Chapter 1 Europe's Early
Middle Ages Samantha
by Samantha Hamade
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Chapter 1 Europe's Early
Middle Ages Samantha
The Mediterranean World
Much of our modern world was strongly
affected by the legacy of western
Legacy: Knowledge and culture passed
down from one generation or civilization to
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: the search for
ideas, wisdom and knowledge.
In fourth century B.C.E. Alexander the Great
conquered many lands and expanded Greek
culture as far as India.
B.C.E.: Before Common Era.
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
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
Roman Legions: Roman armed forces.
Western Europe's culture flourished under the
Romans. They copied Greek arts and
architecture, because they admired the Greeks.
Architecture: The art and
science of designing buildings.
Latin was the common
language for the whole empire.
Latin: The language of the Romans. During the
Middle Ages, Latin served as a common
language for educated people throughout
The Romans developed a code
of law for the people that they
The Pax Romana, Roman peace,
encouraged trade and exchange of ideas.
Rome had been conquered by
the Goths, a Germanic people.
Germanic People: One of the European peoples that
spoke a Germanic language; for example, the Teutones,
Visigoths, Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Franks, and Ostrogoths.
Only the Constantinople, the capital of
the Eastern Roman Empire remained
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: Originally, a non-Roman person.
"Barbarian" later came to mean "uncultured
person", as an insult.
Rome became weaker and weaker until about
476 C.E. when the last Roman emperor lost
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
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
Wergild: Man-money, that is, a
person's value in money.
They had social classes. 60% of people
were incredibly poor; serfs or peasants.
Social Classes: The group that one belongs to in
a society. Class can be determined by money,
role in society, or one's parentage.
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
Charlemagne's empire, from about
770 to 814 C.E.
He tried to make life easier for serfs and
tradespeople. But he could also be cold-hearted
After war with the Saxons Charlemagne insisted that
they convert to Christianity. When they refused,
Charlemagne ordered his soldiers to kill 4000 Saxons a
He established new schools and monasteries
and encouraged learning Latin classics. He also
built churches and palaces in Germany and
Historians often refer to his time
as the Carolingian Renaissance.
Renaissance: A rebirth or
revival, especially of the arts.
The Anglo-Saxons and The Celts
Britain was invaded by the Anglos, Saxons,
and Jutes, they drove the native Celtic people
Celtic people: A western European culture. The
Scottish, Irish, Welsh, Cornish, and Bretons are
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.
Epic: A long poem telling about
heroic deeds and events.
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
After Alfred's death he left western and
southern England prosperous and
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
St. Patrick also built monasteries that were the
learning centre for Europe. Until Charlemagne's
renaissance, Ireland was the greatest learning centre
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
On Easter Sunday the Vikings attacked
Paris, the very center of Charlemagne's
They also attacked Netherlands, Belgium,
Ireland, England, Spain, Italy, and
They arrived without warning
and strike, then disappear
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
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
Fjord: A long, narrow. Salt-water
bay with high cliffs along its
In Viking society men and women shared
work; though jobs like weaving were done by
Gunnhild was a legendary
leader; she was called 'Mother
Freydis Eriksdottir led the expedition
of Newfoundland in early eleventh
Viking landowners usually owned thralls, or
slaves. Thralls could be killed at any given
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.
Skald: A Scandinavian poet who
recited poems at formal
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
By the middle of the eleventh
century the Viking age was over