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Humanities In The Early, High And Late Middle Ages

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Learning Team A will use several research methods including text, internet and other methods to explore the humanities and the effects and developments that the humanities of the Early, High and Late Middle ages had on society. We have made some very interesting findings and come up with some intriguing conclusions. The findings are most definitely in condensed form for the simplicity of our assignment, although if given an unbridled word count, surely we would demonstrate volumes of text form such interesting periods.

The Early Middle Ages

Before we can talk about humanities, we must first define the word "Humanities". Humanities are the investigation of human beings and their culture and their self-expression. We are going to discuss how humanities reflect changing concepts of nature and human beings in different historical periods. Human beings in today's society are not aware of the history of people. In just about every area that we participate in on a daily basis, the humanities of our ancestors contributed to that area. The reason we study the different parts of the humanities is to get a better understanding of where human beings have been and where we need to go. The more we study the further we can go and improve the future based off the past.

Christianity greatly influenced the Early Middle Ages. This epoch existed between 500-1000 C.E. There was little stability during this time. Western Europe was under attack from Germanic tribes and Eastern Europe was battling against the Arabs. Fiero (2002) states, "the Germanic tribal people and practices blended with those of classical Rome and Western Christianity to forge the basic economic, social and cultural patterns of medieval life" (p.69). According to the website German Culture, in the Merovingian Dynasty (482-751 C.E.) under the rule of Clovis, "the Franks reluctantly began to adopt Christianity following the baptism of Clovis, an event that inaugurated the alliance between the Frankish kingdom and the Roman Catholic Church" (Medieval Germany -, n.d.). Christianity would reach an all time high during the reign of Charlemagne. After being crowned emperor of the Romans in 800 by Pope Leo III, Charlemagne brought education and enlightenment to his people (Fiero, 2002, p.74-75). The Metropolitan Museum of Art website outlines Charlemagne's accomplishments

He founds schools, brings the scholar Alcuin of York to his court, and encourages artists to reinvigorate Greco-Roman traditions. He commissions lavish manuscript books, copies of sacred and classical tests, and sets a fashion emulated by his heirs. Some Carolingian books have gem-encrusted covers, purple-dyed pages, text written in gold and silver inks, and miniature illustrations executed in a lively, confident style. Court workshops also produced bronze figures, ivory carvings and treasure objects that incorporate precious metals, gemstones and antique cameos. (Central Europe, 2000-2005)

After Charlemagne's death, Western Europe again was torn in many different directions. Fiero (2002) states, "Charlemagne's three grandsons divided the Empire among themselves, separating French form German-speaking territories" (p. 76). A new social class was defined during this time. Similar to the Roman social structure of plebian, patricians, and military men, the feudal system divided the classes again. According to Fiero (2002), "feudalism involved the exchange of land for military service. In return for the grant of land, a vassal owed his lord a certain number of fighting days (usually forty) per year" (p.76). During the holy wars, these men fought with honor and courage. The knights lived by the code of chivalry. Fiero (2002) defines chivalry as "courageous in battle, loyal to his lord and fellow warriors, and reverent toward women" (p. 77). While most of the population consisted of serfs, these knights and ladies were the echelon of the feudal society.

Art and literature during this time were heavy with Christian influence. An artist monk created the Lindisfarne gospels in Northumbria in the early eighth century (Lindisfarne Gospels, n.d.). Another wonderful example of Christian art during this time is the Book of Kells. Snell (n.d.) points out, "The Book of Kells is a stunningly beautiful manuscript containing the Four Gospels. The Book of Kells was probably produced in a monastery on the Isle of Iona, Scotland, to honor Saint Columba in the early 8th century" (Snell, n.d.). The Metropolitan Museum of Art displays other artistic finds such as the Plaque with Saint John the Evangelist and Three Holy Women at the Holy Sepulcher. Fiero (2002) states

Germanic traditions, including those of personal valor and heroism associated with a warring culture, are reflected in the epic poems of the Early Middle Ages. The three most famous of these, Beowulf, The Song of the Nibelungen, and the Song of Roland, were transmitted orally for hundreds of years before they were written down sometime between the tenth and thirteenth centuries. (p.71)

Although this age had a brief renaissance, the Early Middle Ages was a shadow of the great Roman Empire. The Roman Empire was not only rich in architecture, art and literature but it held a sense of accomplishment. The Early Middle Ages epitomizes the struggle of human beings to love and create a better world for them.

The High Middle Ages

The High Middle Ages falls between the Early Middle Ages also known as the Dark Ages and Late Middle Ages occurring during the range of the 10th, 11th, 12th and the 13th centuries (1000 C.E. to 1300 C.E.). During this time there had been many improvements made in agriculture. Some of the improvements made were the invention of the iron horseshoes, windmills, and 3-field system. The 3-field system was a system where they would plant crops in two fields while letting the third field recovers from over planting. This allowed for stronger healthier crops and larger yields at harvest time.

During the time of the High Middle Ages, we also discover the growth of towns, trades, and manufacturing starting to increase with the help of the resumption of long-distance trade. The guilds were controlling manufacturing industries setting up standards and protecting the members. The growth of towns came from the trade of local perishable items over short distances.

During the High Middle Ages, there was a growing demand for education because the need for educated people was needed in the bureaucracy of the time. After 1000 C.E. the development of universities began to appear and they taught the seven liberal arts which were from the classical Greco-Roman system. These seven liberal arts are



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