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Early Middle Ages:
Life in Western Europe after the
Fall of the Roman Empire
After the Roman Empire...
After the fall of the
Roman Empire in the
west, it lead to great
change in Western
Western Europe
became fragmented
(or broken up) into
smaller Germanic
Germanic kingdoms
The Germanic tribes could not read or write
so learning declined
The Germanic tribes carried on a rich oral
tradition of songs and legends but usually
no written language
No common language as Latin began to
change from region to region to evolve into
the Romance languages (French, Spanish,
Italian, etc.)
Christianity Expands
The Germanic tribes
converted to Christianity
forced conquered
people to convert
To adapt to the new rural
conditions of the
Germanic kingdoms, the
Church built monasteries
Roles of the Church
Monasteries were religious
communities for monks and nuns
Monks and nuns were considered
to be servants of God
Spent life dedicated to committing
good works, hard work, and prayer
Were some of the few educated
and opened schools
Also were sources of medical care
Monasteries maintained
libraries which became
sources for the preservation
of Greco-Roman studies.
Mostly focused on Christian
studies though.
Copied books by hand.
Pope Gregory I and Canon
Pope Gregory I
Expanded the papal power (power of the pope) to be
involved with politics
Used church money to do the following:
raise armies
repair roads
helped the poor
Under his guidance, the church became involved with
law and judgment
Everyone had to follow canon law, or law of the church
Structure of the Church
Church had own organization based on status
Different ranks of clergy, or religious officials
priest, bishop, cardinal, etc.
Performed sacraments, or religious ceremonies
system became corrupt over the years as clergyman
charged a fee for performing indulgences
this meant a person paid for forgiveness for their sins
Review Question:
What did Pope Gregory I do with
the power of the church?
They were a Germanic
kingdom who had control
over the area known as
They helped bring
Christianity to all of
Western Europe.
Clovis and Christianity
Clovis, ruler of the
Franks, converted to
Aligned his kingdom with
the Church
Began a model of
partnership between
monarchs and the
Charles Martel
Charles Martel was a
Frankish military and
political leader
Helped expand the land
controlled by the Franks
Led forces at the Battle
of Tours against the
Moors in 732
Preserved Christianity
as the main religion of
Carolingian Dynasty (751-987)
Charles Martel’s son,
Pepin the Short, became
king of the Franks
Established the
Carolingian Dynasty
Charlemagne, became
one of the greatest kings
in Western Europe
Charlemagne (reigned 768814)
Expanded Frankish
power to control much of
Western Europe
Reunited for the first
time since the Roman
Credited as the
founder of the French
and German
Spread Christianity
throughout kingdom
Age of Charlemagne
Charlemagne regularly visited every part of kingdom
Limited the power of his nobles (counts)
Was crowned “Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire” on
Christmas Day, 800
His rule helped define the culture of the Middle Ages
Treaty of Verdun
Charlemagne’s son,
Louis the Pious, was a
weak ruler
Led to conflict over
power between
Civil war ended with the
Treaty of Verdun that
split the kingdom into 3
separate kingdoms
Central authority began
Review Question:
What impact did Charlemagne
have on Europe?
Invasions Change
Europe Forever
What impact did the invasions of
the Vikings, Magyars, and the
Moors have on Europe?
Invasions 800-1000
The Vikings
Attacked from the north
Attacked with quick speed
They beached their ships,
came ashore and attacked,
then slipped back out to sea
Greatly frightened the
people of Europe - never
knew when attack would
They were also explorers and
established colonies in the
New World
Built impressive warships
The Magyars
Excellent horsemen
Attacked from east of the
Danube River
Attacked isolated
Captured people to sell
as slaves
The Moors (Muslims)
Conquered Spain
Tried to conquer
Western Europe, but lost
at the Battle of Tours
Mediterranean Sea
Effects of the Invasions
Caused widespread disruption and disorder
Most Western Europeans lived in constant
danger and fear
Turned to local leaders rather than central
Kings were ineffective
System of landholding
and governing
Based on mutual
obligations - exchange of
protection for services
Lords gave fiefs (land) to
knights (vassals) in
exchange for military
The peasants worked on
the land in exchange for
protection against
Manorial System
The manor was the lord’s estate
The manorial system was an economic
arrangement that made the manors selfsufficient
Produced everything needed on site
Peasants on the Manor
Lord provided housing, and
Peasants (serfs) had to work the
land and maintained manor
bound to land on which they
Had to pay high amount of taxes
Lived in harsh conditions
Strict class system
Review Question:
What is feudalism?