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The Byzantine Empire
and Feudalism
Lets Review Rome
• At the height of the Roman empire, Rome
encompassed the entire Mediterranean
• 284 CE- Emperor Diocletian divides the
empire into two, maintains control of the
wealthier Eastern half (Greece, Anatolia,
Syria, Egypt) while the Western half (Italy,
Gaul, Spain, Britain) continues to decline
• Emperor Constantine moves the capital of
Rome to the city of Byzantium and
renames it Constantinople
The Eastern part of the
empire is what becomes the
Byzantine Empire
• Strategically located to control trade between Asia
and Europe
• Destination point on the
Silk Road
• Protected by water on
three sides
Byzantine Empire
• Byzantine Empire was the “heir to Rome”
• Blended Roman, Greek, and other Mediterranean cultures
• Was it’s most powerful under Justinian
• Was an autocrat with complete authority
• Greatest accomplishments:
• Hagia Sophia- Massive church built
using Roman architecture techniques
• Justinian’s Code- law code for the
Byzantine Empire
Justinian’s Code of Law
Impact on the
Byzantine Empire
Impact on Medieval
Impact on present day
Simplified and
organized Roman laws,
helped unify the
empire’s territories
Influenced how
monarchs made laws
to strengthen their
Basic principles of
Justinian’s Code have
international law
Impacted English
Common Law, which in
turn impacted US Law
Legacies of the Byzantine Empire
• The Byzantine Empire preserved
Roman (and in turn, Greek) art,
architecture, and writings
• Also spread many things to Russia,
including Greek Orthodox
Christianity (we’ll talk more about
this later), the Cyrillic Alphabet,
domed architecture, and
Hellenistic/Greco-Roman culture.
Collapse of the Byzantine Empire
• Internal power struggles made
the empire weak
• The Crusades (which we’ll get to
soon) also weakened the empire
• Trade shifts to Venice, and
Ottoman Turks invade
Constantinople, renaming it
Meanwhile, in Western Europe…
• As the power of Rome
faded, Europe emerged
• Many natural resources in
Europe- lumber, rivers,
minerals, access to major
• However, after Rome the
culture of Europe declined
No trade
No education
Weak governments led to wars
Dark Ages-vs-Medieval Age-vsMiddle Ages
• Because things were so turbulent and difficult after the decline of
Rome, many people looked back on this time and called it the “dark
• Middle ages- time between Classical Age and the Modern Era
(Renaissance, Age of
• Medieval comes from
the Latin term for
“Middle Age” and refers
to the culture that
developed from a blend
of Greek, Roman,
Germanic, and Christian
Battle of Tours, 732 BCE
• Before:
The Muslims from the Middle East
were spreading their influence across
North Africa and into Europe. The
predominately Christian Europeans
were scared of these foreign beliefs.
• During:
Europeans banded together under
Charles Martel to stop the advance of
the Muslim forces in present day Spain
• After:
Europe remains Christian and develops
according to the dominion of the
Roman Catholic Church.
• Grandson of Charles Martel
(Charlemagne=Charles the Great)
• Spread Christianity throughout his empire
• When the Pope asked him for help in
suppressing a rebellion, Charlemagne marched
his army to Rome.
• In gratitude the Pope will crown Charlemagne
Emperor of the Romans, which angers the
Byzantine Emperor
Charlemagne’s Legacy
• Education- wanted to create a “second Rome”, was determined to
revive Latin Learning. Wanted to preserve the records of the nation, set
up a school in the palace to educate officials.
• Religion- united empire under
• Government- set up a system
for strong, efficient government. Worked closely with
the Church and took utilized
the title of Emperor.
Feudal System
• Feudalism- a loose system of government in
which land is exchanged for service
• Feudal contract- the exchange of pledges
between lord and vassal
• Developed for protection from the constant
warring of Medieval Europe
(weak/decentralized governments led to
Feudal Roles:
King- granted large fiefs (estates) to Lords
Lords- Exchanged parcels of land to lesser
lords in return for service and loyalty
Knights- horseback cavalry who fought
battles for their lords
Serfs- Performed the tasks to maintain
the land. Farmed, repair roads, bridges
and infrastructure.
Bound to the land-not slaves, but not
free either
System is based on birth, very
difficult to move between the
Knights and Chivalry
• Knights- professional class of soldier
• Given land by lords for military
• Trained mounted warriors,
heavily armored
• Identified by a Coat of Arms and
a Family Crest
• Chivalry- a code of conduct for the
warrior class
• Bravery
• Loyalty
• Protect those who are
weak (esp. women)
• Manor- lord’s estate
• Were self-sufficient- able to meet their own needs without outside
Medieval Christianity
• The most powerful force in Medieval Europe was
the Roman Catholic Church.
• Provided a stable force amid constant warfare and
political turmoil
• The Church dominated everyday life, played a role
in politics, and influenced kings
• Was a unifying force: bonded people together, was
the center of social life too
• During the Middle Ages people believed that they
must suffer during life to be rewarded in the
afterlife. To reach the afterlife they must receive the
Sacraments (rituals).
• Also had to pay a tithe (tax) to the church that
equaled 1/10 of their income
The Roman Catholic Church
• The Catholic Church was ruled by the Pope
• Hierarchy within the Church: Pope, Cardinals, Arch
Bishops, Bishops, Abbots, Priests
• The Pope shared political power with secular
rulers- kings, monarchs
• The Church had the power to
punish/influence kings and other individuals
• Excommunication- banishment from the
• Interdiction- denying the performance of
sacraments (important religion rituals) in the
kingdom  more serious because the king’s
subjects would fear being doomed to
eternal suffering
Royalty vs. Clergy
• Royalty had tried to maintain the use of Lay
Investiture, which means they could appoint
the highest members of the Clergy.
• The Church said lay people (normal people)
should not have such power.
• If the royals can choose the priests, they can
influence the power of the church, the most
powerful entity in all of Medieval Europe
This form of Christianity was
different than the Christianity that was
taking hold in the Byzantine Empire,
called Eastern or Greek Orthodox.
Roman Catholic vs. Greek Orthodox
• Both are Christian, with the same basic beliefs:
Roman Catholic
Greek Orthodox
- Believed that Father
and Son are equal
- Main celebration is
Christmas (believed in
the immaculate
- Speak Latin
- Pope has the authority
- Priests cannot marry
- Jesus
- 10 Commandments
- Monotheistic
- Believed the Father
created the Son
- Main celebration is Easter
(did not believe in the
immaculate conception)
- Speak Greek
- Emperor has the authority
to appoint Patriarch to
lead church
- Priests can marry
The Great Schism (1054 CE)
• Disagreements between the Roman
Catholic Church and the Eastern
Orthodox Church led to a schism
(split) in 1054
• Leaders of both tried to
excommunicate one another
• Remained distant from one another
through and after the Middle Ages
The Crusades (1095-1291 CE)
• Muslim warriors were invading the
Eastern Christian Byzantine Empire
• The Byzantine Emperor turned to the
Pope for help, and the Pope called for
a Holy War against the Muslim
• Short term cause: Muslims invade
• Long term causes: Hatred of the
Muslims and power struggles in the
Middle East
• Main Goal: To recapture the Holy
Land (Palestine) where Jesus had
lived and died
Reasons for the Crusades
• Increase the power of the Church
• Restore all of Christianity to the
Papacy (Pope’s control)
• Christians believed they would be
absolved of sin if they crusaded
• Nobles/Kings hoped for new land and
riches in the Holy Land
• Serfs/Peasants could break Feudal
bonds and find freedom by crusading
• Merchants profited from the Crusades
Although there were between
7 and 12 Crusades in total, only
the first 4 had any “success”
Victory and Defeat
• Only the first Crusade came close to achieving
its goal
• 1099- Christian Crusaders capture
Jerusalem, massacre all Muslim and Jewish
inhabitants of the city
• Created various crusader states in
• Late 1100s, Seljuk Leader Saladin united most
of the Muslim World under his control
• Captured Jerusalem back, forbade his
soldiers from killing or stealing from
defeated Christians and Jews
• King Richard II tried to recapture Jerusalem,
but was unsuccessful
• Roman Christian Crusaders end up attacking
Eastern Orthodox Christians in Constantinople
Effects of the Crusades
• Short term effect- Muslims hold on to the
Holy Land
• Long term effects:
• Hatred between Muslims and Christians
• Expanded trade between Europe, the
Middle East, and Southwest Asia
• New technologies and ideas come to
Europe from the advanced Islamic
• Sacking of Constantinople by Crusaders
weakened the Byzantine Empire
• Feudalism is weakened in Europe
• Kings become more powerful
Changes in Europe
• New agricultural techniques and technology (like the iron plow) helped
produce more food
• New Middle Class develops- merchants, artisans, tradespeople
Commercial Revolution
• The resurgence of trade into Western Europe
led to a fundamental change in European
• New innovations in business
• Guilds- trade associations of merchants
and artisans
• Banks develop
• Insurance for businesses
• Economy changes from barter to moneybased
Changes in Government
• Kings begin attempting to centralize and
increase their power, using oppressive
tactics and harsh methods
• Nobles grow tired of this, and force King
John of England to sign the Magna
Carta, which had two important ideas
that would shape the development of
• Nobles have rights
• Even the king must obey the law
Art & Architecture in the Middle Ages
• Most art and architecture in the
Middle Ages centered around the
Church and faith in God
• To please God Medieval clergy and
kings built large stone churches. These
large churches were done in the
Gothic Style . The stone is very heavy
and required supports known as flying
• Inside the churches, stone sculptures
and stained glass windows depicted
stories from the Bible and the lives of
The Black Death
• As trade increased, diseases began to spread. The worst was the Bubonic
Plague, known as the Black Death
The Black Death
-Lack of hygiene
-Famine and lack of
-1/3 of the population
-Loss of faith in Church
-Serfdom declines
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