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The Middle Ages
War was the
intention of the
Medieval man.
Battle of Hastings
14, 1066
(basically the
start of The Medieval Period)
the Norman Conquest
King Harold of England (the
last of the Anglo-Saxon
kings) killed by Duke William
of Normandy, France (known as
William the Conqueror)
William the Conqueror
 He
was the illegitimate son of the
previous Duke of Normandy, a cousin of
the English king called Edward the
 Edward died childless in 1066 and
Harold, the Earl of Wessex, was
 William claimed the throne belonged to
him and sailed the English Channel with
his army intent on ruling the AngloSaxons (one way was through the Domesday
The Domesday Book
Inventory of property in England – land,
cattle, buildings, etc…
 William assumed all property was his
 Supporters of King Harold lost their
 William parceled property out to Norman
lords who in turn swore loyalty to him
 Comparable to God’s final judgment of
moral worth
 Allowed taxation creating social hierarchy
The essence of the medieval period based on
Caste system – based on religious concept of
– God was supreme overlord
– Kings held land as vassals by “divine right”
– King appointed barons as vassals, allotting
portions of land for allegiance and
– Carried all the way down to the landless
knights & serfs who were not free
– Created the iconic image of iron-clad
knights battling around moated castles
because of displeasure with weak overlords
Military service was the duty of all males
Aristocrats, sons of nobles, were the only people
who could afford armor, which consisted of a war
horse, pack horses, a mount ride, and servants
Armor consisted of helmet, shield, hauberk made
with metal discs sewn on linen (before
crossbow), mail shirt– 120 lbs. with 200 custom
fitted iron plates
Education on manners, social skills, singing,
dancing, playing chess along with teaching on the
proper use of sword & shield began at age seven
– strict training that occurred somewhere other
than boy’s home
Age 14 – became a squire or servant to a knight
Ceremony of Homage
Oath of Fealty - Vassal knelt, placed his
clasped hands within his masters,
declaring “Lord, I become your man.”
Lord raised him to his feet and gave
him the ceremonial kiss binding the
vassal “to love what his lord loved and
loathe what he loathed, and never by
word or deed do aught that should
grieve him.”
Coats of Arms
 Armorial
bearings to identify knight
 Cloth tunic worn over armor
 Record of family descent, property,
alliances, or profession
 In a heraldic emblem, gentlemen’s
helmet, mantle, crest, and family
motto are above the shield
 On flags carried by knights
 Origin
– French word “cheval” from
horse –chevalier was a knight who
rode a horse with lance in hand
 Rules of Warfare – never attack an
unarmed opponent, help & defend
others, & resist the urge to retreat
 Knight was to defend his lord, the
king, & Christian faith
Code of Conduct & System of Ideals
 Treatment
of gentlewomen
 Adoring a lady was means of
achieving self-improvement
 Courtly love – revering & acting in
the name of lady made a knight
braver – was ‘non-sexual’
 Knights might wear his lady’s colors
in battle, glorify her in words, & be
inspired by her – but she remained
pure & out of reach giving rise to
Romance Literature
Women in Medieval Society
 Not
soldiers so no political power
 Subservient to men
 Husband’s or father’s social status &
land value determined her value
 Peasants – ceaseless childbearing,
housework, & field work
 Nobles – childbearing & supervision managed estates while husbands
were at war, but relinquished power
when husbands returned
Feudal Castle
 Roman
Church ruled society
 Feudalism originated because of the
need to band together for protection
 Roman Church & Feudal Society
similar because of gathering around
wealthy patrons
 End of Feudalism cities & towns
developed creating lower, middle, &
upper classes with individual tastes
and monetary system not tied to
feudal lords
Series of wars waged by European
Christians against Muslims with the Holy
Land and Jerusalem as the prize
 Eastern Influence
-math, astronomy, architecture, crafts
-Islam had public libraries
-Cairo’s million people to London’s fifty
thousand, center for spice trade; Arab
universities existed with study of
-medical encyclopedia, study of small pox
& measles
-Baghdad teacher introduced ‘algebra’
St. Thomas a’ Becket
A Norman – chancellor (prime minister)
under King Henry II
 All Christians belonged to Catholic Church
and was vassal of the pope
 No separation of church and state
 Archbishop of Canterbury, Head of
Catholic Church in England
 Sided with pope in a dispute with the king
on December 1170 about Common Law
 King Henry raged, “Will no one rid me of
this turbulent priest?”
 Four of the king’s knights murdered
Becket in his own cathedral, Canterbury
Common Law
 Applied
to all people rather than to
certain classes of people
 King Henry attempted to bring the
church under this common law
 “Benefit of Clergy” –people who
could read could commit a crime and
claim the benefit, receiving minor
 The public sided with the pope, were
outraged at the king, and Latin and
the church gained power
The Magna Carta
 Greatest
defeat of papal power
 Signed at Runnymede by King John
(backed by the pope) in 1215
 English barons forced the signing
 Basis for English constitutional law
-trial by jury
-legislative taxation
The Hundred Years’ War
 England
and France
 Both Edward III and Henry V claimed
the throne
 Created the working class – greenclad yeoman (small landowner) with
longbows replacing the knight
 Longbows could fly over castle walls,
pierce armor, and warriors could fire
about 12 arrows in the same amount
of time it took to reload a crossbow
Joan of Arc
 Led
French army against the English in
the Hundred Years’ War
 Illiterate French peasant woman
 Successful for 2 years before being
captured in Burgundy and sold to the
 English gave her to an ecclesiastical
court, to escape responsibility for her
death, which found her guilty of
wearing men’s clothing and witchcraft
 She was burned at the stake
Bubonic Plague
 Black
Death, 1348-1349
 Final blow to Feudal England
 Contagious disease spread by fleas
from infected rats
 Reduced England’s population by 1/3
 Caused labor shortage which gave
the lower class leverage against
 Saint Sebastian and Saint
Christopher – protectors against
Monetary System
 English
upper class – gold & silver
valued by weight
 Foreign coins were melted into ingots
 Feudal lords made their own coins
 Serfs used a barter system
 Crusaders needed money for other
 Silver was heavy
 Use of light weight gold coins gave
peasants buying and selling power
 Before
gunpowder warfare was
hand to hand combat
 Led to the development of guns
 Led to gunpowder in cannons
which made the previously
impregnable castle open to
Literary Genres
 Romance
– narrative dealing
with knights, quests, and
dangers for the love a woman
or ideal
 Frame Tale – story within a
 Ballad – song-like poem that
tells a story