Middle Ages

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Post by kosovohp on Fri Oct 22, 2010 10:43 pm

The Middle Ages were dominated by the two upper echelons of the social structure: the nobility and the clergy. Feudalism developed in France in the Early Middle Ages and soon spread throughout Europe.[46] A struggle for influence between the nobility and the monarchy in England led to the writing of the Magna Carta and the establishment of a parliament.[47] The primary source of culture in this period came from the Roman Catholic Church. Through monasteries and cathedral schools, the Church was responsible for education in much of Europe.[46]

The Papacy reached the height of its power during the High Middle Ages. A East-West Schism in 1054 split the former Roman Empire religiously, with the Eastern Orthodox Church in the Byzantine Empire and the Roman Catholic Church in the former Western Roman Empire. In 1095 Pope Urban II called for a crusade against Muslims occupying Jerusalem and the Holy Land.[48] In Europe itself, the Church organised the Inquisition against heretics. In Spain, the Reconquista concluded with the fall of Granada in 1492, ending over seven centuries of Muslim rule in the Iberian Peninsula.[49]
The Battle of Crécy in 1346, from a manuscript of Jean Froissart's Chronicles; the battle established England as a military power.

In the 11th and 12th centuries, constant incursions by nomadic Turkic tribes, such as the Pechenegs and the Kipchaks, caused a massive migration of Slavic populations to the safer, heavily forested regions of the north.[50] Like many other parts of Eurasia, these territories were overrun by the Mongols.[51] The invaders, later known as Tatars, formed the state of the Golden Horde, which ruled the southern and central expanses of Russia for over three centuries.[52]

The Great Famine of 1315–1317 was the first crisis that would strike Europe in the late Middle Ages.[53] The period between 1348 and 1420 witnessed the heaviest loss. The population of France was reduced by half.[54][55] Medieval Britain was afflicted by 95 famines,[56] and France suffered the effects of 75 or more in the same period.[57] Europe was devastated in the mid-14th century by the Black Death, one of the most deadly pandemics in human history which killed an estimated 25 million people in Europe alone—a third of the European population at the time.[58]

The plague had a devastating effect on Europe's social structure; it induced people to live for the moment as illustrated by Giovanni Boccaccio in The Decameron (1353). It was a serious blow to the Roman Catholic Church and led to increased persecution of Jews, foreigners, beggars and lepers.[59] The plague is thought to have returned every generation with varying virulence and mortalities until the 18th century.[60] During this period, more than 100 plague epidemics swept across Europe

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