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The Middle Ages
Change and Time
• Change is a constant throughout history
• Historical changes are usually linear and cannot
be foreseen
• Types of Change:
 Evolutionary Change: change that happens
 Revolutionary Change: change that happens
Forces of Change
• Even though we cannot foresee historical
change we assume that certain forces that
affected history in the past will continue to do so
in the future.
• Types of Forces:
 Religious Belief
 Economic Changes
 Political Changes
 Social Changes
 Technological Changes
Religious Belief
• Religion has always been a strong influence on
• In Middle Ages, Christian teachings dominated
• People believed that their main duty was to
please God
• Other religions taught similar ideals
Economic Change
• Changes in how people make a living alters
• Middle Ages many workers were needed to
grow food
• When agriculture became more efficient less
demand for workers
• The unemployed workers would move to towns
and begin to develop other trades
Political Change
• Today in Canada we have a democratic system
of government with the Queen holding a
position that is only symbolic
• This is a link with past times where kings and
queens had almost total power
• Our current systems of law and elected
parliaments began in the Middle Ages
• Political change is change to methods of
government and law
Social Change
• Family is first part of society that we know
• Over time relationships change within families
as do larger social units like villages, towns,
countries, and civilizations
• Feudalism was the most important medieval
social relationship. This was the relationship
between kings and nobles.
Technological Change
• One of the most important forces of change
• These changes impacted agriculture, military,
Decline of the Roman Empire
• Attacks form various groups played an
important role in Rome’s eventual fall
• Land-hungry Germanic troops pushed across
Europe, looting Roman towns and estates
• Over time separate kingdoms emerged
• There are several theories about the decline
and the eventual fall of the Roman Empire.
The Dark Ages
• The early middle ages, from A.D. 300 to 1000,
also referred to as The Dark Ages
• The Dark Ages saw movement of many tribes
into the old Roman empire
• Also occurring at this time was the conversion
of most of the Roman world to Christianity or
Age of Migrations
• Rapid change in Roman world after A.D. 300
• Constantine became emperor and legalized
• Moved capital from Rome to Byzantium and
renamed it Constantinople
Age of Migrations
• Emperors who followed Constantine could not
keep empire together
• Attacked by many tribes but none more feared
than the Huns (370’s)
• Most tribes looked at the western part of the
empire as a place to live
• By 500 A.D. various German tribes ruled almost
all of the West
Age of Migrations
• Most powerful kingdom in western Europe was
that of the Franks.
• Charlemagne (768 – 814) most famous ruler
• Vikings seized much of modern day England,
France, and Ireland
• Hungarians rampaged through Germany
• About two centuries after Charlemagne's death
Europe became more peaceful but never united
like Roman times
Changes in the East
• Roman Empire continued for almost 1000 years
• Constantinople was capital
• Referred to as the Byzantine Empire
• Emperor Justinian (A.D. 527 – 565) developed
set of laws called Justinian Code
• Justinian Code later became basis for most
European law
• Justinian Code also basis for Quebec’s legal
Changes in the East
• Main challenge to the Byzantine Empire came
from Arabia
• Prophet called Muhammad, from the city of
Mecca, began teaching Islam
• Immediately after his death Muhammad’s
followers, known as Muslims, conquered Egypt
and Syria
• By century’s end the Muslims had captured all
of the southern parts of the Byzantine Empire
Growth of Christianity
• Prior to Constantine, Roman emperors killed
Jews and Christians who would not give up
their faith
• Constantine’s Edict of Milan (A.D. 313) allowed
anyone to be Christian
• Also gave the Church much treasure and land
• Christianity became a fashionable religion
• The Church made it easy for people to adopt
Christian practices
Growth of Christianity
• The Church made it easy for people to adopt
Christian practices
 Feast called Saturnalia replaced by Christmas
 Patron saints replaced Roman gods
• By A.D. 600 most of the old Roman world were
• By A.D. 1000, almost all of Europe had become
Christian, and the basic structure of the Church
was in place
Church Organization
• Most important person was the bishop
• Bishop had priests to help hold services and
deacons to collect money for the poor
• All officials were men
• Bishop of Rome recognized as most senior
• Bishops in very important cities were called
• Pope appointed special helpers called cardinals
Life in the Dark Ages
• Life was chaotic so protection was the greatest
• As a result a system called feudalism
• Feudalism was the system by which politics,
economy, and social life of medieval Europe
were organized
• Kings gave land and weapons to most loyal
followers, the nobles
Life in the Dark Ages
• Nobles then built fortresses to protect their
families and followers
• In return the nobles pledged to support the King
in war and governing
• Noble’s followers were the knights
• Knights were given land in exchange for fighting
and protecting the nobles
• Land was farmed by peasants known as serfs
• Serfs were “tied” to the land meaning they had
to live there unless allowed to leave
Life in the Dark Ages
• Living conditions were uncomfortable even for
wealthy nobles
• Living quarters were small, dark and cramped
• Few people could read or write
• Very little trade so people had to grow and
make what they needed
• Very common to have poor crops which made
food scarce