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High Medieval Europe

Theme (1): Social classes and the role of the peasantry
What were the three most representative groups or classes in Europe in the High Middle Ages? Who were the great majority of the population?  Class structure
Did slavery exist in Europe in the High Middle Ages? What was the role of the Church in regard to slavery? Slavery
What obligations did serfs have to meet?  Was there social mobility among peasants? What circumstances might have provided opportunites for upward mobility?  Peasants
Les Tres Riche Heures
opportunities: See "Peasants" above. Scroll to "Conclusion" and "the Master's Apprentice "

Theme (2): Economic organization and technology
What was a manor? How many acres of land were involved? How was the land divided according to function? Was the land worked communally or individually? The Feudal Manor:   Site(1)       Site (2)
What is the open-field system?  How did farm animals fit into the agricultural system? Crop rotation: Paragraphs 2 and 3
What were the advantages of the heavy plow , the wheel barrow, the horse collar and other inventions of medieval times? Farm Equipment
What levels of sustenance are believed to have been achieved and what variables affected the productivity of the medieval economy?  Agricultural economy

Theme (3): Culture, health, and religion among the peasantry
What was the typical family structure of medieval peasants? What was the typical peasant cottage and household like?What kind of clothing did women of the middle ages wear?  Family and home
What was the typical diet of the peasant? What was the universal drink of the people of northern Europe? What was the most likely drink of Mediterranean Europe? What were the general circumstances of childhood? Food and Famine  
What problems were associated with childbirth? When was a Caesarian section used? Who usually cared for women in childbirth? What was the infant mortality rate? What was life expectancy?  What was the state of medical care? Who usually performed care?  Women in childbirth: Site (1) Site(2)
Medical care: Also click on "More about Health"
To what extent were religion and the Church apart of the lives of people? What role did saints have in the lives of people? What was the role of the virgin Mary? To what extent was ritual important in the religious life of the people? How important was the mass or Eucharist? 

Medieval Religion
Saints(1) site (2)
Virgin Mary Scroll to last 3 paragraphs
The Eucharist Site (1)
Site (2)

Theme (4): The Life of the Aristocracy
What determined the status of the upper nobility and how was it maintained from generation to generation? How much class mobility was there? What is the relationship between the upper nobility and knights? What is chivalry and why was it devised? Inheritance and class mobility
      Chivalry: Scroll to "Chivalry"
To what extent was infanticide practiced? Whatwas the frequency of child abandonment in the high middle ages? What were the reasons for it? What was oblation? Child Abandonment and Oblation
What kind of education would a child of the nobility typically receive? What was the significance of the ceremony of knighthood? What was the tournament? What was a felony in the medieval period? What was the lifestyle of the adult aristocrat (the Lord) who had achieved power and responsibility? What were his responsibilities? What was the nature of ife in a medieval castle? Given that the main function of the nobility was fighting, what relations and problems arose between lords and vassals?

Jousts and tournaments
Lords and Vassals          

What was the usual age of marriage for aristocratic daughters? Why? What was the usual age of marriage for men of the aristocracy? Why? What was the effect of  large numbers of  bachelor males at adult ages, but without adult responsibilities? What was the effect of the late marriage of men and the early marriage of women upon marital and extra-marital relations?  Marriage and family: See "Lords and Vassals " above

Theme (5): the Church in the High Middle Ages
What were the effects of Papal Reform upon Europe in the High Middle Ages?
What administrative changes occurred within thePapacy and the Church which strengthened the role of the church? Which Pope exercised the new powers of the Church to the greatest extent? when?
the Papacy:
Pope Innocent III
What contributions did monasteries and convents make to the economy? to the needs of the poor? to intellectual and cultural progress and education? to politics? to medical care? 

Monasteries: Site(1)

Site (2)

Theme (6): Medieval Origins of the Modern State
Over what area did the French king have jurisdiction in the early 12th century? How did King Philip Augustus acquire Normandy from King John of England? How were areas of southern France acquired during the13th century? How did French baillis and seneschals differ from English sheriffs? What practices developed in England and in France to raise revenues for the king? What happened in France and England in respect to law and justice?

Henry II  Eleanor of Aquitaine

What were some of the barriers to development of a central government in Germany? Why did the efforts of Emperor Frederick Barbarossa fail to etablish centralized rule in Germany?  What was the effect of the policies of Frederick II upon Germany?

Frederick II:

What was the basis for the establishment of a pre-modern state in southern England? What was the role of the sheriff? What was a writ? an inquest? What was the  domesday Book? How did it help to extend the jurisdiction of English kings?
Domesday Book
What circumstances in England led to the MagnaCarta? What was the significance of Magna Carta? Magna Carta

Theme (7): the Rise of Towns
How did towns originate in medieval Europe? What were some characteristics of the medieval town? Where the largest towns and the heaviest concentration of towns? Who were the primary residents of towns? How did they differ from the aristocracy? from the peasantry? Cities of  Europe Scroll to "Medieval commercial Revolution"
Merchants and Craftsmen:
Scroll to "The Changing Medieval World"
What was the impact of towns upon the degree of personal liberty? upon law? Why did towns and town leaders have bargaining leverage with the feudal landlord? Why did guilds develop and what were their functions? Liberty  and  Law Click on More Town Life
What were the cricumstances of life in the medieval town? Medieval town

Theme (8): Long distance trade and a commercial revolution
What were among the problems of long distance trade and how were they overcome? What was the role of the Iberian pennisula in 15th century expansion of Europe? Caraval: Scroll to painting of "caravela"
Iberian peninsula
What economic activity in England was stimulated by long distance trade and became the cornerstone of the English economy? What was the leading economic activity of Flanders (Belgium)? What was the leading economic activity of mid-sized towns in the English midlands and the northeast? of southern English port cities and towns? English economy
What financial practices were introduced to meet the needs of growing trade? What was the Hanseatic League? How and why did it develop? Hanseatic League

Theme (9): Medieval Universities and intellectual life
What conditions opened possibilities for schools and education? Who usually were the most educated group of people? Who established the first schools in medieval Europe?  Universities: Site(1)
What specialties developed in the Universities located at Bologna, Salerno, and Paris?  Medieval Universities
What was notable about the medieval scholar Abelard? What was the main theme of the philosophy or theology of Thomas Aquinas?

Aquinas about Women

Who were the Schoolmen or Scholastics and what was their approach to their studies? How did they contribute to the advancement of knowledge? What were the drawbacks to their approach? What was the method of instruction? What occupations did most graduates take afterwords? Scholasticism

Theme (10): The Creative Impulse: Art, Architecture, and Poetry

What was the most spectacular example of medieval vitality and creativity? What was the source of wealth for this creativity?What determined the themes and pre-occupation of the creativity? What werethe limitations of Romanesque architecture and what were the innovations of Gothic Architecture? Medieval Architecture :at bottom , click on Rose windows How were cathedrals built, and how were they used? Nova Site Cathedral functions
Who was a troubadour and what was the subject matter of his/her poetry? What were the origins of troubadour poetry? For whom did they write and sing? Troubadours

Theme (11): Heresy and the Friars
What was the usual setting for heresies and why? Heresy:
What was the central belief of the Albigensians? Why were women attracted? Why was the nobility attracted? What form did the Albigensian Crusade take and what was its outcome? Albigensians
Site(2):    Note paragraph about women      
How was the Dominican Order of Friars founded? What were its essential characteristics? Dominicans
How was the Franciscan Order of Friars founded? What were its essential characterisitics? St. Francis bio
How was the Inquisition established and who carried it out? What were its methods? What was its effect?  Inquisition
Why were England and France involved in a dispute with the church at the end of the 13th century? What was involved in the dispute? What was the outcome?

Thomas Beckett:   

The Great Schism

European Maps of the Middle Ages                             Maps of Europe AD1000:2000


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