Middle ages

As Middle Ages is the period in European history between the end of antiquity and the beginning of the modern era, i.e. roughly the time between the 6th century BC and the beginning of the 20th century AD. and 15. Century, designated. Both the beginning and the end of the Middle Ages are the subject of scholarly discussion and are regarded quite differently.

In the transition from late antiquity to the early Middle Ages, the political and cultural unity of the Mediterranean region shaped by Greco-Roman antiquity broke down. While the Byzantine Empire remained intact in the East, the Western Empire declined in 476. New empires were formed within (such as the Frankish Empire, the Visigothic Empire on the Iberian Peninsula and the Anglo-Saxon Empires in Britain) and outside (such as the dominions of the Slavs in Eastern and Southeastern Europe and the new empire-building in Scandinavia) the former Western Roman Empire. Populated were these empires by the resident Romanized population and groups immigrated in the Migration Period (Germanic tribes and Slavs).

While the ancient core area was already Christianized, the remaining, pagan (heathen) areas of Europe were Christianized in the Middle Ages. In the early Middle Ages, the basic political order of later times was essentially formed. The subsequent High Middle Ages were characterized by the upswing of economy, science and culture. The late Middle Ages saw the slow transition to the early modern era.

With the Islam arose in the 7. In the 14th century, a new religion spread to Western and Central Asia, North Africa and parts of Southern Europe as a result of the Arab conquests, before Christian rulers initiated the reconquest of Spain (Reconquista) and Southern Italy/Sicily. In southeastern Europe, on the other hand, since the late 14. In the sixteenth century, the Ottomans continued to advance.

The predominant social and economic form of the Middle Ages was feudalism. The basic features of this period were a society organized according to class, a world view determined by Christianity, a Christian-influenced science and literature, architecture, art and culture, as well as Latin as the common, overarching language of education. After the Great Schism of 1054, both the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church strove for the unity of Christianity under their umbrella. However, these efforts failed.

Of great importance for "Christian" Europe were the Jews. Because of the Catholic Church’s ban on interest, money transactions were forbidden to Christians, but not to Jews of other faiths. They were subjects of the sovereigns and were tolerated as a minority only reluctantly. Due to anti-Judaism in the Middle Ages, they were victims of Jewish pogroms and expulsions.

Table of Contents

The term "Middle Ages

Medieval concept of its own

The Christian Middle Ages did not yet see themselves as a "Middle Ages," but rather understood themselves in terms of salvation history as an age superior in faith to all other ages aetas christiana ("Christian era"), which began with the birth of Christ and would not end until the Last Day. While the preceding world ages of the history of salvation according to the doctrine of the three, four or six world ages ( aetates mundi ) When the Christian world ages were further subdivided, there was no internal periodization of the aetas christiana no firmly established scheme of epochs, but only approaches, such as the doctrine of the seven periods of the church (derived from the Apocalypse of John) or the division founded by Joachim of Fiore into a time of the "Son" (from the birth of Christ to about 1260) and a subsequent time of the "Spirit".

The idea that even within the aetas christiana The idea that historical development could take place in the sense of progress or decay was by no means alien to the Christian Middle Ages. However, it was precarious from the point of view of the Roman Church, because on the one hand it did not want to allow or admit any further development or surpassing of Christian doctrine since the time of the Gospel and the Church Fathers, and on the other hand it did not want its own development to be viewed from the point of view of decay. Insofar as corresponding historical concepts were combined with reform concepts critical of the church and eschatological calculations of the end times, they were therefore, like the teachings of Joachim and his successors, opposed by the Roman church.

In the political, thereby likewise salvation-historically oriented view of history, periodization ideas appeared especially in the form of the doctrine of the Translatio imperii according to which the Roman imperial dignity was first transferred to the Eastern Roman emperors of Byzantium, then in the renovatio imperii Charlemagne to the Franks and finally, with the coronation of Otto the Great, to the emperors of the Roman-German Empire. The translatio doctrine was compatible in approach with the Christian doctrine of the world ages, since it emphasized the privileged position and dogmatic unity of the aetas christiana and its conflict potential lay instead in the relationship between the pope and the emperorship. A period system for the historiography to the Christian epoch did not result however from this conception.

Conceptual history

The term Middle Ages was in the form of medium aevum ("middle age") first appeared in the 14th century. The concept of the Middle Ages was introduced in the sixteenth century by Italian humanists, who then, in the two following centuries, also established the understanding of their own epoch as an epoch of rebirth (Renaissance). In the humanistic view of history, the Christian faith was replaced not in its general bindingness, but in its validity as a standard for the evaluation of world-historical development, and was replaced by a profane-historical ideal of Greek-Roman antiquity, constructed no longer primarily by theologians, but by poets and philologists. From a humanistic point of view, the Middle Ages were a "dark age" ( aetas obscura ), an epoch of decay and decline, in which the linguistic, literary, technological, and civilizational state of development of Greco-Roman antiquity was lost due to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, only to become the object of imitation in its own time through the rediscovery of ancient sources and the revival of ancient stylistic norms ( imitatio ) or even surpassing ( aemulatio ) to become. In modern research, however, the problem of such sweeping judgments is pointed out and a more differentiated view of the Middle Ages as an independent epoch is advocated (see below). [1]

With the humanistic concept of the aetas obscura related, but differing in meaning, is the concept of the " dark centuries " ( aemulatio ), established especially in English-language historical and early historical research ( Dark Ages ), which generally refers to periods of missing or unresearched written or. archaeological tradition (medieval archaeology), usually understood as intermediate phases compared to preceding, comparatively better documented periods. In the history of England, for example, this refers to the period after the end of Roman rule until the time of the immigration of the Angles, Saxons and Jutes (about 5./6. century).

The term medieval subsequently established itself as an epochal term with a tendency toward pejorative meaning, the epochal boundaries usually being set at the end of the Western Roman Empire in 476, on the one hand, and the end of the Eastern Roman Empire through the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453, on the other, the latter also in view of the fact that Byzantine scholars brought important Greek manuscripts with them when they fled to the West, which were assigned to the Latin Middle Ages had remained unknown or had become known only through Arabic translations. [2]

A decidedly positive re-evaluation, partly connected with nostalgic transfiguration and with the need to define one’s own Christian or national roots and identity, only emerged in the period of the late Enlightenment and especially in Romanticism. [3] This has been the case since the end of the 18th century. This was a major impetus for the increased philological and historical study of the Middle Ages in the early nineteenth century.

In modern research, which also uses new questions and methods, is judged much more differentiated. [4] In this way, the original achievements of the Middle Ages and the existing lines of continuity are emphasized, so that the Middle Ages are no longer measured by the humanistic yardstick of ancient "greatness". In place of the national, there is often a European-oriented recollection, which emphasizes the "birth of Europe in the Middle Ages" (Jacques Le Goff).

Outside of technical language, ways of thinking or behaving or entire cultures are today nevertheless exaggeratedly called "medieval" in order to ascribe to them particular backwardness and a lack of enlightenment and humanity.

Chronological classification

The term "Middle Ages" refers primarily to the history of the Christian West before the Reformation, for the term is rarely used in connection with non-European cultures (see below for the term in the context of the history of India, China, and Japan). Thus, it refers mainly to the European continent and the British Isles. Roughly speaking, the Middle Ages can be classified as the period from 500 resp. 600 n. Chr. until ca 1500 a. Much more concrete are the following reference dates:

The European Middle Ages extend approximately from the end of the Migration Period, whose end is usually dated in the research in the year 568, to the age of the Renaissance since the middle of the 15th century. Century respectively. until the beginning of the 16. Century. Regarding the problem of dating the beginning of the Middle Ages and the subsequent development, see also End of Antiquity, Late Antiquity and Early Middle Ages.

The dating approaches are not always consistent, because it depends crucially on which aspects of the development are emphasized and which region one considers in each case. [5] If, for example, the influence of Islam and the conquest of large parts of the once Roman territory by the Arabs are placed in the foreground, and if one looks at the eastern Mediterranean rather than at Western Europe, one can see Muhammad’s Hijra (622) or the beginning of Arab expansion (from 632) as the end of Late Antiquity and the beginning of the Middle Ages. Similarly, there are different dating possibilities for the end of the Middle Ages, for example, the invention of printing (around 1450), the conquest of Constantinople (1453), the discovery of America (1492), the beginning of the Reformation (1517) or even the great Peasants’ War (1525). Other approaches extend the period even more (so-called "long Middle Ages" until the 19th century). Century, for which z. B. Jacques Le Goff), [6] but these are minority opinions.

If we focus on individual countries, we can arrive at different key dates. For example, antiquity ended much earlier on the Rhine or in Britain than, say, in Italy, Asia Minor, or Syria because of developments there during the migration of peoples. On the other hand, for example, at the beginning of the 15. In Italy, the age of the Renaissance had already begun by the end of the fifteenth century, while in England the same period was still considered medieval. In northern Europe, the Migration Period is followed by the "Germanic Iron Age", which is replaced in Sweden by the Vendel Period (650-800). In Scandinavia the Viking Age begins around 800, which ends in 1050 and then changes into the "Nordic Middle Ages".

Subdivision of the Middle Ages

    (6. Century to beginning/middle of the 11. Century), the epoch of the Merowinger, Karolinger and Ottonen (beginning/middle of the 11. Century until ca. 1250), the time of the Salians and Staufers (ca. 1250 to ca. 1500), in older research also called the "autumn of the Middle Ages", after the failure of the classical idea of emperors (Habsburgs and Luxembourgers)

This trinity was tied to the idea of Rise, Flourishing and Decline but is considered in a much more differentiated way in recent research. Through changed questions, in particular also the consideration of economic, social and cultural historical aspects, one went gradually away from the order model aligned at the ruler history and stressed the changes of the 11./12. The first half of the sixteenth century is considered a decisive caesura of the Middle Ages millennium. Often this leads to the fact that only the earlier from later Middle Ages distinguishes. Deviating classifications and attributions made by individual researchers are also influenced by different emphases.

In the English-speaking world one speaks due to the subdivision of "the middle ages", thus in plural form of several time periods. [7]

Early Middle Ages

The migration of peoples is considered by researchers as a link between late antiquity and the early Middle Ages. With the end of the migration of nations, which is traditionally connected with the invasion of the Longobards in Italy in the year 568 (however, in the newer research also the time after that is partly included in the consideration at least as a prospect), [8] at least in Western and Central Europe the early Middle Ages finally began. The transition is thus in the 6. century fluently. In eastern Rome resp. Byzantium, on the other hand, retained ancient administrative structures for several decades longer; ancient cultural elements were still cultivated in Byzantium later on.

Middle Ages

In the early Middle Ages, many drastic developments took place that have had an impact up to the modern age. A reshaping of the ancient Roman heritage took place, but despite numerous breaks, just as many lines of continuity can be discerned. Contrary to the older interpretation as a "dark" or "backward" epoch, the early Middle Ages are viewed in a much more differentiated way in modern research. It is characterized by both continuities and changes in the political, cultural and social spheres. The division of Europe and the Mediterranean area into a Christian and an Islamic part as well as the Christian part into a Latin and an Orthodox part, which included the cultural area of Byzantium, took place. Several of the empires that emerged in the early Middle Ages formed the basis for states that still exist today.

Christianization also got underway in previously pagan ("heathen") areas, for example east of the Rhine and later in Scandinavia, partly through the activities of Irish missionaries. Around 500, the important Frankish king Clovis I entered the kingdom. The Franks, together with their nobility, converted to Catholic Christianity, the creed of the Gallic majority population. Under the Merovingians began the rise of the Frankish Empire, which finally established its dominance in Western and Central Europe on the basis of the remains of the Western Roman Empire and the empires of several Germanic peoples (such as the Burgundians and the Visigoths in Gaul). Since the late 7. In the 11th century, however, the real power in the Frankish Empire lay with the Carolingians, who ruled from 751 until the 10th century. The Frankish kings were in the sixth century. The Anglo-Saxons settled since the middle of the 5th century. In the middle of the 8th century, the Visigoths arrived in Britain and founded several kingdoms there (Heptarchy), before Alfred the Great in the late 9th century. In the sixteenth century a united Anglo-Saxon empire was created. England was conquered by the Normans under William in 1066. The Lombard Empire in Italy remained in power until the 8th century. The empire continued to exist until the sixteenth century, when it was conquered by the Franks. In Hispania, the Visigothic empire emerged, which in the early 8th century was. The first part of the history of the empire collapsed in the sixteenth century as a result of the Arab attacks. Still in the 8. In the sixteenth century, the Reconquista, the reconquest of the Arab-occupied territories, began there from Asturias. In Moorish Spain (Al-Andalus), however, also began a cultural heyday. The Islamic expansion also had dramatic consequences for Byzantium, since large parts of the empire (such as Syria, the granary of Egypt and Carthage) fell to the Arabs. Nevertheless, Byzantium was able to hold the core area of Asia Minor.

The Frankish Empire was the most important Germanic-Roman successor empire in the West. The Roman Empire, which collapsed in the West in 476, embodied an essential point of reference for political thought throughout the Middle Ages. The culmination of this development was the coronation of Charlemagne as "Roman Emperor" (Translatio imperii) by the pope at Christmas in the year 800. Charlemagne extended the borders of the empire and brought about a cultural revival. After his death in 814, however, the Frankish Empire gradually disintegrated. From the western half arose the later France, while from the eastern half the Eastern Frankish Empire developed and from it only in the High Middle Ages the later so-called "Holy Roman Empire". Under the Ottonians, the East Frankish Empire assumed a quasi-hegemonic position in Latin Europe and expanded; thus to the east into Slavic territory and to the south, where the empire now also encompassed Imperial Italy. With the imperial coronation of Otto I. in 962 the emperorship was renewed, in return the emperors, as secular patrons of the church, gave security oaths to the popes. Since the Ottonian period, only the East Frankish/Roman-German kings could be considered as bearers of the renewed "Roman" imperial dignity. In addition, the so-called Pippine Donation of 754 gave the pope secular as well as spiritual power. The respective universal claim to validity of the emperor and the pope was later (especially from 11. In the late sixteenth century, the investiture controversy became a more frequent source of tension, the crucial question being whether or not the crowned emperor was subordinate to the pope.

Towards the end of the early Middle Ages, the raids of the Vikings (ca. 800-1050) and the Magyars ("Hungarian invasions," ca. 900-955). The British Isles and northern France suffered most from Viking attacks, with the Vikings also establishing their own dominions. In 10. and 11. In the sixteenth century, state consolidation took place in the Carolingian successor empires and in Anglo-Saxon England. Together with the Arab conquest of North Africa and much of the Iberian Peninsula, these depredations wiped out the last structures of late antiquity. A feudalistic economic system emerged in Western Europe, though in recent research the details are disputed. Economically, in the early Middle Ages in the Latin West, the natural economy played a role, with the system of landlordism to be emphasized. Nevertheless, the monetary economy remained an important factor, and long-distance trade did not come to a complete standstill either. There was also again a certain economic upswing. Byzantium, the monasteries, especially those of the Benedictine Order, and the scholars of the Arab-Islamic cultural sphere, through whom at least part of the ancient literature and sciences could be preserved, were important cultural carriers.

High Middle Ages

Middle Ages

Middle Ages

The High Middle Ages were the heyday of chivalry, feudalism and minnesong. The population began to grow (favoured, among other things, by agricultural progress and the medieval warm period), trade and commerce increased and numerous cities prospered. A new cultural and scientific development took place, and education was no longer the exclusive preserve of the clergy. However, the development in the individual empires was quite different.

The High Middle Ages was an era of conflict between secular (emperor/empire) and ecclesiastical (pope/sacerdotum) universal power in the investiture dispute. This broke out in the Roman-German Empire during the reign of Henry IV. and could be won by Henry V. The conflict was settled in 1122; however, the universal claim of the emperor and the pope led to the establishment of the Frankish Empire in the following period until the 14th century. Century to conflicts. The Roman-German Empire lost its hegemonic position. This position of power had been shaken during the reign of the Salians by the Investiture Controversy and conflicts between royalty and the Greats (such as disregard for consensual rule practices on the part of royalty). In the 12th century, the Staufers succeeded in./13. In the sixteenth century, the French failed to prevent the loss of royal power in the empire; instead, the sovereigns gained influence. The active Italian policy of the Roman-German kings also tied up strong forces in imperial Italy. Frederick I. attempted, while preserving imperial rights and claims (Honor Imperii), strengthened their power in imperial Italy, but could never completely break the resistance of the Lombard League and also came into conflict with Pope Alexander III. Henry VI. succeeded in winning the kingdom of Sicily, which Henry’s son Frederick II. made the Staufer kingdom the center of his rule. Frederick II. was educated and is considered one of the most important medieval emperors, but he came into conflict with the papacy. After his death in 1250, the power position of the Hohenstaufen house in the empire effectively collapsed.

In Northern and Eastern Europe, in the course of Christianization (beginning already in the early Middle Ages), new kingdoms were formed, such as England (conquered in 1066 by the Normans, who were also active in Lower Italy), Norway, Denmark, Poland, Hungary and Bohemia. Likewise, even further east, under the influence of the Vikings and Orthodox missionaries from the Byzantine Empire, which reached its peak around 1000, other empires such as the Kievan Empire emerged . While Byzantium experienced a decisive weakening of its power as a result of the Fourth Crusade in 1204, the empire of Kievan Rus was destroyed in the course of the Mongol storm; other Eastern European empires (especially Poland and Hungary) only narrowly escaped ruin.

The reconquest of the territories conquered by the Moors on the Iberian Peninsula by the neighboring Christian kingdoms continued in the High Middle Ages. In Sicily, the Arabs were driven back by the Normans and the Kingdom of Sicily was founded, which included the island and lower Italy. In Latin Europe, France and England increasingly gained political influence. The English House of Plantagenet had large possessions in France, so that since the time of Henry II, the English kings had held. for these territories to be in feudal bond with the French royalty, but this repeatedly led to hostilities with the French kings. The power of English kingship was limited since the Magna Carta of 1215 by further inclusion of the greats, who were now granted basic rights. French kingship, in turn, was consolidated in the 12./13. In the sixteenth century, the Roman Empire strengthened its position and, under Philip II, pushed the Arabs into Sicily. the influence of the Plantagenets in the 13th century. The Salian dynasty dates back to the thirteenth century and was consolidated during the reign of Louis IX. France’s political position in Latin Europe. England and France had comparatively effective royal administrative systems and slowly developed into "national kingdoms," but without yet being nation-states.

After the crusade call of Pope Urban II. at the Synod of Clermont (1095) the crusades to the Orient began. The declared goal of the crusaders was the liberation of the holy city of Jerusalem from the Saracens. [9] In addition to religious and social motives, greed for booty and land also led the crusaders to participate in the crusades. [9] The Crusaders succeeded in 1099 in conquering the city of Jerusalem and establishing four so-called Crusader states, which, however, were gradually lost until 1291. After 1099, religious goals receded into the background in the later crusades, often in favor of power politics and economic interests. Crusades were also waged against Christians (for example, in 1204 against Byzantium and in the late Middle Ages in Italy against political opponents of the papacy).

In the course of the Crusades, long-distance trade with the Levant developed again, from which the Italian city-states in particular profited, especially the Republic of Venice. With trade, the money economy gained in importance. Likewise, new and. rediscovered ideas to Europe; for example, Aristotle, whose writings were translated into Latin, became the most important non-Christian authority in scholasticism. The first universities were founded in Italy and later in France. Especially in Central Europe, the guild system emerged, which strongly influenced the social and economic processes in the cities.

The most important religious orders of the High Middle Ages, apart from the Cistercians, were the mendicant orders of the Franciscans and Dominicans. In addition, new Christian lay movements emerged that were classified as heretical by the Catholic Church, including the Cathar and Waldensian movements. The Inquisition was also established to combat so-called heretics.

Late Middle Ages

Middle Ages

According to older scholars, Europe experienced a period of economic prosperity from ca. 1300 a certain period of crisis. Objectively ascertainable are, for example, climatic changes that had an adverse effect, but for a long time the dominant view in Germany was also that a period of political crisis had occurred. This research debate, however, affected more the German medieval studies, because there the sequence of the Middle Ages in three stages was formative. In Italy or France, no such sharp distinction was made. In the newer German-language research is judged much more differentiated and emphasizes, among other things, the transitions to the early modern period; in addition, new research approaches and new source findings are made. In this respect, a paradigm shift has taken place in late medieval research. [10]

In the Holy Roman Empire (the term appears for the first time in the sources in 1254), the royal power, which was not very pronounced anyway, continued to lose influence, while the power of the numerous secular and ecclesiastical sovereigns grew stronger. Since the Interregnum, the election of the king had been the responsibility of the electors, who also had an influence on imperial policy. The kingship had to increasingly pursue a policy of house power to compensate for the loss of the dwindling imperial estate, with the houses of Habsburg, Luxembourg and Wittelsbach being most influential. After the end of the Hohenstaufen period, the emperorship was reestablished by the coronation of Henry VII. Renewed in 1312. In the time of his successor Louis IV. The last fundamental conflict between the emperorship and the papacy took place. The most important emperor of the late Middle Ages is usually considered to be Charles IV. considered, which considerably increased the Luxembourg household power complex. The Golden Bull of 1356, which was drafted during his reign, constituted a kind of basic imperial law. The late medieval Roman-German kingship nevertheless suffered from considerable structural deficiencies, so that no strong central power developed in the empire. With the death of Emperor Sigismund in 1437, the male line of the Luxembourgs became extinct; their inheritance in the empire was taken over by the Habsburgs, who provided the Roman-German emperors almost continuously until the end of the empire in 1806. The long reigns of Frederick III. and Maximilian I. stabilized the Habsburg household power complex, which Maximilian was able to expand once again in the west through parts of the Burgundian inheritance. However, a comprehensive reform of the empire, which had been sought, did not succeed.

In 1291, Acre, the last fortress of the Crusaders in the Middle East, fell; the authority of the Pope diminished in the course of the so-called Occidental Schism. The worst catastrophe in the so-called crisis of the 14. However, the beginning of the Middle Ages was marked by the plague, the "Black Death", which came from the Crimean Peninsula in the Black Sea in 1347 and devastated the countries of Europe, killing between one third and one half of the European population, especially in the cities. Depopulation led to revolts and a change in social structures that weakened the knighthood in favor of the bourgeoisie and triggered some reform movements in the Catholic Church. While the Byzantine Empire slowly but surely declined after the conquest of Constantinople in 1204 during the Fourth Crusade, the Christian empires on the Iberian Peninsula continued to gain ground after the victory at Las Navas de Tolosa in 1212. In 1492, the Reconquista ended with the conquest of the Emirate of Granada. As a result of the Reconquista, the Christian kingdoms of Portugal and Spain (consisting of the united kingdoms of Aragon and Castile) were established. Muslims and Jews who were unwilling to convert to Christianity were expelled from Spain (See also: Edict of the Alhambra). 1453 Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks, while in the Roman-German Empire movable type printing was invented.

In 14. In the sixteenth century, the Hundred Years’ War between France and England began due to inheritance disputes over the French crown. From 1340 to about 1420, the English largely retained the upper hand. Joan of Arc, today known as the Virgin of Orleans known, gave in the early 15. The French regained hope in the eighteenth century, winning a victory at Orleans in 1429 and going on the offensive. Joan of Arc was condemned to death by the English in 1431, but France was able to end the war victoriously in 1453. While the French kings from the House of Valois were now striving to reassert their power, they also came into conflict with the House of Burgundy, a collateral line of the French royal house, which was pursuing its own interests. England suffered in the second half of the 15. In the 14th century, the kingdom of York suffered from severe internal unrest, which eventually led to the open struggle for the throne between the houses of York and Lancaster, known as the Wars of the Roses. In the end, the House of Tudor prevailed in 1485.

Arts and sciences were on the rise in the late Middle Ages. The founding of the first universities in the High Middle Ages, especially in Italy (Bologna) and France (Paris), gave a new impetus to science and philosophy, spreading the teachings of ancient scholars and paving the way for the Renaissance period. New opportunities opened up for artists thanks to commissions for the self-confident bourgeoisie: painting, previously limited to ecclesiastical motifs, was now extended to other areas, and painters also discovered three-dimensionality. The architecture, as a result of the Renaissance movement, was again based on ancient Roman and Greek models.

The economy flourished despite the plague. The late Middle Ages was the time of the rising bourgeoisie of the cities and the money economy. The Italian city-states, the cities of Flanders and the Hanseatic League of cities on the North and Baltic Seas are worth mentioning. The Hanseatic League brought about further settlement of Northern and especially Eastern Europe by mainly German colonists through its vigorous trade (See also: Eastern Colonization). Through trade contacts, a number of new principalities arose in Russia, which gradually shook off the Mongol yoke. The most powerful of them, the Principality of Moscow , would later develop into the Russian Tsarist Empire.

End of the Middle Ages

As with the transition from antiquity to the Middle Ages, various research approaches are possible for the end of the Middle Ages as well. Ultimately, these are fluid transitions and not a precisely datable break in time. The Renaissance period (late 14th century, depending on the country) is generally considered essential for the transition from the Middle Ages to modern times. Century to 16. The most important events in the history of the book are: the invention of the modern printing press with movable type around 1450 and the resulting acceleration of the writing down of knowledge, the discovery in particular of the New World by Christopher Columbus in 1492, or the loss of the influence of the institutionalized Catholic Church and the beginning of the Reformation. These events all occurred between the middle of the 15. and the threshold of the 16. Century to settle. In the same period, the end of the Middle Ages in Germany can also be localized with the imperial reform as the constitutional end of classical feudalism.

Also cited is the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottomans (1453), as the fall of the Byzantine Empire marked the demise of the last living state entity of antiquity. The resulting flow of Byzantine refugees and scholars to Italy is considered partly responsible for the beginning of the Renaissance. In addition, trade routes to Asia were blocked by the expansion of the Ottoman Empire, so Western European sailors explored new trade routes. The search for a sea route to India led, among other things, to the discovery of America in 1492.

Jews in Medieval Europe

Middle Ages

In medieval Europe, the Jews were a minority with their own traditions, culture, language and religion. First in the East Francia, then in the Holy Roman Empire, they were subordinated in a special way to the King or the Holy Roman Emperor. the Roman-German emperor , but were also patrons of other lords. In Central Europe, they interacted with a society shaped by Christianity that was hostile to them; in the Iberian Peninsula, until the Reconquista, they interacted with one shaped by Islam, which knew how to take advantage of their abilities. Jews living in the Iberian Peninsula in the Middle Ages were called Sephardim, those living in the rest of Europe were called Ashkenazim. [11]

The Christians were not allowed to enter the country until the 15th century. Century after the canonical right forbade to lend money against interest. Not so the Jews. Since they were forbidden to practice a trade according to the guilds and to engage in agriculture, they earned their living in trade, as pawnbrokers or in the interest and exchange business. [12]

In the early Middle Ages, there were hardly any violent attacks against Jews, who already enjoyed a thoroughly privileged special position in the Frankish Empire, although they were legally restricted. Until the beginning of the First Crusade (1096), the Jews lived relatively safe in medieval Europe. In the course of this, however, many Jews were then confronted with the choice of "baptism or death. The crusaders initially wanted to get rid of the "infidels" in their own country. Thousands of Jews who did not want to convert to Christianity were slain by the Crusaders. [11] Only in very few cases (for example, in Speyer by the episcopal city lord) were Jews protected from encroachment.

In the following period, there were repeated expulsions of Jews and violent attacks, as in France and England in the 13th century. Century. A new wave of pogroms against Jews began in 1349 with the plague. They were accused of poisoning the wells in order to exterminate all Christians. The survivors settled in Eastern Europe. [11]

The late Middle Ages into the early modern period were characterized by increasing hostility towards Jews. Jews residing in the cities were forced to live in ghettos. After the relaxation of the prohibition of interest by the Catholic Church, they lost economic importance. Increasingly, Christians – now tolerated by the Church – were now also active as merchants and as moneylenders, including burghers and high clergymen. [13] But not only financial, but also political and religious reasons weakened the position of the Jews. [14] Religious hatred against those of other faiths grew in the society shaped by Christianity. [14] Religious, socio-psychological, political and economic factors combined to lead more and more often to anti-Jewish actions. [13] The result was the Jewish expulsions and pogroms of the late Middle Ages, which did not end until the 16th century. century ended. [14]

Popular myths, misunderstandings, and historical controversies

As early as the Renaissance, the period between antiquity and the then present was considered an age in which the knowledge and values of ancient cultures had been forgotten, from which the cultural and spiritual inferiority of the Middle Ages could be inferred. This evaluation became in the 19. Century in the course of the rising romanticism taken over and further developed, whereby the reception of past times according to the Enlightenment, the morals of the Victorian age and by "progress faith" and reason orientation was influenced. This resulted in the 19. century a modern and still popular reception of the historical Middle Ages, which is by and large based on the romantic spirit of the times rather than on historical sources.

In the course of time, ideas of the historical Middle Ages have been formed in this way, which have no historical basis and yet enjoy widespread popularity. [15]

Indian Middle Ages

The history of India knows a spread of feudal structures after the end of the Gupta Empire in 550, which is the "golden age" of India’s classical period. The late Gupta Empire was already in decline and had to face attacks from the "Huns" (Hunas, which probably includes the Alchon) from the north, which eventually left a power vacuum after a brutal rule. In northern India, the Gupta culture experienced another peak under the rule of Harshavardhana (606-647), the last great Buddhist king in Indian history, before the central ruling structures disintegrated and real power passed to local princes. The period of the fall of the Gupta Empire (6. The period of the Chinese Middle Ages (eighteenth century) is considered to be the beginning of the early medieval period of Indian history. [16]

The exact classification as "Middle Ages" [17] of this time dominated by changing rulers varies thereby in the research and depends also on the respective point of view, since northern India and southern India developed historically differently. The formation of hierarchical-feudal vassalage systems from about 600 until the establishment of the Delhi Sultanate in 1206 is often cited as an important feature of the early Indian Middle Ages. In the north it came since the 8. The sixteenth century saw the spread of Islam. The beginning of the late Middle Ages is dated to the establishment of the Sultanate. In the south, new principalities were formed in the 7. It emerged in the sixteenth century (z. B. the reign of the Pallava). In the absence of a caesura, it is difficult to distinguish between the early and later Middle Ages there; the sultanate spread temporarily here as well, but the rule was shaken off again.

The Indian Middle Ages are widely believed to have ended in the period between the Mongol invasion of the north in 1398 and the changes following the discovery of a European sea route to India around the Cape of Good Hope in 1498.

Chinese Middle Ages

With regard to the history of China, modern scholarship considers the period from the end of the Han dynasty or. whose de facto disempowerment until the reunification of China under the Sui and Tang dynasties in the late 6th century./early 7. Century partly understood as "Middle Ages" (in the sense of a transitional period from state fragmentation to unity). [18]

Japanese Middle Ages

In Japanese history, the period from ca. 1200 to ca. 1600 (Kamakura, Muromachi and Azuchi-Momoyama periods) as the Japanese Middle Ages denotes. This era was characterized by a strong dominance of Buddhism and feudalism.

African Middle Ages

French Africa specialist Francois-Xavier Fauvelle-Aymar refers to the period of establishment of early African kingdoms from the Niger region through the Christian kingdoms in Nubia and up to Zimbabwe since the 6. The nineteenth century as the African Middle Ages. [19]

Mesoamerican Middle Ages

Occasionally there is also talk about a Mesoamerican Middle Ages. [20]

See also


Important sources are collected on a large scale in the Monumenta Germaniae Historica. See also the dt.-latin. Editions of the Freiherr-vom-Stein-Gedachtnisausgabe (FSGA); a source overview is provided by the Historical Sources of the German Middle Ages. [21] Important sources are provided by u. a. in addition to historiography, also presents constitutions and other record sources. Of particular importance are also the Regesten (for the Roman-German Empire the Regesta Imperii).

An excellent bibliography can be found here (compiled by the History Department of the Uni. Bonn), for literature search the Opac of the Regesta Imperii (RI-Opac). Otherwise, please refer to the information in the Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages, the relevant volumes of the series Oldenbourg Outline of History (vol. 4-9) and the Encyclopedia of German History or the bibliographies of the works listed below.

Reference and survey works

  • Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages . 9 vols. dtv-Verlag, Munich 2002, ISBN 3-423-59057-2 (in hardcover: Artemis& Winkler, Munich / Zurich 1980-1998, fundamental work).  
  • Dictionary of the Middle Ages. Ed. by Joseph Strayer u. a., 13 vols. Scribner, New York 1982-1989.
  • The New Cambridge Medieval History. 7 volumes in 8, Cambridge 1995-2005 (excellent and relatively up-to-date overall coverage; each volume provides a comprehensive bibliography).
  • Peter Linehan, Janet L. Nelson (ed.): The Medieval World. Routledge, London 2001, ISBN 0-415-30234-X .: Christians, Jews, Muslims. The Heirs of Antiquity and the Rise of the Occident 300 to 1400 n. Chr. Siedler, Munich 2006, ISBN 978-3-88680-439-9 .: The Middle Ages. History and Culture. 4. Auflage. C. H. Beck, Munich 2009, ISBN 978-3-406-57829-8 ., Andreas Ranft, Stephan Selzer (eds.): Middle Ages (Oldenbourg History Textbook). 2. Edition, Munich 2009, ISBN 978-3-486-58829-3 .
  • The Oxford Dictionary of the Middle Ages. Ed. by Robert E. Bjork. 4 volumes. Oxford University Press, Oxford 2010.
  • Johannes Fried, Olaf B. Rader (ed.): The world of the Middle Ages. Memorials of a Millennium. C. H. Beck, Munich 2011, ISBN 978-3-406-62214-4 .
  • Martial Staub, Gert Melville (eds.): Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages. Primus, Darmstadt 2013, ISBN 978-3-86312-353-6 .: The Middle Ages. Europe from 500 to 1500. Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 2018, ISBN 978-3-608-96208-6 .

Epoch-specific representations

    : Europe in the early Middle Ages. 500-1050 (= Handbook of the History of Europe 2). Ulmer, Stuttgart 2003.: The Early Middle Ages. Western Christendom from 400 to 900. 3. Edition. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart/ Berlin/ Cologne 2001.: History of the Migration of Peoples. Europe, Asia and Africa from 3. to the 8. Century. C. H. Beck, Munich 2019, ISBN 978-3406739590 .
  • Franz Neiske: Europe in the Early Middle Ages 500-1050. A history of culture and mentality. Primus, Darmstadt 2006, ISBN 978-3-89678-540-4 .: The Inheritance of Rome: A History of Europe from 400 to 1000. Penguin, London 2009.: Early Medieval Europe 300-1000. 3. revised edition. Palgrave, Basingstoke u. a. 2010.
  • Johannes Preiser-Kapeller: Beyond Rome and Charlemagne. Aspects of global interdependence in long late antiquity, 300-800 n. Chr. Mandelbaum Verlag, Vienna 2018.
    : Church Reform and High Middle Ages 1046-1215. 4. Edition. Oldenbourg, Munich 1999.
  • Michael Borgolte: Europe discovers its diversity. 1050-1250 (= Handbook of the History of Europe 3). Ulmer, Stuttgart 2002.: Europe in the High Middle Ages 1050-1250. A history of culture and mentality. Primus, Darmstadt 2003, ISBN 978-3-89678-474-2 .: The Investiture Controversy. 3., revised and enlarged edition. Oldenbourg, Munich 2007.
  • Thomas Asbridge: The Crusades. Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 2010.
    , Gerhard Fouquet, Bernd Fuhrmann: Europe in the Late Middle Ages 1215-1378. Oldenbourg, Munich 2003.
  • Johannes Grabmayer: Europe in the late Middle Ages 1250-1500. A History of Culture and Mentality. Primus, Darmstadt 2004, ISBN 978-3-89678-475-9 .: Europe expands. 1250-1500 (= Handbook of the History of Europe 4). Ulmer, Stuttgart 2007.
  • John Watts: The Making of Polities: Europe, 1300-1500. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2009.: Frontier Experience and Monarchical Order: Europe 1200-1500. C. H. Beck, Munich 2011.

Introductions and individual topics

    : Hommes et structures du moyen âge. Paris 1973 (= Le savoir historique. Vol. 1)., Eva Irblich, Istvan Nemeth: Science in the Middle Ages. Vienna 1975 (= Biblos Writings. Vol. 83).: Invitation to the Middle Ages. C. H. Beck, Munich 1987, ISBN 3-406-32052-X .: Splendor and Misery of the Middle Ages. A finite history. Siedler, Berlin 1987, ISBN 3-88680-279-5 .: Forms of life in the Middle Ages. Frankfurt am Main/Berlin/Vienna 1973; numerous editions and edition, z. B. 1988, ISBN 3-548-34004-0 .
  • Arno Borst: Barbarians, heretics and artists : worlds of the Middle Ages. Piper, Munich/Zurich 1988, ISBN 3-492-03152-8 ., Hans Dieter Muck, Ursula Muller, U. Muller (Ed.): Medieval Reception III: Collected Lectures of the 3. Salzburg symposium "Middle Ages, Mass Media, New Myths". Kummerle Verlag, Goppingen 1988 (= Goppinger Works on German Studies. Volume 479), ISBN 3-87452-715-8 .
  • I. von Burg, Jurgen Kuhnel, U. Muller, A. Black (ed.): Medieval Reception IV: Media, Politics, Ideology, Economy. Collected lectures of the symposium at the University of Lausanne, November 1989. Kummerle publishing house, Goppingen 1991 (= Goppinger Works on German Studies. Volume 550), ISBN 3-87452-791-3 . (Ed.): Forum. Materials and Contributions to the Reception of the Middle Ages. Vol. 3. Kummerle publishing house, Goppingen 1992 (= Goppingen Works on German Studies. Volume 540), ISBN 3-87452-781-6 .
  • Horst Fuhrmann: Everywhere is the Middle Ages : of the present of a bygone age. C. H. Beck, Munich 1996, ISBN 3-406-40518-5 .
  • Karl Helmer: Educational worlds of the Middle Ages. Thinking, thoughts, ideas and attitudes. Schneider Hohengehren, Baltmannsweiler 1997, ISBN 978-3-87116-762-1 .: The Barbarian Society. Mentalitatsgeschichte der europaischen Achsenzeit 5.-8. Century. Primus, Darmstadt 1999, ISBN 978-3-89678-217-5 .: Europe’s North in the Middle Ages. The integration of Scandinavia into Christian Europe (9.-13. Jh.). Primus, Darmstadt 2001, ISBN 978-3-89678-418-6 .
  • P. Kellermann-Haaf: Woman and politics in the Middle Ages. Studies on the political role of women in the courtly novels of the 12th century., 13. and 14. Century (= Goppingen Works on German Studies. Volume 456). Kummerle Publishing House, Goppingen 1986, ISBN 3-87452-691-7 .: England in the Middle Ages. Primus, Darmstadt 2002, ISBN 978-3-89678-420-9 .: Middle Ages and Early Modern Times. 4 volumes. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2003 (ND), ISBN 3-596-50732-4 (outdated research).: The Birth of Europe in the Middle Ages. C. H. Beck, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-406-51762-5 .
  • Georg Scheibelreiter (Ed.): Highlights of the Middle Ages. Primus, Darmstadt 2004, ISBN 978-3-89678-257-1 .: Europe in the Middle Ages. Published and edited by Georg Scheibelreiter. Primus, Darmstadt 2005, ISBN 978-3-89678-264-9 .
  • Heinz-Dieter Heimann: Introduction to the History of the Middle Ages. 2. Edition. UTB, Stuttgart 2006, ISBN 978-3-8252-1957-4 .: War in the Middle Ages. Primus, Darmstadt 2006, ISBN 978-3-89678-577-0 .: Introduction to the History of the Middle Ages. 8. Edition. C. H. Beck, Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-406-36677-2 .: The Middle Ages – the epoch. 2. Edition. UTB, Stuttgart 2008.
  • Harald Muller: Middle Ages. Akademie-Verlag, Berlin 2008, ISBN 978-3-05-004366-1 .: The Middle Ages were quite different. Ancient Mail Publishers, 1. Edition of the completely revised and supplemented new edition, Grob-Gerau 2010.: The Middle Ages. Schoningh, Paderborn u. a. 2010, ISBN 978-3-8252-3106-4 .: Food and drink in the Middle Ages. Primus, Darmstadt 2010, ISBN 978-3-89678-702-6 .: True stories from the Middle Ages. Small Fates Told by Themselves in Letters to the Pope. C. H. Beck, Munich 2010, ISBN 978-3-406-60133-0 .
  • Ernst Schubert: Everyday life in the Middle Ages. Natural habitat and human interaction (special edition 2012). Primus, Darmstadt 2012, ISBN 978-3-86312-306-2 .
  • Christine Sauer (Ed.): Craft in the Middle Ages. Primus, Darmstadt 2012, ISBN 978-3-86312-013-9 .
  • Michael Brauer: Sources of the Middle Ages. Schoningh, Paderborn 2013, ISBN 978-3-8252-3894-0 .: Proseminar History: Middle Ages. 4. Edition. Ulmer, Stuttgart 2014, ISBN 978-3-8252-4066-0 (introduction to the scientific method).

Web links

Wiktionary: Middle Ages – Meaning explanations, word origin, synonyms, translations

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