The study of humanities allows us to explore the ways in which the changing concepts of nature and the individual differ in each historical period and helps us to characterize the important developments of each period. Examining specific works of the Middle Ages enables us to describe our views of the changes that occur and helps to explain how and why the concepts evolved the way they did. The Middle Ages provided a unique chapter in the history of the humanistic tradition. Early Middle Ages
The Early Middle Ages occurred between the 5th and 10th centuries and brought with it three traditions that were interwoven to produce the enthusiastic new culture of the medieval West. These traditions were classical, Christian and Germanic. The Germanic tribal people, who followed a migratory existence, blended with those of classical Rome and Western Christianity to forge the basic economic, social, and cultural patterns of medieval life (Fiero, p. 69). The Germanic people were made up of Ostrogoths, Visogoths, Franks, Vandals, Burgundians, Angles and Saxons. The Early Middle Ages are characterized by the urban control of bishops and the territorial control exercised by dukes and counts (Wikipedia, 2005). The important developments in the humanities that characterized the Early Middle Ages period are the feudal and manorial traditions that established patterns of class and social status, which came to shape the economic and political history of the West (Fiero, p.67). Government authority and responsibility for military organization, taxation and law and order, was delegated to local lords, who supported themselves directly from the proceeds of the territories over which they held military, political and judicial power. In this lay the beginnings of the feudal system. People lived in a feudalistic society meaning that everyone had a place in society serving another master all the way up to the king. Since there was not a central authority figure and well-defined country boundaries, the system of feudalism was often confusing and full of conflicts. Men often found themselves unfairly serving more than one master. The general idea was that a man would offer the landlord protection for his right to live on his land. The peasants had little or no chance of owning land. The manorial tradition was between the landowner and those who lived on and worked the land, who were the peasants and serfs. In return for the protection of the lord and his army, peasants and serfs gave up all chance of economic betterment and virtually all freedom for the right to run into the castle walls of the lord. Castles are very visible symbols of the need for protection in the Middle Ages; to be able to cower inside these walls and survive war, or attacks by bandits or Vikings, peasants and serfs gave up their wealth and their freedom. Specific works that illustrate the view of the changes that have occurred are Beowulf and the Song of Roland. These poems depict the Germanic traditions that include personal valor and heroism that were associated with the warring culture of the Middle Ages. These epic poems are in common with the Iliad and Mahabharata and other orally translated adventure poems (Fiero, p. 71). The Bayeux Tapestry and the illuminated pages of Christian liturgical manuscripts are other specific works of this period. These works reflected some of the principal features of early medieval culture: the spirit of rugged warfare, the obligations of feudal loyalty and the rising tide of Christian piety (Fiero, p.81).
High Middle Ages
During the High Middle Ages or Central Middle Ages (11th, 12th and 13th centuries) as they are commonly referred to, there was a period of relative stability in most of Europe. The Catholic Church had dominion over almost every country except parts of Spain, which were still partly dominated by Muslims. With the...