Tuesday, September 10 Chapter 5 (130-145)
Antiquity (in Greece and Rome) is referred to as the first era of western civilization.
Rise of Rome
By 264 BCE Rome had conquered most of Italy.
Greek ideologies spread, however the land mass owned by the Greeks did not expand like it did
The Roman Empire had to compete with the Carthridge Empire (Hannibal) and from 264-163
BCE they won many of the wars and expanded using the Mediterranean.
Rome created a great army of high class men who would take over other areas or countries and
turn them into Roman provinces.
The native people of the provinces were not considered citizens but were allowed to practise
their beliefs peacefully as long as they paid their tribute and did not challenge the Roman rule.
31-200 BCE (Pax Romana) Rome changes to an empire, there was very little conflict and great
Roman administrators controlled the native people in the provinces who they called Barbarians.
The Roman Empire created a socialist minimalist state that kept the masses happy. I meant that
publically the nation was wealthy however very few people had wealth. Even though the masses
lived in poor conditions they have the rights of citizens and have access to many entertainments
and grandiose propaganda.
Around 200 CE Rome experienced political weakness, social and economic challenges (poor
living conditions and plagues), reduction in the water supply due to the overuse in prior years,
military challenges (political rather than rational job assignments) and the slowing of expansion
meaning more opportunity for the neighboring groups to edge in on the Empire. Because of the
multiple beliefs within the roman empire there were very few unifying factors to keep the
Rise of Christianity
In the early Roman Empire paganism was the primary religion, emperors being perceived as
godlike, following polytheistic ideals. The disparity of the Roman Empire in 200 CE made the
Romans target anyone who practiced monotheistic religions because they believed that the
problems within Rome were due to these worshipers turning away from the gods.
Monotheistic religions, mainly Judaism and Christianity in this time frame, appealed to many of
the poor masses because of the inclusivity, fair play, fidelity and the idea that the rich should
take care of the poor. It gave an equality that was not felt by most citizens.
Though originating in an unimportant sector of the Empire, Christianity managed to spread
through the poor populous. Paul of Tarsus, originally Saul, was trained in the Hellenistic culture and was a Roman Citizen. He
was also part of the Jewish Pharisees. He took part in the persecution of Christians until his own
conversion in 35 C.E.
Many new converts to Christianity believed that it was a new Jewish religion and that members
had to originate from a Jewish background; however Hellenists believed it was universal
religion, and leaders such as Paul won many converts from many religions.
The religion spread quickly, particularly amongst the poor provinces. Celebration began
occurring such as baptism and Eucharist, with the wealthy converts providing for the poorer,
giving members a sense of unity.
By the 2 century the Christians began to accept bishops as their leaders in worship and to
supervise funds. The bishops were interconnected, preventing doctrinal and sectarian
Persecution of Christians
The strict morality of the Christians set them apart from the polytheistic Romans and due to
their beliefs that they must not praise another god angered the Romans who wanted them to
sacrifice to their gods. Outside of the Christian community many of their practices were
misrepresented (cannibalism – the blood and body of Christ, atheism – only one god not many,
incest – refer to each other is brother and sister, black magic and insubordination)
Refusal to bow before the emperor like a god angered the wealthy and made them the 3 rd
Two Roman Emperors who prosecuted the Christians were Decius (249-257) who demanded
that everyone publically sacrifice and if they did not they would be executed. The second was
Diocletian who presented worshipers with a token of freedom and anyone without one was a
Diocletian gained Emperorship in a time a great reorganization within the Roman Empire. He
knew that with all the troubles presented that he would not be able to rule alone. Thus, he
divided the Empire into four major provinces; to himself (Thrace, Egypt and Asia), the second
(Italy, Africa and Spain), the third (Danube and Balkans) and finally (Britain and Gaul).
Diocletian had his co-emperors marry their daughters into his family line to instill loyalty in his
Diocletian’s persecution of Christians created a lot of pity and sympathy from many pagans.
Many Christians chose martyrdom and persecution for their religion.
Christianity soon earned the distrust of the pagans. Originally considered a Jewish sect they
were protected under the Roman Law. However, many practices of the church were unheard-of
and not understood by the pagans. Eventually misunderstanding turned to distrust and being a
Christian became a crime punishable by death.
The Roman government did not pursue punishing Christians in the first two centuries, however
the populous did. They blamed all misfortune on Christians and punish them for it. By the end of the second century, the Catholics had created doctrine and gospels to cement
their beliefs and unify their teachings. It was now practice that to be a catholic one had to
accept the authority of the bishops.
Rome became the center of Christianity after the invasion of Jerusalem left it as the location
with the strongest claim.
Thurday, September 12 Chapter 6/7 (179-188)
Legalization of Christianity
Constantine issued the Edict of Tolerance in 311. His mother was Christian and he is said to have
converted to Christianity on his deathbed. He began to introduce Christian holidays alongside
pagan holidays to ease the introduction. Constantine ruled as the sun god and is depicted as
such on roman artifacts but many of these artifacts also have Christian symbols imbedded.
Constantine, son of the Caesar who ruled Britain and Gaul, brought order to the empire after
the retirement of Diocletian. With many claiming the right to the throne, Constantine defeated
them all and instilled himself as the sole ruler, uniting the empire once again.
Constantine begins to support the church and gives wealth and power to converters. With this,
many elite began to convert and support the church.
The Roman Empire was being challenged by ‘barbarians’ and they were getting stronger and
more frequent. Constantine feared for the city of Rome and moved the capital to
Constantinople, in the east in 330. Many people followed Constantine to the city, which
flourished under the mass of wealth moving east. Constantinople was a city called Byzantym
before the Romans moved there, and it was a strong location as it was on a peninsula making it
By moving the capital east, Constantine could promote his autocracy without the influence of
Roman tradition and senatorial classes. A civilian beuracrcy, separated from the military, carried
out the acts of the autocracy.
A vast system of spies insured that no one would contend with the decrees of the emperor.
After Contantine’s son’s death, his nephew took over the throne and tried to push eastward and
restore paganism. He was killed in battle, leaving the western frontier open to Germanic attack.
In 378 the new Roman Emperor Valens was defeated in the battle field by German Tribes
settling in the western empire. This loss leads to the final separation of the Eastern part of the
empire, which became the Byzantine Empire, and the Western, which remained the Roman
The western Empire became more barbaric as the Germans pushed their way into the cities.
They became small cities that were centralized around an armed villa. Each villa became
increasing independent save for their unity under the Catholic Church. The Eastern Byzantine Empire flourished as one united Empire, easy to defend and maintain
unity. They practiced classical culture, Christian religion, Roman law and Eastern art. They were
not included in the fall of the Roman Empire.
In 394 the Byzantine Emperor Theodosius created a Christian based law code
While the Romans tried to take over the Germanic tribes, the Byzantine Empire welcomed the
Germanic tribes to settle and integrate as full citizens
The Byzantine Empire flourish until the mid-15 century
Byzantium became an area of great wealth and culture, as the site of Hagia Sophia (a great
The church in Byzantium split away from the Roman Catholic (papal) in the Roman Empire and
becomes its own division, Eastern Orthodox that was less secular (no pope) with more Greek
influences. The Trinity had a much stronger influence in the Eastern Orthodox religion.
The Roman Empire got sacked by Germanic tribes in 410 and a Germanic leader became
emperor in 474.
The Germanic tribes originated in Scandinavia but as they became more pastoral broke into
more decentralized groups. The formation of the society was based on loyalty to one’s group
formed through kinship. A military chief was elected and was responsible for the survival of the
tribe. The tribesmen were expected to be loyal to this military leader.
Germanic tribes did not expand as when a chief would die his land would be divided to all male
heirs (sons, brothers, nephews). Each would receive a portion of the tribe and would create a
smaller rural tribe. This isolated Europe (trade slows and travel becomes more dangerous and
the urban system collapsed)
From as early as the second century, Germanic tribes had been in contact with the Romans.
They were eager to plunder and often were attracted by the foreign delights of the empire.
The most aggressive of the Germanic tribes in the 3 century were the Goths. By about 250 they
had already penetrated the western frontiers of the Roman Empire. They came more frequently
after that point as the Huns were pushing down on them from the northeast.
The increasing attacks on Rome required more wealth so it increased taxes, sold palace
furniture and debased coinage.
The Roman Emperor called many to arms, leaving farmland unharvest due to a shortage in
workers. The increased stress within the Empire led to internal threats such as piracy,
brigandage and the neglect of responsibilities.
The overextension of the Roman Empire made it easy for the Germanic tribes to push in and
take over many of the cities. Sacking of Rome
Many elite members of the society moved to their country estates when the city started to be
sacked. Wealth dried up in the city as no money remained there and the tribes that took over
the remainders localized and limited trade.
The elite escaping from the city left a gap in power that the church took over.
The border of Rome receded and Rome became the soft underbelly of Europe. While some
blamed the Christians, Augustine said ‘while empires crumble; religion alone endures’. He
preached that the mortals’ cities are just tools to spread good will.
Crowns and thorns may perish, kingdoms rise and wane, but on the cross of Jesus,
constant will remain.
Rome was sacked in 410 by the Visigoths, in 452 by the Huns and again in 455 by the Vandals.
By the mid-5 century, the control of the west was now in the hands of the Barbarian tribes.
Despite the takeover by Germanic tribes, many aspects of Roman life were continually
incorporated into the lifestyle, such as the latin language, Christian religion, Roman law and
In 511 the first Germanic Christian leader, a Frank named Clovis, united the Frankish community,
though it was split on his death due to the heredity laws of the Germanic tribes.
Tuesday, September 17 Chapter 8 (202-218)
Pope Gregory (590)
When the senatorial class retreats to the rural villas they leave a power vacuum, which the
spiritual leaders filled. Following the attacks, famine and disease, the populous turned to Bishop
Gregory who built defensive walls and brought in food to share equally. He had the church
working as spiritual, secular and military leaders.
The localized communities turned to their spiritual leader during the times of the famine causing
bishops across Europe to gain power.
Papal Primacy – Rome was the center of western Christendom. The bishop of Rome became the
pope of Christendom, firstly Pope Gregory. The belief was that St. Peter gave the keys to the
bishop of Rome to become the leader of Christianity.
Rise of the Islamic Empire
The Islamic Empire began with Mohammed in 570. He was the last prophet in the Islamic
religions. Islamic believe that Christ was a prophet but not as holy as Mohammed. He came from
a Bedouin society, very decentralized and dangerous to travel. Mohammed was part of a camel
herding tribe, which required strong defenses and was very expensive. One day while
meditating the arch angle Gabriel told Mohammed to share piety, equality, charity and goodwill
for the poor. With strong backing from the poor and curious aristocrats Mohammed became a religious and
military leader. The death of Mohammed caused a religious separation, however despite the
separation the empire spread because of language and basic religious unity.
The Byzantine Empire was protected from Islamic expansion due the use of Greek Fire, a
chemical compound which could light the water on fire when invading armies came by water.
However, under the extreme oppression of the Byzantine Empire, in areas such as Egypt and
Syria it is believed that during the 630’s invasion by the Islamic empire that they may have
openly accepted Islam as a way to counter the Empire.
The lack of success by the Islamic Empire to overtake Constantinople at this time led to a long
period where they did not try to move west into Europe.
The Islamic Empire became the guardian of learning and culture. The house of wisdom in
Bagdad was founded in the early 9 century and learners from across Europe went there to
Charles Martel ‘saved’ western Christendom in 732 who lead an army against Islamic raiding
parties against France. He was the illegitimate son of Clovis, who gained a portion of his power
from his father.
In 1492 the last Muslim groups are removed from Spain and Europe. At that time the Islamic
empire refocused their expansion eastward.
Charles Martel built the Carolingian Empire as he was an illegitimate son of Pepin II, a ruler who
with the help of the pope in the 8 century took control of the majority of the Germanic Empire,
and could not take over the tribe. He and his son Pepin the 3 built up a military force that
allowed Pipin’s son, Charlemagne, to expand their empire
They were a Christian family and they rebuilt many of the old Roman communities.
Charlemagne had a complex relationship with the pope and in 800 he became the Holy Roman
Emperor, of the new Holy Roman Empire. The European leader in this area now needed the
support of the papal council.
By the time of Charlemagne’s death he held control over France, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland
and almost all of Germany, Italy and Spain.
He used the church as a stabilizer in the expansion of his empire.
He ruled the Empire through counts, whose primary jobs were to maintain the local and loyal
army, collect tribute and dues, and administer justice.
Even the Islamic council recognized Charlemagne’s power and bestowed him with gifts.
The Carolingian Renaissance created a re-flourishing of learning and culture and the spreading
of the written language. However, there was not a great flourishing of learning advancement.
Thursday, September 19 After Charlemagne’s death, his empire was divided due to Germanic tradition, into the 3
empires of Louis, Charles and Lothian. The empire continued to be divided upon deaths and
Due to the weakening of the empires they received many attacks, mostly from the Magyars in
the east and the Vikings and Islamic empire.
The Viking invaded many areas because of their advanced aquatic travel, including the hulls so
that they could go upriver, using bogs and rivers as cover. They began to attack with regularity in
the 9 century and began to pillage due to a reduction in resources in their land. Eventually, in
the 10 century they began to take over the land they pillaged due to population growth.
The Magyars, or Hungarians, were strong horsemen and overtook the Empire from the east.
How to Defend Against External Attacks
In the 10 century Europe began to create a feudal, system of dependence on one another, to
defend against outside attack. The system was built on a lord and vassal system. The lord was
responsible for the political, social and military protection of the vassals and the vassals had to
pay fealty and do what the lords said.
The king was the top lord and was in charge of the country and would get resources from his
nobles (generals), who would get resources from their vassals (soldiers) and so on. The lords
were responsible for the safety of the kingdom. The peasants agreed to obey the laws and the
Noblemen overlooked their locality the king was responsible for the entire kingdom, and
everyone had to pay him taxes.
In response, for fealty, the higher lords, such as the king, would give fiefs such as land and
resources to the people. The system was based on primogeniture, a practice that the rulers
eldest son would inherent all his power, ensuring that the kingdom was not divided and
weakened like the Germanic tribes.
Three Orders of Society
Within the feudal system there were three main categories, those who fight (primarily novels
with military training and wealth for wars), those would pray (primarily the clergy who focussed
on the spiritually of the community) and those who work (the peasants who do the menial work
while supported by lords and priests).
Those who pray are divided to three sectors, the secular clergy (Popes, bishops and priests) that
would work with the average person in the community. The second was the regular clergy
(monks and nuns) who devoted their life to the church and praying for all of Christendom. The
regular clergy focused on St. Benedict rule, prayer, work and study. Both clergies are believed to
be closer to god than the average person and their prayer is worth more. The regular clergy has
the strongest prayer because they lived in poor conditions to emulate Christ. The final aspect of
the clergy was the study of the bible.
In the late 9 century and early 10 , religious leaders in the church began to reject the common
practices and gains of wealth, some even separating to create more modest lifestyles. One such church was Cluny, a separate church of the Catholic religion that refused to pay liege to any
ruler. They refused the sins of flesh and were chaste.
People started to go to Cluny and its affiliate churches as they were seen as more pure in the
eyes of god.
Struggle between the secular and religious leaders – both systems were hierarchies, however
they debate which hierarchy is the strongest. In the early 11 century, Pope Gregory and King
Henry the 4 fought over who could choose the clergy.
Pope Gregory was strongly opposed to any authority accept god and the church.
Pope Gregory prevailed in 1080 and excommunicated Henry V. However, Henry came back,
appointing an antipope in 1084 (Clement III) and forced Gregory into exile where he died. The
world to joint rule continued with bribery and corruption.
Tuesday, September 24 Chapter 9
Fuedal System – Those Who Work
Those who work were the peasants and they did the majority of the life sustaining work for the
entire kingdom. 90% of the population worked for the manorial system. The ‘farm land’ was
owned by the Lord who owned the castle and the group of fifty to hundreds of peasants worked
his land communally.
The lord’s house/castle was meant for protection for the peasants and to be a forboding forc in
the land. The workers didn’t own land but rented it form the lord by giving him a percentage of
grown resources. The harvest was a communal and the farm tools were shared by the
community. When the lords called upon the villagers they had to go out and provide service to
The peasants also had to give a portion of their crops to the church in tithe.
The two types of those who work were the serfs and the peasants. Peasants made an
agreement with the lord and could move if he failed to provide, though not many did because it
was extremely dangerous to travel and find work. Serfs were tied to the land and not allowed to
Serfs, however, were not slaves. They owned a small strip of land, could marry whomever they
chose within their own village, could sell excess goods for personal wealth and could pass their
property onto children.
The lifestyle was subsistence living and the peasants were terrified of change because failure to
provide crop was death as there would be no resources. This fear is why the system survived so
All ‘common land’ was owned by the lord and vassals only had access to the resources if the lord
Why Wasn’t Feudalism Real?
The communal concept of feudalism never was practiced because many were missing from the
system, many gradations of class, bonds beyond one lord one vassal, loyalty was not always a constant and the unsurity of what to do with younger sons that would allow them to maintain
power. Another issue was the question of the effectiveness of the church as they became a
The people who wer