With the spread of Christianity, church officials became deeply involved in government Christianity provided the basis for a first European &quot;identity,&quot; unified in a religion common to most of the continent until the separation of Orthodox Churches from the Catholic Church in 1054. Crusades: Popes, kings, and emperors drew on the concept of Christian unity to inspire the population of Europe to unite and defend Christendom from the perceived aggression of Islam From the 7th century onward, Islam had been gaining ground along Europe&apos;s southern and eastern borders. Muslim armies conquered Egypt, the rest of North Africa, Jerusalem, Spain, Sicily, and most of Anatolia (in modern Turkey), although they were finally turned back in western Europe by Christian armies at the Battle of Tours in southern France.
Barbarian was originally a term applied to any foreigner, one not sharing a recognized culture or degree of polish with the speaker or writer employing the term. The word derives from the Greek and expresses with mocking duplication (&quot;bar-bar&quot;) alleged attempts by outsiders to speak a &quot;real&quot; language.
Early Middle Ages
Secular & Sacred Power in
Key Formative Elements of
• Church became deeply involved in government
• Christianity (institution of the Church) & the feudal system
provided the basis for a first European "identity,"
• Unified in a religion common to most of the continent—in an
uncertain world the common religious ceremonies and cult of
saints provided sense of community, safety
• Social roles clearly defined within feudal structure
• Crusades: Pope, kings, and Holy Roman emperors unite and
defend Christendom from the perceived aggression of Islam
Religious officials had different ranks within the
of St. Peter –claimed
supreme authority in
all doctrinal matters
important in the early
spread of Christianity
**bishops were often
great landowners and
Religion as a Unifying Force
• Despite class differences—everyone had to follow the beliefs and
rituals of the Church
• Christians all followed the same path to salvation and participated
in the 7 sacraments and all were subject to canon law (officially
established rules and laws governing the practice and faith of the
• Excommunication (denied salvation—intended to make someone
repent) & interdict (prevented many sacraments and religious
practices from being performed in a king’s land) : two of the
harshest church punishments—gave the pope leverage over kings
• Peasants looked to the village church as both a religious and social
gathering space—village church and its liturgies were the center
of social life by 8th century in Western Europe
Persistence of Tradition
• In addition to being highly religious, medieval people (converted
“pagans”) were also superstitious and believed in a variety of
mysterious beings and good luck charms.
• Intermingling between certain religious beliefs and common
– Example: Candlemas—annual mass to bless candles—large house candles kept
The “Two Swords”:
Political and Spiritual
The “Two Swords”:
Political and Spiritual Power
• Pope Gregory I (Gregory the Great-540-604)—
first pope to greatly expand the papacy’s political
power by acting independently of the secular
• Pope Leo III exerts political authority over
Charlemagne by crowning him emperor in 800 CE.
• These are both instances of the religious/spiritual
authority of the Church becoming more politically
• Both the religious and secular authorities wielded
so much general power, that they unavoidably
stepped on each other’s toes.
Pope Crowned Charlemagne Roman
Emperor: Dec. 25, 800
and led to the rise
of the feudal
from the south,
Magyars from the
east, and Vikings
from the north
Who Were the Vikings?
• The Vikings, or Norse, were Scandinavian warriors who raided
Northern Europe, Eastern Asia, and Eastern North America--
settled into Iceland in 860 and later colonized Greenland
• The word Viking means one who lurks in a “Vik” or bay-- a pirate
• Viking Age: mid-700s to mid-1100s-- Period of raiding as well
creating a network of Scandinavian trading settlements
• Vikings were comprised of Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish
decent--Viking sagas (tales)—about 40—historical events, family
histories--chief primary source for Viking accounts
• Their religion was paganism with a focus on war gods—later
converted to Christianity and began to settle down as farmers
• Around 1000, a Viking group under Leif Erikson reached North
America (Newfoundland) five hundred years before Columbus.
• Not just pirates & fierce warriors but-traders, explorers, colonis
Ships and Navigation
• We know what their ships looked
like because many Vikings were
buried with their goods that
sometimes included their boats.
• They had very swift wooden long
ships, equipped with sails and oars.
• Shallow draught (depth
underwater) of these ships meant
they were able to reach far inland
•Crews of 25 to 80 men would be
common, but larger ships could
carry over a hundred people.
be raised at stem and
stern as a sign of
The Feudal System
•Took definite form in France during the 9th and 10th centuries
•Feudalism: a political, economic, and social system of the Middle
Ages—provided stability in a dangerous world and was based on
mutual obligations (reciprocity)
•Vassalage—land grants given to someone who offers service and
fidelity in exchange for protection
•Lords (wealthy landowners) built castles to defend themselves an
•Response to the instability caused by the decline of the Frank’s
empire and the new round of raids threatening Europe
•Relationship between duty, obligation, and loyalty—important to
extract work from your inferiors but also maintain a level of
satisfaction among them—delicate balance
• Began in France around 900 CE after the Normans settled
there—then spread to England and other parts of Europe
• In a feudal society, land is exchanged for military service and
• The vassal then leases the land to serfs who work the land,
pay taxes, and provide other services in exchange for shelter
• The ownership of land was the basis of power.
• Lords also presided over a local court.
Lord/Noble: wealthy landowner—the king granted this
land to the noble in exchange for loyalty and military
Fief: grant of land given by a lord to a vassal
Vassal: a person under the protection of a feudal lord
to whom he has vowed homage and fealty : serves in
a military capacity
Fealty: the quality or state of being faithful
Knight: an armed warrior who fought on horseback
and provided military service to a lord
Manor: the lord’s estate (house and grounds)—900-
Serf: member of the lowest feudal class, attached
to the land owned by a lord and required to perform
labor in return for certain legal or customary rights—
serfs were NOT slaves (were not bought and sold,
could sue a lord in court)
• Decentralized economic system of isolated
self-sufficient agricultural estates (manors)
worked by serfs---lords owned the labor
• Manors were self-contained
worlds: self-sufficient, decrease in
trade, only a few items not
produced on the grounds
Piers Plowman: Manorial Life
• Written by William Langland in 1362—excellent source
for descriptions of the hard life the peasants endured
on the manor
• Lived in a two-room cottage with dirt floors
• Farm animals such as pigs allowed indoors
• Unsanitary conditions—lice etc
• Simple diets—cheese, soups, brown bread, hearty
• Sexual division of labor
• Children were put to work as soon as they were old
enough—many did not live to adulthood (35 years old was
• Belief that God determined a person’s place in society
The Church and the Holy Roman Empire
• Charlemagne was crowned emperor by Pope Leo III.
His empire later becomes known as the Holy Roman
Empire (more German than French)
• Otto I: first real Holy Roman Emperor
• Otto defeated several German princes with the help of
the clergy and also invaded northern Italy on behalf of
Pope John XII who crowned him emperor in 962.
• German-Italian empire became known as the HRE—
strongest state in medieval Europe until about 1100—
but also caused problems—pope/German nobles clash
over power; Italian nobles resent German power over
Emperors Clashing with Popes-
Early Example of Lay Investiture
• Pope John XII (a notorious womanizer and gambler)
feared Otto’s rising power---began to make alliances
with Otto’s enemies
• Otto had him deposed and selected a new pope
• John XII came back with a vengeance to regain his
papal throne—but then John XII is murdered (allegedly
by a man who found his wife and John together)
• Otto then deposed the new pope and forbid the
Romans from choosing another pope unless he
approved of the choice
• Example of the secular authority asserting control
over the religious authority, with the emperor putting
church officials in place – a case of lay investiture.
Dictates entered into Papal Register of Gregory VII
• The Dictates of the Pope
• That the Roman church was founded by God alone.
• That the Roman pontiff alone can with right be called universal.
• That he alone can depose or reinstate bishops. (OUTLAWING LAY INVESTITURE)
• That, in a council his legate, even if a lower grade, is above all bishops, and can pass sentence of deposition against them.
• That the pope may depose the absent.
• That, among other things, we ought not to remain in the same house with those excommunicated by him.
• That for him alone is it lawful, according to the needs of the time, to make new laws, to assemble together new congregations, to
make an abbey of a canonry; and, on the other hand, to divide a rich bishopric and unite the poor ones.
• That he alone may use the imperial insignia.
• That of the pope alone all princes shall kiss the feet.
• That his name alone shall be spoken in the churches.
• That this is the only name in the world.
• That it may be permitted to him to depose emperors.
• That he may be permitted to transfer bishops if need be.
• That he has power to ordain a clerk of any church he may wish.
• That he who is ordained by him may preside over another church, but may not hold a subordinate position; and that such a one
may not receive a higher grade from any bishop.
• That no synod shall be called a general one without his order.
• That no chapter and no book shall be considered canonical without his authority.
• That a sentence passed by him may be retracted by no one; and that he himself, alone of all, may retract it.
• That he himself may be judged by no one.
• That no one shall dare to condemn one who appeals to the apostolic chair.
• That to the latter should be referred the more important cases of every church.
• That the Roman church has never erred; nor will it err to all eternity, the Scripture bearing witness.
• That the Roman pontiff, if he have been canonically ordained, is undoubtedly made a saint by the merits of St. Peter; St.
Ennodius, bishop of Pavia, bearing witness, and many holy fathers agreeing with him. As is contained in the decrees of St.
Symmachus the pope.
• That, by his command and consent, it may be lawful for subordinates to bring accusations.
• That he may depose and reinstate bishops without assembling a synod.
• That he who is not at peace with the Roman church shall not be considered catholic.
• That he may absolve subjects from their fealty to wicked men.
POPE GREGORY VII
Lay Investiture Controversy
• Henry IV was outraged that Pope Gregory VII (a
morally upright pope) banned lay investiture—so
naturally Henry IV deposed Gregory
• The letter nicely ended with, “I, Henry, king by the
grace of God, with all of my Bishops, say to you, come
down, come down, and be damned throughout the ages.”
• Pope Gregory excommunicated Henry—quickly leading
other bishops and German princes to side with the pope
(excommunication was a powerful weapon)
• In the end…Gregory lost and was driven from Rome