Chapter 8 - The Carolingian World: Europe in the Early Middle Ages

    The Frankish kingdom and the rise of the Carolingians

    1. The Franks, under Clovis
      1. Acquired Roman Gaul, defeated other tribes, and won over the church.
      2. The Frankish kingdom included most of France and southwestern Germany.
      3. Clovis divided his kingdom among his four sons.
    2. After Clovis's death in 511, the Merovingians fell into a long period of civil war.
      1. Civil war was caused by unsure succession to the throne and desire for booty (land) and plunder.
      2. Queen Brunhilda encouraged war.
    3. How did the Merovingians rule?
      1. The civitas ruled over by the comites served as the basis of rule in the Frankish kingdom.
      2. Royal income came from royal estates, taxes, new lands, plunder, fines, and minting coins.
      3. Kings traveled to check on their estates, but also relied on their duxs (dukes) to defend the land.
      4. Capitularies--or laws--to regulate the kingdom
        1. These related to property, robbery, arson, etc.
        2. Capitularies were influenced by Roman law and the Roman idea of effective central rule.
      5. The king also used and consulted his aristocracy in the form of a royal court.
        1. The aristocratic Carolingian family emerged to replace the Merovingians.
        2. Pippin I had been the head (mayor) of the royal palace.
        3. Pippin II, Charles Martel, and Pippin III acquired great land and wealth, and defeated other contenders and outside tribal threats such as the Saxons and the Arabs.
      6. The Carolingians acquired the support of the church by their support of missionary activity, including that of Boniface.
        1. Pippin III's acquisition of the kingship was aided by Pope Zacharias.
        2. Pippin created strong ties between the church and the Carolingian dynasty.
        3. Pippin was anointed by Saint Boniface and Pope Stephen II.
        4. The pope Leo III regarded Pippin's son Charles as emperor.

    The imperial coronation of Charlemagne

    1. The church supported Charlemagne, and in 800 the pope crowned him the emperor.
    2. Charlemagne consciously perpetuated old Roman imperial notions while at the same time identifying with the new Rome of the Christian church.
    3. The coronation gave rise to theories of both imperial and papal supremacy.

    The empire of Charlemagne

    1. The warriorruler Charlemagne is described in Einhard's biography as both an intellectual and a strong, brutal man.
    2. Territorial expansion
      1. Charlemagne continued the Carolingian tradition by building a large European kingdom.
      2. He checked Muslim expansion by establishing marches (strongly fortified areas) and conquered the Saxon German tribes.
      3. He incorporated Lombardy into the Frankish kingdom.
      4. He added northern Italy to his kingdom, but his Spanish campaign failed, inspiring the Song of Roland.
    3. The government of the Carolingian Empire
      1. The empire of Charlemagne was mainly a collection of agricultural estates.
      2. The political power of the Carolingians depended on the cooperation of the Frankish aristocracy.
      3. Charlemagne divided his empire into counties, ruled by counts and viscounts.
      4. Charlemagne appointed missi dominici as links between local authorities and the central government.
      5. Margraves ruled in the frontier regions.

    The Carolingian intellectual revival

    1. The revival of learning began with IrishCeltic influence in AngloSaxon Britain.
    2. Northumbrian culture in Britain
      1. Under Saint Benet Biscop and others, IrishCeltic culture permeated Roman Britain and Europe, partly by way of monastic missals and other books.
      2. The Lindisfarne book, in a Celtic script, is a high point in the Northumbrian artistic renaissance.
      3. The noblewoman Hilda and others established "double monasteries" that were governed by women and were intellectual centers.
      4. The monk known as the Venerable Bede wrote a history--The Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation--that is the chief source of information about early Britain.
      5. However, most monks spend their lives as farmers or administrators.
      6. The epic poem Beowulf was written in vernacular Anglo-Saxon.
      7. The physical circumstances of life were grim.
        1. Learning took place in an atmosphere of violence.
        2. Food was not scarce, but the climate was harsh and disease was frequent.
    3. The Carolingian Renaissance
      1. A new culture based on Christian sources emerged. Its purpose was primarily the promotion of Christianity.
      2. Charlemagne fostered an intellectual revival that centered on his court at Aachen.
      3. His scholars (the most important being Alcuin) encouraged interest in the classics and preserved Greek and Roman knowledge.
      4. Basic literacy was established among the clergy, and Christianity was spread.

    Health and medical care in the early Middle Ages

    1. Drug and prescription therapy was common.
      1. Various herbs and oils were used to treat everything from choughs to eye troubles.
      2. Standards of personal hygiene were frightfully low.
      3. The value of dieting was recognized, although pregnant women were advised to not eat meat.
    2. Mid-wives possessed pharmaceutical information about fertility, contraception, pregnancy, and childbirth--but many women and newborns died in childbirth.
    3. The Italian school at Salerno was an important medical center, and several female physicians played a key role in medical writings.
    4. Most people had no access to physicians; death came early and most people had a fatalistic acceptance of death.

    Aristocratic resurgence

    1. Charlemagne left his empire to his son, Louis the Pious.
    2. Louis was tough and ruthless but he could not retain the loyalty of the warrioraristocracy.
      1. He drew up the Arrangement of the Empire to divide his empire.
      2. The huge empire lacked an efficient bureaucracy.
      3. Lothar received the crown.
        1. Dissatisfied with their portions, Louis's sons--Lothair, Louis the German, and Charles the Bald--fought bitterly.
        2. Finally, in the Treaty of Verdun in 843, they agreed to divide up the empire.
    3. But fratricidal warfare among Charlemagne's descendants was not the main reason for disintegration of the empire.
      1. The strength and self-interest of the greedy aristocrats (magnates) were the main cause of disintegration.
      2. Many count's holdings had become hereditary--thereby weakening the crown.

    Feudalism and the historians

    1. "Feudalism" is a confusing term that appears to have come into use only recently; no current definition is satisfactory.
      1. Much discussion of feudalism revolves around the terms fief, lord, and vassal.
      2. The historian Bloch defines feudalism as a whole system of life--economic, political, cultural, and even religious.
      3. However, the political-legal explanation seems to be the most useful.
        1. Earls and counts exercised power as if they operated independent states.
    2. The origins of feudalism
      1. The alternative to Bloch is to see feudalism as a political and legal system.
      2. Feudalism was a type of government in which power was considered private and was divided among many lords, and was the main type of government in Europe from 900 to 1300.
      3. Feudalism existed at two social levels, that of armed retainers (knights) and of royal officials such as counts.
        1. The adoption of the stirrup made the cavalry a potent weapon, and armed retainers became very valuable.
        2. Retainers took an oath of fealty, and some, called vassals, were given estates by their lords.
        3. Counts held power at the local level and came to rule independently.
      4. Because of the premium placed on physical strength, women were subordinate to men, although they occasionally held positions of power.
    3. Manorialism, which was the economic and social side of feudalism, centered on the relationship between peasant (or serf) and the lord's estate.
      1. Peasants exchanged their labor and land for protection from the lord to become serfs.
      2. The free farmers became serfs--bound to the land and to the lord.
      3. By 800 perhaps 60 percent of the population had been reduced to serfdom.

    The great invasions of the ninth century

    1. Disunity in Europe after Charlemagne's death was an invitation to aggression from the outside.
    2. Assaults on western Europe
      1. The Vikings from the north overran Europe.
        1. Their superb seamanship gave them an overwhelming advantage.
        2. Reasons for their attacks include overpopulation, crop failures, and trade.
        3. They did not take slaves, but held powerful people for ransom.
        4. Between 876 and 954 their control extended from Ireland to France, and perhaps even New York.
    3. The Magyars, or Hungarians, pushed into Europe from the east, and the Muslims pushed up from the south.
    4. These invasions accelerated the growth of feudalism.
    5. The invaders brought with them some important advances in agriculture, law, and industry.

    The Vikings and the Kievan principality

    1. The Slavs lived as a single people until the mass migrations of the late Roman times, when they moved in different directions--splitting into three groups, the Ukrainians, the Russians, and the White Russians.
      1. Their lands were great forests and prairie grasslands on which they lived by the "slash and burn" method.
    2. Vikings from Scandinavia moved up and down Slav lands and linked Scandinavia to the Black Sea and Constantinople; the Slavs became "slaves."
    3. The Viking Ruirik founded the Varangian dynasty, and then his successor Oleg made Kiev the center of a confederation of Slavic territories--the Kievan state.
      1. The Vikings and the Slavs were converted to Eastern Orthodox Christianity; trade was the major interest of the rulers.
      2. The Slavified Vikings had no way to pass power from one generation to the next; therefore, much strife occurred.
      3. To avoid chaos, Kiev was divided into competing units (beginning in 1054)--the result was a system of estates worked by slaves called kholops and princely owners, and a warrior class calledboyers.


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