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Introduction to the Medieval World: Class 10

Class 10: The Second Dissolution of the West: Vikings and Feudalism?

Assigned Reading:

I.      Introduction

A.      Today - Collapse of the Carolingian Achievement
        Second period of dissolution for the West.

B.      Why?
        -Ephemeral Nature of Carolingian Achievement.
        Built on shaky foundations. DISCUSS
        End of booty (cf. Islam.
        -New invasions.
        -But the period also saw the creation of the
        Agrarian basis for much of middle ages.

II.     Politics: The Later Carolingians

A.      Louis the Pious 814-840
        Not as effective a forbears - aimed at imperial unity.

B.      Division of the Empire - Based on Carolingian Family
        History - Origins of France and Germany
        -Lothair the Emperor
        -Charles the Bald (France., 840-877
        -Louis the German 840-876

C.      Oath of Strasbourg 842 - Shows import of Vassalage ties
        Treaty of Verdun 843 - Map p 101
        Lorraine fought over until 1945
        Linguistic developments - Vernaculars

III.    New Invasions

A.      Muslim Attacks - as pirates -Spain, Italy, Provence

B.      Steppe Peoples - Magyars - Hungarians late 800s-955
        Affects Germany mainly

C.      Vikings

        1.      Scandinavia - Danes, Swedes and Norwegians
                -Overpopulation not to be overplayed as a factor.
                Scandinavia a center of emigration continuously.

        2.      Raids Map p. 105 - 793 - Lindesfarne, 794 - Jarrow
                84 2 - London, 881- Aachen

        3.      -Sea Farers - improved Viking ships
                -Traders - the Rus - Slavized
                -Settlers - Normandy 911 Rolf/The Danelaw/Ireland

        4.      Conversion from 1000 St. Olaf - by mistake

IV.     Royal Domains

A.      Effects of Raids had different political impacts
        problems of defense

B.      England - 
        -Viking attacks severe - Danelaw
        -Unity needed in response
        Alfred the Great 871-899 - Wessex
        Canute 1017-1035- North Sea Empire
        -1066 - Normans

C.      France - much bigger than England
        -Defense could only be local - Growth in power of
        local lordships and weakness of Carolingian kings.
        -The Capetians 987 still weak for centuries.
        No royal laws from Louis the Pious until 1180s.
        -The Ile de France

D.      Germany
        Five big duchies - then from 919 the Saxon Royal
        House takes over. Refounds the HRE 962

V.      Development of "Feudalism"?

A.      `Forms of association' - what much of history is about.
        -Family - State - employment - Feudalism

B.      Counts - c. 300 Installed as Public officials
        Already had private lands.
        Now granted crown lands and offices.
        Public and private power merge - e.g. in courts

C.      Subinfeudation and multiple lords -by 895

D.      Did "Feudalism" really exist?

        a. historians' disputes

        b. The great variety of forms and terms.
        Allodial Land/Public jurisdiction/Church power

        c. No "Feudalism" - Holland Italy Spain, much of Germany

E.      "Feudal" rights and obligations
        -Mutual - the great difference from Japan.
        -Leads to both Common law, and Parliaments

G.      Greater Nobles build stable states
        Normandy and Flanders.

H.      Castles
        Provide security against raids
        Ability to control territory
        -Induce a change in the nobility
        take names from castles - Lineages

VI.     Life for the Majority - Life on the Land

Lack of commerce in West. cf. Constantinople and Cordova.
But there was, pace Pirenne, still some trade - but on a low
level - Until stability returned and travel was possible.

A.      Roman Farming - southern model
        Villas - Coloni - Square Fields - Two field rotation

B.      Evolution - much continuity
        -Slaves become serfs - public authority to weak to
        preserve the institution
        -Much land is abandoned

C.      The Village - Unit of work and agrarian organization
        -Houses become more stable and built of securer material
        -Fields - two fields to three fields
        -Importance of the type of plow used
        -Water mills
        -Villages tied down - by Manors and Churches
        Stable village a new phenomenon in 10th century

D.      The Manor (only in some areas.
        -Unit of jurisdiction, dues and obligations
        -Variety of statuses

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© Paul Halsall, 1996.

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© Site Concept and Design: Paul Halsall created 26 Jan 1996: latest revision 6 October 2023 [CV]