The Middle Ages is the term used to describe a roughly 1000-year period in European history that began after the end of the ancient Roman Empire. Historians assign the period from about 500 to 1500 to this designation. However, the time frame does not bind itself to specific historical events and, of course, the people of that time did not yet relate to the concept of the Middle Ages.
The Middle Ages owe their name to some Italian humanists of the 15th century. The term "Crusades" was coined by historians at the end of the eighteenth century, although it did not become established until much later.
A lot has happened in 1000 years of history. When one speaks of the Middle Ages today, this is often accompanied by ideas of a dark era in which cruelty, war, disease and widespread poverty prevailed. In the minds of many people, the Middle Ages seem to have been a dark chapter between antiquity and modern times.
But the reality of that time was probably not so gloomy, even if we can assume that life in general was already very hard. Wars and diseases led to a very high mortality rate, on the other hand, people sought and found dissolute pleasure at that time too.
The following sections take a closer look at the Middle Ages.
Life in the Middle Ages
Literature and books about the Middle Ages
There are numerous non-fiction books and novels dealing with the Middle Ages.
Not all books deliver what they promise. Recommendations and reviews help to keep the overview and to highlight some very readable pieces.
The epochs of the Middle Ages
Most historians divide the Middle Ages into three basic periods: The Early Middle Ages, the High Middle Ages, and the Late Middle Ages. As so often in historical observations, however, there are no binding strict boundaries in the transitions.
The whole time frame of the Middle Ages is also fluid, even if in most sources it is found with the beginning around 500 and the end around 1500.
The medieval city
While the number of cities in the early Middle Ages, which were rather remnants of Roman cities, was very manageable, the number of cities grew significantly from 1100 onwards.
Different types of towns emerged, whose inhabitants had more rights and duties than the villagers on the basis of the introduced town law.
Knighthood had its origins in the Germanic succession. Noble chivalry flourished, and the knight became the leading figure of courtly society at the imperial and princely courts.
The term knight primarily refers to a profession especially in the High Middle Ages.
Weapons in the Middle Ages
Weapons in the Middle Ages included protective weapons, offensive weapons and tournament weapons, three major categories that are worth looking at in more detail.
The main goal of a knight’s education was the safe mastery of offensive and defensive weapons, while protection also played an important role, of course.
The peasants and the country life
The peasantry formed the numerically largest stratum of the population in Central Europe until well into the modern era.
The life of the peasants in the Middle Ages was characterized not only by long and hard working hours, but also by poverty, epidemics, robberies and natural disasters. It was not surprising that only a few lived beyond the age of 40.
Jerusalem was the destination of most of the crusaders, who settled between the 11. and 13. The Middle Ages were a period in which some of the.
There were seven crusades in total, in which several hundred thousand people took part. The areas fought over during the Crusades had once been part of the Christian Eastern Roman Empire .
Monks, orders, monasteries
The Europe of the Middle Ages is very quickly permeated by the founding of a large number of monasteries for men and women. Due to their independence and their proftable administration, the founded monasteries become very quickly rich and powerful, which becomes a thorn in the eye of many rulers.
Although the majority of religious orders aimed at a Christian way of life and spiritual experiences, there were often significant differences.
Even if we see the persecution of witches mainly in connection with the Middle Ages, it was by no means a phenomenon limited to this period of history. The first known convictions of witches were in the 13th century. Christmas in the Middle Ages began in the sixteenth century with the advent of the Inquisition, but these very rarely led to the death penalty.
During the times of witch hunts, denunciations with very personal reasons often played an important role.
Due to lack of hygiene, many diseases could spread quickly and widely in the Middle Ages. Especially the lack of sewage systems in the emerging cities supported this problem.
In addition, there was a widespread belief that illness was perceived as a punishment from God or the work of the devil..
Dynasties and rulers in the Middle Ages
The centuries of the Middle Ages in Europe were characterized by several ruling houses still known today.
Among the dominant names were u.a. the Merovingians, the Carolingians, the Ottonians, the Staufers, the Guelphs and Habsburgs.
Let us take a look.
Science in the Middle Ages
It must be said, unfortunately, that European science in the Middle Ages was not as advanced as in antiquity. Much was forgotten, priorities changed and some already known fundamentals were denied.
It was not until the High Middle Ages that scientific achievements were again made at a higher level.
Professions and crafts in the Middle Ages
Craftsmen were mostly free people in the Middle Ages, which was usually denied to peasants. Important crafts were potters and blacksmiths.
The rapid growth of the cities and the resulting strong demand for goods allowed crafts to flourish. Many craftsmen joined together to form guilds.
The market in the Middle Ages
The marketplace in the Middle Ages was not only a place of economic trade and sales activities. The market was a meeting place of culture and economy and soon became the center of all emerging cities.
This also gave rise to a market order with rules of the game and regulations.
Minstrels – the traveling people
In the Middle Ages, minstrels were musicians responsible for cultural entertainment and dance music, who earned their livelihood with it.
However, the term was associated with a social disparagement, because the minstrels belonged to the "Travellers", the traveling people, who were considered dishonorable and without rights.
Christmas in the Middle Ages
Also in the Middle Ages people celebrated Christmas. For example, the Nativity plays were already in the 11. The marketplace in the Middle Ages. And from the first Christmas markets is mentioned already in the 14. Century reports.
But many of today’s known traditions emerged only after the Middle Ages.
Idioms in the Middle Ages
In today’s everyday life we use many idioms of which we have hardly any idea of their origin. Many of these sayings started their existence in the Middle Ages.
In the literature about the Middle Ages there are comprehensible explanations of the idioms used in the vernacular.
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