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Early Medieval Europe
Knight on horseback

Theme (1): The Carolingian dynasty
What did the conquest of German tribes by Clovis in the 6th century signify for the governance of western Europe?  What is the basis for the establishment of the Carolingian dynasty? What was the role of the church, and specifically of  the missionary Boniface, in the establishment of the dynasty? What relations were established between the Carolingian monarchs and the church? At the same time, what was happening to the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Byzantine Empire?  Introduction: Site (1)   

Church and state
What were the foundations of Charlemagne's empire? How did his state differ from a modern state? Why were the institutions of a modern state non-existant? What is the time of Charlemagne's rule most noted for? What was Charlemagne's contribution to intellectual developments? What was the locale? Charlemagne: 
Site (1)
Site (2): Scroll to "Reform and Renaissance"
What was the Carolingian renaissance? What were the accomplishments of Bede? What kind of literature is "Beowulf"?  What was the shared language of west European scholars?  Carolingian renaissance:
Bede:  Site (1): Scroll to "Bede"
Site (2) 
Beowulf: Site(1) 
Why did Charlemagne's Empire collapse after his death? Division and Disintegration :

Theme (2): Feudalism and Manorialism
Why did feudalism develop? What was the relationship between lord and vassal and how did that develop? What was the status of knights and how did that evolve? Why couldn't the kings provide security and why did political power evolve at the level of Counts? What was the basis for the succession of feudal power from generation to generation? Feudalism: Site (1)    Site(2)
What was the status of women under feudalism?  women
What was manorialism and how is it linked to feudalism? What did the peasant gain from the relationship and what did the aristocracy gain? Manorialism: Site (1):

Theme (3): Barbarian invasions
Who were the three main groups of people which invaded Europe in the 9th and 10th centuries? What were the Vikings or Northmen particularly known for? What areas did they conquer? what was the extent of the trading routes they created? What impact did they have upon Europe?  Vikings (1)
What areas were invaded by the Magyars? by the Muslims? What impact did they have upon Europe? Magyars: especially the last 6 paragraphs
Muslims: Scroll to Ninth and Tenth Century invasions
What was the role of the Vikings in Russia and Ukraine?  How powerful was the Kievan Kingdom? Why did it disintegrate?  Kievan Rus Russia

Theme (4): Political revival: The decline of invasion and political disorder?
What was the role of King Alfred the Great in bringing stability to Britain before the Norman invasion? How did political stability develop in Normandy in the 11th century? How did Capetian kings establish a claim to "France"?  Alfred the Great: See Viking (Site 1) above, and scroll to England
Normandy   Bayeux Tapestry
William the Conqueror
France: Site (1)Scroll to the Capetians             Map
How did the German king Otto I contribute to the political stability in Germany? How did northern Italian city-states contribute to economic revival? Germany: Otto I
Holy Roman empire:Origins
Italian city-states:
What was occurring with respect to population, climate and mechanization in the 11th through 13th century to cause a revival? Population
Mechanization: click on related sites
What occurred within the church that contributed to revival? How were the abbeys of Cluny and Gorze, Cistercian monasteries, and Papal reform involved? To what extent were the higher clergy involved in secular and military affairs? Who were outstanding popes involved in papal and church reform in the 11th century and what did they accomplish?

Charter of Cluny
Cistercians        Bernard of Clairvaux
Papal Reform: Scroll to "Investiture Contests"

What was the nature and significance of the controversy over lay investiture? What were the political effects of the prolonged struggle between Pope and Emperor over lay investiture? lay investiture: See Papal Reform above

Theme (5): The Crusades: Western European expansion
What were the Crusades and why were they carried out? Were the crusades well-organized with a single-minded purpose? What were the strengths and weaknesses of the crusading effort? Introduction
First Crusade        
Although the Crusades supposedly were to help the Byzantine Empire in its struggle against the Turks, what, in fact, did happen? 4th Crusade
How and why were European Jews persecuted by Crusaders? How did the Crusades affect women? What general conclusions can be drawn about the character of the Crusades? Persecution of Jews: 
Site (1) 

European Maps of the Middle Ages                  Maps of Europe AD1: 1000

Primary Sources


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