The Medieval Period 1066-1485 The Norman Conquest




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TitleThe Medieval Period 1066-1485 The Norman Conquest
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The Medieval Period

  • 1066-1485


The Norman Conquest

  • The Normans were descendents of Vikings who invaded the coast of France.

  • The Normans had adopted many French ways:

  • Became devout Christians

  • Spoke a French dialect

  • Adopted Feudalism



William, Duke of Normandy

  • William had family ties to Edward, the Confessor, King of England.

  • When Edward died in 1066, the witan chose Harold II as King.

  • William claimed that Edward had promised him the throne and led his troops across the English Channel.

  • At the Battle of Hastings, William defeated Harold (Harold was killed) .

  • William was crowned William I at Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day.



William “the Conqueror”

  • Suppressed Anglo-Saxon nobility

  • Confiscated Anglo-Saxon land

  • Gave Normans control of the government at all levels

  • Conducted all business in Norman French or Latin

  • Remade England along Feudal lines



Feudalism

  • Under feudalism, nobles had to rely on their own warriors for protection.

  • The system was based on an exchange of property.

  • The person who granted property was the lord.

  • The person who received property was the vassal.



Feudalism (con’t)

  • King owned all land, but kept some for personal use, gave some to church, and gave some to his powerful supporters or barons.

  • The parcels of land granted to barons were known as fiefs.

  • Each baron had to pay taxes and supply a certain number of knights.

  • Knights were given smaller parcels called manors worked by serfs.



A Shifting Language

  • The Normans substituted their dialect of French in the law courts and in business.

  • This influence can still be seen today in the words bail and sergeant.

  • For example, animals in the field were called by their Saxon names (swine, sheep, ox), but when the same animal appeared on the banquet table it was called by the French name (pork, mutton, beef).



The Plantagenets

  • Norman rule ended in 1154 when Henry Plantagenet, Count of Anjou, came to the throne as Henry II.

  • Henry soon came in conflict with the church over legal matters.

  • By the twelfth century, the church had gained the power to put clergymen on trial in church run courts.

  • Henry wished to curb some of the abuses of the church and appointed his friend Thomas Becket as Archbishop of Canterbury.



Henry II and the Church

  • Becket defied the King, sided with the church, and appealed to the Pope in Rome.

  • The Pope sided with Becket and enraged Henry.

  • In 1170, four of Henry’s knights went to Canterbury and murdered Becket.

  • Henry condemned the crime and tried to atone by making a pilgrimage to Becket’s shrine.

  • Since, a pilgrimage to Canterbury has become a means of showing religious devotion (The Canterbury Tales).



Origins of Constitutional Government

  • Following the reign of Henry II, Richard I staged costly military expeditions overseas.

  • To pay these debts, his successor, King John, increased taxes and cut services to the barons.

  • The barons resisted and England was at the brink of Civil War.



The Magna Carta

  • To avoid trouble, John agreed to sign the Magna Carta.

  • In the Magna Carta, the King promised not to tax land without first meeting with the barons.

  • He also agreed to choose only officers who knew “the law of the realm and {meant} to observe it well.”

  • These restrictions on royal power mark the origins of constitutional government in England.



Parliament

  • Under Henry III, the Great Council of barons who advised the King became known as Parliament.

  • Henry’s successor, Edward I, became the first King to summon a Parliament partly elected by “freemen”—townspeople and barons.



The Growth of Towns

  • The Crusades (twelfth and thirteenth centuries) expanded trade between Europe and the Middle East.

  • London became the leading trading center.

  • In towns, people organized into guilds, or associations.

  • The two main types of guilds were merchant guilds and craft guilds.



Guilds

  • Merchant Guilds

  • Formed to promote business in a town

  • Virtually took over town governments



Growth of Towns: Pros and Cons

  • Pros: Wealth was no longer limited to land ownership, which remained a privilege of the nobility.

  • Cons: People lived much closer together often under unsanitary conditions, making infectious diseases a problem. The Bubonic Plague killed a third of the European population in 1348 and 1349.



Later Middle Ages

  • Beginning of the fourteenth century through end of fifteenth century

  • House of Lancaster replaces the Plantagenets; House of York replaces House of Lancaster.

  • Feudal system in decline

  • Labor shortage due to the Plague

  • Peasant revolt



John Wycliffe (1320-1384)

  • Opposed all forms of wealth among the clergy

  • Directed the translation of the Bible into English to make it more accessible

  • Organized the Lollards, and order of “poor priests” (eventually the Archbishop of Canterbury moved against the Lollards as heretics)



Wars of the Roses

  • In 1453, Henry IV suffered the first of many bouts of madness.

  • Parliament appointed his cousin Richard of York as a temporary head of government.

  • When Henry returned to office, Richard refused to leave without a fight.

  • The resulting civil war is called the War of the Roses, because it pitted the House of York (the white rose) against the House of Lancaster (the red rose.)



The War of the Roses

  • 1461: a Yorkist victory put Richard’s son, Edward IV on the throne (ruled until 1483)

  • At his death, his son, Edward V, still a boy, became King.

  • Soon afterward, Edward and his brother died mysteriously in the Tower of London under the protection of their uncle, Richard of York.

  • Richard then proclaimed himself King Richard III.

  • Two years later, Henry Tudor, a distant cousin and Lancaster supporter, led a rebellion against Richard and killed him.

  • Henry VII later married Richard’s niece and united the houses of Lancaster and York.



Chivalry and Romance

  • Chivalry: the code of knightly behavior

  • The idea of chivalry first arose during the Crusades. The Crusades were sometimes brutal and bloody, and warriors were encouraged to search for higher codes of conduct.

  • At first the code dealt only with loyalty and valor. By the 13th century, every knight was expected to pledge service to his lady. He might joust for his lady’s favor or rescue damsels in distress.

  • At French and English courts, knights were to treat ladies with a respect that bordered on reverence.



The Legend of King Arthur

  • Illustrates the development of chivalry originated with the Celts

  • The legend of a Celtic hero, King Arthur

  • With Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain, popularized the story, which eventually spread through England and France

  • The Knights of the Round Table became paragons of chivalry.

  • The legend inspired the narrative poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Sir Thomas Malory’s La Morte d’ Arthur (the most complete collection of the legends in the Middle Ages).



Learning and Literature

  • In 1066, the Norman Invasion put a temporary halt to scholarship and literature in Britain.

  • After the turbulence subsided, England experience a “little renaissance.”

  • It was during this time that the colleges at Oxford and Cambridge were created.



Learning and Literature (con’t)

  • Latin remained the language of the church and university, while French was often used in government.

  • Latin literature gave way to literature written in the vernacular.

  • Use of the vernacular increased after Wycliffe translated the Bible, encouraging more people to learn to read.

  • 1454: Guttenberg’s printing press also increased literacy.

  • In 1476, William Caxton set up the first press in England.

  • One of his first projects was printing The Canterbury Tales.



Geoffrey Chaucer

  • Trained as an attendant to King Edward III

  • Familiarized himself with important Italian poets, including Dante and Petrarch

  • Wrote Troilus and Criseyde, a narrative poem

  • His finest achievement was The Canturbury Tales



The Canterbury Tales

  • A series of verse stories told by different pilgrims on their way to the tomb of Thomas Becket

  • The pilgrims represent all walks of life—a knight, a squire, a clerk, a friar, a nun, a miller, a merchant, etc.

  • Each storyteller emerges with a vivid personality of their own.

  • Some tales are religious, some humorous, other satirical.

  • They are a remarkable portrait of life in the Middle Ages.



Lyric Poetry

  • Poets often strummed lyres while reciting their verse.

  • From this custom developed two main types of lyric poems: secular and religious.

  • Secular poems are usually about love or nature, and many celebrate the renewal of spring or the joys of summer.

  • Religious poems might consist of a hymn praising God or a prayer.

  • Anther popular poetic form was the ballad, a folk song that told a story (Robin Hood)



Drama of the Middle Ages

  • The theater of Shakespeare had its roots in the drama of the Middle Ages.

  • The church often sponsored plays as a part of services.

  • Eventually these plays moved from the church to the marketplace.

  • The earliest dramas were miracle or mystery plays that retold stories from the Bible or told about the lives of saints.



Morality Plays

  • In the fifteen century, a new kind of drama developed, the morality play.

  • Morality plays told the life an ordinary person, often from birth till death.

  • The hero meets characters who symbolize abstract qualities, such as Vice or Virtue.

  • The purpose of these allegorical dramas was to teach a moral lesson.



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