THE FRAGMENTATION OF
THE CAROLINGIAN EMPIRE
General population, most of them peasants,
lived frightened by wars and invasions.
Their main worry was to survive and many of
them become serfs of the feudal lords.
Between the 9th and 10th centuries, Normans (Vikings), Muslims
and Hungarians attacked and invaded Western Europe.
THE RISE OF FEUDALISM
• The power of the
monarchy was weakened.
• The kings asked the
nobles and their private
armies for help.
• In return the king gave
them land and power.
• The nobles became his
THE RISE OF FEUDALISM
A Vassal's Obligations
• The vassal was required to
attend the lord at his court.
• Help administer justice
• Contribute money if needed.
• He must answer a summons
to battle, bringing an agreed
upon number of fighting
• As well, he must feed and
house the lord and his
company when they travelled
across his land.
A Lord's Obligations
• He had to give a land (fief)
to the vassal.
• He was obliged to protect
the vassal, give military aid,
and guard his children.
• If a daughter inherited, the
lord arranged her marriage.
• If there were no heirs the
lord disposed of the fief as
-Claimed ownership of
land he got
-Worked the land for
-Bottom of the
-Granted land to Lords
-Gave land to vassals if
they fought for him
-Knight-Was granted land
by Lord (Noble)
-Could live on land
as long as they
fought for the
Medieval society was organized into three
• Nobility (Knights) were the owners of
weapons, and their mission was to
protect the rest of the population in the event
of an attack.
• Clergymen were monks and priests. They
prayed to guarantee the spiritual salvation of
• Peasants and artisans or other workers were
in charge of producing food and necessary
• Monarchs were the
representative of God
• Their mission: to govern
their people and
maintain a unified
• The king was recognised
as “primus inter pares”
(first among equals).
Among the king’s responsibilities
• Leading the nobles and their
armies in military campaigns.
• Raising taxes for wars,
coronations and weddings.
• Acting as supreme judge in
• The Royal Council or Curia Regis helped the
King to govern. This was a troup of nobles who
advised him on making decisions.
• Medieval monarch had no fixed residence.
They moved between their castles,
accompanied by their court.
THE WARRIOR NOBLES
• The main function
of the nobility was
• Nobles’ sons had to
prepare to be
• Knights had to
territory and help
the king and the
• Nobles had many privileges:
they did not work and they
did not pay taxes and they
allowed to carry weapons.
• Castles were the homes of
nobles. They were also places
of refuge for the population
when under attack.
• Kings and feudal lords lived in castles.
• In the castle, nobles received their vassals,
imparted justice and collected taxes from their
• Sometimes, banquets
were held in the castle.
• The lady of the castle
• In the centre of the
castle was the keep.
This tower served as a
watchtower and the
living quarters of the
• Peasants were more
than a 90% of the
• Property given by a king or noble to a feudal lord
was called a fiefdom.
• The fiefdom was divided into:
– The lord’s demesne o manor. Each manor
included a large house or castle, pastures,
fields, and forests. It also had a village where
the peasants who worked on the manor lived.
– Holdings. These plots of land were given to
free peasants in exchange for labour and taxes.
• The lord of a manor controlled everything that
happened on his lands.
• His word was law.
• The lord resolved any disputes that arose on
the manor and punished people who
• He also collected taxes (a part of the harvest,
days of obligatory labour, a small fee for using
the oven, the mill, the blacksmith, bridges…)
from the people who lived on his manor.
PEASANTS ON THE FIEFDOM
• They could be:
– Free peasants, who paid rent to farm their land,
and could own land. They had the right to marry
or leave the fiefdom.
– Serfs, who were not free and were forced to
work on the lord’s land.
• Peasants lived under a subsistence economy.
They produced just enough food for
themselves, but not for trade.
• Peasants lived in
small villages or in
isolated houses on
• Their houses were
very simple with
one or two rooms.
Sometimes also a
store and a stable.
• The daily lives of
medieval people were
influenced by religion.
• The Catholic Church
obligations, like praying,
going to mass on
• As most of the population depended on
agriculture, the Church went into the
Countryside to evangelise. Cherches were
built in every village and monasteries become
important cultural centres.
• The Catholic Church divided the clergy into
– Secular clergy consisted of the
Pope, the head of the Church;
cardinals and bishops; and priests.
– Regular clergy consisted of the
members of religious orders. Each
religious orders had rules which
explained its members’ duties.
Monks and nuns were ruled by
abbots and abbasses.
• Church could excomulgate anyone.
• Church controlled education, help to poors
and sick people and the religious ceremonies.
• The Church created:
– The Peace of God: sacred places could not be
– The Truce of God: setting aside certain days of the
year when violence was not allowed.
LIFE IN THE MONASTERIES
• In the monasteries, books were preserved and
copied and the monks taught reading and
• Monasteries were made up of groups of
buildings such as stables and barns, the
refectory, the scriptorium or library.
• They also had land worked by peasants and
• Monks used to copy manuscripts by hand and
decorated them with small illustrations.
• One of the main
founded in the 6th
century by Saint
Benedict and it
• They took vows of
poverty, chastity and
• Dominican and Franciscan monks, also called
friars, were educators and missionaires
outside the monastery.
• Crusades were a series of military campaigns
fought by Christians against Muslims in the