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Germanic Kingdoms Unite
under Charlemagne
The Middle Ages, or Medieval period ran
from the fall of Rome to the Renaissance
(roughly 500-1500 CE). The 1st half was
called the Dark Ages
To replace the institutions no longer
operating due to the fall, new foundations
were established to replace them
Invasions trigger changes
There were invasions from many different groups,
mainly Germanic
Constant warfare sparked new developments
Disruption of Trade – business collapsed. Cities were
no longer economic centers. Money became scarce.
Downfall of Cities – Abandoned cities as administration
Population Shifts – Cities didn’t have strong leadership,
nobles moved away to rural areas, as did the common
population. People had to grow their own food.
So what’s the downside?
Decline of Learning – The invaders were illiterate so
consequently the level of learning declined. Soon the only
people who could read & write were mainly within the church
• Loss of a Common Language – Without Roman
administration many people no longer used or understood
Latin (mainly used in church and official documents). Local
languages developed and some that had been Romanized
developed by including Latin words. These would later be
called Romance Languages
Germanic Kingdoms Emerge
Small Germanic
kingdoms replaced
the Roman provinces.
There was constant
The only thing that
provided order &
security during the
Dark Ages was the
The whole perception of government changed. There were no
longer countries to be proud of – people lived in clans and were
personally loyal to the tribe or a chief
To replace the institutions no longer operating due to the fall,
new foundations were established to replace them
The Franks
In Gaul, the Franks
were led by Clovis.
In 496, afraid of
defeat, he called
upon his wife’s god
who was a
Christian, to help
After victory, he &
3,000 of his
followers were
In 511, 15 years
later he had united
the Franks under
one king. The
church gave him
their blessing
By 600
Christianity to
most Germanic
peoples as well
as through the
Frankish rulers.
Religious communities sprang up in the rural areas called
Their members were called monks (at convents women were
called nuns)
They were servants of God and gave up their possessions
and joined the monastery.
This is
Abbey in
Tintern was the most important abbey in Wales during the
Middle Ages
St. Catherine's, Egypt
Greek Monastery
St. Michael’s, Ukraine
Melk, Austria
Mont St Michel, France
• Unhappy with the
lack of guidelines in
monasteries, St.
Benedict a strict
but practical list of
rules for the
spiritual and
• This was the most famous monastery Benedict
founded – Monte Cassino
Built in 527 CE, the abbey would be sacked and destroyed
twice, damaged by earthquake, and almost completely
obliterated by the US Air Force towards the end of WWII
• Pope Gregory I (also
known as 1 of only 2
popes with the title “The
Great”) expanded papal
authority stating that his
influence covered all of
Western Europe
• It was during his 14
years as Pope (590-604)
that the papacy became
involved in secular
(worldly) affairs
• He raised armies and
acted as the mayor of
• After fall of Rome, Europe broke
into many small kingdoms
• Gaul would be controlled by the
• Clovis would begin the Merovingian
By 700 the man that actually ruled France was the mayor, or major domo.
In 719, the mayor, Charles Martel (the Hammer) had more power than
the king. Martel extended France’s borders, and in 732 defeated the
Moorish army at the Battle of Tours. Western Europe was essentially
saved from Muslim occupation.
• Charles Martel’s son, Pepin the Short, helped the church in
a battle against the Lombardians and in return they
supported him and anointed him King.
• This began the dynasty called the Carolingians Dynasty
which would last over 200 years.
• Pepin’s son replaced him,
but died 3 years later.
• Pepin’s youngest son,
Charles, became king. He
would be better known as
Charlemagne, or Charles
the Great
• Here he is with his eldest
son, Pepin the
Hunchback, who would
later be caught in an
attempt to overthrow his
father. He was sent to a
monastery for life.
• Charlemagne was
supposedly 6ft 4in
(at a time the
average height in
Europe was 5’ 5”
• Charlemagne was
the defender of the
Christian faith. He
fought wars
throughout Europe
• In 800, after
helping the Pope he
was crowned Holy
Roman Emperor
which joined
together most of
Germany, France,
and northern Italy.
• Charlemagne micro-managed
his empire by having either
himself or agents check on the
state of affairs in each county
• A cultural resurgence began
under his rule. Monasteries
were ordered to open schools
and cultural diffusion was
encouraged by having scholars
from England, German, Italian,
and Spanish become part of
his court.
• Monasteries were also
required to copy more and
more books so there would be
more available tools for
• When Charlemagne died
in 814 C.E. his kingdom
was turned over to his
only surviving son, Louis
the Pious. He was more
suited as a monk than a
• His sons were worse.
Louis split the empire into
3 parts for his 3 sons,
who either spent their
time attacking their
father or fighting among
• Their names were Lothair,
Louis the German, and
Charles the Bald. As their
names imply they weren’t
very good rulers.