Chapter VIII: Foundation
of Medieval Europe
Lecturer, Department of International Studies, RUPP
Research Fellow, Cambodian Institute for
Cooperation and Peace (CICP)
Department of International Studies
of the Romans
by the Pope
• The Germanic Kingdoms
• Feudal Society
• Life on the Manor
• The Medieval Church
• How many Germanic tribes were there?
• How were Germanic tribes organized?
• Why did Germanic tribes invade Rome?
• Why were Germanic tribes able to invade Rome?
• When did Germanic tribes take over the Western
The Germanic Kingdoms
• How were the Germanic Kingdoms in Western
• What did Charlemagne accomplish during his
• What threats did Western Europe face in the
700s and 800s?
• During the medieval period, many Germanic
tribes set up their small kingdoms in Italy,
Gaul, Spain, Britain, and North Africa.
• What happened if those tribes turned to be
–Territorial glory and wealth leading to WAR
• With more military strengths, the Franks
under Clovis controlled much of Western
Roman Influence on Government
• Between form of Roman government and that
of Germanics, which one was more complex?
• Germanic tribes had a simple form of
government as follow:
Officials (a few)
Tax collection: unnecessary (military service)
• However, some Germanic tribes (e.g.
Ostrogoth) followed the form of Roman
government (including the laws and languages)
• Some (Angels, Saxons, etc.) moving to Britain
preserved Germanic custom and languages
eventually evolving into “Modern English”.
• The Franks controlled much of Western Roman
empire in fifth century A.D. (now Germany and
• Clovis, a brilliant and ruthless king, further
invaded and expanded his territory.
• Why did Clovis convert to follow Christianity?
–Encouragement of his wife, Clotilde
–Gaining more support from Church and
Christians (other kingdoms belonged to
Arian sect – “Heretics” or “untrue Christian”
according to Catholic Church)
–Gaining more support means gaining more
• What happened after Clovis died in 511A.D.?
–Lands divided for his four sons, and those
kingdoms declined due to invasions.
• One of invasions was made by Muslim.
• What is Muslim?
• By the 700s, Muslim in Middle East, finally
came to invade Frankish Kingdom.
• Charles Martel, Mayor of Palace, allied with
Christians and defeated Muslims.
• Charles Martel created a very strong central
government in Frankish kingdom. After his
death, his son, Pepin, became a successor
approved by the Church.
• Why was the Church’s approval required?
–To justify or legitimize authority over
politics in the kingdom
• After the death of Pepin, his son Charles
became the next successor.
• Charles was strong and reunited the Kingdom
over the Western Rome and thus called
“Charlemagne” meaning “Charles the Great”
• In 800 A.D., Pope Leo III crowned
Charlemagne as “Emperor of the Romans”
• What were his policies to strengthen the
–Recruited talented royal officials called
–Supervised “nobles” whether they are royal
and willing to defend their own lands
–Create uniform laws
–Appointed judges to maintain social justice
–Spread Christianity throughout the empire
and other regions
–Payment (tithe = 10% of income) of each
Christian to the Church
–Invited scholars from all over the Europe to
teach Charlemagne’s children and those of
–Ordered clergies to set up schools and
libraries where many students could learn
• In church, monks made copies of bibles and
developed art illumination (decorated letters –
capital letter and lower-case letter that are
A New Wave of Invasion
• After the death of Charlemagne, other next
successors lacked wisdom and forceful
• What happened then?
–Internally, civil wars for power and divided
the Frankish Kingdom into three in 843A.D.
–Externally, invasions of Magyars or
Hungarians from Asia, Slavs from Eastern
Europe, and particularly Vikings from
• In 911, parts of Northern France given by the
Frank to Vikings and named as “Normandy”
(Norman means “men from the north”)
• Other Vikings moved to settle in Iceland,
Greenland, and about 1000 A.D. in eastern
coast of North America.
• Those Vikings later on were converted by
Christian missionaries to follow Christianity in
some parts of Western Rome.
• How were warfare and feudalism linked?
• What was relationship between lords and
• What was the role of noblewomen in feudal
• What is Feudalism?
–The system of rule by local lords who were
bound to a king by ties of royalty
• What is the origin of Feudalism?
–Germanic custom: warriors swore an oath
of royalty to their chiefs
–“Lesser nobles” as knights and “greater
nobles” as lords
• In 700A.D., the knights:
–they learned the stirrup and fought on the
–Protected by armors
–Carried heavy weapons
–During Charles Martel, he had no money to
pay lords/knights and thus gave them lands.
• King: Gave lands and gain protection
• Lords/knights: Gave royalty and gain the
lands to support their lives
• Later on, lesser lord existed called vassals in
addition to powerful lord and knights
• What is the structure of feudalism?
• What is an unwritten arrangement?
• Feudal contract, based on Germanic custom
and traditional practices, refers to the
unwritten rules of rights and duties of people
in the feudal society.
• According to feudal contract, what is the
relationship between lords and vassals?
- Provided the vassals with fief (actually lords still owned the
fief but the vassals could use and pass it on to their heirs.
- Protected the vassals by providing a court of justice to solve
problems between and among vassals
- Acted as guardian for young children if the vassals died
- Provided the lords with their military services (for about 40
days a year)
- Serving the lords during holidays and special occasion (e.g.
protection and participants)
- Gave advise or participated in legal decisions in the lord’s
court of justice
- Paid annual fees, called a relief, to the lords
- Collected and paid ransom money if the lords were
captured in battles
- Paid fees when the lords’ elder daughter was married
and/or when their elder son was knighted.
Don’t have much power; but perceived as the
highest noble rank in the society.
Had more power but owed royalty to the king
in exchange for the lands given by the king
Had much more power because of controlling
knights and owed much royalty to their lords
Defensed and owed royalty to the vassals as
their commanders in chief in exchange for land
Owed royalty to the king and esp. lords
because they worked on the fiefs of the lords
• As the system developed, it became more
• Complex leadership leading to a web of
conflicting royalties (e.g. different lords have
the same vassals)
• Who got importance and unimportance of
warfare at that time?
• Despite a few external wars, lords/vassals still
fought each other because:
– Boundaries (territorial glory)
– Inheritance rights over fiefs
– Ransom (money when hostage)
– Any other issues solved by warfare
• However, for peasants, warfare was a disaster
– Crops destroyed
– Animals seized
– Houses burnt
– Sometimes peasants killed
• What is Chivalry?
• It is the code of conduct for knights (Christian
values + virtues of being a warrior).
• Knights must:
–Be brave, generous, kind and royal
–Protect and respect noblewomen
–Defense their family’s honor
–Put on armors whenever in battles, etc.
• Noblemen were mostly warriors.
• What were rights/duties of noblewomen?
– Inherited the fief but could not rule it
– Her father, husband, or eldest son as her
– Arranged her marriage by her father
– Supervised household and entertained her
– Commanded vassals and servants at the
absence of her husband (lord)
– Gained more influence when her husband had
– Accessed to education
–Read and write to
teach their children
Life on the Manor
• What is manor?
• Manor refers to an area including a village or
several villages and the surrounding lands.
• Peasants: Gave lands to their lords and got the
• Lords: Gave protection and got the lands
• Peasants tied to the land were called Serfs.
• What is relationship between lords and serfs?
- Gave a portion of land for peasants
(would seize if peasants failed to fulfill their duties)
- Protected the serfs
- Owned their royalty to the lords
- Worked three days a week for the lords
(e.g. repaired castles, farmed, etc.)
- Renting lands
- Using rice millers of lords
- Payment usually in forms of grain, chickens,
clothes, eggs, etc.
• What is development of agriculture?
–Crop rotation (three field system)
• Crop: Wheat or rye (from fall to winter)
• Crop: Oat, pea, bean, barley (from spring
• The last to let the field rest (uncultivated)
–More forests cleared to get more lands for
• Feudal Justice:
• Two courts:
–One for Vassals
–Another for peasants
• What if conflicts occur between lords and
lords and between lords and vassals?
The Medieval Church
• Churches became more complex and
–Its own government, laws, courts, and tax
–Teaching place (school and library)
One of difficult tasks of churches was to
convert others to follow Christianity (e.g.
Anglo-Saxon, Hungarians, Slavs, and Vikings)
• What were roles of Church in the feudal
–Educated clergy as evidence in the court
–Owned fiefs (high church officials as lords)
–Organized Christian ceremonies
–Marriage documents made before the
–Maintained peace (convinced lords/vassals
not to wage wars and hurt commoners)
–Led people to salvations
–Put excommunication if disobey the church
• What were challenges of the Church?
–Control of clergy (corruption among
–Buying and selling of religious offices
–Campaigns by Church against those who did
not believe in its teaching
–Competition between Church and
king/lords to involve in politics