church in A.D.
  1215—condemned drunkenness, dancing,
  feasting, etc.
• Criticized “lay investiture”—the giving of
  symbols of office, such as a ring and a staff, by
  secular leaders to bishops they had appointed
              Church Reform
• By the A.D. 900s, many devout Christians were
  demanding reform, including the monastery of
  Cluny in eastern France
  – Cluny had won respect for there consistent pious
    work and life
• Other Church leaders worked to free the Church
  from the control of feudal lords
  – In A.D. 1059, a church council declared that the pope
    would be elected by a gathering of cardinals (high
    church officials) and that the pope would appoint
    church officials
             Fighting Heresy
• Heretics were threatened with excommunication,
  or expulsion from the church
• In order to seek out and punish people
  suspected of heresy, the Church set up a court
  in A.D. 1232 known as the “Inquisition”
  – Often tortured people to obtain confession
  – Punishment ranged from imprisonment to execution
  – Punishments were seen as needing to save the souls
    of heretics
          Friars inspire reform
• Followed monastic rules but did not isolate
  themselves from the Christian community
  – Live in towns and preached Christianity
  – Best known friars were the Franciscans and
• Francis of Assisi founded the Franciscan friars,
  who sought to follow the simple life of Jesus and
  had respect for nature
• Spanish priest named Dominic organized the
  Dominican friars in A.D. 1215
  – Lived a life of simplicity, poverty, and service
                The Jews
• As the Church’s power increased in
  medieval Europe, the position of the Jews
  – Many became artisans, landowners, etc, and
    had been valued by Christian neighbors
  – But by 1000s, people saw Jews as outsiders
  – Blamed the Jews for Jesus’ death
  – Anti-Semitism, hatred of the Jews, came from
    those who blamed the Jews for the death of
• Rulers in England, France, and certain
  parts of central Europe expelled their
  Jewish subjects, many of whom settled in
  eastern Europe
• Many settled in Poland where they were

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