Defining Moments of the Early, High, and Late Middle Ages

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The Early Middle Ages, though highly debatable, is thought to have started sometime after the Roman Empire’s collapse (Rosenwein, 2007). The Merovingian monarchy was the next ruling power; through their military conquests they gained territory. The Merovingians divided their territory into three separate kingdoms, and the ruling families sometimes ruled in unison, but more often than not fought among one another for sole leadership. This territory became much of the European continent that later kingdoms would build upon. They adopted portions of the Roman governmental and social systems providing a link with their Roman past, therefore passing the classical world into the future (Rosenwein, 2007). Their rule ended around 751 with the invasion Carolingians and Charlemagne’s rise to power. Charlemagne’s main focus was to create a Christian empire; however, diversity in the newly acquired territories made this a difficult task. A major accomplishment of the Carolingians was based on their precise translation of Christian text and documents (Fiero, 2006). With Charlemagne’s death, the empire began to break apart and was left vulnerable to invasion. After this time period, there was no solitary reigning government, thus feudalism arose. Feudalism was centered on the landowners, who for loyalty and service, provided economic stability and protection to the lesser, weaker members of society. The pheasants or serfs worked for the landowners, called lords (Underwood, 2008). A group separate from the nobility and serfs arose from warriors; they were called vassals or knights. The void left by traditional government was filled by then filled by the Catholic Church. During this time period feudalism provided a simplistic form of government. The Early Middle Ages were defined by religious growth in Christianity and Islam. The times most prominent leader was Charlemagne who, sparked the growth of Christianity. This time period was very turbulent, with many...
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