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Chapter I. Politics and Religion
Photo I-0-1. Pope Gregory VII and Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV, 1077
1. The Early Middle Ages (750-1000) 9
The Rise and Fall of Carolingian Dynasty 11
Vikings, Magyars, and Muslims; Byzantine Civilization 19
Slavonic States; Islam Civilization; Christianity in Conflict 33
2. The High Middle Ages (1000-1300) 47
2-1. The Catholic Church: Reform and Growth 49
2-2. The Seljuk Turks and the Crusades 65
2-3. The Emergence and Growth of European Kingdoms 83
3. The Late Middle Ages (1300-1400) 105
The Black Death; The Hundred Years’ War 107
Political Instability and the Ottomans 119
The Decline of the Medieval Church and Mysticism 124
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Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
Photo I-0-2. Great Battles in the Middle Ages
Photo I-0-3. The Church in the Early Middle Ages
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
In the Early Middle Ages (750-1000), the Germanic kingdoms and the Byzantine Empire were
sharing a common bond in Christianity, but their harmony was politically impossible and both
civilizations continuously moved apart. The rise of Islam formed another power dominating the
southern and eastern Mediterranean world. In fact, the rise of the Carolingian dynasty replaced
the Western Roman Empire. The Pepins had served the Merovingian dynasty as the mayor of the
palace and gained power, and finally Pepin III established the Carolingian dynasty. His son and
successor Charlemagne was coronated as Roman emperor by the pope in 800, that symbolized
that the Roman Empire was reborn based on the Roman elements, Christianity, and the Germanic
elements; which constituted the foundation of European civilization. The lands north of the Alps
became the political center of Europe without any common political and socio-cultural tradition.
The agrarian foundation was inadequate to centralize political-military power of the monarchical
system in the eighth and ninth centuries. When the Vikings, the Magyars, and the Muslims
invaded lands throughout Europe, the monarchy had no capability to provide protection for the
people. As a result, the local magnates provided their security, gained power, and became the
lords; which created the feudalism that lasted until the rise of absolutism. On the other hand, the
Byzantine Empire expanded lands toward the east; the Slavs migrated toward the west and the
south, and converted to Christianity; and the Muslims established the Abassid dynasty based on
the armies from Khurasan (modern Iran), build a new capital in Baghdad, and created Islam
civilization. Thus, Europe had been engaged in internal and external struggles for two centuries
until 1000 when its recovery started to get ready to vitalize for expansion. How did the political
development create the new economic system of feudalism and chivalry? How did Christianity
and Islam differently affect their politics, economies, and societies?
In the High Middle Ages (1000-1300), the three significant developments appeared in politics
and religion - Catholic reforms, political centralization, and the crusades in Europe. In the past,
Rome and papal state had faced serious problems: the popes came from noble families without
spiritual quality; many monasteries were destroyed by the foreign invaders; the rise of feudalism
made church officials hold fiefs with military obligations; the priests married and collected money
from the church for living. However, the Catholic Church began reforms with the Clunia programs,
Cistercian order, the Franciscans, and the Dominicans; but Catharism and Waldensianism were
rejected as heresy. Meanwhile, the European kingdoms grew and centralized their political power.
In England, King John sealed the Magna Carta in 1215 that secured “equal access to court” and
“due process of law” based on the spirit of feudal relations between kings and their vassals. In
France, Philip IV controlled all classes, encouraged industry and commerce rather than agriculture,
and expanded its border to the Atlantic, the Pyrenees, the Mediterranean, the Alps, and the Rhine.
In Spain, the Christians conquered the southern part ruled by the Muslims, and consolidated them
into the kingdoms of Castile and Leon, Aragon, and Portugal, but Granada remained until 1492.
In Germany, Frederick II controlled northern Italy and left Germany to feudalism. Since then, the
German princes had chosen weaker kings as their emperor for decentralization. In northern
Europe, the Scandinavian kingdoms had emerged with a political structure and converted to
Christianity. In Eastern Europe, the Teutonic Knights conquered Poland and established its
military order in 1226; and the Mongols conquered central Asia and Russia, and established the
Golden Horde. As the state and religion are expanded, their conflict was unavoidable, as shown
in the cases of Gregory VII versus Henry IV in 1077, and the murder of Archbishop Smith Becket
under Henry II in England in 1170. The crusades were a mixed outcome of religious and political
powers when the popes were supreme on the earth as they wished.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
In the Late Middle Ages (1300-1400), the booms experienced in the thirteenth century was
followed by a century of dark slump with serious famine, plague, economic depression, social
upheaval, rising crime and violence, war and political changes, and the decline of church power.
One of major developments was war and political instability. When Charles IV of France died
without a male heir in 1328, Edward III, son of Philip’s daughter, claimed the French throne. As
Philip attacked Guyenne, Edward declared war on Philip, which was the beginning of the One
Hundred Years’ War between England and France. In 1356 when French King John II was
captured, a peace treaty was signed: France recognized full sovereignty of Guyenne, and Edward
denounced his claim of the French crown; but war resumed in 1369. Despite twenty-eight years
of truce starting in 1398, Henry V renewed the war in 1415. His army marched to the French
court in Troyes in 1420, and Henry V and Charles VI signed a treaty: Henry kept Normandy and
married Princess Catherine. When the Anglo-Burgundian armies attacked the southern city of
France in 1429, Joan of Arc provided a turning point for the French army to lead the war toward
their victory. In 1453, when the war ended, Henry VI lost all lands gained in France except Calais.
During the war, light infantry of England was more successful than traditional French cavalry, so
that the necessity of feudal cavalry was reduced and the lord-vassal relations became loose.
Meantime, the Holy Roman Empire consisting of lands of Germany and Italy fell apart without
centralized power. Moreover, the Catholic Church began to decline as the states centralized their
political power. As the plague killed a half of Europeans, many monks run away, and plague
victims were buried without last rites; the rising political power challenged clerical supremacy
through taxes on church revenues and political intervention in pope election; and the church was
corrupted without self-adjustment as the power reached at its Zenith. As France intervened in the
election of the pope, the Catholic Church simultaneously held three popes at Rome, Avignon, and
Pisa by 1409; which ended by the Council of Constance in 1417.
The Middle Ages were in shifting of power relations between politics and religion. During
750-1000, the invasions of Muslims, Vikings, and Magyars decentralized political power, when
the Catholic Church grew continuously. The rulers of rising kingdoms often support the religion
for politics; and peoples in the time of difficulties believe in God for peace in mind. During 10001300, the church became supreme over the state. Innocent III claimed, for example, that the papal
authority is superior to the royal power “just as the moon gets her light from the sun” and he
intervened in European politics as a supreme judge by using spiritual weapons. In the meantime,
European kingdoms continuously grew and centralized their political power. During 1300-1350,
as a result, the power relations between state and church became worse, when the church wanted
to keep their privilege, but the state pursued taxation, justice, and election of the pope. For
example, Philip IV of France imposed taxes on the French clergy, judged the clergy in the royal
court, and used political power to elect a pope, which caused the Great Schism with three popes,
and state-church relations began to reverse. In politics itself, Frederick II focused his control on
northern Italy by leaving Germany to feudalism. As a result, both Germany and Italy had been
decentralized until the nineteenth century. The German princes had chosen weak kings for their
independence from the centralized monarchy, while the papal state in part contributed to the
decentralization of Italy. Chapter I consists of three sections: the Early, High, and Late Middle
Ages. The Early Middle Ages covers the rise of Carolingian dynasty; the invasions of the Muslims,
the Vikings, and the Magyars; Byzantine civilization, the migration of the Slavs, and Islam
civilization; but the emergence of feudalism and chivalry is discussed in Chapter II. The High
Middle Ages focuses on reforms of the Catholic Church; the Jews; the growth of European
kingdoms; the Turks and the Mongols; and the Crusades. Finally, the Late Middle Ages discusses
about war and political instability; and the decline of the Catholic Church.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
1. The Early Middle Ages from 750 to 1000
Europe was not born in the early Middle Ages: “weak political systems dominated most of the
Continent at the end of our period, and the active and aggressive political systems of later on in
the Middle Ages were hardly visible.”1 In fact, at the death of the Emperor Justinian in 565, “the
Mediterranean was still the heartland of the civilized world. Having conquered Africa, Italy and
southern Spain from the Vandals and the Goths, Justinian could entertain the illusion of having
taken back the western empire that his predecessors had lost by their indolence. Yet only three
years after his death, the Lombards invaded an Italy that the twenty-year-long reconquest had bled
to exhaustion. They firmly established their domination in the north – to be known henceforth as
Lombardy – and founded the duchies of Spoleto and Benevento, whereby they sought to cut links
between Rome and Ravenna, the Byzantine administrative center on the Adriatic coast. The power
of Byzantium was too distant, and from this time on Italy was largely left to fend for itself. The
Roman institutions and civilization which the Ostrogothic King Theodoric had protected slowly
disappeared.”2 In the seventh century, Byzantium lost control of many of its Italian lands and also
of the southern coast of the Mediterranean. Over several decades, Muslim Arab forces conquered
the Levant, Egypt, and finally North Africa. In 698 Carthage slipped permanently from Byzantine
hands, and by the beginning of the eighth century Arab forces conquered the kingdom of Visigoths,
whose leader took refuge in the north of the Iberian Peninsula and established the Kingdom of
Asturias. In the meantime, the Angles, Jutes, and Saxons had progressively conquered the islands
of Britain; and Rome converted the Anglo-Saxon conquerors to Christianity under the initiative
of Gregory the Great. Religious exchanges between Rome and the British isles encouraged trade
and coinage through the channel, while after 630 Roman monks and their disciples often found
themselves in the company of the Irish, evangelizing the lands of northern England.
Since the Roman legions remained in specific sites of the frontier regions for generations and
even centuries, they had been involved in local agriculture, industry, and trade with high rate of
intermarriage of veterans and legionaries with the local women. Rome recruited the soldiers from
the Germanic tribes, which made them rise to the highest ranks of the Roman military in the fifth
century. As a result of Romanization, the transformation and upheaval of barbarians were evident
everywhere in the frontier regions. In the sixth century, Merovingian rulers had extended their
realm to the Mediterranean, and increasingly looked to the Germanic lands. Clovis had established
the Merovingian dynasty within a unified kingdom, but his sons and grandsons proceeded to break
up the realm to get more shares of the inherited lands. After 613 the realm of the Franks came
under the control of a single king, first Chlothar II and later Dagobert I. The alliance between the
royal house and the church strengthened the power of the Merovingian monarchy: the pagan king
called himself the elect of God and considered the bishops as his foremost supporters. Meanwhile,
“The groundswell of interest in monasticism is the great hallmark of the seventh century in both
Gaul and the west as a whole. Whereas important monastic centers in the sixth century were
chiefly situated in Provence, Burgundy, and Aquitaine, northern and eastern Gaul now welcomed
numerous new houses of monks and nuns. This change was in large measure a result of the arrival
of Irish monks and their prodigious success. Their example drew followers attracted by their
severe austerity, nonconformism, and spiritual independence.” Hence, kings, bishops, and nobles
established monasteries on their lands and gave them protection. After the death of Gregory the
Great in 604, the final conversion of the Lombards to Catholic Christianity in about 680 gave
cause to hope for peace in Italy. “While the bishops of the barbarian kingdoms were united behind
their kings, they also upheld the primacy of the bishop of Rome, the vicar of Christ. Pilgrimages
to Rome and the tombs of the apostles greatly increased.”3
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
Photo I-1-1. Coronation of Charlemagne by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800
Map I-1-1. The Early Middle Ages at the Death of Charlemagne, 814
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
The Rise of the Carolingians: (a) The Beginning of the Carolingian Dynasty: As shown in
the Map I-1-2, three kingdoms existed in Merovingian Gaul: Austrasia, Neustria, and Burgundy.
“Austrasia was traversed by the Meuse, the Mosel, and the middle Rhine with its tributaries….In
addition, the kings of Austrasia had extended their realm across the Rhine into the valley of the
Main and up to the frontiers of Thuringia, Alemannia, and Bavaria – a small duchy controlled
from without by Frankish influence. This continued contact with Germanic lands made Austrasia
the most Germanized of the kingdoms.” In the course of sixth century, the Franks restored former
Roman episcopal sees along the Rhine. The decline of Trier had opened the way for Metz to serve
as capital of Austrasia. “By the end of the sixth century, the nobility of Roman and Germanic
extraction had become the dominant force in Austrasia as in other parts of the west. Initially, the
noble had been a comrade at arms and companion in peace of a chieftain, and thereby had acquired
grants of land or taken them for himself.” The noble continued to serve his leader now as a king,
and his family and power passed from one generation to the next. “Established in a fortified house,
the noble ruled freely over the people who served him, and over his landed possessions, which he
sought to expand by purchase or marriage. His aim was to increase the wealth that made for
material strength, friendships, and political allegiance; these in turn opened the way to political
advancement. Every noble harbored the dream of ruling the lands in which he lived, either as the
king’s servant or, should the royalty grow weak, as the king’s rival.” 4 In 457 Childeric I founded
the Merovingian dynasty, and his son Clovis I united most of Gaul. At the death of Chlothar I in
561, the kingdom of Austrasia passed to Sigebert I, while his brother Chilperic I inherited Neustria.
As internal feuding divided the kingdom, Chlothar II (584-629) consolidated subkingdoms, and
his son Dagobert I (623-39 including co-reign) became the most peaceful, prosperous, and
significant period of Frankish history since the reign of Clovis I.
(b) The Rise of Pepin I: Arnulf of Metz came from a noble family possessing vast domains,
entered the service of King Theudebert II of Austrasia, becoming a manager of royal domains and
being entrusted with administrative duties in the counties. Pepin I was also a nobleman who came
from a wealthy landed family in a different area of Austrasia. A son of Arnulf married the daughter
of Pepin I strengthened their political power in the court of Austrasia. Unifying the entire Frankish
kingdom, around 614, Chlothar II rewarded two noble families: he offered the vacant bishopric of
Metz to Arnulf, and named Pepin as mayor of the palace of Austrasia, who subsequently became
the king’s principal collaborator and sometimes his rival. Now the Pippinids and the Arnulfings
were closely allied families, but they also had to contend with other ambitious clans, whose wealth
and power were considerable. Pepin I as his Mayor of the Palace supervised the royal household
and managed the royal estates: “his administrative functions grew as the Merovingian kings
concentrated on debauchery and intrigue; step by step he took control of the courts, the army, the
finances.”5 However, Dagobert I did not appoint Pepin to manage the kingdom, so he held no
official post in Austrasia during his reign. The death of Dagobert I in 639 allowed Pepin to recoup
his position in Metz. Pepin I governed the great vassals of Austrasia with prudence, attached them
to himself by ties of friendship, and enhanced the influence of his own party. As Pepin I died in
640, his son Grimoald became the head of the Pippinids in Austrasia. “At this time, Radulf, Duke
of Thuringia, rebelled against king Sigebert III. Grimoald participated in the ensuing expedition
against the insurrection, but it was a failure. Nevertheless, Grimoald succeeded in saving the life
of the king and became his close friend. Then, by removing the mayor of the palace, Otto, he took
over the position which his father once held.”6 Under the negligent successors (do-nothing kings),
power passed again to the mayor of the palace. After the death of Grimoald, his nephew Pepin II
represented the Pippinids. Defeating his rivals at the battle of Testry in 687, Pepin II conquered
Neustria and Burgundy, and extended his title to Duke of the Franks.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
(c) Pepin II (687-714): He, as the grandson of Pepin I by marriage of his daughter Begga and
Ansegisel, son of Arnulf of Metz, became master of the whole Kingdom of the Franks. “Over the
next several years, Pepin subdued the Alemanni, Frisians, and Franconians, bringing them within
the Frankish sphere of influence. He also began the evangelization of Germany.” Pepin II gained
the respect of various national dukes and brought about a period of peace in Europe. “Like his
uncle, Grimoald, he knew that the growth of his power would depend on the support of the
churches and monasteries that came increasingly under familial proprietary control. His mother
Begga, had founded the monastery of Andenne on one of her domains. At Lobbes, Pepin
established Ursmar as abbot and bishop….In the Bishopric of Trier, the Pippinid supporter and
future bishop of the locale, Liutwin, established the abbey of Mettlach….” 7 In 695, he placed his
son Drogo in the Burgundian mayorship and his other son, Grimoald, in the Neustrian one.
Around 670, Pepin had married Plectrude, who had inherited substantial estates in the Moselle
region. She was the mother of Drogo of Champagne and Grimoald II, both of whom died before
their father. However, Pepin also had a mistress named Alpaida (or Chalpaida) who bore him two
more sons: Charles and Childebrand.” After the death of Pepin II, his legitimate grandchildren
(under control of Plectrude) claimed themselves to be the true successors. However, his
illegitimate son Charles Martel had gained favor among the Austrasians, “primarily for his military
prowess and ability to keep them well supplied with booty from his conquests.” Despite the efforts
of Plectrude to silence her child's rival, Charles became the sole mayor of the palace - and de
facto ruler of Francia - after a civil war which lasted for more than three years after his death.
Map I-1-2. The Merovingian Dynasty: Francia Expanded from Austrasia
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
(d) Charles Martel (714-41): He removed the revolting adversaries, and secured the frontiers
of his kingdom, by pushing the Saxons back to the Weser, and obtaining the withdrawal of the
Frisians, so that he was able to rule all Gaul as mayor of palace of Austrasia and Neustria. After
the death of Chlothar IV, Chilperic II became the king, followed by Theuderic IV, the son of
Dagobert III. Throughout these changes, Charles maintained control of the kingdom, for he was
now mayor of the palace in both Austrasia and Neustria. To assure his domination in Neustria,
Charles appointed his relatives and supporters everywhere he could. “Charles appears to have
been a pious prince, well disposed toward the abbots and bishops who supported his cause, but he
also profited from circumstances to fortify his power and assure his success.” It was condemned
that in the critical financial needs from the rise of cavalry forces, “he confiscated church lands,
sold bishoprics to generals, and quartered his troops on monasteries, beheaded a protesting
monk.”8 Charles Martel reestablished his presence in neighboring princedoms with the help of his
warriors and missionaries. Boniface came to play a key role in this process under the protection
of Charles Martel from 723 on. “The Christian Frankish leaders desired to defeat their rival power,
the non-Christian Saxons, and to incorporate the Saxon lands into their own growing empire.
Boniface's destruction of indigenous Germanic pagan sites may have benefited the Franks in their
campaign against the Saxons.”9 When the Muslims in Spain invaded Aquitaine, Charles upon the
request of its Duke Odo defeated invaders without cavalry at the Battle of Tours in 732,10 which
victory became famous throughout the west by interpreting it as a “divine judgment” against the
Muslims. The relations between Charles and the papacy developed through Boniface evangelizing
Germany. Theuderic IV died in 737, Charles did not replace him with another Merovingian, but
continued to direct the affairs of the kingdom like a substitute king.
(e) Carloman and Pepin III: When Charles Martel died in 741, his sons, Carloman and Pepin,
faced adversaries from his family members and local magnates in Germany and Aquitaine, while
the Frankish nobility pursued its own interests. These rebellions made both Pepin and Carloman
painfully aware that their power remained unsure. So in 743 they moved to reinforce their position
by placing a Merovingian king on the throne. They took a young man from the monastery of St.
Bertin who was thought to be a Merovingian, and placed him on the throne as a do-nothing king
with the name of Childeric III (743-51) in 743 in order to secure their power. With the initiative
of Boniface, the German Council convened for religious reforms in 742, in which Carloman
presided and addressed about “restoring the laws of God and of the church corrupted in the time
of previous leaders, so that Christian people might ensure thereby the salvation of their souls and
not be led astray by false ministers.” In close cooperation with the papacy, the reforms included
that unfaithful priests and licentious deacons and lesser clerics were deprived of their status, and
men of the church were no longer to bear arms, to do battle or to accompany the army except to
serve the prince as military chaplains; the canons restored the authority of bishops over the clergy:
they were attached to the jurisdiction of a bishop; and popular superstitions and pagan rituals were
condemned. During the first synod in 742, “Carloman probably had decided to return confiscated
wealth to its rightful ecclesiastical owners. But the following year at Estinnes, he determined that
because of wars that threatened and attacks by other neighboring peoples, he would retain for a
while, with God’s indulgence, a part of the church’s wealth to aid his army. In fact, it was
impossible for him to dispossess nobles who had received church lands without risking the loss of
their fealty. With a compromise, Carloman and Pepin returned confiscated lands to church by
introducing a lifetime tenure for a benefice granted to vassals by his lord, so that church wealth
could provide military service for the kingdom. They supported missionaries, nominated bishops,
and reestablished hierarchical authority in church; becoming supportive relations between the state
and church. Carloman retired to the monastery on Mount Soracte for Pepin III to send.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
Pepin III and Charlemagne: Pepin III (751-68) became the first King of the Franks elected
by an assembly of Frankish nobles, with a large portion of his army on hand, by deposing the
Merovingian puppet. “Pepin drew immense power from his possession of vast domains in
Austrasia and Neustria. As mayor of the palace he also enjoyed the support of numerous lay and
clerical vassals established on ecclesiastical properties, and he could equally recon with the help
of his family, including the Austrasian nobles allied to his clan by marriage.” His most powerful
ecclesiastical counselors were also close family allies. The support of his followers and of the
clerics and monks made him create a new dynasty. “His political program included such diverse
elements as the consolidation and expansion of Frankish power, an alliance with the papacy,
intervention in Italy, royal anointing, liturgical and monetary reform, and the renewal of relations
with the east.” He used two theories for legitimacy to establish the Carolingian dynasty. One was
the Law of the Alemans: “The leader who is unable to go on campaign or to ride or to bear arms
can be deposed.” The other was a use of religious support: the Pope anointed Pepin III by announcing “king by the grace of God” when both parties needed each other. As the Lombards captured
Ravenna ruled by the Byzantine threatened Rome, Pope Stephen II, who succeeded the papacy in
752, requested assistance to the Byzantine Emperor but was refused, so that he turned to the Franks.
Invading Italy, Pepin III subdued the Lombards and granted the land of central Italy to the papacy
(so called Donation of Pepin), which had been managed by the Roman Popes until 1870. Pepin
used Pope for religious support to justify his crown by royal anointing, while Pope used Pepin to
secure the Roman papacy by removing the threat of the Lombards. Pepin expanded the Frankish
power by conquering a western border of Aquitaine, pursued monetary reform with the new royal
standards of coinage, forced ecclesiastical reform by the Romanization of liturgical forms, and
renewed diplomatic relations with both Baghdad and Constantinople. Pepin left his two sons,
Carloman II and Charles, his sovereign land divided by a half.
Charlemagne or Charles the Great (768-814) made sole king at twenty-nine by annexing the
other’s realm because of a sudden death of Carloman in 771. His exact birth place is unknown,
but historians suggest Aachen in Germany or Liege in Belgium. “He was of German blood and
speech, and shared some characteristics of his people – strength of body, courage of spirit, pride
of race, and a crude simplicity....He had little book learning; read only few books – but good one;
tried in his old age to learn writing, but never quite succeeded; yet he could speak old Teutonic
and literary Latin, and understood Greek.”11 Charlemagne was the greatest among military leaders
in the Middle Ages, who conquered much of western and central Europe during 47 years of his
reign. He as a king revived the political and cultural life that had disappeared with the fall of the
Western Roman Empire four centuries in the past. He launched numerous campaigns mostly led
by himself to protect the realm left to him by his father and to expand his reign although his journey
was limited to the west. He invaded the Lombards, captured Desiderius with his treasure in 773,
and assumed the kingdom. As shown on the Map I-1-2, along with the Pyrenees, he established
the Spanish March as a buffer to the Muslim rule to protect and foster Christianity. In the south,
he made Benevento a buffer state between Carolingian Italy and the Byzantine world by forcing
to include the name of the Frankish king on his charters and coinage. He annexed Bavaria and
controlled the Danube valley and passes through the Alps to Italy, which brought the Franks into
contact with the Avars causing further expeditions. In the east, Charlemagne conquered the Saxons
and converted them to Christianity, that made the Franks contact with the southern Slavs. After
Leo IV died in 780, the Byzantine Empire had been ruled by his wife Irene under the name of his
young son. It is said that “Since there was no longer an emperor in the land of the Greeks and they
all were under the domination of a woman, it seemed to Pope Leo....that they should give the name
of emperor to the king of the Franks, to Charles, who occupied Rome.”
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
Charlemagne’s Army: “The military successes of Charlemagne depended on the strength of
his army. In his mobilization in 806, Charlemagne ordered that “You should come with whatever
arms, implements, provisions, and clothing may be needed to proceed from there with the army to
whichever region we shall command. Each horseman should have a shield, a spear, a long-sword
and a short-sword, a bow, a quiver, and arrows. Your carts should contain implements for various
purposes….There should also be provisions for three months, and weapons and clothing for
six….Your men should proceed to the appointed place by the shortest route, commandeering
nothing along the way except for glass, firewood, and water.”12 He came to realize that a general
mobilization each year tended to paralyze his government and disorganize economic life by using
the time of agricultural labor. He apportioned military burdens according to landed wealth. For
the size of the army, some historians have thought that “Charles led at most five thousand troops,
which would explain the difficulties he encountered, notably in Saxony. Others have attempted
to base a figure on the number of domains owned by the royal fisc along with those of the
bishoprics and abbeys of the realm. In this case, the king may have been able to assemble thirtysix thousand horsemen, in addition to foot soldiers and auxiliaries who might represent a total of
approximately 100,000 men….A prime feature of the Carolingian war machine was the heavy
cavalry, which had acquired ever greater importance since the time of Charles Martel. The richest
royal vassals owned thousands of domains and could afford to equip armored horsemen and
stockpile iron weaponry, provision, and clothing.”13 The success of the military operations was
based to a great extent on the rapid mobilization and concentration of force. One of the great
projects during his reign was the construction of a wooden bridge that crossed the Rhine at Mainz,
which was unfortunately destroyed by fire in 813. Though unrealized, there was a plan to connect
the Rhine and the Danube by means of a canal between their tributaries.
Moreover, “Every freeman, at the call to arms, had to report in full equipment to the local
count, and every noble was responsible for the military fitness of his constituents. The structure
of the state rested on this organized force, supported by every available psychological factor in the
sanctity of anointed majesty, the ceremonial splendor of the imperial presence, and the tradition
of obedience to established rule….The sense of public participation in the government was
furthered by semiannual assemblies of armed property owners, gathered, as military or other
convenience might dictate (at major cities)….At these meetings each provincial bishop and
administrator was required to report to the King any significant event in his locality since the
previous convocation….Sometimes, the representatives of the King would summon leading
citizens to inquire and give under oath a true statement as to the taxable wealth, the state of public
order, the existence of crimes or criminals, in the district visited.”14 “The empire was divided into
counties, each governed in spiritual matters by a bishop or archbishop, and secular affairs by a
comes (companion of the king) or count. A local assembly of landholders convened twice or thrice
a year in each provincial capital to pass upon the government of the region, and serve as a
provincial court of appeals.” Charlemagne legislated for agriculture, industry, finance, education,
and religion as well as for government and morals. The commercial relations between the Western
Europe and Africa and the Levant was disturbed because of Vikings and Moslems. Economy and
society including education will be separately discussed in Chapter II. Charlemagne was generous
to the Church. On Christmas day 800, Pope Leo III (795-816) placed a crown on Charles’ head
and proclaimed “Long life and victory to Charles Augustus, crowned by God the great and pacific
emperor of the Romans!” Charles, the German king, became the first Roman emperor since 476,
recognized by the spiritual leader of the western Christendom. At the time of his coronation, the
Byzantine and the Islam civilizations remained as the counterforces against the rising new Roman
Empire, although the Slavs began to form strong political units.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
The coronation resulted in a thousand years of effects in European politics and religion. “It
strengthened the papacy and the bishops by making civil authority derive from ecclesiastical
conferment; Gregory VII and Innocent III would build a mightier Church on the events of 800 in
Rome. It strengthened Charlemagne against baronial and other disaffection by making him a very
vicar of God; it vastly advanced the theory of the divine right of kings. It contributed to the schism
of Greek from Latin Christianity; the Greek Church did not relish subordination to the Roman
Church allied with an empire rival to Byzantium. The fact that Charlemagne continued to make
Aachen, not Rome, his capital, underlined the passage of political power from the Mediterranean
to northern Europe, from the Latin people to the Teutons. Above all, the coronation established
the Holy Roman Empire in fact, though not in theory. Charlemagne and his advisers conceived
of his new authority as a revival of the old imperial power; only with Otto I was the distinctively
new character of the regime recognized; and it became holy only when Frederick Barbarossa
introduced the word sacrum into his title 1155. All in all, despite its threat to the liberty of the
mind and the citizen, the Holy Roman Empire was a noble conception, a dream of security and
peace, order and civilization restored in a world heroically won from barbarism, violence, and
ignorance.”15 He was not head of an empire far greater than the Byzantine, surpassed, in the white
man’s world, only by the realm of the Abbasid caliphate. But every extended frontier of the empire
or knowledge opens up new problems with the Vikings, the Muslims, and others. He divided the
empire into three for his three sons in 806, but Pepin and Charles died soon; so his son Louis the
Pious succeeded the throne in 814 and maintained his father’s empire.
Table I-1-3. Invasions of the Vikings, Magyars, and Muslims, 9 th-10th Centuries
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
The Collapse of the Carolingian Empire: Soon after the death of Charlemagne, his dynasty
began to disintegrate by losing cohesiveness. “Although Christianity was common to the entire
empire, the ideal of Christian unity preached by clerics was not necessarily shared by a Frankish
aristocracy accustomed to violence. Even Charlemagne, near the end of his life, questioned
whether the Franks were truly Christian. Charlemagne’s absence from the scene soon made it
apparent that he alone had held the empire together. First, the internal weaknesses came from the
wars of succession, the feudal anarchy of the barons, the struggle between church and state.
Second, the external threats came from the invasions and migrations of the Vikings, Magyars, and
Muslims which distressed civilizations in the ninth and tenth centuries of Europe just like those of
Germanic peoples shaking the Western Roman Empire in the fourth and fifth centuries. The
mixture of internal weaknesses and external threats expedited the decline of the Frankish empire,
and the emergence of regional princedoms. Louis the Pious (814-40) succeeded the throne, but
was unable to uphold the ideal of imperial unity. After marrying Judith, the second wife, her
influence became virtually powerful. She persuaded the emperor to confer offices and privilege
on her relations. Producing a son in 823, Judith strove to ensure the position of her infant son. In
830 the emperor crowned Charles king over all of Alemannia and gave him a portion of Louis’
land, so Louis the German promptly rose in revolt. “Lothar held his father and the young Charles
under house arrest at St. Denis, and the boy was supervised by monks who were to get him sued
to monastic life and urge him to take it up himself.” The emperor annulled his former provision
and planned for a partition of the empire into roughly equal kingdoms. After Louis’ death, three
sons divided lands by the Treaty of Verdun in 843: Charles the Bold received the western part of
the Frankish empire, Louis the German the eastern part, and Lothair Italy lands between the eastern
and the western; which became the modern France, Germany, and Italy. 16
It was impossible for the king to supervise over distant local affairs, since the Carolingian
empire did not have a current sense of transportation and communications. Charlemagne had
attempted to limit power of the counts and dukes that was possible when the king was strong; but
when king’s power became weaker, their loyalty to the king declined. In France, Charles the Bold
(843-77) and his successors could not defend the land against the Vikings. When Charles the Fat
abdicated, an assembly of bishops, counts, and lords elected Eudes (Odo), count of Paris and lay
abbot of St. Denis, to the throne in 888 due to imminent danger of Viking’s assault. “In 840 the
raiders sacked Rouen, beginning a century of assaults upon Normandy; in 843 they entered Nantes
and slew the bishop at his altar; in 844 they sailed up the Garonne to Toulouse; in 845 they
mounted the Seine to Paris, but spared the city on receiving a tribute of 7000 pounds of silver. In
846 – while the Saracens were attacking Rome – the Northmen conquered Frisia, burned
Dordrecht, and sacked Limoges. In 847 they besieged Bordeaux, but were repulsed; in 848 they
tried again, captured it, plundered it, massacred its population, and burned it to the ground….Paris
was pillaged in 856, again in 861, and burned in 865. At Orleans and Chartres the bishops
organized armies and drove back the invaders in 855; but in 856 Danish pirates sacked Orleans.
In 859 a Norse fleet sailed through Gibraltar into the Mediterranean; raided towns along the Rhone
as far as north as Valence; crossed the Gulf of Genoa, and plundered Pisa and other Italian cities.
Baffled here and there by the fortified castles of the nobles, the invaders rifled or destroyed the
treasures of the unprotected churches and monasteries, often burning them and their libraries, and
sometimes killing the priests and monks.”17 Charles the Simple (898-923) recovered the throne,
but conceded districts already occupied by the Normans, so Normandy began. The last Carolingian
king Louis V died without an heir, and Hugh Capet (987-96), count of Orleans and Paris, was
elected as a new king, which created the Capetian dynasty. As the rise of dukes weakened the
monarchical power, the king depended upon them for military and administrative services.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
In Germany, Louis the German (843-76) became the first king of Germany by the Treaty of
Verdun; and the Treaty of Mersen of 870 gave him additional territory. On his death, his realm
was divided among his three sons. As the Northmen raided the Rhine cities, Arnulf, illegitimate
son of Carloman was elected king of East Francia in 887, who drove back the invaders. But his
successors faced the similar problems with the invasions of the Magyars: “The central government
failed to protect these provinces; each had to provide its own defense; the provincial dukes
organized armies by giving lands in fief to retainers who paid in military service. The forces so
raised gave the dukes virtual independence of the crown, and established a feudal Germany. On
the death of Louis, the nobles and prelates, successfully claiming the right of choosing the king,
gave the throne to Conrad I, Duke of Franconia (911-18).” After his death, they chose Henry the
Fowler, duke of Saxony, as another king. He was succeeded by his son Otto I, who decisively
defeated the Magyars, and maintained a long period of security and peace. “Otto I the Great (93673) was the Charlemagne of Germany. He was twenty-four at his accession, but was already a
king in bearing and ability. Sensing the value of ceremony and symbolism, he persuaded the dukes
of Lorraine, Franconia, Swavia, and Bavaria to act as his attendants in his solemn coronation at
Aachen by Archbishop Hilderbert. Later the dukes rebelled against his growing power, and
induced his younger brother Henry to join in a plot to depose him; Otto discovered and suppressed
the conspiracy, and forgave Henry, who conspired again and was again forgiven….The King
appointed bishops and archbishops as he named other officials of the government; and the German
Church became a national institution, only loosely attached to the papacy. Using Christianity as
a unifying force, Otto fused the German tribes into a powerful state.” 18 Otto invaded Italy with a
strong force, entered Rome peaceably, and was crowned Roman Emperor of the West by the pope
in 962. When the pope complained about Ravenna, Otto summoned a synod of Italian bishops,
and persuade them to depose him and make a layman Pope as Leo VIII.
In Italy, Lothair (840-55) was the eldest son of Louis the Pious. “On several occasions, Lothair
led his full-brothers Pippin I of Aquitaine and Louis the German in revolt against their father to
protest against attempts to make their half-brother Charles the Bald a co-heir to the Frankish
domains. Upon the father's death, Charles and Louis joined forces against Lothair in a three-year
civil war (840–843). The struggles between the brothers led directly to the breakup of the Frankish
Empire assembled by their grandfather Charlemagne, and laid the foundation for the development
of modern France and Germany.” After the death of Lothair, four great houses competed for
hegemony and the crown over Italy: Guy of Spoleto, Berengar of Friuli, the house of Tuscany,
and Hugh of Provence. Both Guy and Berengar were related to the Carolingians in the female
line. They represented different factions in Italian politics: Berengar the pro-German and Guy the
pro-French. “In Summer 888, Guy, who had failed in his bid to take the West Frankish throne,
returned to Italy to gather an army from among the Spoletans and Lombards and oppose Berengar.
This he did, but the battle they fought near Brescia in the fall was a slight victory for Berengar,
though his forces were so diminished that he sued for peace nevertheless.”19 After the truce with
Guy was signed, Arnulf of Germany endeavored to invade Italy through Friuli. Berengar, in order
to prevent a war, sent dignitaries ahead to meet Arnulf, then he met him at Trent. Arnulf allowed
Berengar to keep Italy as his vassal. In 951 Otto I invaded Italy and allowed Berengar II (950961) to retain his kingdom, and returned to Germany, appointing his son-in-law Conrad the Red
Italian regent at Pavia. In 960, Berengar invaded the Papal States under Pope John XII, on whose
appeal Otto I invaded Italy, and captured and imprisoned him at Bamberg in Germany where he
died in 966, and his wife Willa spent the rest of her life in a German nunnery. Coming to Rome in
963, Otto I deposed Pope John XII and had Pope Leo VIII elected. So Otto established German
rule in Italy, which terminated anarchy prevailed for a century. 20
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
Vikings, Magyars, and Muslims: (a) The Vikings (referring to an expedition overseas) were
a Germanic people lived on Scandinavia including Norway, Sweden, and Denmark with each
language and religion. They kept law and order by their social stratification consisting of king,
noblemen, freemen, and slaves. They were the warriors, shipbuilders, navigators, traders, pirates,
and fearless explorers. Their motives for emigration were largely in dynastic struggles, population
stress, growing cold climate, and resulting bad harvest. “Another explanation is that the Vikings
exploited a moment of weakness in the surrounding regions. England suffered from internal
divisions…. Lack of organized naval opposition throughout Western Europe allowed Viking ships
to travel freely, raiding or trading as opportunity permitted. The decline in the profitability of
old trade routes could also have played a role. Trade between Western Europe and the rest of
Eurasia suffered a severe blow when the Roman Empire fell in the 5th century. The expansion of
Islam in the 7th century had also affected trade with Western Europe. Raids in Europe including
raids and settlements from Scandinavia, were not something new and also seen long before the
Vikings came. The Jutes invaded the British Isles three centuries earlier, pouring out from Jutland,
before the Danes settled there. The Saxons and the Angles did the same, embarking from
mainland Europe. The Viking raids were the first to be documented in writing by eyewitnesses,
and they were much larger in scale and frequency than in previous times.” 21 The existence of
known trade route and the shipbuilding skill with navigation knowledge was essential for them to
raid foreign states. The largest Viking ships yet discovered was 28 meters long and 5 meters wide.
The Scandinavian sailors used a common-sense method of navigation by taking their bearings
from the fixed points of sun and polar star. 22 The Vikings helped to decentralize the political
system, invite “the feudal system in economy, diversify society and culture, and provide
knowledge of their rural and urban settlement, crafts and production, ships and military equipment,
trading networks, as well as their pagan and Christian religious artefacts and practices.”
(i) The Norwegian Vikings were “well-equipped, had chain mail armor, were well-trained
and had a psychological advantage over Christian counterparts since they believed that being
killed in combat would result in them going to Valhalla. In addition to gold and silver, an important
outcome from the raids were thralls, which were brought to the Norwegian farms as a slave
workforce. While the men were out at sea, the management of the farm was under the control of
the women. The lack of suitable farming land in Western Norway caused Norwegians to travel to
the sparsely populated areas such as Shetland, Orkney, the Faroe Islands and the Hebrides to
colonize - the latter which became the Kingdom of the Isles. Norwegian Vikings settled on the
west coast of Ireland ca. 800 and founded the island's first cities, including Dublin. Their arrival
caused the petty Celtic kings to ally and by 900 they had driven out the Norwegians. Norwegians
discovered Iceland in ca. 870 and within sixty years the island had been divided between four
hundred chieftains. Led by Erik the Red, a group of Norwegians settled on Greenland in the 980s.
His son, Leif Ericson, discovered Newfoundland in ca. 1000, naming it Vinland. Unlike Greenland, no permanent settlement was established there. In the mid-9th century the largest chieftains
of the petty kingdoms started a major power struggle.”23 The Vikings founded a number of cities
and colonies, including Dublin and Normandy. Dublin was held as a major settlement for more
than three centuries. During 879-920 they colonized Iceland, which in turn became the springboard
to colonize Greenland. “Erik the Red was exiled from Iceland for a period of three years for
committing a murder. He sailed to Greenland, where he explored the coastline and claimed certain
regions as his own. He then returned to Iceland to persuade people to join him in establishing a
settlement on Greenland. The Icelandic sagas say that 25 ships left Iceland with Erik the Red in
985 A.D., and that only 14 of them arrived safely in Greenland.”24 In 1000 Erik's son, Leif Eirikson,
left the settlement to explore the surrounding waters, coming across what he called Vinland.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
(ii) The Danes attacked northern Fransia, Loire and Seine rivers, and the northern coast of
Aquitaine during 834-50 and took away precious metals, slaves, and captives for ransom. During
850-75, they wintered and attacked in the river systems of modern France and extended expedition
to the Moorish Spain and the Mediterranean. In 879, intensive attacks began with their strategic
plans by seizing and using horses for attacks on the countryside. Since 900, they raided for the
permanent settlement. The Vikings had besieged Paris but in 911 entered vassalage to the king of
the West Franks, Charles the Simple, through the Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte. “In exchange
for his homage and fealty, Rollo legally gained the territory which he and his Viking allies had
previously conquered. The name Normandy reflects Rollo's Viking (i.e. Northman) origins.” 25
However, the Vikings in Normandy were gradually assimilated to the Franks. Most of the western
Frankish empire had faced Danish assaults with killing, burning, and plundering, but the Frankish
government could not provide defense so that local leaders built castles, fortified towns, and
constructed defensive enclosures. During the ninth century, Viking fleets entered the Islamic
world of Spain twice and, on one of these occasions, appeared in the western Mediterranean.
Moreover, the Danes also attacked England in two waves. In the first wave during 835-954, the
Vikings attacked from the southern coast and established the Viking kingdom of York, controlling
varying amounts of Northumbria during 857-954, though the area was invaded and conquered by
England during 927-54. They intended to combine the seasonal raids and the colonizing attacks.
In the second wave during 980-1035, the Vikings intended to expand political and economic power
by creating a virtual Danish empire in northern Europe. The English had paid huge amounts of
silver as a tribute to the king of the Danes throughout the years: for example, 22,000 pounds in
991; 24,000 pounds in 1002; and 36,000 in 1009. Their second wave against England came to an
end with the death of their king Cnut in 1035. Their later attempt to attack England failed.26
(iii) The Swedes had two entrances to Eastern Europe: one was the Gulf of Riga and the west
Dvina, and the other was the Gulf of Finland and the river Neva into Lake Ladoga. In the early
Viking period, the power structure in Scandinavia was built mainly on small chiefdoms, where
small local chiefs ruled over a limited area. They were more interested in trade than getting land
so that their expeditions were less aggressive. The Swedish Vikings influenced the growth of the
early Russian state around Kiev and Novgorod, where they had raided and ruled. They traveled
through Russia via the Volga and Dnieper rivers to Constantinople. Passing the hazardous rapids
of the lower Dnieper, a Viking army of 8,000 attacked the suburbs of Constantinople in 860 when
its emperor were engaged elsewhere in a campaign, but fortunately they turned the course to the
Islands of the Princes by passing the city, and finally left. The Swedish Vikings entered a trade
agreement with the Greeks in 911: the former received as much grains as they needed with tax
exemption, but the latter wanted no Vikings in Constantinople. In 913 and later years, the Vikings
sailed into the Caspian region from the Black Sea and attacked towns and local villages, which
invasions were not successful. In 941 Igor, the king of the Vikings, appeared on Constantinople
with a fleet of 1,000 vessels, but failed and returned to Kiev. A peace treaty was arranged in 944
and trade resumed. The Vikings in Russia meant Swedes in the ninth century though assimilated
to Slavs. Visiting Constantinople in 957, Olga, widow of Igor, was converted to Christianity. The
Vikings met the Moslem merchants at the trading center of the Volga reaching the Caspian to sell
furs and slave girls for grain. “There is a distinction between "Swedish" and "Danish/Norwegian"
Vikings. The Danish and Norwegian expeditions went westwards, concentrating on Western
Europe and England. The Swedish, on the other hand, went mostly eastwards into modern-day
Russia and further on to Byzantium and the Caliphate. Runestones and archaeological artefacts
found in eastern Sweden and on the island of Gotland show that the trade exchange between
eastern Sweden and the Near East was very intense at this time in history.”27
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
(b) The Magyars: “The most widely accepted theory of the Magyar's origin is the FinnoUgrian concept. Advocates of this theory believe the linguistic and ethnic kinship between the
Hungarians and the Finns, Esthonians, Ostyaks and Voguls provide evidence for the origin of the
Magyars. This relation of the Magyars with the Finns places the ancient homeland of the FinnoUgrians on both sides of the southern Ural Mountains. Magyars came from this group in the
Urals, and as the theory explains, it was about 2000 B.C. that the Finnish branch broke away to
settle in the Baltic area. The Magyars remained on the West Siberian steppes with the other Ugrian
peoples until 500 B.C. It was then that the Magyars crossed the Urals westward to settle in what
is present day Soviet Bashkiria, north of the Black Sea and the Caucasus. The Magyars remained
here for centuries with the various Ural-Altaic peoples.”28 In the fifth century they lived in the
Ural-Caspian steppes and began to cross the Volga River, and in the ninth century they migrated
to the lands adjoining the Don, the Dnieper, and the Black Sea by the pressures from the Pechenegs,
a Turkic tribe. In 895 under their chieftain Arpad, they invaded modern Hungary and established
a new home on its plain. In 899 excited by rumors of the wealth of Venice, the Magyars passed
Alps into Italy and killed, burnt, and plundered the peninsula. They turned their attention to the
Byzantine Empire, “routed the Bulgarians, and presented themselves before Constantinople.”
They raided provinces of France and Germany during 900-920, which made Europeans trembled.
But in 934 the Magyars was defeated at Gotha by Henry I (919-36). In 955 they crossed the Rhine
and the Meuse with 100,000 cavalry forces and penetrated to the heart of Flanders, but Otto I won
a decisive victory on the valley of the Lech near Augsburg. Geysa succeeded the leadership from
Arpad, and converted to Christianity and established a number of schools and colleges for
education of the clergy. His son Stephen I (997-1038) ascended the throne, married Gysela,
daughter of Henry II of Bavaria. He and the Magyars converted to Christianity and introduced
the German style of feudalism. The Magyars were gradually mixed with other ethnicity.29
(c) The Muslims ruled three provinces of Egypt: Tunisia, and Morocco in Africa. The long
distance between Baghdad and provincial capitals made transportation and communications
difficult, so that those provinces became independent kingdoms one by one. The western society
collided with the Islam on two fronts: southern Italy and Spain. First, the Moslems defeated the
Byzantine navy in the Mediterranean in 650s. They invaded and ruled Corsica in 809, Sardinia in
810, Crete in 823, and Malta in 870. Aghlabid, the Caliphate of Tunisia, began expeditions toward
Sicily in 827: Palermo fell in 831, Messina in 843, Syracuse in 878, and Taormina in 902. The
Moslem forces invaded the cities and monasteries of southern Italy mostly from Tunisia and Sicily.
In 916, the combined forces of Italy, Greek, and Germany defeated invaders. In 982 Otto II (96183) conquered sourthern Italy and considered himself as the heir of the Caesars in Italy and
elsewhere. Second, the Visigothic kingdom (419-711) in Spain ended by a Berber Muslim army
led by Tariq ibn Ziyad, who crossed the Strait of Gibraltar from northern Africa into the Iberian
Peninsula. The Moors (the Berber conquerors) held the peninsula and depended on the province
of North Africa under the caliphate of Damascus. When the Abbasid dynasty took over power
from the Umayyad, the Umayyad faction of Abd-ar-Rahman I became the independent ruler of
Spain in 756, and founded a powerful and independent emirate, which developed into the caliphate
of Córdoba later. Arab vessels from Spain reached rivers and coasts of the Mediterranean, and
carried out profitable raids. In the north, a Visigothic chieftain, Don Pelayos, found a small
Christian kingdom of Asturias in 718, which kingdom divided but united under a single ruler,
Vimara Peres. In 739, a rebellion in Galicia, assisted by the Asturians, drove out Muslim forces
and it joined the Asturian kingdom, which became the main basis for Christian resistance to
Islamic rule.30 Ferdinand I (1005-65) took the Moorish section of Galicia in 1037, set up a vassal
county in Portugal, and declared himself emperor of Spain in 1056.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
The Carolingian Church and Kingship: (a) Ecclesiastical Structures: (i) The Bishops and
the Diocese: The Carolingian kings reestablished the system of metropolitan provinces, each of
which was headed by a bishop (henceforth archbishop). In 814, Charlemagne’s testament included
a list of twenty-one provinces holding the metropolitan bishop who had authority over the
suffragan bishops of the provinces. Synods bringing suffragans together with metropolitans
convened regularly, while the king himself often convened larger councils to address moral,
disciplinary, doctrinal and even political questions. Each gathering issued acts and canons, which
were collected into compendia that served as a basis for formulating and interpreting church law.
Each bishop governed his diocese with help from his cathedral clergy and especially from his archdeacon, his principal collaborator. “The Rule for Canons formulated by Chrodegang of Metz
fostered a quasi-monastic regime of communal life among the urban clergy, and together with
amplifications promulgated at the Council of Aachen of 816, the Rule was imposed in virtually
all bishoprics. Since the fourth century, every bishop was bound in principle to visit each church
in his diocese on a regular basis, and the Carolingian kings revived this obligation. Often the
arrival of the bishop was a matter of dread for country priests because the visitor came not only to
inspect the church but also to exact support payments in money and in kind for himself and his
suite.” The priest shares the life and pleasures of his peasant flock. The founder of the manorial
church, the landlord, often installed priests who lived under his control. The empire established an
intra-diocesan hierarchy to administer oversized bishoprics. They sought to organize believers and
to ensure their thorough Christianization. “The more learned clergy were to oversee the religious
instruction of the laity. The kings reiterated this principle to the bishops, as did the bishops to
their priests. This policy led to a regime of mandatory religious conformity: baptism of children
at birth, the obligation to abstain from work on Sundays, participation at liturgical celebrations,
confession and communion three times a year, and the like.” 31
(ii) Monasticism: when Charlemagne took over power, some three hundred monasteries
existed in the west, but not all enjoyed a regular life, and most followed their own rules and
observances. “Charlemagne was by nature suspicious of men who lived apart and isolated
themselves from the world even if their goal was a holy life. On several occasions, he moved to
restrict wandering monastic vagabonds – often coming from the British Isles – who were subject
to no law but themselves. The emperor wanted stable monastic families living under the direction
of a worthy abbot and applying themselves to mental and physical tasks as well as to the liturgy,
for he counted on monastic prayers for success in his own endeavors. Capitularies and canonical
legislation continually recall the hallmark principles that were to obtain, whatever the rule of an
individual monastic house: above all, obedience, chastity, and religious poverty.” 32 Charlemagne
realized that the best means of reforming the monasteries was to impose everywhere a rule that he
believed to be excellent: the Rule of Saint Benedict. “In 813, he asked the abbot of Monte Cassino
to forward him a copy of the Rule, and he provided for the diffusion of the text from his court.”
St. Benedict of Aniane (747-821) was the son of a Visigothic noble, had grew up at the royal court,
and withdrawn to a monastery in Burgundy in 774. Around 780 he founded a monastic community
based on Eastern asceticism at Aniane in Languedoc, which was not successful. In 782 he founded
another monastery based on Benedictine Rule, at the same location, which was successful so that
he used to found and reform a number of other monasteries, which eventually became the effective
abbot of all the monasteries of Charlemagne’s empire. “He was the head of a council of abbots
which in 817 at Aachen created a code of regulations, or Codex regularum, which would be
binding on all their houses. Shortly thereafter, he compiled a Concordia regularum. Although
these new codes fell into disuse shortly after the deaths of Benedict and his patron, Emperor Louis
the Pious, they did have lasting effects on Western monasticism.”33
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
(b) A Church Subject to Princes: He often named bishops and abbots from his own entourage
or from the families of his followers. The king generally expected his nominees to bishoprics and
abbacies to divide their time between pastoral care and service to himself. He often summoned
them to his court and charged them with administrative and diplomatic missions. Bishops and
abbots also became vassals of the king. In the course of the ninth century, episcopal and abbatial
offices gradually came to be viewed as benefices. In return for the pastoral stave of office,
ecclesiastical nominees promised fealty to the king like any other vassal. “The obligations due to
the king from his ecclesiastical vassals were the same as those of any other vassal: the dispatch of
a military contingent to the king’s host, aid and counsel, presence at the diet, and the like. This
was the beginning of a process that would lead the upper clergy into dangerous waters. It required
a saint to resist all the temptations of temporal reward, and genuine saints were rare.
Unintentionally, the Carolingian kings forced the bishops and abbots to become men of the world
and to lose sight of their properly spiritual function.” 34 In order to establish a direct link between
ecclesiastical dignitaries and the king, the Carolingians commonly issue charters of immunity to
bishops and especially to abbots. “While Merovingian immunity barred the intervention of royal
agents within the domains of the immunists and thus constituted a negative privilege, the
Carolingians emphasized the protection that they conferred and the prayers that they expected in
return. To free the immunists from administrative responsibilities that might distract them from
prayer and religion, the kings appointed lay advocates who exercised temporal duties such as
collecting taxes, administering justice, and levying troops on the immune domains. The institution
of immunity became widespread across the empire, yet it could only function properly if the
immunist continued to recognize royal authority.” Charlemagne had moved to compensate the
clergy by generalizing the payment of tithes in 779 as a form of religious taxation.
For the administration of church property, the Carolingian kings intervened to regulate the
organization of the ecclesiastical patrimony and the distribution of its revenues. They instructed
abbots to draw up inventories of their capital, domain by domain, indicating for each the area, the
number of manses, and the adult and child population. To avoid the exploitation of monks, nuns,
and canons by their superior, the kings ordered abbots, abbesses, and bishops to apportion their
institutional property for the support of specific aims or persons. Moreover, church resources
were assigned by the kings to wider social functions. “In 818 Louis the Pious chose to assign the
great abbeys of the kingdom to one of three groups: those which were to send armed contingents
to the army, those which offered support in cash and in kind, and finally those which would simply
pray for the emperor and the well-being of the empire.” The clergy did not protest this hefty royal
interference and seek to regain autonomy for the religious mission, because the clergy materially
benefited from the king’s strength. In western Francia, the kings and regional princes competed
with one another to nominate bishops and abbots, because all political leaders counted on revenues
and military contingents levied on church lands to ensure their success. “Although the kings
retained control of several northern sees, elsewhere the magnates usually made bishops of their
own children and followers.” The regional princes were also lay-abbots of the greater monasteries
of their respective zones of influence. Of course, the Ottonians managed to restore their royal
authority by relying on episcopal support, and like the early Carolingians, they kept the church
under tight control. “They installed the bishops by symbolically bestowing on them the crosier of
office and exacted an oath of fealty in return….They could depend on the bishops, and therefore
moved to confer on them duties formerly discharged by counts: the administration of justice, the
collection of market tolls, and the minting of coinage, among other activities. Such were the
origins of the ecclesiastical princedoms of the medieval empire.”35 In 963, Ottoman I subdued the
papacy, whose powers and pretensions had been greatly enlarged by Charlemagne.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
(c) The Papacy: The Bishops of Rome had managed to secure recognition of their primacy
over the western church, claiming the spiritual leadership of the Universal Church. Under the
authority of the Byzantine emperors, the papacy had suffered a decline in its power and its prestige.
The alliance between the papacy and the Carolingians appeared in the coronation of 800 by the
pope for the protection granted by the Franks to the papal state. The effect of this cooperation was
to wed the Roman church firmly to the west, so the papacy became western in its outlook and
concerns. On the other hand, the Roman ritual and liturgy was slowly adopted across the west, and
the veneration of Saint Peter struck from roots north of the Alps. “Rome thus emerged as the
spiritual center of Carolingian world, just as it had become the model and focus of the English
church. Thanks to the Carolingians, the popes were acknowledged as the temporal sovereigns of
central Italy, and would remain as such until 1871.” Thus, Rome became the most important city
of the west, though papal relations with the kings had been frequently troubled. “Louis the Pious
granted the papacy its independence in 817, but seven years later reestablished strict controls in
the Roman Constitution of 824 and obliged the pope and his subjects to swear oaths to the
representatives of the emperor. Nevertheless, the popes were often able to exploit the crises that
rocked the empire in the mid-ninth century to reclaim the political initiative and uphold the ideal
of western unity. Gregory IV intervened in the conflicts between Louise the Pious and his sons,
and Leo IV later dared to arrange his own election as pope without the prior approval of the
imperial missi. Above all, Nicholas I vigorously affirmed the authority of Rome over all the other
churchmen and kings in the service of morality and peace among Christians.” John VIII (872-82)
went further by saying that “the pope along could choose the emperor and that his nominee had to
journey to Rome to claim the imperial crown.”36 The decline of the Carolingian dynasty were
devastating for the Roman church, and the papacy slipped into the hands of the Roman aristocracy
and under the control of the Ottonian rulers after 962.
(d) The Expansion of Christendom: (i) In Germany, Charles Martel and his sons encouraged
missionaries to evangelize Germany as much for political as for religious reasons. “Willibrord in
Frisia, Boniface in Germany, and Pirmin in Alemannia, all owed their success to papal encouragement and the material support of the Carolingian princes. It was necessary for Frankish troops to
protect the churches and monasteries founded by the Anglo-Saxon missionaries and their disciples.”
(ii) In Scandinavia, as in 831 Ansgar became the first bishop of Hamburg. As a consequence of
invasion from the north, the young Swedish and Danish churches were destroyed. The Christianization of Scandinavia resumed in the tenth century from bases in northern England and Germany.
Under Otto I, three new northern bishoprics were established in Jutland and placed under the
authority of the metropolitan of Hamburg. (iii) The Missions to the Slavs: The Carolintians
worked to extend Christianity into the lands of the South Slavs. Missionaries were dispatched to
Carintia, Slovenia, and the regions acquired from the Avars. The advance of Christianity into the
northern Slavic lands was very slow. Otto I founded new bishoprics in the frontier zone and
attached them to the archdiocese of Magdeburg in 968, but the Slaves did not accept the germanization of their lands. Christianity had struck firm roots in the Vistula region. Mieszko, the first
Christian king of the Poles, had established Jordan as bishop of Posnan about 968, which efforts
became the origins of the national hierarchy of the Polish church. (iv) The Birth of the Hungarian
Church: The Magyar leader Geza (970-97) had made peace with the Ottonians, and sent envoys
to the assembly at Quedlinburg in 973. Thereafter, Bishop Pilgrin of Passau dispatched German
missionaries into Hungary. As his Christian son became the new ruler and married to a Christian
princes from Bavaria; he consolidated both Christianity in Hungary and the foundation of the
medieval Hungarian monarchy. The Hungarian king, like the leaders of Poland, counted on the
support of the church to underpin his power and to ensure the unity of his realm. 37
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
(e) Carolingian Kingship: (i) Royal Unction: In the time of Merovingian rulers, the royal
person had traditionally borne an aura of religious mystery. “According to Germanic belief, his
family had received a special charism, and the king himself was the guarantor of cosmic order and
earthly harmony. In its turn, royal unction came to be viewed as a veritable sacrament of the
church, a status it maintained until the thirteen century. The ritual brought kingship within the
church, while the anointed ruler was seen as an image of God, a new Christ. He and his family
became inviolable under threat of mortal sin.” “The alliance between the Carolingian kings and
the Roman church was compared to the covenant between God and the ancient Hebrews.” When
the king rule badly, when he failed he failed to ensure the peace of the church and of the realm, he
was no longer worthy to reign, so that some bishops acted to deprive the emperor of his power.
(ii) Coronation Promises: In the second half of the ninth century, the Carolingian bishops began
to require of their kings, before their anointing, a solemn promise that they would act according
to Christian principles. “This promise, not yet the oath it would become, first appeared in 869
during the coronation of Charles the Bald as king of Lotharingia. The new king committed himself
to maintaining the honor of the church and the worship of God and to rendering justice in accord
with the law codes of society and the church. In return, he required that all pay him “due honor”
and obedience and offer him help in maintaining and defending the kingdom that he had received
from God. The promise thus took on the semblance of a contract, and the skillful jurist Hincmar
of Reims was surely its author. Slightly reworked, the same text was used again at the anointing
of Louis the Stammerer in 877 and at that of Odo of Paris in 888. It would also serve as a basis
for elaborating a true coronation oath in the twelfth century.”38 (ii) Royal Justice: In the Germanic
world, popular assemblies had the power to judge legal questions. Charlemagne maintained this
custom, but determined the makeup of the count’s court holding three judgment sessions per year.
The Ottonian rulers revived the Carolingian judicial system in the tenth century.
(iii) The King as Warrior: The successful kings required a large, effective, and well-equipped
army. The Carolingian kings in the first half of the ninth century could call on a total of some
thirty-five thousand heavy cavalry and one hundred thousand foot soldiers, which resources were
supported by their lay and ecclesiastical vassals. The Ottonians inherited the Carolingian military
system. They mostly depended on the warriors who lived with the royal court and on the heavy
cavalry sent to them by their lay and ecclesiastical vassals from across the kingdom. As enemies
invaded the empire, the Carolingians erected citadels everywhere at strategic points, notably in
the river valleys menaced by the Northmen. “From 862 to 869, Charles the Bald set up a system
of fortifications at Pitres on the lower Seine, and in the capitulary of Quierzy of 877, he ordered
the restoration of the ramparts of Paris and of other strongholds along the Seine and the Loire,
especially the fortress of St. Denis.” The kings were not alone in erecting fortifications. Many
local landowners built their own fortresses, and thereby inaugurated a thousand years of contention
and rivalry between kings and the proprietors of illegitimate castles. “In the famous Edict of Pitres
of 864, Charles the Bald ordered the destruction of strongholds built without his authorization.”
The Carolingian horseman heralded the coming of the medieval knight. The noble and the king
were destined and prepared for making war from his early youth. Athletic training through hunting
and simulated combat were already part of a knightly education. When a boy reached maturity,
his father gave him a sword just as the king did for his own sons. Whenever war was directed
against pagan or enemies of the church, kings asked not only their chaplains but also bishops and
even the pope to pray for their success. “Before launching the campaign against the Avars,
Charlemagne ordered his troops to fast and pray for three days,” which was similar to an Old
Testament army. The outline of the soldier of God took shape in the Carolingian period: warriors
were encouraged to view death for a holy cause likely meaning of entering Paradise. 39
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
Italy, Spain, and the British Isles: (a) Italy: After the death of Justinian, Byzantine rule
ended in the north by the Lombard invasion. In 568, pressed on north and east by Avars, 130,000
Lombards moved across the Alps into Lombardy, the plains of the Po. In 573 they held Verona,
Milan, Florence, and Pavia which became their capital; in 601, they captured Padua, in 603
Cremona and Mantua, in 640 Genoa. “Their mightiest king, Liutprand (712-44), took Ravenna in
eastern Italy, Spoleto in the center, Benevento in the south, and aspired to unite all Italy under his
rule. Pope Gregory III could not allow the papacy to become a Lombard bishopric; he called in
the unsubdued Venetians, who retook Ravenna for Byzantium. Liutprand had to content himself
with giving northern and central Italy the best government they had had since Theodoric the Goth.
Like Theodoric, he could not read. The Lombards developed a progressive civilization. The king
was elected and advised by a council of notables, and usually submitted his legislation to a popular
assembly of all free males of military age. King Rathari published a code of laws at once primitive
and advanced: it allowed money compensation for murder, proposed to protect the poor against
the rich, ridiculed the belief in witchcraft, and gave freedom of worship to Catholic, Arian, and
pagan alike. Intermarriage absorbed the Germanic invaders into the Italian blood and won them
to the Latin tongue; the Lombards left their signature here and there in blue eyes, blond hair, and
a few Teutonic words in Italian speech. As the conquest subsided into law, the commerce natural
to the valley of the Po was resumed; by the end of the Lombard period the cities of northern Italy
were rich and strong, ready for the arts and wars of their medieval peak.” 40
Within a generation after Liutprand, King Aistulf of the Lombards seized Ravenna in 751,
and ended the Byzantine exarchate. He claimed Rome as part of his widened realm. Pope Stephen
II requested assistance to Constantinople but failed, so he turned to the Franks. Pepin III crossed
the Alps, overwhelmed Aistulf, made Lombardy a Frank fief, and gave all central Italy to the
papacy. The popes continued to acknowledge the formal suzerainty of the Eastern emperors, but
Byzantine authority was now ended in northern Italy, but remained to hold a southern fraction of
Benevento. The Lombard basal king Desiderius tried
to restore the independence and conquest of the plains
of Lombardy; Pope Hadrian I summoned a new Frank;
Charlemagne swept down upon Pavia, consigned
Desiderius to a monastery, ended the Lombard kingdom, and made it a province of the Franks in 774. The
Imperial authority never extended much to south of
the Italian Peninsula. Southern Italy that was divided
into the two duchies, Spoleto and Benevento, accepted
Charlemagne's suzerainty only formally in 812, and
the Byzantine Empire. Such coastal cities as Gaeta,
Amalfi, Naples, and Venice of Latin-Greek enclaves
became increasingly independent from Byzantium.
The Treaty of Verdun in 843 allowed northern Italy
became the Kingdom of Italy under the Holy Roman
Empire. In 827 the Muslims forces conquered Sicily
and ruled them for 75 years until 1053.41 Charlemagne
tried to conquer Venice but failed, so he recognized it
as Byzantine territory and granted its trading right
along the Adriatic coast in 814. The autonomy of
Venice continued to develop as Byzantine declined.
Map I-1-4. Political Map of Italy in 1000 A.D. at
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
(b) Spain: A raiding force under Tariq of the Muslim province of North Africa entered Spain
through the strait of Gibraltar in 711, destroyed the Visigothic Kingdom, and established an
independent Emirate of Cordova under Abd al-Rahman I (756-88), who escaped from Damascus
after the collapse of the Umayyad dynasty and joined later. While the soldiers spread from modern
day Portugal and Spain to southern France in almost ten years, he completed the unification of
Muslim-ruled Iberia. Although this was not accepted outside al-Andalus and those North African
territories with which it was affiliated, Abd al-Rahman I and his successors considered that they
were the legitimate continuation of the Umayyad caliphate, i.e. that their rule was more legitimate
than that of the Abbasids. Their arrival in Spain sparked a Muslim versus Christian war called
the Reconquista.42 “The border between Muslim and Christian lands wavered southward through
700 years of war, which marked the peninsula as a militarily contended space. However, it is
important to note that Christians lived in Muslim kingdoms and Muslims lived in Christian
kingdoms in relative peace, but violence did break out, especially in relation to competition for
resources. Jews also lived in both kingdoms….religion is separate from race; people from all faiths
could and did convert to other faiths. Laws from each kingdom reflect how those in charge chose
to interact with practitioners of the distinct religions. Every kingdom had distinct regulations and
the three faiths enjoyed varying levels of citizenship.”43 On the other hand, the Muslim invasion
drove the unconquered Goths, Suevi, Christianized Berbers, and Iberian Celts into the Cantabrian
Mountains of north-western Spain. “The Moors pursued them, but were defeated at Covadonga
in 718 by a small force under the Goth Pelayo, who thereupon made himself King of Asturias, and
so founded the Spanish monarchy. The repulse of the Moors at Tours allowed Alfonso I (739-57)
to extend the Asturian frontiers into Galicia, Lusitania, and Viscaya. His grandson Alfonso II (791842) annexed the province of Leon, and made Oviedo his capital.”44
“East of Asturias, and just south of the Pyrenees, lay Navarre. Its inhabitants were mostly of
Basque stock – probably of mixed Celtic Spanish and African Berber blood. Helped by their
mountains, they could defended their independence against Muslims, Franks, and Spaniards; and
in 905 Sancho I Garcia founded the kingdom of Navarre, with Pamplona as his capital. Sancho
the Great (994-1035) won his title by absorbing Leon, Castile, and Aragon; for a time Christian
Spain verged on unity; but at his death Sancho undid his life’s work by dividing his realm among
his four sons. The kingdom of Aragon dates its existence from this division. By pressing back the
Muslims in the south, and peacefully incorporating Navarre in the north in 1076, it came by 1095
to include a large part of north-central Spain.”45 Catalonia ruled by French counts made the region
a semi-independent Spanish March. Leon, in the northwest, entered history with Sancho the Fat.
Castile in central Spain fronted Muslim Spain,
and lived in continual readiness for war. In 930
its knights refused any longer to obey the kings
of Asturias or Leon, and set up an independent
state, with its capital at Burgos and Valladolid
later. Fernando I (1035-65) united Leon and
Galicia to Castile, and compelled the emirs of
Toledo and Seville to pay him annual tribute:
like Sancho the Great, he divided his realm to
his three sons who would fought internecine
war among them for hegemony of the inherited
lands. The union of Castile and Aragon finally
created a single entity of Spain in 1516.
Map I-1-5. Spain in 930 at
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
(c) The British Isles: After leaving of the Roman army in 409, the Germanic invasion of
Britain in the fifth century created Anglo-Saxon kingdoms through wars with British states; and
the seven principal kingdoms were Christianized. In the ninth century, Vikings from Denmark
and Norway conquered most of England. Only the Kingdom of Wessex survived and even
managed to re-conquer and unify England for much of the tenth century, before a new series of
Danish raid. At the end of the tenth century, the Scandinavian attack on England was resumed.
In 991 a force of Norwegian Vikings raided the England coast, plundered Ipswich, and defeated
the English at Maldon. Unable to resist further, the English under King Ethelred (978-1013)
bought off the Danes with successive gifts of huge amount of silver. Ethelred, seeking foreign
aid, negotiated an alliance with Normandy, and married Emma, daughter of the Norman Duke
Richard. Ethelred secretly ordered a general massacre of the Danes everywhere in the island in
1002. Among these was the sister of King Sweyn of Denmark. Swearing revenge, Sweyn invaded
England in 1003 with all his forces. As his nobles deserted him, Eathelred fled to Normandy; and
Sweyn became king of England. When Sweyn died, Ethelred renewed the struggle; but the nobles
again deserted him, and made their peace with Sweyn’s son Cnut. Ethelred died in besieged
London; his son Edmund Ironside fought bravely, but was overwhelmed by Cnut at Assandum in
1016. All England accepted Cnut (1016-35) as its king, so the Danish conquest was complete.46
As Norway threw off the Danish yoke and invaded Denmark; Harthacnut (1035-42), Cnut’s son
and heir, protected the dynasty. So Cnut’s another son ruled England for five years but died; and
Harthacnut himself ruled it for two years and died. The surviving son of Ethelred and Emma, was
summoned from Normandy and ascended the throne as Edward the Confessor in1042.
(i) Western Wales was occupied by Irish settlers in the fifth century; later Wales received
thousands of Britons fleeing from the Anglo-Saxon conquerors of the island. The Irish and the
Britons found in Wales a kindred Celtic stock, and the three groups mingled as Cymri. Christianity
came to Wales in the sixth century, and opened schools in the monasteries and cathedrals. The
pirate attacks from Normandy were driven by
their kings. (ii) Ireland: Ireland was divided into
seven kingdoms, they fought among themselves.
They received Christianity before 431 when the
first bishop was ordinated. They were basically
tribal, so achieved national unity at moment. The
Danish invaded and founded towns like Dublin,
Limerick and Waterford, and levied tribute. Irish
kings fought separately. (iii) Scotland: Rome
was failed to conquer the Scottish. From the fifth
century North Britain was divided into a series of
petty kingdoms. After the arrival of the Vikings
in the late eighth century, Scandinavian ruler
established colonies along the parts of the coasts
and in the islands. In the ninth century, the Scots
and Picts combined under the House of Alpin to
form a Kingdom of Alba. Celtic supremacy
seemed assured; but the Danish invasion of
England drove thousands of English into south
Scotland, and poured a strong Anglo-Saxon
element into the Scottish blood.
Map I-1-6. The British Isles about 802 at
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
The Byzantine World: The Emperor Justinian I ruled Asia, the Balkans, Italy, Africa, and
even in part of Spain before his death; but during 570-670, the Lombards, the Slavs, and the
Muslims pushed the empire. The Byzantine state was confined to Asia Minor and Thrace, and
long involved in a life and death struggle with Muslims and Bulgars. During that time, Slavs and
Armenians migrated to the region with many other immigrants numerically less important. Now
the empire faced the contradiction between tradition and practice: the old Roman imperial tradition
envisaged a state, all of which, behind distant and far-flung frontiers, enjoyed profound peace.
War threatened but was confined to the borders. Heraclius terminated the Sassanid dynasty by 644.
In the seventh and eighth centuries, the Byzantine Empire lost much of its territory to Muslims,
Bulgars, and Slavs: the empire held only Asia Minor, some lands in Balkans, and the southern
coast of Italy. The empire wisely handled various difficulties under the Macedonian rulers in the
ninth century as shown in Map I-1-7, and reached its high point in the tenth century. Leo III (71741) was from Isauria in Cilicia; his father moved to Thrace, raised sheep, and sent 500 of them,
with his son Leo in the bargain, as a present to the Emperor Justinian II. Leo became a guardsman
of the palace, then commander of the Anatolian legions, who entered Constantinople in 717, forced
the abdication of Theodosius III by the convincing suffrage of the army, and became emperor.
Leo was immediately forced to attend to the Second Arab siege of Constantinople by the Umayyad
forces of 80,000-150,000 men and a massive fleet to the Bosphorus. Careful preparations and the
stubborn resistance led by Leo made the invaders exhausted. The victory of the Byzantines owed
significantly to the use of Greek fire on the ships. The Byzantines also allied with the Bulgarians
against the Arabs: “Unable to continue the siege in the face of the Bulgarian onslaught, the
impenetrability of Constantinople's walls, and their own exhausted provisions, the Arabs were
forced to abandon the siege in the next year. Caliph Sulayman himself died in the previous year
and his successor Umar II would not attempt another siege.”47
Map I-1-7. The Byzantium Empire in 867
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
Leo III was “a man of ambition, strong will, and patient perseverance; a general who defeated
Muslim forces greatly superior to his own; a statesman who gave the Empire the stability of just
laws justly enforced, reformed taxation, reduced serfdom, extended peasant proprietorship,
distributed lands, repopulated deserted regions, and constructively revised the laws. His only fault
was autocracy.”48 Leo proceeded to consolidate its administration and secured the frontiers by
inviting Slavic settlers into the depopulated districts. Undertaking a set of civil reforms in taxation,
criminal justice, and others, he issued a series of edicts against the worship of images (Iconocrasm),
requiring the complete removal of icons from the churches in 726. “Over the years, conflict
developed between those who wanted to use the images, claiming that they were icons to be
venerated, and the iconoclasts who claimed they were simply idols. Pope Gregory III convoked a
synod in 730 and formally condemned iconoclasm as heretical and excommunicated its promoters.
The papal letter never reached Constantinople as the messengers were intercepted and arrested in
Sicily by the Byzantines.” Constantine V convened the Council of Hieria in 754. The 338 bishops
assembled concluded, the unlawful art of painting living creatures blasphemed the fundamental
doctrine of our salvation - namely, the Incarnation of Christ, and contradicted the six holy synods...
If anyone shall endeavor to represent the forms of the Saints in lifeless pictures with material
colors which are of no value, and does not rather represent their virtues as living images in himself,
….let him be anathema. This Council claimed to be the legitimate Seventh Ecumenical Council”49
Thus, Leo II prohibited the worship of images in the Church and the first Iconoclast remained in
730-87. Leo V reinstituted the second Iconoclast that remained during 814-42. Deposing patriarch
Nikephoros, Leo V convoked a synod at Constantinople in 815. The Emperor used a moderate
iconoclast policy to seize the properties of iconodules and monasteries, such as the rich Stoudios
Monastery, whose influential iconodule abbot, Theodore the Studite, exiled.50
Constantine V (741-75), son of Leo III, decreed that all images in the churches should be
erased or destroyed, and executed the decree without moderation or tact: imprisoned and tortured
resisting monks; again eyes or tongues were torn out, noses were cut off; the patriarch was tortured
and beheaded. “Constantine V closed monasteries and convents, confiscated their property, turned
the buildings to secular uses, and bestowed monastic lands upon his favorites. At Ephesus the
imperial governor, with the approval of the Emperor, assembled the monks and nuns of the
province, and forced them to marry one another as an alternative to death. The prosecution
continued for five years from 765.” Continuing the Iconoclastic policy; Leo IV (775-80),
nominated his widow Irene, after his death, to be regent for his ten-year old son Constantine VI
(780-97). “Sympathizing with the religious feelings of the people and her sex, she quietly ended
the enforcement of the Iconoclast edicts; permitted the monks to return to their monasteries and
their pulpits, and convened the prelates of Christendom in the Second Council of Nicaea in 787,
where 350 bishops, under the lead of papal legates, restored the veneration – not the worship – of
sacred images as a legitimate expression of Christian piety and faith.” 51 In 790 when Constantine
VI came of age, finding his mother reluctant to surrender her power, he deposed and exiled her,
but brought her back to court, and resumed her position as co-ruler. By skillful intrigues with the
bishops and courtiers, she organized a conspiracy against his son Constantine. In 797 she had him
imprisoned and blinded, and thereafter reigned under the title of emperor. For five years she ruled
the Empire with wisdom and fineness: lowered taxes, scattered largess among the poor, founded
charitable institutions, and beautified the capital. In 798 she opened diplomatic relations with
Charlemagne. The people applauded and loved her, but the army fretted at being ruled by a woman
more capable than most men. In 802 the Iconocrasts revolted, deposed her, and made her treasurer
Nicephorus emperor. He banished her to Lesbos, and left her to earn a scanty living as a seamstress.
Nine months later she died, with hardly a penny or a friend. 52
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
Michael III (842-67) received his father’s throne at age three, and ruled the empire through
his mother Theodora first and uncle Bardas later, who pursued reforms but faced many problems.
“The decade of the administration of Bardas (856-66) was the most brilliant in all Byzantine
history. The government everywhere showed a rare combination of energy and foresight. The
armed forces were everywhere successful. Secular education was revived with spectacular results.
The church was governed, not indeed in peace and quiet, but certainly with wisdom and ability,
by the greatest of Byzantine patriarchs, Photius.”53 The Vikings of Kiev appeared near Constantinople in 860 but passed the capital without destruction. The Muslims led by Omar ibn Abdulla, the
emir of Melitene, raided and defeated the imperial army in 861, and launched a full scale invasion
on the Black Sea coast and region in 863. Michael defeated Omar decisively, which victory
became a turning point of war against the Muslims. Negotiating with Khan Boris, the chief of the
Bulgars engaging in the west, Michael made them convert to eastern Christianity in 864.
Meanwhile, Patriarch Photius brought educational reforms for the higher clergy, and re-founded
the secular university at Constantinople, introduced extensive curriculum, and hired salaried
professors of geometry, astronomy, grammar, and philosophy. Photius excommunicated the pope
by insisting on that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father not from “the Father and the Son,”
that widened the schism between the eastern and western Christian churches. He was murdered
by Basil, who was born near Hadrianople of an Armenian peasant family. “As a child he was
captured by Bulgars, and lived his youth among them beyond the Danube, in what was then called
Macedonia. Escaping in his twenty-fifth year, he made his way to Constantinople, and was hired
as groom by a diplomat who admired his physical strength and massive head. He accompanies his
master on a mission to Greece, and there attracted the attention, and some the wealth, of the widow
Danielis. Back in the capital, he tamed a spirited horse for Michael III, was taken into the
Emperor’s service, and though quite illiterate, rose to the position of lord chamberlain.”
The next century (860-960) is a gradual expansion and consolidation, which was “the heyday
of the native Byzantine armies of Anatolia, in which area economic stability bred confidence, and
confidence bred victory and pride.” The new populations of the East Roman Empire, after about
two hundred and fifty years, had gradually made of their multifarious elements something of a
unity which begot an indispensable feeling to greatness in terms of a feeling of nationalism.
Moreover, “the greatest triumphs were won only through the devotion of the soldiers to leaders,
who generally detested the central government of educated bureaucrats and tax-gatherers in the
capital.”54 Basil the Macedonian (867-86) was ever convenient and competent; when Michael
sought a husband for his mistress, Basil divorced his peasant wife and married Eudocia, who
continued her services to the Emperor. Michael supplied Basil with a mistress, but the Macedonian
thought he deserved the throne as reward. He persuaded Michael that Bardas was plotting to
depose him, and then killed Bardas with his own hand in 866. Michael made Basil his co-emperor
and left him all the tasks of government. When Michael threatened to dismiss him, Basil arranged
his assassination, and became sole emperor, ruling the empire for nineteen years with “excellent
administration, legislating wisely, judging justly, replenishing the treasury, and building new
churches and palaces for the city that he had captured.” 55 His dynasty lasted 189 years until 1056.
His son Leo VI (886-912) was followed by Constantine VI (912-58) and Romanus II (958-63).
Romanus II married a Greek girl, Theophano; who was suspected of poisoning her father-in-law
and hastening Romanus’s death; and before her husband was dead, she seduced into her arms the
ascetic general Nicephorus Phocas, who seized the throne with her connivance. As he retired into
the palace to live like an anchorite; bored with this monastic life, she became the mistress of the
general John Tzimisces. With her connivance he killed Phocas and seized the throne; he was so
remorseful that he repudiated and exiled her, and went off to atone for his crime.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
Basil II (976-1025), born to Romanus and Theophano in 958, had served as co-emperor with
Phocas and Tzimisces; became the sole emperor at the age of eighteen, lasting half a century. He
was the military genius, never married, and kept all women at a distance. “Troubles encompassed
him: his chief minister plotted to displace him; the feudal barons, whom he proposed to tax,
financed conspiracy against him; Bardas Sclerus, general of the eastern army, rebelled, and was
suppressed by Bardas Phocas, who then had himself proclaimed emperor by his troops; the
Muslims were recovering nearly all that Tzimisces had won from them in Syria; the Bulgars were
at their zenith, encroaching upon the Empire in east and west. Basil suppressed the revolt,
reclaimed Armenia from the Saracens, and in a ruthless thirty years’ war destroyed the Bulgarian
power.”56 Basil II defended his throne from a rebellion in 988 owing to the rescue forces of 6,000
sent by Vladimir of Kiev, who wanted Princess Anna, the sister of emperors, his bride in return,
and seized the Byzantine fortress of Cherson in the Crimea.57 Basil conquered Armenia in the east
and destroyed Bulgaria in the west through nearly two decades of war. The Bulgars established a
state near the Volga River and invaded the Balkan Peninsula in the seventh century. Khan Krum
build up a military power threatening Constantinople, but his successors brought the reverse. The
brilliant Simeon conquered Serbia in 926 and achieved cultural advances. But Basil crushed the
Bulgarian army led by Samuel in 1014, and subjected his people to the Byzantine Empire. He
achieved a territorial expansion combined with internal economic security which was never known
before. During the last three centuries, the population of the Byzantine Empire formed a unity
begetting feeling of nationalism. In the tenth century, the military required a new type of the army
based on heavily armed cavalry under the aristocratic generals, who trained their soldiers recruited
from the Anatolian peasants. The educated young elite joined the government and church, which
formed civil bureaucrats in the capital. He tried to resolve the problem between provincial military
and civil bureaucracy, and between landed aristocracy and small peasants, but failed.
The Byzantine began to decline under his aged brother Constantine VIII (1025-8). Having
three daughters without a male heir, Constantine forced Romanos Argyrus, who was his urban
prefect of Constantinople, to divorce his wife and to marry his eldest daughter Zoe in 1028, and
three days later Constantine died. As regent, and with the help of her sister Theodora, Zoe
governed the state through the reigns of four husband emperors from Romanos III (1028-34) to
Constantine IX (1042-55); seldom had the Empire been better ruled. The imperial sisters attacked
corruption in state and Church, and forced officials to disgorge their embezzled hoards, which
made the sales of offices stopped for a brief interlude. Zoe and Theodora sad as judges on the
highest tribunal, and dispensed stern justice. 58 Having at sixty-two married Constantine IX, she
allowed her new husband to bring his mistress to live in the royal palace, and Zoe never visited
him without making sure that he was disengaged. When Zoe died in 1050, Theodora retired to a
convent, and Constantine IX ruled for five years with wisdom and tastes. At his death, the virgin
Theodora at her seventy-four was brought back from her convent by the loyal supporters, but she
suddenly died in 1056. The palace aristocracy named Michael VI emperor; but the army preferred
the general Comnenus, who won the throne. Hence, “The Macedonian dynasty had come to end
after 190 years of violence, war, adultery, piety, and excellent administration.” 59 After two years
of his reign, Isaac Comnenus (1057-59) named Constantine Ducas as his successor, who entered
a monastery, but died in 1067. His widow Eudocia acted as regent for four years; but the demands
of war required a strong leader, and she married and crowned Romanus IV. Romanus was defeated
by the Turks at Manzikert in 1071, returned to Constantinople, was deposed, imprisoned, and died.
Alexius Comnenus I, nephew of Isaac Comnenus, came to the throne in 1081, when the Byzantine
Empire seemed near to fall. Although he was not the founder of the Comnenus dynasty, his family
came to full power during his long reign, igniting the First Crusade to revive the empire.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
Slavonic States and the Bulgars: The Slavs originally lived in the basin of the Pripet River,
more widely between the Elbe, the Oder, the Vistula, and the Bug rivers in the south of the Baltic
Sea, and migrated to the three directions: west, south, and east.60 To the east, they started migrating
toward the Dniester and Dnieper rivers in the early sixth century, becoming Russians, Ukrainians,
and White Russians. To the south, they migrated through the Carpathian Mountain into modern
Hungary toward the Danube and the Roman frontiers, and moved further to the south by taking
the Balkans becoming Croats, Serbs, and Slovenes in the seventh century. To the west in the
eastern region of the Frankish and German kingdoms, the Slavs established the Polish and
Bohemian kingdoms, who were pushed by the Asiatic nomads of the Huns, Alans, Avars, Bulgars,
and Magyars. Although some of them could have subjugated the region's Slavs, these foreign
tribes left little trace in the Slavic lands. Throughout the centuries, due to the larger number of
Slavs, most descendants of the populations of the Balkans were Slavicized. The Avars, a Turkic
tribe, extended from the Volga River to the Baltic Sea at the end of the six century, and finally
settled in modern Romania. They were crushed by Charlemagne during 795-96, terminated by the
Moravians, and absorbed to the Slavs and the Bugars. The Bulgars established its first empire in
the Balkan in 681, became its province of the Byzantine Empire, but were also assimilated by
local Slavs, though they held the nominal legacy of Bulgarian country and people into all future
generations.61 The Early Middle Ages saw Slavonic expansion as an agriculturist and beekeeper,
hunter, fisher, herder, and trapper people; and the method of “slash and burn” agriculture in many
regions required frequent movement of the people. In the early eighth century, the immigrating
Slavs formed various small tribal organizations; and in the ninth and tenth centuries, they had
formed strong political units such as Poland, Bohemia (Czech), and Russia.
Map I-1-8. Slavic Tribes from 7th to 9th Centuries in Europe at
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
(a) The Polish created the Samo’s Realm as the first Slavic political entity that was close to
Poland and existed during the 623-58. Samo, originally a Frankish trader, became a Slavic leader
by successfully helping the Slavs defend themselves against the Avar assailants; which was a loose
alliance of tribes but it fell apart after his death. Slavic Carantania was more of a real state that
could be a part of the former Samo’s kingdom, but lasted under a native dynasty throughout the
eighth century and gradually became Christianized. In the ninth century, the Polish lands were still
on the peripheries in relations to the major powers and events of medieval Europe, but they were
making a progress towards civilization, as evidenced by the number of gords built, kurgans raised
and movable equipment used. Their tribal elites must have been influenced by the closeness of
the Carolingian Empire. The Polish tribes might be united under the king Piastin about 840,62 and
the first ruler appeared in its history was Mieszko (962-92) who maintained the standing army.
“In its mature form this state included the West Slavic lands between the Oder and Bug rivers and
between the Baltic Sea and the Carpathian Mountains, including the economically crucial mouth
areas of the Vistula and Oder rivers, as well as Lesser Poland and Silesia.” 63 They had been
protected against possible German attacks by all Slavs of Poland and Bohemia. The Pope gave
Otto I and his successors “the all right to establish dioceses in all Slavonic lands” and Otto I had
hoped that the ecclesiastical organization would be strong enough to bind the Slavs to Germany.64
Poles received the Christian faith not directly from Germany but from Bohemia, and the Polish
church remained independent from Germany. The German rule in the Slavonic land on the Baltic
and between the Elbe and Oder rivers was so ruthless that infuriated Slavs plundered Hamburg,
destroyed Havelberg, and sacked Brandenburg in 983, which rebels brought them freedom.
Boleslaw (992-1025),65 son of Mieszko, had firmly established the Christian church in Poland,
and successfully conducted wars against Henry II who expanded his domain.66 The name of Poles
appears in writing for the first time around year 1000, like the country’s name Poland.
(b) The Bohemians were the Slavic settlers in the region of modern Czech during the fifth to
eighth centuries, ruled by two families: the Prezemyslides and the Slavniks. In the ninth century,
Bohemia came in the reach of the Great Moravian state set up about 830. In 874 Svatopluk I of
Moravia reached an agreement with Louis the German and confirmed his Bohemian dominion.
With the fragmentation of Moravia under the pressure of the Magyar around 900, Bohemia began
to form an independent principality. Moravia briefly regained control over the emerging Bohemian
principality until in 895; Spytihnev of Bohemia swore allegiance to the East Frankish king Arnulf
of Carinthia in Regensburg. He and his brother Vratislaus then ruled over Central Bohemia around
Prague. They were able to protect their realm from the Magyar forces. “Cut off from Byzantium
by the Hungarian presence, the Bohemian principality existed as independent state though still in
the shadow of East Francia; the dukes paid tribute to the Bavarian dukes in exchange for the
confirmation of the peace treaty.”67 Vratislaus' son Wenceslaus, who ruled from 921, was already
accepted as head of the Bohemian tribal union, however, he had to cope with the enmity of his
neighbor Duke Arnulf of Bavaria and his mighty ally, the Saxon king Henry I of Germany. He
maintained his ducal authority by submitting to King Henry in 929, but was murdered by his
brother Boleslaus (935-72).68 One of his major concerns was the annual tribute paid to the German
kings as stated in the peace treaty Henry the Fowler had established with Wenceslaus. He stopped
the payment shortly after he ascended the throne, which led to the prolonged war with King Otto
the Great. He attacked an ally of the Saxons in northwest Bohemia in 936 and defeated two of
Otto's armies. Then war deteriorated to a border raids, reached its conclusion in 950 when Otto
besieged a castle owned by his son, Boleslaus signed a peace treaty with Otto. Five years later, the
armies of Czechs and Germans allied against the Magyars in 955. The Bishopric of Prague was
founded in 973 during the reign of Duke Boleslaus II (972-99) who unified Bohemia by 995.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
(c) The Russians were the eastern Slavs settled between the Carpathian Mountains and the
middle Dnieper. The Swedish Vikings invaded the Slavonic tribes in Novgorod and established
their rule, from which Prince Oleg (879-912) moved toward the Dvina and the Dnieper rivers.
Capturing Smolensk and Lyubech, Oleg occupied Kiev in 882, and consolidated and expanded
their authority over the Slavonic tribes on both sides of the Dnieper and the east of the Don. “The
new Kievan state prospered due to its abundant supply of furs, beeswax, honey, and slaves for
export, and because it controlled three main trade routes of Eastern Europe. In the north, Novgorod
served as a commercial link between the Baltic Sea and the Volga trade route to the lands of
the Volga Bulgars, the Khazars, and across the Caspian Sea as far as Baghdad, providing access
to markets and products from Central Asia and the Middle East. Trade from the Baltic also moved
south on a network of rivers and short portages along the Dnieper known as the route from the
Varangians to the Greeks, continuing to the Black Sea and on to Constantinople. Kiev was a central
outpost along the Dnieper route and a hub with the east-west overland trade route between the
Khazars and the Germanic lands of Central Europe. These commercial connections enriched Rus'
merchants and princes, funding military forces and the construction of churches, palaces,
fortifications, and further towns.”69 The rapid expansion of the Russian trade with the south led to
conflict and volatile relationships with the Khazars and other neighbors on the Pontic steppe. The
Khazars dominated the Black Sea steppe during the eighth century, trading and frequently allying
with the Byzantine Empire against Persians and Arabs. In the late eighth century, the collapse of
the Göktürk led the Magyars and other tribes from Central Asia to migrate west into the steppe
region, leading to military conflict, disruption of trade, and instability within the Khazar. The
Russians and Slavs had earlier allied with the Khazars against Arab raids on the Caucasus, but
they increasingly worked against them to secure control of the trade routes. 70
The Russians tried to capture Constantinople through the Dnieper and the Black Sea but failed.
“Relations between the Rus' and Byzantines became more complex after Oleg took control over
Kiev, reflecting commercial, cultural, and military concerns. The wealth and income of the Rus'
depended heavily upon trade with Byzantium. Constantine Porphyrogenitus described the annual
course of the princes of Kiev, collecting tribute from client tribes, assembling the product into a
flotilla of hundreds of boats, conducting them down the Dnieper to the Black Sea, and sailing to
the estuary of the Dniester, the Danube delta, and on to Constantinople. On their return trip they
would carry silk fabrics, spices, wine, and fruit. The importance of this trade relationship led to
military action when disputes arose. The Primary Chronicle reports that the Rus' attacked
Constantinople again in 907, probably to secure trade access. The Chronicle glorifies the military
prowess and shrewdness of Oleg, an account imbued with legendary detail. Byzantine sources do
not mention the attack, but a pair of treaties in 907 and 911 set forth a trade agreement with the
Rus' the terms suggesting pressure on the Byzantines, who granted the Rus' quarters and supplies
for their merchants and tax-free trading privileges in Constantinople.” 71 Prince Igor (914-45)
attacked on Constantinople with 10,000 vessels, landed on and devastated the Asiatic coast of the
Bosphorus, but they failed and returned. In 944 the Rus’s force advanced again on the Greeks, by
land and sea, and a Byzantine force responded. The Emperor sent gifts and offered tribute in lieu
of war, and another peace treaty was completed. As Kiev became a commercial center, the Vikings
and the Slavs, who fused into one people of the Russians, expanded the trade to the Caspian Sea
and to the north through the Volga River. The relations between Russia and Byzantium had
smoothed through Christian penetration. After the death of Igor, his wife Olga took over the
regency for her son Svyatoslav, and alternatively resided in Kiev and Novgorod with firm control.
Realizing the importance of the Byzantine to Russian interests, Olga received baptism at
Constantinople in 957, and sent an embassy to Otto I in 959.72
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
(d) The Bulgars: Coinciding with the decline of the Roman Empire, many barbarian tribes
passed through the Balkans, most of whom did not leave any lasting state. As the Byzantine
Empire withdrew its borders more and more, vast areas were deurbanized in the absence of
protection. We previously discussed about the Goths, Huns, Lombards, Slavs, Avars, and Magyars
who approached, passed, settled, or ruled the Balkans, so here only the Bulgars is introduced. “The
Bulgars, originally a mixture of Hun, Ugrian, and Turkish blood, had formed part of the Hun
Empire in Russia. After Attila’s death, one branch established a kingdom – Old Bulgaria – along
the Volga around the modern Kazan; their capital, Bolgar, was enriched by the river trade, and
prospered till it was destroyed by Tatars in the thirteenth century. In the fifth century, another
branch migrated south west to the valley of the Don; one tribe of these, the Utigurs, crossed the
Danube in 679, founded a second Bulgarian kingdom in the ancient Moesia, enslaved the Slavs
there, adopted their language and institutions, and were ultimately absorbed into the Slavic stock.
The new state reached its zenith under Khan Krum (803-814) in 802, a man of barbarian courage
and civilized cunning. He invaded Macedonia – a province of the Eastern Empire – captured 1100
pounds of gold, and burned the towns of Sardica, now, as Sofia, Bulgaria’s capital.” 73 In 811
Emperor Nicephorus invaded Bulgaria, defeated Krum twice, and sacked the Bulgarian capital
Pliska; however, during his retreat, the Byzantine army was ambushed and destroyed in the
mountain passes by Krum, and Nicephorus was killed in the battle. 74 In 813, Krum besieged
Constantinople, fired its suburbs, and devastated Thrace.75 After his death, his son Omurtag (81431) signed a thirty-year peace treaty with the Byzantine, and coped with the aggressive policy of
the Frankish Empire to take Bulgaria's north-western lands.76
Under Khan Boris (852-88), Bulgaria adopted Christianity. Boris himself a long reign, entered
a monastery; emerged four years later to depose his elder son Vladimir and enthrone his younger
son Simeon; lived till 907, and was canonized as the first of Bulgaria’s national saints. Simeon
(893-927) was successful in campaigns against the Byzantines, Magyars and Serbs; which led
Bulgaria to its greatest territorial expansion
ever, making it the most powerful state in
Eastern Europe of the time. His reign was a
period of unmatched cultural prosperity and
enlightenment later deemed the Golden Age of
Bulgarian culture. It spread over a territory
between the Aegean, Adriatic and Black Seas
during his rule; the Bulgarian capital became
rival to Constantinople. The Bulgarian Church
was the first new patriarchate besides the Pentarchy: its Glagolitic translations of Christian
texts spread over the Slavic world of the time.77
After Simeon’s death, Bulgaria was weakened
with civil strife. Their heretics were converted
to Christianity of pacifism and communism;
Serbia recovered its independence in 931; and
Tzimisces reconquered eastern Bulgaria in 972.
Basil II conquered western Bulgaria in 1014;
and made Bulgaria again a province of
Byzantine Empire (1018-86).
Map I-1-9. The Early Medieval Balkans, 900 at
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
Islam and the Abbasid Dynasty: The Umayyad dynasty was founded by Muawiya ibn Abi
Sufyan, long-time governor of Syria, in 661. Thereafter, Syria remained its main power base at
Damascus as its capital. “The Umayyads continued the Muslim conquests, incorporating the
Caucasus, Transoxiana, Sindh, the Maghreb and the Iberian Peninsula (Al-Andalus) into the
Muslim world.” Since Muhammad had stated explicitly during his lifetime that each religious
minority should be allowed to practice its own religion and govern itself, their policy on the whole
had continued. Muawiya designed to share power with provinces that were almost a confederation
of different leaderships acknowledging the central authority in Damascus. Unlike the family of
the Prophet, the Umayyads had no special religious authority to rule the Muslims. The Arabs in
Damascus collected and spent taxes from the Persians who were entirely excluded from politics
as the second citizens, which became the main cause of rebellions. Moreover, the dynasty was
threatened by the Khazars, Berbers, and Khurasans; and constant warfare had drained manpower
resources in Syria. They had no communications with Christian powers in the Mediterranean, but
developed commercial links with Pakistan, east Africa, and China through the Indian Ocean. The
Umayyad caliphate pursued self-sufficiency by using the common Arabic language and Islam
religion. The Muslims attacked whenever possible, and true peace came only when the enemy
surrendered and accepted Islam or tributary status. “The rivalries between the Arab tribes had
caused unrest in the provinces outside Syria, most notably in the Second Muslim Civil War of
680–692 CE and the Berber Revolt of 740–743 CE. During the Second Civil War, leadership of the
Umayyad clan shifted from the Sufyanid branch of the family to the Marwanid branch. As the
constant campaigning exhausted the resources and manpower of the state, the Umayyads,
weakened by the Third Muslim Civil War of 744–747 CE, were finally toppled by the Abbasid
Revolution in 750 CE. A branch of the family fled across North Africa to Al-Andalus, where they
established the Caliphate of Córdoba, which lasted until 1031.”78
Map I-1-10. The Abbasid Caliphate, 750-1258
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
The Abbasid dynasty (750-1058) was founded by Abu al-Abbas al-Saffah (750-54), who was
great-great-grandson of an uncle of Muhammad. He and his clan chose to begin their rebellion in
Khurasan, an important but remote military region comprising eastern Iran, southern parts of the
modern Central Asian republics. In 743, the death of the Umayyad Caliph Hisham provoked a
rebellion in the east. Al-Saffah provided the leadership from a hiding place in Palestine, organized
the revolt in the provinces, and won the ardent support of the Shias and the residents of Kyurasan.
In 749 the rebel army entered Kufa, a major Muslim center in Southern Iraq, and he proclaimed
himself caliph at Kufa. The rebel forces under his uncle Abdallah defeated the rival forces of
caliph Marwan II at the battle on the Zab River north of Baghdad. A year later, Damascus yielded
to siege. Abdallah, made governor of Syria, announced an amnesty to the Umayyads; to confirm
it, he invited eighty of their leaders to dinner. While they ate, his hidden soldiers killed all of them
by the sword. Al-Saffah became the ruler of the empire extending from the Indus to the Atlantic,
except Muslim Spain, as appeared in Map I-1-10 above. Al-Saffah made Kufa his capital, ending
the dominance of Damascus in the Islamic political world, and Iraq would now become the seat
of Abbasid power for many centuries. The men who helped him to power, now administered the
state, were predominantly Persian in origin and culture. Al-Saffah reformed his army to include
non-Muslim and non-Arabs, which is in sharp contrast to the Umayyads who refused any soldiers
of either type. However, not all Muslims accepted the legitimacy of his caliphate. “According to
later Shi'ites, al-Saffāh turned back on his promises to the partisans of the Alids in claiming the
title caliph for himself. The Shia had hoped that their imam would be named head of the caliphate,
inaugurating the era of peace and prosperity the millennialists had believed would come. The
betrayal alienated al-Saffāh's Shia supporters, although the continued amity of other groups made
Abbasid rule markedly more solvent than that of the Umayyads.”79
Al-Saffah died of smallpox in 754 and his half-brother succeeded him under the name of alMansure (754-75), who moved capital from Damascus to Baghdad, established in 762, that was
familiar to the Abbasid armies from Khurasan, which broke old connections in Damascus. This
reflects a growing reliance on Persian bureaucrats, most notably of the Barmakid family, to govern
the territories conquered by Arab Muslims, and on an increasing inclusion of non-Arab Muslims
in the empire. He established an institution on a Persian model which would play a major role in
Abbasid history. Although Iranians became more important in army and civil services, the growing
tension between the newly emerging civil elite in capital and military leaders in provinces became
more sophisticated in the coming centuries. “In 756, al-Mansur sent over 4,000 Arab mercenaries
to assist the Chinese in the An Shi Rebellion against An Lushan; after the war, they remained in
China. Al-Mansur was referred to as A-p'u-ch'a-fo in the Chinese Tang Annals.”80 As Byzantium
had seized the opportunity of the Abbasid revolution to cover Arab-conquered territory in Asia
Minor, his son al-Mahdi (775-85) sent an army under Harun to drive the Greeks back to Constantinople, and threatened that capital. The Empress Irene made peace by pledging an annual payment
of 70,000 dinars to the caliphs in 784. Harun al-Rashid (786-809) succeeded his father’s throne
by the support of the Barmakid family. He centralized political power and rooted out abuses in
tax collection, which distracted military supports; and he launched expeditions against the
Byzantines to explore his leadership among the Muslims without permanent gains. Many notables
in Khurasan later wanted the tax revenues to be used for their local benefits in the province: a
serious rebellion broke out in Khrusan in 806. Harun set out to suppress it, though he was suffering
from severe abdominal pains. At Tus in eastern Iran he could no longer stand. After watching the
execution of the rebel leader, there he died in 809, aged forty-five. The Thousand and One Nights
tells about stories of Harun, his sister Abbasa, and many others: Abbasa fell in love with Jafar, a
Persian, and secretly bore him two sons, but they were all killed by Harun’s order.81
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
The Decline of the Abbasids: “While the Abbasids originally gained power by exploiting the
social inequalities against non-Arabs in the Umayyad Empire, ironically during Abbasid rule the
empire rapidly Arabized. As knowledge was shared in the Arabic language throughout the empire,
people of different nationalities and religions began to speak Arabic in their everyday lives.
Resources from other languages began to be translated into Arabic, and a unique Islamic identity
began to form that fused previous cultures with Arab culture, creating a level of civilization and
knowledge that was considered a marvel in Europe.”82 There were two factors causing the decline
of the empire. First, “Abbasids found themselves at odds with the Shia Muslims, most of whom
had supported their war against the Umayyads, since the Abbasids and the Shias claimed
legitimacy by their familial connection to Muhammad. Once in power, the Abbasids embraced
Sunni Islam and disavowed any support for Shia beliefs.” Second, “The Abbasid authority began
to deteriorate during the reign of al-Radi when their Turkic Army generals, who already had de
facto independence, stopped paying the Caliphate. Even provinces close to Baghdad began to seek
local dynastic rule. Also, the Abbasids found themselves often to be at conflict with the Umayyads
in Spain.” After Huran’s death, his elder son Muhammad became caliph al-Amin in Baghdad,
while younger son Abd Allah took over the administrative center of Khurasan at Marv. Caliph alAmin was killed during the civil war with his brother Abd Allah, who became caliph al-Mamun
but died early, so that Harun’s another son Abu Ishaq became caliph al-Mutasim (833-42). He
was surrounded with bodyguards of 4000 Turkish soldiers, like Praetorian guards of the Roman
Empire. Fearing popular revolt, he founded a new capital at some thirty miles north of Baghdad
on the Tigris. However, the Turkish bodyguards took the palace, murdered caliph al-Muntasir in
862; monopolized politics in Baghdad, but they were challenged by caliphs themselves, the civil
elite class, other rival groups of soldiers, and rivals within themselves.
Internal factors corrupted the caliphate before external force reduced it to subservience.
“Overindulgence in liquor, lechery, luxury, and sloth watered down the royal blood, and begot a
succession of weaklings who fled from the tasks of government to the exhausting delights of the
harem. The growth of wealth and ease, of concubinage and pederasty, had like effects among the
ruling class, and relaxed the martial qualities of the people. Racial and territorial antipathies
festered into repeated revolt; Arabs, Persians, Syrians, Berbers, Christians, Jews, and Turks agreed
only in despising one another; and the faith that had once forged unity split into sects that
expressed and intensified political or geographical divisions. The Near East lives or dies by
irrigation; the canals that nourished the soil needed perpetual protection and care, which no
individual or family could provide; when governmental maintenance of the canal system became
incompetent or negligent, the food supply lagged behind the birth rate, and starvation had to restore
the balance between these basic factors in history. But the impoverishment of the people by
famine or epidemic seldom stayed the hand of the tax-gatherer. Peasant, craftsman, and merchant
saw their gains absorbed into the expenses and frills of government, and lost the incentive to
production, expansion, or enterprise. At last the economy could not support the government;
revenue fell; soldiers could not be adequately paid or controlled. Turks took the place of Arabs in
the armed forces of the state, as Germans had replaced Romans in the armies of Rome; and from
al-Muntasir onward it was Turkish captains that made and unmade, commanded and murdered,
the caliphs. A succession of sordid and bloody palace intrigues made the later vicissitudes of the
Baghdad caliphate unworthy of remembrance by history.” 83 We have seen that most dynasties first
began to breakdown through internal weakness. The decades of war and anarchy exhausted
resources and devastated the economy, so that the Abbasids declined, and rising local powers
threatened Baghdad. As Baghdad was internally weakened by continuous civil wars, governors
of provinces declared independence to make their positions permanent and hereditary.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
Outside Iraq, “all the autonomous provinces slowly took on the characteristic of de facto states
with hereditary rulers, armies, and revenues and operated under only nominal caliph suzerainty,
which may not necessarily be reflected by any contribution to the treasury.” As a matter of fact,
“Spain had declared itself independent in 756, Morocco in 788, Tunis in 801, Egypt in 868; nine
years later the Egyptian emirs seized Syria, and ruled most of it till 1076. Al-Mamun had rewarded
his general Tahir by assigning to him and his descendants the governorship of Khurasan; this
Tahirid dynasty (820-72) ruled most of Persia in semi-sovereignty until replaced by the Saffarids
(872-903). In 929-44, a tribe of Shia Muslims, the Hamdanids, captured northern Mesopotamia
and Syria, and dignified their power by making Mosul and Aleppo brilliant centers of cultural life;
so Sayfu al-Dawla (944-67), himself a poet, made palace at his Aleppo court for the philosopher
al-Farabi and the most popular of Arab poets, al-Mutanabbi. The Buwayhids, sons of the Caspian
highland chieftain Buwayh, captured Isfahan and Shirax, and finally Baghdad in 945; for over a
century they forced the caliphate to do their bidding; the Commander of the Faithful became little
more than the head of orthodox Islam, while Buwayhid emir, s Shiite, assumed the direction of
the diminishing state. Adud al-Dawla, the greatest of the Buwayhids (949-83), made his capital,
Shiraz, one of the fairest cities of Islam, but spent generously also on the other cities of his realm;
under him and his successors Baghdad recaptured some of the glory that it had known under
Harun.” 84 In 874 the descendant of Saman, a Zoroastrian noble, founded a Samanid dynasty that
ruled Transoxiana and Khurasan till 999. In 990 the Turks captured Bokhara, and in 999 they put
an end to the Saminid dynasty. Now the Muslims fought to check the westward movement of the
Turks; which is similar to that the Byzantines for three centuries had fought to contain the eastward
expansion of the Arabs; later the Turks would struggle with the westward flood of Mongols. The
growing population generates the mass migration for the means of subsistence.
“In 962 a band of Turkish adventurers from Turkestan invaded Afghanistan under the lead of
Alptgin, a former slave, captured Ghazni, and established there a Ghaznevid dynasty. Subuktigin
(976-97), first slave, then son-in-law, the successor, of Alptigin, extended his rule over Peshawar
and part of Khurasan. His son Mahmud (998-1030) took all Persia from the Gulf to the Oxus, and
in seventeen ruthless campaigns added the Punjab to his empire, and much of India’s wealth to his
coffers. Surfeited with plunder, and fretting over the unemployment caused by demobilization,
he spent part of his riches, and some of his men, in building the congregational mosque of Ghazni
….During this generation, Mahmud stood near the top of the world in more senses than one; but
seven years after his death, his empire passed into the hands of the Seljuq Turks.”85 The Seljuqs
originated from the Qynyk branch of the Oghuz Turks, who lived on the periphery of the Muslim
world in the ninth century, north of the Caspian and Aral Seas in their Yabghu Khaganate of the
Oghuz confederacy, in the Kazakh Steppe of Turkestan. In the tenth century, the Oghuz had come
into close contact with Muslim cities. “When Seljuq, the leader of the Seljuq clan, had a falling
out with Yabghu, the supreme chieftain of the Oghuz, he split his clan off from the bulk of the
Tokuz-Oghuz and set up camp on the west bank of the lower Syr Darya (Jaxartes). Around 985,
Seljuq converted to Islam. In the 11th century the Seljuqs migrated from their ancestral homelands
into mainland Persia, in the province of Khurasan, where they encountered the Ghaznavid Empire.
The Seljuqs defeated the Ghaznavids at the battle of Nasa plains in 1035. Toghril, Chaghri, and
Yabghu received the insignias of governor, grants of land, and were given the title of dehqan. At
the battle of Dandanaqan they defeated a Ghaznavid army, and after a successful siege of Isfahan
by Tughrul in 1050/51, they established an empire later called the Great Seljuk Empire. The
Seljuqs mixed with the local population and adopted the Persian culture and language in the
following decades.”86 After arriving in Persia, the Seljuqs adopted the Persian culture and used
the Persian language as the official language of government.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
Islam in the West: The conquest of Islam was extended not only to the Near East but also to
Africa, the Mediterranean, and Spain. (a) Africa: “The presence of Islam in Africa can be traced
to the seventh century when Muhammad advised a number of his early disciples, who were facing
persecution by the pre-Islamic inhabitants of the Mecca, to seek refuge across the Red Sea at the
court of Axum in Zeila, under the rule of al-Najashi. In the Muslim tradition, this event is known
as the first hijrah, or migration. These first Muslim migrants provided Islam with its first major
triumph, and the coastline of Eritrea became the first safe haven for Muslims and the first place
Islam would be practiced outside of the Arabian Peninsula. Seven years after the death of
Muhammad (in 639 AD), the Arabs advanced toward Africa and within two generations, Islam had
expanded across the Horn of Africa and North Africa.”87 Amr ibn al-As, the Arab commander
leading the Muslim conquest of Egypt set out from Gaza in Palestine, captured Pelusium and
Memphis, and marched upon Alexandria. “Egypt had ports and naval bases, and Arab power
needed a fleet; Egypt exported corn to Constantinople, and Arabia needed corn. The Byzantine
government in Egypt had for centuries used Arab mercenaries as police; there were no hindrance
to the conquerors. The Monophysite Christians of Egypt had suffered Byzantine persecution; they
received the Moslems with open arms, helped them to take Memphis, and guided them into
Alexandria. When it fell to Amr after a siege of twenty-three months in 641….Amr prevented
pillage, preferring taxation. Unable to understand the theological differences among the Christian
sects, he forbade his Monophysite allies to revenge themselves upon their orthodox foes, and upset
the custom of centuries by proclaiming freedom of worship of all.” 88 It is not clear whether Amr
destroyed the books in the library, but the gradual dissolution of the Alexandrian Library was a
tragedy of human civilization. Amr administered Egypt competently; and part of the oppressive
taxation financed the repair of canals and dikes, and the reopening of a canal between the Nile and
the Red Sea. Muslim governors ruled Egypt for two centuries for Damascus or Baghdad.
The Berbers are an ethnic group of the Maghreb region of North Africa. Following the Islamic
conquest of North Africa, most Berber tribes eventually became Muslims. 89 Africa was divided
into three provinces: Egypt with its capital at al-Fustat, Ifriqiya (today Tunisia) with its capital a
Qairwan, and Maghreb (today Morocco) with its capital at Fez. Due to the difficulties of transport
and communications, the African provinces became independent kingdom after the movement of
the caliphate from Damascus to Baghdad. “An Idrisid dynasty (789-974) ruled at Fez, and an
Aghlabid dynasty (800-909) at Qairwan, and a Tulunid dynasty (869-905) in Egypt. That ancient
granary, no longer robbed of its product by foreign masters, entered upon a minor renaissance.
Ahmad ibn Tulun (869-84) conquered Syria for Egypt, built a new capital at Qatai (Cario),
promoted learning and art, raised palaces, public baths, a hospital, and the great mosque that still
stands as his monument.” His son Khumarawayh (884-95) transmuted this energy into luxury.
The Tulunids was replaced by the Ikshidid (935-69), another Turkish dynasty. On the other hand,
the Fatimid Caliphate (909-1171) was founded by Ubayd Allah who proclaimed himself caliph in
Tunisia in 909, extended his rule to most of northern Africa from Egypt to Algeria as well as Sicily
and Syria, and ultimately made Egypt the center of the caliphate. One of its caliphates, Abu alHakim (996-1021) gained wealth and power: “He arranged the assassination of several viziers,
persecuted Christians and Jews, burned churches and synagogues, and ordered the demolition of
the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem; the execution of this order was a contributory
cause of the Crusades.” Al-Hakim was assassinated at the age of thirty-six. Despite of these royal
prerogatives, Egypt prospered as the commercial link between Europe and Asia. Increasingly the
merchants of India and China sailed past the Persian Gulf and up the Red Sea and the Nile into
Egypt; the wealth and power of Baghdad declined, those of Cairo grew.”90 During the reign of AlMustansir (1036-91), his Turkish troops rebelled, and dethroned the last Fatimid in 1171.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
(b) In the Mediterranean, having conquered Syria and Egypt, the Moslem leaders realized that
they could not hold the coast without a fleet. Soon their men-of-war seized Cyprus and Rhodes,
and defeated the Byzantine navy in 652 and 655. “Corsica was occupied in 809, Sardinia in 810,
Crete in 823, Malta in 870. In 827 the old struggle between Greece and Carthage for Sicily was
resumed; the Aghlabid caliphs of Qairwan sent expedition after expedition, and the conquest
proceeded with leisurely bloodshed and rapine. Palermo fell in 831, Messina in 843, Syracuse in
878, Taormina in 902. When the Fatimid caliphs succeeded to the Aghlabid power in 909, they
inherited Sicily as part of their domain. When the Fatimids removed their seat to Cairo, their
governor of Sicily, Husein al-Kalbi, made himself emir with nearly sovereign authority, and
established that Kalbite dynasty under which Muslim civilization in Sicily reached its height.” 91
The Arabs now looked on the cities of southern Italy. As piracy was uncontrolled, Christians and
Muslims raided any shores to capture infidels for sale as slaves. Arab fleets, mostly from Tunisia
or Sicily, began in the ninth century to attack Italian ports. “In 841, the Muslims took Bari, the
main Byzantine base in southeastern Italy. A year later, invited by the Lombard Duke of
Benevento to help him against Salerno, they swept across Italy and back, despoiling fields and
monasteries as they went. In 846, eleven hundred Muslims landed at Ostia, marched up to the
walls of Rome, freely plundered the suburbs and the churches of St. Peter and St. Paul, and
leisurely returned to their ships.” In 849 the Muslims made another attempt to seize Rome. In 866,
German Emperor Louis II came down from Germany, and drove then out of south Italy, and by
884 they were expelled from the peninsula. In 884, they burned the great monastery of Monte
Cassino to the ground, and ravaged the valley of the Anio; finally the combined forces of the pope,
the Greek and German emperors, and cities of southern and central Italy defeated them on the
Garigliano in 916, and a tragic century of invasion came to an end.
(c) Spain: Tariq ibn-Ziyad landed at Gibraltar in 711 with 7000 Berbers to 300 Arabs, and by
the end of the campaign most of the Iberian Peninsula except Asturias were brought under Islamic
rule. “Tariq had been sent to Spain by Musa ibn Nusayr, Arab governor of North Africa. In 712
Musa crossed with 10,000 Arabs and 8000 Moors; besieged and captured Seville and Merida;
rebuked Tariq for exceeding orders, struck him with a whip, and cast him into prison. The Caliph
Walid recalled Musa and freed Tariq, who resumed his conquests.”92 Having established their
position in the peninsula, the Muslims scaled the Pyrenees and entered Gaul, intent upon making
Europe a province of Damascus, but were defeated by Charles Martel at the Battle of Tours in
732.93 The Muslims tried again and took Avignon, and ravaged the valley of the Rhone to Lyons
later, but in 759 Pepin III finally expelled them from the south of France. After the fall of the
Umayyad dynasty, Abd al-Rahman, grandson of the Caliph Hisham, run away and finally reached
Morocco. Being invited to lead and made emir of Cordova in 756, he defeated a commissioned
army by the Caliph al-Mansure to unseat him. From the ninth to the eleventh century, the peninsula
was divided into Muslim and Christian: the Muslim south, finally pacified by Abd al-Rahman I
and his successors, making Cordova prosperous. Abd al-Rahman II enjoyed the fruits of this
prosperity. Abd al-Rahman III (912-61) culminated the Umayyad dynasty in Spain through a half
century of his reign. His son Hakam II (961-76) “secured from external danger and internal revolt,
and built mosques, colleges, hospitals, markets, public baths, and asylums for the poor; made the
University of Cordova the greatest educational institution of his time; and helped hundreds of
poets, artists, and savants.” However, when the Christian state of Leon aided a domestic rebellion
against Ibn Abi Amir (928-1002) or al-Mansur, the proletariat of Cordova captured the royal
palace, abolished the Spanish Caliphate, and replaced it with a council of state, led by Ibn Jahwar
as the chosen first consul. Muslim Spain disintegrated into twenty-three city-states, while Granada
prospered under the able ministry of Rabbi Samuel Halevi (1038-73).
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
Christianity in Conflict (750-1000): (a) Papal Politics (604-867): (i) Monothelitism is the
Christological position that, after the union of the divine and the human in the historical incarnation, Jesus Christ, as the incarnation of the eternal son or Word of God, had only a single nature
which was either divine or a synthesis of divine and human.94 This is contrasted to dyothelitism
which views that Christ maintained two natures, one divine and one human, after the incarnation.
The Council of Chalcedon in 451 rejected Monothelitism. This controversy led a lasting schism
between the Oriental Orthodox churches, on the one hand, and the Western and the Eastern Orthodox churches on the other.95 For example, when Constans II issued a proclamation in 648 favoring
Monothelitism, Pope Martin I rejected it. Constans ordered the exarch of Ravenna to arrest him
and bring him to Constantinople; refusing to yield, the Pope was banished to the Crimea, where
he died in 655. The Sixth Ecumenical Council, meeting at Constantinople in 680, repudiated
Monothelitism, and condemned Pope Honorius as a favorer of heretics. (ii) The repeated humiliations of the papacy by the Eastern emperors, the weakening of Byzantium by Muslim expansion
in Asia, Africa, and Spain, by Muslim control of the Mediterranean, and by the inability of
Constantinople or Ravenna to protect the papal estates in Italy from Lombard assaults, drove the
popes to turn from the declining Empire and seek aid from the rising Franks. As discussed
previously, “Pope Stephen II (752-7), fearful that a Lombard capture of Rome would reduce the
papacy to a local bishopric dominated by Lombard kings, appealed to the Emperor Constantine V;
no help came thence; and the Pope, in a move fraught with political consequences, turned to the
Franks. Pepin III came, subdued the Lombards, and enriched the papacy with the ‘Donation of
Pepin,’ giving it all central Italy in 756; so was established the temporal power of the popes. This
brilliant papal diplomacy culminated in the coronation of Charlemagne by Leo III in 800;
thereafter no man could be an accepted emperor in the West without anointment by a pope.” 96
This was a significant development in papal politics in Europe.
(iii) The episcopacy profited from the weakness and quarrels of the French and German kings
in the Early Middle Ages. “In Germany the archbishops, allied with the kings, enjoyed over
property, bishops, and priests a feudal power that paid only lip service to the popes. Apparently
it was the resentment of the German bishops, irked by this archiepiscopal autocracy that generated
the False Decretals; this collection, which would later fortify the papacy, aimed first of all to
establish the right of bishops to appeal from their metropolitans to the popes. We do not know the
date or provenance of these Decretals; probably they were put together at Metz about 842….These
early documents were designed to show that by the oldest traditions and practice of the Church no
bishop might be deposed, no Church council might be convened, and do major issue might be
decided, without the consent of the pope.”97 This forgery was evident, but scholarship was at low
ebb in the ninth and tenth centuries. (iv) Pope Nicholas I (858-67) had received an exceptionally
thorough education in law and traditions of the Church, entered the service of the Church at an
early age, and served several popes as a favorable aide. He concluded “that the pope, as God’s
representative on earth, should enjoy a suzerain authority over all Christians – rulers as well as
subjects – at least in matters of faith and morals.” Nicholas encouraged the missionary activity of
the Church in European countries in various ways; and in Rome, he rebuilt and endowed several
churches, and constantly sought to encourage religious life. He was canonized by his successor
after his death.98 When Lothaire II, King of Lorraine, wished to divorce his Queen and marry his
mistress, his chief prelates granted his wish and the archbishops of Trier and Cologne brought this
to the pope. He discovered the fraud, excommunicated the archbishops, and ordered Lothaire to
dismiss his mistress and take back his wife. Later developments showed “the pope to have been
on the side of justice, and his stern defense of morality was a lamp and tower in a decadent age.
When he died, the power of the papacy was acknowledged more widely ever before.”
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
(b) The Greek Church: Among the dioceses of Christianity, five held special eminence: Rome,
Constantinople, Jerusalem, Antioch, and Alexandria – generally referred to as Pentarchy. All of
them were early centers of Christianity. The patriarchs of the Eastern Church could not admit the
overriding jurisdiction of the bishop of Rome. “The patriarchs occasionally criticized, disobeyed,
even denounced, the emperors; but they were appointed and deposed by the emperors, who called
ecclesiastical councils, regulated church affairs by state law, and published their theological
opinions and directives to the ecclesiastical world. The only checks on the religious autocracy of
the emperor in Eastern Christendom were the power of the monks, the tongue of the patriarch, and
the vow taken by the emperor, at his coronation by the patriarch, that he would introduce no
novelty into the Church.”99 Theodore (759-826), a Greek monk and abbot in Constantinople, was
an exemplar of monastic piety and power. 100 He defended the use of religious images and boldly
denied before Emperor Leo V that the secular power had any jurisdiction over ecclesiastical affairs.
Despite four times of banishments, he continued to resist the Iconoclasts in his exile till his death.
The differences of language, liturgy, and doctrine in this period drove Latin and Greek Christianity
further and further apart. The Latin clergy specialized in politics, the Greek in theology; and the
Monothelite controversy was more agitated by the emperors than by the people. “The Greek
theologians protested that the Holy Ghost proceeded not from but through the Son. The popes held
the balance patiently for a time, and not until the eleventh century was the filioque (and from the
son) officially entered into the Latin creed.” Among the monks who had fled from Iconoclastic
oppression was Ignatius, son of Emperor Michael I. Empress Theodora recalled him and made
him patriarch. He was a piety and courage; he denounced the prime minister Caesar Bardas, who
had divorced his wife and lived with the widow of his son; and when Bardas persisted in incest,
Ignatius excluded him from the Church. Bardas banished Ignatius.
(c) The Christian Conquest of Europe: There were two most momentous events in of religion
in this period: one was the quarrel of the Greek with the Latin Church; and the other was the rise
of Islam as a challenge to Christianity in both East and West. In Italy, the monastery of Monte
Cassino located southeast of Rome reached its zenith under the long rule of Abbot Desiderius
during 1058-87. The monastery became almost a university, with courses in grammar, classical
as well as Christian literature, theology, medicine, and law. France was now the richest possession
of the Latin Church. “The clergy were the ablest, best educated, and least immoral element in
Gaul; they almost monopolized literacy; and though a small minority led scandalous lives, most
of them labored faithfully to give schooling and morals to a population suffering from the greed
and wars of their lords and kings.” In Ireland, the monks were more influential than the bishops
and priests. The earlier monks lived in separate cells, practicing somber asceticism and meeting
only for prayer; a later generation diverged from tradition, studies together, learned Greek, copied
manuscripts, and established schools for clerics and laity; which were passed over into Scotland,
England, Gaul, Germany, and Italy. Among Irish missionaries, St. Columba spread Christianity
to Scotland where he founded a number of churches and monasteries in the second half of the sixth
century. The disciples of Columba entered Northumberland, and Augustine with seven other
monks reached England from Rome. The pagan King of Kent married Bertha, a Christian princess
of the Merovingian who made the king accept new faith; and many subject followed them. In 601
Gregory sent the pallium to Augustine to be archbishop of Canterbury. St. Bede was the first
native monk in England at the monastery of St. Peter, who warned “that too many Englishmen
were entering monasteries; that too many monasteries were being founded by nobles to put their
property beyond taxation; and that the tax-exempt lands of the Church were absorbing to much of
England’s soil; too few soldiers were left to preserve England from invasion.” 101 The British
Church took a leading role in civilizing the people and governing the state.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
In Germany, the Irish and English monks were diligent to Christianize the people. In 748
Boniface was made Archbishop of Mainz; he appointed bishops, and organized German Church
into a powerful engine of moral, economic, and political order. “A generation later, Charlemagne
brought Christianity to the Saxons with fire and sword; the obstinate Frisians thought it time to
yield; and the conquest of Rome’s conquerors by Roman Christianity was complete.” On the other
hand, in 861 Prince Rostislav of Moravia applied to Byzantium for missionaries who would preach
and pray in the vulgar tongue. The emperor sent him two brothers, Methodius and Cyril, who
spoke Slavonic with ease. They were welcomed, but found that the Slavs had as yet no alphabet
to fully express their language in writing. Cyril thereupon invented the Slavonic alphabet and
script by adopting the Greek alphabet with the values that Greek usage had given it by the ninth
century. With this alphabet, Cyril translated into Slavonic the Septuagint Greek version of the
Old Testament, and the Greek liturgical texts, thereby inaugurating a new written language and a
new literature.102 Pope Nicholas I invited two brothers to Rome, where Cyril fell ill and died in
869; and Methodius returned to Moravia as an archbishop consecrated by the Pope. “Moravia,
Bohemia, and Slovakia, and later Hungary and Poland, were won to the Latin Church and rite;
while Bulgaria, Servia, and Russia accepted the Slavonic liturgy and alphabet, gave their
allegiance to the Greek Church, and took their culture from Byzantium.” “King Harald Bluetooth
imposed Christianity upon Denmark in 974 as part of the price that the Emperor Otto II demanded
for peace; Boris of Bulgaria, after flirting with the papacy, went over to the Greek Church in 864
to win protection against an expanding Germany; and Vladimir I made Russia Christian in 988 to
win the hand of Anna, sister of the Greek Emperor Basil II, and to obtain part of the Crimea as her
dowry. For two centuries the Russian Church acknowledged the patriarch of Constantinople; in
the thirteenth century it declared its independence; and after the fall of the Eastern Empire in 1453,
the Russian Church became the dominant factor in the Greek orthodox world.”103
Monastic Reform: In the Christian conquest of Europe, the victorious soldiers were the monks,
and the nurses in this war were the nuns. A campaign of monastic reform was needed to lift the
monks again to the un-natural heights of their rule. “In 817 Louis the Pious, shocked by the lax
discipline of French monasteries, called a national assembly of abbots and monks at Aachen, and
commissioned Benedict of Aniane to re-establish the Rule of St. Benedict of Nursia in all the
monasteries of the realm.” As the Vikings, Magyars, and Muslims raided and despoiled hundreds
of monasteries, monks wandered homeless into the secular world; and returned after the waves
with worldly ways. “Feudal lords seized monasteries, appointed their abbots, and appropriated
their revenues. By 900 the monasteries of the West had sunk to the lowest point in their medieval
history.” “About 910 twelve monks had established a monastery there in the hills of Burgundy,
almost on the German-French frontier. In 927 Abbot Odo of Cluny revised its rule towards a moral
rigor combined with physical lenience: asceticism was rejected, baths were recommended, diet
was generous, beer and wine were allowed; but the old vows of poverty, obedience, and chastity
were to be unremittingly enforced. Similar institutions were opened elsewhere in France; but
whereas each monastery had heretofore been a lawless law unto itself, or had been loosely subject
to local bishop or lord, the new Benedictine monasteries allied with Cluny were ruled by prior
subject both to the abbots of Cluny and to the popes.” The movement for monastic affiliation
spread throughout Europe, and many old monasteries joined the Cluniac Congregation. “The
power so organized, free from state interference and episcopal supervision, gave the papacy a new
weapon with which to control the secular hierarchy of the Church. At the same time, it made
possible a courageous reform of monasticism by the monks themselves. Disorder, idleness, luxury,
immorality, and simony were brought under firm rule; and Italy beheld the strange sight of a
French monk, Odo, invited to Italy to reform Monte Cassino itself.”104
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
(d) The Nadir of the Papacy: By the tradition of the Church, “no pope could be elected without
the consent of the Roman clergy, nobles, and populace. The rulers of Spoleto, Benevento, Naples,
and Tuscany, and aristocracy of Rome divided into factions as of old; and whichever faction
prevailed in the city intrigued to choose and sway the pope. Between them, they dragged the
papacy, in the tenth century, to the lowest in its history.” In 878 Duke Lambert of Spoleto entered
Rome with his army, seized Pope John VIII, and tried to starve him into favoring Carloman for
the Imperial throne. For several years thereafter the papal chair was filled by bribery, murder, or
the favor of women of high rank and low morality. For half a century, the family of Theophylact,
a chief official of the papal palace, made and unmade popes at will. His daughter Marozia secured
the election of her lover as Pope Sergius III (904-11); and his wife Theodora procured the election
of Pope John X (914-28). Having enjoyed a succession of lovers, Marozia married Guido, Duke
of Tuscany; they conspired to unseat John. In 931 Marozia raised to the papacy John XI (931-5),
common reputed to be her bastard son by Sergius III. In 932 her other son Alberic imprisoned
John in a Castle, and ruled Rome as head of a Roman Republic for twenty-two years. In 955
Marozia’s grandson became John XII, whose pontificate was in orgies of debauchery.105
Otto I of Germany, crowned Emperor by John XII in 962, learned the degradation of the
papacy at first hand. In 963, with the support of the Trans-alpine clergy, Otto returned to Rome,
and summoned John to trial before an ecclesiastical council. Cardinals charged that John had
taken bribes for consecrating bishops, had made a boy of then a bishop, and committed adultery
with his father’s concubine and incest with his father’s widow and her niece, and had made the
papal palace a very brothel, John refused to attend the council or to answer the charges; instead he
went out hunting. The council deposed him and unanimously chose Otto’s candidate, a layman,
as Pope Leo VIII (963-5). After Otto had returned to Germany, John seized and mutilated the
leaders of the Imperial party in Rome, and had himself restored by an obedient council to the
papacy. When John died in 964, the Romans elected Benedict V, ignoring Leo. Otto came down
from Germany, deposed Benedict, and restored Leo, who thereupon officially recognized the right
of Otto and his Imperial successors to veto the election of any future pope. On Leo’s death, Otto
secured the election of John XIII (965-72). To end chaos, Otto III made his chaplain Pope Gregory
V (996-9), but the consul arranged the election of John XVI as pope. Otto returned, deposed him,
executed the consul and twelve Republican leaders, restored Gregory, but died in 999 probably
poisoned. Otto replaced him with one of the most brilliant of all the popes.106
Gerbert, becoming Pope Sylvester II (999-1003), was born a low family in the town of Belliac
in France in 946. “At the abbot’s suggestion, he went to Spain to study mathematics; and in 970
Count Borel of Barcelona took him to Rome. Pope John XIII was impressed by the monk’s
learning, and recommended him to Otto I. He taught in Italy, and at that time Otto II was one of
his pupils. Then he went to Reims to study logic in the cathedral school and became head of the
school (972-82). In 991, an ecclesiastical council chose Gerbert archbishop. Four years later, a
papal legate persuaded a synod at Moisson to unseat him. He went to the court of Otto III in
Germany, received every honor there, and molded the mind of the young king to the idea of
restoring a Roman Empire with its capital at Rome. Otto made Gerbert archbishop of Ravenna,
and, pope in 999, but he died in the fourth year possibly by poison. After his death, the papacy
resumed its decay. The counts of Tusculum, in league with the German emperors, bought bishops
and sold the papacy with hardly an effort at concealment. Their nominee Benedict VIII was a man
of vigor and intelligent; but Benedict IX (1032-45), mad pope at the age of twelve. The papacy
was sold to Gregory VI with one thousand pounds of gold, but he astonished Rome by being a
model pope. “At last in Leo IX (1049-54), the papacy found a man who could face its problems
with courage, learning, integrity, and a piety long rare in Rome.” 107
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
2. The High Middle Ages from 1000 to 1300
The High Middle Ages covers the period of European history around three centuries during 10001300, which period was a very dynamic one in the development of Western civilization. The
internal disintegration of the Carolingian Empire and the external invasions of the Vikings,
Magyars, and Muslims in the ninth and tenth centuries severely tested the political system of
Europe. During this period, the feudal institutions immerged, persisted, and indeed reached their
high point in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Similarly, the domination of society by the
nobility reached its zenith in the High Middle Ages. Meanwhile, kings began slowly to extend
their power in more effective ways, and eventually the European kingdoms are formulated out of
this growth of the monarchies, which dominated much of later European history. “In theory, kings
were regarded as the head of their kingdoms and were expected to lead their vassals and subjects
into battle. The king’s power, however, was strictly limited. He had to honor the rights and
privileges of his vassals and in the case of disputes had to resolve them by principles of established
law. If he failed to observe his vassal’s rights, they could and did rebel. Weak kings were
overthrown or, like later Carolingians, replaced by another ruling dynasty. In retrospect, however,
one can see that kings did possess some sources of power that other influential lords did not. Kings
were anointed by holy oil in ceremonies reminiscent of Old Testament precedents; thus, their
positions seemed sanctioned by divine favor. War and marriage alliance enabled them to increase
their followers with grants of land and bind powerful nobles to them. In the eleventh and twelfth
centuries, kings found ways to extend their power and, by 1200, had begun to develop the
administrative machinery of centralized government. The revival of commerce, the growth of
cities, and the emergence of a money economy eventually undermined feudalism by enabling
monarchs to hire soldiers and officials and to rely less on vassals.”108
On the other hand, the recovery of the church produced a reform movement that led to exalted
claims of papal authority and subsequent conflict with state authorities. Vigorous papal leadership
combined with new dimensions of religious life to make the Catholic Church a forceful presence
in every area of life. The role of the church in the new European civilization became quite evident.
As Pope Gregory VII had pursued, in 1122 Pope Calixtus II and Holy Roman Emperor Henry V
signed the Concordat of Worms, which ended the first phases of the power struggle between the
Papacy and the Emperor. This agreed that “The King was recognized as having the right to invest
bishops with secular authority in the territories they governed, but not with sacred authority; the
result was that bishops owed allegiance in worldly matters both to the pope and to the king, for
they were obligated to affirm the fight of the sovereign to call upon them for military support,
under his oath of fealty (faithfulness).”109 In the thirteenth century the Catholic Church reached
the height of its political, intellectual, and secular power as appeared in a letter of Innocent III who
clearly stated his view on papal supremacy over royal power. In this regard, the Crusade occurred
between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries. “They were operated under papal authority with
the intent of reestablishing Christian rule in The Holy Land by taking the area from the Muslim
Fatimid Caliphate. The Fatimits had captured Palestine in 970, lost it to the Seljuk Turks in 1073
and recaptured it in 1098, just before they lost it again in 1099 as a result of the First Crusade.”
There had been new monastic orders with spiritual ideals escaping from the Benedictine order that
had served for several centuries, due to the lack of strict discipline. They are the Cistercians, the
Franciscan and Dominican Friars, and the Mystics, although some anti-orders like the Cartars and
the Waldenians were suppressed, while the Jews suffered from intolerance in most countries. This
section deals with the reform and growth of the Roman Catholic Church; the growth of European
kingdoms; the Crusades; and the invasions of the Seljuk and the Mongols.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
Photo I-2-1. The Crusades
Map I-2-1. High Middle Ages Europe and the Mediterranean Region, 1000
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
2-1. The Catholic Church: Reform and Growth
Reform of the Catholic Church: (a) The Papal States: The office held by the pope as head of
the Catholic Church remained from the time of Saint Peter to present day. The bishops of Rome
enjoyed no temporal power until the time of Constantine. Early congregations met in rooms set
aside for that purpose in the homes of well-to-do individuals, and a number of early churches,
known as titular churches and located on the outskirts of Ancient Rome, were held as property by
individuals, rather than by the Church itself. This was changed by the emperor Constantine I, who
made Christianity legal within the Roman Empire. “The Lateran Palace was the first significant
donation to the Church, most probably a gift from Constantine himself. Other donations followed,
primarily in mainland Italy but also in the provinces of the Roman Empire. But the Church held
all of these lands as a private landowner, not as a sovereign entity. When in the 5th century the
Italian peninsula passed under the control of Odoacer and, later, the Ostrogoths, the church
organization in Italy, with the pope at its head, submitted to their sovereign authority while
asserting their spiritual primacy over the whole Church.”110 In fact, after the fall of Rome, “the
papacy was influenced by the temporal rulers of the surrounding Italian Peninsula; these periods
are known as the Ostrogothic Papacy, Byzantine Papacy, and Frankish Papacy. Over time, the
papacy consolidated its territorial claims to a portion of the peninsula known as the Papal States.
Thereafter, the role of neighboring sovereigns was replaced by powerful Roman families during
the saeculum obscurum, the Crescentii era, and the Tusculan Papacy. From 1048 to 1257, the
papacy experienced increasing conflict with the leaders and churches of the Holy Roman Empire
and the Byzantine Empire. The latter culminated in the East-West Schism, dividing the Western
Church and Eastern Church. From 1257-1377, the pope, through the bishop of Rome, resided in
Viterbo, Orvieto, and Perugia, and then Avignon.”111
The seeds of the Papal States as a sovereign political entity were planted in the sixth century.
Soon after the re-conquest of Italy by Justinian, the Lombards entered the peninsula from the north
and conquered much of the countryside. By the seventh century, the Byzantine power was largely
limited to a diagonal band running roughly from Ravenna, where the emperor’s representative or
Exarch was located, to Rome and south to Naples plus coastal enclaves. “With effective Byzantine
power weighted at the northeast end of this territory, the pope, as the largest landowner and most
prestigious figure in Italy, began by default to take on much of the ruling authority that Byzantines
were unable to project to the area around the city of Rome. While the popes remained Byzantine
subjects, in practice the Duchy of Rome, an area roughly equivalent to modern-day Latium,
became an independent state ruled by the pope. The Church's independence, combined with
popular support for the papacy in Italy, enabled various popes to defy the will of the Byzantine
emperor; Pope Gregory II even excommunicated Emperor Leo III during the Iconoclastic Controversy. Nevertheless the pope and the exarch still worked together to control the rising power of
the Lombards in Italy. As Byzantine power weakened, though, the papacy took an ever larger role
in defending Rome from the Lombards, usually through diplomacy.”112 When the Exarchate of
Ravenna finally fell to the Lombards in 751, the Duchy of Rome was completely cut off from the
Byzantine Empire, of which it was theoretically still a part. Pope Stephen II went to Paris to plead
for help in person against surrounding Lombard and Muslim threats. In 754, the pope consecrated
Pepin III as king, in return, Pepin invaded Italy twice to settle the Lombard problem, and delivered
the territory between Rome and Ravenna to the papacy in 756; which has been known as the
Donation of Pepin. This donation made the pope the temporal ruler over a strip of territory that
extended diagonally across Italy from the Tyrrhenian to the Adriatic. Charlemagne confirmed the
donation of his farther in 774, and was crowned by God through Pope Leo III in 800.113
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
(b) Simony and Celibacy: Rome and the Papal States faced serious problems due to Byzantine
possessions, threat from the Muslims, and continuous attempts of German emperors to rule Italy.
As a result, the popes came from noble families for protection, and head of aristocratic factions
became popes despite lack of spiritual quality. Meanwhile, the Vikings, Magyars, and Muslims
invaded and destroyed many monastic establishments, and a growing number of them fell under
the control of local lords, which caused religious discipline and their educational function to
decline. Moreover, the rise of feudalism made church officials hold fiefs from nobles with military
obligations taking up arms to kill enemies for the lord that was against the Christian doctrine and
forced spiritual responsibilities to be secondary. Three internal problems also agitated the Church:
simony in the papacy and the episcopacy, marriage or concubinage in the secular clergy, and
sporadic incontinence among monks. Simony is the sale of church offices or services, which was
ecclesiastically related to contemporary corruption in politics. As bishops administered profane as
well as ecclesiastical affairs, and were feudally endowed with lands or villages or even cities to
supply their necessary revenues, “ambitious men paid secular powers great sums for such
appointments, and greedy potentates overrode all decencies to earn these bribes.” In the eleventh
century, many bishoprics became the hereditary patrimony of noble families, and were used as
provision for bastards or younger sons; in Germany one baron possessed and transmitted eight
bishoprics. “A German cardinal alleged that the simonical buyers of sees and benefices had sold
the marble facings of churches, even the tiles from their roofs, to reimburse themselves for the
cost of their appointments. Such appointees were men of the world; many lived in luxury, engaged
in war, allowed bribery in episcopal courts, named relatives to ecclesiastical posts, and worshiped
Mammon with undivided loyalty. The purchase of sees became to usual that practical men
accepted it as normal; but reformers cries out that Simon Magus had captured the Church.”114
The Catholic Church had encouraged celibacy as the norm for its clergy, but married priests
purchased church offices and collected money from the church as their revenue sources.115 The
moral problem hovered between marriage and concubinage among the general clergy. “In the
ninth and tenth centuries, the marriage of priests was customary in England, Gaul, and north Italy.
Pope Hardian II (867-72) himself had been a married man; and Bishop Ratherius of Verona
reported in the tenth century that practically all priests in his diocese were married. By the beginning of the eleventh century, celibacy in the secular clergy was exceptional. It would be a mistake
to consider clerical marriage immoral, though often contrary to the cannons and ideals of the
Church, it was quite in accord with the customs and moral judgments of the times. At Milan, a
married priest stood higher in public repute than one unmarried; the latter was suspected of
concubinage. Even concubinage - the regular cohabitation of unmarried man with an unmarried
woman - was condoned by public opinion. The great majority of the European clergy led
apparently decent moral lives; and all through the Middle Ages we hear of priests and bishops
living in saintly devotion to their flocks.” But there were scandalous exceptions. “The Church had
opposed clerical marriage on the ground that a married priest, consciously or not, would put his
loyalty to wife and children above his devotion to the Church; that for their sake he would be
tempted to accumulate money or property; that he would try to transmit his see or benefice to one
of his offspring; that an hereditary ecclesiastical caste might in this way develop in Europe as in
India; and that the combined economic power of such a propertied priesthood would be too great
for the papacy to control.”116 The priest should be totally devoted to God, the Church, and his
fellow men; his moral standard must be higher than that of the people, and must confer upon him
the prestige necessary to public confidence and reverence. Several councils had demanded
celibacy of the clergy; one - at Pavia in 1018 - had decreed a status of perpetual slavery, and
disbarment from inheritance, for all children of priests. But clerical marriage continued.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
(c) Pope Leo IX (1049-54) found the see of Peter impoverished by clerical bequests of Church
benefices to clerical offspring, by baronial seizures of Church estates, and by the highway robbery
of pilgrims bring prayers, petitions, and offerings to Rome. “He organized protection for the
pilgrims, recaptured alienated ecclesiastical property, and set himself to the heavy task of ending
simony and clerical marriage. Turning over the domestic and administrative cares of the papacy
to the shrewd and devoted monk who was to become Gregory VII, Leo left Rom in 1049, resolved
to examine at first hand the morals of the clergy, and the functioning of the Church, in the major
cities of Europe. The dignity of his bearing, the unaffected austerity of his life, at once revived
the respect that men had held for the highest official of the Church; vice hid its head as he
approached; and Godfrey of Lorraine, who had plundered churches and defied kings, trembled
under papal excommunication, submitted to be publicly scourged before the altar of the church
that he had ruined in Verdun, undertook to repair the church, and labored in the work with his own
hands. At Cologne, Leo held papal court, and received every honor from a German clergy proud
of a German pope. Passing into France, he presided over a tribunal at Reims, and conducted an
inquiry into lay and clerical morals, the sale of ecclesiastical offices, the spoliation of church
property, the relaxation of monastic rules, and the rise of heresy. Every bishop present was ordered
to confess his sins. One after another, including archbishops, accused himself. Leo reproved them,
deposed some, forgave some, excommunicated four, and summoned others to Rome and public
penance. He commanded the clergy to dismiss their wives and concubines, and to forgo the use
of arms. The Council of Reims, further decreed that bishops and abbots were to be elected by the
clergy and the people, prohibited the sale of ecclesiastical offices, and forbade the clergy to receive
fees for administering the Eucharist, attending the sick, or burying the dead. A council in Mainz,
under Leo’s urging, enacted similar reforms for Germany. In 1050 he returned to Italy, presided
at the Council of Vercelli, and condemned the heresy of Berengar of Tours.” 117
Thus, Leo IX had restored the prestige of the papacy, replaced the German emperor as head
of the German Church, brought the French and Spanish episcopates to acknowledge the authority
of the pope, and mad some of progress toward cleaning the clergy of venality and venery. In 1051
and 1052 he made further campaigns in Germany and France; presided over a great ecclesiastical
assembly at Worms, and another at Mantua. Returning to Rome, he took on the uncongenial task
of defending the Papal States against the Normans by military means, though failed. As discussed,
the reform of the Catholic Church began from the abbey of Cluny that Duke William of Aquitaine
founded in Burgundy in eastern France in 910. The Cluniac programs emphasized on ritualism,
reform desire, freedom, centralization, and loyalty to Rome. They replaced manual labor with
copying of manuscripts, and demanded more community worship than private one. This reform
movement spread throughout Europe by building new monasteries and reviving old ones to adopt
Cluniac ideal.118 Leo IX also introduced cardinal administrating a certain number of churches or
bishops in each responsible district, in order to eliminate the interference of Roman aristocratic
factions and German emperors in appointing popes; and the reform council issued an edict of 1057
that the popes should be elected by the College of Cardinals. An edict prohibited that either
married or simony clergymen to serve the altar in any way. In Pope Leo IX pontificate, the Greek
and Latin Christianity were finally divorced: “The papal rejection of the Byzantine emperor for
the king of the Franks, the papal appropriation of the exarchate of Ravenna, the papal coronation
of a rival Roman emperor, the papal drive into Greek Italy – these galling political events, and not
the slight diversities of creed, served Christendom into East and West.” 119 Leo sent legates to
Constantinople to discuss with emperor and the Patriarch for the differences. Leo died in 1054,
but they continued to convene. However, the grievances of the Greek against the Roman Church
were too severe to compromise, so that the schism was now complete.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
(d) Pope Gregory VII (1073-85) was born as Hildebrand to a low parentage in Sovana in
Tuscany, Italy in 1028. He was educated in the convent of St. Mary on the Aventine at Rome, and
entered the Benedictine order. “When Gregory VI was deposed and banished to Germany in 1046,
he accompanies him as chaplain; during that year in Cologne he learned much about Germany that
helped him in his later struggle with Henry IV. Soon after his return to Rome, he was made a
cardinal sub-deacon by Leo IX, and was appointed administrator of the Papal State and at the same
time legate to France; we may judge from this remarkable elevation of a youth of twenty-five the
reputation that he had so soon acquired for political and diplomatic ability.” Pope Nicholas II and
the Lateran Council of 1057 issued an edict transferring the election of the pope to the College of
Cardinals; by which Hildebrand, as a key member of the reform council, proposed to rescue the
papacy from Roman nobles and German emperors. After serving eight popes for twenty-five years,
Hildebrand was elected to Pope Gregory VII. Early in 1074 he wrote the counts of Burgundy and
Savoy, and to the Emperor Henry IV, begging them to raise funds and troops for a crusade which
he proposed to lead in person, but nobody moved. A synod in 1074 renewed the decree of 1059,
prohibiting any priest to keep a wife or a concubine, and Christians to attend the Mass of a priest
known to keep a woman in his house. Gregory sent these to all the bishops of Europe with a stern
command to promulgate and enforce them. Many priests declared that they would abandon their
calling rather than their wives; others deprecated the decrees as making unreasonable demands on
human nature. When Bishop Otto of Constance openly favored and protected his married clergy,
Gregory excommunicated him, and absolved his flock from obedience to him. In 1075 he took
further step of commanding the dukes of Swabia and Carinthia, and other princes, to use force, if
necessary, in keeping recalcitrant clergy from performing priestly functions. 120 Several German
princes obeyed him; and many priests failed to dismiss were deprived of their parishes.
Investiture Controversy: Gregory believed in that “the state should be subordinate to the
Church – the City of Man to the City of God – in all matters involving doctrine, education, morals,
justice, or ecclesiastical organization.” In 1075 the pope decreed that “no one of the clergy shall
receive the investiture with a bishop or abbey or church from the hand of an emperor or king or of
any lay person.” He intended the liberation of the papacy from German control by bringing all
bishops under the authority of the Papal States. Gregory excommunicated, suspended, deposed,
and summoned German bishops for marriage, simony, or investiture. 121 As Henry IV (1056-1106)
summoned a council of German bishops to Worms in 1076 and made them depose the pope; so
that Gregory excommunicated Henry IV. Realizing the threat to his power from the German
nobles, Henry traveled to northern Italy, met Gregory in person at Canossa, and begged for
absolution and forgiveness for three days and nights in January 1077. The pope lifted the excommunication and Henry returned to Germany. Crushing his enemies in Germany, Henry entered
Rome in 1080 and deposed Gregory who fled and died in exile. 122 In 1122 the king and the pope
agreed with the Concordat of Worms, under which “a bishop in Germany was first elected by the
cathedral canons....the nominee paid homage to the king as his lord, who in turn invested him with
the symbols of temporal office. A representative of the pope, however, then invested the new
bishop with the symbols of his spiritual office.” By this agreement, the freedom of church from
the state was recognized. Following Gregory’s reform policy, Urban II (1088-99) efficiently
centralized the Roman curia by dividing it into a number of specialized divisions such as a
chancery writing documents, a papal chapel, and a treasury. 123 The curia functioned as a high
court dealing with church matters of property, marriages, and oaths. He tried to end the schism
between the eastern and western Christians and urged on the west to defend eastern Christendom
against Seljuk Turkey. It was his leadership to call for the first Crusade to liberate Jerusalem and
the holy land from the infidel; that symbolized the church supremacy over the state.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
The Roman Catholic Church (1095-1300): (a) The Faith: The Last Judgment was pivotal
to the Christian faith. “The belief in the Second Advent of Christ, and the end of the world, as
preludes to the Judgment, had survived the disappointments of the apostles, the passing of the year
1000, and the fears and hopes of forty generations; it had become less vivid and general, but it had
not died….Every great epidemic or disaster, every earthquake or comet to other extraordinary
event was looked upon as heralding the end of the world.”124 Men hoped vaguely for heaven, but
vividly feared hell: Catholic theology and preaching felt called upon to stress the terror of hell. In
the center of hell, the Devil was bound to a burning gridiron by red-hot chains with an awful odor
of burning sulphur behind him. Devil had an immense cohort of assistant demons, who hovered
around every soul and persistently maneuvered to lead it into sin. The Fourth Lateran Council in
1215 declared that no man could be saved outside the Universal Church. Christians believed that
all Muslims would go to hell; and it was generally accepted that all heathen were damned. The
terrors were in some careful measure mitigated by the doctrine of purgatory, but Pope Alexander
VI ordered it closed as an imposture in 1479 due to financial abuses. There were village atheists
then as now, but for most part, the medieval mind surrendered itself to faith, trusted in God and
the Church, as modern man trusts in science and the state.
(b) The Sacraments: The power of the Church lay in the administration of the sacraments –
ceremonies symbolizing the conferment of divine grace. “In the fifth century, the sacraments were
finally fixed at seven: baptism, confirmation, penance, the Eucharist, matrimony, holy order, and
extreme unction.” Baptism had two functions: to remove the stain of original sin, and, by this new
birth, to receive the individual into the Christian fold. In the Eastern Church, the sacraments of
confirmation and Eucharist were conferred immediately after baptism; but in the Western Church
the age of confirmation was gradually postponed to the seventh year. For the sacrament of penance,
the Fourth Council made annual confession and communion a solemn obligation. “An indulgence
was not a license to commit sin, but a partial or plenary exemption, granted by the Church, from
some or all of the purgatorial punishment merited by earthly sin. Absolution in confession
removed from sin the guilt that would have condemned the sinner to hell, but it did not absolve
him from the temporal punishment due to his sin.” The Eucharist was the transubstantiation of
wafers of bread and a chalice of wine into the body and blood of Christ by the miraculous power
of the priest. “By making matrimony a sacrament, a sacred vow, the Church immensely raised
the dignity and permanence of the marriage bond. In the sacrament of holy orders, the bishop
conferred upon the new priest some of the spiritual powers inherited form the apostles and
presumably given to these by God Himself in the person of Christ. Extreme unction – the priest
heard the confession of the dying Christian, give him the absolution that saved him from hell, and
anointed his members so that they might be cleansed of sin. 125
(c) Prayer: The official prayers of the Church were often addressed to God the Father; a few
appealed to the Holy Ghost; but the prayers of the people were addressed mostly to Jesus, Mary,
and the saints. The Church arranged an ecclesiastical calendar in which every day celebrated a
saint; but the year did not find room for the 25,000 saints that had been canonized by the tenth
century. The calendar of saints was so familiar to the people that the almanac divided the
agricultural year by their names. In general, the Church did not so much encourage superstitions
as inherit them from the imagination of the people or the tradition of the Mediterranean world.
“The worship of Mary transformed Catholicism from a religion of terror – perhaps necessary in
the Dark Ages – into a religion of mercy and love. Half the beauty of Catholic worship, much of
the splendor of Catholic art and song, are the creation of this gallant faith in the devotion and
gentleness, even the physical loveliness and grace, of woman. The daughters of Eve have entered
the temple and have transformed its spirit.” One can forgive much to a religion. 126
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
(d) Ritual: The center of the Christian worship was the Mass. “The fourth centuries this
ceremony was called the Eucharist or thanksgiving; and that sacramental commemoration of the
Last Supper remained the essence of the service. Around it there gathered in the course of the
twelve centuries a complicated succession of prayers and songs, varying with the day and season
of the year and the purpose of the individual Mass, and inscribe for the convenience of the priest
in the missal, or Book of the Mass. In the Greek rite, and sometimes in the Latin, the two sexes
were separated in the congregation. There were no chairs; all stood, or, at the most solemn
moments, knelt. “At first, all Masses were sung, and the congregation joined in the singing; from
the fourth century onward the vocal participation of the worshipers declined, and canonical
choristers provided the musical response to the celebrant’s chant. The hymns sung in the various
services of the Church are among the most moving products of medieval sentiment and art.” To
the moving ritual of her prayers, hymns, and Mass, the Church added the imposing ceremonies
and processions of religious festivals. Medieval man and women went on pilgrimage to fulfill a
penance or a vow, or to seek a miraculous cure, or to earn an indulgence, and doubtless, like
modern tourists, to see strange lands and sights, and find adventure on the way as a relief from the
routine of a narrow life. The Church added social services (teaching the dignity of labor). 127
(e) Canon Law - the law of the rule of the Church – was a slow accretion of old religious
customs, scriptural passages, opinions of the Fathers, laws of Rome or the barbarians, the decrees
of Church councils, and the decisions and opinions of the poses. “Some part of the Justinian Code
were adapted to govern the conduct of the clergy; other parts were recast to accord with the views
of the Church on marriage, divorce, and wills. Collection of ecclesiastical legislation were made
in the sixth and eighth centuries in the West, and periodically by Byzantine emperors in the East.
The laws of the Rome Church received their definitive medieval formulation by Gratian about
1148.”128 The field covered by canon law was larger than that covered by any contemporary civil
code. It embraced not merely the structure, dogmas, and operation of the Church, but also rules
for dealing with non-Christians in Christian lands; procedure in the investigation and suppression
of heresy; the organization of crusades; the laws of marriage, legitimacy, dower, adultery, and so
on. Usually, before the Inquisition, the Church relied on spiritual terrors. Minor excommunication
excluded a Christian from the sacraments and ritual of the Church; any priest pronounce the
penalty. A major excommunication could be pronounced only by councils of by relates higher
than a priest, and only upon persons within their jurisdiction. 129
(d) Clergy: There were wide range of formal and informal clergy positons, including pope,
cardinal, archbishop, bishop, priest, deacon, and lay people. 130 Lay people are the faithful baptized
as Catholic, being a member of the Catholic Church. Deacon is only possible after receiving the
Sacrament of Ordination, where after 6 years of training a seminarian can be ordained a deacon.
“The parish priest had to content himself with spiritual joys. As the parish was normally coterminous with a manor or a village, he was usually appointed by the lord of the manor in collusion
with the bishop. He was seldom a man of much schooling, for a university education was costly
and books were rare; it was enough if he could read the breviary and the missal, administer the
sacraments, and organize the parish for worship and charity.” 131 The bishop was a priest selected
to co-ordinate several parishes and priests into one dioses. Originally, he was chosen by priests
and people; usually, before Gregory VII, he was named by the baron or king; after 1215 he was
elected by the cathedral chapter in co-operation with the pope. Archbishop preside over a
provincial council of the Church. Some archbishops, by their character or their wealth, ruled
nearly all the life of their provinces. The pope was elected by the College of Cardinals at the
conclusion of the previous papacy – resignation or death – 66.6% majority of the votes. In 1059,
the right to select the pope was confined to cardinal bishops stationed near Rome.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
(e) The Papacy Supreme: In the thirteenth century, the Catholic Church reached the height of
its political, intellectual, and secular power. Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) was born to a family
of the Roman aristocracy. He received his early education in Rome, studied philosophy and
theology in Paris, and law in Bologna; and experienced church diplomacy and politics in Rome.
Being elected to the pope at the age of thirty-seven, Innocent believed that the papal authority is
superior to the royal power. “As God, the creator of the universe, set two great lights in the
firmament of heaven, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night so He
set two great dignities in the firmament of the universal church,...the greater to rule the day, that
is, souls, and the lesser to rule the night, that is, bodies. These dignities are the papal authority
and the royal power. And just as the moon gets her light from the sun, and is inferior to the sun....
so the royal power gets the splendor of its dignity from the papal authority.” 132 When the Muslim
recaptured Jerusalem in 1187, he saw it a divine judgment on the moral lapses of Christian princes.
He was deterministic to protect the liberty of the Church from secular princes, being involved in
the selection of bishops, and threatening the patrimony of the papacy. He claimed himself as vicar
of Christ, becoming a supreme judge of European politics by using the spiritual weapons such as
excommunication and interdicts forbidding priests to dispense the church sacraments. He
intervened in numerous affairs of European states, approved the creation of the Franciscan and the
Dominican orders, and inaugurated the fourth Crusade. Innocent made two unhappy cases with
the Crusade: in 1204, a group of the Crusaders sacked Constantinople and pillaged the city of all
its wealth, which widened the religious gap between the east and the west; and in 1208 Innocent
ordered the Crusade to crush the Albigensians in southern France, which caused much bloodshed
of thousands of heretics. In 1212, Innocent called the Fourth Lateran Council, which confirmed
the elevation of Frederick II as Holy Roman Emperor, defined the sacrament of the Eucharist,
decreed annual confession for all Christians, and established moral codes for the clergy.133
Innocent liberated the papacy from the empire and controlled European kingdoms. “The Holy
Roman Emperor Henry VI expected to be succeeded by his infant son Frederick as king of Sicily,
king of the Germans, and Roman Emperor, a combination that would have brought Germany, Italy,
and Sicily under a single ruler and left the patrimonium exceedingly vulnerable. The early death
of Henry VI left his 4-year-old son Frederick II as king. Henry VI’s widow Constance of
Sicily ruled over Sicily for her young son before he reached the age of majority. She was as eager
to remove German power from the kingdom of Sicily as was Innocent III. Before her death in
1198, she named Innocent as guardian of the young Frederick until he reached his maturity. In
exchange, Innocent was also able to recover papal rights in Sicily that had been surrendered
decades earlier to King William I of Sicily by Pope Adrian IV. The Pope invested the young
Frederick II as King of Sicily in November 1198. He also later induced Frederick II to marry the
widow of King Emeric of Hungary in 1209.”134 The other example can be seen in that “Pope
Innocent was determined to prevent the continued unification of Sicily and the Holy Roman
Empire under one monarch and seized the opportunity to extend his influence. In 1201, the pope
openly espoused the side of Otto IV, whose family had always been opposed to the house of
Hohenstaufen. Otto himself also seemed willing to grant any demands that Innocent would make.
The confusion in the Empire allowed Innocent to drive out the imperial feudal lords from Anacona,
Spoleto and Perugia, who had been installed by Emperor Henry VI. On 3 July 1201, the papal
legate, Cardinal-Bishop Guido of Palestrina announced to the people, in the cathedral of Cologne,
that Otto IV had been approved by the pope as Roman king and threatened with excommunication
all those who refused to acknowledge him. At the same time, Innocent encouraged the cities in
Tuscany to form a league, called the League of San Genesio against German imperial interests in
Italy, and they placed themselves under Innocent’s protection.”135
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
(f) The Finance of the Church: The major income of the Church came from the tithe: “after
Charlemagne all secular lands in Latin Christendom were required by state law to pay a tenth of
their gross produce or income, in kind or money, to the local church. “After the tenth century
every parish had to remit a part of its tithes to the bishop of the diocese. Under the influence of
feudal ideas, the tithes of a parish could be enfeoffed, mortgaged, bequeathed, or sold like any
other property or revenue, so that by the twelfth century, a financial web had been woven in which
the local church and its priest were rather the collectors than the consumers of its tithes. The priest
was expected to curse for his tithes, and the English put it – to excommunicate those who shirked
or falsified their returns; for men were as reluctant then to pay tithes to the Church, whose
functions they considered vital to their salvation, as men are now to pay taxes to the state. We
hear occasional revolts of the tithe payers.”136 The basic revenue of the Church was from her own
lands, which were received through gift or bequest, through purchase or defaulted mortgage, or
through reclamation of waste lands by monastic or other ecclesiastic groups. “In the feudal system,
each owner or tenant was expected to leave something to the Church at death; those who did not
were suspected of heresy, and might be refused burial in consecrated ground.” As a disability
insurance, some owners gave their property to the Church, then the Church provided annuity, and
provided care in sickness and old age to the donor, and received the property free of lien at his
death. “Crusaders not only sold lands to the Church at low prices to raise cash, but they received
loans from church bodies on the security of pledged property, which was in many cases forfeited
by default. Some persons, dying without natural heirs, left their whole estate to the Church; the
Countess Matilda of Tuscany tried to bequeath to the Church almost a fourth of Italy.”137 As the
property of the Church was inalienable, it was normally free from secular taxation before 1200,
which grew from century to century. It was not unusual for a cathedral, a monastery, or a nunnery
to won several thousand manors, including a dozen towns or even a great city or two.
For example, “A bishop of Langres owned the whole county; the abbey of St. martin of Tours
ruled over 20,000 serfs; the bishop of Bologna held 2000 manors….In Castile, about 1200, the
Church owned a quarter of the soil; in England a fifth; in Germany a third; in Livonia one half.
Such accumulations became the envy and target of the state. Charles Martel confiscated church
property to finance his wars; Louis the Pious legislated against bequests that disinherited the
children of the testator in favor of the Church; Henry II of Germany stripped many monasteries of
their lands….Edward I levied from the English Church in 1291 the tenth of its property, and in
1294 a half of its annual revenue. Philip II began, St. Louis continued, Philip IV established, the
taxation of ecclesiastical property in France. As industry and commerce developed, and money
multiplied and prices rose, the income of abbeys and bishoprics, derived largely from feudal dues
once fixed at a low-price level and now hard to raise, proved inadequate not only for luxury but
even for maintenance. By 1270 the majority of French cathedrals and abbeys were heavily in debt;
they had borrowed from the bankers at high interest rates to meet the exactions of the kings; hence,
in part, the decline of architectural activity in France at the end of the thirteenth century. The popes
added to the impoverishment of bishoprics by taxing their property and revenues first to finance
the Crusades, later to pay the mounting expenses of the papal see. New sources of central income
became necessary as the papacy widened the area and complexity of its functions.”138 However,
the wealth of the Church was the chief source of heresy in this age. It was claimed that any priest
or monk who died possessing property would surely to hell. In the monastic chronicles,
complaints of ecclesiastical avarice or wealth appeared here and there. The Church herself joined
in this criticism of clerical money-grubbing, and made many effort to control the acquisitiveness
and luxury of her personnel. In this regard, hundreds of clergymen and a dozen of monastic orders
devoted themselves to preaching reform by their good examples.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
The Religious Orders (1095-1300): The religious communities were formed by many forces
such as their property, their family connections, their secular functions, and the opportunity which
they offered their members for advancement to the highest places in the social order. “The
worldliness of medieval religious communities has often been remarked and generally criticized,
and it is true that anyone who looks at these communities for a pure expression of the aims of their
founders must very often be disappointed. The states of mind and aspirations expressed in the
Rules and Foundation needs of the various Orders were not realized in any large measure. The
driving forces in their development were quite different from those of the original founders….
Above all, they stamped on these communities – even the most resistant – two features which they
found in every part of medieval life: a strong grasp on the things of this world, and an ardent desire
for the rewards of eternity. These two conflicting desires, operating simultaneously in the same
people, lie behind many of the most important developments in western history, and they are most
fully exemplified in the medieval religious orders”139 to be discussed below.
(a) Benedict of Nursia (480-547) founded twelve communities for monks at Subiaco, Italy
before moving to Monte Cassino in southern Italy. The Benedictine order lasted several centuries
until it lost its monopoly and resigned its leadership in forms of worships used by the church in
the twelfth century. His Rule includes seventy-three chapters: spiritual (how to live a Christocentric life on earth) and administrative (how to run a monastery efficiently). The Rule envisaged
three classes of recruits to a monastery: laymen of mature years, clergy, and the children of noblemen. He expected mature laymen to be the normal applicants for admission; but by the tenth
century, the recruitment of the children of noblemen to the monastery had become a very common.
The Benedictine order had three functions. First is the social function: monasteries were founded
for political, social, and religious purposes: the monks fought battles to cleanse the land from
supernatural enemies for the king and kingdom as a disciplined elite. Second is the penitential
function: for serious sins, the penances were not sufficient; monasteries offered a safer way of
paying the penitential debt upon to perform their service of substitution forever. Third is the
family function: While a great family had no sufficient endowment for children, the monasteries
performed an essential service in helping to solve this problem. However, the Benedictine order
began to decline due to two reasons: the spiritual and the economic malaises.140
The monasteries had multiplied and reached a peak in the tenth century, and then declining in
number as secular order and prosperity grew. In France, about 1100, there were 543; about 1250
there were 287; and very few monasteries had a hundred monks. In in the thirteenth century it
was custom for pious or burdened parents to send children of seven years or older to monasteries
as oblates – offered up to God. “Through their own labor and that of their serfs, the monks built
abbeys, churches, and cathedrals, farmed great manors, subdue marshes and jungles to tillage,
practiced a hundred handicrafts, and brewed excellent wines and ales. Though the monastery
seemed to take many good and able men from the world to bury them in a selfish sanctity, it trained
thousands of them in mental and moral discipline, and then returned them to the world to serve as
councilors and administrators to bishops, popes, and kings.” In the course of time, the growing
wealth of the communities overflowed into the monasteries, and the generosity of the people
financed the occasional luxury of the monks. Morals fall as riches rise. “While the majority of
monks remained reasonably loyal to their rule, a minority took an easier view toward the world
and the flesh. In many cases the abbot had been appointed by some lord or king, usually from a
rank accustomed to comfort; such abbots were above monastic rules; they enjoyed hunting,
hawking, tournaments, and politics; and their example infected the monks….Worldly abbots, fat
and rich and powerful, became a target of public humor and literary diatribe. The most merciless
and incredible satire in medieval literature is a description of an abbot by Walter Map.” 141
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
(b) The Cistercians: The reform ideas of monasticism in the eleventh century lay in poverty,
eremitism, and apostolic life. First, reformers urged the strictest poverty as a first step toward
meaningful renewal while contemporary critics singled out riches and luxury as their prime targets.
“A new stress on poverty emerged as a spontaneous reaction to prosperity. The problem was so
keenly felt in the eleventh century, in search of a solution, the reformers bypassed the Rule of
Saint Benedict and reached back to the poverty of Christ on the Cross, and to the poverty of the
apostles and their fist disciples.” Second, the revival eremitism was closely linked with the new
concept of poverty. “The hermit not only withdrew from society, he lived in total renunciation,
in total poverty, both internal and external. As Saint Jerome put it: the desert loves the naked.
The roots of the movement reached back to the deserts of Egypt and Syria in the early Christian
centuries. As a form of religious life it survived, particularly in the East.” Third, the last incentive
for monastic renewal was the drive to imitate the life of the apostles, or, more specifically, the life
of the apostolic community in Jerusalem, in poverty, simplicity and mutual charity. It must be
emphasized, however, that in the eleventh century the world apostolic carried no connotation of
preaching the Gospel or discharging other duties of the care of souls; the following of the apostles
could well be within the program of contemplatives or even hermits….It inspired canons regular,
itinerant preachers, lay poverty movements and many features of the Gregorian Reform.”142 In
1098 twenty-one monks led by St. Robert of Molesme, dissatisfied with the lack of strict discipline
at the Benedictine monastery, founded a new order at Citeaux in Burgundy, which was the
beginning of Cistercian monasticism.143 His follower Alberic forged an alliance with the Dukes of
Burgundy, “working out a deal with Duke Odo of Burgundy concerning the donation of a vineyard
(Meursault) as well as stones with which they built their church. The church was consecrated and
dedicated to the Virgin Mary on November 16, 1106, by the Bishop of Chalon sur Saône.”144
The Cistercian order was spread so rapidly from southern France to Italy, Spain, England, and
Germany that the number of Cistercian houses increased from five in 1115 to over three hundred
in 1150. “The Cistercians emphasized a strict austerity….The number of hours spent in liturgical
services was shortened, leaving more time for private prayer and manual labor. Unlike
Benedictine and Cluniac houses, Cistercian monasteries were not supported by peasant labor. To
escape from the world, many Cistercians established their monasteries on uninhabited lands,
usually wastelands or virgin forests. Since their own manual labor was insufficient to meet the
demands of these lands, the Cistercians initiated a separate monastic track for lay brothers form
the peasant class. They took monastic vows and participated in common worship, but lived
separately from the regular monks and spent most of their time working in the fields and in the
industries established by the monks.” 145 Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) was born to the
highest nobility of Burgundy, joined the Cistercians in 1113, and became the founder and abbot
of the monastery at Clairvaux in 1115.146 He was the principal promoter of his order by adding
68 foundations in his life: his sermons and miracles deeply penetrated human mind and knowledge.
“In the year 1128 AD, Bernard participated in the Council of Troyes, which had been convoked
by Pope Honorius II, and was presided over by Cardinal Matthew, Bishop of Albano. The purpose
of this council was to settle certain disputes of the bishops of Paris, and regulate other matters of
the Church of France. The bishops made Bernard secretary of the council, and charged him with
drawing up the synodal statutes. After the council, the bishop of Verdun was deposed. It was at
this council that Bernard traced the outlines of the Rule of the Knights Templar who soon became
the ideal of Christian nobility.”147 Bernard supported the second Crusade initiated by Pope Eugene
III and Louis VII of France and Conrad III of Germany “as an exclusively spiritual undertaking,
an opportunity to renounce sin and turn to God, and to increase one’s love for Jesus Christ” rather
than the promise of indulgences, privileges, and other advantages.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
(c) The Franciscan and Dominican Friars: St. Francis and St. Dominic founded two new
religious orders in the thirteenth century. The members of the Benedictine or Cistercian orders
remained in the cloister like monks, but the new orders required to go out into the real world and
meet the people to spread gospel. When we read the following annals for 1260 in the chronicle of
Bologna, the cause of the Friars can be identified: “In this year, the whole of Italy was plagued
with many flagellants and the country was defied with many vices and sins. Frist the people of
Perugia went barefooted through their town beating themselves; then the Romans, and after them
people all over Italy young and old, nobles and common people, went two by two beating their
backs with leather thongs, beseeching God’s mercy with many tears. And not only men but also
women did likewise all night long. This was done throughout all the fortified places and towns of
Italy, so much so that it was thought to be irreligious if anyone did not beat himself in this way.
This began in October and lasted for the whole month….And on 10 October the men of Bologna
did likewise and went to Modena. Then the Romans set free all the prisoners for the love of God;
the family of the Castelani were freed from prison and they fled from Rome in fear of death.” 148
This was certainly caused by the expectation of the imminent end of the world, which had been
foretold by a mystic. The hysteria was never far beneath the surface of urban life, but did not take
the form of mass terror. In the thirteenth century, universities of such as Bologna, Oxford, or Paris
became the leading intellectual centers. The rapid expansion of universities produced much more
scholars than available jobs. Many university graduates cried that “I am unable to leave Bologna
because of a mountain of debt that weighs me down and destroys my substance.” Only a very few
able or well-endowed master could live on the fees or gifts of his pupils, but “the remainder had
to push out into the world to seek preferment at the hands of men whom they could serve. It was
into this scene of intellectual activity and social insecurity that the friars came.” 149
Saint Francis of Assisi (1182-1226) established the new order of Friar Minor known as the
Franciscans, which was approved by Innocent III. Saint Francis was born to the wealthy Italian
merchant family. He joined fighting in the local wars but was captured and imprisoned, where he
had spiritual experiences that led him to abandon all worldly goods. “Many people were obviously
disgusted with the worldliness and luxurious lifestyle of many church prelates, including the heads
of monastic houses.” Living among the people, they called for earthly church to return to the
simplicity and poverty. Unlike other religious orders, they were migratory and almost nomadic
instead of stationary to reach out real people, preach repentance, and aid the poor. They lived
“without comforts, without possessions, eating anything they could get and sleeping anyhow on
the ground.” After Francis’ death, the popes allowed friends to hold property for the order. An
aristocratic lady of Assisi named Clares founded the Poor Clares as a female component of the
Franciscans. By 1280 the Franciscans grew to 200,000 monks in 8,000 monasteries. 150 On the
other hand, Dominic de Guzman (1170-1221), a Spanish priest, established the order of Preachers
known as the Dominicans or the Black Friars (the Franciscans were the Grey Friars), which was
approved by Innocent III. They insisted on absolute poverty, rejected the possession of common
property, and became a mendicant order. They were lightly different from the Franciscans in
measures: to attack and eliminate heretical movement within the church, the Dominicans believed
that more persuasive and effective preaching was necessary by training their friars in theology
although they continuously lived in apostolic poverty. 151 The Dominicans established schools and
organized a system of the church government to manage their order effectively. The universities
at Oxford, Paris, and Bologna were arranged for education of friars, and their nature of studies
were regulated. The Dominicans, like the Franciscans, spread everywhere as wandering: “They
went through cities, towns, and villages, preaching the together by tens or sevens...
thinking not of the morrow, nor keeping anything for the next morning.”
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
(d) Women in Religion: (i) The Convent or Nunnery: it is a religious house, or monastery, for
nuns. An abbey and a priory were religious houses where nuns lived. The Abbess was the head
of an abbey who was elected by the nuns for life. A prioress was a nun in charge of a priory or
ranking next below the abbess of an abbey. “About 530 St. Benedict’s twin sister. Scholastica
established a nunnery near Monte Cassino under his guidance and rule. Benedictine convents
spread through Europe, and Benedictine nuns became almost as numerous as Benedictine monks.
The Cistercian Order opened its first convent in 1125; its most famous one, Port Royal in 1204;
by 1300 there were 700 Cistercian nunneries in Europe. In these older orders, most of the nuns
came from the upper classes.” Entry into Benedictine nunneries usually required a dowry, though
the Church prohibited any but voluntary offerings. St. Francis allowed Santa Clara to gather some
pious women who lived in communal poverty, wove and spun, nursed the sick, and distributed
charity. Many women chose to dedicate themselves to the Church with true piety, but for some
others, monasticism was an escape from a life of shadows and insecurity, childbearing and
degradation. “In denying marriage and dedicating their lives to the Church, women were able to
preserve both their minds and their bodies. It gave ordinary women a chance to examine the
makeup of the soul, and in its own silent way encouraged them to make choices for themselves.
The Church became an asylum where men had access to education - and if men, why not women?
Many women realized that as long as they remained uneducated, they would be regarded as
inferior. Armed with intelligence and knowledge, women could outwit the witty.”152 In addition
to learn how to write, another advantage to joining the church was celibacy; therefore, we can see
that remaining chaste supposedly saved a woman from becoming as sinful as Eve. In the age of
spiritual movement, women became active participants: the number of women joining religious
houses increased in the twelfth century, although medial monasticism was always dominated by
male: in 1200, there were only about 3,000 nuns in England compared to 14,000 monks.
(ii) Conventional Immorality: A number of nuns had been cloistered against wills, and found
it uncomfortable to be saints. From the tenth century, some Archbishops and bishops deemed it
necessary to forbid the seduction of nuns by abbots, priests, and bishops. “Bishop Ivo of Chartres
(1035-1115) reported that the nuns of St. Fara’s Convent were practicing prostitution; Abelard
(1079-1142) gave a similar picture of some French convents of his time; Pope Innocent III
described the convent of St. Agatha as a brothel that infected that whole surrounding country with
its evil life and repute. Bishop Rigaud of Rouen (1249) gave a generally favorable report of the
religious groups in his diocese, but told of one nunnery in which, out of thirty-three nuns and three
lay sisters, eight were guilty, or suspected, of fornication, and ‘the prioress is drunk almost any
night.’ Boniface VIII (1300) tried to improve conventual discipline by decreeing strict claustration,
or seclusion from the world; but the decree could not be enforced. At one nunnery in the diocese
of Lincoln, when the bishop came to deposit this papal bull, the nuns threw it at his head, and
vowed they would never obey it; such isolation had probably not been in their vows. The prioress
in Chaucer’s Tales had no business there, for the Church had forbidden nuns to go on pilgrimage.”
The rules of convents or nunneries were inhumanly severe, and merited violation. Carthusian
and Cistercian nuns were required to keep silence except when speech was indispensable. “Usually
the nuns attended to their own needs of cleaning, cooking, washing, sewing; they made clothing
for monks and the poor....they received children to board, and taught them letters, hygiene, and
domestic arts; for centuries they provided the only higher education open to girls. Many of them
served as nurses in hospitals. They rose at midnight for prayers, and again before dawn, and
recited the canonical hours. Many days were fast days, on which they ate no food till the evening
meal.” All the sins of history should be weighted in s sense of the balanced nature: any kind of
human beings needs to be treated reasonably within a limit of the natural tolerance.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
(iii) The Beguines: In the thirteenth century, a female religious movement developed across
northern Europe. “The Beguines were not nuns, and they were not under the command of a male
abbot or priest. They were lay women who adopted a nun-like lifestyle voluntarily. Less expensive
than the dowry paid for a nun, a true bride of Christ, the Beguine houses were able to accommodate
women from the middle and lower classes of society. Beguines supported themselves by weaving,
doing housework, and the like.” They did not take religious vows and were free to leave the
community at will. Although the beguines originated in the Low Countries, they eventually
became strong in the Rhineland area of Germany. “Beguinages were not convents. There was no
overarching structure such as a mother-house. Each beguinage adopted its own rule. The Bishop
of Liège created a rule for beguines in his diocese. However, every community was complete in
itself and fixed its own order of living. Later many adopted the rule of the Third Order of Saint
Francis. These communities were varied in terms of the social status of their members; some of
them only admitted ladies of high degree; others were exclusively reserved for persons in humble
circumstances; others again opened their doors wide to women of every condition and these were
the most densely peopled. Several, like the great beguinage of Ghent, numbered their inhabitants
by thousands. Douceline of Digne (1215-74) founded the Beguine movement in Marseille;
her hagiography, which was composed by a member of her community, sheds light on the
movement in general. This semi-monastic institution was adapted to its age and spread rapidly
throughout the land. Some beguines became known as holy women, and their devotions influenced
religious life within the region. Beguine religious life was part of the mysticism of that age. There
was a beguinage at Mechelin as early as 1207, at Brussels in 1245, at Leuven before 1232,
at Antwerp in 1234 and at Bruges in 1244. By the close of the century, most communes in the
Low Countries had a béguinage; several of the great cities had two or more. As the 13th century
progressed, the women tended to become mystics.”154
(e) The Mystics and Mysticism: Joachim of Flore (1135-1202) was educated at Cosenza,
became archbishop of Palermo and regent for the young William II of Sicily. Returning from his
pilgrimage, he lived in hermit for years, wandering and preaching. He became a Cistercian monk
and priest, thirsted for austerity and retired to hermitage. He formed the gathered disciples into a
new Order of Flora, whose rule of poverty and prayer was approved by Celestine III. His writings
were based on the Augustinian theory. He divided history in three stages: the first, under the rule
of God the Father, ended at the Nativity; the second, ruled by the Son, would last, according to
apocalyptic calculation, 1260 years; the third, under the Holy Ghost, would be preceded by a time
of troubles, of war and poverty and ecclesiastical corruption, and would be ushered in by the rise
of a new monastic order which would cleanse the Church, and would realize a worldwide utopia
of peace, justice, and happiness. The Franciscans were confident that theirs was the new Order.
His main work appeared under the title of The Everlasting Gospel in 1254 that was condemned
by the Church. Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179): became abbess of a religious house for women
in western Germany in 1136, but she and her sisters moved into a new house built for them in
Rupertsberg near modern Bingen in 1150. In 1141, at the age of 42, Hildegard received a vision
she believed to be an instruction from God, “to write down that which you see and hear.”155 She
wrote theological, botanical, and medicinal texts, and published The Book of Divine Works of three
books: the world of humanity, the kingdom of the hereafter, and the history of salvation. She
believed the universe as a living cosmology where nature, humanity, divinity, and universe were
inter-connected. “It was between November 1147 and February 1148 at the synod in Trier that
Pope Eugenus heard about Hildegard’s writings. It was from this that she received Papal approval
to document her visions as revelations from the Holy Spirit giving her instant credence.” As a
mystic and prophet, she advised popes, emperors, kings and many others. 156
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
Anti-Orders and Intolerance: (a) The Carthars or Albigensians believed in a dualist system
in which good and evil were separate and distinct in terms of self-identification. “The idea of two
gods or principles, one being good the other evil, was central to Cathar beliefs. The good god was
the God of the New Testament and the creator of the spiritual realm, as opposed to the bad god,
whom many Cathars identified as Satan, creator of the physical world of the Old Testament. All
visible matter, including the human body, was created by Satan; it was therefore tainted with sin.
This was the antithesis to the monotheistic Catholic Church, whose fundamental principle was that
there was only one God who created all things visible and invisible. Cathars thought human
spirits were the genderless spirits of angels trapped within the physical creation of Satan, cursed
to be reincarnated until the Cathar faithful achieved salvation through a ritual called the consolamentum.” “They repudiated the institution of private property, and aspired to an equality of goods.
They made the Sermon on the Mount the essence of their ethics. They were taught to love their
enemies, to care for the sick and the poor, never to swear, always to keep the peace; force was
never moral, even against infidels; capital punishment was a capital crime; one should quietly trust
that in the end God would triumph over evil, without using evil means.” 157 Montpellier, Narbonne,
and Marseille were the first French centers of the heresy, perhaps through contact with Moslems
and Jews, and through frequentation by merchants from heretical centers in Bosnia, Bulgaria, and
Italy. “Pope Innocent III attempted to end Catharism by sending missionaries and by convincing
the local authorities to act against them. However, in 1208 Innocent's papal legate Pierre de
Castelnau was murdered while returning to Rome after excommunicating a Count Raymond VI
of Toulouse, who, in his view, was too lenient with the Cathars. Pope Innocent III then abandoned
the option of sending Catholic missionaries and jurists, declared Pierre de Castelnau a martyr and
launched the Albigensian Crusade.”158 Almost two decades from 1209, thousands of heretics and
the innocent were slaughtered, including entire population of some towns.
(b) The Waldenians came from the name of Peter Waldo, a wealthy merchant of Lyon in
France, who distributed his wealth around 1170 and started preaching the Gospel with the ideal of
the reformed church. As they developed, Waldensian teachings came into conflict with the Roman
Catholic Church. By 1215, Peter Waldo was excommunicated but his followers, the poor of Lyon,
continuously preached and formed small communities, which were forced to meet secretly because
of repression. The Waldensians preached the same messages as the Franciscans. “Waldo, like
Saint Francis, experienced moments of religious enlightenment in which he decided to give up all
of his material possessions, adopt a life of poverty, and preach to the people in the vernacular. In
his sermons, he used biblical texts that emphasized the rejection of material goods and the pursuit
of the ideal of apostolic poverty. When archbishop of Lyons ordered Waldo to stop preaching in
public because he had no license to preach, he appealed to the pope. The pope accepted Waldo
and his followers’ wish to dedicate their lives to poverty, but forbade to preach without their
bishop’s consent. The Waldensians refused to give up preaching, however, and defied the church
authorities. The unwillingness of the Waldensians to accept the church’s authority led to their
public condemnation as heretic in 1183.”159 The Roman Catholic Church declared them heretics,
stating that “the group’s principal error was contempt for ecclesiastical power. Rome also accused
the Waldensians of teaching innumerable errors. Waldo and his followers developed a system of
traveling whereby they would go from town to town and meet secretly with small groups of
Waldensians. There they would confess sins and hold service. Nevertheless, since heresy was a
crime against God and humanity in the age of faith, the use of force was justified to save human
soul from Satan. Accordingly, the holy office developed its inquisition procedure allowing torture
for heretics who did not confess their crimes against Catholic Church.160 The political and civil
rights of the Waldensians were ultimately granted by 1848.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
(c) The Medieval Jews: The Jews were the religious minority in the medieval Europe. As the
Christians suppressed them, the Jews dispersed through the Mediterranean lands: Mesopotamia,
Persia; Syria, Palestine, and Asia Minor; and some went further to Arabia, Egypt, North Africa,
and Europe. “Each settlement was required to maintain at communal expense at least one
elementary and one secondary school, both of them usually in the synagogue.” They learned
Hebrew, Torah, and Talmud from the Rabbi. “To this day, no people so honors the student and
the scholar as do the Jews.” Since the rise of the feudal and guild systems excluded them from
holding property and trade, they turned to money lending for survival. The Jews in southern
Europe had favorably bridged between Muslims and Christians in economy, society, and culture;
but economic competition in trade and finance between Jews and Christians was the main source
of anti-Semitism. In fact, the Christian families who borrowed money from Jews blamed and hated
the lenders for their impoverishment. Increasingly, the church isolated the Jews in order to
minimize any potential religious influence. Being against the Muslims, the crusaders enroute to
Jerusalem attacked pagans and Jews, and drove them away from Spain or southern Europe. Some
popes tried to protect the Jews from mass murders in the twelfth century, but the Fourth Lateran
Council held in 1215 decreed that the Jews must wear distinguished marks in the eyes of the public.
The Friars called Jews as “murders of Christ” which stimulated a tradition of anti-Semitism.
Edward I expelled all Jews from England in 1290; the French followed the suit in 1306 and 1322;
and Spain did the same in 1492; which was spread into central Europe. Finally, most northern
European Jews were forced to move into Poland as refugees, where Christianity was introduced
recently to pagans (so their religious passion was low). Moreover, since Jewish well-being in their
settlement was in the support of the ruling class, they developed their negotiating skills with full
awareness of the political reality in their settlement area. The options that the Jews could take was
strictly limited to minimizing opposition and restriction.
The Talmud is a record of rabbinic discussion pertaining to “Jewish law, ethics, customs and
history.” The Talmud has two components: the Mishna, the first compendium of Jewish Oral Law
written in around 200; and the Gemara, a discussion of the Mishnah and related Tannaitic writings
in about 500 that often linked with other subjects and expounds broadly on the Tanakh. There are
two kinds of Talmuds: the Palestinian and the Babylonian. About 397 the schools of Palestine
coordinated their commentaries on the Mishna of the Talmud; while Rabbi Ashi, head of the Sura
College, began to codify the Babylonian Gemara. A century later in 499, Rabina II, son of Samuel,
completed this work; which commentary was continuously revised for 150 years during 500-650.
As a result, the Babylonian Talmud is four times longer in Gemara than the Palestinian one, while
the Mishna remains the same. The Babylonian Talmud: A Translation and Commentary introduces
the entire contents of the Talmud completed in 650. The Mishna consists of six orders, and each
of the six orders contains between 7 to 12 tractates called masechtot, which is divided into chapters
composed of smaller units called mishnayot. The Gemara is attached to each unit of the Mishna
as discussions and commentaries. The Gemara consists of legal analysis, the starting point of
which is usually a legal statement found in a Mishna. The statement is then analyzed and
compared with other statements in a dialectical exchange between questioner and answerer. Since
the Talmud is the written record of an oral tradition of the Jews, it became the basis for many
Rabbinic legal codes and customs, but not all Jews accepted that the Talmud had religious
authority. The six orders of the Mishna include Zeraim (Agriculture) laws pertaining to agriculture;
Moedh (Feasts or Seasons) laws concerning the Sabbath and festivals; Nashim (Women) laws
regarding vows, marriage, and divorce; Neziqin (Civil and Criminal Law) laws concerning civil
and criminal matters; Qodhashim (Sacrifices and Holy Things) laws regulating ritual slaughter,
sacrifice, and holy objects; and Teharoth (Purification) laws regarding ceremonial purity.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
Photo I-2-2. Expulsion of the Albigensians from Carcassone in 1209
Map I-2-2. Medieval Jewish Migration
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
2-2. The Seljuk Turks and the Crusades
The Seljuk Turks: The Seljuks were a nomadic from Central Asia, who had been converted to
Islam and served as mercenaries for the Abbasids. Togrul Beg (993?-1063) was born to the Seljuk
clan of the Sunni Muslim tribe of Oghuz Turks. He and his brother Chaghri were chiefs of the
Seljuks, who led his people to move into Khorasan in 1035. Building up armed forces, they
expelled the Ghanznevids from the eastern kingdoms of Persia in 1040 and drove them further out
to the banks of the Indus. While Chaghri remained as ruler of Khorasan, Togrul defeated the
Shiite Buwayhids at Baghdad in 1055, and forced the Abbasids to accept the Seljuks as military
protectors of the kingdom. As a result, Sunni Islam dominated over Shia Islam in the region, and
the separation between secular and spiritual rulers was legally justified. Togrul tried to ally with
Shia Muslims by the marriage of Togrul’s sister with the successor of the prophet, but they
“disdained to mingle the blood of the Hashemites with the blood of a Scythian shepherd.”
According to Edward Gibbon, “In his own dominion, Togrul was the father of his soldiers and
people; by a firm and equal administration, Persia was relieved from the evils of anarchy; and the
same hands which had been imbrued in blood became the guardians of justice and the public peace.
The more rustic, perhaps the wisest, portion of the Turkmans continued to dwell in the tents of
their ancestors; and from the Oxus to the Euphrates, these military colonies were protected and
propagated by their native princes. But the Turks of the court and city were refined by business
and softened by pleasure; they imitated the dress, language, and manners of Persia; and the royal
palaces of Nishabur and Rei displayed the order and magnificence of a great monarchy. The most
deserving of the Arabians and Persians were promoted to the honors of the state; and the whole
body of the Turkish nation embraced with fervor and sincerity the religion of Muhammad.” 161
Togrul married in 1062 but died childless in the next year, and was succeeded by his nephew.
Alp Arslan (1063-72) had expanded and consolidated the Seljuk rule of Persia. He was “a
strong and just ruler, generally magnanimous, swift to punish tyranny or extortion among his
officials, and extremely charitable to the poor. He was devoted to the study of history, listening
with great pleasure and interest to chronicles of former kings, and to works that threw light on
their character, institutions, and methods of administration.” Alp Arslan “the lion-hearted hero”
raided the eastern territories of the Byzantine Empire, and crushed an imperial army at the battle
of Manzikert in Armenia in 1071. “His rapid and skillful evolutions distressed and dismayed the
superior numbers of the Greeks.” Capturing Emperor Romanus at the battle, Alp Arslan released
him by signing the treaty of peace, which forced the Byzantine to pay “a ransom of a million, an
annual tribute of three hundred and sixty thousand pieces of gold, the marriage of the royal
children, and the deliverance of all the Moslems who were in the power of the Greeks.” His
conquest was extended to Antioch with Syria and Palestine and to the Black Sea with Armenia
and Georgia. In the course of his continuous campaigns, he was assassinated by a dagger of the
rebel in 1072, when Romanus was also defeated by the rebel forces against him and soon died of
injury and a bad treatment in exile. Succeeding his father’s throne, Malik Shah (1072-92), after
the settlement of Persia and Syria, conquered Turkestan and stretched his immediate jurisdiction
or feudatory away from the Chinese frontier to the west and south “as far as the mountains of
Georgia, the neighborhood of Constantinople, the holy city of Jerusalem, and the spicy groves of
Arabia Felix.” The success of Malik Shah owed largely to his devoted prime minister, Nizam alMulk serving during 1064-92, who “organized and controlled administration, policy, and finance;
encouraged industry and trade; improved roads, bridges, and inns; and made them safe for all
wayfarers.” Nizam was murdered by a follower of his personal enemy in 1092. The death of the
king and his prime minister made the Seljuk dynasty decline rapidly.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
Map I-2-3. Seljuk Sultanate, 1040-1120
In fact, they established the Great Seljuk Empire, while the victory at the battle of Manzikert
in 1071 alarmed Christian states in Europe, which pushed them to launch the First Crusade in
1096. The Seljuks mixed with the local population and adopted the Persian culture and language
in the following decades. Nevertheless, their main enemies, were the Fatimids of Egypt and the
Umayyads in Spain. The Fatimids claimed themselves Shiite descendants of Fatima, Muhammad's
daughter, and her husband Ali, the fourth caliph. Salah ad-Din Ayyub or Saladin (1138-93) was
born to a Kurdish Muslim in Tikrit, Mesopotamia. Learning politics, war, and theology; Saladin
was sent to Egypt as a soldier and joined three distinguished expeditions. As the command, he
successfully defended Alexandria against the Crusaders in 1167. He became the commander-inchief of the Syrian army and a vizier of Egypt in 1169. As the Fatimid dynasty was weak in Egypt,
Saladin built his power base relying on his Kurdish family and supporters. Becoming the governor
of Egypt, he revitalized the economy, reorganized the army and navy, and repelled the Crusaders
by taking offensive measures. Suppressing the Fatimid regime, he reunited Egypt with the
orthodox Abbasid caliphate, and finally founded the Ayyubid dynasty in 1175. Moving his capital
to Damascus in 1181, Saladin conquered Mesopotamia. In 1187, he invaded the kingdom of
Jerusalem, defeated Christians, and captured the city; so that the western Christian states launched
the Third Crusade, but could not defeat the Saladin’s army. “Islam gloried in the integrity and
justice of his rule, and Christendom acknowledged in him an infidel gentleman.” Al-Malik
Baibars (1260-77), who was a Turkish slave from Central Asia and was trained in the Egyptian
army, rose to the commander of the Mamluk Sultanate. Defeating the Crusaders and the Mongols
in many battles, Baibars became sultan who ruled Egypt to be the most powerful Muslim state.
His armies overran Armenia and penetrated deeply into Asia Minor, and defeated the Seljuk Turks.
The Mamluks lasted until the Ottoman conquest of Egypt in 1517.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
Causes of the Crusades and Mobilization: By the eighth century, the Muslims conquered
North Africa, Palestine and Syria, and most of Spain from the Christians. The Fatimids rising
from Tunisia established a Shiite dynasty in Egypt in 960, which became a dynamic center of the
Islamic world by pursuing its religious policy and creating a strong military based on mercenaries
from the Seljuk Turks. Meanwhile, the Seljuk Turks led by Togrul Beg invaded Iran in 1035,
captured Baghdad in 1055, and secured military and political power as the Sunnite caliphate under
the dominance of Shiite princes of the Abbasid dynasty. The rise of the Seljuk Turks threatened
Egypt as well as Byzantine. On the other hand, the two religious leaders of Latin and Greek
churches formally excommunicated each other in 1054 and initiated a schism between Rome and
Constantinople. The Normans occupied the Byzantine lands of southern Italy and Sicily, and
invaded Greece which threatened Balkans. The Seljuk Turks defeated the Byzantine army at
Manzikert in 1071, advanced into Anatolia and occupied Jerusalem, and easily reached Bosporus
at Constantinople. Alexius I Comnenus (1081-1118) of Byzantine emperor secured the Adriatic
coast against the Normans, but faced lack of resources in campaigns against the Seljuk Turks. 162
Alexius requested military assistance to pope Urban II to recruit mercenaries. The pope used this
opportunity to provide papal leadership in Europe and reunite the Christian church under his
leadership. At the Council of Clermont in southern France in 1095, Urban preached that Christians
should take up their weapons against the infidel and participate in a war to recover the holy land
by promising of remission of sins. Urban wanted to help the Greeks against the Turks, and
proclaimed the liberation of Jerusalem and the recovery of Tarragona in Spain. “All medieval
development, all the expansion of commerce and Christendom, all the fervor of religious belief,
all the power of feudalism and glamor of chivalry” came into the climate of the Crusades.
Map I-2-4. The Crusades, 1096-1204
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
Bill Durant describes the causes as follows. (i) “The first proximate cause of the Crusades
was the advance of the Seljuq Turks. The world had adjusted itself to Moslem control of the Near
East; the Fatimids of Egypt had ruled mildly in Palestine; and barring some exceptions, the
Christian sects there had enjoyed a wide liberty of worship. Al-Hakim, the mad caliph of Cairo,
had destroyed the church of the Holy Sepulcher (1100), but the Mohammedans themselves had
contributed substantially to its restoration….Christian pilgrims had free access to the holy places;
a pilgrimage to Palestine had long been a form of devotion or penance; everywhere in Europe one
met ‘palmers’ who, as a sign of pilgrimage accomplished, wore crossed palm leaves from Palestine;
such men….had leave to lie all their lives thereafter. But in 1070 the Turks took Jerusalem from
the Fatimids, and pilgrims began to bring home accounts of oppression and desecration. An old
story, not verifiable, relates that one wayfarer, Peter the Hermit, brought to Pope Urban II, from
Simeon, Patriarch of Jerusalem, a letter detailing the persecution of Christians there, and imploring
papal aid (1088).” (ii) “The second proximate cause of the Crusades was the dangerous weakening
of the Byzantine Empire. For seven centuries it had stood at the crossroads of Europe and Asia,
holding back the armies of Asia and the hordes of the steppes. Now its internal discords, its
disruptive heresies, its isolation from the West by the schism of 1054, left it too feeble to fulfill its
historic task. While the Bulgars….and Russians assaulted its European gates, the Turks were
dismembering its Asiatic provinces. In 1071 the Byzantine army was almost annihilated as
Manzikert; the Seljuqs....gazed across the Bosporus at Constantinople itself. The Emperor Alexius
I saved the part of Asia Minor by signing a humiliating peace, but he had no military means of
resisting further attack. If Constantinople should fall, all Eastern Europe would lie open to the
Turks….Forgetting theological pride, Alexius sent delegates to Urban II….urging Latin Europe
to help him drive back the Turks; it would be wiser, he argued, to fight the infidels on Asiatic soil
than wait for them to swarm through the Balkans to the Western capitals.”163
(iii) “The third proximate cause of the Crusades was the ambition of the Italian cities – Pisa,
Genoa, Venice, Amalfi – to extend their rising commercial power. When the Normans captured
Sicily from the Moslems (1060-91), and Christian arms reduced Moslem rule in Spain (1085), the
western Mediterranean was freed for Christian trade; the Italian cities, as ports of exit for domestic
and transalpine products, grew rich and strong, and planned to end Moslem ascendancy in the
eastern Mediterranean, and open the markets of the Near East to West European goods. We do
not know how close these Italian merchants were to the ear of the Pope.” (iv) “The final decision
came from Urban himself. Other popes had entertained the idea. Gerbert, as Sylvester II, had
appealed to Christendom to rescue Jerusalem, and an abortive expedition had landed in Syria
(1001). Gregory VII, amid his consuming strife with Henry IV, had exclaimed, ‘I would rather
expose my life in delivering the holy places than reign over the universe.’ That quarrel was still
hot when Urban presided over the Council of Piacenza in March of 1095. He supported the plea
of Alexius’ legates there, but counseled delay till a more widely representative assembly might
consider a war against Islam. He was too well informed to picture victory as certain in so distance
an enterprise; he doubtless foresaw that failure would seriously damage the prestige of Christianity
and the Church. Probably he longed to channel the disorderly pugnacity of feudal barons and
Norman buccaneers into a holy war to save Europe and Byzantium from Islam; he dreamed of
bringing the Eastern Church again under papal rule, and visioned a mighty Christendom united
under the theocracy of the popes, with Rome once more the capital of the world. It was a
conception of the highest order of statesmanship.” 164 Thus, the major causes were the advances
of the Seljuk Turks and the fall of Jerusalem into the hands of the Muslims, the weakening of the
Byzantine requiring a protection by the Christian world, the Muslim threat of Italian commerce in
the eastern Mediterranean, and the papal interest coming from the recapture of Jerusalem.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
The standard Christian criteria for justifiable war had been developed in the fourth century:
“a right intention on the part of the participants, which should always be expressed through love
of God and neighbor; a just cause; and legitimate proclamation by a qualified authority.” But the
holy wars such as the Crusades required two additional premises. The first was that the violence
was not intrinsically evil: if the intention was altruistic, then the violence could be regarded as
being positively good. The second was that sacred violence, which was a personal commitment
to defend the Christian world, should be morally imperative to fight. A crusade was a holy war
fought against the external and internal foes of Christendom for the recovery of Christian property
or in defense of the Church or Christian people. Since the Muslims in the East and in Spain had
occupied Christian territory, and imposed infidel tyranny on the Christians living there, the war
was believed to be directly authorized by Christ himself, the incarnate God, through the pope.165
Although the Crusades were justified theoretically or spiritually, the mobilization of international
forces might possibly cause some critics. Politically, the wars with Islam were coming to involve
the defense of Europe itself, such as with the aim of driving the Turks from the Hungarian frontier
rather than liberating Jerusalem. Moreover, during the wars, the Christians did not stop to fight
against each other to expand their own domains; while the conflict between the popes and the
European rulers continued for political hegemony. Strategically, the Spaniards argued that the best
way to protect Jerusalem was to extend the Re-conquest into a liberation of North Africa; and the
Teutonic Knights of Germany used Prussia as a training-ground for Palestine, and conquered
Lithuania and established the Teutonic state later. Economically, Italian commerce would benefit
from the Crusades rather than initial objectives. For Pope Urban II, the mobilization of resources
was the matter; but for the European rulers, there was a conflict of interests between theoretical
acceptance and empirical mobilization in terms of benefits and costs of each state.
In order to mobilize resources, “A plenary indulgence remitting all punishments due to sin
was offered to those who should fall in the war. Serfs were allowed to leave the soil to which they
had been bound; citizens were exempted from taxes; debtors enjoyed a moratorium on interest;
prisoners were freed, and sentences of death were commuted, by a bold extension of papal
authority, to life serve in Palestine. Thousands of vagrants joined in the sacred tramp. Men tired
of hopeless poverty, adventurers ready for brave enterprise, younger sons hoping to carve out fiefs
for themselves in the East, merchant seeking new markets for their goods, knights whose enlisting
serfs had left them labor-less, timid spirits shunning taunts of cowardice, joined with sincerely
religious souls to rescue the land of Christ’s birth and death. Propaganda of the kind customary
in war stressed the disabilities of Christians in Palestine, the atrocities of Muslims, the blasphemies
of the Mohammedan creed; Muslims were described as worshiping a statue of Mohammed, and
pious gossip related how the Prophet, fallen in an epileptic fit, had been eaten alive by hogs.
Fabulous tales were told of Oriental wealth, and of dark beauties waiting to be taken by brave
men.”166 Such a variety of motives could hardly assemble homogeneous mass capable for military
operations. In many cases, women and children insisted upon accompanying their husbands and
parents; but mostly, providing financial and moral support for the crusaders, women were taking
responsibility to maintain the household in the absence of men. Land holders left control of their
estates to regents, often wives or mothers; while the Church provided special papal protection for
families and estates as part of the crusading privilege. Several hundred thousand of Christians,
from all over Western Europe under feudal rather than unified command, became crusaders by
taking a public vow and receiving plenary indulgences from the church. Pope Urban II promised
forgiveness of all sins (immunity) to whoever took up the cross and joined in the war, while there
were other additional motivations to take up the cross - opportunity for economic or political gain,
desire for adventure, and the feudal obligation to follow one’s lord into battle.167
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
The First Crusade (1095-9): The papacy had worried about the disintegration of the eastern
frontier of Christendom, so that the Turkish advances had led Pope Gregory VII in 1074 to make
an extra-ordinary proposal to lead personally a force of as many as 50,000 volunteers to liberate
their Christian brothers in the East. Pope Urban II (1088-99), who was born to a noble family of
Northern France and received good education, entered a Burgundian abbey of Cluny, and became
one of the most active supporters of the Gregorian reforms. Being sent as papal legate to Germany
in 1084, he served at the Roman curia under Gregory VII and became elected pope. Urban had
kept in touch with the Byzantine emperor from the beginning of his pontificate to improve
relations between the Latin and Greek churches. He took up the policies of Gregory and renewed
declarations against simony, lay investitures, clerical marriages, and continued to oppose to Henry
IV. When preached, Urban proclaimed a war with two liberating fronts: freeing of churches in
Asia from the Turks, and the same in Spain from the Moors. In the East, Urban not only intended
to liberate Jerusalem, which made the crusade a pilgrimage; but also concerned to help the Greeks
against the Turks, to improve relations with the patriarchate of Constantinople. He preached the
crusade as a pilgrimage and extended the privileges and practices of pilgrims to crusaders. Their
charters indicated that the crusaders regarded themselves as pilgrims; and while on crusade, they
engaged in the devotional and liturgical exercises characteristic of pilgrims. “On his tour of France,
Urban tried to forbid certain people (including women, monks, and the sick) from joining the
crusade, but found this nearly impossible. In the end, most who took up the call were not knights,
but peasants who were not wealthy and had little in the way of fighting skills, in an outpouring of
a new emotional and personal piety that was not easily harnessed by the ecclesiastical and lay
aristocracy.” It was hard to assemble a homogeneous mass, capable for military operations, who
came from various motives. Appealing to French knights, Urban II tried to revive an alliance
between France and the papacy, which had not been operative for two centuries.
In July 1095, Urban II turned to his homeland of France to recruit men for the expedition. His
travels there culminated in the Council of Clermont in November, where he gave an impassioned
sermon to a large audience of French nobles and clergy, “graphically detailing the fantastical
atrocities being committed against pilgrims and eastern Christians.”168 After Clermont, Urban not
only preached the crusade personally during his journey through France; but also sent letters or
embassies to Flanders, Genoa, Bologna, Pisa and Milan; and the crusade was discussed at councils
he held at Bari in October 1089 and Rome in April 1099. It soon became clear that there was going
to be a significant response in France, Italy and South and West Germany. Despite this popular
enthusiasm, at first, most western Europeans did not respond at all to the pope’s summons. They
had been on pilgrimage; a meaningful number of knights had served in the Byzantine forces as
mercenaries. They were expected to bring with them the equipment, horses, and servants required
to fulfil their function efficiently. Moreover, substantial sums of money were required by a knight
before he could contemplate going on crusade; landless knights did go but at the expense of richer
men.169 Nevertheless, the speeches of Urban II for nine months were influential enough to move
some of the nobility as well as thousands of commonality to pledge themselves to join the crusade.
The great French nobles and their trained armies of knights were not the first to undertake the
journey towards Jerusalem. Urban had planned the departure of the first crusade for 15 August
1096, but months before this, a number of unexpected armies of peasants and petty nobles set off
for Jerusalem on their own, led by a charismatic priest called Peter the Hermit. Peter was the most
successful of the preachers to mobilize the crusaders with an almost hysterical enthusiasm. “It is
commonly believed that Peter led a massive group of untrained and illiterate peasants who did not
even have any idea where Jerusalem was, but indeed there were many knights among the peasants,
including Walter Sans Avoir, who was lieutenant to Peter and led a separate army.”
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
Map I-2-5. Route of the First Crusade through Asia
The first wave (People’s Crusade): The troops under Walter Sansavoir entered Hungary on
21 May 1096 and marched in an orderly way to Constantinople, where he joined parties of Italian
pilgrims. Peter the Hermit from France crossed the Balkans via Hungary, reached Constantinople,
and joined Walter, with numbering of total 12,000 men. Separate bands of crusades from France,
Germany, and Italy arrived. Being quite penniless before arriving Constantinople, and decimated
by famine, plague, leprosy, fever, and battles on the way; they were welcomed by Alexius, but not
satisfactorily fed; they broke into the suburbs, and plundered churches, houses, and palaces. To
deliver his capital from the disorder, Alexius provided them with vessels to cross the Bosporus,
sent them supplies, and bade them wait until better armed detachments could arrive. Crossing into
Asia Minor, the crusaders split up and began to pillage the countryside, wandering into Seljuk
territory around Nicaea. Through hunger or restlessness, the Crusaders ignored the instructions of
Alexius, and advanced upon Nicaea. Peter’s impatient followers took to raiding the surrounding
countryside. The Germans and Italians, who arrived separately, broke away and established each
base beyond Nicaea, but they both were surrounded by the Turks and surrendered eight days later.
The French crusaders advanced into interior and were ambushed by the Turks and annihilated. A
disciplined force of Turks, all skilled bowmen, marched out from the city and almost annihilated
this first division of the First Crusade - Walter was among the dead. Peter, who was absent in
Constantinople at the time, later joined the main crusader army, along with the few survivors.
From the early start, there was scant provision to feed troops, whose unexperienced leaders had
underestimated the distance, while they advanced along the Rhine and the Danube. Moreover, the
Byzantine government was unprepared, and Peter and Walter did not have adequate forces to fight
in Asia Minor.170 The preaching for the First Crusade ignited violence against Jews at the local
level. In the late 1095 and early 1096, believing that Jew and Muslims were equally enemies of
Christ, people attacked Jewish communities in France and Germany. The attackers seemed to have
wanted to force the Jews to convert, and also to acquire money from them.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
The second wave (Princes’ Crusade): There was no king among crusaders. “Philip I of France,
William II of England, and Henry IV of Germany were all under sentence of excommunication
when Urban preached the crusade. But many counts and dukes enlisted, nearly all of them French
or Frank; the First Crusade was largely a French enterprise.” Count Hugh I of Vermandois left
France in the mid-August 1096 and travelled to Bari, from where he set sail for Durazzo. A storm
scattered his fleet, so failed in the mission. The troops under Godfrey, Raymond, and Bohemond
arrived in Constantinople during several months until April 1097. The size of the entire crusaders
were about 30,000-35,000 including 5,000 cavalry, in which Raymond had the largest contingent
of about 8,500 infantry and 1,200 cavalry. 171 Being more prepared for the crusaders at this time,
the Byzantine emperor wanted to recapture lands that the Seljuk Turks had taken, but the crusaders
had the main aim liberating Jerusalem. Alexius demanded a promise of return of all the land to be
liberated and an oath of homage and fealty, which were accepted by the crusade but impracticable.
The crusaders found that the emperor was reluctant to take on the burden of leadership, apparently
only interested in the recovery of imperial territories, so that most of the crusaders distrusted him.
The crusading army of some thousands of cavalry and 10,000 foot soldiers captured Antioch in
1098 after almost eight months of siege: Boehmond became Prince of Antioch by graceful consent.
Formally he held the region in fief to Alexius, but actually he ruled it as an independent sovereign;
the chieftains claimed the Alexius’ failure to come to their aid released them from their vows of
allegiance. After spending six month in refreshing and reorganizing their weakened forces, they
led their armies toward Jerusalem. After the campaign of three years, the Crusaders reduced to
12,000 combatants, and stood in exaltation and fatigue before the walls of Jerusalem. 172 They
finally occupied the city in 1099 and established the kingdom of Jerusalem that was divided into
four feudal principalities including Antioch, Edessa, Tripoli, and Jerusalem.
The third wave: “Having captured Jerusalem and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the
crusading vow had hence been fulfilled. However, there were many who had gone home before
reaching Jerusalem, and many who had never left Europe at all. When the success of the crusade
became known, these people were mocked and scorned by their families and threatened with
excommunication by the Pope. Many crusaders who had remained with the crusade all the way to
Jerusalem also went home.” 173 There were only a few hundred knights left in the newfound
kingdom in 1100. Godfrey himself only ruled for one year, dying in July 1100, and was succeeded
by his brother, Baldwin of Edessa (1100-18), the first person to take the title King of Jerusalem.
The first crusaders of the third wave were the Lombards who left Millan in September 1100.
Wintering in Bulgaria, they encamped outside Constantinople for two months in the spring of
1101 as they waited for other crusaders from Germany and France. The armies of the third wave
were as large as those of the first in 1096. Alexius tried to force them to cross the Bosporus by
refusing them to buy supplies. At Izmit they were joined by the first and smaller of the German
armies, and by men from Burgundy and northern France under Stephen of Blois and by Raymond
of St. Gilles, who had reached Constantinople in the summer of 1100. The new crusaders planned
to enter Iraq from the north and lay siege to Baghdad itself, but they panicked and fled, when they
met a coalition of Turkish princes. The second army under William of Nevers reached
Constantinople in June 1101, overtaking the force of William of Aquitaine, which was already
there, crossed the Bosporus and attacked Conya but failed to take town and the crusaders were
routed. The third army under William of Aquitaine joined by Welf of Bavaria reached
Constantinople and followed the passage of the second wave, but their army was ambushed and
annihilated. William and Welf escaped; most gathered in Jerusalem and attacked Egypt but were
defeated in May 1102 and Stephen was killed. Like the first wave, the third wave also failed due
to lack of provision and military skills without firm leadership.174
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
Thus, the First Crusade succeeded in establishing the crusader states in Palestine and Syria:
county of Edessa under Baldwin, principality of Antioch under Bohemond, kingdom of Jerusalem
under Godfrey, and county of Tripoli under Raymond as appeared in Map I-2-6. The kingdom of
Jerusalem maintained the feudal system of government by holding other three states as fiefs. The
presence of Latin states in Asia Minor caused for the Byzantine to lose lands, manpower, and tax
revenue. Since the supplies of Latin states came through Italian ports, the Byzantine faced more
competition in trade and transportation. Religious differences and economic losses deteriorated
the relations between the Latin and the Greek states. During the period, the two military monastic
orders rose to defend the Latin states in the East. The Knights of the Temple (the Templars) took
a religious oath and began to serve as escorts for pilgrims to Jerusalem. In 1118, the French Knight
Hugues proposed creating a monastic order for the protection of pilgrims to King Baldwin II of
Jerusalem and its patriarch. The King accepted and granted the Templars a headquarters in a wing
of the royal palace. The order had few financial resources, but in 1129, St. Bernard of Clairvaux
endorsed the Order on behalf of the Cistercian Church: with the formal blessing, the Templars
became to receive money, land, and business; and noble-born sons were eager to help with the
fight in the Holy Land. Moreover, in 1139, Pope Innocent II issued a bull that exempted the Order
from obedience to local laws; that allowed the Templars could freely pass through all borders.
With its clear mission and ample resources, the Order grew rapidly. Templars were often the
advance striking troops in key battles of the Crusades. 175 Moreover, The Knights of St. John’s of
Jerusalem (the Hospitallers) organized a hospital to help sick pilgrims in the Holy Land. During
the First Crusade, the Order became a religious and military order under its own Papal charter,
and it was charged with the care and defense of the Holy Land. The Order operated from Rhodes,
but later from Malta under the Spanish viceroy of Sicily. 176 The two religious orders provided
almost one thousand knights to defend Jerusalem; which orders spread widely.
Back at home in Western Europe, those who had survived to reach Jerusalem were treated as
heroes. The life of Godfrey of Bouillon became
legendary even within a few years of his death. In
some cases, the political situation at home was
greatly affected by crusader absences. “For instance,
while Robert Curthose was away on crusade, the
throne of England had passed to his brother Henry I
of England instead, and their resultant conflict led to
the Battle of Tinchebray in 1106. Meanwhile, the
establishment of the crusader states in the east
helped ease Seljuk pressure on the Byzantine, which
had regained some of its Anatolian territory with
crusader help, and experienced a period of relative
peace and prosperity in the 12th century. The effect
on the Muslim dynasties of the east was gradual but
important.”177 After the death of Malik Shah I in
1092, the political instability and the division of
Seljuq Empire had prevented a coherent defense
against the Latin states. Cooperation between them
remained difficult for decades, but the expulsion of
the crusaders was called when the Ayyubids rose.
Map I-2-6. The Crusader States after the First Crusade, 1135
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
The Second Crusade (the King’s Crusade 1145-9): The Muslim forces of Zengi recaptured
the County of Edessa in 1144: the loss of the capital of the first Latin state in the East made a great
impression in the West, but there were spontaneous reaction on the Muslim side as well. Receiving
the news, Pope Eugene III commissioned St. Bernard of Clairvaux to preach the Second Crusade,
and granted the same indulgences for it that Pope Urban II had accorded to the First Crusade.
Bernard persuaded European kings, Louis VII of France and Conrad III of Germany, with a
number of other European nobles. Eventually, five armies converged on the east, four more armies
took the field on north-eastern Europe, and four campaigns were launched in the Iberian Peninsula.
As the German army of 20,000 men arrived in Byzantine territory, Manuel I Comnenus feared
that they were going to attack him, and his troops were posted to ensure there was no trouble.
Crossing into Asia Minor, Conrad marched towards Iconium, capital of the Seljuq Sultanate. He
split his army into two divisions. “Conrad took the knights and the best troop with himself to
march overland, while sending the camp followers with Otto of Freising to follow the coastal
road. The king led one of these, which was almost totally destroyed by the Seljuqs on 25 October
1147 at the second battle of Dorylaeum. In battle, the Turks used their typical tactic of pretending
to retreat, and then returning to attack the small force of German cavalry which had separated from
the main army to chase them. Conrad began a slow retreat back to Constantinople, and his army
was harassed daily by the Turks, who attacked stragglers and defeated the rearguard. Even Conrad
was wounded in a skirmish with them. The other division, led by the King's half-brother,
Bishop Otto of Freising, had marched south to the Mediterranean coast and was similarly defeated
early in 1148. The force led by Otto ran out of food while crossing inhospitable countryside and
was ambushed by the Seluq Turks near Laodicea on 16 November 1147. The majority of Otto's
force were either killed in battle or captured and sold into slavery.”178
As the French Crusades led by Louis VII reached Constantinople, Manuel had broken off his
military campaign against the Sultanate of Rûm, signing a truce with his enemy Sultan Mesud I.
This was done so that Manuel would be free to concentrate on defending his empire from the
Crusaders, who had gained a reputation for theft and treachery in the past. As the armies from
other regions arrived, the entire army was shipped across the Bosporus to Asia Minor. Both the
Germans and French therefore entered Asia without any Byzantine assistance, since Byzantium
had just been invaded by Roger II of Sicily, and his forces were needed in the Peloponnese. “The
French met the remnants of Conrad's army at Nicaea, and Conrad joined Louis' force. They
followed Otto of Freising's route, moving closer to the Mediterranean coast, and they arrived
at Ephesus in December, where they learned that the Turks were preparing to attack them. Manuel
also sent ambassadors complaining about the pillaging and plundering that Louis had done along
the way, and there was no guarantee that the Byzantines would assist them against the Turks.
Meanwhile, Conrad fell sick and returned to Constantinople, where Manuel attended to him
personally, and Louis, paying no attention to the warnings of a Turkish attack, marched out from
Ephesus with the French and German survivors. The Turks were indeed waiting to attack, but in
a small battle outside Ephesus, the French were victorious. The French fended off another Turkish
ambush at the Meander River. They reached Laodicea early in January 1148, around the same
time Otto of Freising's army had been destroyed in the same area. Resuming the march, the
vanguard under Amadeus of Savoy became separated from the rest of the army at Mount Cadmus,
and Louis’ troops suffered heavy losses from the Turks....Louis no longer wanted to continue by
land, and it was decided to gather a fleet at Adalia and sail for Antioch. After being delayed for a
month by storms, most of the promised ships did not arrive at all. Louis and his associates claimed
the ships for themselves, while the rest of the army had to resume the long march to Antioch. The
army was almost entirely destroyed, either by the Turks or by sickness.”179
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
Map I-2-7. The Mediterranean World after the Second Crusade in 1173
Eventually arriving in Antioch in March after being delayed by storms, Louis was welcomed
by Eleanor’s uncle Raymond of Poitiers. Raymond expected him to help defend against the Turks
and to accompany him on an expedition against Aleppo, the Muslim city that was the gateway to
Edessa, but Louis refused. He quickly left Antioch for Tripoli with Eleanor due to her affairs with
Raymond. Meanwhile, Otto of Freising and his remnant troops arrived in Jerusalem early in April,
and Conrad soon after. Patriarch of Jerusalem was sent to invite Louis to join them. The original
focus of the crusade was Edessa, but the preferred target of King Baldwin III and the Knights
Templar was Damascus. In response to arrival of the crusaders, the ruler of Damascus prepared
war by strengthening its fortifications. The nobility of Jerusalem welcomed the arrival of troops,
and the Council of Acre decided to attack Damascus. In July their armies of 50,000 assembled and
marched to Damascus. The following day, the Muslims were prepared for the attack and constantly
attacked the advancing army. The crusaders were pushed back from the wall into the orchards,
where they were prone to ambushes and guerrilla attacks. The local crusader lords refused to carry
on with the siege, and the three kings had no choice but to abandon the city. Conrad decided to
retreat back to Jerusalem on 28 July 1148, followed by the rest of the army.
Each of the forces felt betrayed by the other. “A new plan was made to attack Ascalon and
Conrad took his troops there, but no further help arrived, due to the lack of trust that had resulted
from the failed siege. This mutual distrust would linger for a generation due to the defeat, to the
ruin of the Christian kingdoms in the Holy Land. After quitting Ascalon, Conrad returned to
Constantinople to further his alliance with Manuel. Louis remained behind in Jerusalem until
1149.”180 Back in Europe, Bernard was humiliated by the defeat of the Crusade; excusing with
the sins of the crusaders. The Wendish Crusade against the Slavs led by the Saxons achieved
mixed results. The crusade expanded into the Iberian Peninsula against the Moors was successful;
freeing Lisbon from the Moors in October 1147. In sum, the lack of coordination between armies
brought failure of the Second Crusade. In the forty years of peace followed by the Second Crusade,
the Muslims were strengthened while the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem was torn with internal strife.
Many Christian settlers married Syrian women, and their mixed offspring used Arabic language.
Christian princes made alliance with Muslim emirs against Christian rivals, and Muslim emirs
asked help from them in return. As a result, Saladin, a rising Muslim leader, conquered Egypt and
Syria in 1175 and captured Jerusalem in 1187 to be discussed below.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
The Third Crusades (1189-92): In the Kingdom of Jerusalem, “Baldwin IV died in 1185,
and the kingdom was left to his nephew Baldwin V, whom he had crowned as co-king in
1183. Raymond III of Tripoli again served as regent. The following year, Baldwin V died before
his ninth birthday, and his mother Princess Sybilla, sister of Baldwin IV, crowned herself queen
and her husband, Guy of Lusignan, king. Raynald again raided a rich caravan and had its travelers
thrown in prison. Saladin demanded that the prisoners and their cargo be released. The newly
crowned King Guy appealed to Raynald to give in to Saladin's demands, but Raynald refused to
follow the king's orders.” At this time, the Kingdom of Jerusalem was divided into several factions.
Meanwhile, the Muslim states surrounding the kingdom had been united during the 1170s and
1180s by Saladin, who “had been appointed vizier of Egypt in 1169 and soon came to rule the
country as sultan. In 1174, he imposed his rule over Damascus; his authority extended to Aleppo
by 1176 and Mosul by 1183.” For the first time, the Kingdom of Jerusalem was encircled by
Muslim territory united under one ruler. In late May Saladin assembled the largest army he had
ever commanded, around some 30,000 men including about 12,000 regular cavalry. “He inspected
his forces at Tell-Ashtara before crossing the River Jordan on June 30. The opposing Crusader
army amassed at Zippori; it consisted of around 20,000 men, including 1,200 knights from
Jerusalem and Tripoli and 50 from Antioch. Though the army was smaller than Saladin's it was
still larger than those usually mustered by the Crusaders.” Saladin preferred to take the city without
bloodshed and offered generous terms, but those inside refused to leave their holy city, vowing to
destroy it in a fight to the death rather than see it handed over peacefully. The siege began and
lasted from September 20 to October 2, 1187, when Balian of Iblin surrendered the city to Saladin.
The Muslim armies under Saladin captured or killed the vast majority of the Crusader forces,
removing their capacity to wage war. As a result, Islamic forces once again became the eminent
military power in the Holy Land, reconquering Jerusalem and several other Crusader-cities.
When William, archbishop of Tyre, returned to Europe and appealed for aid, Pope Gregory
VIII proclaimed that the capture of Jerusalem was punishment for the Christian sins across Europe.
Spurred by religious zeal, King Henry II of England and King Philip II of France ended their
conflict with each other to lead a new crusade. The elderly Holy Roman Emperor Frederick
Barbarossa also responded to the call immediately. “He took up the Cross at Mainz Cathedral on
27 March 1188 and was the first to set out for the Holy Land in May 1189 with an army of about
100,000 men, including 20,000 knights. An army of 2,000 men from the Hungarian prince Géza,
the younger brother of the king Béla III of Hungary, also went with Barbarossa to the Holy Land.
The Byzantine Emperor Isaac II Angelus made a secret alliance with Saladin to impede Frederick's
progress in exchange for his empire's safety….While crossing the Saleph River on 10 June 1190,
Frederick's horse slipped, throwing him against the rocks; he then drowned in the river. After this,
much of his army returned to Germany in anticipation of the upcoming Imperial election. The
Emperor's son, Frederick of Swabia, led the remaining 5,000 men to Antioch.”
Henry II of England died on July 6, 1189, and his son Richard inherited the crown and
immediately began raising funds for the crusade. “In the meantime, some of his subjects departed
in multiple waves by sea. Some of them together with contingents from the Holy Roman Empire
and France conquered the Moorish city of Silves in Iberia during the summer of 1189, before
continuing to the Holy Land. In April 1190, King Richard's fleet departed from Dartmouth under
the command of Richard de Camville and Robert de Sable on their way to meet their king in
Marseille. Parts of this fleet helped the Portuguese monarch Sancho I defeat an Almohad counterattack against Santarém and Torres Novas, while another group ransacked Christian Lisbon, only
to be routed by the Portuguese monarch. Richard and Philip II met in France at Vézelay and set
out together on 4 July 1190 as far as Lyon where they parted after agreeing to meet in Sicily;
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
Richard with his retinue, said to number 800, marched to Marseille and Philip to Genoa. Richard
arrived in Marseille and found that his fleet had not arrived; he quickly tired of waiting for them
and hiring ships, left for Sicily on 7 August, visiting several places in Italy en route and arrived
in Messina on 23 September. Meanwhile, the English fleet finally arrived in Marseille on 22
August, and finding that Richard had gone, sailed directly to Messina, arriving before him on 14
September. Philip had hired a Genoese fleet to transport his army, which consisted of 650 knights,
1,300 horses, and 1,300 squires to the Holy Land by way of Sicily.” Shortly after setting sail from
Sicily, “King Richard's armada of 180 ships and 39galleys was struck by a violent storm. Several
ships ran aground, including one holding Joan, his new fiancée Berengaria and a large amount of
treasure that had been amassed for the crusade. It was soon discovered that Isaac Dukas Comnenus
of Cyprus had seized the treasure. The young women were unharmed. Richard entered Limassol
on May 6 and met with Isaac, who agreed to return Richard's belongings and to send 500 of his
soldiers to the Holy Land. Richard made camp at Limassol, where he received a visit from Guy of
Lusignan, the King of Jerusalem, and married Berengaria who was crowned queen.”\ Once back
at his fortress of Famagusta, Isaac broke his oath of hospitality and issued orders for Richard to
leave the island, which made him conquer the island within days, leaving on 5 June 1191.181
Saladin released King Guy from prison in 1189, who turned his attention to the wealthy port
of Acre. He amassed an army to besiege the city and received aid from Philip’s newly arrived
French army. There were numerous outbreaks of disease in summer 1190 in the camp, and further
outbreaks of dysentery and fever during the winter of 1190-1. Leopold V of Austria arrived and
took command of what remained of the imperial forces. Philip of France arrived with his troops
from Sicily in May, and Richard of England arrived at Acre in June 1911. Capturing Acre 12 July,
Richard, Philip, and Leopold quarreled over the spoils of the victory. Philip and Leopold took
their armies and left the Holy Land in August: Philip left 10,000 crusaders with 5,000 silver marks
to pay them. Richard became sole leader of the third crusade, while the French army repeatedly
disobeyed the orders and frustrated his strategy. Winning the battle of Arsuf in September, the
Crusader army advanced inland towards Jerusalem. However, Richard had intended to return to
England when he heard that Saladin’s army had captured Jaffa.
“Richard and a small force of little more than 2,000 men went to Jaffa by sea in a surprise
attack. Richard's forces stormed Jaffa from their ships and the Ayyubids, who had been unprepared
for a naval attack, were driven from the city. Richard freed those of the Crusader garrison who
had been made prisoner, and these troops helped to reinforce the numbers of his army. Saladin's
army still had numerical superiority, however, and they counter-attacked. Saladin intended a
stealthy surprise attack at dawn, but his forces were discovered; he proceeded with his attack, but
his men were lightly armored and suffered heavy casualties due to the missiles of the large
numbers of Crusader crossbowmen. The battle to retake Jaffa ended in complete failure for
Saladin, who was forced to retreat. This battle greatly strengthened the position of the coastal
Crusader states. On 2 September 1192, following his defeat at Jaffa, Saladin was forced to finalize
a treaty with Richard providing that Jerusalem would remain under Muslim control, while
allowing unarmed Christian pilgrims and traders to visit the city. Ascalon was a contentious issue
as it threatened communication between Saladin's dominions in Egypt and Syria; it was eventually
agreed that Ascalon, with its defenses demolished, be returned to Saladin's control. Richard
departed the Holy Land on 9 October 1192.”182 “Though Richard's victories had deprived the
Muslims of important coastal territories and re-established a viable Frankish state in Palestine,
many Christians in the Latin West felt disappointed not to pursue the recapture of Jerusalem.”
Likewise, in the Islamic world many felt disturbed that Saladin had failed to drive the Christians
out of Syria and Palestine, though trade flourished throughout the region.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
The Fourth Crusade (1202-4): Saladin, the first Sultan of Egypt and Syria of the Ayyubid
dynasty, had conquered most of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, and the crusader states had been
reduced to three cities along the sea coast: Tyre, Tripoli, and Antioch. Although the Third Crusade
reclaimed much territory of the kingdom, including the key towns of Acre and Jaffa, Jerusalem
was still under the Muslim rule. The crusade significantly escalated long standing tensions
between the feudal states of Western Europe and the Byzantine Empire. During the Third Crusade,
“Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa, openly plotted with the Serbs, Bulgars, Byzantine
traitors, and even the Muslim Seljuks against the Eastern Empire and at one point sought Papal
support for a crusade against the Orthodox Byzantines. Crusaders also seized the breakaway
Byzantine province of Cyprus; rather than return it to the Empire, Richard I of England sold the
island to the Knights Templar. Barbarossa died on crusade, and his army quickly disintegrated,
leaving the English and French, who had come by sea, to fight Saladin. In 1195 Henry VI, son and
heir of Barbarossa, sought to efface this humiliation by declaring a new crusade, and in the summer
of 1197 a large number of German knights and nobles, headed by two archbishops, nine bishops,
and five dukes, sailed for Palestine. There they captured Sidon and Beirut, but at the news of
Henry's death in Messina along the way, many of the nobles and clerics returned to Europe.
Deserted by much of their leadership, the rank and file crusaders panicked before an Egyptian
army and fled to their ships in Tyre. Also in 1195 the Byzantine Emperor Isaac II Angelos was
deposed in favor of his brother by a palace coup.” The new emperor, Alexios III Angelos, had
also proven to be an incompetent ruler who had let the treasury dwindle. “Anxious to shore up his
position, Alexios bankrupted the treasury. His attempts to secure the support of semi-autonomous
border commanders undermined central authority. He neglected his crucial responsibilities for
defense and diplomacy. The emperor's chief admiral, Michael Stryphnos, reportedly sold the
fleet's equipment down to the very nails to enrich himself.”183
Succeeding his papacy in January 1198, Innocent III began to preach a new crusade as the
prime goal of his pontificate. His bull Post miserabile was largely ignored by European monarchs:
the Germans were struggling against papal power, and England and France renewed their warfare
against each other. Owing to the preaching of Priest Fulk Neuily, Boniface of Montferrat was
elected as a leader, who began to organize a crusading army. “Innocent announced the first direct
taxation of the universal church, the raising of the fortieth of all revenues for one year; grants to
crusaders were to be made out of this in each province by a committee of churchmen and laymen,
including members of the military orders.” The leaders sent envoys to Venice, Genoa, and other
city-states in 1200 to negotiate a contract for transport to Egypt, the object of their crusade. “An
attack on Egypt would clearly be a maritime enterprise, requiring the creation of a fleet. Genoa
was uninterested, but in March 1201 negotiations were opened with Venice, which agreed to
transport 33,500 crusaders, a very ambitious number. This agreement required a full year of
preparation on the part of the Venetians to build numerous ships and train the sailors who would
man them, all the while curtailing the city's commercial activities. The crusading army was
expected to consist of 4,500 knights and 4,500 horses, 9,000 squires, and 20,000 foot-soldiers.
The majority of the crusading army that set out from Venice in early October 1202 originated from
areas within France. It included men from Blois, Champagne, Amiens, Saint-Pol, the Île-deFrance, and Burgundy. Several other regions of Europe sent substantial contingents as well, such
as Flanders and Montferrat. Other notable groups came from the Holy Roman Empire, including
the men under Bishop Martin of the Pairis Abbey and Bishop Conrad of Halberstadt, together in
alliance with the Venetian soldiers and sailors led by the doge Enrico Dandolo. The crusade was
to be ready to sail on 24 June 1203 and make directly for the Ayyubid capital, Cairo. This
agreement was ratified by Pope Innocent, with a solemn ban on attacks on Christian states.”184
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
“There was no binding agreement among the crusaders that all should sail from Venice.
Accordingly many chose to sail from other ports, particularly Flanders, Marseilles, and Genoa. By
May 1202 the bulk of the crusader army was collected at Venice, although with far smaller
numbers than expected: about 12,000 (4-5,000 knights and 8,000 foot soldiers) instead of
33,500. The Venetians had performed their part of the agreement: there awaited 50 war galleys
and 450 transports - enough for three times the assembled army. The Venetians, under their aged
and blind Doge Dandolo, would not let the crusaders leave without paying the full amount agreed
to, originally 85,000 silver marks. The crusaders could only initially pay 35,000 silver marks. The
Doge threatened to keep them interned unless full payment was made so a further 14,000 marks
was collected, and that only by reducing the crusaders to extreme poverty. This was disastrous to
the Venetians, who had halted their commerce for a great length of time to prepare this expedition.
In addition, about 14,000 men or as many as 20-30,000 men (out of Venice's population of 60100,000 people) were needed to man the entire fleet, placing further strain on the Venetian
economy.”185 Nobles of France and Netherlands joined the crusade and the Venetians agreed to
transport the crusading army to the East if the combined forces would help Venice to capture Zara.
In 1202 when Zara was captured, Alexius, the son of overthrown Byzantine emperor Isaac II,
appealed to the crusaders for assistance by offering 200,000 marks in silver and reconciliation of
the Greek Church with Rome. The combined forces landed against weak opposition before the
wall of Constantinople in 1203. Their barons entered the city, restored the throne, and made
Alexius co-emperor. Alexius agreed with the crusaders to stay until the next operations against
Palestine in coming March at the expense of Alexius, but a coup detat removed Alexius and his
father and replaced a new emperor. They decided to capture Constantinople.
“When the Fourth Crusade arrived at Constantinople on 23 June 1203, the city had a
population of approximately 500,000 people, a garrison of 15,000 men (including 5,000 Varangians), and a fleet of 20 galleys. For both political and financial reasons, the permanent garrison
of Constantinople had been limited to a relatively small force, made up of elite guard and other
specialist units. At previous times in Byzantine history when the capital had come under direct
threat, it had been possible to assemble reinforcements from frontier and provincial forces. On this
occasion, the suddenness of the danger posed by the Fourth Crusade put the defenders at a serious
disadvantage. The main objective of the crusaders was to place Alexios IV on the Byzantine throne
so that they could receive the rich payments he had promised them. Conon of Bethune delivered
this ultimatum to the Lombard envoy sent by the Emperor Alexios III Angelos, who was the
pretender's uncle and had seized the throne from the pretender's father Isaac II.” “To take the city
by force, the crusaders first needed to cross the Bosphorus. About 200 ships, horse transports, and
galleys delivered the crusading army across the narrow strait, where Alexios III had lined up the
Byzantine army in battle formation along the shore, north of the suburb of Galata. The Crusader
knights charged straight out of the horse transports, and the Byzantine army fled south. The
Crusaders followed and attacked the Tower of Galata, which held the northern end of the massive
chain that blocked access to the Golden Horn. As they laid siege to the Tower, the Byzantines
counterattacked with some initial success. The crusaders rallied, and the Byzantines retreated to
the Tower, but the crusaders were able to follow the soldiers through the Gate and took the Tower.
The Golden Horn now lay open to the Crusaders, and the Venetian fleet entered.”186 In July 1203,
the Crusaders took positions possible the Palace of Blachernae on the northwest corner of the city.
A fire greatly damaged morale, and the disgraced Alexious III abandoned his subjects, slipping
out of the city and fleeing to Mosynopolis in Thrace. The imperial officials deposed their runaway
emperor and restored Isaac II, robbing the crusaders of the pretext for attack. The crusaders would
recognized him subject to crowning his son as co-emperor – Alexios Angelos IV.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
Alexios IV realized that his promises were hard to keep. “Alexios III had managed to flee
with 1,000 pounds of gold and some priceless jewels, leaving the imperial treasury short on funds.
At that point the young emperor ordered the destruction and melting of valuable Byzantine and
Roman icons in order to extract their gold and silver, but even then he could only raise 100,000
silver marks. In the eyes of all Greeks who knew of this decision, it was a shocking sign of
desperation and weak leadership, which deserved to be punished by God…. During the coemperor's absence in August, rioting broke out in the city and a number of Latin residents were
killed. In retaliation armed Venetians and other crusaders entered the city from the Golden Horn
and attacked a mosque (Constantinople at this time had a sizable Muslim population), which was
defended by Muslim and Byzantine residents. In order to cover their retreat the Westerners
instigated the Great Fire, which burnt from 19 to 21 August, destroying a large part of Constantinople and leaving an estimated 100,000 homeless.” In January 1204, the blinded Isaac II died, a
nobleman Alexious Dounkas overthrew and imprison Alexios IV and became Emperor Alexios
V. The crusaders and Venetians demanded the money that Alexios IV promised. When the
Byzantine emperor refused, the Crusaders assaulted the city once again. “Although Innocent III
had again demanded that they not attack, the papal letter was suppressed by the clergy, and the
crusaders prepared for their own attack, while the Venetians attacked from the sea. Alexios V's
army stayed in the city to fight, along with the imperial bodyguard, the Varangians, but Alexios
V himself fled during the night. An attempt was made to find a further replacement emperor from
amongst the Byzantine nobility, but the situation had now become too chaotic for either of the two
candidates who came forward to find sufficient support.” On April 1204, the weather conditions
finally favored the crusaders, and the crusaders entered and captured the city. While attempting to
defend themselves with a wall of fire, they ended up burning down even more of the city. This
second fire left 15,000 people homeless. The crusaders completely took the city.
“The crusaders inflicted a savage sacking on Constantinople for three days, during which
many ancient Greco-Roman and medieval Byzantine works of art were either stolen or destroyed.
The magnificent Library of Constantinople was destroyed. Despite their oaths and the threat of
excommunication, the crusaders ruthlessly and systematically violated the city's churches and
monasteries, destroying, defiling, or stealing all they could lay hands on; nothing was spared. It
was said that the total amount looted from Constantinople was about 900,000 silver marks. The
Venetians received 150,000 silver marks that was their due, while the crusaders received 50,000
silver marks. A further 100,000 silver marks were divided evenly up between the crusaders and
Venetians. The remaining 500,000 silver marks were secretly kept back by many crusader
knights.” While the nobles divided the palaces among them and appropriated the treasures; the
soldiers took whatever they caught at homes, churches, and shops. “According to a subsequent
treaty, the empire was apportioned between Venice and the leaders of the crusade, and the Latin
Empire of Constantinople was established. Boniface was not elected as the new emperor, although
the citizens seemed to consider him as such; the Venetians thought he had too many connections
with the former empire because of his brother, Renier of Montferrat, who had been married
to Maria Komnene, empress in the 1170s and 1180s. Instead they placed Baldwin of Flanders on
the throne. Boniface went on to found the Kingdom of Thessalonica, a vassal state of the new
Latin Empire. The Venetians also founded the Duchy of the Archipelago in the Aegean Sea.
Meanwhile, Byzantine refugees founded their own successor states, the most notable of these
being the Empire of Nicaea under Theodore Laskaris (a relative of Alexios III), the Empire of
Trebizond, and the Despotate of Epirus.” Although the capture of Constantinople was the result
of a series of accidents, the city would become a stronger base against Turks. Palaeologus, an
aristocrat of Nicaea, recaptured Constantinople and became Michael VIII (1261-82).
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
The Collapse of the Crusades and their Results: In Germany in 1212 a youth Nicholas of
Cologne was inspired by God and led a children’s crusade of 30,000 passing down the Rhine and
over the Alps. Many died from hunger, and many settled in Genoa. In France about the same year,
twelve years old Stephen was inspired by God and gathered 20,000 of youngsters. Despite king’s
order to return, they got into seven ships and sailed forth toward Palestine: two ships were perished
by the storm, and five ships arrived at North Africa where they were sold into slavery. (i) In 1217
the fifth crusade left Germany, Austria, and Hungary under the king Andrew of Hungary. They
reached Damietta, at the mouth of the Nile, which fell after a year’s siege. Malik al-Kamil, the
new sultan of Egypt and Syria, offered a term of peace. As they wanted the indemnity, Malik
resumed the war. When a re-enforcement became impossible, the crusaders signed an eight-year
truce by returning the conquered city to the Muslim rule. (ii) The sixth crusade was initiated by
Frederick II, a young emperor of Germany and Italy in 1228. Arriving in Palestine, Frederick
received no help from the Christians there. He sent emissaries to al-Kamil, who led the Muslim
army at Nablus. Sultan’s ambassador was so impressed by Frederick’s knowledge about the
Arabic language, literature, science, and philosophy that they communicated properly and signed
a treaty in 1229 without war. Al-Kamil ceded to Frederick Acre, Jaffa, Sidon, Nazareth,
Bethlehem, and all of Jerusalem. Both sides agreed to allow pilgrimage. All prisoners on either
side were released, and each side pledged peace for over ten years. After Frederick’s departure,
the Christian nobility in Palestine took control of Jerusalem, which once more fell into Islam in
1244. “Innocent IV preached a crusade against Frederick II, and offered to all who would war
against him in Italy, the same indulgences and privileges granted to those who served him the
Holy Land.” (iii) The seventh crusade was initiated by Louis IX in 1248 to recapture Jerusalem.
The expedition reached and captured Damietta, but the flood of the Nile delayed the campaign.
The army became weakened with hunger, disease, desertion, and indiscipline, so that 10,000 of
them were captured including Louis himself, who was released with a huge ransom. Taking the
cross again in 1267, Louis landed Tunisia, attacked Egypt from the west, but died from plague.
Map I-2-8. The Partition of the Byzantine Empire into the Latin Empire after 1204
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
(iv) The Eighth and Ninth Crusades (1270-72): “Ignoring his advisers, in 1270 Louis IX again
attacked the Arabs in Tunis in North Africa. He picked the hottest season of the year for
campaigning and his army was devastated by disease. The king himself died, ending the last major
attempt to take the Holy Land. The Mamluks, led by Baibars, eventually drove the Franks from
the Holy Land. From 1265 through 1271, Baibars drove the Franks to a few small coastal
outposts. According to Ibn Ferat, a medieval historian, Mamlukes killed or enslaved many
inhabitants (including Christians) of the city of Antioch. The future Edward I of England undertook to crusade with Louis IX, but he was delayed and did not arrive in North Africa until
November 1270. After the death of Louis, Edward went to Sicily and then on to Acre in May 1271.
His forces were too small to make much difference, though, and he was upset at the conclusion of
a truce between Baibars and the king of Jerusalem, Hugh. Although Edward learned of his father's
death and his succession to the throne in December 1272, he did not return to England until 1274,
although he accomplished little in the Holy Land.” 187 (v) Aragonese Crusade (1284-5): “The
Crusade of Aragón was declared by Pope Martin IV against King Peter III of Aragon in 1284 and
1285. Peter was supporting the anti-Angevin forces in Sicily following the Sicilian Vespers, and
the papacy supported Charles of Anjou. Pope Boniface VIII proclaimed a crusade against
Frederick III of Sicily, the younger brother of Peter, in 1298, but was unable to prevent Frederick's
crowning and recognition as King of Sicily.” (vi) In 1291 Khalil of Muslim sultan marched against
Acre, the strongest Christian outpost in Palestine, and killed or enslaved 60,000 prisoners. All of
Latin states in Palestine including Tyre, Sidon, Haifa, and Beirut fell soon afterward. After two
centuries of war, Jerusalem fell into the Muslim rule, and the crusades had eventually failed. In
the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, to counter the expanding Ottoman Empire starting in 1396
with Sigismund of Luxemburg, king of Hungary. The Ottomans met the crusaders in the Battle
of Nicopolis, and defeated the Christian forces and captured 3,000 prisoners.
The crusaders engaged in war against the Muslims for two centuries but failed in achieving
their professed goals. (i) The Catholic Church: The Crusades contributed to increase the wealth
of the Church and the power of the Papacy, as the popes took their authority and influence on
manning and funding. Innocent III unified the Latin and Greek churches, but the occupation of
Constantinople by the West increased Byzantine resentment. (ii) Politics: The Crusades helped to
break down the power of the feudal aristocracy, and gave prominence to the kings and the people.
The cities gained many political advantages at the expense of the crusading barons and princes.
(ii) Economy: The crusaders brought new territories to absorb the rising population and to
stimulate foreign trade. Despite the diversion of feudal wealth to the East, the crusades raised the
power and wealth of France. The rising trade with the East contributed to economic growth and
made the Italian port cities prosperous. While the knights lost Palestine, the Italian merchant fleets
could control the naval activities in the Mediterranean Sea. (iii) Military: The crusades created the
new military orders, but some orders suffered from tragic fates. In 1310 Philip IV ordered that all
Templars in France were arrested and the royal seal was set on all their goods because of the fear
and wrath of the king from their wealth, arms, and insubordination to the royal power. (iv) Society
and Culture: The crusaders promoted social mobility of the low class: serfs used the crusader’s
privilege to leave the land: thousands never returned to their manors to enjoy better opportunities.
The crusaders encouraged cultural exchanges between Christians and Muslims, and promoted
mutual understanding. Introducing the Muslim commerce and industry, the crusaders stimulated
the secular life of Europe in many ways. (v) Science and Technology: The transfer of advanced
science and technology changed the world like the compass, gunpowder, and printing. New
markets in the east stimulated Italian industry, stimulated the growth of town and the middle class,
and improved banking and finance. The voyage would bring geographical discovery.188
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
2.-3. The Emergence and Growth of the European Kingdoms
British Isles: (a) England: After the death of Edward the Confessor (1042-66), when an English
nobleman took the kingship, his cousin William the Conqueror (1066-87), Duke of Normandy,
invaded England and founded an Anglo-Norman monarchy. Duke William of Normandy was
crowned as king of England on Christmas Day 1066, and its fulfilment depended upon three main
conditions. “It was essential that Norman strength, as developed during the past fifty years, should
be maintained, so that the duchy should retain its predominant place among the powers of northern
Gaul. Secondly, the conquest of England had to be completed, and the surviving elements of
opposition to the new order reduced to obedience. Thirdly, the continuing Scandinavian threat to
the Anglo-Norman state had to be withstood.”189 The political union of Normandy and England
under William the Conqueror caused a radical changes in the highest ranks of the social order in
both countries. The downfall of the Old English nobility was catastrophic: the early wars of
conquest resulted in widespread destruction of their lives and properties, and forced many of them
went into exile to Scotland, Flanders, or Byzantium. Only 8 percent of the entire land of England
remained in possession under English names by the end of his reign. The Norman aristocracy in
England was made to receive its land on conditions which increased William’s power as king.
The condition to receive their lands was to supply the king with between 4,000 and 5,000 trained
troops, and these troops should rest in the hands of a few men, all closely associated with the king.
Therefore, a new aristocracy was established on a basis of contractual military tenure, which was
the basic institutions of feudalism introduced into England for the first time by the William the
Conqueror during 1070-87. The Anglo-Norman polity became an aristocracy organized for war:
the typical knight in England was a man holding land by primogenital hereditary tenure in return
for a liability to special duties and payments described in the contract with the king.
In fact, William the Conqueror immediately ordered the statistical survey of England, known
as the Doomsday Book, to register landed wealth of the country and to determine the revenue due
to the king. The essence of his government was a personal monarch whose power stretched over
Normandy and England. The king ruled his realm, and summoned to his assistance those members
of the Anglo-Norman aristocracy, lay and ecclesiastical, who best could help him in his work. By
the oath at Salisbury in 1086, William required all sub-vassals to swear the primary loyalty to the
king as their lord rather than to their immediate feudal lord, which created a strong and centralized
monarchy. The definition of feudal rights and obligations might cause dispute, but a common
acceptance of feudal principle by both king and magnates, in both Normandy and England, must
be the survival of the Anglo-Norman kingdom.190 William appointed able Lanfranc to Archbishop
of Canterbury and first minister to the King. Finding the Anglo-Saxon clergy addicted to hunting,
dicing, and marriages, he replaced them with Norman priests, bishops, and abbots; “he drew up a
new monastic constitution, the Customs of Canterbury, and raised the mental and moral level of
the English clergy. He decreed the separation of ecclesiastical from secular courts, ordered all
spiritual matters to be submitted to the canon law of the Church, and pledged the state to enforce
the penalties fixed by ecclesiastical tribunals. Tithes were levied upon the people for the support
of the Church.” Moreover, “As king, he would perform his duty of securing the welfare of the
Church within his dominions, and as king he would resist any division of loyalty among his
subjects. Thus in the case of a disputed papal election, no pope was to be recognized within his
realm without his consent; no papal letter was to be received without his permission; no
ecclesiastical council within his kingdom was to initiate legislation without his approval; and no
bishop must excommunicate any of his official or tenants-in-chief without his leave. It was a
clear-cut position, but it was traditional rather than anti-papal.”191
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
After the death of William the Conqueror, his eldest son Robert received Normandy; and his
younger son, William Rufus (1087-1100), was crowned King of England, who ruled as a tyrant
till he was shot to death by an unknown hand. His third son, Henry I (1100-35) succeeded the
throne, and married Matilda of Scotland but continued to have a large number of mistresses.
Disputing Henry’s control over England, Robert invaded in 1101 but soon confirmed him as king.
Henry I also invaded Normandy in 1105-6, defeated Robert, and imprisoned him for the rest of
his life. Henry’s control over Normandy was challenged by Louis VI of France and others, though
a peace was agreed in 1120. “In England, he drew on the existing Anglo-Saxon system of justice,
local government and taxation, but also strengthened it with additional institutions, including the
royal exchequer and itinerant justices.” While the ruling class from Normandy spoke French, the
intermarriage between Norman-French and Anglo-Saxon founded a new nobility of AngloNorman, and two languages gradually merged into a new English. Henry’s daughter Matilda
married Eleanor of Aquitaine, whose duchy invaded England and established the Plantagenet
(Angevin from Anjou) dynasty by ending the Norman line, making her son Henry II (1154-89) of
England. Henry II also became lord of Ireland and possessed lands in France including Anjou,
Normandy, and Aquitaine. He achieved financial reforms by developing the exchequer (royal
treasury) maintaining tax payment records. He expanded the jurisdiction of the royal courts by
establishing a finding-jury and transferring property cases from feudal and county courts to the
royal courts. Henry wanted to punish crimes by the clergy in royal courts, which were often
unpunished by the ecclesiastical courts. But Thomas Becket, archbishop of Canterbury, refused
and appealed to Rome to keep clerical immunities. This resulted in the murder of Bucket in 1170,
causing a historical problem in church-state relations in Europe. Henry compromised with the
church by allowing the right of appeal from English church courts to the papal courts.
King John (1199-1216) inherited an Angevin empire stretched from the Scottish border to the
Pyrenees, which was almost two-third of modern France, but lost most of his possessions to Philip
II of France by losing the battles during 1204-06. John continued campaigns against Philip to
recover the lost provinces but was not successful, which required to collect more taxes from the
barons. In addition, when John refused to accept a papal nominee as archbishop and openly defied
the pope, Innocent III laid England under interdict in 1208: all religious services of the clergy in
England were suspended. Since John confiscated all monastic properties and gave them to laymen,
the pope excommunicated John. As Philip marched to the Channel coast by the pope’s invitation,
John found that the nobles would not support him in a war against the pope. John surrendered all
England to the pope, who lifted his punishment in 1213. This showed the church supremacy over
the state in the middle age. The heavy burden of taxes from unsuccessful military campaigns
caused resentment and rebellions of English barons. The baronial rebel forces captured London
and forced the king to accept their demands written in the Magna Carta which was sealed by John
in 1215. Its Chapter 39 contained that “No free man shall be taken or imprisoned or outlawed or
banished or in any way destroyed, nor will we go or send against him, except by the lawful
judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.” This secured “equal access to court” and “due
process of law” based on the spirit of feudal relations between kings and their vassals (barons):
the rights and duties of each. But the benefits of the charter was limited to less than a half of the
English population, considering the status of free man. Edward I (1272-1307) established two
royal courts: the Court of Common Pleas dealing civil cases, and the Court of King’s Bench
dealing relevant cases to the king’s interest. Edward summoned Parliaments: the House of Lords
formed by barons and church lords, and the House of Commons formed by knights and burgesses.
Edward to accepted two principles: in 1295 no statute passed by Parliament could be abrogated
except by Parliament, and in 1297 no taxes were to be levied without Parliament’s consent.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
(b) Ireland: “From around 800 onwards Ireland was attacked by bands of Viking marauders.
The raids continued right through the 9th century and a second major wave began early in the 10th
century. The monasteries, as the major centers of population and wealth, were the main target of
the Vikings. They were despoiled of their books and valuables and many of them were burned.
These attacks, and attacks by the Irish themselves, contributed to the decline of the great monastic
tradition at this period. The Vikings were great traders and did much to develop commerce in
medieval Ireland. They founded most of the major towns such as Dublin, Cork, Limerick and
Waterford. The lack of any political unity made it difficult to resist the Viking attacks. However,
the strength of the Uí Néill kings in the northern half of the country prevented the Vikings from
establishing themselves there. Towards the end of the 10th century a new dynasty emerged in
Munster in the south and, under the kingship of Brian Boru, was able to match the Uí Néill. Brian
Boru defeated the Vikings in 999 and in 1002 he won recognition as king of all Ireland. The
Vikings intervened regularly in the disputes between the Irish kings. Their support for a Leinster
revolt against Brian Boru led to their defeat at the Battle of Clontarf in 1014, after which they were
confined to a subsidiary role in Irish political history. The 11th and 12th centuries were an age of
renaissance and progress in Ireland. Cultural activity and the arts prospered. It was a great era of
religious reform and a powerful effort was made to bring the church more fully into line with
Roman orthodoxy. Two of the principal figures of this movement were St Malachy of Armagh (d.
1148) and St Laurence O’Toole of Dublin (d. 1180). In politics, others sought to follow Brian
Boru’s example and establish themselves as kings of all Ireland. At various times between 1014
and 1169 the kings of Munster, Ulster, Connacht and Leinster succeeded in doing so. The general
trend was towards the development of a strong centralized monarchy on the European model.”192
This trend was interrupted by the arrival of the Normans in 1167-69.
“The first Normans came to Ireland from south Wales at the invitation of Diarmait Mac
Murchada, king of Leinster, to support his ambition to become king of all Ireland. Mac Murchada
was succeeded as King of Leinster by the leader of the Normans, Richard de Clare, known as
Strongbow. In 1171 the Normans’ overlord, Henry II, King of England, came to Ireland and was
recognized as overlord of the country by both Irish and Normans.” A synod of Irish prelates
declared their full submission to the Pope, and decreed that thereafter the ritual of the Irish Church
should conform to that of England and Rome. “Most of the Irish kings were allowed to keep their
thrones, on condition of feudal fealty and annual tribute to the king of England. Henry
accomplished his purpose with economy and skill, but he erred in thinking that the forces which
he left behind him could sustain order and peace. His appointees fought one another for the spoils,
and their aids and troops plundered the country with a minimum of restraint. The conquerors did
their best to reduce the Irish to serfdom. The Irish resisted with guerrilla warfare, and the result
was a century of turmoil and destruction. In 1315 some Irish chieftains offered Ireland to Scotland,
where Robert Bruce and just defeated the English at Bannockburn. Robert’s brother Edward
landed in Ireland with 6000 men; Pope John XXII pronounced excommunication upon all who
should aid the Scotts; but nearly all Irishmen rose at Edwards’ call, and in 1316 they crowned him
King. Two years later he was defeated and slain near Dundalk, and the revolt collapsed in poverty
and despair.”193 In fact, the Normans quickly came to control three-quarters of the land and they
were assimilated with the local population, though they were influential to Ireland. Throughout
the 13th century they developed the same type of parliament, law and system of administration as
in England. However, the Scottish invasion led by Edward Bruce, the European famine during
1315-17, the murder of William Donn de Burgh in 1333, and the calamity of the Black Death in
1348 caused Norman Ireland deeply shaken; and by the end of the 15th century, the area of English
rule in Ireland had shrunk to a small enclave around Dublin known as the Pale.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
(c) Scotland: “At the close of the ninth century various competing kingdoms occupied the
territory of modern Scotland, with Scandinavian influence dominant in the northern and western
islands, Brythonic culture in the southwest, the Anglo-Saxon or English Kingdom of Northumbria in the southeast and the Pictish and Gaelic Kingdom of Alba in the east, north of the River
Forth. By the tenth and eleventh centuries, northern Great Britain was increasingly dominated by
Gaelic culture, and by the Gaelic regal lordship of Alba, known in Latin as either Albania or Scotia,
and in English as Scotland. From its base in the east, this kingdom acquired control of the lands
lying to the south and ultimately the west and much of the north. It had a flourishing culture,
comprising part of the larger Gaelic-speaking world and an economy dominated by agriculture
and trade.”194 In fact, “Malcolm III (1085) was a warrior who repeatedly invaded England; but
his Queen Margaret was an Anglo-Saxon princess who converted the Scottish court to the English
language, brought in English-speaking clergy, and reared her sons in English ways. The last and
strongest of them David I (1124-53), made the Church his chosen instrument of rule, founded
English-speaking monasteries.…levied tithes for the support of the Church, and give so lavishly
to bishops and abbots that people mistook him for a saint. Under David I, Scotland, in all but its
highlands, became an English state. The English immigrants were transformed into patriotic Scots;
from their number came the Stuarts and the Bruce. David I invaded and captured Northumberland;
Malcolm IV (1153-65) lost it; William the Lion (1165-1214), trying to regain it, was taken prisoner
by Henry II, and was freed only on pledging homage to the king of England for the Scottish crown
(1174). Fifteen years later he bought release from this pledge by helping to finance Richard I in
the Third Crusade, but the English kings continued to claim feudal suzerainty over Scotland.
Alexander III (1249-86) recovered the Hebrides from Norway, maintained friendly relations with
England, and gave Scotland a golden age of prosperity and peace.”195
At Alexander’s death, Robert Bruce and John Balliol, descendants of David I, contested the
succession. “Edward I of England seized the opportunity; by his support, Balliol was made King,
but acknowledged the over-lordship of England (1292). When, however, Edward ordered Balliol
to raise troops to fight for England in France, the Scotch nobles and bishops rebelled, and bade
Balliol make alliance with France against England (1295). Edward defeated the Scots at Dunbar
(1296), received the submission of the aristocracy, dethroned Balliol, appointed three Englishmen
to rule Scotland for him, and returned to England. Many Scotch nobles owned land in England,
and were thereby mortgaged to obedience. But the older Gaelic Scots strongly resented the
surrender. One of them, Sir William Wallace, organized an army of the commons of Scotland,
routed the English garrison, and for a year ruled Scotland as regent for Balliol. Edward returned,
and defeated Wallace at Falkirk (1298). In 1305 he captured Wallace and had him disemboweled
and quartered according to the English law of treason. A year later another defender was forced
into the field. Robert Bruce, grandson of the Bruce who had claimed the throne in 1286, quarreled
with John Comyn, a leading representative of Edward I in Scotland, and killed him. Thereby
committed to rebellion, Bruce had himself crowned King, though only a small group of nobles
supported him, and the pope excommunicated him for his crime. Edward once more marched
north, but died on the way (1307). Edward II’s incompetence was a blessing for Bruce; the nobles
and clergy of Scotland rallied to the outlaw’s banner; his reinforced armies, bravely led by his
brother Edward and Sir James Douglas, captured Edinburgh, invaded Northumberland, and seized
Durham. In 1314 Edward II led into Scotland the largest army that the land had ever seen, and
met the Scots at Bannockburn. Bruce had had his men dig and conceal pits before his position;
many of the English, charging, fell into the morass, and the English army was almost totally
destroyed. In 1328 the regents of Edward III, involved in war with France, signed the Treaty of
Northampton, making Scotland once more free.” 196
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
(d) Wales: At the time of the Norman conquest of England in 1066, Bleddyn ap Cynfyn, king
of Gwynedd and Powys, was the dominant ruler in Wales. He was killed in 1073, which gave the
Normans an opportunity to seize lands in north Wales. In the south, William I advanced into
Dyfed and seized and divided lands between various Norman lordships. In 1094 however there
was a general Welsh revolt against Norman rule, and gradually territories were won back. In 1165
the Welsh defeated the English at Corwen; and Henry II, busy with Becket, acknowledge the
independence of South Wales under its enlightened King Rh yap Gurffydd in 1171. “Llywelyn
the Great, by his ability in both war and statesmanship. Extended the land, but his grandson
Llywelyn ap Gruffydd (d. 1282) restored unity, made peace with Henry III, and created for himself
the title of Prince of Wales. Edward I, intent on uniting Wales and Scotland with England, invaded
Wales with an immense army and fleet (1282); Llywelyn died in a chance encounter with a small
border force, his brother David was captured by Edward, and his severed head, with Llywelyn’s,
was suspended from the Tower of London and left to bleach in the sun, wind, and rain. Wales
was made a part of England (1284), and Edward in 1301 gave the title of Prince Wales to the heir
to the English throne.” However, there were a number of rebellions “including ones led by Madog
ap Llywelyn in 1294–1295 and by Llywelyn Bren, Lord of Senghenydd, in 1316–1318. In the
1370s the last representative in the male line of the ruling house ofGwynedd, Owain Lawgoch,
twice planned an invasion of Wales with French support. The English government responded to
the threat by sending an agent to assassinate Owain in Poitou in 1378.”197 In 1400, A Welsh nobleman, Owain Glyndwr, revolted against Henry IV of England, though suppressed.
(e) The Rhinelands: The countries of the lower Rhine and its many mouths were among the
richest in the medieval world. South of the Rhine lay the county of Flanders and some other cities.
In 1300 the cities dominated the counts; the magistrates of the larger communities formed a
supreme court for the county, and negotiated on their own authority with foreign cities and
governments. “The class war ultimately destroyed the freedom of both the cities and the counts.
As the proletariat rose in number, resentment, and power, and the counts sided with them as an
offset to the bumptious bourgeoisie, the merchants sought support from Philip Augustus of France,
who promised it in the hope of bringing Flanders effectively under French crown. England,
anxious to keep the chief market for her wool out of the control of the French king, allied herself
with the counts of Flanders and Hainault, the duke of Brabant, and Otto IV of Germany. Philip
defeated this coalition at Bouvines (1214), subdue the counts, and protected the merchants in their
oligarchic regime. The conflict of powers and classes continued. In 1297 Count Guy de Dampierre again allied Flanders with England; Philip the Fair invaded Flanders, imprisoned Buy, and
forced him to cede the country to France. But when the French army moved to occupy Bruges the
commons rose, overcame the troops, massacred rich merchants, and gained possession of the town.
Philip sent a large army to avenge this affront; the workers of the towns formed themselves into
an impromptu army, and defeated the knights and mercenaries of France in the battle of Courtrai
(1302). The aged Guy de Dampierre was released and restored, and the strange alliance of feudal
counts and revolutionary proletaires enjoyed a decade of victory.”198 Present Holland was part of
the Frankish kingdom from the third to the ninth century. In the ninth and tenth centuries, it was
divided into feudal fiefs for better resistance to Norse raids. The Germans settled in the wooded
district of the Rhine. “Most of the people were serfs, absorbed in the struggle to wrest a living
from a land that had always to diked or drained; half of Holland exists by the taming of the sea.
But there were cities too developing steady industry and orderly trade. Amsterdam became a free
port in 1204, when a feudal lord built a fortress at the mouth of the Amstel River; and Holland
played a large part in the economic world. The South of Holland lay the Duchy of Brabant that
contained several independent cities ruled by its bishops.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
France: “The history of medieval France starts with the election of Hugh Capet (987-96) by
an assembly summoned in Reims in 987. Capet was previously Duke of the Franks, and became
King of the Frank holding his lands little beyond the Paris basin, when many of king’s vassals
ruled over territories far greater than his own. In the eleventh century, the first four kings of the
Capetian dynasty were fragile in power and prestige without charismatic kingship. Philip I (10601108), divorcing his wife Bertha at forty, remarried Bertrade de Montfort, the wife of Fulk IV,
Count of Anjoy. Pope Urban II excommunicated him in 1095, but Philip persisted in sin for twelve
years. At last he sent Bertrade away and was shriven, but a while later he repented his repentance,
and resumed his Queen. “She traveled with him to Anjou taught her two husbands amity.” His son
Louis VI (1108-37) hired Abbot Suger of St. Denis (1081-1151) as his chief minister, who, like
the Richelieu of the twelfth century, managed the state affairs with wisdom, justice, and far-sight;
encouraged and improved agriculture; and designed and built one of the earliest and finest
masterpieces of the Gothic style. He continuously served until his death for the next king. His son
Louis VII (1137-80) was a man of religion, a lover of justice, and a defender of the weak. He
married Eleanor of Aquitaine, one of the wealthiest and most powerful women in Western Europe.
She brought the Duchy of Aquitaine as a dowry to Louis, but their marriage was annulled in 1152
as no male heir could be produced. However, Eleanor remarried Henry Plantagenet, Duke of
Normandy and Count of Anjou, to whom she gave Aquitaine, five sons, and three daughters. When
Henry became King of England in 1154 as Henry II, the rivalry with Louis VII would mark a long
start between France and England. In his reign, the University of Paris was founded and the
Second Crusade became disastrous. Abbot Suger pushed him to centralize the state power and
develop the French Gothic architecture, notably the construction of Notre-Dame de Paris. Both
Louis VI and VII made France more powerful and more influential in European politics.199
At the accession of Philip II Augustus (1180-1223), France was still a minor state, hardly
promising any grandeur to come as shown on Map II-2-9 above. In fact, “England held Normandy,
Britany, Anjou, Touraine, and Aquitaine – a domain thrice the size of that directly controlled by
the French king. Most of Burgundy adhered to Germany, and the flourishing county of Flanders
was in effect an independent principality. So were the counties of Lyons, Savoy, and Chambery.
So was Provence – southeastern France – rich in wine, oil, fruit, poets, and the cities of Arles and
Avignon, Aix and Marseille. The Dauphine, centering about Vienne, had been bequeathed to
Germany as part of Burgundy; it was now independently ruled by a dauphin who took his title
from the dolphin that was an emblem of his family.” 200 Philip II married Isabela but died in 1189;
remarried Ingeborg, a princess of Denmark, but divorced her within the year; and remarried Agnes,
the daughter of Duke of Merania. Innocent III placed France under an interdict in 1199; Philip II
finally dismissed his beloved Agnes, and kept Ingeborg confined at Etampes till 1213, due to the
pressure from the Pope and Ingeborg’s brother, king of Denmark. “After a twelve years struggle
with the Plantagenet dynasty, Philip broke up the large Angevin Empire and defeated a coalition
of his rivals (German, Flemish and England) at the Battle of Bouvines in 1214. He reconquered
Normandy and annexed most of lost provinces to England during 1204-1206; hence, the power of
France became unchallenged, while the English king was forced by his barons to sign the Magna
Carta, after the First Baron’s War in which Philip intervened. Meantime, Otto IV of Germany
also lost battles against Philip II, while Frederick II secured his German throne. “Philip did not
directly participate in the Albigensian Crusade, but he allowed his vassals and knights to carry it
out, preparing the subsequent expansion of France southward. He checked the power of the nobles
and helped the towns to free themselves from seigniorial authority, granting privileges and
liberties to the emergent Bourgeoisie. He built a great wall around Paris, recognized the
government and brought financial stability to the country.” 201
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
Louis IX (1226-70) succeeded his father, Louis VIII, at age twelve, and his mother Blanche
of Castile became the regent at her thirty-eight as the mother of twelve children (six had died).
She was the third daughter of Alfonso VIII, king of Castile, and Eleanor, a daughter of Henry II
of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine. “For nine years (1226-35), while Louis grew up, she
governed the realm; and seldom has France been better ruled. At the outset of her regency the
barons revolted, thinking to recapture from a woman the powers they had lost to Philip II; she
overcame them with wise and patient diplomacy. She resisted England ably, and then signed a
truce on just terms.”202 In 1248, Blanche again became regent, during Louis IX’s absence on the
Crusade, which she had strongly opposed. Assuming a more advisory role, she continued to have
a strong influence on the king until her death in 1252. Louis IX married Margaret of Provence,
whose sister Eleanor later became the wife of Henry III of England. Louis IX consolidated royal
power by exercising both judicial and financial functions and respecting the rights of nobles and
encouraging them to fulfill their obligations to serfs and vassals and suzerain. Supporting the two
new orders of Franciscans and Dominicans, “He restricted the powers of ecclesiastical courts, and
asserted the authority of the law over all citizens, lay or clerical. In 1268 he issued the first
Pragmatic Sanction, limiting the power of the papacy in ecclesiastical appointment and taxation
in France.”203 Louis went on two Crusades, in his mid-30s in 1248 (Seventh) and in his mid-50s
in 1270 (Eighth). In the Seventh Crusade, he was captured in Egypt and returned to France in
1252 after his mother’s death by paying huge payment of ransom. His brother, Charles of Anjou,
received the kingdom of Sicily and Naples offered by the pope in 1266, France became more
interested in Italian affairs. In the Eighth Crusade, shortly after reaching Tunisia, Louis died of
dysentery. The Church canonized him twenty-seven years after his death.
Map I-2-9. England and France in the Twelfth Century
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
The long reigns of Philip Augustus and Louis IX gave the French government continuity and
stability, while England suffered the negligent Richard I, the reckless John, and the incompetent
Henry III, and while Germany disintegrated in the wars between the emperors and the popes. By
1300 France was the strongest power in Europe.204 Philip IV (1285-1314) brought all classes
under the direct control of the king, encouraged industry and commerce rather than agriculture;
expanding the boundaries of France to the Atlantic, the Pyrenees, the Mediterranean, the Alps,
and the Rhine. He divided administration into three branches: a council for advice, a chamber of
financial account, and a royal court which services were provided by the lawyer class, not clerics
or barons. He needed money for military campaigns, which was prepared by debase of the coinage,
confiscation of wealth from the Jews and the Lombards, taxes on trade and church lands that was
a quarter of the entire land of France. Hence, the currency was inflated; high rents and prices
impoverished the people; heavy taxes discouraged industry and trade; and the economy declined
seriously. The wars expanded political domain of France, but had weakened the economy. Philip
summoned the Estate-General consisting of noble, clergy, and commons in emergencies in 1302,
which was the first Parliament of Paris. Pierre Dubois (1255-1321), a lawyer for the EstateGeneral, suggested reform ideas in his treatises: disendowment of church without financial support
from the state, separation of the French church from Rome, the papacy with no temporal affairs,
and state supremacy over church. Like his theories, Philip secured the election of the French pope
for Clement V, who moved the papacy to Avignon near the French border in 1309. Philip IV was
succeeded by his three sons in turn, but the last son Charles IV died with no male heir in 1328,
which caused a problem in succession. Up until 1300, France maintained stable society with
prosperous economy, and became the hub and center of European civilization. Nevertheless, in
the fourteenth century, the favorable environment began to decline because of rising financial
demand and devastation of land and people from the long-lasting wars against England in addition
to changes of climate, overpopulation, and limited cultivation.205
Scandinavia: For many years, there were various small kingdoms throughout the area now
known as Denmark for many years. Harald Bluetooth (d. 986) ruled as King of Denmark from
958 and King of Norway for a few years around 970. The Danes were Christianized in 965 by
him. As England broke away from Danish control in 1035, Denmark fell into disarray form some
time. In the early twelfth century, Denmark became the seat of an independent church province
of Scandinavia. Helped by his minister Absalon, Archbishop of Lund, Waldemar I (1157-82)
cleared his seas of pirates, and enriched Denmark by protecting and encouraging trade. Absalon
founded Copenhagen as a market haven in 1167. Waldemar II (1202-41) replied to German
aggression by conquering Holstein, Hamberg, and Germany northeast of the Elbe. He undertook
three crusades against the Baltic Slavs, captured northern Estonia, and founded Reval. 206 “In 1223
he was taken prisoner by Count Henry of Schwerin, and was released, after two and half years,
only on his surrendering to the Germans all his Germanic and Slave conquest except Rugen. He
devoted the remainder of his life to internal reforms and the codification of Danish law.” By the
late thirteenth century, royal power had waned, and the nobility forced the king to grant a charter,
considered Denmark's first constitution. A weakened Denmark provided windows of opportunity
to both the Hanseatic League and the Counts of Holstein. The Holstein Counts gained control of
large portions of Denmark because the king would grant them fiefs in exchange for money to
finance royal operations. His death was followed by the civil wars and dissolution. The Middle
Ages saw a period of close cooperation between the Crown and the Church. “Thousands of church
buildings sprang up throughout the country during this time. The economy expanded during the
12th century, based mostly on the lucrative herring-trade, but the 13th century turned into a period
of difficulty and saw the temporary collapse of royal authority.”207
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
Map I-2-10. Iberian Peninsula: Christian Reconquest, 1210
Spain: The Iberians migrated originally from north Africa in about 1000s B.C. lived in the
south, the Celts migrated from France and absorbed inhabitants lived in the north, and the
intermingled Celtiberians lived in the central region, the west, and along the northern coast. The
peninsula had been colonized by the Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Visigoths, and
Muslims until the collapse of the caliphate in 1031. Under the Muslim rule, the Arabs of about
from 30,000 to 50,000 entered Spain by 750 as a ruling class, while the Berbers numbered several
hundreds of thousands migrated from North Africa to Spain, which population became only seven
million in 1000. The Arabs settled in the fertile areas and monopolized official positions, while
the Berbers settled in the mountainous and peripheral regions despite some exceptions. Muslim
Spain was prosperous, and the population of Cordova exceeded 300,000 in the tenth century. The
Arabs mingled their blood with that of Europeans and Africans over generations. In the eleventh
century, a number of small Christian kingdoms had been established in the north supported by
French nobles. It was the age of parias: the Christian rulers forced treaties on the Muslim rulers
“which stipulated the surrender of fixed amounts of cash” to be paid annually and at regular
intervals. The parias was one of alliances and contracts with the Muslims based on the policy of
mutual understanding and toleration. But the twelfth century of the frontier world was a crusading
age heightening of the antagonism between Muslims and Christians. The Christians conquered
the southern Spain ruled by the Muslims, which were consolidated into the kingdoms of Castile
and Leon, Aragon, and Portugal, but the kingdom of Granada remained independent as a Muslim
state by tributing to Castile until 1492. The Christian conquest of Spain brought economic disaster
from depopulation: skilled workers were driven out of the urban areas. The new rulers attracted
people to return to urban areas and their surrounding lands by promising liberties and exemptions.
The conquered lands were distributed to powerful nobles and military orders, and allocated to new
immigrants as an incentive for repopulation. An abundance of land and a lack of colonists and
manpower limited the use of lands to pasturing rather than farming.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
(i) The Almohad Caliphate was the first Berber state in Tinmel in the Atlas Mountain founded
by the Moroccan Berber Muslims in about 1120. They extended their power over all of the
Maghreb by 1159. Al-Andalus followed the fate of Africa and all Islamic Iberia was under
Almohad rule by 1172. Muhammad III (1199-1214) was defeated by an alliance of the Christian
princes of Castile, Aragon, Navarre, and Portugal. Nearly all of the Moorish dominations in Iberia
were lost soon after, with the great Moorish cities of Cordova and Seville falling to the Christians
in 1236 and 1248 respectively. “The Almohads continued to rule in Africa until the piecemeal
loss of territory through the revolt of tribes and districts enabled the rise of their most effective
enemies, the Marinids in 1215. The last representative of the line, Idris al-Wathiq, was reduced to
the possession of Marrakesh, where he was murdered by a slave in 1269; the Marinids seized
Marrakesh, ending the Almohad domination of the Western Maghreb.”208 (ii) Military Orders: To
drive back the Moors from Spain, “some Templars came from France; and three Spanish military
religious orders – the Knights of Calatrava, of Santiago, of Alcantara – were formed in the twelfth
century. In 1118 Alfonso I of Aragon captured Saragossa; in 1195 the Christians were defeated at
Alarcos; but 1212 they almost wiped out the main Almohad army at Las Navas de Tolosa. The
victory was decisive; Moorish resistance broke down, and one by one the Moslem citadels fell:
Cordova (1236), Valencia (1238), Seville (1248), Cadiz (1250).” (iii) Union of Leon and Castile:
When Alfonso VIII of Castile was defeated at Alarcos, the kings of Leon and Navarre invaded his
kingdom, and Alfonso had to make peace with the infidels to protect himself against the infidelity
of the Christians. Fernando III (121-52) reunited Leon and Castile, pushed the Catholic frontier
to Granada, made Seville his capital. His son Alfonso X (1252-84) was an excellent scholar and
irresolute king. He hired Arabs and Jews to translate Moslem works into Latin for the instruction
of Europe. He established a school of astronomy, and organized a corps of historians.
(iv) Aragon rose to prominence through the marriage: acquiring Catalonia including Spanish
ports. Pedro II (1196-1213) brought the new kingdom to prosperity by protecting with vigorously
enforced law the security of harbors, markets, and roads. His son James I (1213-76) received the
throne at age five, but became the most powerful monarch of this century. His son Pedro III (127685) married a daughter of Frederick’s son Manfred, King of Sicily, and renounced the papal
suzerainty over Aragon. (v) Portugal: In 1095 Count Henry of Burgundy, a crusading knight in
Spain, so pleased Alfonso VI of Castile and Leon that the King gave him a daughter, Theresa, in
marriage, and included in her dowry, as a fief, a county of Leon named Portugal. The territory
had been won from Muslim Spain only thirty-one years before; and south of the Mondego River
the Moors still ruled. Count Henry felt uncomfortable as anything less than a king; from their
marriage he and his wife plotted to make their fief an independent state. When Henry died (1112),
Theresa continued to labor for independence, but she died in exile with her lover in 1130. Her
son, Alfonso I Henriques (1128-85), achieved her aims by conquering a land from the Moors
below the Douro River, and proclaimed himself as King of Portugal, which was recognized by
Rome subject to annual tribute. Alfonso captured Santarem and Lisbon, and extended his rule to
the Tagus. Under Alfonso III (1249-79) Portugal reached its present mainland limits, and Lisbon
became its port and capital in 1263. His son, Denis (1279-1325), made peace with Leon and
Castile through a marital alliance. “Denis' main priority of government was the organization of
the country. He pursued his father's policies on legislation and centralization of power. Denis
promulgated the nucleus of a Portuguese civil and criminal law code, protecting the lower classes
from abuse and extortion. As king, he travelled around the country to resolve various problems.
He ordered the construction of numerous castles, created new towns, and granted privileges due
cities to several others.”209 His main concern was the redevelopment and promotion of rural infrastructure: he redistributed land, promoted agriculture, and organized communities.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
Italy: (a) Norman Sicily: Roger Guisgard (1031-1101) arrived southern Italy from Normandy
in 1057, and conquered all of Calabria with his brother Robert. In 1061, two brothers crossed
from Reggio and captured Messina in 1061, took Palermo in 1072, and conquest of Sicily from
Muslim rule was complete by 1091. Much of Robert’s success in Italy had been due to Roger’s
support, and Roger’s rule in Sicily became more absolute than that of Robert’s in Italy. Roger
landed Malta, marched to the capital Mdina, and made the islands tributaries of the count himself.
With the treaty, many Greek and other Christian prisoners were released. “The Papacy, favoring
a prince who had recovered Sicily from Greeks and Muslims, in 1098 granted Roger and his heirs
the Apostolic Legateship of the island. Roger created new Latin bishoprics at Syracuse, Girgenti
and elsewhere, nominating the bishops personally, while he turned the archbishopric of Palermo
into a Catholic see. He practiced general toleration towards Arabs and Greeks, even sponsoring
the construction of over twelve Greek monasteries in the Val Demone region. In the cities, the
Muslims, who had generally secured such rights in their terms of surrender, retained their mosques,
their kadis, and freedom of trade; in the country, however, they became serfs. Roger drew the mass
of his infantry from the Muslims; Saint Anselm, visiting him at the siege of Capua, 1098, found
the brown tents of the Arabs innumerable. Nevertheless, the Latin element began to prevail, as
Lombards and other Italians flocked to the island in the wake of the conquest, and the conquest of
Sicily proved decisive in the steady decline of Muslim power in the western Mediterranean from
this time.”210 Roger II of Sicily began his rule as Count of Sicily in 1105. “When William II of
Apulia died childless in July 1127, Roger claimed all Hauteville family possessions in the
peninsula as well as the overlordship of the Principality of Capua, which had been nominally given
to Apulia almost thirty years earlier. However, the union of Sicily and Apulia was resisted
by Pope Honorius II and by the subjects of the duchy itself.”
Upon the death of Pope Honorius, Roger supported Antipope Anacletus II against Innocent
II; as the reward, his papal bull made Roger king of Sicily in 1130, who united all the Norman
Conquest in Italy into one kingdom with a strong centralized government. “Opposed by the popes,
who feared his encroachment upon the Papal States; by the German emperors, who resented his
annexation of the Abruzzi; by the Byzantines, who dreamed of regaining southern Italy; and by
the Moslems of Africa, who longed to recapture Sicily, he fought them all, sometimes several of
them at once, and emerged with his kingdom greater than before, and with new acquisitions in
Tunis, Sfax, Bone, and Tripoli. He made use of the intelligent Saracens, Greeks and Jews of Sicily
to organize a better civil service and administrative bureaucracy than any other nation in Europe
had at the time. He allowed the feudal organization of agriculture in Sicily, but kept his barons in
check with a royal court whose law covered every class. He enriched the economy of Sicily by
bringing in silk weavers from Greece, and furthered commerce by competent protection of life,
travel, and property. He allowed religious freedom and cultural autonomy to Moslems, Jews, and
Greek Catholics, opened career to all talent, himself wore Muslim garb, liked Muslim morals, and
lived as a Latin king in an Oriental court. His kingdom was for a generation the richest and most
civilized state in Europe, and he was the most enlightened ruler of his age. Without him Frederick
II, a still greater king, would have been impossible.”211 In the reign of his son William I (115466), the Moslems of Tunisia rose against the Christians, and ended Norman power in Africa.
William II (1166-89) lived much the same sort of life as his father. He left no children. Tancred
(1189-94), an illegitimate son of Roger III, Duke of Apulia, succeeded the throne but died childless.
William III was crowned as king by the pope; however, Hohenstaufen emperor Henry VI claimed
the throne of Sicily in right of his wife. Henry marched against Sicily and was crowned as King
of Sicily in December 25, 1194. Henry entered Sicily in 1197 and applied himself to prepare his
crusade in Messina in March, but died possibly of malaria there in September.212
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
(b) The Papal States: The donation of Pepin in 754 made the pope the temporal ruler over the
strip of territory in Italy; Charlemagne confirmed this donation, and was crowned through Pope
Leo III in 800; which created the Papal States, and developed cooperative relations between church
and state. In the tenth century, however, aristocracy of Rome with rulers of papal cities divided
into factions, and a dominant faction of the city monopolized to choose the pope and bishops. The
papal chair was filled by corruption - bribery, murder, or the favor of women of high rank and low
morality. For example, Gregory VI purchased the papacy with a thousand pound of gold. Otto I
tried to normalize the papal system through political intervention, but was not much successful
due to corruption of papal cities, until Pope Leo IX took office in 1049. Aside from the papacy,
Rome was in this period a poor city. The Normans sacked and pillaged Rome in 1084 – destruction
and neglect remained for centuries. “The Imperial crown once held by the Carolingian emperors
was disputed between their fractured heirs and local overlords; none emerged victorious until Otto
I, Holy Roman Emperor invaded Italy. Italy became a constituent kingdom of the Holy Roman
Empire in 962, from which point the emperors were German. As emperor's consolidated their
position, northern Italian city-states would become divided by Guelphs and Ghibellines. Henry
III, Holy Roman Emperor found three rival popes when he visited Rome in 1048 because of the
unprecedented actions of Pope Benedict IX. He deposed all three and installed his own preferred
candidate: Pope Clement II. The history of the papacy from 1048 to 1257 would continue to be
marked by conflict between popes and the Holy Roman Emperor, most prominently the Investiture
Controversy, a dispute over who - pope or emperor - could appoint bishops within the Empire.
Henry IV's Walk to Canossa in 1077 to meet Pope Gregory VII, although not dispositive within
the context of the larger dispute, has become legendary. Although the emperor renounced any
right to lay investiture in the Concordat of Worms (1122), the issue would flare up again.”213
The popes had dreamed of a theocracy under law of the Church, but they felt crushed amid
the autocracy of the emperors, the oligarchy of the nobles, and the democracy of the citizens.
“Inspired by the rise of free cities in northern Italy, the people of Rome, in the twelfth century,
began to demand a return to secular self-government. In 1143, they elected a Senate of fifty-six
members, and for some years thereafter elected new senators annually.” Arnold of Brescia (10901155) became an Augustinian canon and then prior of a monastery in Brescia. “He was substantially orthodox in doctrine, but denied the validity of sacraments administered by priests in a state
of sin. He held it immoral for a priest to own property, demanded a return of the clergy to apostolic
poverty, and advised the Church to surrender all her material possessions and political power the
state.” He called upon the Romans to reject clerical rule, and to restore the Roman Republic in
1145. “The followers of Arnold renounced not only the temporal power of the popes, but the
authority, in Italy, of the German emperors of the Holy Roman Empire….They rebuilt and fortified
the Capitol, seized St. Peter’s, turned it into a castle, took possession of the Vatican, and levied
taxes upon pilgrims.” He founded a republic as the Commune of Rome. He succeeded in driving
Pope Eugene III into exile in 1146, but when he returned to the city and excommunicated him,
while Arnold continued to lead the blossoming republic for ten years. One criticized by calling
him “the father of political heresies” but the other like Edward Gibbon expressed that the trumpet
of Roman liberty was first sounded by Arnold. He was finally seized by imperial forces in 1055,
tried by the Roman Curia as a rebel, and was hanged and burnt.214 In many Italian communes
under the lead of great lawyers produced by the universities like in Bologna, “The captain of the
people was chosen not by the communal council but by the popular party, dominated by the
merchant guilds; he represented not the poor but the business class. In the later centuries, he would
extend his power at the expense of the podesta (the chief magistrate), as the bourgeoisie would
come to surpass the nobility in wealth and influence.” 215
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
(c) Venice: In 751 the Lombard King Aistulf conquered most of the Exarchate of Ravenna,
leaving Venice a lonely autonomous Byzantine outpost. Charlemagne sought to subdue the city
to his own rule. His second son Pepin, king of the Lombards, seized the city for six months, but
his army was ravaged by the diseases of the local swamps and was forced to withdraw; and a few
month later, Pepin himself died. An agreement between Charlemagne and the Byzantine Emperor
Nicephorus in 814 recognized Venice as Byzantine territory and granted the city trading rights
along Adriatic coast. As Byzantine power waned, its increasing autonomy brought an eventual
independence. From the ninth to the twelfth century, Venice developed into a city state. “Its
strategic position at the head of the Adriatic made Venetian naval and commercial power almost
invulnerable. With elimination of pirates along the Dalmatian coast, the city became a flourishing
trade center between Western Europe and the rest of the world (especially the Byzantine Empire
and the Islamic world).” The Republic of Venice seized a number of places on the eastern shores
of Adriatic before 1200, mostly for commercial reasons, because pirates based there were a
menace to trade as appeared on Map II-2-13 below. In 1171 suddenly the Byzantine Emperor
Manuel, prodded by the jealous Genoese, turned against the Venetians in his capital, arrested great
number of them, and ordered a wholesale confiscation of their goods. Venice declared war and
build and launched a fleet of 130 ships, but at Euboea shores the troops fell sick with a disease.
The Doge led his armada back to Venice, where the plague infected and decimated the inhabitants.
“It is against the background of these events that we must view the Fourth Crusade, and the
oligarchic revolution that transformed the constitution of Venice.” For the Fourth Crusade, Venice
provided its transportation from several regions of Europe to Constantinople to sale in 1203.
Following the fall of Constantinople, the Byzantine Empire was partitioned among Latin crusaders
and the Venetians. Venice gained some strategic territories in the Aegean Sea, including the
islands of Crete and Euboea. Venice signed a trade treaty with the Mongol Empire in 1221. 216
The oligarchic revolution: “The great merchants, fearing the collapse of their commercial
empire if such defeats continued, resolved to take the election of the doge, and the determination
of public policy, from the general assembly, and establish a more select council, which should be
better fitted to consider and transact affairs of state, and might serve as a check upon both the
passions of the people and the autocracy of the doge.”217 “The three highest judges of the Republic
were persuaded to appoint a commission to draw up a new constitution. Its report recommended
that each of the six wards of the city-state should choose two leading men, each of whom should
choose forty able men; the 480 deputies so chosen were to form the Maggior Consiglio, or Greater
Council, as the general legislature of the nation. The Greater Council in turn was to choose sixty
of its members as a Senate to govern commerce, finance, and foreign relations. The arrengo or
popular assembly was to meet only to ratify or reject proposals of war or peace. A Privy Council
of six men, elected severally from the six wards, was to govern the state in any interregnum, and
its sanction was to be required to legalize any governmental action of a Doge.” The mercantile
oligarchy was now supreme, and Venice became the dominant power in the Eastern Mediterranean
and the Black Sea, and the commercial leadership of Europe passed from Constantinople to Italy.
“In 1261 the Genoese aided the Greeks to regain Constantinople, and were rewarded with
commercial preference there; but three years later the Venetian fleet defeated the Genoese near
Sicily, and the Greek emperor was forced to restore the favored position of Venice in his capital.”
As a result of strict law enforcement, public order was better maintained, public policy more
shrewdly guided, laws more stable and effective, than in the other communities of medieval Italy.
In 1301 laws forbade unhealthy industries in residential quarters, and excluded industries pouring
injurious fumes into the air. The Venetians respect religious activities, but the ruling classes rarely
allowed Christianity or excommunication to interfere with business or war. 218
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
(d) Milan and Genoa: The two greatest of Italian cities were Genoa and Milan. “Before 1100,
Genoa emerged as an independent city-state, one of a number of Italian city-states during this
period. Nominally, the Holy Roman Emperor was overlord and the Bishop of Genoa was
president of the city; however, actual power was wielded by a number of "consuls" annually
elected by popular assembly. Genoa was one of the so-called Maritime Republics, along
with Venice, Pisa, and Amalfi and trade, shipbuilding and banking helped support one of the
largest and most powerful navies in the Mediterranean…. The collapse of the Crusader States was
offset by Genoa’s alliance with the Byzantine Empire. As Venice's relations with the Byzantine
Empire were temporarily disrupted by the Fourth Crusade and its aftermath, Genoa was able to
improve its position. Genoa took advantage of this opportunity to expand into the Black
Sea and Crimea.”219 Milan was the most richest and powerful city among the Lombard cities. In
the thirteenth century, she had 200,000 inhabitants, 13,000 houses, and 1000 taverns. “The war
of conquest by Frederick I Barbarossa against the Lombard cities brought the destruction of much
of Milan in 1162. After the founding of the Lombard League in 1167, Milan took the leading role
in this alliance. The war between the German emperor and the Italian communes went on with
mixed fortunes for years, ending with the Italian victory at the battle of Legnano. As a result of
the independence that the Lombard cities gained in the Peace of Constance in 1183, Milan became
a duchy.” Before Frederick I died, his son Henry VI married Constance, daughter of Roger II of
Sicily, who produced Frederick II who would find a more burden to rule Italy. The Duchy of
Milan was created as a state of the Holy Roman Empire in 1395.
Map I-2-11. The Holy Roman Empire, 1250
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
Germany: The Treaty of Verdun in 843 made Louis, grandson of Charlemagne, the first king
of Germany ruling between the Rhine and the Elbe. After his death, three sons divided the realm.
As the Northmen raided the Rhine cities, the central government failed to protect their provinces,
so that provincial dukes organized armies to defend themselves by giving lands in fief to retainers
for military service. After the death of Louis III (899-911), the nobles and prelates, claiming the
right of choosing the king, gave the throne to Conrad I (911-18), Duke of Franconia. After his
death the throne went to Henry I of Saxony. His son Otto I the Great (936-73) attacked Wends and
converted them to Christianity. He invaded Italy, defeated the Magyars, and won a long period of
peace. Pope John XII crowned him as the Holy Roman Emperor in 962. When the Saxon line
ended by Henry II, the throne went to Conrad II (1024-39), who founded the Franconian or Salian
dynasty emperors. Henry III (1046-56) received the throne by coronation by Clement II in Rome.
He filled many episcopal vacancies, and launched several campaigns against Hungary and the
Netherland, but was not successful. His son Henry IV (1084-1106) fought Gregory VII for ten
years on the question of lay investiture. “Henry attempted, initially, to reassert his father's old
imperial rights throughout the empire and also to build up a new, strong imperial domain in Saxony.
This led to serious uprisings in 1073 in which Saxons and southern German nobles combined
against him. By 1075 he had suppressed these revolts, only to begin a quarrel with Pope Gregory
VII over the imperial right to appoint or invest churchmen with their offices. Gregory and Church
reformers claimed that neither rulers nor any other laymen could exercise this right - despite long
precedent. Angry at Gregory's opposition to his appointing an archbishop of Milan, in 1076, Henry
hastily summoned a council of German bishops who declared Pope Gregory deposed. Gregory
answered by declaring Emperor Henry excommunicated and suspended from office.” 220 Fearing
collaboration of German magnates with the pope, he prevailed upon the pope who forgave him,
which prevented Gregory to continue to work with German nobles.
Henry V (1106-25) continued the struggle against barons and popes. “In the Concordat of
Worms, signed in September 1122, Henry renounced the right of investiture with ring and crozier,
recognized the freedom of election of the clergy, and promised to restore all church property. The
pope agreed to allow elections to take place in presence of the imperial envoys, and the investiture
with the scepter to be granted by the emperor as a symbol that the estates of the church were held
under the crown. Henry, who had been solemnly excommunicated at Reims by Callistus in
October 1119, was received again into the communion of the church, after he had abandoned his
nominee, Gregory, to defeat and banishment.” 221 As he died, the nobility overthrew the principle
of hereditary monarchy, ended the Franconian dynasty, and made Lothair III of Saxony king.
Thirteen years later, with the support of imperial cities, Swabia, and the Duchy of Austria, Conrad
III (1138-52) of Swabia began the Hohenstaufen dynasty, the most powerful line of kings in
German history. Duke Henry of Bavaria rejected the election to support his uncle Welf. The
Hohenstaufen army besieged the Bavarian rebels in the town and fortress and suppressed them. In
1146, joining the Second Crusade, Conrad’s army of 20,000 went overland, via Hungary arrived
at Constantinople by September 1147, ahead of the French army. Conrad took his army across
Anatolia, but they were defeated by the Seljuk Turks at the Battle of Dorylaeum in October. The
remaining 2,000 men of the German army limped on to Nicaea, where many of the survivors tried
to return home. “Conrad fell seriously ill at Ephesus and was sent to Constantinople. After
recovering, Conrad sailed to Acre, and from there reached Jerusalem. He participated in the illfated Siege of Damascus and after that failure, grew disaffected with his allies. Another attempt
to attack Ascalon failed when Conrad's allies did not appear as promised, and Conrad returned to
Germany.” 222 In 1150, defeating Welf VI and his son Welf VII at the Battle of Flochberg, Conrad
secured the peaceful succession of one of his family members to the king.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
Frederick I (1155-90), known as Frederick Barbarossa, was Duke of Swabia, who was son of
Duke Frederick II of the Hohenstaufen dynasty and Judith, daughter of Henry IX, Duke of Bavaria,
from the rival House of Welf. Therefore, Frederick descended from the two leading families in
Germany, so was elected Holy Roman Emperor crowned by Pope Adrian IV. Divorcing his first
wife on grounds of consanguinity, he remarried the heiress of the count of Burgundy, winning a
kingdom with his bride. His imperial title made him also King of Lombards. Frederick now sent
to each of the northern Italian cities a podesta to govern it in his name. Some cities accepted, some
rejected, these alien masters. “Loving order more than liberty, and perhaps anxious to control the
Italian outlets of German trade with the East, Frederick set out in 1158 to subdue the rebellious
towns, which loved liberty more than order. He summoned to his court at Roncaglia the learned
legists who were reviving Roman law at Bologna; he was pleased to learn from them that by that
law the emperor held absolute authority over all parts of the Empire, owned all property in it, and
might modify or abrogate private rights whenever he thought it desirable for the state.”223 Pope
Alexander III, fearing for the temporal rights of the papacy, opposing to his imperial expansion,
and citing the donations of Pepin and Charlemagne, repudiate the claims. When Frederick insisted
on them, the pope excommunicated him in 1160. Frederick besieged Milan for two years, and
captured and burned it to the ground in 1162. Angered by the ruthlessness and exactions, the
Italians formed the Lombard League in 1167, including most of the cities of Northern Italy, which
defeated Frederick. He signed the Treaty of Constance in 1183, allowing the Italian cities to
restore self-government; in return, they recognized the formal suzerainty of the Empire. Defeated
in Italy, Frederick triumphed everywhere else, and forced the imperial authority over Poland,
Bohemia, and Hungary. He died of accident on the way to the Third Crusade. His son Henry VI
(1190-7) conquered southern Italy and Sicily from Normans, united Germany and Italy, becoming
the strongest European ruler since Charlemagne, but died of dysentery in Sicily at thirty-three.
Frederick II (1215-1250) was born in 1194; but his father Henry VI died in 1197, and his
mother Constance, princess of Norman king Roger II of Italy, died next year. Frederick had been
raised in Sicily under the guardianship of Innocent III, and experienced diverse peoples, languages,
and religions. He was crowned as king of Sicily in 1198 before his mother died. Meanwhile, Otto
IV (1198-1215) held the German throne and wanted to seize Sicily and to capture Frederick. Philip
II (1165-1223) of France was anxious to create a Franco-Swabian axis against the Welf-English
alliance. Since Philip II decisively defeated Otto IV at Bouvines, Frederick entered Aachen and
ascended to emperor of the Holy Roman Empire in 1215 with imperial coronation at St. Perter’s
in 1220. Complying with pope’s advice, after the death of his wife, Frederick II married Isabella
in 1225, heiress to the lost kingdom of Jerusalem. Recognizing that German hegemony in Europe
was a dream, Frederick II focused to control northern Italy based on his kingdom of Sicily, leaving
Germany to feudalism. Due to the conflict of interests in Italy and Sicily, Gregory IX (1227-41)
excommunicated Frederick for the delayed crusade caused by plague. While the pope moved to
depose the emperor who was in Jerusalem for the crusade, Frederick’s agent in Italy invaded the
papal states. In response, the papal army invaded and captured part of Sicily and southern Italy.
Returning from Jerusalem, Frederick recaptured lost lands, and made peace with the pope who
withdrew his excommunication in 1230. Frederick regulated the national economy, founded the
University of Naples in 1224 without ecclesiastical sanction, and gave freedom of worship to all
faith. Despite winning many battles, he lost the war in northern Italy demanding freedom; which
was consistently supported by the pope. After his death, the papacy remained supreme, while the
German princes had chosen weak kings like Rudolf of Habsburg in 1273, making Vienna his
capital to begin a new line of kings, who would not centralized monarchical power. Neither
Germany nor Italy created a unified monarchy in the Middle Ages and beyond.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
Byzantium: Taking Jerusalem in 1076, “the Turks were advancing through Asia Minor; the
Pechenegs were approaching Constantinople from the north; the Normans were attacking the
Byzantine outposts in the Adriatic; the government and the army were crippled with treason,
incompetence, corruption, and cowardice.” Inheriting the collapsing empire facing with constant
warfare against both the Seljuq Turks in Asia Minor and the Normans in the western Balkans,
Alexious Comnenus (1081-1118) was able to halt the Byzantine decline and begin the military,
financial, and territorial recovery. He met the situation with subtlety and courage. “He sent agents
to foment revolution in Norman Italy; gave Venice commercial privileges in return for the aid of
its navy against the Normans; confiscated Church treasures to rebuild his army; took the field in
person, and won victories by strategy rather than by blood. Amid this foreign cares, he found time
to reorganize the government and its defenses, and gave the tottering Empire another century of
life. In 1095, in a far-reaching stroke of diplomacy, he appealed to the West to come to the aid of
the Christian East; at the Council of Piacenza, he offered a reunion of the Greek with the Latin
Church in return for the unity of Europe against Islam. His appeal conspired with other factors to
unleash the first of those dramatic Crusades that were to save, and then destroy, Byzantium.” 224
In the First Crusader, Alexius was able to recover a number of important cities and islands of
western Asia Minor, but the crusader states were established in Palestine and Syria. Alexius was
succeeded by his son John II Comnenus (1118-43), who has been assessed as the greatest among
the emperors of the Comnenus dynasty. “In the course of his twenty-five year reign, John made
alliances with the Holy Roman Empire in the west, decisively defeated the Pechenegs, Hungarians
and Serbs in the Balkans, and personally led numerous campaigns against the Turks in Asia Minor.
John's campaigns fundamentally changed the balance of power in the east, forcing the Turks onto
the defensive and restoring to the Byzantines many towns, fortresses and cities right across the
peninsula. In the southeast, John extended Byzantine control from the Maeander in the west all
the way to Cilicia and Tarsus in the east. In an effort to demonstrate the Byzantine ideal of the
emperor's role as the leader of the Christian world, John marched into Muslim Syria at the head
of the combined forces of Byzantium and the Crusader states; yet despite the great vigor with
which he pressed the campaign, John's hopes were disappointed by evasiveness of his Crusader
allies and their reluctance to fight alongside his forces. Also under John, the empire's population
recovered to about 10 million people.” His reign is less well recorded by writers. 225
His son Manuel I (1143-80) pursued an energetic and ambitious foreign policy to restore
his empire to its past glories as the superpower of the Mediterranean world. “In Palestine, Manuel
allied with the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem and sent a large fleet to participate in a combined
invasion of Fatimid Egypt. Manuel reinforced his position as overlord of the Crusader states, with
his hegemony over Antioch and Jerusalem secured by agreement with Raynald, Prince of Antioch,
and Amalric, King of Jerusalem. In an effort to restore Byzantine control over the ports of southern
Italy, he sent an expedition to Italy in 1155, but disputes within the coalition led to the eventual
failure of the campaign. Despite this military setback, Manuel's armies successfully invaded the
Southern parts of Kingdom of Hungary in 1167, defeating the Hungarians at the Battle of Sirmium.
By 1168, nearly the whole of the eastern Adriatic coast lay in Manuel's hands. Manuel made
several alliances with the Pope and Western Christian kingdoms, and he successfully handled the
passage of the Second Crusade.”226 Manuel's achievements in the east were compromised by a
serious defeat at the Battle of Myriokephalon against the Turks in 1176, although it did materially
affect the capabilities of the Byzantine army. However, the battle had more of a psychological
impact than a military impact: it was a pivotal event and following it the balance between the two
powers in Anatolia gradually began to shift, for Manuel never again launched a strategically
offensive campaign against the Turks and remained on the defensive. 227
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
As a result of continuous wars in the east, “The peasants grew poorer, and surrendered to
serfdom; the manual workers of the cities lived in noisome slums, whose dark filth harbored
uncounted crimes. Vague semi-communistic movements of revolt agitated the proletarian flux,
but have been forgotten in the careless repetitiousness of time. However, the capture of Palestine
by the Crusaders had opened Syrian ports to Latin commerce, and Constantinople lost to the rising
cities of Italy a third of its maritime trade. Christians and Muslims alike aspired to capture this
treasury of a millennium’s wealth.” After the fall of Constantinople in 1204 by the Fourth Crusade,
two Byzantine successor states were established: “the Empire of Nicaea, and the Despotate of
Epirus. A third one was the Empire of Trebizond created a few weeks before the sack of Constantinople by Alexius I of Trebizond. Of these three successor states, Epirus and Nicaea stood the
best chance of reclaiming Constantinople.” In fact, Theodore Lascaris (1205-22), son-in-law of
Alexius III, set up a Byzantine government in exile in Nicaea. All rich cities in Anatolia welcomed
his rule; and his just and able administration brought new prosperity to these regions, new life to
Greek letters, and new hope to Greek patriots. His son-in-law John Vatatzes (1222-54) added part
of Epirus to the Nicaean kingdom, recaptured Salonica from the Franks in 1246. He learned that
Pope Innocent IV had invited the advancing Mongols to attack him from the east in 1248, though
the Mongols rejected the papal plan. The Mongol invasion actually gave Nicaea a temporary relief
from Seljuk attacks, allowing it to concentrate on the Latin Empire to its north. 228
Michael VIII Palaeologus (1259-82), a leader of the discontented aristocracy, succeeded the
throne, recovered Constantinople from the Latin Empire in 1261, and transformed the Empire of
Nicaea into a restored Byzantine Empire. “Michael VIII began to denude the Anatolian frontier of
its troops and was forced to lower their pay or cancel their tax exemptions. This policy led to the
gradual collapse of the frontier, which was infiltrated by Turkish bands even before his death.”229
The civil war made situation worse after the death of Andronikos III 1341. “A six-year-long civil
war devastated the empire, allowing the Serbian ruler Stefan IV Dushan (1331–1346) to overrun
most of the Empire's remaining territory and establish a short-lived Serbian Empire. In 1354, an
earthquake at Gallipoli devastated the fort, allowing the Ottomans to establish themselves in
Europe. By the time the Byzantine civil wars had ended, the Ottomans had defeated the Serbians
and subjugated them as vassals. Following the Battle of Kosovo, much of the Balkans became
dominated by the Ottomans. The Byzantine emperors appealed to the West for help, but the Pope
would only consider sending aid in return for a reunion of the Eastern Orthodox Church with
the See of Rome. Church unity was considered, and occasionally accomplished by imperial decree,
but the Orthodox citizenry and clergy intensely resented the authority of Rome and the Latin
Rite. Some Western troops arrived to bolster the Christian defense of Constantinople, but most
Western rulers, distracted by their own affairs, did nothing.”230
The Armenians: About 1080 many Armenian families, resenting Seljuk domination, left their
country, crossed the Taurus Mountains, and established the kingdom of Lesser Armenia in Cilicia.
“While Turks, Kurds, and Mongols ruled Armenia proper, the new state maintained its independence for three centuries. In a reign of thirty-four years (1185-1219), Leo II repelled the attacks
of the sultans of Aleppo and Damascus, took Isauria, built his capital at Sis, made alliances with
the Crusaders, adopted European laws, encouraged industry and commerce, gave privileges to
Venetian and Genoese merchants, founded orphanages, hospitals, and schools, raised his people
to unparalleled prosperity….one of the wisest and most beneficent monarchs in medieval history.
His son-in-law Hethum I (1126-70), finding the Christians unreliable, allied himself with the
Mongols, and rejoiced at the expulsion of the Seljuks from Armenia (1240). But the Mongols
became converts to Mohammedanism, warred on Lesser Armenia, and reduced it to ruins in 1303.
In 1335, Armenia was conquered by the Mamluks….was divided among feudal lords.”231
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
Russia and the Mongols: “Scandinavian Norsemen, called Vikings in Western Europe and
Varangians in the East, combined piracy and trade in their roamings over much of Northern
Europe. In the mid-9th century, they began to venture along the waterways from the eastern Baltic
to the Black and Caspian Seas. According to the earliest Russian chronicle, a Varangian named
Rurik was elected ruler of Novgorod in about 860, before his successors moved south and
extended their authority to Kiev, which had been previously dominated by the Khazars. Thus, the
first East Slavic state, Rus’, emerged in the 9th century along the Dnieper River valley. A
coordinated group of princely states with a common interest in maintaining trade along the river
routes, Kievan Rus' controlled the trade route for furs, wax, and slaves between Scandinavia and
the Byzantine Empire along the Volga and Dnieper Rivers. By the end of the 10th century, the
Norse minority had merged with the Slavic population, which also absorbed Greek Christian
influences in the course of the multiple campaigns to loot Constantinople.”232 The city of Kiev
became the center of politics and economy in the south, maintained close contact with France and
Germany, and traded with the Scandinavian, Byzantine, and Islamic states through the Black Sea.
In the north, Novgorod grew to the second largest city in Russia based on trade with Germans and
was freed from Kiev in 1136. Vladimir I (980-1015) married Anne, sister of Byzantine emperor
Basil II, accepted Christianity, introduced Byzantine civilization into Russia, and made social
reforms. Yaroslav the Wise (1019-54) built buildings in Kiev such as the cathedral of St. Sophia,
and developed education and culture, and compiled the first Russian law code. After his death,
the Kievan state declined because of disturbances of trade with Muslims and Christians. Yury
Dolgoruky (1120-57) and his sons ruled Kiev until 1212, established Russian frontiers, built
churches and monasteries throughout the country, and colonized Rostov, Suzdal, and Vladimir.
By 1200 Kiev had lost control over most of the land of Russia. Alexander Nevsky (1220-63),
prince of Novgorod, defeated German and Swedish military invaders.
Map I-2-12. Eastern Europe in 1168
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
The Mongols of Genghis Khan (1162-1227) built irresistible forces with high discipline, and
invaded Khwarezm in 1220 to punish Muhammad II, Ala ad-Din, ruling Khwarezm, Transoxiana,
and Khorasan; who killed Mongolian merchants and its ambassador, commissioned to buy the
luxurious products of Transoxiana for the nobles at the Mongol court, by accusing them as
Mongolian spies. “Under the Subedei’s plan of invasion, the two hundred thousand strong Mongol
army was divided into four corps of cavalry, each accompanied by its own detachments of artillery
and engineers. The first, commanded by Genghis Kahn and Subedei, and the second, commanded
by the khan’s two sons Ogedei and Chagatai, set out from the Irtish River. The third and fourth,
which had been sent south, set out from Kashgar accompanied by Jebe and Jochi. Although he
had always been outnumbered, the khan had had misgivings about the size of his army and the
extent of the enterprise.” 233 “They came from Turkestan through the Caucasus, crushed the
Georgian army there, and pillaged the Crimea. The Cumans, who had for centuries warred against
Kiev, begged for Russian aid….The Mongols sent envoys to propose a Russian alliance against
the Cumans; the Russians killed the envoys. In the battle on the banks of the Kalka River, near
the Sea of Azov, the Mongols defeated the Russian-Cuman army, captured several Russian leaders
by treachery.”234 In fact, Jebe and Subedei crossed the Dnieper River, and engaged in a battle
against the Russian armies defending Kiev in May 1123: forty thousand Russians were defeated
by eighteen thousand Mongols plus five thousand allies. Suppressing the Bulgars on the upper
Volga, Genghis Khan returned home for his eastern campaigns, but died of illness, and his third
son Ogedei succeeded the throne. The campaign objective was not only to punish Muhammad II
of Khwarezm who killed a Mongolian diplomat, but also to secure the western front in order to
conquer China. Moreover, the accumulation of tactical and strategic information about Russia
and Europe through this war and the established network of spies was essential for next war.
Map I-2-13. The Mongol Empire before 1259
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
The Mongols returned again. “The vast Mongol hordes of around 35,000 mounted archers,
commanded by Batu Khan and Subutai, crossed the Volga River and invaded Volga Bulgaria in
the autumn of 1236. It took them a year to extinguish the resistance of the Volga Bulgarians,
the Cumans-Kipchaks, and the Alani. Sacking of Suzdal by Batu Khanin. February 1238. Three
days later, the capital of Vladimir-Suzdal was taken and burnt to the ground. The royal family
perished in the fire, while the grand prince retreated northward. Crossing the Volga, he mustered
a new army, which was totally annihilated by the Mongols in the Battle of the Sit River on March
4. Thereupon Batu Khan divided his army into smaller units, which ransacked fourteen cities.”
The Mongols used Chinese siege engines under Tului to raze the walls of Russian cities. They
were advancing on Novgorod but unexpectedly turned back at the site mentioned as Ignach Cross,
of which the exact location is not known. “Refugees from southern Rus' moved mostly to the
northeast, into the forested region with poor soils between the upper Volga and the Oka Rivers. In
the summer of 1238, Batu Khan devastated the Crimea and pacified Mordovia. In the winter of
1239, he sacked Chernigov and Pereyaslav. After many days of siege, the horde stormed Kiev in
December 1240. Despite the resistance of Danylo of Halych, Batu Khan managed to take two of
his principal cities, Halych and Volodymyr-Volynskyi. The Mongols then resolved to reach the
ultimate sea, where they could proceed no further, and invaded Hungary and Poland.” 235 The
Mongols directly ruled the area along the lower Volga and north of the Caspian and Black Seas to
Kiev, and indirectly elsewhere for over two hundred years, falling to Poland and Lithuania in 1475.
All of the Russian states including Novgorod, Smolensk, Galich, and Pskov, submitted to the
Mongol rule. The Bulgarians had paid tribute to the Mongols. The Golden Horde built its capital
at Sarai on the lower Volga. The Mongols or Tartars never settled in the country, and they had
little direct dealing with the inhabitants, so that the subject races, agriculturists, and dwellers in
town were not disturbed in their ordinary avocations; they were tolerant in religious matters.
In its early Mongolian invasion, the Russians had no central command with some thousands
of each city. The military strategies and tactics of the Mongol army was superior: planned
reconnaissance and intelligence, psychological warfare by sending envoys, swiftness and surprise
of attacks, strong food soldiers, accurate bowmen, speedy cavalry, advanced siege skill, mobility
of horses and men with light and dried food for rations, and local recruit and training of soldiers.
Ethnically, Mongolian conquests dispersed the Turkish race over western Asia. The Turks
provided soldiers with clerks, administrators and teachers, so that most of Mongolian troops used
the Turkish language, and decrees were published in the script derived from Turkish. The
Mongolian rule isolated Russians by the influence of their customs, laws, and government. During
their reign, the East Slavs evolved into three groups: Poles and Lithuanians known as White
Russians or Belarusians, Little Russians from Kiev and adjacent areas, and Ukrainians known as
Great Russians. “The period of Mongol rule over Russia included significant cultural and interpersonal contacts between the Russian and Mongolian ruling classes. By 1450, the Tatar
language had become fashionable….Many Russian boyar (noble) families traced their descent
from the Mongols or Tatars. In a survey of Russian noble families of the 17th century, over 15%
of the Russian noble families had Tatar or Oriental origins. The Mongols brought about changes
in the economic power of states and overall trade. In the religious sphere, St. Paphnutius of
Borovsk was the grandson of a Mongol baskak, or tax collector, while a nephew of Khan Bergai
of the Golden Horde converted to Christianity and became known as the monk St. Peter Tsarevich
of the Horde. In the judicial sphere, under Mongol influence capital punishment, which during the
times of Kievan Rus' had only been applied to slaves, became widespread, and the use of torture
became a regular part of criminal procedure. Specific punishments introduced in Moscow included
beheading for alleged traitors and branding of thieves.”236
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
The Balkans and the Border States: (i) Bulgaria, once so powerful under Krum and
Simeon, remained subject to Byzantium for 168 years. John and Peter Asen, two brothers,
persuaded the discontent of the Bulgar and Wallachian population to regain their liberty. Johnn
Asen II (1218-41) not only absorbed Thrace, Macedonia, Epirus, and Albania; he governed with
such justice that even his Greek subjects loved him; he pleased the popes with allegiance and
monastic foundations. Mongol invasion disordered and weakened the state (1292-5), and in the
fourteenth century it was absorbed first to Serbia and next to the Turks. (ii) Serbia: Stephen
Nemanya founded the Serb kingdom in 1159, which dynasty governed for 200 years. His son Sava
served the nation as archbishop and statesman, and became one of its most revered saints. Servia
was moving toward a high civilization when heresy and persecution destroyed the national unity.
(iii) Hungary: Stephen I (1000-38) was crowned as the first king of Hungary, who consolidated
his rule through a series of wars against semi-independent local rulers. After his death, Hungary
was disturbed by pagan Magyar revolts against the Catholic kings, and by the efforts of Henry III
to annex Hungary to Germany, but was defeated. The Mongols invaded and destroyed Hungary,
but after the death of the Great Khan in 1242, Batu Khan ordered the withdrawal of all his troops.
Nevertheless, the invasion and famine were followed by over 15 percent decline of the population.
Bela IV (1235-70) adopted an expansionary foreign policy to revive its economy. Charles Robert
(1308-42) reunited the kingdom and restored Hungary’s former position. (iv) The Border States:
The Finns was distant relatives of the Magyars and the Huns, dwelt along the upper Volga and
Oka. By the eighth century, they migrated to present Finland. Akin to the Finns, there were
Prussians, Estonians, Livonians, Lithuanians, and Latvians. They hunted, fished, kept bees, and
tilled the soil; and all but Estonians remained pagan till the twelfth century, when the Germans
brought Christianity and civilization to them. Two religious-military orders, the Livonian Knights
and the Teutonic Knights, completed the conquest of the Baltic States for Germany, converted the
natives to Christianity, and reduced them to serfdom. The Teutonic Knights advanced into Russia,
hoping to win at least its western provinces for Germany and Latin Christianity, but was defeated.
There were other border states, including Pomerania, Bohemia, Moravia, and Poland.
Map I-2-14. Mongols and Turks Threaten the Byzantine Empire, 1300
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
3. The Late Middle Ages from 1300 to 1400
In the Early Middle Ages, the invasion of the Vikings, Magyars, and Muslims decentralized
political power, in which lords exercised legal, administrative, and military power. The practice
of feudalism transferred public power into many private hands and seemed to provide the security
when the central government was too weak to protect the people from external invasions. While
Europe struggled, both the Byzantine and Islamic worlds continued to prosper and flourish. In the
High Middle Ages, the new European civilization began to flourish. “Climatic improvements that
produced better growing conditions, an expansion of cultivated land, and technological changes
combined to enable Europe’s food supply to increase significantly after 1000. This increase in
agricultural production helped sustain a dramatic rise in population that was physically apparent
in the expansion of towns and cities.”237 In religion, the papal leadership was revived in the course
of religious reforms, while investiture was controversial due to conflict between roles of church
and state or politics and religion. The theology of St. Bernard, new forms of monasticism, new
orders of friars, the doctrine of purgatory, the refined sacramental system; all of which witnessed
the spiritual growth with religious passion. In politics, the nobles, as the defenders of Christian
society, continued to dominate the medieval world politically, economically, and socially. Kings
gradually extended their political powers. Intellectual and spiritual revival transformed European
society: numerous universities taught theology, philosophy, law, and literature. A rapid increase
in the number and size of the Church made the papal authority supreme; that gave rise to the
crusading holy warrior, who killed human beings for God. Preaching the Crusades, popes had
launched a series of international wars against the Muslims, in which major European states, the
Byzantine Empire, and the Muslim states in Asia and Africa were involved. A Crusade attacked
Constantinople and partitioned the Byzantine Empire, which rather widened the gap between the
Latin West and the Greek East of Christianity than punished different believers.
In the Late Middle Ages, unlike ascending trends of the previous centuries, certain tensions
had begun to creep into European society, which became a torrent of troubles. One of the most
destructive natural disasters in history erupted – the Black Death. The plague killed so many that
there was a general mortality throughout the world. Many small villages and hamlets were deserted;
and some villages disappeared altogether. Because of fear of death, prices were cheap everywhere,
and there were few people who care about their wealth. Some people might thought that the end
of the world was at hand. “Plague was not the only disaster in the fourteenth century, however,
signs of disintegration were everywhere: famine, economic depression, war, social upheaval, a
rise in crime and violence, and a decline in the power of the universal Catholic church.” More
specifically, there were “decline in trade and industry, bank failure, peasant revolts pitting lower
classes against upper classes, seemingly constant warfare, aristocratic factional conflict that
undermined political stability, the absence of the popes from Rome.” In economy, depopulation
raised wages and reduced rents, which ultimately ended the manorial system, and transformed
society in various ways. In politics, in line with famine, plague, economic turmoil, and peasant
revolts; the Hundred Years War between England and France waged from 1337 caused political
instability not only in both countries, but also Germany and Italy. In religion, the conflict between
church and state reached its height in the struggle between Pope Boniface VIII and Philip IV of
France, which caused the Great Schism that led to radical critiques of papal power with new
approaches to solving the church’s institutional problems. The intellectual impact on politics is
discussed in the later chapter, in which the humanists explored the real world through the
vernacular literature, criticizing politics, religion, and society as shown in Dante’s Divine Comedy,
Boccaccio’s Decameron, Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
Photo I-3-1. The Flagellant Movement
Map I-3-1. The Hundred Years War (1136-1453)
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
The Black Death and Its Impact: In the last three centuries of the High Middle Ages, Europe
had experienced economic expansion with the growth of population under moderate weather
conditions. By around 1300, Europe seemed to have reached the upper limit of population growth
based on agricultural production in the cultivated land. By then, there were noticeable changes of
weather patterns as Europe entered the period of so-called a little ice age. “Average temperatures
cooled slightly, shortening the growing season. Patterns of rainfall changed dramatically: it now
rained much more, with frequent huge storms and floods. Agriculture became unsustainable in
far Northern Europe, and in the rest of Europe productivity dropped significantly. Soil exhaustion
added to these climatic problems. Although the three-field system had slowed this process,
generations of intensive farming had simply drained the soil of nutrients to the point that
productivity declined (compared to the 1100s, farmers reaped a smaller harvest in relation to the
amount of seed they had sown). The most dramatic cases of soil exhaustion were on newly settled
marginal lands, which had been cultivated as the population expanded. The sum effect of
declining productivity was food shortage in the best years of the 1300s and famines in the worst
years. In the 1300s Europeans faced the constant threat of famine - mass starvation. Harvests
had been poor and mass hunger a serious danger in 1305-1314; then, in 1315-1322, famine
devastated most of Europe. Spring and Summer floods led to crop failures, so that peasants had
absolutely no surplus grain to sell at market in fall 1315; things were so bad in winter 1315-1316
that peasants ate the seed that they had stored for the Spring planting. Therefore they had little to
plant in Spring 1316, which together with bad weather made that another famine year. It took
more than five years to break this cycle. Making matters worse was a wave of epizootics
(epidemic diseases among animals) that destroyed much of Europe's livestock. This not added to
the problems of agriculture by killing off draft animals, but also deprived people of meat and dairy
products.”238 The shortage of food ultimately caused people to die from disease.
“The results of starvation were devastating. Tens of thousands of people simply starved to
death. Epidemic illnesses carried off tens of thousands more whose resistance to disease had been
weakened by hunger. At least one in every ten people in Europe perished in the famines and
epidemics of 1315-1316. Still, the population exceeded Europe's agricultural capacity. With
demand high and grain supplies low, prices for food soared. Although the wealthy aristocracy
continued to live in luxury and seldom went without, hunger remained a constant for the mass of
the rural and urban poor. In 1347, though, a new plague struck Europe and hit rich and poor
alike: the Black Death. Although there is some debate among historians as to the epidemiology
of the Black Death, most historians argue that this was the Plague (in two forms, bubonic and
pneumonic). According to the dominant theory, the Plague had begun in Mongolia then in the
early 1300s was carried by rats and fleas to lands that the Mongol armies had conquered in the
previous century - China, Northern India, and Russ. Italian ships trading with the Russ cities on
the Black Sea had accidentally transported disease-carrying rats and fleas back to Genoa. The
disease then spread along trade routes through Italy and into Western and Central Europe. Those
bitten by infected fleas died horrible deaths within a week's time; those who inhaled the virus died
much more quickly but no less horridly. Within a generation, Plagued had killed off 40 percent
of the English population and nearly 60 percent of the population in Northeastern France. The
only escape from Plague seemed to be to flee infected districts completely.” Thus, “Famine may
have led to chronic malnutrition, which in turn contributed to increased infant mortality, lower
birthrates, and higher susceptibility to disease since mal-nourished people are less able to resist
infection.”239 Famine-malnutrition-disease became a natural course of disaster destroying human
civilization. The diffusion of the Black Death ravaged entire Europe, wiped out 25-50 percent of
its population, and caused serious economic, social, political, and cultural upheaval.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
Map I-3-2. Origin of Plague in Eleventh Century Asia
Map I-3-3. The Black Death, Europe 1347-51
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
Psycho-social Effects: The Black Death caused extreme psychological reactions from such
huge population losses. When plague came, peasants no longer ploughed, merchants closed their
shops, and some, if not all, churchmen stopped offering last rites. As Boccaccio describes in his
Decameron, wealthy and powerful people fled to their country estates: men and women caring for
nobody but themselves; many believed that the plague had been sent by God as punishment for
humans’ sins or caused by the devil, so that flagellants wandered from town to town flogging
themselves; some accused Jews to cause the plague by poisoning town wells, which intensified
anti-Semitism; violence and violent death were more common after the plague than before; and
priests reminded parishioners of that each night’s sleep might be the last of their lives. “The
Decameron is not the only example of popular literature reflecting the new values. Within a
generation, Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, which expressed a perspective on life and
values reading public as Boccaccio’s tales had had in Italy. The new psychology was persistent.
A century later, in France, the work of Francois Villon embodied the same spirit and espoused the
same values….Villon was superstitious, fascinated with death, afraid of the pains of hell, but hellbent on enjoying life and experiencing as much as he possible could.” Epicureanism had been
strong among the most influential members of society, but those traditional values were replaced
by individualism. “In some places, this would develop in constructive ways: witness the
humanism of late-fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Italy, or the pietism and mysticism of the
Rhineland and the Netherlands at about the same time. But, in the decade after the Black Death,
individualism generally was directed towards self-aggrandizement and the pursuit of leisure and
pleasure. The collective institutions and the old communality – both rural and urban – so
characteristic of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, were shattered.”240 Restoring this bonds from
the moral crisis was the challenge for the people of the later centuries.
Religious Effects: The Christian Church had failed to provide the necessary support during
the Black Death in two forms. “First, except for parts of northern Italy, the church supervised the
education and licensing of physicians, almost all of whom were clerics. There were surgeons,
apothecaries, and nonprofessional practitioners whose training and practice lay outside church
jurisdiction, but they had little to with the theories and tractates about infectious disease that
flooded Europe after 1347. In the long run, virtually all medical advice proved to be
useless….Second and more important, the church did not provide adequate spiritual comfort.
Many parish priests fled, leaving no one to offer services, deliver last rites, and comfort the sick.
Flight might have been intellectually explicable, but it was morally inexcusable. In the English
dioceses of York and Lincoln, close to 20% of the parish priests in certain deaneries fled the Black
Death.”241 After the Black Death, popular good works increased to reinforce one’s faith. Pious
charity increased: “In England, about a quarter of all testators’ estates, land and movables, went
to good works. Hospitals benefited. In France, donations to existing institutions rose about 50%
from 1300 to 1390. Family chapels were another favorite bequest and, in the fourteenth and
fifteenth centuries, there was a marked rise in the number of private masses and chantry
priests….Time in purgatory could be shortened by private masses or any number of good works.
This charity system of private worship played a large role in late medieval religion and represented
a considerable blow to monopoly over church services held by the traditional Christian hierarchy.”
After the Black Death, many ecclesiastical institutions could not make ends meet: in some cases,
pious charity was the only income religious houses had for years after the plague. Another popular
good work was pilgrimage to a religious shrine. Moreover, mysticism and lay piety spread widely,
believing that God lived in every individual and His presence was felt in proportion to one’s ability
to suppress intrinsic material and sensual inclinations and subject one’s will to that of God.
Obedience, self-denial, and prayer were crucial for the faith of mysticism.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
Economic Consequences: the shortage of labor in depopulation raised wages, but the falling
population dramatically reduced the demand for agricultural produce; hence, landlords’ rents or
income declined accordingly. In England, aristocratic incomes dropped more than 20 percent
between 1347 and 1353. 242 Much plague depleted urban population, but there were always
country folk ready to migrate to towns, which caused a shortage of agricultural workers. The
depopulation of rural areas brought much of the primeval vegetation returned, and abandoned
fields and pastures were reforested. There were also profound changes in land tenure, converting
labor services to rents from servile tenure. Depopulation ultimately ended serfdom in Western
Europe: “peasants were mobile enough to pick up and move from one manor to the next if they
were unhappy with the conditions under which they held their land. In the course fifteenth century,
most of labor services were replaced by money rates and long-term leases. Meanwhile, high labor
costs and low prices for foodstuffs forced landed nobles diverted the use of land from laborintensive to land-intensive ways: large landholders raised sheep and cattle for raw wool and
mutton, or a field was flooded and filled with fish, usually carp; while small landholders engaged
in dairy farming or specialized cash crops, cultivating vineyards for wine maintaining consistent
demand, or raising sugar and fruit. “In the North, where cold weather restricted the growth of
most fruits, new apple and pear trees were added to old groves. Also popular in the North were
special grain crops such as barley and oats. Barley was used for ale and the newly popular beer,
while oats were used as fodder or the growing livestock population. Specialized agriculture
included a number of industrial crops, most of them connected with textiles. In Italy and parts of
Spain, silkworms were raised. In northern Europe, particularly Germany, hemp, flax, and the
dyestuffs woad, madder, and kermes were collected or grown. Industrial crops often required as
much labor as did wheat, but, unlike wheat, they continued to fetch high market prices.” 243
Depopulation transformed society. For the wealthiest aristocrats, economic changes brought
some fall in income, they simply settled into the life of rentiers and absentee landlords, and many
moved to towns or country estates that did not have working farms. For the lesser lords, the new
conditions were potentially catastrophic. “Many, perhaps most, gentlemen did not have enough
land to survive in an age of low long-term leases, high commodity prices, and reduced rents. They
were forced either to cultivate their estates directly, or to find some supplemental income – usually
through service in the military or the clergy, or marriage with a wealthy merchant. Those
gentlemen who refused to adjust to the new agrarian conditions risked impoverishment and,
ultimately the loss of their armigerous status.” The economic position of peasants improved when
demand for labor increased. Nevertheless, there were limits for them to advance. Landlords
attempted to impose wage restrictions, reinstate old forms of labor service, and create new
obligations. When the government imposed new taxes, peasant complaints widespread and caused
a number of peasant revolts against noble landowners. Wanting to hold their political privilege,
they felt that higher wages and lower prices were increasingly threatening their interests in the
post-plague world. The peasant rebellion burnt castles and murdered nobles, but the privileged
classes massacred the rebels and ended revolts. Meantime, Europe experienced a severe economic
recession in general, and an economic depression in certain regions at least. After the Black Death,
with the oversupply supply of goods, an immediate fall of demand reduced the trade volume after
1350, which reduced employment, particularly in the regions of textile industries, though the
suffering degree was different by region. The bourgeoisie, rich merchants and manufacturers,
responded in similar ways to landlords by restricting competition for low wages, resisting the
demand of laborers, and preventing workers to form organizations to help themselves. These
caused industrial revolts throughout Europe: the revolt won concessions but the privileged classes
were always resilient to protect their old existing advantages.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
In the post-plague period, the rich and prosperous peasants, the yeoman or kulak, considerably
increased the size of the average landholdings. “On Red-grave Manor in England, for example,
the average size of a peasant’s holding in 1300 was about 12 acres. By 1400, it was 20 acres and,
by 1450, it was over 30 acres. In France, Germany, Spain, and Poland, the patterns were similar.
Added to this was the fact that, because of depopulation, only the best arable was planted and
fields were again allowed to lie fallow. Thus, by the early fifteenth century, if not sooner, the soil
exhaustion of the early fourteenth century came to an end, and seeds yields began to rise.” Before
the Black Death, only to the eldest son inherited his father’s property; but by fifteenth century,
most male progeny were given some property and, by 1450, it was not uncommon for daughters
to get a piece of the estate. Depopulation also stimulated advance in industrial technology: the
perfection of eyeglasses, gunpowder, and clocks, followed by printing machine. After the Black
Death, the value of windmills and watermills more than doubled. In fishing industry, previously,
fisherman had to come ashore to salt their catch, but around 1380, Dutch fishermen perfected a
method of salting, drying, and storing their catch aboard ship. This allowed them to stay at sea
longer, sail farther from shore, and bring home more fish. There were also advances in mining
technology of water pumps, which enabled miners to go into deeper holes and do so more safely
than ever before. In the late fifteenth century, the Hanse towns lost their monopoly in the Baltic
hinterlands to Dutch and English merchants. An increasing share of the trans-Alpine trade was
carried by southern Germans from their major towns. The consumer psychology changed: people
had more money and wanted to spend it on finer and more luxurious goods. 244
Depopulation accelerated the laicization of society. “In the first place, the Black Death killed
indiscriminately, and probably afflicted as many lay as ecclesiastical bureaucrats. It took a long
time to train new officials, and growth at all levels of government was slow for at least a generation.
But the number of lay officials seems to have grown more quickly, perhaps because secular
governments were better able to marshal their resources and begin the training process a new.
Secular schools also seem to have recovered more quickly than parochial ones.” The old nobility
began to distinguish itself by its bloodlines, the new nobility – the bureaucrats – relied on service.
Many of new bureaucrats were lawyers. “Second, the Black Death caused at least the temporary
collapse of all forms of governmental authority. This meant that any sovereignty that was quick
to recover had the opportunity to extend its power into new areas. Quick recovery, in turn, was
predicated on the resources a government had and could mobilize, particularly its tax base and
means of collection. At first, the plagues and other calamities of the fourteenth century weakened
royal power and allowed for resurgent local, usually baronial, power. But the new baronial power
of the post-plague period was not like that of the twelfth and early thirteenth centuries. The decay
of the trifunctional system, especially the erosion of aristocratic economic and military power,
limited the ability of the nobles to make good use of their new opportunities. Furthermore, the
nature of the bond between the nobles themselves had changed.” It was not feudal but developed
into a proprietary relationship, based on annual cash payment, rather than the traditional endowment of property holdings. “Third, the Black Death contributed to the rise of central, royal
government because, when it changed Europe’s economy, it also altered its tax base. Taxes were
harder to collect in a society in which most of the basic hierarchy of law and bureaucracy had
broken down. Further, while per capital income rose in the late fourteenth century, there were
fewer folks from whom taxes might be collected, and old, pre-plague rates could not easily be
raised. When changes were made or vigorous efforts were undertaken to collect assessments, the
response, as in England in 1381, was frequently rebellion. This meant that all fourteenth-century
governments were challenged in the most fundamental way. Some succeeded, and other did not;
those that did not usually collapse and were replaced by new forms of government.” 245
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
The Hundred Years’ War: (a) Causes of war: Europe experienced famine, plague, economic
depression, social upheaval, and rural and urban rebellions in the fourteenth century; to which we
should add war and political instability on the list. The Hundred Years’ War was the most violent
as a series of wars lasting 116 years from 1337 to 1453 between the House of Plantagenet, rulers
of the Kingdom of England, against the House of Valois, rulers of the Kingdom of France, for
control of the latter kingdom. “For their French possessions, the English kings since the Norman
were vassals of the kings of France. The French kings had endeavored, over the centuries, to
reduce the possessions of their over-mighty vassals, to the effect that only Gascony was left to the
English. The confiscation or threat of confiscating this duchy had been part of French policy to
check the growth of English power, particularly whenever the English were at war with the
Kingdom of Scotland, an ally of France. Through his mother, Isabella of France, Edward III was
the grandson of Philip IV of France, and nephew of Charles IV of France, the last king of the
senior line of the House of Capet. In 1316, a principle was established denying women succession
to the French throne. When Charles IV died in 1328, Isabella, unable to claim the French throne
for herself, claimed it for her son. The French rejected the claim, maintaining that Isabella could
not transmit a right which she did not possess. For about nine years (1328-37), the English had
accepted the Valois succession to the French throne. But the interference of the French king, Philip
VI, in Edward III's war against Scotland, led Edward III to reassert his claim to the French
throne.”246 We can reexamine major reasons of the Hundred Years’ War as follows.
First, the English monarchy possessed the duchy of Gascony in France. As a vassal or duke
of Gascony, the English king had pledged loyalty to the French king. As the central power in Paris
became stronger, French royal officials intervened regularly in local affairs, which disturbed the
English king. This was the fundamental and similar fighting for more territory that had given rise
to numerous disputes between rulers of France and England in the previous centuries.
Second, the English king had received huge tax revenue from exports of raw wool to Flanders.
Urban revolts in Flanders were the rise of poor artisans against wealthy merchants, and threatened
to disrupt lucrative shipments of English wool to Flanders. When the French monarchy began to
intervene in Flanders in favor of merchants, the English felt threatened from the possible loss of
her export market. Accordingly, the English kings supported the Flemish artisans.247
Third, Charles IV (1322-28) of France died without a male heir, and his second cousin Philip
VI (1328-50) inherited the throne. Since Isabella, the mother of Edward III (1327-77) of England
was the only daughter of Philip IV and the sister of passed King Charles, Edward claimed the
French throne as the closest male relative, on behalf of his mother Isabela. France rejected his
claim since Isabela had no right to succeed, so did his son Edward.
Fourth, there had been wide-spread resentment at the interference of Philip in Anglo-Scottish
affairs by supporting the Scottish side to destroy England. Unlike Philip’s intention, the English
campaign against the Scottish in 1333 brought the first military victory in years, which
demonstrated the leadership of Edward III in wars. David II of Scotland took refuge in France at
the invitation of Philip VI, by whom he was received vary graciously, which infuriated Edward at
being encircled, though his life in France was little known.
Finally, in 1337 Philip declared that Aquitaine (or Guyenne) had been forfeited by Edward
“because of the many excesses, rebellious and disobedient acts committed by the King of England
against us and our Royal Majesty.” As Philip immediately attacked Guyenne, Edward declared
war on Philip by claiming the throne of France. Sometimes, the revenue from Guyenne was larger
than that from England. In fact, Bordeaux, Bayonne (which built the ships), and many other towns
benefited from the wine trade, while its countless seigneurs owned vineyards. Guyenne depended
on England for grain, and its people found jobs in England. 248
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
(b) Beginning of the War (1137-60): In May 1337, Philip met with his Great Council in Paris,
which agreed that the Duchies of Aquitaine and Gascony should be taken back into the king’s
hand on the ground that Edward III was in breach of his obligations as vassal and had sheltered
the king’s mortal enemy Robert de Artois. On 26 January 1340, Edward III formally received
homage from Flanders. (i) The Battle of Sluys: “Edward, with his fleet, sailed from England on
22 June 1340, and arrived the next day off the Zwyn estuary. The French fleet assumed a defensive
formation off the port of Sluys. The English fleet apparently tricked the French into believing they
were withdrawing. However, when the wind turned in the late afternoon, the English attacked with
the wind and sun behind them. The French fleet was almost completely destroyed in what became
known as the Battle of Sluys. England dominated the English Channel for the rest of the war,
preventing French invasions. At this point, Edward's funds ran out and the war probably would
have ended were it not for the death of the Duke of Brittany precipitating a succession dispute
between the duke's half-brother John of Montfort and Charles of Blois, nephew of Philip VI. In
1341, conflict over the succession to the Duchy of Brittany began the Breton War of Succession,
in which Edward backed John of Montfort and Philip backed Charles of Blois. Action for the next
few years focused around a back and forth struggle in Brittany. The city of Vannes changed hands
several times, while further campaigns in Gascony met with mixed success for both sides.”
(ii) The Battle of Crecy: As expected, in July 1346, “Edward mounted a major invasion across
the channel, landing in Normandy's Cotentin, at St. Vaast. The English army captured the
completely unguarded Caen in just one day, surprising the French. Philip gathered a large army to
oppose Edward, who chose to march northward toward the Low Countries, pillaging as he went,
rather than attempting to take and hold territory. He reached the river Seine to find most of the
crossings destroyed. He moved further and further south, worryingly close to Paris, until he found
the crossing at Poissy. This had only been partially destroyed, so the carpenters within his army
were able to fix it. He then continued on his way to Flanders until he reached the river Somme.
The army crossed at a tidal ford at Blanchetaque, leaving Philip's army stranded. Edward, assisted
by this head start, continued on his way to Flanders once more, until, finding himself unable to
outmaneuver Philip, Edward positioned his forces for battle and Philip's army attacked. The Battle
of Crécy was a complete disaster for the French, largely credited to the English long-bowmen and
the French king, who allowed his army to attack before it was ready. Philip appealed to his Scottish
allies to help with a diversionary attack on England. King David II of Scotland responded by
invading northern England, but his army was defeated and he was captured at the Battle of
Neville's Cross, on 17 October 1346. This greatly reduced the threat from Scotland. In France,
Edward proceeded north unopposed and besieged the city of Calais on the English Channel,
capturing it in 1347. This became an important strategic asset for the English, allowing them to
safely keep troops in northern France. Calais would remain under English control, even after the
end of the Hundred Years' War, until the successful French siege in 1558.”249
(iii) The Battle of Poitiers and the Treaty of Bretigny: “In 1348, the Black Death, which had
just arrived in Paris, began to ravage Europe. In 1356, after the plague had passed and England
was able to recover financially, Edward's son and namesake, the Prince of Wales, later known as
the Black Prince, invaded France from Gascony, winning a great victory in the Battle of
Poitiers.[21] During the battle, the Gascon noble Jean de Grailly, captal de Buch led a mounted unit
that was concealed in a forest. The French advance was contained, at which point de Grailly led a
flanking movement with his horsemen cutting off the French retreat and succeeding in capturing
King John II of France (known as John the Good) and many of his nobles. With John held hostage,
his son the Dauphin (later to become Charles V of France) took over as regent. After the Battle of
Poitiers, chaos ruled, as many French nobles and mercenaries rampaged.”
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
(c) French Ascendancy under Charles: (i) First peace (1360-9) : Edward invaded France for
the third and last times. As Edward moved to Paris, the French forced him to negotiate for peace,
which resulted in the Treaty of Bretigny settled on 8 May 1360. The French king, John II, had
been held captive in England. The Treaty set his ransom at 3 million crowns and allowed for
hostages to be held in lieu of John. While these hostages were held, John returned to France to
try and raise funds to pay the ransom. As his son Louis escaped from a hostage, John felt honorbound to return to captivity in England, where he died in 1364 he died still in captivity.
(ii) Aquitaine and Castile: In 1336 there was a civil war of succession in Castile. The ruler
Peter of Castile’s forces were pitched against those of his half-brother Henry of Trastamara. The
English supported Peter and the French Henry. Charles V provided a force of 12,000 under du
Guesclin to support Henry. Peter appealed to Aquitaine’s Black Prince for help. He led an AngloGascon army into Castile, and Peter restored power. “Although the Castilians had agreed to fund
the Black Prince, they failed to do so. The Prince was suffering from ill health and returned with
his army to Aquitaine. To pay off debts incurred during the Castille campaign, the prince instituted
a hearth tax. Arnaud-Amanieu VIII, Lord of Albret had fought on the Black Prince's side during
the war. Albret, who already had become discontented by the influx of English administrators
into the enlarged Aquitaine, refused to allow the tax to be collected in his fief. He then joined a
group of Gascon lords who appealed to Charles V for support in their refusal to pay the tax. Charles
V summoned one Gascon lord and the Black Prince to hear the case in his parlement in Paris. The
Black Prince's answer was that he would go to Paris with sixty thousand men behind him. War
broke out again and Edward III resumed the title of King of France. Charles V declared that all
the English possessions in France were forfeited and before the end of 1369 all Aquitaine was in
full revolt. With the Black Prince gone from Castile, Henry de Trastámara led a second invasion
that ended with Peter's death at the Battle of Montiel in March, 1369. The new Castilian regime
provided naval support to French campaigns against Aquitaine and England.”
(iii) English Turmoil: “With his health continuing to deteriorate, the Black Prince returned to
England in January 1371, where by now his father Edward III was elderly and also in poor health.
The prince's illness was debilitating. He died on 8 June 1376. Edward III only just outlived his son
and died the following year on 21 June 1377; he was succeeded by the Black Prince's second
son Richard II who was still a child. The treaty at Brétigny left Edward III and England with
enlarged holdings in France, however a small professional French army under the leadership of
du Guesclin pushed the English back and, by the time of Charles V's death in 1380, the English
only held Calais. “It was usual to appoint a regent in the case of a child monarch, but no regent
was appointed for Richard II, who nominally exercised the power of kingship from the date of his
accession in 1377. However, between 1377 and 1380, actual power was in the hands of a series of
councils. The political community preferred this to a regency led by the king's uncle, John of
Gaunt, although Gaunt remained highly influential. Richard faced many challenges during his
reign, including the Peasants' Revolt led by Wat Tyler in 1381, an Anglo-Scottish war in 1384–
85. His attempts to raise taxes to pay for his Scottish adventure and for the protection of Calais
against the French made him increasingly unpopular.”250
(iv) Second peace (1389-1415): The war became increasingly unpopular in England due to
the high taxes needed to sustain it, which was seen one of the reasons for peasant revolts. In 1398
Richard II (1377-99) and Charles VI (1380-1422) settled for the twenty-eight years truce due to
their internal difficulties. Throughout this period, England confronted repeated raids by pirates
that heavily damaged trade and the navy. The domestic and dynamic difficulties faced by England
and France quieted the war for a decade. Richard II of England was succeeded by Henry IV and
then Henry V (1413-22): Charles VI and Henry V were approaching the end of their lives.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
(d) Resumption of the War: (i) The Battle of Agincourt: In 1415 Henry V (1413-22) renewed
the war by landing at Normandy with army of about 8,000 archers, 2,000 men-at-arms, and some
unarmored lancers and knifemen with 65 artillery guns. He decisively won the battle of Agincourt
in 1416, and conquered Normandy by 1419, which gave strategic advantages to the English. Paris
had been in a civil war which divided the nobility into Burgundians and Armagnacs, while the
former allied with Henry. The English army marched to the French court in Troyes in 1420, where
two kings signed a treaty by which Henry kept Normandy and married Princess Catherine. Henry
V, Philip of Burgundy, and Charles VI entered and occupied Paris which lasted for fifteen years.
Both Henry V and Charles VI died in 1422. Henry VI (1422-71) ascended the throne under the
protection of Regent John, Duke of Bedford. Transferring his duties in England to his brother
Humphrey, John took over English affairs in France. The Anglo-French realm was governed
through the French institutions supervised by a few senior English officials. In 1423 John married
Anne, the sister of Philip of Burgundy. “Henry V returned to France and went to Paris, then visiting
Chartres and Gâtinais before returning to Paris. From there he decided to attack the Dauphin-held
town of Meaux. It turned out to be more difficult to overcome than first thought.”
(ii) English success: “The siege began about 6 October 1421, and the town held for seven
months before finally falling on 11 May 1422. At the end of May, Henry was joined by his queen
and together with the French court, they went to rest at Senlis. While there it became apparent that
he was ill and when he set out to the Upper Loire he diverted to the royal castle at Vincennes, near
Paris, where he died on 31 August 1422. The elderly and insane Charles VI of France died two
months later, on 21 October 1422. Henry left an only child, his nine-month-old son, Henry, later
to become Henry VI….The war in France continued under Bedford's generalship and several
battles were won. The English won an emphatic victory at the Battle of Verneuil, (17 August 1424).
At the Battle of Baugé, Clarence had rushed into battle without the support of his archers. At
Verneuil the archers fought to devastating effect against the Franco-Scottish army. The effect of
the battle was to virtually destroy the Dauphin's field army and to eliminate the Scots as a
significant military force for the rest of the war.”251 This was a great victory of England against
France, owing to the alliance between the Dukes of Bedford, Burgundy, and Britany.
(iii) Joan of Arc: The English moved southward to seize Orleans. The Anglo-Burgundian
armies attacked the city in 1429, a French peasant woman named Joan of Arc led the war and
saved the city. “In 1428, the English laid siege to Orléans. Their force was insufficient to
fully invest the city. In 1429 Joan convinced the Dauphin to send her to the siege, saying she had
received visions from God telling her to drive out the English. She raised the morale of the troops
and they attacked the English redoubts, forcing the English to lift the siege. Inspired by Joan, the
French took several English strongholds on the Loire. The English retreated from the Loire Valley,
pursued by a French army. Near the village of Patay, French cavalry broke through a unit of
English long-bowmen that had been sent to block the road, then swept through the retreating
English army. The English lost 2,200 men, and the commander John Talbot, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury was taken prisoner. This victory opened the way for the Dauphin to march to Reims for his
coronation as Charles VII (16 July 1429). After the coronation, Charles VII's army fared less well.
An attempted French siege of Paris was defeated on 8 September 1429, and Charles VII withdrew
back to the Loire Valley.”252 She gave a new confidence with hope to the French army. Captured
by the Burgundian ally, Joan was turned to Inquisition on charges of witchcraft, and burned as a
heretic in 1431. Although the war dragged for over two decades after her death, she provided a
turning point for the French army to lead the war toward the victory. “Twenty-five years after her
execution, an inquisitorial court authorized by Pope Callixtus III examined the trial, debunked the
charges against her, pronounced her innocent, and declared her a martyr.”253
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
(e) French Victory (1429-53) and End of the War: (i) Henry VI was crowned king of England
at Westminster Abbey on 5 November 1429 and king of France at Notre-Dame, in Paris, on 16
December 1431. The alliance with Burgundy was deserted, but the English focused on expanding
their domains into the Low Countries left them little energy to intervene in France. “The long
truces that marked the war gave Charles time to centralize the French state and reorganize his
army and government, replacing his feudal levies with a more modern professional army that could
put its superior numbers to good use. A castle that once could only be captured after a prolonged
siege would now fall after a few days from cannon bombardment. The French artillery developed
a reputation as the best in the world. By 1449, the French had retaken Rouen and in 1450
the Count of Clermont and Arthur de Richemont, Earl of Richmond, of the Montfort family caught
an English army attempting to relieve Caen at the Battle of Formigny and defeated it….After
Charles VII's successful Normandy campaign in 1450, he concentrated his efforts on Gascony, the
last province held by the English. Bordeaux, Gascony's capital, was besieged and surrendered to
the French on 30 June 1451. Largely due to the English sympathies of the Gascon people this was
reversed when John Talbot and his army retook the city on 23 October 1452. However, the English
were defeated at the Battle of Castillon on 17 July 1453.” (ii) “The Battle of Castillon is considered
the last battle of the Hundred Years' War, but England and France remained formally at war for
another 20 years, but the English were in no position to carry on the war as they faced unrest at
home. “Following defeat in the Hundred Years' War, English landowners complained vociferously
about the financial losses resulting from the loss of their continental holdings; this is often
considered a major cause of the War of the Roses that started in 1455.” The Hundred Years' War
almost resumed in 1474, when the Duke Charles took up arms against Louis XI of France. Louis
managed to isolate the Burgundians by buying Edward IV of England off with a large cash sum
and an annual pension, in an agreement signed at the Treaty of Picquigny (1475).254
(f) The Institutions of War: (i) The recruitment of armies was developed by three main phases
from the Middle Ages to present time: the fulfilment of the feudal obligation, voluntary military
service, and conscription. Both England and France were moving away from their historic reliance
upon obligation towards a voluntary military system with payment in the first half of the fourteenth
century. The financing of war could only be found through taxation. Both states developed the
military indenture that was a binding agreement, formalizing conditions of service between the
king and his captains, and those captains and their sub-contractors of lower rank, in time of war.
The captain’s first task was to ensure the recruitment of sufficient soldiers of adequate standard.
(ii) Since there was a close relationship between providing an army with its substance and that
army’s success as a military machine, in both England and France, the system supplying the
country’s military needs was in common, including the provision and transport of weapons. In the
course of the thirteenth century, France had been involved in relatively few wars than England,
the later had a practical experience both in raising of troops and in securing material payment for
them, which was invaluable in the early years of the Hundred Years War. (iii) To finance the war,
both countries were reaching a broadly similar stage in the development of their respective
taxation systems, while the clergy contributed to national taxation. In some places, rudimentary
local taxation already existed: money spent on local projects of urban defense had been raised
locally. (iv) Order and control: It has become fashionable to see war in terms of armies ravaging
the enemy’s countryside. However, in the conduct of war, it is important to defend the civilian,
his person, and his property. An updated law was a way of bringing a measure of order to war’s
activities. The military jurisdiction establishes regulations, and sets out punishment for specific
offences, which forces soldiers to act only with authority of superior. The military indenture could
be an important measure for commanders to exercise disciplinary authority.255
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
(g) Significance: (i) Evolution of Military Technology: “The Hundred Years' War was a time
of rapid military evolution. Weapons, tactics, army structure and the social meaning of war all
changed, partly in response to the war's costs, partly through advancement in technology and partly
through lessons that warfare taught. The feudal system was slowly disintegrating throughout the
hundred years war. Before the Hundred Years' War, heavy cavalry was considered the most power
-ful unit in an army, but by the war's end, this belief had shifted. The heavy horse was increasingly
negated by the use of the longbow (and, later, another long-distance weapon: firearms). Edward
III was famous for dismounting his men-at-arms and having them and his archers stand in closely
integrated battle lines; the horses only being used for transport or pursuit. The English began using
lightly armored mounted troops, known as hobelars. Hoblars tactics had been developed against
the Scots, in the Anglo-Scottish wars of the 14th century. Hobelars rode smaller unarmored horses,
enabling them to move through difficult or boggy terrain where heavier cavalry would struggle.
Rather than fight while seated on the horse, they would dismount to engage the enemy. By the end
of the Hundred Years' War, these various factors caused the decline of the expensively outfitted,
highly trained heavy cavalry and the eventual end of the armored knight as a military force and of
the nobility as a political one.” 256 The English began to use lightly armored mounted troops,
which was more effective than heavier cavalry, causing the end of the armored knights.
(ii) Emergence of National Identity: “The war stimulated nationalistic sentiment. It devastated
France as a land, but it also awakened French nationalism. The Hundred Years' War accelerated
the process of transforming France from a feudal monarchy to a centralized state. In 1445 the first
regular standing army since Roman times was organized in France partly as a solution to marauding free companies. The mercenary companies were given a choice of either joining the Royal
army as compagnies d'ordonnance on a permanent basis, or being hunted down and destroy if they
refused. France gained a total standing army of around 6,000 men, which was sent out to gradually
eliminate the remaining mercenaries who insisted on operating on their own. The new standing
army had a more disciplined and professional approach to warfare than its predecessors. The
conflict developed such that it was not just between the Kings of England and France but also
between their respective peoples….The Hundred Years' War basically confirmed the fall of
the French language in England, which had served as the language of the ruling classes and
commerce there from the time of the Norman Conquest until 1362.”257 The emergence of greater
sense of patriotism and national identity was in part due to publicity spread to gather tax for the
fighting, and partly due to generations of people, both English and French, knowing no situation
other than war in France. The war bound the French people closer together as a single body.
(iii) Economic Impact: England and France faced a crisis of substance, where the level of
welfare deteriorate due to a growing imbalance between resources and population, particularly in
the post-plague period. They faced a crisis of feudalism, where the level of welfare deteriorated
due to the increased burdens placed on the products and labor of the peasantry by landlords.258 (iv)
Tax-Payer’s Power in Politics: The French understood that warfare was necessary to expel the
foreigners occupying their homeland. Furthermore French kings found alternative ways to finance
the war – sales taxes, debasing the coinage – and were less dependent than the English on tax
levies passed by national legislatures.” The war required more burden of taxes, which gave more
power to the tax payers in politics. (v) Cost-Benefit Analysis of War: “Although anti-war and propeace spokesmen generally failed to influence outcomes at the time, they had a long-term impact.
England showed decreasing enthusiasm for conflict deemed not in the national interest, yielding
only losses in return for high economic burdens. In comparing this English cost-benefit analysis
with French attitudes….suffered from weak leaders and undisciplined soldiers.” There were so
many factors to be considered: losses of lives and properties and misallocation of resources.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
Crisis in the Towns, Peasant Uprisings, and Urban Rebellions: France and England added
to the natural calamities by carrying out a series of long deadly wars, aggravating the problem of
agricultural decline. The Hundred Years' War “took place entirely in France, and contributed to
the loss of lives and farmland. Famine and disease, and especially the Black Death, hit the towns
as hard if not harder than they did the villages. If anything, sanitary conditions in the towns were
even worse than in the countryside, and over-crowding contributed to the rapid spread of
epidemics. Some cities escaped the devastation of the Black Death, but in London and many other
great cities as many as half of the population died of the disease. In France, the ravages of the
Hundred Years' War added to the death toll. The huge costs of warfare and the collapse of
agricultural production and trade took their toll on the urban economy as well. In the mid-1300s,
France and England both refused to pay off loans made by the great urban banking houses of Italy,
which led to financial crisis and collapse in Florence and Sienna. Banking failures disrupted the
flow of capital to other merchant enterprises, and worsened the depression that gripped most of
Europe's cities in the 1300s.”259 However, in the long run, towns and cities would rebound.
“The strains of life in the countryside, of hunger, disease, war and death, were made worse
by feudal lords' instance that peasants continue paying high rents and other feudal dues and by the
burden of royal taxation. In France, peasant willingness to meet such obligations reached a
breaking point in Spring and Summer 1358. The English, who had captured French King John II
in the Battle of Poiters (1356), had demanded a huge ransom for his release; the French crown
passed this cost along to the peasants in the form of huge tax increases. Peasants in the districts
around Paris, sensing that the royal government was weak and had little means to punish them,
spontaneously rose in a mass rebellion called the Jacquerie.” The aristocracy joined the king in
crushing this threat to their power. A generation later, in 1381, peasants rose up in mass rebellion
in England. “By the 1380s, population decline in England had created a labor shortage, which
should have resulted in higher wages for agricultural labor. But the aristocrats used their power
in Parliament to enforce a freeze of wages at early-1300s-levels, and also demanded more work
from serfs under their control. When the royal government then tried to impose new, high taxes to
pay for the latest rounds of the Hundred Years' War, the peasants rebelled, as did artisans and
many other townspeople….Rebels first attacked the persons and property of the aristocratic
landlords and the tax collectors; they then marched on London and the royal government in
June. Young King Richard II diffused the situation by promising the rebels that he would revoke
laws that had kept wages low and rents high; he also promised to abolish serfdom. The rag-tag
rebel army dispersed. Richard then ordered its leaders arrested and executed…Richard kept this
first promise and lifted laws artificially depressing wages and bolstering rents. He did not abolish
serfdom, but serfdom nonetheless faded away completely in England in the early 1400s.”260
“The rural population was not alone in rising in rebellion during the crisis decades of the
1300s. On several occasions, artisans and the urban poor spontaneously rose in protest against
hunger and against the upper classes (especially the aristocrats), who lived in luxury and used their
political power to keep wages low. In 1358, the year of the Jacquerie, artisans and the poor in
Paris protested against low wages and high rents (which made the Jacquerie all the more
threatening); the crown responded by executing apparent rebel leaders in Paris, Toulouse, and
other cities. In 1378-1383 urban unrest reached its height: in those five years, there were riots
and unrest in a dozen cities in France (including Paris); a serious revolt in Ghent in Flanders;
rebellions in Dantzig, Brunswick, and Lubeck in Germany (there was another rebellion in Lubeck
in 1408); and a rebellion in Florence (the Ciompi rebellion, discussed in Coffin, p. 391). While
some of these rebellions had clear political aims, they are probably best seem as expressions of
outrage and frustration at gross social inequities in times of extreme hardship.”261
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
Political Instability and the Ottomans: In the fourteenth century, political instability came
from economic disintegration. “Although government bureaucracies grew ever larger, at the same
time the question of who should control the bureaucracies led to internal conflict and instability.
This instability was part of a general breakdown of customary feudal institutions. Traditional
feudal loyalties were disintegrating rapidly and had not yet been replaced by the national loyalties
of the future. Like the lord and serf relationship, the lord and vassal relationship based on land
and military service was being replaced by a contract based on money. Especially after the Black
Death, money payments called scutage (in feudal law, payment made by a knight to commute the
military service that he owed his lord) were increasingly substituted for military service.
Monarchs welcomed this development since they could now hire professional soldiers who tended
to be more reliable anyway. As lord and vassal relationships became less personal and less
important, new relationship based on political advantage began to be formed, opening up new
avenues for political influence – and for corruption as well. Especially noticeable, as the landed
aristocrats suffered declining rents and social uncertainties with the new relationships, was the
formation of factions of nobles who looked for opportunities to advance their power and wealth
at the expense of other noble factions and of their monarchs. At the same time, two other
developments, related to the rise of factions, added to the instability of governments.” 262 One was
that dynasties could not produce direct male heirs, which caused succession problems between
two claimants in France and three princes in Germany to the throne. The other was that monarchs
faced shortage of cash: after the Black Death, money payments were increasingly substituted for
military service since monarchs were able to hire mercenaries. The decline of rents made the
landed aristocrats seek new ways of privileges by forming political factions to control the state.
As traditional revenues were insufficient to meet the cost of wars, monarchs tried to generate new
sources of revenues, which required the parliamentary approval.
(a) The Growth Political Institutions in England: Edward III made concessions with the
Parliament to levy new taxes for war expenses by agreeing that the monarchy cannot levy direct
taxes without Parliament consent, and committees of Parliament can examine the government
account to ensure the proper use of tax money. The Parliament became an important component
of the government: “The Great Council of barons became the House of Lords and evolved into a
body composed of the chief bishops and abbots of the realm and aristocratic peers whose position
in Parliament was hereditary. The representatives of the shires and boroughs, who were
considered less important than the lay and ecclesiastical lords, held collective meetings to decide
policy and soon came to be regarded as the House of Commons. Together, the House of Lords
and House of Commons constituted Parliament. Although the House of Commons did little
beyond approving measures proposed by the Lords, during Edward’s reign, the Common did begin
the practice of drawing up petitions, which, if accepted by the Lords and king, became law.
Although the kings and the Lords could amend or reject these petitions, this new procedure marked
the beginning of the Commons’ role in initiating legislation.” 263 Under the reign of Edward III,
officials were appointed by kings from the members of the nobility and lesser aristocracy, who
controlled the administration of justice in the local government, so they were royal to the king,
though not paid. In the Peasants’ revolt in 1381, Richard II (1377-99) made concessions, but his
reign was troubled by competing factions of aristocrats, who managed to control his power. He
regained his control by 1389, but took his revenge on the appellants, many of whom were executed
or exiled in 1397. After John of Gaunt died in 1399, the king disinherited Gaunt's son. Henry of
Bolingbroke, who had previously been exiled, invaded England in June 1399 with a small force
that quickly grew in numbers. Claiming the throne, Bolingbroke deposed Richard, and had himself
crowned as King Henry IV. Richard died in captivity in February 1400. 264
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
(b) The Problem of French Kings: “The French monarchical state had always had an
underlying, inherent weakness that proved its undoing in difficult times. Although Capetian
monarchs had found ways to enlarge their royal domain and extend their control by developing a
large and effective bureaucracy, the various feudal territories that mad up France still maintained
their own princes, customs, and laws. The parliamentary institutions of France provide a good
example of France’s basic lack of unity. The French parliament, known as the Estates-General
and composed of representatives of the clergy, nobility, and the Third Estate (everyone else),
usually represented only the north of France, not the entire kingdom. The southern provinces had
their own estate while local estates existed in other parts of France. Unlike the English Parliament,
which was evolving into a crucial part of the English government, the French Estates-General was
simply one of many such institutions. When Philip VI (1328-50) became involved in the Hundred
Years’ War with England, he found it necessary to devise new sources of revenue, including a tax
on salt known as the gabelle and a hearth tax eventually called taille. These taxes weighed heavily
upon the French peasantry and middle class. Consequently, when additional taxes had to be raised
to pay for the ransom of King John II after the fiasco at the Battle of Poitiers, the middle-class
inhabitants of the towns tried to use the Estates-General to reform the French government and tax
structure.” In 1357 when the Estates-General granted taxes for war, the dauphin Charles promised
that no taxes can be imposed without the consent of the Estates-General that would regularly meet
and participate in important political decisions. After ascending to the throne as Charles V (136480), he undermined his promise. As Charles VI (1380-1422) was insane in 1392, the French
nobility split into Burgundians and Armagnacs by competing control over the French monarchy.
Their struggle created chaos for the French government and people. Many nobles supported the
Orleanist faction, while Paris and other towns favored the Burgundians. As the English renewed
the Hundred Years’ War in 1415, the Burgundians allied with the English against France.
(c) The German Monarchy: The Holy Roman Empire, starting from Charlemagne in 800,
consisted of lands of Germany and Italy but began to fall apart in the fourteenth century. Northern
Italy had been free from imperial control since the Hohenstaufen dynasty ended in 1268. Germany
had been divided into hundreds of independent states without centralized monarchical authority:
the duchies of Bavaria and Saxony; free imperial city-states such as Nuremberg; territories of
imperial knights; and ecclesiastical states such as the archbishopric of Cologne. The rulers of
these states had some obligations to the German king and Holy Roman Emperor, but they are
independent from the German ruler. In this regard, the German monarchy had been founded on
an elective rather than the hereditary basis. “This principle of election was standardized in 1356
by the Golden Bull issued by Emperor Charles IV (1346-78). This document stated that four lay
princes (the count palatine of the Rhine, the duke of Saxony, the margrave of Brandenburg, and
the king of Bohemia) and three ecclesiastical rulers (the archbishops of Mainz, Trier, and Cologne)
would serve as electors with the legal power to elect the king of the Romans and future emperor,
to be ruler of the world and of the Christian people. King of the Romans was the official title of
the German king; after his imperial coronation, he would also have the title emperor. The Golden
Bull effectively eliminated any papal influence from the election of an emperor.” 265 As a result,
the emperors were virtually powerless to control hundreds of independent states, particularly in
conflict between princes. As the imperial institutions, the emperor controlled a chancery involving
in diplomatic activity, and a treasury dealing with imperial revenues; the imperial Diet or the
Estate in Germany consisted of the princes, nobles, knights, and representatives of towns; and the
Imperial Court of Justice had virtually ceased to operate during the fourteenth century. The Golden
Bull had two opposite functions: it effectively avoided the papal influence in the election of
emperors, and decentralized the empire for over five centuries until Germany was unified.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
(d) The States of Italy: Italy had failed to establish a centralized monarchy. In the eleventh
century, the Italian cities were ruled by the diocese and by the county. The Holy Roman emperors
transferred the jurisdictions of counts to bishops by local pressures. (i) As the economy became
prosperous, rich merchants, moneylenders, local lawyers, and landed proprietors demanded
political power as much as money power. They created consular communes consisting of the
general assembly and consulate, which were dominated by the nobility in the beginning, but
gradually shared power with the new rich. (ii) When Frederick I invaded, the cities of northern
Italy formed the Lombard League and defeated him. So the Peace of Constance of 1183 allowed
the cities of northern Italy to elect freely their own consuls, to govern their own counties, and to
make their own local laws subject to swearing an oath of loyalty to the emperor. Economic
expansion multiplied the number of guilds, which members demanded their share in politics. At
Milan in 1198 a large number of artisans and small retailers formed a militant association and
challenged the nobility and rich merchant. The power struggle between the nobility and the people
of the middle class caused society to form a popular commune. In case of Millan, the Emperor
Otto IV intervened in and settled the conflict in 1212: a half of all the offices went to the people
and the other half to the nobility. (iii) The popular commune restricted citizenship or constituency
by excluding many taxpayers, encouraged internal rifts due to its variety of office composition,
and politically divided artisans from rich merchants; which was economically inefficient. So it
failed to achieve egalitarian ideal and returned to violence, disorder, and instability which brought
dictatorship or oligarchy to most of northern Italian cities. In the fourteenth century, southern
Italy divided into the kingdom of Naples ruled by the house of Anjou, and Sicily ruled by the
Spanish house of Aragon. The Papal States occupied the central Italy under the direct rule of the
pope. Northern Italy remained independent city-states. Venice and Florence maintained republic,
but Milan was ruled by duke. The city-states fought each other to get more territories, while
different parties in the cities fought to control the government.
Map I-3-4. Italian City States in 1300s
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
(e) The Ottoman Empire (1299-1453): Ertuğrul, father of Osman I, founder of the Ottoman
Empire, arrived in Anatolia from Turkmenistan with 400 horsemen to aid the Seljuks of Rum
against the Byzantines. “After the demise of the Turkish Seljuk Sultanate of Rum in the 14th
century, Anatolia was divided into a patchwork of indepen-dent, mostly Turkish states, the socalled Ghazi emirates. One of the emirates was led by Osman I (1258–1326), from whom the name
Ottoman is derived. Osman I extended the frontiers of Turkish settlement toward the edge of the
Byzantine Empire. It is not well understood how the Osmanli came to dominate their neighbors,
as the history of medieval Anatolia is still little known. In the century after the death of Osman I,
Ottoman rule began to extend over the Eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans. Osman's
son, Orhan, captured the city of Bursa in 1324 and made it the new capital of the Ottoman state.
The fall of Bursa meant the loss of Byzantine control over northwestern Anatolia. The important
city of Thessaloniki was captured from the Venetians in 1387. The Ottoman victory at Kosovo in
1389 effectively marked the end of Serbian power in the region, paving the way for Ottoman
expansion into Europe. The Battle of Nicopolis in 1396, widely regarded as the last largescale crusade of the Middle Ages, failed to stop the advance of the victorious Ottoman Turks.”266
In fact, in 1393 the Bulgarian tsar Ivan Shishman had lost Nicopolis, his temporary capital, to the
Ottomans. If the Ottomans would gain control over River Danube and the Turkish Straits, they
would eventually monopolize the trader routes between Europe and the Black Sea, where the
Genoese had many important colonies. In 1394, Pope Boneface IX proclaimed a new crusade
against the Turks despite the Western Schism of two popes at Avignon and Rome. The crusading
army of Hungarian, Bulgarian, Croatian, Wallachian, French, Burgundian, German, and Venetian
navy failed in siege of Nicopolis, which was the last and the largest crusading campaign.267
“With the extension of Turkish dominion into the Balkans, the strategic conquest of Constantinople became a crucial objective. The empire controlled nearly all former Byzantine lands
surrounding the city, but the Byzantines were temporarily relieved when the Turkish-Mongolian
leader Timur invaded Anatolia from the east. In the Battle of Ankara in 1402, Timur defeated the
Ottoman forces and took Sultan Bayezid I as a prisoner, throwing the empire into disorder. The
ensuing civil war lasted from 1402 to 1413 as Bayezid's sons fought over succession. It ended
when Mehmet I emerged as the sultan and restored Ottoman power, bringing an end to the
Interregnum, also known as the Fetret Devri. Part of the Ottoman territories in the Balkans (such
as Thessaloniki, Macedonia and Kosovo) were temporarily lost after 1402 but were later recovered
by Murad II between the 1430s and 1450s. On 10 November 1444, Murad II defeated the
Hungarian, Polish, and Wallachian armies under Władysław III of Poland (also King of Hungary)
and János Hunyadi at the Battle of Varna, the final battle of the Crusade of Varna, although
Albanians under Skanderbeg continued to resist. Four years later, János Hunyadi prepared another
army (of Hungarian and Wallachian forces) to attack the Turks but was again defeated by Murad
II at the Second Battle of Kosovo in 1448.” The son of Murad II, Mehmed II, reorganized the
state and the military, and conquered Constantinople on 29 May 1453. The fall of Constantinople
and the loss of the entire Byzantine territories marked the end of the Roman Empire that lasted for
nearly 1,500 years. “The Ottoman conquest of Constantinople also dealt a massive blow to Christendom, as the Ottoman armies thereafter were free to advance into Europe without an adversary
to their rear. After the conquest, Sultan Mehmed transferred the capital of the Ottoman Empire
from Edirne to Constantinople. Several Greek and non-Greek intellectuals fled the city before and
after the siege, with the majority of them migrating particularly to Italy, which helped fuel the
Renaissance.”268 The Muslim conquest of the city of Constantinople and the end of the Byzantine
Empire terminates the Late Middle Ages, which also marks the end of the Middle Ages. Now the
Ottoman Empire, a Sunni Islamic state, was ascending into Christian civilization.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
Map I-3-5. Great Schism: Latin West and Greek East, 1054
Map I-3-6. The Western Schism (1378-1417)
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
The Decline of the Medieval Church: (a) External Changes: As Europe gradually emerged
from the fall of the Roman Empire, the Church became one of the main strays of civilization. The
Middle Ages meant the ages between ancients and modern civilization. After the collapse of the
Roman Empire, the western civilization spent three centuries to repair spiritual damages and to
create a new system in politics and religion. In the mid eighth century when the Carolingian
dynasty began to form Europe, the papal authority replaced the Roman Empire. In the Early
Middle Ages, the Latin west was inferior to the Greek east, and the invasions of the Vikings,
Magyars, and Muslims devastated lands and people whose poverty stroke the society. In this
period, the primary goal of the Latin Church was survival and independence based on the religious
ideal of the Benedictine order which had monopolized the gate to heaven. Human beings were
powerless, so relics, rituals, and symbols were important through which supernatural power of
God was available. Secular rulers shared their resources with church. Charlemagne was crowned
by the pope as the first Roman Emperor in 800, but earthly rulers were superior to heavenly ones
in the following two centuries: “Always remember, my king, that you’re the deputy of God.”
In the eleventh century of the High Middle Ages, the economy began to revive and grow
owing to the population growth, agricultural surplus, and expansion of industries and commerce.
Correspondingly, other sectors gradually followed to thrive, and society required specialized
experts including lawyers, medical doctors, and theologians educated in the newly established
universities. As the number of churches and monasteries increased, the popes strengthened the
ecclesiastical organization. Since the role of the clergy could not be substituted by the king in
religious rituals, the clergy considered the king only a layman, not the deputy of God. The rise of
church power with clerical cohesiveness and the spiritual nakedness of the lay ruler caused them
to claim clerical supremacy over all secular rulers, and the papal power reached its zenith in the
thirteenth century. But there were limitations of church power in war and tax. In war, by canon
law in the eleventh century, it was a grave sin to kill a man in a battle waged for earthly gains. In
the thirteenth century, however, wars were justified unless they were against the interests of the
papacy or extended protection of the pope. In taxation, ecclesiastical law said that clerical rulers
should not pay tax on ecclesiastical revenues without clerical consent. Since it was difficult to
obtain the consent, the secular rulers had resisted against pope’s authority. In reality, the consensus
of lay opinion could not be ignored, and ecclesiastical laws were effective only when they were
within the boundary of secular interests. The Benedictine monopoly was challenged in 1150 and
its order was completely closed by 1300, while the new religious orders were established.
In the Late Middle Ages, the papal system began to decline due to environmental changes,
political centralization, and no self-adjustment within its bureaucracy. First, economic decline
and spread of plague destroyed the social balance, and environmental changes threatened the
established hierarchical stability. The plague killed a half of the European population during 134751, and rising wages and falling rents destroyed the manorial system. Many monks and nuns fled
for their lives, while the plague victims were buried without the last customary rites. The shrinking
population could not fill the vacancies of churches and universities. Second, the growing secular
monarchies centralized their political power as the manorial system collapsed. The powerful
secular rulers challenged clerical supremacy by influencing the electoral process of the popes and
imposing taxes on the clerical revenues in order to provide war expenses. Third, the Catholic
Church centralized its papacy and stood in its zenith, so that the papal system lost self-adjustment
function. The system was out of touch with public opinions, and corruption remained without
reform continuously. For example, the indulgence was sold to all who had been guilty of serious
sins by giving spiritual benefits without personal repentance, which meant that money could
purchase the grace of God no matter what the sin might be.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
(b) The East-West Schism: The East-West Schism is the break of communion between what
are now the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches which began in the eleventh century.
“There had long been ecclesiastical differences and theological disputes between the Greek East
and Latin West. Prominent among these were the issues of the source of the Holy Spirit (Filioque),
whether leavened or unleavened bread should be used in the Eucharist, the Pope's claim to
universal jurisdiction, and the place of Constantinople in relation to the Pentarchy.” (i) The source
of the Holy Spirit is a phrase included in some forms of the Nicene Creed but not others, and
which has been the subject of great controversy between Eastern and Western churches. “And in
the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who
proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified.”
(ii) “Unleavened breads have symbolic importance in Judaism and Christianity. Jews consume
unleavened breads such as matzo during Passover. They are also used in the Western Christian
liturgy when Christians perform the Eucharist, a rite derived from the Last Supper when Jesus
broke bread with his disciples during a Passover Seder.” The Roman Catholic Church mandates
the use of unleavened bread for the Host, but most of the Eastern Churches forbid the use of
unleavened bread for Eucharist as pertaining to the Old Testament. (iii) The popes claimed papal
supremacy that the pope, as Vicar of Christ and as pastor of the entire Christian Church, has full,
supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise
unhindered. “The doctrine had the most significance in the relationship between the church
and the temporal state, in matters such as ecclesiastic privileges, the actions of monarchs and
even successions.” (iv) Pentarchy is a term in the history of Christianity for the idea of
universal rule over all of Christendom by the heads of the five major episcopal sees of Roman
Empire: Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem; which was accepted in
East but not in the West, rejecting the formal recognition of the Quinisext Council of 692.
In 1053, the first step was taken in the process which led to formal schism. Patriarch of
Constantinople Michael Cerularius ordered the closure of all Latin churches in Constantinople.
“During the Fourth Crusade Latin crusaders and Venetian merchants sacked Constantinople itself,
looting The Church of Holy Wisdom and various other Orthodox Holy sites, and converting them
to Latin Catholic worship. The Norman Crusaders also destroyed the Imperial Library of
Constantinople. Various holy artifacts from these Orthodox holy places were taken to the West.
The crusaders also appointed a Latin Patriarch of Constantinople. This event and the final treaty
established the Latin Empire of the East and the Latin Patriarch of Constantinople (with various
other Crusader states). Later some religious artifacts were sold in Europe to finance or fund the
Latin Empire in Byzantium as can be seen, when Emperor Baldwin II sold the relic of the Crown
of Thorns while in France trying to raise new funds to maintain his hold on Byzantium. The Latin
Empire was terminated in 1261 by Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos. This attack on the heart of
the Byzantine Empire is seen as a factor that led to its conquest by Islam.” “The Second Council
of Lyon in 1274 and the Council of Florence in 1439 attempted to reunite the two churches.
Despite acceptance by the participating eastern delegations, no effective reconciliation was
realized, since the Orthodox believe that the acts of councils must be ratified by the wider Church
and the acts of these councils never attained widespread acceptance among Orthodox churches.”
As a result of the Ottoman conquest, the entire Orthodox communion of the Balkans and the Near
East became suddenly isolated from the West. “For the next four hundred years, it would be
confined within the Islamic world, with which it had little in common religiously or culturally.
The Russian Orthodox Church and the Orthodox Churches from Wallachia and Moldavia were
the only part of the Orthodox communion that remained outside the control of the Ottoman
Empire.” Despite efforts to heal the schism, only limited progress has been made so far.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
(c) Boniface VIII (1294-1303) and the Conflict with the State: It was observed that the secular
ruler had operated for his own ends within the papal system; excommunication had been
overplayed and was losing its effectiveness; and there had been local oppositions to papal actions
in the first half of the thirteenth century. Those factors limited the growth of papal power in the
future. The struggle between the church and the monarchy began with a reversed direction in the
Late Middle Ages although papal supremacy was distinctively expressed by the previous popes
including Gregory VII, Innocent III, and Innocent IV. The original conflict between the pope and
the king was in supremacy competition between the universal sovereignty of the papacy and the
royal sovereignty of the monarch, which was tested on matters of taxation and justice at the time
of the decline of the church. Being elected to the pope, Boniface VIII formalized the custom of
the Roman Jubilee in 1300, which afterwards became a source of both profit and scandal to the
church. He founded the University of Rome La Sapienza in 1303. “Boniface VIII put forward
some of the strongest claims to temporal as well as spiritual power of any Pope. He involved
himself often with foreign affairs. In his Bull of 1302, Unam Sanctam, Boniface VIII stated that
since the Church is one, since the Church is necessary for salvation, and since Christ appointed
Peter to lead it, it is ‘absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the
Roman pontiff’. These views, and his chronic intervention in temporal affairs, led to many bitter
quarrels with the Emperor Albert I of Habsburg, the powerful Colonna family of Rome,
King Philip IV of France, and Dante Alighieri, who wrote his essay De Monarchia to dispute
Boniface's claims of papal supremacy.” In the field of canon law, Boniface VIII continues to have
great influence: he published his 88 legal dicta known as the Regulae luris in 1298. Pope Boniface
VIII claimed that the popes were the final authority over both the church and the state.
(i) Conflicts in Sicily and Italy: “When King Frederick III of Sicily attained his throne after
the death of Pedro III, Boniface tried to dissuade him from accepting the throne of Sicily. When
Frederick persisted, Boniface laid excommunication on him, and an interdict upon the island
of Sicily in 1296 that denied Catholic priests the right to conduct certain services there. Neither
king nor people responded to this censure. The conflict continued until the Peace of Caltabellotta in 1302, which saw Pedro's son Frederick III recognized as king of Sicily, while Charles
II was recognized as the King of Naples. To prepare for a crusade, Boniface ordered Venice and
Genoa to sign a truce; they fought each other for three more years, and turned down his offer to
mediate peace. Boniface also placed the city of Florence under an interdict and invited the
ambitious French Count Charles of Valois to enter Italy in 1300 to end the feud of Black and
White Guelphs.”269 (ii) The conflict between Boniface VIII and Philip IV of France came at a time
of expanding nation states and the desire for the consolidation of power by the increasingly
powerful monarchs. “The increase in monarchical power and its conflicts with the Church of Rome
were only exacerbated by the rise to power of Philip IV. In France, the process of centralizing
royal power and developing a genuine national state began with the Capetian kings…With the
clergy beginning to be taxed in France and England to finance their ongoing wars against each
other, Boniface took a hard stand against it. He saw the taxation as an assault on traditional clerical
rights and ordered the bull Clericis laicos in February 1296, forbidding lay taxation of the clergy
without prior papal approval.” Upon these principles, Boniface excommunicated Philip IV. Philip
wanted to impose taxes on the French clergy for new revenues, and to judge French clerics in the
royal courts on certain crimes such as treason. To resolve the conflict, Philip had the French clergy
issue a summons for Boniface VIII to appear on changes of heresy. A small contingent of French
forces under the royal lawyer was sent to capture him back to France for trial. Being captured but
he was rescued by Italian nobles, though died from the shock. Philip used his political arms to
make a Frenchman a new pope, to ensure his position and avoid any future papal threat.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
(d) The Papacy at Avignon (1305-78): Under the enough pressure of Philip IV, the College
of Cardinals elected a Frenchman, Clement V (1305-14), to pope, who moved his residence to
Avignon on the east bank of the Rhone River near the French border where the popes remained
for the next 67 years. “This absence from Rome is sometimes referred to as the Babylonian
Captivity of the Papacy. A total of seven popes reigned at Avignon; all were French, and they
increasingly fell under the influence of the French Crown.” “The temporal role of the Catholic
Church increased the pressure upon the Papal court to emulate the governmental practices and
procedures of secular courts. The Catholic Church successfully reorganized and centralized its
administration under Clement V and John XXII. The Papacy now directly controlled the appointments of benefices, abandoning the customary election process that traditionally allotted this
considerable income. Many other forms of payment brought riches to the Holy See and its
cardinals: tithes, a ten-percent tax on church property; annates, the income of the first year after
filling a position such as a bishopric; special taxes for crusades which never took place; and many
forms of dispensation, from the entering of benefices without basic qualifications like literacy for
newly appointed priests to the request of a converted Jew to visit his unconverted parents. Popes
such as John XXII, Benedict XII and Clement VI reportedly spent fortunes.”270
The Franciscan Order attacked Pope John XXII by writing treatises, under the protection of
Emperor Louis IV (1314-47). Marsilius of Padua (1270-1342), rector of the University of Paris
who wrote Defender of the Peace, which treatise was created in the context of a power struggle
between Pope John XXII and Louis of Bavaria, the elected candidate for Holy Roman Emperor.
“Louis' policies in the Italian peninsula, where the Empire had important territories, threatened
papal territorial sovereignty. In 1323 Louis had sent an army to Italy to protect Milan against the
powerful Kingdom of Naples. Naples, along with France, was a powerful ally of John XXII.
John excommunicated Louis and demanded that he relinquish his claim to the imperial crown.
Louis responded to John XXII with fresh provocations.” In his book Marsilius justifies the
independence of the Holy Roman Empire from the Papacy and the emptiness of the prerogatives
usurped by the sovereign pontiffs. In January 1328 Louis entered Rome and had himself crowned
emperor by an aged senator. Three month later Louis declared that Pope John was deposed on the
grounds of heresy; and installed a spiritual Franciscan as Antipope Nicholas V.
William of Ockham (1287-1347) was an English Franciscan and scholastic philosopher and
theologian, who is considered as one of the major figures of medieval thought, and was at the
center of the major intellectual and political controversies of the fourteenth centuries. In 1328
when his political writings became controversial, he fled Avignon to Munich, Germany under the
protection of Emperor Ludwig of Bavaria. In response to this, John XXII excommunicated him.
Ockham would spend the remainder of his life defending his own views by writing political and
religious treatises which called for the removal of Pope John XXII, and later his successor
Benedict XII, on the grounds that they were heretics. On Catholic truth, William of Ockham
considers any view inconsistent with Catholic truth to be heresy. “Ockham defines Catholic truth
as; anything that has been specifically taught in the Bible; anything that is universally accepted as
Catholic truth by all Catholics at any given time; or anything revealed through divine revelation.
This is known as Ockham’s three-source theory of truth, and all three sources ultimately trace
back to God. The first and last sources, the Bible and divine revelation, are relatively
straightforward in how they provide truth. But the second source of Catholic truth, universal
Catholic acceptance, is crucial to Ockham’s condemnation of Pope John XXII as a heretic, and
requires further explanation. Once a Catholic becomes a heretic, according to Ockham, the
individual is no longer a genuine Catholic, because he doesn’t believe the Catholic truths.”271 The
philosophy of William of Ockham will be discussed further in Chapter III.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
(e) The Great Schism: As the economic conditions became worse due to famine, disease, and
war in Europe, the popes of Avignon had faced a serious financial constraint. “Several sources of
income were nearly dried up: Italy deserted by the papacy, sent hardly anything; Germany, at odds
with John XXII, sent half its usual tribute; France, holding the church almost at its mercy,
appropriated for secular purposes a large part of French ecclesiastical revenue, and borrowed
heavily from the papacy to finance the Hundred Years’ War; England severely restricted the flow
of money to a church that was in effect an ally of France. To meet this situation, the Avignon
popes were driven to develop every trickle of revenue.” At last, perceiving the disastrous decline
of papal prestige and hoping the role of French majority for the College of Cardinals to elect a
new pope, Gregory XI (1370-78) moved his court to Rome on September 13, 1376, officially
ending the Avignon Papacy.272 In Rome, the guards of the conclave threatened cardinals to elect
an Italian archbishop who became Urban VI (1378-89). Being released from Rome, the French
cardinals issued a manifesto saying that Urban’s election was null and void, and chose Clement
VII as new pope who promptly returned to Avignon. England, Germany, Scandinavia, and most
of Italy supported the Roman pope, while France, Spain, Scotland, and southern Italy supported
the Avignonese pope. The former took the English side and the latter did the French side in the
Hundred Years’ War. The schism with two popes needed more expenses with increased taxation,
and deadly damaged the Christian faith. A group of cardinals from both lines initiated a general
council on their own: the Council of Pisa met in 1409 and deposed two popes and elected
Alexander V as a new pope. Since the two popes refused to step down, the Catholic Church had
three popes at Rome, Avignon, and Pisa. To resolve the problem, the Holy Roman Emperor
Sigismund initiated a church council convened at Constance during 1414-18. The Great Schism
introduced uncertainty into the lives of ordinary Christians with paying less respect.
(f) End of the Schism and Aftermath: The Council of Constance (1414-48) met to end the
papal schism. Now there were three claimants: Gregory XII at Rome, Benedict XIII at Avignon
and John XXIII. “Therefore, many voices, including Sigismund, King of Germany and Hungary
(and later Holy Roman Emperor) pressed for another council to resolve the issue. That council
was called by John XXIII and was held from 16 November 1414 to 22 April 1418 in Constance,
Germany,” attended by “roughly 29 cardinals, 29 cardinals, 100 learned doctors of law and
divinity, 134 abbots and 183 bishops and archbishops. An innovation at the Council was that
instead of voting as individuals, the bishops voted in national blocks, explicitly confirming the
national pressures that had fueled the schism since 1378.”273 Hence, the Council of Constance
recommended that all three popes abdicate, and that another be chosen. “In part because of the
constant presence of the King, other rulers demanded that they have a say in who would be pope.
Gregory XII then sent representatives to Constance, whom he granted full powers to summon,
open and preside over an Ecumenical Council; he also empowered them to present his resignation
to the Papacy. This would pave the way for the end of the Western Schism.” The Council elected
Martin V (1417-31) as a new pope by deposing three others, which finally ended the Great Schism.
The Schism damaged prestige and respect for the institutional church and the papacy, while the
black death caused the church failed to provide spiritual comfort to its members and salvation with
death as the priests and nuns fled from the plague. So the believers tried to find other ways of
salvation. They thought that the performance of good works would provide salvation, so charitable
contributions increased by leaving more bequests to hospitals and other charitable foundations.
Moreover, the Christians established family chapels providing masses for the death. They thought
that prays and private masses would shorten the time for souls to stay in the purgatory that purifies
souls before ascending into heaven, like indulgence. The pilgrimages also became increasingly
popular as another way of salvation by visiting the holy land.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
(g) Popular Religion and Mysticism: The mysticism was an immediate, direct, intuitive knowledge of God obtained through personal experience. It became a popular movement of lay piety
particularly in the Low Countries and along the Rhine River in the fourteenth century. (i) Meister
Eckhart (1260-1327) was a well-educated Dominican theologian of western Germany, who taught
and preached “the union of the soul with God” which was the orthodox mysticism. “Eckhart was
one of the most influential 13th-century Christian Neoplatonists in his day, and remained widely
read in the later Middle Ages. However, his trial (he was the only medieval theologian tried before
the Inquisition as a heretic) and subsequent (1329) condemnation of excerpts from his works cast
a shadow over his reputation for later readers.” (ii) Johannes Tauler (1300-61) was a mendicant
preacher and spiritual director in Germany, who guided mysticism into practical direction “as an
inspiration to inner piety or an inwardness of religious feeling.” He and Heinrich Suso followed
Eckhart were members of a group called the Friends of God, one of which members wrote the
German Theology that influenced Martin Luther. They were successful to spread the German
mysticism into Low Countries through Rhineland. He travelled extensively in the last two and a
half decades of his life, and made several trips to Colone, where a number of his sermons delivered.
(iii) Gerard Groote (1340-84) studies at Aachen, then went to the University of Paris where he
studied scholastic philosophy and theology at the Sorbonne under a pupil of William of Ockham,
from whom he imbibed the nominalist conception of philosophy. He emphasized a simple piety
and morality by following the life of Christ: “the life of Christ surpasses all teaching. He who
does not follow Christ understands nothing of His doctrine.” Groote attracted a group of followers
known as the Brothers (or Sisters) of the Common Life, and his movement known as the Modern
Devotion was spread to the Netherlands and back into Germany. His pivotal point is the search
for inner peace, which results from the denial of one's own self and is to be achieved by ardor and
silence. It is the heart of solitary meditation on Christ’s Passion and redemption.274
Retrospectively, throughout the Middle Ages, the church was saved not by the tortures of the
inquisition but by the rise of new monastic orders. As the monasteries increased with new orders,
however, the heresy problem became serious as discussed previously. Regarding the inquisition,
Innocent III said that “The civil law punishes traitors with confiscation of their property, and….
should we excommunicate and confiscate the property of, those who are traitors to the faith of
Jesus Christ; for it is an infinitely greater sin to offend the divine majesty than to attack the majesty
of the sovereign.” Before the thirteenth century, inquisition into heresy was left to the bishops.
In 1215, Innocent III required all civil authorities to punish heretics: banishment and confiscation
of goods. In finance of the church, the tithe was the good source of income. After Charlemagne,
state law required that all secular lands in Latin Christendom shall pay a tenth of their income to
the local church; and every parish had remitted a part of its tithes to the bishop of the diocese since
the tenth century. But the basic revenue of the church was from her lands, as the property of
church grew from century to century. In 1200, the church owned approximately a quarter of the
land in Castile, a fifth in England, a third in Germany, one half in Livonia. About 1250, the total
income of the papal state was greater than the combined revenues of all the secular sovereigns of
Europe. The wealth of the church was the chief source of heresy in the age of faith. Finally, the
development of state-church relations was the reflection of spiritual power on the earthly world.
The Edict of Milan of 313 recognized Christianity as a lawful religion; in the eleventh century,
the state was equal to the church in power as shown in the case of Gregory VII versus Henry IV.
In the thirteenth century, the church was superior to the state, as shown in the Crusades. Innocent
III believed that the papal authority was superior to the royal power. In the fourteenth century,
the state was superior to the church as shown in the Great Schism that was caused by the political
intervention in papal elections: now the church was part of the state.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
(h) The Prelude of Reformation: The Council of Constance (1414-8) intended to restore papal
unity, suppress heresy, and undertake reform. Being divided into two camps (conciliarists
advocating the council while curialists defending the rights of the papacy), the Council ended the
Great Schism and restored papal unity by electing Martin V to the pope in 1418. In dealing with
heresy, there were two widespread movements – Lollardy and Hussitism – which threatened the
church in early fifteenth century. The Lollardy was a product of John Wycliffe (1328-84) whose
followers were known as Lollards. He studied at Oxford where he became a professor of theology.
He wrote scholastic treatises on metaphysics, theology, logic, and others. He views that Christ
intended His Apostles to have no property, and any church or priest that owns property is violating
the Lord’s commandment. In Scripture, there was no basis for papal claims of temporal authority,
so both authority and property should be removed from the pope. Opposing papal agents to collect
fund from English parishes for the French pope, Wycliffe suggested the ecclesiastical
independence of England. He condemned the abuses and corruption of church, and asserted that
“the pope cannot be greater than the Kaiser either in that which pertains to the world or that which
pertains to God.” Being sole authority, the Bible should be translated into vernacular languages
for every Christian to read. The Lollards opposed “clerical celibacy, transubstantiation, image
worship, pilgrimages, and prayers for the dead, the wealth and endowment of the church, the
employment of ecclesiastics in state offices, the necessity of confession to priests, the ceremonies
of exorcism, and the worship of the saints.” At the time of social revolution in England, both royal
and church authorities feared the impact of his radical ideas on the economy and society, so that
Richard II ordered the chancellor of Oxford to expel Wycliffe and all his adherents. He retired to
Lutterworth in 1382. Rome summoned him in 1384, but late of the year he died of a stroke. In
1415 his bones were dug up and cast into a nearby stream, and his writings were destroyed.
John Hus (1374-1415) was a religious thinker and reformer whose followers were known as
Hussites. Born in southern Bohemia, Huss learned theology at Prague and became priest, dean of
the philosophical faculty, and rector in two years since 1400. In 1402 he was also appointed to
preacher of the Bethlehem Church in Prague that was founded in 1391 to lead the movement of
reform. As Richard II married Ann, sister of King Wenceslaus in 1382, theological writings of
Wycliffe were widely available in Bohemia, by which Hus was greatly moved as a student. In
1403 the chapter of cathedral submitted to the university master’s forty-five excerpts from the
writings of Hus in line with Wycliffe, and requested that these doctrines should be barred from
the university, which was accepted by the majority of masters. Hus ignored the verdict so that the
clergy of Prague petitioned Archbishop Zbynek in 1408 to reprove him. As Hus expressed his
sympathy with Wycliffe’s views, Zbynek excommunicated Hus and his associates, and ordered
all of his writings to be collected and burned. In 1411 when the Pope announced a new offering
of indulgences, Hus and Jerome of Prague publicly preached against it and questioned the
existence of purgatory, and protested against the church collecting money to spill Christian blood.
Hus called the Pope “a money-grubber and anti-Christ.” While the king forbade him any further
preaching against the offering of indulgences, the pope excommunicated against Hus. He left
Prague for two years to avoid an interdict of the city by the pope. Being anxious to restore religious
unity and peace in Bohemia, Sigismund the future emperor suggested that Hus should go to
Constance in order to attempt reconciliation. In 1414 the Council of Constance summoned and
questioned him, and found that Hus was a major heretic. It was argued that “Scripture must be
interpreted not by the free judgment of individuals but by the heads of the Church.” The Council
demanded Hus to retract all the quoted articles without reservation, but he rejected. Being burned
at the stake in 1415, Hus left last words: “in 100 years, God will raise up a man who calls for
reform cannot be suppressed.” His death resulted in the Hussite wars lasting over thirty years.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
Chris Wickham, The Inheritance of Rome: Illuminating the Dark Ages, 400-1000 (New York: Penguin
Books, 2009), 4.
2 Pierre Riche, The Carolingians: A Family who Forged Europe (Philadelphia, PA: University of
Pennsylvania Press, 1983), 2.
3 Ibid., 7.
4 Ibid., 13-4.
5 Bill Durant, The Age of Faith, The Story of Civilization 4 (Norwalk, CT: The Easton Press, 1992), 460.
6 Access to on December 27, 2014.
7 Pierre Riche, The Carolingians: A Family who Forged Europe, 32.
8 Bill Durant, The Age of Faith, The Story of Civilization 4, 461.
9 Accessed to on December
27, 2014.
10 Accessed to on December 27, 2014.
11 Bill Durant, The Age of Faith, The Story of Civilization 4, 461.
12 Pierre Riche, The Carolingians: A Family who Forged Europe, 89.
13 Ibid., 90-91.
14 Bill Durant, The Age of Faith, The Story of Civilization 4, 463.
15 Ibid., 469-70.
16 Pierre Riche, The Carolingians: A Family who Forged Europe, 160.
17 Bill Durant, The Age of Faith, The Story of Civilization 4, 474.
18 Ibid., 511.
19 Accessed to on December 30, 2014.
20 Accessed to
on December 30, 2014.
21 Access to on December 29, 2014.
22 F. Donald Logan, The Vikings in History, 2nd ed. (New York: Routledge, 1991), 33.
23 Accessed to on December 30, 2014.
Accessed to on Dec. 30, 2014.
25 Accessed to on December 20, 2014.
26 F. Donald Logan, The Vikings in History, 138-79.
27 Accessed to on
December 30, 2014.
28 Accessed to on December 29, 2014. There are
other theories including the Oriental Theory, the Magyar-Uygur Theory, and the Hun-Avar Theory.
29 Edwin Lawrence Godkin, The History of Hungary and the Magyars from the Earliest Period to the Late
War (London, UK: John Cassel, Ludgate-Hill, 1853), 25-32.
30 Accessed to on December 29, 2014.
31 Pierre Riche, The Carolingians: A Family who Forged Europe, 285-7.
32 Ibid., 288.
33 Accessed to on December 31, 2014.
34 Pierre Riche, The Carolingians: A Family who Forged Europe, 291.
35 Ibid., 293.
36 Ibid., 295.
37 Ibid., 302.
38 Ibid., 305.
39 Ibid., 311.
40 Bill Durant, The Age of Faith, The Story of Civilization 4, 451.
41 Accessed to on January 2, 2015.
42 Accessed to on January 3, 2015.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
Accessed to on January 2, 2015.
Bill Durant, The Age of Faith, The Story of Civilization 4, 458.
45 Ibid., 459.
46 Ibid., 485.
47 Accessed to on January 4, 2015.
48 Bill Durant, The Age of Faith, The Story of Civilization 4, 425.
49 Accessed to
on January 5, 2015.
50 Accessed to on January 5, 2105.
51 Bill Durant, The Age of Faith, The Story of Civilization 4, 427.
52 Accessed to on January 5, 2015.
53 Romilly Jenkins, Byzantium: The Imperial Centuries AD 610-1071 (Toronto, Canada: University of
Toronto Press, 1987), 160.
54 Romilly Jenkins, Byzantium: The Imperial Centuries AD 610-1071, 377.
55 Bill Durant, The Age of Faith, The Story of Civilization 4, 428.
56 Ibid., 430.
57 Accessed to
on January 5, 2015.
58 Accessed to on February 8, 2015.
59 Bill Durant, The Age of Faith, The Story of Civilization 4, 431.
60 Accessed to on January 5, 2015.
61 Accessed to on January 5, 2015.
62 Accessed to on January 5, 2015. If Piast really
existed, he would have been the great-great-grandfather of Prince Mieszko I, the first ruler of Poland.
63 Accessed to on January 5, 2015.
64 Francis Dvornik, The Making of Central and Eastern Europe (London, UK: The Polish Research Center,
1949), 60.
65 Accessed to on January 5, 2015.
66 Accessed to on January 5, 2015.
67 Accessed to on January 5, 2015.
68 Accessed to,_Duke_of_Bohemia on January 5, 2015.
69 Accessed to on January 5, 2015.
70 Ibid., Foundation of the Kievan State.
71 Ibid., Rus’-Byzantine relations
72 Accessed to on January 5, 2015.
73 Bill Durant, The Age of Faith, The Story of Civilization 4, 443.
74 Accessed to on January 6, 2015.
75 Accessed to on January 6, 2015.
76 Accessed to on January 6, 2015.
77 Accessed to on January 6, 2015.
78 Accessed to on January 5, 2015.
79 Accessed to on January 12, 2015.
80 Accessed to on January 13, 2015.
81 Bill Durant, The Age of Faith, The Story of Civilization 4, 199.
18.29 accessed on January 13, 2015.
83 Bill Durant, The Age of Faith, The Story of Civilization 4, 202.
84 Ibid., 202-3.
85 Ibid., 204.
86 Accessed to on January 13, 2015.
87 Accessed to on Jan. 13, 2015.
88 Bill Durant, The Age of Faith, The Story of Civilization 4, 282.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
Accessed to on January 13, 2015.
Bill Durant, The Age of Faith, The Story of Civilization 4, 285.
91 Ibid., 290.
92 Ibid., 291.
93 Accessed to on January 14, 2015.
94 Accessed to on January 14, 2015.
95 Accessed to on January 14, 2015.
96 Bill Durant, The Age of Faith, The Story of Civilization 4, 525.
97 Ibid., 525.
98 Accessed to on January 14, 2015.
99 Bill Durant, The Age of Faith, The Story of Civilization 4, 527.
100 Accessed to on January 14, 2015.
101 Bill Durant, The Age of Faith, The Story of Civilization 4, 534.
102 Ibid., 535.
103 Ibid., 536.
104 Ibid., 537.
105 Ibid., 538.
106 Ibid., 539.
107 Ibid., 541.
108 Jackson J. Spielvogel, Western Civilization, 3rd ed. (New York: West Publishing, 1997), 324.
109 Accessed to on January 16, 2015.
110 Accessed to on January 16, 2015.
111 Accessed to on January 16, 2015.
112 Ibid., the same.
113 Accessed to on January 16, 2015.
114 Ibid., 541.
115 Accessed to on January 16, 2015.
116 Ibid., 542.
117 Ibid., 543.
118 Raffaello Morghen, “Monastic Reform and Cluniac Spirituality,” in Cluniac Monasticism in the Central
Middle Ages, edited by Noreen Hunt (Hamden, CT: Archon Books, 1971), 11-28.
119 Ibid., 544.
120 Ibid., 546.
121 Accessed to on January 17, 2015.
122 Accessed to,_Holy_Roman_Emperor on January 17, 2015.
123 Accessed to on January 17, 2015.
124 Bill Durant, The Age of Faith, The Story of Civilization 4, 733.
125 Ibid., 738-42.
126 Ibid., 747-8.
127 Ibid., 749-53.
128 Bill Durant, The Age of Faith, The Story of Civilization 4, 754.
129 Accessed to on January 19, 2105.
130 Accessed to on January 19, 2015.
131 Bill Durant, The Age of Faith, The Story of Civilization 4, 757.
132 Jackson J. Spielvogel, Western Civilization, 290.
Accessed to on January 17, 2015.
134 Accessed to on January
18, 2015.
135 Ibid., Feudal Power over Europe.
136 Ibid., 765.
137 Ibid., 766.
138 Ibid., 767.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
R. W. Southern, Western Society and the Church in the Middle Ages (New York: Penguin, 1970), 216.
Ibid., 223-40.
141 Ibid., 786-7.
142 Louis J. Lekai, The Cistercians: Ideals and Reality (Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 1977), 1-10.
143 Accessed to on January 17, 2015.
144 Accessed to on January 17, 2015.
145 Jackson J. Spielvogel, Western Civilization, 3rd ed. (New York: West Publishing, 1997), 291.
146 Accessed to on January 17, 2015
147 Accessed to on January 17, 2015.
148 R. W. Southern, Western Society and the Church in the Middle Ages, 275.
149 Ibid., 77-9
150 Accessed to on January 17, 2015.
151 Accessed to on January 17, 2015.
152 Accessed to on Jan. 17, 2015.
153 Bill Durant, The Age of Faith, The Story of Civilization 4, 806.
154 Accessed to on January 17, 2015.
155 Accessed to on January 17, 2015.
156 Accessed to on January 17, 2015.
157 Bill Durant, The Age of Faith, The Story of Civilization 4, 772.
158 Accessed to on January 17, 2015.
159 Jackson J. Spielvogel, Western Civilization, 300-301.
160 Accessed to on January 17, 2015.
161 Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume VI (Norwalk, CT:
Easton Press, 1974), 2006.
162 Accessed to on January 26, 2015.
163 Bill Durant, The Age of Faith, The Story of Civilization 4, 585.
164 Ibid., 586.
165 Jonathan Riley-Smith, The Crusades: A Short History (New Haven, CT: Yale, 1987), xxvii-xxx.
166 Bill Durant, The Age of Faith, The Story of Civilization 4, 588.
167 Accessed to on January 27, 2015.
168 Accessed to on January 28, 2015.
169 Jonathan Riley-Smith, The Crusades: A Short History, 12.
170 Jonathan Riley-Smith, The Crusades: A Short History, 18-20.
171 Accessed to on January 30, 2015.
172 Bill Durant, The Age of Faith, The Story of Civilization 4, 591.
173 Accessed to on January 30, 2015.
174 Jonathan Riley-Smith, The Crusades: A Short History, 35-9.
175 Accessed to on January 30, 2015.
176 Accessed to on January 30, 2015.
177 Accessed to on January 30, 2015.
178 Accessed to on January 31, 2015.
179 Accessed to on January 31, 2015.
180 Accessed to on
January 31, 2015.
181 Accessed to
on January 31, 2105.
182 Ibid., the same.
183 Accessed to on February 2, 2015.
184 Accessed to on February 2, 2015.
185 Accessed to on February 2, 2015.
186 Accessed to on February 2, 2015.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
187 accessed
on February 2, 2015.
188 Accessed to on February 2, 2015.
189 David C. Douglas, William the Conqueror (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1992), 211.
190 Ibid., 265-88.
191 Ibid., 342.
192 Accessed to on February 3, 2015.
193 Bill Durant, The Age of Faith, The Story of Civilization 4, 682.
accessed on February 4, 2015.
195 Bill Durant, The Age of Faith, The Story of Civilization 4, 683.
196 Ibid., 684.
197 Accessed to on February 5, 2015.
198 Bill Durant, The Age of Faith, The Story of Civilization 4, 686.
199 Accessed to on February 5, 2015.
200 Bill Durant, The Age of Faith, The Story of Civilization 4, 688.
201 Accessed to on February 5, 2015.
202 Accessed to on February 5, 2015.
203 Bill Durant, The Age of Faith, The Story of Civilization 4, 694.
204 Ibid., 695.
205 Ibid., 696-7.
206 Ibid., 666.
_the_Kingdom_of_Denmark accessed on February 7, 2015.
208 Accessed to on February 6, 2015.
209 Accessed to on February 6, 2015.
210 Accessed to on February 6, 2015.
211 Bill Durant, The Age of Faith, The Story of Civilization 4, 704.
212 Accessed to,_Holy_Roman_Emperor#Death on Feb. 6, 2015.
213 Accessed to on February 6, 2015.
214 Accessed to February 6, 2015.
215 Bill Durant, The Age of Faith, The Story of Civilization 4, 708.
216 Accessed to on
February 6, 2015.
217 Bill Durant, The Age of Faith, The Story of Civilization 4, 709.
218 Ibid, 710-2.
219 Accessed to on February 6, 2015.
220 Accessed to on
February 8, 2015.
221 Accessed to,_Holy_Roman_Emperor#Concordat_of_Worms on
February 10, 2015.
222 Accessed to on February 10, 2015.
223 Accessed to,_Holy_Roman_Emperor on February 11, 2015.
224 Bill Durant, The Age of Faith, The Story of Civilization 4, 431.
225 Accessed to on February 8, 2015.
Accessed to on February 9, 2015.
227 Accessed to on February 9, 2015.
228 Accessed to on February 9, 2015.
229 Accessed to on February 9, 2015.
accessed on February 9, 2015.
231 Bill Durant, The Age of Faith, The Story of Civilization 4, 652-3.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400
Chapter I. Politics and Religion
Accessed to on February 11, 2015.
James Chambers, The Devil’s Horsemen: The Mongol Invasion of Europe (London: Phoenix, 1988), 9.
234 Bill Durant, The Age of Faith, The Story of Civilization 4, 655.
235 Accessed to on
February 11, 2015.
236 Accessed to
on February 12, 2015.
237 Jackson J. Spielvogel, Western Civilization, 304.
238 Accessed to on May 6, 2015.
239 The same: Crisis (1300-1400) – Famine and Black Death.
240 Robert S. Gottfried, The Black Death: Natural and Human Disaster (New York: Free Press, 1985), 80.
241 Robert S. Gottfried, The Black Death, 84.
242 Jackson J. Spielvogel, Western Civilization, 382.
243 Robert S. Gottfried, The Black Death, 139.
244 Ibid., 140-4.
245 Ibid., 145-7.
246 Accessed to on February 13, 2015.
247 Jackson J. Spielvogel, Western Civilization, 387.
248 Desmond Seward, The Hundred Years War: The English in France (New York: Penguin 1999), 23-4.
249 Accessed on February 13, 2015 to
250 Accessed on February 13, 2015 to
251 Accessed to on Feb. 13, 2015.
252 Accessed to
on February 13, 2015.
253 Accessed to on May 6, 2015.
254 Accessed to on February 14, 2015.
255 Christopher Allmand, The Hundred Years War (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 91-119.
256 Accessed to on May 6, 2015.
257 The same: Significance.
258 Accessed to on Feb 13, 2015.
259 Accessed to on May 7, 2015.
260 The same: Peasant Uprisings in France and England.
261 The same: Urban Rebellions.
262 Jackson J. Spielvogel, Western Civilization, 391-2.
263 Ibid., 393.
264 Accessed to on February 14, 2015.
265 Jackson J. Spielvogel, Western Civilization, 394.
266 Accessed to on February
14, 2015.
267 Accessed to on February 14, 2015.
268 Accessed to on February 14, 2015.
269 Accessed to on February 15, 2015.
270 Accessed to on February 15, 2015.
Accessed on February 15, 2015 to
272 Accessed to on February 15, 2015.
273 Accessed to on February 15, 2015.
274 Accessed to on February 15, 2015.
Book II. The Middle Ages from 750 to 1400