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Joe Plvan-Franke Global 9 Block 2

May 4, 2010 Middle Ages Essay

The Middle Ages was a period of change in Europe. Disorganized governments fought amongst each other in huge wars. Peoples viewpoints on life and religion became much different during events like the Black Plague and the Crusades. Systems of working were reformed, such as in the feudal system. These political, social and economic ideas shaped the Middle ages and the world around them. After the fall of Rome in 476 AD, government became disorganized. The former empire broke into warring states ruled by Germanic and Asian tribes. The only European government to find any king of stability was the Frankish Empire. Under the Ruler Charlemagne, the Franks took over most of modern France. Charlemagne set up a strong and efficient government. After saving the papal states from invaders twice, he was crowned Holy Roman Emperor by Pope Leo III. His empire is remembered for being the first empire to unite Western Europe since Rome. Later, in England and France, disordered governments clashed in large wars. In 1066, the French Normans, led by William the Conqueror, took over England. The Normans blended French and English cultures. Later in 1337, the French, led by Joan of Arc, won another victory against the English. At the start of the war, the English were winning several battles, but Joan of Arcs ability to unite the French people made them fight with twice as much spirit. In 1215, the English King John I signed the Magna Carta, a document which put the King under the law. It was a landmark event in monarchial governments, because the people were slowly gaining political rights. Social views changed greatly in the Middle ages, too. In the late Middle Ages,

Christians marched to the Middle East reclaim the Holy Land, where Jesus lived and taught, from the Muslims. They never accomplished that feat, but the blending of cultures between the Middle East and Europe increased trade. It also made Europeans realize a bigger world and think of their place in it. In the mid 1300s, a disease from Asia was brought to Europe by Italian traders, changing the continent and every person in it. 25 million people, or 1 in 3, died from the disease. Because of the decrease in population, the surviving working peasants demanded higher pay and more rights from their lords. Kings gained more power and land in a weakened Europe. It completely changed the society and economic systems throughout the continent. The main economic system in Europe during the Middle ages was the feudal or manorial system. It was divided into classes, with each class owing something to the class above and below it. At the top were Kings. Under that were lords, who owned a manor. They owed loyalty to the king. Below the lords were vassals, who were lesser lords or knights, fighting soldiers. Knights were expected to be fiercely loyal to their lord and to fight for them in conflicts with other lords. Lords, in turn, gave them a small plot of land called a fief. At the bottom were peasants and serfs, or peasants who were bound to the lords land. Both got food, shelter and protection from their lords. In return, they farmed the land and paid their lords a tax. This system was mainly for protection in the disorganization of the early middle ages, because there was no centralized government to offer protection. The feudal system ended after the black plague. Agricultural achievements increased the economy of many countries, too. Manors started to use the three-field system, which farmed two fields and left the third bare for a

year so the soil could replenish. This allowed two thirds of the farmland to be farmed each year instead of half. A sophisticated system of irrigation was also developed. These advancements allowed more food to be produced, causing the population to grow and the feudal system to make more money. The political, social, and economic advances and changes during the European Middle Ages were very important to the world and the way it changes. From things that changed only one region to entire continents, the period of time was vital to the entire earth. It still is part of the world today.