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Middle Ages - life and crusades

The term “Middle Ages” refers to the period of European history between the fifth century (fall of the Western Roman Empire) and the fifteenth century. The Middle Ages is then further divided into Early Middle Ages (VX centuries) and Late Middle Ages (XI-XV century). The dates 476 AD, the year of the deposition of Romulus Augustus, the last emperor of the West, and 1492 AD, the “discovery” of America by Christopher Columbus, who traditionally mark the beginning and the end of the medieval period, are conventional ones.

The 476 AD, the year of deposition of last western Roman emperor, Romulus Augustus, does not correspond to a real change. The main factor that will reveal itself decisive for the changes that have occurred over the centuries appeared just in the fifth century. The arrival of the Germanic peoples (Angles and Saxons in Germany, in Spain, Vandals, Visigoths in Gaul and Spain, the Franks in Gaul, Ostrogoths in Italy) will modl deeply the appearance of Europe. A new wave of migration between the seventh and eighth centuries will bring the Lombards in Italy, in Spain the Arabs and the Slavs in the Balkan peninsula, which blocked the attempt of Justinian, Emperor of the East, to regain the territories of Roman Empire.

In the ninth century, the rise of the Carolingians allowed the unification of the Christian world and the restoration of the Empire. Political power was concentrated in the hands of Charlemagne, who was crowned Emperor in 800 by Pope Leo III.

The unit of the Carolingian Empire, however, did not last long and after the death of Charlemagne it fell apart because of power struggles and feudal particularism. The Vikings, a name given to the various Nordic peoples (Danes, Swedes, Norwegians), are the protagonists of repeated raids and large migratory movements in the central and northern regions of Europe between 800 and 1100. in the XI century King Canute II created a Scandinavian Empire of the North Sea, including England, Denmark and Norway. From there they set off to explore the uninhabited lands of the Atlantic (the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland) and maybe sailed into the eastern coast of North America discovering the New World 500 years before Christopher Columbus.

The contributions made by the Vikings to the european civilisation can be difficult to detect, even by reason of their great propensity to merge with large populations with whom they came into contact.

A century and a half after their settlement in Normandy, the Franco-Vikings Normans launched successfully to the conquest of England (1066), Southern Italy and Sicily (1060-1090) becoming bearers of cultivation techniques and innovation 'in the field of commerce and navigation; a language that is strongly expressed in sagas intended to immense popularity in medieval age; political and legal institutions, such as the institution of the jury.

The more important dates from the 476 to the Crusades

In 476 AD there was the deposition of Romulus Augustus, the last Roman emperor of the West. This is the conventional date of the beginning of the Middle Ages.

In 500 AD it will begin the rise of the Franks , the feudalism in Europe and the spread of Christianity.

In 570 AD the birth of Muhammad takes place.

In the seventh century the world will assist to the spread of Islam. In the sane period te assists to The start of the Carolingian dynasty who reigned over the Franks from the seventh to the tenth century and whose rule is derived from the more famous exponent, Charlemagne. The family was descended from Pepin the Elder was succeeded by his nephew Pepin of Heristal. He was succeeded by Charles Martel and then Pepin the Short, who, in 751, deposed the last Merovingian king and was crowned king of the Franks. He was the first Frankish ruler to receive religious consecration by the Church of Rome. His two sons, Carloman and Charlemagne reigned jointly at first, and then, from 771, Charlemagne became the sole ruler. The the kingdom included the present-day France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and northern Italy. On 25 December of the '800 he was crowned by Pope Leo III first emperor of the revived Roman Empire in the West (in the twelfth century took the name of the Holy Roman Empire). The Holy Roman Empire was a political entity of Western Europe in '800 and ended in 1806. The Roman Empire, summed up in the name the Holy Roman Empire, had a role as continuer of the cultural and political heredity, having the mission of universal religious and political institution. Although the boundaries have undergone major transformations in the course of a thousand years, the heart of the empire was always the German region. From the tenth century it was always the king of Germany, appointed by the local electors, to be crowned emperor by the Pope of Rome. The empire of the West played a major role in the political-religious affair of the European continent. Peculiar feature of this period was the bitter dispute between the Popes (especially Gregory VII) and emperors (in the person of Henry IV) to the struggle for investiture. In 1157 Frederick Barbarossa designed as “sacred” the empire led by him, aiming to accentuate the religious mandate which he felt invested. This fact compromised the relations with the papacy. His armed intervention in Italy clashed with the resistance of the Lombard League. The victory of the League of Frederick at Legnano guaranteed the autonomy of municipalities. In 1066 it took place the battle of Hastings between the Saxon army of Harold II of England and the soldiers of the Duke of Normandy, the future William the Conqueror.

The Crusades

Around 1000 AD two great powers were established in Western Europe: the Empire and the Papacy. Two other centers of power made their influence felt in the medieval world: the ancient empire of the East and the growing Muslim power. The Arabs fed the ambitious dream of transforming civilisation and the religion of the West in a arab civilisation and religion. When the first momentum of warrior, was finished the Arabs had finished with the militias, enlisting in their armies, made of Mongolian people, a new nation to be obedient to be converted to Islam: the Turks. This climate of warrior religiosity never presented itself as a movement in favor of the West against the East, the christianity against Islam.

The First Crusade

Peter the Hermit began to call together all the desperate, showing them a purpose for their poor and failed existence : go to the Holy Land to liberate the tomb of Christ. They formed so four armies, corresponding to the four main centers of enrollment. In December 1096 AD the army of Godfrey of Bouillon arrived before Constantinople. On 7 June 1099 AD, the Christian army arrived closed to Jerusalem, on August 12 and it conquered the city.

The Second Crusade

In 1144 AD, the turkish governor Mosul suddenly threw himself on the county of Edessa. Throughout the Christian world in the East felt threatened and urgent requests for help reached Europe . The first to accept the appeal was the king of France, Louis VII. It was a great armed pilgrimage, without a very clear idea about what they would do. When the Crusader army he came under the walls of Damascus, it became clear that the conquest would have required a long siege; discord arose among Christians. Louis VII retired in Jerusalem: the Crusade had failed.

The Third Crusade

On January 5, 1187 AD it fell for the first time the small kingdom of Jerusalem. The pope, Gregory VIII, turned to Christian principles inviting them to stop their various contentions, to join instead for a new crusade; Barbarossa moves first, in May 1189 AD. Richard the Lionheart was the recognized leader of the Christian armies, but, entered Jerusalem, lost time in lengthy negotiations that dragged on until the month of November 1191 AD. Richard and Saladin, the warrior leader of the Turks, signed a truce of three years for which the Christians had recognized the possession of almost all cities along the coast of the Holy Land. Jerusalem remained to Saladin, but it could be visited without danger from Christian pilgrims.

The Fourth Crusade

In 1197 AD, a German crusading army gathered in Apulia; numerous other feudal lords of France joined the oath. Between July and August 1202 AD the crusading army shall met in Venice. The army was not very large, but it was well organized and on the other hand, this time, had a plan. But the Fourth Crusade ended, rather than with the conquest of the holy places, with that of the Eastern Empire. The antagonism between the Church of Rome and the Eastern became even more serious, and the only ones to have advantages were the Venetians and, more later, the Genoese. Among the treasures that the Venetians brought home from Constantinople there were the four magnificent bronze horses that were put on the portal of the Basilica of San Marco.

The Fifth Crusade

In the early 1200s a wave of religiosity 'across Europe, and this seemed the pope a particularly propitious sign on a new expedition against the infidels, in 1215 Innocent IV officially banned the Crusade. Frederick II begun to deal with the Sultan of Egypt and came to a beneficial agreement: he gained possession of Jerusalem; on the other hand the Muslims recognized the possession of the Mosque of Jerusalem.

The Sixth Crusade

The feudal world had depleted cause it was a world that was not producing found its main asset in wars. The bourgeoisie instead enriched itself with the peaceful trade made in the cities. With the news of the new fall of Jerusalem, Pope Innocent IV hurried to banish, in 1245 AD, a new Crusade. The european states remained cold to his call. The only one who accepted the invitation of the Pope was the king of France, Louis IX. In June 1248 AD Louis IX departed from Paris with his army. He had a war plan: attack the Turkish power in its center: Egypt. The flooding of the Nile delayed the start and the Crusaders had to build embankments between the marshes, but Turks disturbed that hard work: the Crusaders were unable to advance and had to camp out in the marshes. They began epidemics and food were lost; exhausted and hungry, the Christian army surrendered to the enemy. In 1254 AD, Louis IX returned to France. The Crusade had failed.

The Seventh Crusade

After the 1265 AD Pope Clement IV still urged a Crusade, Louis IX replied only that the parties in 1270 AD under the illusion to convert the turkish sovereign to Christianity and then move with him against Egypt. But in the Christian camp spread the plague. The same king and his son were shot and killed. Each winning project was abandoned: the great adventure Eastern Europe had ended.

Considerations

The Crusades were first of all, at least at first, a religious fact. But they profoundly affected the whole of European life and the whole western civilisation. Economically, the crusade experience leads to the development of trade and town centers, ways of life are refined, the rough architecture of the early feudal castles becomes varied and complex and the interior more reach. Through the Orient the medieval world gets closer to the ancient greek roman world. In Crusades you can see the origins of that glorious period that will follow the Middle Ages and born from it as a beautiful flower: the Renaissance.

Life in the Middle Ages

The Medieval Castle

Food

Many great castles had a steward who took care of food stocks. To make the bread it was necessary to grind the wheat and some castles had their own mill. The meat was smoked or salted in order to preserve it, while vegetables were dried or pickled. The milk was turned into butter or soft cheese; with the waste it was produced a hard cheese that was consumed by the servants. To draw water from underground aquifers there were dug deep wells. Some castles kept bees to produce honey. The cellar-man cared supplies wine cellar of the castle. The greater castles had large fruit orchards, vineyards and orchards. The fighter squadrons from the forests of the ladies wore red and fallow deer, wild boars and pheasants.

The kitchen

All kitchens had a large iron cauldron, it was sometimes filled with many different dishes in order to be cooked together. The food was often heavily spiced, and also colored with vegetable dyes. In the side of the fireplace there was a large domed oven where to bake bread.

The banquet

On special occasions in the great hall of the castle they put up a sheltered sumptuous banquet, which began early and prolonged for many hours. The food was soft and mushy and was served in large dishes shared by more diners. The guests ate with their fingers or with knives and spoons.

Home life

In the first castles life was not comfortable at all, but already in the twelfth century the castles had bedrooms and living rooms well furnished, heated by fireplaces and lit by candles. In the Middle Ages only a few could read and write. The minstrels often visited the castles to entertain guests. The sons of the nobility when six or seven years old went to live in another castle. Most of the lords and ladies married before fourteen. In the Middle Ages it was firmly believed that women were inferior to men.

Hygiene and health

In the Middle Ages there was much less concern cleaning then today.The mice were everywhere and they were carriers of disease. Only the most wealthy could afford a hot bath. The doctors resorted to the plants to treat their patients.

The clothing

Fashion was very important in the Middle Ages: the most wealthy class wear with glitz to impress each other and from the twelfth century fashion became more and more developed: the clothes of the women had the aftermath, the hats were very high; short tunics and pointed shoes were the most popular.

The chapel and religious life

In the private chapel, the lords began their every day by participating in a short service celebrated by the priest. The men of the Middle Ages were very devoted and performed pilgrimages. The religious festivals were an important part of people's life and the squares were often sacred representations.

Hunting

The favorite sport was hunting. Each man had his favorite hound and hunted deer, fallow deer, wild boars, wolves, foxes and bears. Some areas were hunting ground reserved to the king and the poachers were severely punished. The carousel

In the Middle Ages the war games were very popular. In huge open fields were held tournaments, mock battles involving hundreds of men and that became spectacular festivals. The more exciting game was the carousel: a confrontation between two knights, in order to unseat the opponent with a wooden spear..

History


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