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Highlands Ranch High School - Mr. Sedivy
Highlands Ranch, Colorado
Medieval History

- The Middle Ages -
Clovis, Charles the Hammer,
Charlemagne, Magyars, and the Vikings
Feudalsim and the Life of a Serf


Clovis
Clovis became King of the Franks in 481. He united all Frankish tribes, and conquered Romans and Germans in Northern Gaul. The unification fell apart after his death because his sons messed it up.

Baptism of Clovis
A 13th-century illumination depicts the baptism of Clovis in 496.
Clovis was the pagan conqueror of Gaul.

Charles the Hammer
In 732, Charles the Hammer (Charles Martel) defeated Muslims at Battle of Tours. The defeat moved Europe toward Christianity and away from Islam. With out this victory, Europe may have become a Muslim nation, and our (US) history would be different. The Battle of Tours united the Franks, and the Franks became the leading power in western Europe. This increased the power of the church and the Pope.

Charlemagne
Charlemagne (Charles the Great) was tall and powerful. He became the leader of the Franks in 768. Charlemagne united the Franks and expanded the kingdom, and promoted learning. In 800, on Christmas day, he was crowned the Holy Roman Emperor. Even though he was a strong Christian, he didn't like the Pope crowning him because he feared the Pope would have more power. His empire blended Germanic, Christian, and Roman elements.

Magyars
Magyars invaded north Italy and south Germany in the 9th Century, contributing to the decline of central authority, disrupting trade, hurting agriculture, and destroying settlements and monasteries. The Magyars fought on horseback, which led to Europeans fighting on horseback. The Magyars led to an increase in feudalism and a decline in monarchs' power.

Vikings
Vikings invaded Western Europe in the 9th and 10th Centuries, causing massive destruction.


Feudalism and the Life of a Serf

Bodium Castle, England, 1300
Bodiam Castle. Built in the 1300's
Reflects the Norman style of William the Conqueror

Feudalism
Feudalism was the political and social structure during the Middle Ages. Feudalism organized to satisfy the two most basic needs of the time: protection and food. Landowning nobles had lots of power. Almost everyone lived on a manor - There was no need for trade as everything needed was produced on the manor.

King Nobles, "lords," owed allegiance to the king.

Clergy - appointed by nobility.

Vassals - free people.

Serfs, 98% of the population, worked land for nobles in exchange for protection. They came with the land, like the buildings, forests, streams, etc. The peasantry became bound to the land and dependent on landlords for protection and the administration of justice. Among the warrior aristocracy the most important social bonds were ties of kinship, but feudal connections were also emerging.

Medieval Manuscript
King Offa and his architect visiting the cathedral at St. Alban.
From an English manuscript of the life of St. Alban. 1260

The Life of a Serf
Serfs lived in crowded living areas (1-2 room cottage). Serfs had many obligations to lord in exchange for protection. They turned over all crops to the lord, and paid for using the lord's stuff by giving some crops from their own strips of land. Serfs worked about three days a week for the lord, and they practiced crop rotation.

A serf could not leave the manor with out the lord's permission. They could be told who to marry, but they did have some rights - their kids couldn't be taken away. Serfs had simple diets and traveling minstrels and entertainers came to the manor. Serfs rarely left the manors, knew almost nothing of the outside world, and usually didn't rebel.

Back to Top of Page


1. Early Middle Ages: Dark Ages and Feudalism

2. Clovis, Charles the Hammer, Charlemagne,
Magyars, Vikings / The Life of a Serf

3. The Roman Catholic Church in the Middle Ages

4. High Middle Ages / National Monarchies

5. The Black Death

6. Knights, Heraldry, and Medieval Warfare

7. The Hundred Years War

8. Medieval Culture

8th- to 15th-Century Poems and Prose
Dante Alighieri, Geoffrey Chaucer, William Langland & more.

Including: Divine Comedy, Beowulf, Canterbury Tales...
Medieval Poetry I
Medieval Poetry & Prose II

More Information
The Entire Bayeux Tapestry

Mr. Sedivy's Tour of Medieval Rothenburg

Medieval Penalties of Shame and Honor -
Crime and Punishment in the Middle Ages


Historical Periods of
World History Class Study

| Prehistory | Mesopotamia & Phoenicians |
| Ancient Egypt | Greece | Rome |
| Medieval History | The Renaissance and Reformation |
| Exploration | National Monarchies |
| The Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment |
| Colonial America and American Revolution |
| The French Revolution and the Napoleonic Era
|

 

   
 

Highlands Ranch High School 9375 South Cresthill Lane Highlands Ranch, Colorado 80126 303-471-7000

Mr. Sedivy's History Classes
| Colorado History | American Government | Modern European History | Advanced Placement European History | Rise of England | World History |
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