A New Civilization Emerges in Western Europe


      Christian culture dominated European philosophy and art, but it generated both change and some conflict. During the centuries before 1000, small amount of clergy continued the efforts of preserving and interpreting past wisdom, particularly the writings of church fathers such as Augustine. From 1000 ad onward, a series of outstanding clerics advanced the logical exposition of philosophy and theology to new levels. According to some theologians, they thought that it was possible to prove the existence of God, and one writer, Peter Abelard wrote a treatise called Yes and No which showed several logical contradictions in established interpretations of doctrine.

       Christian devotion undoubtedly ran deep and may well have increased with time among many ordinary people. Religious art was another cultural area in which the medieval West came to excel (Islamic/Hindu). Like philosophy, medieval arts and architecture were intended to serve the glory of God. Paintings mainly drawn on wooden panels, reflects Christ's birth and suffering and the lives of the saints. Medieval architecture initially followed Roman models, particularly in church building, using a rectangular, or Romanesque, style. In each buildings there are differect originality in it, for example, Gothic architects build soaring church spires and tall arched windows. Overall, medieval artistic life created a host of important themes, where religion was the centerpiece. Medieval culture was a rich intellectual achievement in its own right and also setted in motion a series of developments that would be building for later Western art.

 1. Middle Ages: The postclassical period in western Europe began with the fall of the Roman Empire and lasted until the 15th century. Featured gradual recovery from the shock of Rome’s collapse and growing interaction with other societies, particularly around the Mediterranean.

2. Gothic: Built soaring church spires and tall arched windows; although their work focused on creating churches and great cathedrals, some civic buildings and palaces also picked up the Gothic motifs. The originality of Gothic styles reflected the growing Western ability to find suitable new means of expression, just as use of Gothic styles in the later Western world showed the ongoing power of medieval models.

3.Vikings: Seagoing Scandinavian raiders from Sweden, Denmark, and Norway who disrupted coastal areas of western Europe from the 8th to the 11th centuries.

4. Manorialism: the system of economic and political relations between landlords and their peasant laborers.

5. Serfs: lived on self-sufficient agricultural estates called manors. Serfs were agricultural workers who received some protection, including the administration of justice, from the landlords; in return, they were obligated to turn over part of their goods and to remain on the land.

6. Moldboard: Curved iron plate; heavy plow introduced in northern Europe during the Middle Age, allowed deeper cultivation of the soil; a technological innovation of the medieval agricultural system.

7. Three-field system: System of agricultural cultivation by 9th century in western Europe; included one-third in spring grains, one-third fallow.

8. Carolingians: Royal house of Franks after 8th century until their replacement in 10th century.

9. Charles Martel: Also known as “Charles the Hammer,” was responsible for defeating the Muslims in the battle of Tours in 732, although his victory had more to do with Arab exhaustion and an overextended invasion force than Carolingian strength.

 ←Charles Martel

10. Charlemagne: Charles the Great, established a substantial empire in France and Germany around the year 800.

11. Holy Roman emperors: Emperors of northern Italy and Germany, following the gain of new visibility soon after Charlemagne’s empire split. Their rule had become increasingly hollow, precisely because they relied too much on their imperial claims and did not build a solid monarchy from regional foundations.

12. Feudalism: A political and economic system of Europe from the 9th to about the 15th century, based on the holding of all land in fief or fee and the resulting relation of lord to vassal and characterized by homage, legal and military service of tenants, and forfeiture.

13. Vassals: Members of the military elite who received land or a benefice from a feaudal lord in return for military service and loyalty.

14. Capetians: Mainly exploited their position as regional feudal lords in the area around Paris. They controlled many serf-stocked manors directly, and they held most other local landlords as vassals. The kings also formed feudal links with great lord in other parts of France, often through marriage alliances, gradually bringing more territory under their control.

15. William the Conqueror: Invaded England from Normandy in 1066; extended tight feudal system to England; established administrative system based on sheriffs; established centralized monarchy. Tied the great lords of England to his royal court by bonds of loyalty, giving them estates in return for their military service. He used some royal officials, called sheriffs, to help supervise the administration of justice throughout the kingdom.

 ←William the Conqueror

16.  Magna Carta: Great Charter issued by King John of England in 1215; confirmed feudal rights against monarchical claims; represented principle of mutual limits and obligations between rulers and feudal aristocracy.

17.  Parliaments: Bodies representing privileged groups; institutionalized feudal principle that  rulers should consult with their vassals; found in England, Spain, Germany, and France. The parliaments gained the right to rule on any proposed changes in taxations; through this power, they could also advise the crown on other policy issues.

18.  Hundred Years War: Conflict between England and France from 1337 to 1453; fought over lands England possessed in France and feudal rights versus the emerging claims of national states.

19.  Pope Urban II: Called for the First Crusade in 1095, appealing to the piety of the West’s rulers and common people to mount military assault to free the Holy Land from the Muslims.

20.  St. Clare of Assisi: Exemplified this new spirit of purity and dedication to the church; she was deeply influenced by Saint Francis, also from Assisi, who had converted to a life of piety and preaching in 1205 and who founded a new monastic order around him.

 ←St. Claire of Assisi

21.  Gregory VII: Pope during the 11th century; tried to purify the church and free it from interference by feudal lords; quarreled with Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV over practice of lay investiture.

22.  Peter Abelard: Wrote a treatise called Yes and No in which he showed several logical contradictions in established interpretations of doctrine; although protested his faith, he clearly took an impish delight in suggesting skepticism.

23.  St. Bernard of Clairvaux: An intellectual of a different sort, stressed the importance of mystical union with God, attainable even on this earth in brief blissful glimpses, rather than rationalist endeavor; believed that reason was dangerous and that God’s truth must be received through faith alone.

24.  Thomas Aquinas: Italian-born monk who taught at the University of Paris; maintained the basic belief that faith came first, but he greatly expanded the scope given to reason.

25.  Scholasticism: Dominant medieval philosophical approach; so-called because of its base in the schools or universities; based on use of logic to resolve theological problems.

26.  Troubadours: A series of courtly poets, based particularly in southern France in the 14th century; wrote hymns to the love that could flourish between men and women. Although their verses stressed platonic devotion rather than sexual love and paid homage to courtly ceremonies and polite behavior, their concern with love was the first sign of a new valuation of this emotional experience in the Western tradition.

27.  Hanseatic League: An organization of cities in northern Germany and southern Scandinavia for the purpose of establishing a commercial alliance.

28.  Jacques Coeur: One of Europe’s most extraordinary merchants, demonstrated the opportunities and risks of new forms of trade; son of a furrier, he married the daughter of a royal official and served as a tax official until he was caught minting coins with less valuable metals. Also became financial advisor and supplier to the French king and was ennobled; his property was confiscated, but adventurer to the last, he died on a Greek island while serving in a papal fleet against the Turks.

29.  Guilds: Sworn associations of grouped people in the same business or trade in a single city, sometimes with loose links to similar guilds in other cities. These organizations were new in Western Europe, although they resembled guilds in various parts of Asia but with greater independence from the state. They also limited membership, regulated apprenticeship, guaranteed good workmanship; often established franchise within cities.

30.  Black Death: Plague that struck Europe in 14th century; significantly reduced Europe’s population; affected social structure.

31. Roman Catholic Church: The Christian church characterized by an episcopal hierarchy with the pope as its head and belief in seven sacraments and the authority of tradition.

32.  Pope: Bishop of Rome; head of the Christian Church in Western Europe.

33.  Franks: A confederation formed in Western Germany of a certain number of ancient barbarians. Their name is first mentioned by Roman historians in connection with a battle fought against this people about the year 241.

34.  Benedict of Nursia: Founder of monasticism in what had been the western half of the Roman Empire; established Benedictine Rule in the 6th century; paralleled development of Basil’s rules in Byzantine Empire.

35.  Three estates: The three social groups considered most powerful in Western Europe; included one-third in spring grains, one-third fallow.

36.  Ferdinand and Isabella: Along with Isabella of Castile, monarch of largest Christian kingdoms in Iberia; marriage to Isabella created united Spain; responsible for reconquest of Granada, initiation of exploration of New World.

37.  First Crusade: Pope Urban II preached a sermon at Clermont- Ferrand in France to launch the First Crusade. The aim was to aid the Christians of the East and return to Christian control the Holy Sepulcher; absolution from sin an eternal glory were promised to the Crusaders, who also hoped to gain land and wealth in the East. The Crusaders then took over many of the cities on the Mediterranean coast and built a large number of fortified castles all over the Holy Land to protect their new territories.

38.  Third Crusade: (1189-92) Crusader forces had gained Cyprus and the city of Acre. With each crusade, relations between the Byzantines and the Western forces became more estranged.

39.  Fourth Crusade: Set out in 1202 with Egypt as its goal; after choosing side in a dynastic dispute in Byzantium, however, the Crusaders turned their siege upon Byzantium’s capital, Constantinople, to collect an enormous sum of money that had been promised for their earlier support.

40.  Francis of Assisi: Converted to a life of piety and preaching in 1205 and who founded a new monastic order around him.

41.  Investiture: Practice of state appointment of bishops; Pope Gregory VII attempted to ban the practice of lay investiture, leading to war with Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV.

42.  Augustine of Hippo: Accepted by most scholars to be the most important figure in the ancient Western church; drifted through several philosophical systems before converting to Christianity at the age of 31. As a Manichean, he became attracted to the more skeptical positions of the Academic philosophers, although tempted in the direction of Christianity upon his arrival at Milan, he turned first to neoplatonism.

43.  Roger Bacon: In Oxford, members of the clergy, did experimental work with optics, pursuing research done earlier by Muslim scholars.

44.  Geoffrey Chaucer: Known as the author of the Canterbury Tales; these stories written by many other authors, reflects the tension between Christian values and a desire to portray the richness and coarseness of life on earth. Chaucer’s narrative shoes a fascination with bawdy behavior, a willingness to poke fun at the hypocrisy of many Christians, and an ability to capture some of the tragedies of human existence.

45. Romanesque: Usually a style used in building churches, surmounted by domes.

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