Western Europe in the Dark Ages


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  • Rule of St. Benedict- years probation, solemn vows of obedience, chastity, poverty and silence, strict rules, 5-6 hours of prayer, 4 hours of spiritual reading, 5 hours of labour Augustine – appointed bishop of Hippo in 396 CE (near Carthage) Confessions – spiritual journey from worldly life to life devoted to religious thought. Donatists were N. African Christians who differed from orthodox and had resorted to violence to maintain their own church and clergy. Augustine decided to meet force with force and created theological justification for force against heretics – the just war.
  • Merovingian is derived from the leader of the tribe of Franks First dynasty after the Romans and ruled for 300 years Leader in 481 CE was Clovis I- he united Frankish tribes and made a large fighting force in Northern Gaul, drastically expanding his territory His conversion to Christianity won him support from the Church Clovis I wrote Salic Law which assigned a specific financial value to everyone and everything and in the case of a crime, the guilty had to pay the victim for losses; as well trial options (trial by oath and trial by ordeal) Merovingian's founded and built many monasteries, churches and palaces and spread Christianity throughout Western Europe Eventually dynasty declined as kings relaxed power and became more like figure heads whereas the real power lay with the powerful officials and leading aristocracy He wrote Salic Law which assigned a specific financial value to everyone and everything and in the case of a crime, the guilty had to pay the victim for losses; as well trial options such as (trial by oath= people of status will swear in defence of accused) and trial by ordeal (accused to perform a physical test to show innonnce (believed that God would protect and help the innocent)
  • Charles Martel – by 719 mayor but had more power than kings 732 drove back Muslims to Spain, established French control in southern Gaul Pepin the short – 741-768 Drove church reform Gave English monk Boniface protection as a missionary in Germany – earned gratitude of the pope By 751 he clearly controlled Frankish kingdom but Childeric III still on throne Sent embassy to pope Zacharias who supported him and with papal support deposed Childeric
  • Loved to swim, Aachen (Aix la Chappelle) had thermal springs and he would swim with advisors, sons, bodyguards. “Sometimes a hundred men or more would be in the water together.” Einhard (biographer)
  • Established schools to educate the people and clergy. Manuals for preaching – sermons in vernacular, church and state united. Provided pool of educated people who could administer the empire Precise written Latin language that could be understood everywhere in the multilingual empire. Generation of poets, historians, critics, theologians, philosophers.
  • Frankish custom – divide property among sons Louis the Pious (only surviving son of Charlemagne) created more church reforms – all monks must follow St. Benedict His three sons were quarrelling when he died in 840 Three years of civil war, church took sides and made it worse Charles the Bald – Francia Occidentalis Louis the German – Francia Orientalis Lothair – Francia Media – eldest also emperor Left his kingdom to 3 sons, weakening empire – Vikings to north, Magyars from east, Saracens from south
  • Treatment from family members to exploitation and ransom Non-Christians were sold as slaves to Christians (forbidden to enslave other Christians) Muslims enslaved non-Muslims. Qu’ran stats: slaves are to be treated with kindness and compassion and freeing them is act of charity Rural slaves eventually became serfs – didn’t own land, but received small wage and share of harvest Serfs still considered property, but could own property and the lord obliged to protect
  • Condition and rights more respected in early middle ages than later – patrons, abbesses, scholars – copying and illuminating manuscripts Also Hildegaard of Bingen – ecstatic monastic visions Radegund princess of Thuringia (Germany) prisoner of Franks in mid 500s. Married king and became queen Founded one of the first royal monasteries Canonized after death Bathild – anglo-saxon slave grew up in Frankish courts – married King Clovis II, he died in 657 she was made regent for 10 years until Childeric turned 15. She retired to a monastery and also canonized Irene’s husband Leo IV died in 780, regent for 10 year old son. Even when son Constantine VI took over she became co-ruler. He tried to get rid of her and she had him arrested and blinded, she rued for 5 years as emperor not empress, then deposed and exiled.
  • Iberia- (present day Spain) had privileged class of estate owners called seniores; strong ties to Church; southern Spain conquered by Moors (Islamic people from North Africa) and clashes between Christians and Muslims, who were called infidels (Latin meaning unfaithful) Mozarabs – under Islamic rule – urban Christian Iberians who spoke Arabic and adopted Islamic traditions Charlemagne began the reconquista
  • Roman backwater – only useful as a buffer against barbarians 8 kingdoms each with hundreds and boroughs governed by reeves. Hundreds and boroughs grouped together into shires, governed by shire reeves = sheriffs Alfred the Great of Wessex (871-899) built forts, ships and required all men to serve and beat back the Vikings Also est. court school, promoted literacy among the nobles, learned Latin, translated Latin works into Old English Anglo Saxons converted to xianity – late 500s started by Romans, rulers of various kingdoms started and trickled down to people. 600s Celtic missionaries from Ireland + Wales spread xianity in the north. Bede born in 673 – deacon at 18, priest at 30 – Greek, Latin, math, astronomy, music Ecclesiastical History of the English People 731 – dramatizes conversion of English to christianity Father of English History – primary source about the Anglo-Saxons Ireland – never occupied by Romans or Anglo-Saxons – remained Celtic 5 th century conversion by Patrick and Brigit of Kildare Monasteries – kin of the land donor had rights in the monastery – extending kinship into monastery, not isolated from world – community centre Education, books, training clergy, economic and political centre. Led to Irish monks copying great works Vikings started raiding in 700s because of great wealth of monasteries
  • Vikings started raiding Ireland because of great wealth of monasteries – first recorded 3 raids in 790s. English monasteries suffered much worse in the 800s and in Ireland. Monks left accounts. 9 th century attacking Carolingian Empire - surprise! Had been trading partners – furs, walrus ivory, amber, slaves exchanged for glass, pottery, metalwork, weapons, coins Possible reasons: Overpopulation, internal political battles, climate change, food supply, silver supply from Abbasids in Russia cut off bc. Internal Abbasid trouble. Ships made piracy possible – ocean and inland Civil was of succession in Carolingia increased attacks Threatened to invade Paris in 845 – paid 7000 pounds of silver to stop them, but worst raids continued. 10 th century rulers bought them off by offering land – established permanent settlements England – Danelaw France – Normandy – Rollo agreed to help protect from other raiders in exchange for land from Charles the Simple
  • Beowulf – 3200 lines victories over 3 monsters – Grendel, Grendel’s mother and the superbad huge monster (How to Train your Dragon) underlines pagan beliefs which continue to be important
  • Western Europe in the Dark Ages

    1. 1. Western Europe in the “Dark Ages” 330 CE to 1000 CE Were they dark?
    2. 2. Dark Ages or Middle Ages? <ul><li>Dark Ages </li></ul><ul><li>Gibbon’s book The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1788) set the tone </li></ul><ul><li>Roman/ Greek civilization was best </li></ul><ul><li>Barbarians were forces of darkness </li></ul><ul><li>No culture or unified society in Europe </li></ul><ul><li>Middle Ages </li></ul><ul><li>Newer understanding </li></ul><ul><li>Medium aevium – latin for middle age </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Source of English word medieval </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Seen as a time of change rather than decline </li></ul><ul><li>Society is fragmented – local cultures flourish </li></ul>
    3. 3. Church and Kings <ul><li>Church </li></ul><ul><li>Was granted favours by Roman Emperors/Kings </li></ul><ul><ul><li>land </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>exemption from taxes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>immunity in courts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>positions in courts </li></ul></ul><ul><li>In return church helped kings secure control of territory </li></ul><ul><li>Kings </li></ul><ul><li>Got a supply of educated administrators from Church </li></ul><ul><li>In return kings would enforce laws that prohibited other religions </li></ul>You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.
    4. 4. Monasticism and Saints <ul><li>Monasteries grew 400 -700 CE </li></ul><ul><ul><li>centres of education, literacy and learning </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Rule of St. Benedict </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Reformed conduct </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Saints </li></ul><ul><ul><li>performs miracles as evidence of a special relationship with God </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Must be canonized after death </li></ul></ul><ul><li>St. Augustine </li></ul><ul><ul><li>wrote “Confessions” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>ideas of ethics, self knowledge, and the role of free will </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Wrote treatise allowing violence against heretics – the “just war” </li></ul></ul>
    5. 5. Merovingians Long Haired Kings <ul><li>Clovis I - 481 CE </li></ul><ul><ul><li>United Franks & expanded territory </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Converted to & spread Christianity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Built churches & monasteries </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Salic Law </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Financial value to everyone </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Trial by oath and ordeal </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Art </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Metalwork, Cloisonné enamel </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Glasswork and ivory carvings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Illuminated manuscripts </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Decline – mid 7 th century </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Kings became figureheads </li></ul></ul>
    6. 6. Carolingian Dynasty <ul><li>Charles Martel (the Hammer) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Mayor, not king </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>More powerful than kings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Expands empire of Franks </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Pepin the Short (son of Martel) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Pope Leo declares him king </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Pepin seizes land for Pope </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>now Papal states </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Establishes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Pope as King-maker </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Kings as protectors of Papacy </li></ul></ul></ul>
    7. 7. Charlemagne & Holy Roman Empire <ul><li>Charlemagne – 771-814 CE </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Restores Pope Leo III to power </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Leo crowns him Emperor of the Romans 800 CE </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Holy Roman Empire </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Includes much of Europe for 700 years </li></ul></ul>
    8. 8. Charlemagne’s Legacies <ul><li>Church Reforms </li></ul><ul><ul><li>New liturgy & Latin Bible translations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sermons in vernacular </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Preaching manuals </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Impact </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Latin common language of empire </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The most scholarship since Rome </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Scholarship </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Latin standard, new textbooks, new pronunciation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Carolingian miniscule </li></ul></ul>
    9. 9. After Charlemagne Treaty of Verdun – 843 CE End of the Holy Roman Empire 1600 CE
    10. 10. Slaves and Serfs <ul><li>Serfs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Rural slaves </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Provided labour for land owner </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Received protection from land owner </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Slaves </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Conquered peoples </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Varied treatment </li></ul></ul>Slave dress Tapestry depicting serfs
    11. 11. Women <ul><li>Active in Monastic movement </li></ul><ul><li>Radegund – Queen of Franks in 500s </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Founded monasteries </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Had a relic of the cross </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Irene – Emperor of Byzantium 780 </li></ul>
    12. 12. Iberia <ul><li>711 Moors invade </li></ul><ul><li>Christian reconquista </li></ul><ul><li>790-1250 </li></ul>
    13. 13. British Isles <ul><li>Angles & Saxons invade </li></ul><ul><li>Britons flee to Cornwall and Wales -Arthur? </li></ul><ul><li>Alfred the Great 9 th C </li></ul><ul><li>Danes invade & settle </li></ul><ul><li>Venerable Bede 673 </li></ul><ul><li>Ireland saves civilization </li></ul>
    14. 14. Vikings traders to pirates to settlers
    15. 15. Modern Languages <ul><li>Vernacular languages develop written works </li></ul><ul><li>Old English </li></ul><ul><li>French </li></ul><ul><li>German </li></ul><ul><li>Norse </li></ul>Oldest surviving text in Old English Beowulf 7 th – 10 th century
    16. 16. The Dark Ages Were they really dark? Class Debate