Chapter 11 - The Creativity and Vitality of the High Middle Ages

    The medieval origins of the modern state

    1. England
      1. England's seven kingdoms were united under one king under the pressure of the Danish (Viking) invasions of the ninth and tenth centuries.
        1. England was divided into shires, each under the jurisdiction of an unpaid sheriff appointed by the king.
        2. All the English thegns (local chieftains) recognized the central authority of the king.
      2. William the Conqueror replaced the AngloSaxon sheriffs with Normans.
      3. Sheriffs, the writ, the Norman inquest, and the Domesday Book were used to centralize royal power.
      4. The Angevin dynasty began with William's grandson, Henry II.
    2. France
      1. In the early twelfth century, France consisted of virtually independent provinces; the king's goal was to increase the royal domain and extend his authority.
      2. Philip II began the process of unifying France.
      3. By the end of the thirteenth century, most of the provinces of modern France had been added to the royal domain through diplomacy, marriage, war, and inheritance, and the king was stronger than his nobles.
      4. Philip Augustus devised a system of royal agents called baillis and seneschals to help enforce royal law.
      5. Unlike England, where administration was based on unpaid local officials, royal administration in France rested on a professional bureaucracy.
    3. Germany
      1. Unlike England and France, Germany moved toward multiple independent principalities--or landesherrschaft.
      2. The emperor shared power with the princes, dukes, archbishops, etc.--built great castles.
      3. Frederick Barbarossa tried to unify Germany by creating royal officials, called ministerials, to enforce his will.
        1. He supported local judicial authority by way of the landfrieden.
        2. He tried to subdue Italian cities but was defeated at Legnano in 1176.
    4. Finance
      1. Growth of territory and authority led medieval kings to seek new sources of revenue and better systems of administration.
      2. Henry I of England established a bureau of finance called the Exchequer to keep track of income.
      3. French kings relied on royal taxes, mostly from the church, the tallage, and the conversion of feudal dues to cash payments.
      4. Medieval people believed that royal taxation should be imposed only in times of emergency.
      5. Sicily is a good example of an efficient financial bureaucracy.
        1. Roger de Hauteville introduced feudalism to the island.
        2. Frederick II Hohenstaufen centralized royal power in Sicily by taxing regularly, building bureaucracy, controlling local government, founding a university, and regulating the economy
        3. He granted huge concessions to the local rulers in Germany.
    5. Law and justice in medieval Europe
      1. The legal system by the twelfth century was a hodgepodge of customs practices--very often differing from one locale to another. Medieval kings sought to blend these into a uniform system under their control.
      2. Louis IX's legal reforms made him famous.
        1. A system of royal justice, founded by Louis IX, unified France.
        2. He established the Parlement of Paris as a kind of supreme court.
        3. He sent royal judges to all parts of the country.
        4. He was the first French monarch to publish laws for the entire kingdom.
      3. In England, beginning with Henry II, the English kings developed and extended the common law, which was accepted by the whole country.
        1. Henry II established a jury system and improved procedure in criminal justice.
        2. Courts sought witnesses and evidence--but sometimes judged guilt or innocence by trial by ordeal.
      4. Becket and Henry II quarreled over legal jurisdiction.
        1. Becket claimed that crimes by clerics should be tried in church courts ("benefit of clergy").
        2. He was assassinated by the king's friends in 1170.
        3. Henry gave up his attempt to bring clerics under the authority of the royal court.
      5. King John's conflict with church and barons led to the Magna Carta (1215), which claims that everyone, including the king, must obey the law.
        1. Its original intent was to protect the barons, but it was later used to protect all others, including widows and orphans.
        2. It includes the origins of the idea of "due process of law."
      6. In the German empire, justice was administered by local and regional authorities.
        1. Crimes were first seen as acts against the individual, but later as acts against the public interest.
      7. English common law systemvs. continental (Roman) law
        1. The common law relied on precedents and thus was able to evolve.
        2. The Roman law tradition used the fixed legal maxims of the Justinian Code.
      8. Marginal groups
        1. The extension and centralization of the law, along with economic and agricultural competition and fear of foreigners, led to discrimination and pressure for social conformity.
        2. Many towns in Europe had a small Jewish population; they were forbidden to own land and hence became important in finance and commerce; they even managed the papal affairs.
        3. By the late twelfth century, antiSemitism was on the rise; the king of France used hostility against Jews to raise royal revenue.
        4. Likewise, the king of England expelled Jews in order to gain new revenues from parliament.
        5. It may be that some of this discrimination resulted from the general xenophobia that spread across Europe and that grew out of the Crusades.
        6. Homosexuality, which had been accepted for centuries, had (by 1300) been declared illegal.
        7. The early Christians displayed no special prejudice against homosexuals; some important church leaders and kings were publicly known homosexuals.
        8. It is probable that the Crusades resulted in raising fears of minorities and that the centralization of the law and the state led to intolerance of religious and sexual distinctiveness.

    Towns and economic revival

    1. The rise of towns
      1. Some historians believe that towns began as fortifications (boroughs).
      2. The historian Henri Pirenne claimed that towns resulted from trade and commerce.
      3. Others believe that towns sprang up around religious centers.
      4. All towns had a few common characteristics: a town wall, a central market, a court, and a monetary system.
      5. The bourgeoisie, or townspeople, became a new class in medieval society.
    2. Town liberties
      1. Townspeople worked hard to acquire social, political, and legal liberties, or special privileges.
        1. The most important privilege a medieval townsperson could gain was personal freedom.
        2. The liberty of personal freedom that came with residence in a town contributed greatly to the emancipation of the serfs in the High Middle Ages.
      2. Merchant and craft guilds evolved to provide greater economic security; they bargained with kings and lords for political independence.
      3. Women played an important role in the household, the guilds, and the town economy.
    3. Town life
      1. Medieval towns served as places of trade and protection.
      2. The place where a product was made and sold was also usually the merchant's residence.
      3. Towns grew without planning or regulation.
      4. Air and water pollution, lack of sanitation, and danger of fire were constant problems.
    4. The revival of longdistance trade in the eleventh century
      1. Groups of merchants would pool capital to finance trading expeditions.
      2. Italian and Flemish cities dominated the trade market.
        1. Venice led the West in trade and controlled the Oriental market.
        2. Flanders controlled the cloth trade.
      3. England was the major supplier of wool for Flanders.
        1. Wool was the cornerstone of the English medieval economy.
        2. Eventually cloth manufacture was taken up in English towns.
    5. The commercial revolution of the eleventh through thirteenth centuries
      1. Huge new supplies of silver led to increased trade in consumer products.
        1. This led to new business practices and a "road revolution."
      2. The Hanseatic League developed new trade routes and established new "factories" (foreign trading centers) and business techniques such as the business register.
      3. The commercial revolution meant a higher standard of living and new opportunities.
      4. Kings allied with the middle classes to defeat feudal lords and build modern states, while many serfs used the commercial revolution to improve their social position.
      5. The slow transformation of European society from rural isolation to a more urban sophistication was the commercial revolution's greatest effect.

    Medieval universities

    1. Origins
      1. Prior to the twelfth century, only monasteries and cathedral schools existed, and there weren't very many of them.
      2. During the twelfth century, cathedral schools in France and municipal schools in Italy developed into universities.
        1. The first universities were at Bologna and Salerno in Italy.
        2. Bologna became a law school, while medicine was studied in Salerno.
        3. The cathedral school at Notre Dame in Paris became an international center of learning.
    2. Instruction and curriculum
      1. The Scholastic method of teaching was used.
        1. In this method of reasoning and writing, questions were raised and authorities cited on both sides of the question.
        2. Its goal was to arrive at definite answers and provide a rational explanation for what was believed on faith.
        3. Arabic thought encouraged people to study Aristotle.
        4. By asking questions about nature and the universe, Scholastics laid the foundations for later scientific work.
        5. Scholastic philosophers dealt with many theological issues.
        6. They published summa, or reference books, on many topics, the most famous of which--Aquinas's Summa Theologica--became the fundamental text of Roman Catholic doctrine.
      2. The standard method of teaching was the lecture accompanied by a gloss, or interpretation.
      3. Oral examinations came when students applied for their degree.

    Gothic art

    1. The term "gothic" was a negative term, implying barbaric and destruction of classical buildings of the Roman empire.
    2. Prior to Gothic and after 1000, church building increased greatly; most churches were in the Romanesque style, with thick walls, small windows, and rounded arches.
    3. From Romanesque gloom to "uninterrupted light"
      1. Political stability and the increase in church wealth led demands for better buildings.
        1. The Gothic style was created by Suger, the abbot of St. Denis, who reconstructed the abbey church at Saint Denis beginning in 1137.
        2. The Gothic style has several distinct features: the pointed arch, the ribbed vault, flying buttresses, and interior brightness.
        3. The Gothic style spread rapidly throughout Europe--with French architects invited to design new churches in places such as Canterbury in England.
    4. The creative outburst of cathedral building
      1. Bishops, nobility, and the commercial classes supported cathedral building.
      2. Cathedrals became symbols of bourgeois civic pride, and towns competed to build the largest and most splendid church.
      3. Cathedrals served many purposes, secular as well as religious.
      4. The architecture of the cathedrals was a means of religious instruction.
      5. Colored glass pieces were placed in designs and leaded together to become the leading form of religious painting.
      6. Tapestry making and drama were first used to convey religious themes to ordinary people, then emerged as distinct art forms.
        1. Early tapestries depicted religious themes, but the later ones, produced for the knightly class, bore secular designs.
        2. Mystery plays, which combined farce and serious religious scenes, were very popular.
      7. In music, the organum style of singing began; counterpoint was introduced, and the system of notation evolved.
        1. Also, new instruments came into use: stringed instruments such as the lute and clavichord; and reed and brass instruments (the trumpet).
    5. Troubadour poetry
      1. In southern France a new art of singing poetry blossomed in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.
        1. This was known as "troubadour" music and poetry--and it took up a great variety of themes, including courtly love, bawdy experiences, and beauties of nature.
        2. Troubadours often focused on love affairs within the noble courts; however, the idea and practice of courtly love is hotly debated among modern scholars.
        3. Troubadours were greatly shaped by HispanoArabic influences--perhaps by way of slave girls who brought sung poetry to France from Andalusia.
        4. In northern France this music influenced the epic poems of the trouvères who wrote in the Old French language.
        5. Overall, troubadour music and verse stimulated vernacular languages in Europe, such as in Germany with the "Minnesangers" (love singers).

    Heresy and the friars

    1. Heresy flourished most in the most economically advanced and urbanized areas.
      1. Neither traditional Christian theology nor the isolated monastic orders addressed the problems of mercantile society.
      2. Townspeople desired a pious clergy who would meet their needs.
    2. Heresy, originally meaning "individual choosing," was seen as a threat to social cohesion and religious unity.
      1. The Gregorian injunction against clerical marriage made many priests vulnerable to the Donatist heresy, which held that sacraments given by an immoral priest were useless.
      2. Various heretics, such as Arnold of Brescia, Peter Waldo, the Albigensians, and others denounced wealth, the sacraments, and material things.
        1. The Albigensian heresy grew strong in southern France and was the subject of a politicalreligious crusade.
        2. Heretical beliefs became fused with feudal rebellion against the French crown.
    3. As a response to heretical cults, two new religious orders were founded.
      1. Saint Dominic's mission to win back the Albigensians led to the founding of a new religious order of "Preaching Friars" (the Dominicans).
      2. Saint Francis of Assisi founded an order (the Franciscans) based on preaching and absolute poverty of the clergy.
      3. These new orders of friars were urban, based on the idea of poverty, and their members were drawn from the burgher class.
    4. The friars met the spiritual and intellectual needs of the thirteenth century.
      1. The friars stressed education and intellectual pursuit.
      2. Their emphasis on an educated and nonmaterialistic clergy won them the respect of the bourgeoisie.
      3. The friars successfully directed the Inquisition, and heresy was virtually extinguished.
    5. A challenge to religious authority
      1. Pope Boniface VIII refused to let King Edward I of England and Philip the Fair of France tax the clergy to finance their war.
      2. In the Unam Sanctam (1302), Boniface declared that all Christians are subject to the pope, whereupon French mercenaries arrested him.


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