The French monarchy was forged after a battle with the English kings.
Since Duke William of Normandy conquered England in 1066, his descendants had been both independent rulers of England and also of France.
In the 12th century, by marriage and inheritance, the English kings added to Normandy a series of other fiefs that gave them control of the entire western half of France.
They were powerful enough to destroy their overlords.
As a matter of survival, their overlords set out to destroy them.
King Philip Augustus succeeded in doing this.
In the later decades of the twelfth century, he used his power as an overlord against his dangerous vassals, as well as hearing appeals from the English king's own French vassals against high-handed acts by their overlord.
The sons of Henry II rebelled against their own father.
Philip's campaign ended in 1204.
King John was declared one of Henry's successors using feudal procedures.
Philip summoned his other vassals to come with his knights to enforce the judgement.
Normandy and other French possessions of the English kings were conquered and added to the French king's royal domain.
It would be more than a century before the English kings again challenged the French monarchy.
The French kings had become the most powerful warrior-landholders in their country and this gave them the chance to build a centrally controlled state.
The most powerful ruler in Europe during the 13th century was King Louis IX, a fighter against injustice and corruption who was eventually recognized by the Church as a saint.
The royal courts were open to all free subjects, even if the courts were maintained by barons.
The central power of the king overrode the local power of the barons as paid officials throughout the country enforced his decisions.
The barons supported Louis because he was a model of the Christian warrior virtues that they admired and because he kept within the limits of feudal custom and tradition.
The foundations of the absolute monarchy of later times were laid by Louis and other French kings, who were still operating in many ways as feudal overlords.
The Holy Roman emperors moved in the opposite direction as the kings of France changed from figurehead rulers to truly powerful monarchs.
The empire's founder, Otto I, and his tenth-century successors were truly powerful rulers, exploiting from the start the kind of assets that it took the French kings generations to acquire.
The great lords needed their leadership against outside enemies above all the Slavs and Hungarians, because the emperors already owned massive domain territories.
The emperors ensured that the Church leaders, with their large armies, would be agents of the ruler's power throughout the empire.
For a long time, the lords held their territories on condition of service to the ruler.
The twelfth-century emperor Frederick I Barbarossa was a contemporary of Philip Augustus and Henry II.
He obliged the great lords to accept the status of vassals to him as overlord, and on one occasion, like Philip Augustus, he was able to deprive an overmighty vassal, Duke Henry the Lion of Saxony, of his fief.
The empire was on its way to becoming a powerful feudal state.
The popes were a formidable adversary for the emperors as they tried to build their power as feudal rulers.
The popes had been willing to accept the protection of the emperors for a long time.
The popes began to seek independence from the emperors in the eleventh-century Church reform movement.
The assets of the emperors as feudal monarchs were gradually eroded by the lengthy struggle.
Great lords lost the habit of looking to them for leadership and diverted energy and resources into vain attempts to establish power bases in Italy, from which they hoped to overawe both.
The emperors were not able to enforce the principle of hereditary succession but instead had to live with election by the great lords.
Each fief, each bishopric, each city in the empire's territories became a small independent state, often well governed and fairly powerful, but individually not nearly so formidable as the large feudal states of France and England.
From the start, feudalism favored the growth of royal power in England, like it did in the Holy Roman Empire.
Duke William of Normandy introduced feudalism when he conquered England.
He could tailor the system to his own advantage as the leader of a victorious army.
He kept most of the country in his own hands.
The leading Norman vassals were set up as barons in England, with generous fiefs, because they were almost impossible to govern independently of the king.
In England, the barons needed the central government services that the king provided more than any other feudal country.
William's native English predecessors had a very efficient government system.
The most complex and efficient of medieval states was built on this basis by William's successors.
The state provided both the barons and lesser folk with services that they couldn't provide for themselves, and that's how they got the cooperation of the barons.
By the beginning of the 13th century, the king was providing his subjects with justice that was based on standardized rules and precedents.
The English criminal justice system was thrown into temporary paralysis by the Church in the 13th century because of the practice of ordeals.
The king's legal experts came up with a new procedure.
The modern jury system was inaugurated by the English state.
The English kings used to have power over everyone in their country.
They were still feudal rulers whose power came from their overlordship of vassals, and their innovations led to problems and tensions with their vassals, which exploded early in the 13th century into a major political crisis.
The English rulers used their new government machinery to exploit the resources of the country to the fullest so as to be able to maintain armies that would protect their possessions across the sea in France.
Henry II and his elder son, Richard I, had made their English subjects pay a lot for these wars, stretching their powers as overlords to demand money as well as military service from their vassals.
They were mostly victorious, an important quality in a feudal overlord.
King John, Richard's younger brother, lost the greater part of his French territories in 1204.
He had to rule by increasing oppression and terror after being defeated as an overlord.
In 1215, a rebellion on the part of many leading barons resulted in the king being deserted and alone.
The barons were not allowed to kill or dethrone their king.
The king's government machine was not what the barons wanted him to dismantle.
They wanted him to ensure that it worked to their benefit by operating within the traditional feudal framework of mutual rights and responsibilities between overlord and vassals.
Some of the king's concessions were important.
He promised that in the future, should he need to collect money from his vassals other than for traditional feudal purposes, he would do so with the consent of a council composed of the vassals themselves.
King John was able to grant these things because he was able to get the barons to demobilize.
Conflicts of this kind continued to break out during the 13th century as he and the barons were soon at war again.
As a trust-building gesture, at the end of every crisis between the English kings and their barons, the Great Charter would be solemnly renewed, and in time it became part of the political instincts of kings and barons alike.
They believed that only a powerful king could ensure peace, justice, and prosperity in the kingdom.
As part of his duties as overlord, the king must respect the rights of his vassals, including their right to share with him the responsibility for governing the country.
The king was under the law and needed the consent of his leading vassals before taking measures that were not part of his rights as overlord.
England took its first steps toward constitutional and parliamentary government out of the collision between the state and the traditions of feudalism.
Clergy's lives were the most honorable because they were the caretakers of people's souls.
The feudal nobility were from mighty kings to simple knights who protected life and property.
The common people in town and countryside were the lowest in status because their labors supported the clergy and nobles as well as themselves.
The people of this low estate had little political voice and even less social prestige, but they were the ones who made the achievements of medieval civilization possible.
The civilization of medieval Europe owes its rise to an increase of population and agriculture and a growth of cities and trade.
The developments provided wealth for a complex society, a well-organized government, and an advanced culture.
It is to the life, labor, and forms of community of those who worked that we now turn--starting with the most numerous group, probably forming 90 percent of the population in most countries.
The peasant families did not own their farms.
A knight in the nobility might have no more than a single manor or a fraction of one.
A great fief had hundreds of these estates.
The manorial estates ranged in size from 300 to 3000 acres.
Some two or three hundred people were supported by the average estate of about 1,000 acres.
The estate had to be large enough to support its manorial community and to enable its lord to fulfill his feudal obligations, but it could not be so large as a farming unit.
The Three-Field System and Wheeled Plows are Farming Methods.
More than half of the manor was used for crops, and the arable fields were the productive heart of the manor.
Despite the turmoil of the times, crop yields were boosted by technical innovations that had spread throughout western Europe since the fall of Rome.
Most estates had blacksmiths who could turn out sturdy tools that made it easier to clear forests and work the soil.
Iron was used to make plowshares for big wheeled plows that turned over the heavy soils of northern Europe far more thoroughly than earlier types of plow.
Horse harnesses and iron horseshoes made it possible to use horses as work animals, but before horses replaced the less powerful but hardier oxen.
Waterpowered grain-grinding mills, first used on a large scale in the Roman Empire and widespread throughout much of Europe by 1000, relieved peasant women from endless hours of grinding grain by hand--time that they could devote to more productive women's work.
The manor's arable lands were usually divided into three large open fields.
One of the fields would be planted in the fall, another in the spring and the third left unseeded to regain fertility.
In the third year, the fallow field would be planted, the previous fall field would be left unseeded, and the spring field would be replanted.
Two-thirds of the arable lands were used each year.
The use of animal manures helped to maintain the fertility of the soil.
The peasants didn't have compact areas assigned to them.
The plowing and harvesting had to be done on a cooperative basis because work animals were small and scarce.
Peasants had to have land in each of the three fields in order to have a regular supply of fall and spring crops.
The strip system made it possible to distribute land fairly among the peasants.
The shape of the strips was determined by the techniques used to cultivate them.
It is possible to plow a long furrow more efficiently than a short one.
It was easy to plan the workday because a unit of these dimensions could be easily plow in the morning or afternoon.
The strips were set aside for the benefit of the priest.
Supporting areas were important for the estate.
A water source and an area for dumping waste were essential.
The thatch-roofed, mud-walled homes of the village occupied a small section of the estate.
The villagers kept small vegetable gardens around the cottages and raised animals to supplement their diet.
The staple food grown in the open fields were wheat, rye, oats, barley, peas, and beans.
Beer or wine was the common beverage.
Many villages had a manor house for the lord, as well as a church or priest's house.
If there was no church or the lord did not live in the manor, there would be barns to collect the produce that was due to them.
The lord provided a bake oven and a wine press for a fee, as well as the mill and the smithy.
The baker and the priest had their own agricultural holdings.
The plan shows the main resources that peasants used: cultivated strips in the open fields belonging to each household, and the meadow, pasture, and woodland which all households used in common.
The lord's demesne land, which they cultivated, and a bridge and grain mill, which they used in return for produce or money, were some of the features that enabled him to live off the peasants' labors.
The layout began in medieval times and ended in the mid-twentieth century.
Prior to the 13th century, the records of village life were sparse.
The basic habits of work, law, worship, and play evolved into established custom in those centuries.
Village life as it existed in the 13th century continued with little change for the next 500 years.
The rise of trade and the growth of cities, the emergence of national states, and the struggles between religious groups seem to have had slight effect on the basic patterns and rhythms of rural life.
The lack of privacy was one of the striking facts about medieval life.
The homes were usually one room.
People and animals spent the night under the same roof.
The lord of the manor was probably guided by the rules of God and custom, but his word was law.
He was often away from home for long periods of time.
The lord's wife spent most of her days in the manor house.
She might act as a partner in the conduct of her husband's political and administrative affairs if she were a lady of high rank.
The lord and mally took most of the produce from their own farms.
He couldn't allow them to starve because they represented his labor force.
Serfdom can be traced back to the western provinces of the Roman Empire in the third and fourth centuries.
Farmers placed themselves under powerful warriors for protection during the turbulent times of the early Middle Ages.
In territories that had once belonged to the Roman Empire, serfs were descended from slaves who had worked on the estates of great landlords.
The serf was not free.
The lord was able to free a serf when he chose, but serfs were held to their obligations.
The serfs had an obligation to cultivate the strips in the open fields that belonged to the lord.
They had to give the lord fixed amounts of any valuable items that they produced, such as spun yarn or poultry, and they could be called on to build roads, clear forests, and do other work.
The serfs' children were also bound to the manor, and no members of their families could leave the estate or marry without the consent of the lord.
The rights and duties of a serf's oldest son are usually passed on to him.
Some of them lived on the edge of starvation and this did not mean that they were better off.
The lord was able to evict a freeman whenever he wanted, whereas a serf couldn't legally be separated from his land.
The peasants of a manorial village had a hard and isolated life.
Men, women, and children alike toiled together in the fields, despite the fact that Hus bands and fathers exercised primary rights in their households.
They didn't know much about the outside world, save for news and gossip brought by the lord, the priest, or traveling peddlers and clerics.
Their lives were shaped by the pattern of labor, the seasons, the cycle of religious holidays, and the round of births, marriages, and deaths.
Manorialism was a successful form of economic and social organization despite its harsh life.
The three-field system was more efficient.
The serfs had an incentive to found families and increase the amount of land they farmed because they were more secure than freemen.
The emergence of manorialism by 1000 was followed by three centuries of agricultural boom.
The serfs brought grassland under the plow throughout Europe.
By 1300, the population of Europe had risen from forty million to one hundred million.
They usually founded new manors on uncultivated land.
To get the cooperation of the serfs, the lords had to offer them concessions, such as larger holdings, smaller crop deliveries, and fewer hours of work.
It was profitable for the lords to bring in new land and they did not hesitate to offer concessions.
In the past, the lords found it better to turn their serfs into free tenants and pay rent in cash or produce.
This eventually led to the disappearance of serfdom in western Europe by the end of the Middle Ages.
European society as a whole has become wealthier and more complex.
The number of people who made a living from these activities increased as the population grew.
The town was formed by merchants and craftsmen around the manor, which was a typical community of peasants and lords.
The emergence of the towns that were destined to convert Europe from a rural to an urban society came with the reopening of trade routes and the appearance of new marketing centers in the eleventh century.
The lords and peasants who remained on the manors played an indirect role in the growth of these towns, as producers and consumers of goods that were bought and sold in them.
Merchants, bankers, lawyers, artisans, and unskilled laborers began to appear there.
In the 13th century, these groups made up less than 10 percent of Europe's population, but by the 20th century they would be a majority.
In northern Italy, where trading opportunities were plentiful and the authority of the feudal ruler, the Holy Roman emperor, was weak, the towns grew into cities.
The towns had to find a place within the feudal monarchy.
It was in the towns that kings set up their government offices, the bishops built their cathedras, and the scholars formed universities.
The rural-based civilization of the early Middle Ages became a city-based civilization like those of Greece and Rome.
The revival of trade and towns was related to the rise in population and production in the European countryside.
The owners of manors and even better-off peasants had more to spend on the luxuries that the towns had to offer with more land being cultivated by improved methods.
With some assurance that crops could be marketed in the towns, peasants and lords had an incentive to increase farm output.
Church lords and nobles, instead of consuming all the food and supplies that the peasants produced for them, sold some of the produce in the towns, in return for cash; or instead of receiving their income in goods and services, they freed their serfs and charged them rents to be paid With the speed of trade, gold and silver were being passed into circulation.
Money was seen as the key to new comforts in the early Middle Ages.
The Mediterranean world gave access to many luxuries.
Byzantium and Islam, which dominated the sea's eastern and southern shores, were vigorous commercial societies and manufactured elegant articles for export; in addition, they controlled trade routes that led overland across central Asia to China and by sea across the Indian Ocean to India and the Far East.
The main source of luxury goods was Constantinople.
Those who could afford it sought spices, silks, jewels, statues, and rugs.
In return for these imports, the Europeans exported woolens and linens, horses, weapons and armor, timber, furs, and slaves.
Goods from all parts of Europe were taken to Milan, Pisa, and Venice for transshipment to the East.
The commercial gateway between western Europe and the rest of the Eastern Hemisphere was created by Northern Italy.
The majority of European exports were provided by the wool and textile industries.
The Low Countries were favorable for sheep-raising.
This region gained fame for its manufacture of woolen cloth, and Flemish producers had to turn to outside sources of raw wool to satisfy their needs.
English farmers converted more of their holdings into pastureland.
There was a growing cash market for wool after the 13th century.
A single peasant with a few sheep might become part of the new trading economy.
At the height of Europe's medieval economic boom, the network of land and sea routes and important towns is still densest in areas that once belonged to the Roman Empire.
The network has extended to places that were far from civilization in Roman times, such as the Baltic andScandinavian areas.
Craftsmen who wanted to save labor and increase production in their workshops devised ingenious mechanisms to adapt the waterwheel.
Many manufacturing processes were done by water-powered machinery.
boulders weighing as much as a ton were thrown by wooden contraptions.
The first war machines that could do significant damage to stone fortifications were trebuchets.
The church wanted their cathedral and monastery towers to be heard as well as seen across miles of countryside and metalworkers were urged to develop methods of large-scale bronze casting that would produce monster bells.
The Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th century ended a spurt of technical progress that began in the Middle Ages.
Local produce and foreign goods could be purchased from the trading posts in the medieval towns.
Most of the landless commoners came from manorial villages.
The ancient Roman cities that were well located became bustling towns.
The community surrounding a cathedral might become an important trading center.
In eastern Germany, where towns had strategic value, kings and nobles cooperated in founding them but rarely took part in their actual government.
The townspeople had to fight for many generations to win from the landed aristocracy a degree of self-government.
The merchants needed physical protection.
They usually set up their shops in the shadow of a castle or a fortified settlement and then raised walls around their new town to link it to the old.
In these towns, space was at a premium.
The passageways and streets were kept as narrow as possible so that a maximum number of buildings could be built.
The buildings had as many stories as safety would allow.
The space in peasants' cottages was larger than the housing.
Sanitation was poor and there was little town planning.
European cities faced problems of congestion, traffic jams, infectious diseases, and slums from the very beginning.
There was an order in most medieval towns.
A typical pattern appeared by the 13th century.
The main church towers dominated the town.
The central marketplace and shops were the center of the town.
Most of these were the places of traders, but soon artisans of all kinds found they could sell their services in town, and set up workshops there.
Towns became centers of industry and trade.
Unlike the peasants, everyone in the town was free.
The social structure of the towns was not quite as rigid as that of the manor.
The heads of the guilds and merchants were at the top.
At the bottom were apprentices and unskilled laborers.
The walls run for 1,400 yards around an area of 1/20 of a square mile, which is a reasonable size for a medieval town.
The town was almost impossible to capture using medieval siege methods because of the outer walls.
As the centuries passed, they became a new social element in European society, which gained in wealth and power.
A new plan for government had to be created for the new communities because the pattern of life in the towns was different from the feu dal estate.
In return for these privileges, the corporation made regular payments of money to the grantor.
It was uncommon for the leading bourgeois families to hold important offices, even though voting rights were often quite liberal.
The governing council had strict political control over the community.
The guilds limited production and sale of goods to their members, upheld standards of business practice and quality of merchandise, and set prices for every commodity.
The times and places at which goods could be sold, the standard weights and measures, and the grades and prices of the commodities were all controlled by these rules.
Most of the trades in a town were included in the merchant guild.
In a single town, there could be as many as thirty or forty guilds by the 13th century.
The primary function of a craft guild was to supervise the production of goods.
Craftsmen were categorized as masters, journeymen, or apprentices.
Only masters were allowed to operate workshops and train others, and only after years of experience and proof of excellence could they be considered for coveted status in the guild.
Before the masters certified a journeyman to their rank, they usually required him to submit an example of his work.
Journeymen were licensed artisans.
Before becoming a journeyman, an individual was obliged to work for a specified period of time, ranging from two to seven years, as an apprenticeship in the shop of a master.
In return for their labor, apprentices only received food and lodging.
The women of the towns were not allowed to join the guild.
Personal and social functions were performed by the guilds.
If a member fell sick, was put in jail, or got into some other kind of trouble, he could count on the guild's help.
On the occasions of births, marriages, and funerals, the guilds provided proper ceremonies, as well as conducting social affairs and celebrating Church festivals as a body.
Each one honored a particular Christian saint who was associated with a craft.