Portal:Middle Ages

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Middle Ages portal

The Cross of Mathilde, a crux gemmata made for Mathilde, Abbess of Essen (973–1011), who is shown kneeling before the Virgin and Child in the enamel plaque. The figure of Christ is slightly later. Probably made in Cologne or Essen, the cross demonstrates several medieval techniques: cast figurative sculpture, filigree, enamelling, gem polishing and setting, and the reuse of Classical cameos and engraved gems.

In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages (or Medieval Period) lasted from the 5th to the 15th century. It began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire and merged into the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery. The Middle Ages is the middle period of the three traditional divisions of Western history: classical antiquity, the medieval period, and the modern period. The medieval period is itself subdivided into the Early, High, and Late Middle Ages.

Population decline, counterurbanisation, invasion, and movement of peoples, which had begun in Late Antiquity, continued in the Early Middle Ages. The large-scale movements of the Migration Period, including various Germanic peoples, formed new kingdoms in what remained of the Western Roman Empire. In the 7th century, North Africa and the Middle East—once part of the Byzantine Empire—came under the rule of the Umayyad Caliphate, an Islamic empire, after conquest by Muhammad's successors. Although there were substantial changes in society and political structures, the break with classical antiquity was not complete. The still-sizeable Byzantine Empire, Rome's direct continuation, survived in the Eastern Mediterranean and remained a major power. The empire's law code, the Corpus Juris Civilis or "Code of Justinian", was rediscovered in Northern Italy in 1070 and became widely admired later in the Middle Ages. In the West, most kingdoms incorporated the few extant Roman institutions. Monasteries were founded as campaigns to Christianise pagan Europe continued. The Franks, under the Carolingian dynasty, briefly established the Carolingian Empire during the later 8th and early 9th century. It covered much of Western Europe but later succumbed to the pressures of internal civil wars combined with external invasions: Vikings from the north, Magyars from the east, and Saracens from the south.

During the High Middle Ages, which began after 1000, the population of Europe increased greatly as technological and agricultural innovations allowed trade to flourish and the Medieval Warm Period climate change allowed crop yields to increase. Manorialism, the organisation of peasants into villages that owed rent and labour services to the nobles, and feudalism, the political structure whereby knights and lower-status nobles owed military service to their overlords in return for the right to rent from lands and manors, were two of the ways society was organised in the High Middle Ages. The Crusades, first preached in 1095, were military attempts by Western European Christians to regain control of the Holy Land from Muslims. Kings became the heads of centralised nation-states, reducing crime and violence but making the ideal of a unified Christendom more distant. Intellectual life was marked by scholasticism, a philosophy that emphasised joining faith to reason, and by the founding of universities. The theology of Thomas Aquinas, the paintings of Giotto, the poetry of Dante and Chaucer, the travels of Marco Polo, and the Gothic architecture of cathedrals such as Chartres are among the outstanding achievements toward the end of this period and into the Late Middle Ages.

The Late Middle Ages was marked by difficulties and calamities including famine, plague, and war, which significantly diminished the population of Europe; between 1347 and 1350, the Black Death killed about a third of Europeans. Controversy, heresy, and the Western Schism within the Catholic Church paralleled the interstate conflict, civil strife, and peasant revolts that occurred in the kingdoms. Cultural and technological developments transformed European society, concluding the Late Middle Ages and beginning the early modern period.

Selected article

Peasants threshing siligo, a type of wheat. Tacuinum Sanitatis, 15th century.
Medieval cuisine includes the foods, eating habits, and cooking methods of various European cultures during the Middle Ages, a period roughly dating from the 5th to the 16th century. During this period, diets and cooking changed across Europe, and these changes helped lay the foundations for modern European cuisine.Bread was the staple, followed by other foods made from cereals, such as porridge and pasta. Meat was more prestigious and more expensive than grain or vegetables. Common seasonings included verjuice, wine and vinegar. These, along with the widespread use of honey or sugar (among those who could afford it), gave many dishes a sweet-sour flavor. The most popular types of meat were pork and chicken, while beef, which required greater investment in land, was less common. Cod and herring were mainstays among the northern population, but a wide variety of other saltwater and freshwater fish were also eaten. Almonds, both sweet and bitter, were eaten whole as garnish, or more commonly ground up and used as a thickener in soups, stews, and sauces. Particularly popular was almond milk, which was a common substitute for animal milk as a cooking medium during Lent and fasts.Slow transportation and inefficient food preservation techniques prevented long-distance trade of many foods.


Selected biography

Seal Of Doge Domenico Selvo.png

Domenico Selvo (died 1087) was the 31st Doge of Venice, serving from 1071 to 1084. During his reign as Doge, his domestic policies, the alliances that he forged, and the battles that the Venetian military won and lost laid the foundations for much of the subsequent foreign and domestic policy of the Republic of Venice. He avoided confrontations with the Byzantine Empire, the Holy Roman Empire, and the Roman Catholic Church at a time in European history when conflict threatened to upset the balance of power. At the same time, he forged new agreements with the major nations that would set up a long period of prosperity for the Republic of Venice. Through his military alliance with the Byzantine Empire, Emperor Alexios I Komnenos awarded Venice economic favors with the declaration of a Golden Bull that would allow for the development of the republic's international trade over the next few centuries.

Within the city itself, he supervised a longer period of the construction of the modern St Mark's Basilica than any other Doge. The basilica's complex architecture and expensive decorations stand as a testament to the prosperity of Venetian traders during this period. The essentially democratic way in which he not only was elected but also removed from power was part of an important transition of Venetian political philosophy. The overthrow of his rule in 1084 was one of many forced abdications in the early history of the republic that further blurred the lines between the powers of the Doge, the common electorate, and the nobility. (Read More. . .)

Did you know...

  • ...that a paillasse is a thin mattress filled with hay or sawdust and was commonly used in the middle ages?
  • ...that a barbican is a tower or other fortification defending the drawbridge, usually the gateway?
  • ...that a coif is a type of armored head-covering made out of chain-mail and worn under the helmet for extra protection?
  • ...that a heriot is a payment owed to the lord of the manor by a serf’s family upon the serf’s death; usually the family’s best animal, such as a cow, horse or most commonly ox?
  • ...that before 1066, it was noted in the Domesday Book, if one Welshman killed another, the dead man’s relatives could exact retribution on the killer and his family (even burning their houses) until burial of the victim the next day?
  • ...that buboes are pus-filled egg-sized swellings of the lymph glands of the neck, armpits, and groin; typically found in cases of bubonic plague?
  • ...that laws passed in the late 1300s aimed at maintaining class distinctions by prohibiting lower classes from dressing as if they belonged to higher classes?
  • ...that Pier Gerlofs Donia, a 15th century Frisian freedom fighter of 7 feet tall was alleged to be so strong that he could lift a 1000 pound horse?
  • ...that Edgar Ætheling was the last of the Anglo-Saxon Kings of England, but was only proclaimed, never crowned?

Things you can do


Here are some tasks awaiting attention:

Associated Wikimedia

The following Wikimedia Foundation sister projects provide more on this subject:

Wikibooks
Books

Commons
Media

Wikinews 
News

Wikiquote 
Quotations

Wikisource 
Texts

Wikiversity
Learning resources

Wiktionary 
Definitions

Wikidata 
Database