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Chapter 1 Europe's Early Middle Ages Samantha Hamade by Mind Map: Chapter 1 Europe's Early Middle Ages Samantha Hamade
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Chapter 1 Europe's Early Middle Ages Samantha Hamade

The Mediterranean World

Much of our modern world was strongly affected by the legacy of western Europe.

The Mediterranean was perfect because of fertile soil, plenty of sunshine and rainfall, and a perfect climate.

The two most important European societies were Greece and Rome. Greeks studied philosophy eagerly.

In fourth century B.C.E. Alexander the Great conquered many lands and expanded Greek culture as far as India.

The Greek Empire fell to Rome at 150 B.C.E. The Romans admired the Greeks so they borrowed Greek attitudes and learning and made them their own.

The Roman Legions were so powerful, ruling most of Europe, Southeast Asia, and Northern Africa. For more than six centuries The Roman Empire and the Mediterranean world were the same.

The Romans

Western Europe's culture flourished under the Romans. They copied Greek arts and architecture, because they admired the Greeks.

Latin was the common language for the whole empire.

The Romans developed a code of law for the people that they ruled.

The Pax Romana, Roman peace, encouraged trade and exchange of ideas.

Rome had been conquered by the Goths, a Germanic people.

Only the Constantinople, the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire remained strong.

For centuries Rome had been in contact with Germanic peoples to the north and east. These people were know to the Greeks and Romans as Barbarians.

Rome became weaker and weaker until about 476 C.E. when the last Roman emperor lost power.

The Franks

Conquered Gaul in the late 4th century and early 5th century.

They were farmers but they loved to make war. They carried special axes called francisca.

The Merovingians were a royal family that ruled the franks. Their most successful ruler was Clovis I. He reigned from 481 to 511 C.E.

Clovis I founded France then made Paris the capital.

After Clovis's death the kingdom was split among his children. None of which were capable leaders. Kings and Queens often killed by their own hand, and for the next 2 centuries the Merovingians kingdom was in chaos.

The Franks created their own legal code called the Salic Code. If someone was injured or killed a fine called wergild was paid. In murder, the family could refuse payment and demand the guilty persons death.

They had social classes. 60% of people were incredibly poor; serfs or peasants.


Charlemagne came to power in 768 C.E. He was interested in rebuilding civilization. He expanded the Merovingian Empire in every direction.

In 800 C.E. he was crowned Emperor by the Pope.

The Carolingian Empire gave most of western Europe a rest from wars.

He tried to make life easier for serfs and tradespeople. But he could also be cold-hearted and merciless.

After war with the Saxons Charlemagne insisted that they convert to Christianity. When they refused, Charlemagne ordered his soldiers to kill 4000 Saxons a day.

He established new schools and monasteries and encouraged learning Latin classics. He also built churches and palaces in Germany and France.

Historians often refer to his time as the Carolingian Renaissance.

The Anglo-Saxons and The Celts

Britain was invaded by the Anglos, Saxons, and Jutes, they drove the native Celtic people out.

The Germanic invaders pushed the Celtics into Wales, Cornwall, Scotland and Ireland.

Although the Anglo-Saxons thought of themselves and warriors, they were farmers. Also they were extremely skilled metal workers.

They were also story-tellers who created amazing epics.

The Anglo-Saxons also suffered from Viking raids. Alfred the Great, the Anglo-Saxon's ruler, lost many battles with the Vikings before he figured out how to beat them.

After Alfred's death he left western and southern England prosperous and united.

The Celts practiced a form of nature worship called Druidism. They fought bloody battles, made human sacrifices, and kept slaves. St. Patrick brought Christianity and respect for learning.

St. Patrick also built monasteries that were the learning centre for Europe. Until Charlemagne's renaissance, Ireland was the greatest learning centre in Europe.

Irish monks copied not just religious works, but Lain and Greek classics and Celtic stories that might have been lost forever if they had not copied them.

The Vikings

On Easter Sunday the Vikings attacked Paris, the very center of Charlemagne's empire.

They also attacked Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland, England, Spain, Italy, and Constantinople.

They arrived without warning and strike, then disappear quickly.

They were destructive and merciless. They killed or enslaved any child, women or man.

Over the years, French monarchs paid the Vikings about 300 kg gold and 15000 kg silver. Only rulers such as Alfred the Great and Charlemagne could fight the Vikings.

What the Vikings did to the Anglo-Saxons isn't really that much different from what the Anglo-Saxons did to the Celts.

They were fishers and farmers who came from Scandinavia, Norway, Denmark, and Sweden.

People lived at the edge of fjords and wherever else there was fertile land.

In Viking society men and women shared work; though jobs like weaving were done by women.

Gunnhild was a legendary leader; she was called 'Mother of Kings'.

Freydis Eriksdottir led the expedition of Newfoundland in early eleventh century.

Viking landowners usually owned thralls, or slaves. Thralls could be killed at any given time.

Even though their reputation was described as 'barbaric' they had very rich culture. Skilled in woodworks, and smiths, their art had survived.

Keepers of Viking history and legend were called skalds. They required excellent memories and great singers.

People called Law Speakers memorized laws and recited them when needed. The worst punishment was to be declared and outlaw. An outlaw cold be killed on the spot and then would inherit their property.

The Viking age ended in the eleventh century. European monarchs grew stronger.

By the middle of the eleventh century the Viking age was over forever.