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Middle Ages

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Andrew Mc Donald

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September 15 Periodization in History – “Inventing the Middle Ages” Tripartite division of history – Ancient – Medieval – Modern *Leonardo Bruni (writer), Florence, d. 1444 *Adapted, developed and dominated (institutionalized) in western history from 17 th century Dividing Lines in History – End of Roman empire = end of ancient world – End of Roman empire = beginning of middle ages ○ Where is the dividing line?  312? 378? 410? 455? 476? 511? 526? 565? • Significant in some way as it marks events and turning points of the end of the Roman Empire and the beginning of the middle ages ○ The artificial and porous nature of dividing lines in history  Imposed by later writers about the past and not by those in the present Inventing the Middle Ages in the Renaissance – Petrarc\h, 1304 – 74 ○ Writers that were starting to say that they are living within a different age than what has happened previously – ‘dark ages’, ‘middle ages’ ○ A stagnate place – ‘Renaissance’ = Rebirth – Medium aevum = middle age = medieval – Middle ages = artificial, scholarly, construct ‘Middle Ages’ – The six ages of Man – St. Augustine d. 430 “The middle ages is an unfortunate term. It was not invented until the age was long past. The dwellers in the middle ages would not have recognized it. They did not know that they were living in the middle; they thought, quite rightly, that they were time’s last achievement.” – Morris Bishop, The Middle Ages (1968) The Idea of the Middle Ages – Renaissance ○ ‘Gothic’ = barbaric – Reformation ○ Catholic superstition and corruption – Enlightenment ○ Age of Faith vs. Age of Reason – Romantics ○ Gothic revival >> ‘Light ages’ – Modern academic use ○ Retains the term but ditches the negative connotations The Problem of the ‘Decline and Fall’ of the Roman Empire th *what happened to the Roman Empire in the 5 century? Empires and Revolutions – Roman empire = arguably the greatest empire the world has seen – ‘Decline and Fall’ = arguably one of the most famous process impacting an empire ○ A series of revolutions *Pax Romana – the Roman Peace – main focus: a Mediterranean civilization – while they did conquered several land, they were very tolerate with other cultures ○ they were okay with assimilating to the cultures of the city that they conquered Crisis of the 3 Century – Crisis of the frontiers ○ 251 Emperor Decius slain by Goths  Dramatic neighbours of the Romans  An Emperor was actually killed against the Goths – the first time in a long time that a Roman Emperor has been slain against a foreign enemy ○ 260 Emperor Valerian captured by Persians ○ 271 Aurelian Wall – Rome  Rome wasn’t fortified until now where states start to build walls around their city – ‘The Imperial Merry Go Round’ ○ 238: seven emperors ○ 218 – 268: 50 contenders  There would be emperors that would last a few days, weeks or even years • This creates a sort of instability ○ The ‘age of the soldier emperors’ – 260s – 280s: ‘Breakaway Empires’ Problem Solving Emperors and the ‘New Empire’: – Diocletian (r. 284 – 305, d. 311) ○ The way that they dressed and the way that they worked made Rome into a more of a Military state ○ Diocletian came from a poor background and assassinated a contending governor to become empire ○ Locks down on Christianity – persecution of the Christians and their practices – Constantine (r. 306 – 337) ○ Famous for being the Christian Emperor and creating laws in according to Christianity ○ By the late Roman empire, Rome becomes a Christian State *these men were not only soldiers but also men with ideas to help save Rome The ‘New Empire’ – Totalitarian, Military State – Complete subordination of society to the military ○ No longer a part of society but instead into a divine figure where they are always surrounded by bodyguards – ‘awful revolution’ ○ Restriction on freedom on the citizens ○ Taxes would raise in order to maintain a military state ○ However, this works because it created stability within Rome – Its brief success: first half of fourth century a relatively peaceful and prosperous time ○ Towards a Christian empire 312 – 395 The Fourth Century – Battle of Hadrianople, 378 – Theodosius I (378 – 95) ○ When he dies, Rome is now divided within to, the East and West where there are Emperors on both sides – Romans vs. Goths; Emperor slain ○ Roman empire is destroyed by the Gothic army and the Emperor is slain – Accommodating the Germanic peoples ○ Can no longer face the Germanic people, and the Germanic people finally take over – Division of the Empire in 395 5 Century Themes – Renewed pressure on the frontiers ○ 410 sack of the Rome by Goths – Devolution of Roman authority in parts of the empire ○ 410 Britain; 418 parts of Gaul; 438 N. Africa – Rise of the Military strongmen behind throne ○ Germanic people become assimilated within the Roman empire and soon becomes close to the emperor – Lack of cooperation between eastern and western rulers 476 – Two emperors of Rome, one in the west and one in the east – There was a young emperor (18 years old), Romulus Augustulus in the west, where a Germanic people take over and start to call themselves King instead of Emperors ○ Romulus – founder of the Roman Empire ○
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