• well be regarded as a distinct respectable period


 Middle Ages                                                                                   

 
Middle Ages, the
period in European history from the collapse of Roman civilization in the 5th

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century CE
to the period of the Renaissance (variously interpreted as beginning in the
13th,

14th, or
15th century, depending on the region of Europe and on othe factors).

  A brief treatment of
the Middle Ages follows. For full treatment, see Europe, history of: The

Middle Ages.

  The
term and its conventional meaning were introduced by Italian humanists with
invidious

intent. The humanists were engaged
in a revival of Classical learning and culture, and the notion

of a thousand-year period of
darkness and ignorance separating them from the ancient Greek

and Roman world served to highlight
the humanists’ own work and ideals. It would seem

unnecessary to observe that the men
and women who lived during the thousand years or so

preceding the Renaissance were not
conscious of living in the Middle Ages. A few—Petrarch

was the most conspicuous among
them—felt that their lot was cast in a dark time, which had

begun with the decline of the Roman
Empire. Indeed, Petrarch would provide something of a

founding statement for the
humanists when he wrote, “For who can doubt that Rome would

rise again instantly if she began
to know hersef?” In a sense, the humanists invented the Middle

Ages in order to distinguish
themselves from it. They were making a gesture of their sense of

 freedom, and yet, at the same time, they were
implicitly accepting the medieval conception of

history as a series of well-defined
ages within a limited framework of time. They did not speak

of Augustine’s Six Ages of the
World or believe in the chronology of Joachimite prophecy, but

they nevertheless inherited a
philosophy of history that began with the Garden of Eden and

would end with the Second Coming of
Christ. In such a scheme, the thousand years from the

5th to the 15th century might well
be regarded as a distinct respectable period of history, which  

would stand out clearly in the
providential pattern. Throughout European history, however,

 there has never been a complete breach with
medieval institutions or modes of thought.

 

• Food And Drink In The Medieval Village

  Everyday food for the poor in the Middle Ages
consisted of cabbage, beans, eggs, oats and

brown
bread. Sometimes, as a specialty, they would have cheese, bacon or poultry. All
classes

commonly
drank ale or beer. Milk was also available, but usually reserved for younger
people.

Wine
was imported from France and Italy for those with money. The wealthier you
were, the

better
you ate. More meat and game such as venison was available to those who could
afford

it,
along with white bread, spices and rich sauces. If you lived near a body of
water, fish was

prominent
in your diet. Inland lakes and streams provided freshwater fish and turtles,
while

coastal
regions near oceans and seas had ample access to saltwater fish like herring,
cod, whale

 and eel. When possible, fish was eaten fresh.
Though, fish was dried, smoked or salted for

long-term
storage to be eaten during winter. Honey straight from bee hives called
apiaries was

the
common sweetener during the period; while herbs, nuts, roots and flowers were
eaten and

used
in medicinal tonics and teas.

 

• Timeline
Of The Medieval Period

  •  476 – The fall of the Roman Empire. Rome had
ruled much of Europe. Now much of the land

would
fall into confusion as local kings and rulers tried to grab power. This is the
start of the

Dark
Ages or the Middle Ages.

  •
481 – Clovis becomes King of the Franks. Clovis united most of the Frankish
tribes that were

part
of Roman Province of Gaul.

  • 570 – Muhammad, prophet of Islam is born.

  •
732 – Battle of Tours. The Franks defeat the Muslims turning back Islam from
Europe.

  •
800 – Charlemagne, King of the Franks, is crowned Holy Roman Emperor.
Charlemagne united

much
of Western Europe and is considered the father of both the French and the
German

Monarchies.

  •
835 – Vikings from the Scandinavian lands (Denmark, Norway, and Sweden) begin
to invade

northern
Europe. They would continue until 1042.

  •
1066 – William of Normandy, a French Duke, conquers England in the Battle of
Hastings. He

became
King of England and changed the country forever.   

  •
1096 – Start of the First Crusade. The Crusades were wars between the Holy
Roman Empire

and
the Muslims over the Holy Land. There would be several Crusades over the next
200 years.

 
• 1189 –
Richard I, Richard the Lionheart, becomes King of England.

 
• 1206 – The
Mongol Empire is founded by Genghis Khan.

 
• 1215 –
King John of England signs the Magna Carta. This document gave the people some

 rights and said the king was not above the
law.

 
• 1271 –
Marco Polo leaves on his famous journey to explore Asia.

 
• 1337 – The
Hundred Years War begins between England and France for control of the French

throne.

 
• 1347 – The
Black Death begins in Europe. This horrible disease would kill around half of
the

people in Europe.

 
• 1431 –
French heroine Joan of Arc is executed by England at the age of 19.

 
•  1444 – German inventor Johannes Gutenberg
invents the printing press. This will signal the

start of the Renaissance.

 
• 1453 – The
Ottoman Empire captures the city of Constantinople. This signals the end of the

Eastern Roman Empire also known as
Byzantium.

 
• 1482 –
Leonardo Da Vinci paints “The Last Supper.”

 

 

 

 

• Medieval
Life

   The
lives of all the classes, rich and poor, were dominated by the feudal system.
What was

Village
life and general Medieval Life like during the turbulent era of the Middle
Ages?  Discover

facts
and information about the Life of a noble lord, Life of a knight, the Life of a
lady or

 noblewoman, the Life of a peasant, the Life of
a peasant woman, the Life of a monk and the

Life
of a nun. The jobs and occupations dictated the quality of life during the
Middle Ages as did

Health
Hygiene, medicine and doctors. This was also the time of changes, many prompted
by

 the Crusades and travel to strange lands. The
inventions of the times are described in this

section
and reflect the growing scientific and technical advances of the era. The
section also

includes
an entertainment section  and Medieval
sports providing the history, facts and

information
about the sports and games played during that time.

 

• The
Lives Of The Medieval Serfs

  Although the feudal class monopolized land
and power within medieval society, this elite

group
represented only a tiny percentage of the total population. The majority of
people –

more
than ninety percent – were unfree peasants or serfs who, along with freemen,
farmed the

soil.
Medieval serfs lived quite differently from their landlords. Bound to large
farms or manors

they,
like the farmers of the old Roman latifundia, provided food in exchange for
military

protection
furnished by the nobility. They owned no property. They were forbidden to leave
the

land,
though, on the positive side, they could not be excited. Their bondage to the
soil assured

them
the protection of feud al lords who, in an age lacking effective central
authority, were the

sole
sources of political authority. During the middle ages, the reciprocal
obligations of serfs

and
lords and the serf’s continuing tenure on the land became firmly fixed. At
least until the

 eleventh century, the interdependence between
the two classes was generally beneficial to

both;
serfs needed protection, and feudal lords, whos position as gentlemen-warriors
excluded

them
from menial toil, needed food. For upper and lower classes alike, the individual’s
place in

medieval
society was inherited and bound by tradition.

 

 • The
Medieval Romance And The Code Of Courtly Love

  Courtly love, also called refined love, is a
confusing notion for some modern readers to

understand.
For most of us, love is tied up with romance and attraction. It is often
publicly

announced
with a marriage or other public arrangement. Courtly love, on the other hand,
had

nothing
to do with marriage. Infact, most accounts state that it wasn’t possible to
experience

courtly
love with your spouse. This does not mean married people were excluded from
courtly

love;
they just experienced it with someone ‘outside’ their marriage. The concept
seems to

have
gotten its start in medieval literature, but it eventually caught on in the
royal courts.

Here’s
the part that gets confusing for modern readers: courtly love was all about
romance (the

cheesier
the better), but sexual contact typically had nothing to do with it. Most of us
consider

sexual
acts to be something shared between lovers. But at medieval court, the term
‘lover’

referred
to the person with whom someone danced, giggled, and held hands; procreation
was a

spousal
duty. To do otherwise was to break the rules of etiquette. However, we all know
that

rules
wouldn’t be in place unless people were breaking them.

  The medieval romance, which flattered and
exalted the eristocratic lady as an object of desire,

was
directed toward a primarily female audience. A product of the aristocratic (and
male)

imagination,
the lady of the medieval romance had no counterpart in the lower classes of

society,
where women worked side by side with men in the fields and in a variety of
trades.

Despite
its artificiality, however, the theme of courtly love and the romance itself
had a

significant
influence on Western literary tradition. In that tradition, even into modern
times,

writers
have trended to treat love more as a mode of spiritual purification or as an
emotional

affliction
than as a condition of true affection and sympathy between the sexes.

 

 

 

 

• The
Rise Of Medieval Towns

  Early Town Life: Inside the wall, there were
narrow winding streets, and horse drawn carts

piled
high with goods to trade. Along each narrow street, there were little shops.
Store owners

 lived above their shops. Shops were made of
wood with thatched roofs. Fire was a constant

worry.
In the beginning, people who lived in town were not that cramped. Towns were
more of

a
grouping of traders, each with a permanent shops – traders that had banded
together to

protect
themselves from outside attack. There were some inns to house travelers, and
some

stables
to take care of the horses, and maybe a doctor or two. But towns were small. As
more

and
more people moved to the towns, the towns grew in size. Things were not as
organized.

Towns
began to stink. There was no plumbing in the towns. Garbage and sewage was
tossed

into
the street. The only people who cleaned up and burned the garbage were the shop
owners

in
the area who needed to keep the streets somewhat passable so that people could
come to

their
shops. Much of the garbage stayed in the streets until it rotted. People got
sick all the

time.
The living conditions were horrible. Unless you had a shop of your own, with
customers

that
paid their bills, you either worked for someone in exchange for food and
shelter, or you

begged.
In spite of the conditions, more and more people arrived in the towns, eager to
escape

their
life as serfs on the manors.

  Rise of Towns: The number of towns in Western
Europe grew rapidly. Many sprang up along

the
sides of the road on the trading routes. War between barbarian tribes had
declined, but

there
were many bandits. Townspeople built walls around the town to keep themselves
safe.

 

• The
Medieval Church

  The Medieval Church played a far greater role
in Medieval England than the Church does

today.
In Medieval England, the Church dominated everybody’s life. All Medieval people
– be

they
village peasants or towns people – believed that God, Heaven and Hell all
existed. From

the
very earliest of ages, the people were taught that the only way they could get
to Heaven

was
if the Roman Catholic Church let them. Everybody would have been terrified of
Hell and

the
people would have been told of the sheer horrors awaiting for them in Hell in
the weekly

services
they attended. The control the Church had over the people was total. Peasants
worked

for
free on Church land. This proved difficult for peasants as the time they spent
working on

Church
land, could have been better spent working on their own plots of land producing
food

for
their families. The Church also did not have to pay taxes. This saved them a
vast sum of

money
and made it far more wealthy than any king of England at this time. The sheer
wealth of

the
Church is best shown in its buildings : cathedrals, churches and monasteries. In
Medieval

England,
peasants lived in cruck houses. These were filthy, usually no more than two
rooms,

with
a wooden frame covered with wattle and daub (a mixture of mud, straw and
manure). No

cruck
houses exist now – most simply collapsed after a while as they were so poorly
built.

However,
there are many Medieval churches around. The way they were built and have
lasted

for
centuries, is an indication of how well they were built and the money the
Church had to

invest
in these building. Important cities would have cathedrals in them. The most
famous

cathedrals
were at Canterbury and York. After the death of Thomas Becket, Canterbury

Cathedral
became a center for pilgrimage and the city grew more and more wealthy. So did
the

Church.
Cathedrals  were vast. They are big by
our standards today, but in Medieval England

they
were bigger than all buildings including royal palaces. Their sheer size meant
that people

would
see them from miles around, and remind them of the huge power of the Catholic
Church

in
Medieval England.

 

• The
Medieval University

  The students who flocked to Cambridge soon
arranged their scheme of study after the pattern

which
had become common in Italy and France, and which they would have known in
Oxford.

They
studied first what would now be termed a ‘foundation course’ in arts – grammar,
logic and

rhetoric
– followed later by arithmetic, music, geometry and astronomy, leading to the
degrees

 

of
bachelor and master. There were no professors; the teaching was conducted by
masters who

had
themselves passed through the course and who had been approved or licensed by
the

whole
body of their colleagues (the universitas or university). The teaching took the
form of

reading
and explaining texts; the examinations were oral disputations in which the
candidates

advanced
a series of questions or theses which they disputed or argued with opponents a
little

senior
to themselves, and finally with the masters who had taught them. Some of the
masters,

but
by no means all, went on to advanced studies in divinity, canon and civil law,
and, more

rarely,
medicine, which were taught and examined in the same way by those who had
already

passed
through the course and become doctors. The doctors grouped themselves into
specific

faculties.

  Untill the the thirteenth century,
upper-class men and women received basically the same

kinds
of formal education. But with the rise of university women were excluded from
receiving

a
higher education, much as they were forbidden from entering the priesthood.

 

• Medieval
Scholasticism

  Scholasticism is a Medieval school of
philosophy (a method of learning) taught by the

academics
of medieval universities and cathedrals in the period from the 12th to 16th
Century.

It
combined Logic, Metaphysics and semantics into one discipline, and is generally
recognised

to
have developed our understanding of Logic significantly. The greatest of the
scholastics and

the
most influential teacher of his time was the Dominician theologian Thomas
Aquinas(1225-

1274).
Aquinas lectured and wrote on a wide variety of threological and biblical
subjects, but

his
major contribution was the Summa Theologica, a vast.com pendium of virtually
all of the

major
theological issues of the High Middle Ages.