Europe in the Middle Ages


    Chapter 5:  Europe in the Middle Ages






    SECTION 1.   Feudalism:  A System for Living



    Objectives:         1.  Trace the origins of feudalism and understand how it worked.

                                  2.     Evaluate the positive and negative aspects of feudalism as a

         political and an economic system.


     After the collapse of the Roman Empire and later the empire of Charlemagne, Europe was forced to develop a new system of government that could protect both small towns and entire kingdoms. That system, feudalism, was organized like a pyramid with the monarch at the top and the many laborers, or serfs, at the bottom. Though unequal, feudalism met the needs of the people of the Middle Ages.



    Key Terms

    Middle Ages:  period between A.D. 500 and 1500

    medieval:  from the Middle Ages

    feudalism:  economic and political system of the Middle Ages

    vassal:  person who swore allegiance to a lord

    manor:  medieval self-sufficient community ruled by a lord

    self-sufficient:  able to provide for all one’s needs

    serf:  peasant who belonged to the land owned by the lord of the manor


     Key People and Places

    Charlemagne:  king of the Franks who came to power in 768

    Gaul:  area now called France

    Feudalism (An Outline)


    • Invaders
      • Vikings from present-day Denmark, Sweden, and Norway invaded Charlemagne’s empire, looting towns and murdering people
      • System of protection was needed
    • Feudal Pyramid
      • Kings and queens at the top of the pyramid had most power, followed by nobles, then knights, then peasants
      • Landowner gave fief to vassal in exchange for promise to fight for him
    • Duties
      • Lord
        • Protected vassals and their land
        • Became child’s protector if vassal died
        • Asked vassal’s advice before going to war
      • Vassals
        • Served in lord’s army
        • Appeared at lord’s court
        • Made payments to lord for his daughter or son


    -         Community

    o       Manor was a large estate that often included a village and farmlands

    o       Lord made rules, acted as judge, and chose officials to manage farming and other work

    o       Manor was often far from towns and villages; had to be self-sufficient

    o       Most peasants were farmers; others were carpenters, shoemakers, smiths

    -         Life for Peasants and Serfs

    o       Peasants did all work on the manor

    o       Lived in one-room huts with dirt floors and window

    o       Most peasants were serfs who belonged to the land

    o       Serfs could not marry or leave manor without lord’s agreement

    o       Could become free by saving enough money to buy a plot of land or by escaping to a city and prevent being caught for a year and a day




    Feudalism Pyramid: 

    SECTION 2:  The Rise of Cities


    Objectives:         1. Describe the role of the Church in medieval society

    2. Trace the growth of cities and the rise of a merchant class and

         how they changed medieval life

    3. Assess the impact of the growth of trade in the later Middle Ages

    4. Summarize the cultural achievements in learning and the arts


    The strong governments created by the Church and powerful lords maintained order in Europe. This allowed towns to grow and to develop into important centers of trade. Cities often had walls for protection, so space within the city was limited. Although overcrowding and unclean conditions encouraged the spread of disease, cities promoted the arts and higher education.


    Key Terms

    clergy: men who performed the services of the Roman Catholic Church

    excommunication:   prevent a person from taking part in Church life

    guild:  organization of people who practiced a certain trade

    apprentice:  young person who was an unpaid worker learning a craft

    chivalry:  qualities of a knight

    troubadour:  traveling performer who sang about the deeds of knights


    Life in the Middle Ages: 


    SECTION 3:  The Crusades


    Objectives:         1. Determine the religious and economic reasons for the Crusades

    2. Summarize the events of the First Crusade

    3. Explain how the Crusades changed medieval society

    4. Evaluate the actions of crusaders


    By 1071, a region in Southwest Asia considered holy by Christians had been taken over by the Muslim Seljuk Turks. Because of religious and economic factors, the Catholic Church called for a crusade to drive out the Turks in 1095. Over the next 200 years, crusaders fought a series of battles against the Muslims. In the end, the Crusades did not win back the Holy Land. However, they greatly increased trade with Asia.


    Key Terms

    Crusades:  series of attempts by Europeans to gain control of the Holy Land


    Key People and Places

    Pope Urban II:  pope who called on Europeans to come to the aid of the Byzantine emperor

    Peter the Hermit:  leader of ordinary people on the First Crusade

    Saladin:  Muslim leader

    Holy Land:  Palestine

    Jerusalem:  city sacred to Jews, Christians, and Muslims




    SECTION 4:  Kings and Popes


    Objectives:         1. Describe the importance of the Magna Carta

    2. Identify the reasons for the development of nations in Europe

    3. Determine the reasons for the conflicts between kings and popes in the later Middle Ages


    With the rise of cities, the feudal system began to decline and monarchs became the main authority in their kingdoms. Many of these kingdoms evolved into nations such as England and France. The monarchs' ambitions to gain land, wealth, and power resulted in long and deadly wars.


    Key Terms

    nation:  community that shares a government and often has a common language and culture

    the Magna Carta:  agreement between King John and the English nobles

    Parliament:  governing body of England


    Key People and Places

    Pope Gregory VII:  pope who excommunicated King Henry IV

    King Henry IV:  king who sought to replace the pope

    King John:  king who signed the Magna Carta

    Joan of Arc:  woman who led the French troops to victory against England in the Hundred Years’ War

    Runnymeade:  field where the Magna Carta was signed

    Orleans:  site of the battle in which Joan of Arc led the French forces to victory


    Kings and Popes:  Timeline