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

- The Middle Ages -
Medieval Culture

Medieval Culture
In the feudal system society was organized as a pyramid of sorts. The clergy and nobles were at the top, with a great many peasants at the bottom. Peasants worked on the land and lived in rough huts, which they often shared with their animals. They slept on straw mattresses on the floor. In the middle were the scientists, merchants, craftsmen and yeoman farmers.

Dante, crowned with poet's laurel, opens his Divine Comedy
as souls struggle heavenward through Purgatory.
I5th-century fresco in the city's cathedral; Scala. Domenico di Michelino

The Middle Ages also gave much to later generations. Great cathedrals were built and universities were started. Latin was the language used by most scholars. Painting and literature developed.

Thomas Aquinas believed that both reason and Christian teaching came from God. Therefore, both reason and faith came from the same teaching.

Code of Chivalry
King Arthur and his knights became the highest symbols of courage, faith, and chivalry.

The Troubadours
The Troubadours were noble poet-musicians who pledged to serve their ladies as loyally as they would their lords.

Attitudes towards women changed. Now, women were treated with respect. But, women were seen as helpless, beautiful, and pure - unrealistic.

Medieval science was limited because science was not just reason and observation. Scientific theories continued to be mixed with superstition and legend. Most medieval scientists practiced the mysteries of alchemy (trying to turn lead into gold).

Merchants bought and sold goods such as furs and wool. Some became very wealthy and started the first banks. Merchants and craftsmen formed powerful associations called guilds. They sold their goods at fairs where people gathered to trade and to have fun.

Medieval Literature

Beowulf is the oldest great literary work in the vernacular. The Hero, Beowulf, stalked and killed the monster Grendel.

Canterbury Tales
Detail from an early illustration from The Caterbury Tales

Canterbury Tales
Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1340- 1400) was a great English poet. He was on of the first people to write in the English Language rather than in Latin. Chaucer's best-known work is The Canterbury Tales, a collection of stories told by an imaginary group of pilgrims as they traveled to Canterbury Cathedral. Canterbury Tales was written in "Middle English," a form of English used from about 1100 to 1450. This is an excellent representation of medieval life.

Scenes from Divine Comedy
The Annunciation and Scenes from Dante's Divine Comedy.
Page from a missal, painted by Gherardo Di Giovanni 1474 - 1476.
Click the scene for an enlargement.

Dante's Divine Comedy
In Dante's Divine Comedy, the poet journeys through hell, purgatory, and paradise, guided by Virgil. Dante Alighieri gave a vivid description of the people and places of Medieval Italy. In Paradise, Beatrice introduces him to the Saints and to the Virgin Mary.

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

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

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 |
| 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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