The Middle Ages , Middle Ages or Middle Ages is the historical period of Western civilization between the fifth and fifteenth centuries . Conventionally, its beginning is located in the year 476 with the fall of the Western Roman Empire and its end in 1492 with the discovery of America , [ 1 ] or in 1453 with the fall of the Byzantine Empire , a date that has the singularity of coinciding with the invention of the printing press - publication of Gutenberg's Bible - and with the end ofHundred Years War .
To this day, historians of the period prefer to clarify this break between Antiquity and the Middle Ages in such a way that between the 3rd and 8th centuries we usually speak of Late Antiquity , which would have been a great transitional stage in all areas: economically , for the substitution of the slave mode of production by the feudal mode of production ; in the social, for the disappearance of the concept of Roman citizenship and the definition of the medieval estates , in the political for the decomposition of the centralized structures of the Roman Empirewhich gave way to a dispersion of power; and ideologically and culturally for the absorption and replacement of classical culture by theocentric Christian or Islamic cultures (each in its own space). [ 2 ]
It is usually divided into two major periods: Early or High Middle Ages ( v - x century , without a clear differentiation from Late Antiquity); and Late Middle Ages (ss. xi - xv ), which in turn can be divided into a period of fullness, the High Middle Ages (ss. xi - xiii ), and the last two centuries witnessed the crises of the century xiv .
Although there are some examples of previous use, [ Note 1 ] the concept of the Middle Ages was born as the second age of the traditional division of historical time due to Cristóbal Cellarius ( Historia Medii Aevi a temporibus Constantini Magni ad Constaninopolim a Turcis captam deducta , Jena , 1688 ) [ 3 ] who considered it an intermediate time, with little value in itself, between the Ancient Age identified with the art and culture of the Greco - Roman civilization of classical Antiquity.and the cultural renewal of the Modern Age - in which he is situated - that begins with the Renaissance and Humanism . The popularization of this scheme has perpetuated an erroneous preconception : that of considering the Middle Ages as a dark age , mired in intellectual and cultural regression, and a secular social and economic lethargy (which in turn is associated with feudalism in its more obscurantist traits , as defined by the revolutionaries who fought the Old Regime ). It would be a period dominated by isolation, ignorance , theocracy ,superstition and millennial fear fueled by endemic insecurity, violence and the brutality of constant wars and invasions and apocalyptic epidemics. [ Note 2 ]
However, in this long period of a thousand years there were all kinds of events and processes that were very different from each other, differentiated temporally and geographically, responding both to mutual influences with other civilizations and spaces and to internal dynamics. Many of them had a great projection into the future, among others those that laid the foundations for the development of the subsequent European expansion , and the development of the social agents that developed a predominantly rural-based class society but which witnessed the birth of an incipient one. urban life and a bourgeoisie that will eventually develop capitalism . [ 4 ]Far from being an immobile period, the Middle Ages, which had begun with the migrations of entire peoples , and continued with great repopulation processes ( Repopulation in the Iberian Peninsula, Ostsiedlung in Eastern Europe ) saw how in its last centuries the old roads (many of them decayed Roman roads ) were repaired and modernized with graceful bridges, and filled with all kinds of travelers (warriors, pilgrims , merchants, students, goliards , etc.) embodying the spiritual metaphor of life as a journey ( homo viator ) . [ 5 ]
New political forms also emerged in the Middle Ages, ranging from the Islamic caliphate to the universal powers of Latin Christianity ( Pontificate and Empire ) or the Byzantine Empire and the Slavic kingdoms integrated into Eastern Christianity ( acculturation and evangelization of Cyril and Methodius ); and on a smaller scale, all kinds of city-states , from small German episcopal cities to republics that maintained maritime empires like Venice; leaving in the middle of the scale that had the greatest future projection: feudal monarchies , which transformed into authoritarian monarchies prefigure the modern state .
In fact, all the concepts associated with what has come to be called modernity appear in the Middle Ages, in their intellectual aspects with the same crisis of scholasticism . [ 6 ] None of them would be understandable without feudalism itself , whether it is understood as a mode of production (based on the social relations of production around the land of the fiefdom ) or as a political system (based on personal power relations in around the institution of vassalage ), according to the different interpretationshistoriographical . [ Note 3 ]
The clash of civilizations between Christianity and Islam , manifested in the breakdown of the unity of the Mediterranean (a fundamental milestone of the time, according to Henri Pirenne , in his classic Muhammad and Charlemagne [ 7 ] ), the Spanish Reconquest and the Crusades ; It also had its part of fertile cultural exchange ( Toledo School of Translators , Salernitana Medical School ) that broadened the intellectual horizons of Europe, until then limited to the remains of classical culture saved by early medieval monasticism and adapted to Christianity.
The Middle Ages made a curious combination between diversity and unity. Diversity was the birth of fledgling nations ... Unity, or a certain unity, came from the Christian religion, which prevailed everywhere ... this religion recognized the distinction between clergy and laity, so that one can say that ... marked the birth of a secular society. ... All this means that the Middle Ages was the period when Europe appeared and was built. [ 8 ]
That same Western Europe produced an impressive succession of artistic styles ( Romanesque , Romanesque and Gothic ), which in the border areas were also slaves intermarried with Islamic art ( Moorish , Andalusian art , art Arab-Norman ) or the Byzantine art .
The medieval science did not respond to a methodology modern, but neither had the classical authors, who dealt with the nature from their own perspective; and in both ages without connection with the world of techniques , which was relegated to the manual work of artisans and peasants , responsible for a slow but constant progress in tools and productive processes. The differentiation between vile and mechanical trades and liberal professionslinked to intellectual study, he lived with a theoretical spiritual value of work in the environment of Benedictine monasteries , an issue that did not go beyond being a pious exercise, surpassed by the much more transcendent assessment of poverty , determined by the economic and social structure and that was expressed in medieval economic thought .
Medievalism is as much the quality or character of medieval , [ 9 ] as the interest for the time and the medieval themes and their study; and medievalist the specialist in these matters. [ Note 4 ] The discrediting of the Middle Ages was a constant during the Modern Age , in which Humanism , Renaissance , Rationalism , Classicism and Enlightenment are affirmed as reactions against it, or rather against what they understand it to mean, or against the features of their own present that they try to disqualify as medieval survivals. However, since the end ofIn the 16th century , interesting compilations of medieval documentary sources are produced that seek a critical method for historical science . The Romanticism and Nationalism of the nineteenth century revalued the Middle Ages as part of its aesthetic program and as anti-academic reaction ( poetry and romantic drama , historical novel , musical nationalism , opera ) as well as the only possibility of finding historical basis to emerging nations ( history painting , historicist architecture , especially theNeo-Gothic - restorative and recreating work by Eugène Viollet-le-Duc - and the Neo-Mudejar ). The romantic abuses of the medieval setting ( exoticism ), already produced the reaction of realism in the mid-nineteenth century . [ 11 ] Other types of abuses are those that give rise to an abundant pseudohistorical literature that reaches the present, and that has found the formula for media success by intermingling esoteric themes taken from more or less obscure parts of the Middle Ages ( Secret Archive Vatican , Templars , Rosicrucians , Freemasons and himselfHoly Grail ). [ Note 5 ] Some of them were linked to Nazism , such as the German Otto Rahn . On the other hand, there is an abundance of other types of artistic fiction productions of varying quality and orientation inspired by the Middle Ages (literature, cinema, comics). Other medievalist movements have also developed in the twentieth century : a serious historiographical medievalism, focused on methodological renewal (mainly by incorporating the economic and social perspective provided by historical materialism and the School of the Annales) and a popular medievalism (medieval shows, more or less genuine, as an update of the past in which the community identifies, what has come to be called historical memory ).
It is improper to speak of the Middle Ages in other civilizations
The great migrations of the time of the invasions paradoxically meant a closure to the West's contact with the rest of the world. Very little news had the Europeans of the medieval millennium (both those of Latin Christianity and those of Eastern Christianity ) that, apart from Islamic civilization , which acted as a bridge but also as an obstacle between Europe and the rest of the Old World , [ 7 ] other civilizations developed. Even a vast Christian kingdom such as Ethiopia , when isolated, became the cultural imaginary in the mythical kingdom of Prester John., barely distinguishable from the Atlantic islands of Saint Brandán and from the rest of the wonders drawn in the bestiaries and the few, rudimentary and imaginative maps. The markedly autonomous development of China, the most developed civilization of the time (although turned towards its own interior and absorbed in its dynastic cycles: Sui , Tang , Song , Yuan and Ming ), and the scarcity of contacts with it (the trip of Marco Polo , or the much more important expedition of Zheng He's), which stand out precisely for being unusual and for their lack of continuity, they do not allow us to name the 5th to 15th centuries of their history as medieval history , although it is sometimes done, even in specialized publications, more or less improperly. [ 12 ]
The history of Japan (which during this period was in the making as a civilization, adapting Chinese influences to indigenous culture and expanding from the southern islands to the northern ones), despite its greater remoteness and isolation, is often paradoxically more associated with the term medieval ; Although this name is limited by historiography, significantly, to a medieval period that is located between the years 1000 and 1868, to adapt to the so-called Japanese feudalism prior to the Meiji era ( see also shogunate , han and Japanese castle ). [ 13 ]
The history of India or that of black Africa from the seventh century had a greater or lesser Muslim influence, but they followed very different dynamics of their own ( Sultanate of Delhi , Sultanate of Bahmani , Vijayanagara Empire -in India-, Empire of Mali , Songhay Empire —in black Africa—). There was even a prominent Saharan intervention in the western Mediterranean world: the Almoravid Empire .
In an even clearer way, the history of America (which went through its classical and post- classical periods ) did not have any type of contact with the Old World, beyond the arrival of the so-called Viking colonization in America, which was limited to a reduced and ephemeral presence in Greenland and the enigmatic Vinland , or the possible subsequent expeditions of Basque whalers in similar areas of the North Atlantic , although this fact must be understood in the context of the great development of navigation in the last centuries of the Late Middle Ages, already headed for the Age of Discovery .
What did happen, and can be considered as a constant of the medieval period, was the periodic repetition of specific Central Asian interferences in Europe and the Near East in the form of invasions of Central Asian peoples , notably the Turks ( Köktürks , Khazars , Ottomans ) and the Mongols (unified by Genghis Khan ) and whose Golden Hordeit was present in Eastern Europe and shaped the personality of the Christian states that were created, sometimes vassals and sometimes resistant, on the Russian and Ukrainian steppes. Even on a rare occasion, the primitive diplomacy of the late medieval European kingdoms saw the possibility of using the latter as a counterweight to the former: the frustrated embassy of Ruy González de Clavijo to the court of Tamerlane in Samarkand , in the context of the Mongol siege. from Damascus, a very delicate moment ( 1401 - 1406 ) in which Ibn Khaldun also intervened as a diplomat . The Mongols had already sacked Baghdad in a raid in 1258 .
The beginning of the Middle Ages
Although several dates have been proposed for the beginning of the Middle Ages, of which the most widespread is that of the year 476 , the truth is that we cannot locate the beginning in such an exact way since the Middle Ages were not born, but rather It is "done" as a result of a long and slow process that spans five centuries and that causes enormous changes at all levels in a very profound way that will even have repercussions to this day. We can consider that this process begins with the crisis of the third century , linked to the reproduction problems inherent in the slave mode of production, which required a continuous imperial expansion that no longer took place after the establishment of the limes.Roman. Possibly climatic factors also converged for the succession of bad harvests and epidemics; and in a much more evident way the first Germanic invasions and peasant uprisings ( bagaudas ), in a period in which many brief and tragic imperial mandates followed one another. From Caracalla the Roman citizenship was extended to all free men of the Empire, shows that such a condition, once so coveted, was no longer attractive. The Lower Empire acquires an increasingly medieval aspect from the beginning of the 4th century with Diocletian's reforms : blurring of the differences between slaves, increasingly scarce, and the colonists , free peasants , but subject to increasingly greater conditions of servitude, who lose the freedom to change their domicile, always having to work the same land; compulsory inheritance of public offices - previously disputed in fierce elections - and craft trades, subject to membership - a precedent of the unions-, all to avoid tax evasion and the depopulation of cities, whose role as center of consumption and commerce and of articulation of rural areas is less and less important. At least, the reforms manage to maintain the Roman institutional building, although not without intensifying ruralization and aristocratization (clear steps towards feudalism), especially in the West, which remains unrelated to the East with the partition of the Empire. Another decisive change was the introduction of Christianity as a new official religion by the Edict of Thessalonica by Theodosius I the Great ( 380 ) preceded by the Edict of Milan ( 313 ) with which Constantine I the Greatrewarded hitherto subversives for their providential help in the battle of the Milvian Bridge ( 312 ), along with other alleged more temporary assignments whose fraudulent claim (Pseudo- donation of Constantine ) was a constant of the Papal States throughout the Middle Ages, even after the evidence of its refutation by the humanist Lorenzo Valla ( 1440 ).
No specific event - despite the abundance and concatenation of catastrophic events - determined by itself the end of the Old Age and the beginning of the Middle Ages: nor the successive sackings of Rome (by the Goths of Alaric I in 410 , by the Vandals in 455 , by Ricimer's own imperial troops in 472 , by the Ostrogoths in 546 ), nor the dreadful irruption of the Huns of Attila ( 450 - 452 , with theBattle of the Catalonian Fields and the strange interview with Pope Leo I the Great ), nor the overthrow of Romulus Augustulus (last Roman Emperor of the West, by Odoacer the chief of the Heruli - 476 -); They were events that his contemporaries considered initiators of a new era. The culmination at the end of the 5th century of a series of long-lasting processes, including severe economic dislocation, invasions and the settlement of Germanic peoples in the Roman Empire , changed the face of Europe. For the next 300 years, Western Europeit maintained a period of cultural unity, unusual for this continent, built on the complex and elaborate culture of the Roman Empire, which was never completely lost, and the settlement of Christianity . The classical Greco-Roman heritage was never forgotten, and the Latin language , undergoing transformation ( medieval Latin ), continued to be the language of culture throughout Western Europe, even beyond the Middle Ages. The Roman law and many institutions continued to live, adapting one way or another. What was operated during that long period of transition (which can be considered to be completed by the year 800 , with the coronation of Charlemagne) was a kind of fusion with the contributions of other civilizations and social formations, especially the Germanic and the Christian religion. In the following centuries, even in the High Middle Ages, other contributions will be added, notably Islam .
High Middle Ages (5th to 10th centuries)
The German-Roman kingdoms (5th to 8th centuries)
The barbarians scatter in fury ... and the scourge of the plague causes no less havoc, the tyrannical exactor robs and the soldier plunders the wealth and supplies hidden in the cities; such a terrible hunger reigns, that forced by it, the human race devours human flesh, and even mothers kill their children and cook their bodies to feed on them. The beasts fond of the corpses of those killed by the sword, by hunger and by the plague, destroy even the strongest men, and, feeding on their limbs, are increasingly fierce to destroy the human race. In this way, with the four plagues exacerbated throughout the world: iron, famine, plague and wild beasts, the predictions that the Lord made through the mouth of his Prophets come true. The provinces are devastated ... by the aforementioned cruelty of plagues,
The text refers specifically to Spain and their provinces, and barbarians cited are specifically suevos , vandals and Alani , in the 406 had crossed the limes of the Rhine (unusually frozen) at the height of Mainz and around the 409 had reached to the Iberian Peninsula; but the image is equivalent in other moments and places that the same author narrates, from the period between 379 and 468.
The Germanic peoples from Northern and Eastern Europe were at a stage of economic, social and cultural development obviously inferior to that of the Roman Empire, which they themselves admired. At the same time they were perceived with a mixture of contempt, fear and hope (retrospectively reflected in the influential poem Waiting for the barbarians by Constantino Cavafis ), [ 16 ] and they were even attributed a vigilante role (although involuntary) from a point of view providentialist view on the part of the Roman Christian authors ( Orosio , Salviano de Marseille and San Agustín de Hippo). [ 17 ] The denomination of barbarians (βάρβαρος) comes from the onomatopoeia bar-bar with which the Greeks mocked non-Hellenic foreigners, and that the Romans - barbarians themselves, although Hellenized - used from their own perspective. The name "barbarian invasions" was rejected by the German historians of the 19th century , at which time the term barbarism designated for the emerging social sciences a stage of cultural development inferior to civilization and superior to savagery . They preferred to coin a new term: Völkerwanderung("Migration of Peoples"), [ 18 ] less violent than invasions , by suggesting the complete displacement of a people with their institutions and culture, and more general even than Germanic invasions , by including Huns, Slavs and others.
The Germans, who had peculiar political institutions, in particular the assembly of free warriors ( thing ) and the figure of the king , were influenced by the institutional traditions of the Empire and the Greco-Roman civilization , as well as that of Christianity (although not always of the Catholic or Athanasian Christianity , if not Arian ); and they gradually adapted to the circumstances of their settlement in the new territories, especially to the alternative between imposing themselves as a ruling minority over a majority of the local population or merging with it.
The new Germanic kingdoms shaped the personality of Western Europe during the Middle Ages, evolved into feudal monarchies and authoritarian monarchies , and over time, gave rise to the nation-states that were built around them. Socially, in some of these countries ( Spain or France ), the Germanic origin ( Gothic or Frankish ) became a trait of honor or pride of caste held by the nobility as a distinction on the whole of the population.
The transformations of the Roman world
The Roman Empire had been through external invasions and terrible civil wars in the past, but by the end of the 4th century the situation was apparently under control. Only a short time ago Theodosius had managed to unify under a single center both halves of the Empire ( 392 ) and established a new state religion, Nicene Christianity ( Edict of Thessalonica - 380 ), with the consequent persecution of the traditional pagan cults and the Christian heterodoxies . The Christian clergy , converted into a hierarchy of power, ideologically justified an Imperium Romanum Christianum(Christian Roman Empire) and the Theodosian dynasty as it had already begun to do with the Constantinian since the Edict of Milan ( 313 ).
The desire for political prominence of the richest and most influential Roman senators and the western provinces had been channeled. In addition, the dynasty had managed to channel agreements with the powerful military aristocracy, in which Germanic nobles who came to the service of the Empire were enlisted at the head of soldiers united by ties of loyalty to them. When he died in 395 , Theodosius entrusted the government of the West and the protection of his young heir Honorius to General Stilicho , the first-born of a noble Vandal officer who had married Flavia Serena , Theodosius's own niece. But when in 455 Valentinian III was assassinated, grandson of Theodosius, a good part of the descendants of those western nobles ( nobilissimus, clarissimus ) who had trusted so much in the destinies of the Empire already seemed to distrust it, especially when in the course of two decades they had been able to realize that the imperial government imprisoned in Ravenna was more and more prey to the exclusive interests and intrigues of a small group of high officials of the Italian army. Many of these were of Germanic originand they increasingly trusted the forces of their armed retinues of conventional soldiers and in the pacts and family alliances that they might have with other Germanic chiefs settled on imperial soil together with their own peoples, who increasingly developed an autonomous policy. The need to accommodate to the new situation was evidenced by the fate of Gala Placidia , the imperial princess hostage to Rome's own looters (the Visigoth Alaric I and his cousin Ataulfo , whom she finally married); or with that of Honoria , daughter of the previous one (remarried with Emperor Constantius III ) who chose to offer herself as a wife to Attila himself facing his own brother Valentiniano.
Needing to maintain a position of social and economic predominance in their regions of origin, reducing their land assets to provincial dimensions, and aspiring to a political protagonism proper to their lineage and culture, the honestiores (the most honest or honest, those who have honor ), representatives of the aristocracieslate Western Romans would have come to accept the advantages of admitting the legitimacy of the government of these Germanic kings, already heavily Romanized, settled in their provinces. After all, these, at the head of their soldiers, could offer them far greater security than the army of the emperors of Ravenna. In addition, the provisioning of these troops was much less burdensome than that of the imperial ones, as they were largely based on armed entourages dependent on the Germanic nobility and fed from the provincial fund patrimony which it had long ago appropriated. Less burdensome both for the provincial aristocrats and also for the groups of humiliores (the most humble, those lowered on the ground - humus-) that were grouped hierarchically around these aristocrats, and who, ultimately, were the ones who had been bearing the maximum burden of the harsh late Roman tax system. The new monarchies , weaker and more decentralized than the old imperial power, were also more willing to share power with the provincial aristocracies, especially when the power of these monarchs was very limited within their peoples by a nobility based on their armed entourages, from their not too distant origin in the assemblies of free warriors, of which they did not cease to be primun inter pares .
But this metamorphosis of the Roman West into Romano-Germanic, had not been the consequence of a clearly evidenced inevitability from the beginning; on the contrary, the road had been hard, zigzagging, with trials of other solutions, and with moments when it seemed that everything could go back to the way it was before. This was the case throughout the fifth century , and in some regions also in the sixth century as a consequence, among other things, of the so-called Recuperatio Imperii or Reconquest of Justinian.
The various kingdoms
The barbarian invasions from the third century had shown the permeability of the Limes Roman in Europe, set on the Rhine and Danube . The division of the Empire into East and West, and the greatest strength of the Eastern or Byzantine Empire , determined that it was only in the western half where the settlement of these peoples and their political institutionalization as kingdoms took place.
The Visigoths , first as the Kingdom of Tolosa and later as the Kingdom of Toledo , were the first to carry out this institutionalization, using their status as federated, obtaining a foedus with the Empire, which entrusted them with the pacification of the provinces of Gaul and Hispania , whose control was lost in practice after the invasions of 410 by Swabians , Vandals and Alans . Of the three, only the Suevi achieved the definitive settlement in one area: the Kingdom of Braga, while the Vandals settled in North Africa and the islands of the Western Mediterranean, but in the following century they were eliminated by the Byzantines during the great territorial expansion of Justinian I (campaigns of Generals Belisarius , from 533 to 544 , and Narsés , until 554 ). Simultaneously the Ostrogoths managed to settle in Italy by expelling the Heruli , who had in turn expelled the last Western emperor from Rome. The Ostrogoth Kingdom also disappeared under the Byzantine pressure of Justinian I.
A second group of Germanic peoples settled in Western Europe in the 6th century , among which the Frankish Kingdom of Clovis I and his Merovingian successors stood out , which displaced the Visigoths from Gaul, forcing them to move their capital from Toulouse (Toulouse ) to Toledo . They also defeated the Burgundians and Alemanni , absorbing their kingdoms. Somewhat later the Lombards settled in Italy (568-9), but were defeated at the end of the 8th century by the Franks themselves, who reinstated the Empire with Charlemagne ( 800 AD).
In Great Britain the Angles , Saxons and Jutes will settle , creating a series of rival kingdoms that will be unified by the Danes (a Nordic people ) in what will end up being the kingdom of England .
The Germanic monarchy was originally a strictly temporary institution, closely linked to the personal prestige of the king, which was nothing more than a primus inter pares (first among equals), which the assembly of free warriors elected ( elective monarchy ), normally for an expedition specific military or for a specific mission. The migrations to which the Germanic peoples were subjected from the 3rd to the 5th centuries (sandwiched between the pressure of the Hunsto the east and the resistance of the Roman limes to the south and west) was strengthening the figure of the king, at the same time that he became increasingly in contact with Roman political institutions, which were accustomed to the idea of a much more centralized and concentrated political power in the person of the Roman Emperor . The monarchy was linked to the people of the kings for life, and the tendency was to become hereditary monarchy, since the kings (as the Roman emperors had done) tried to ensure the election of their successor, most of the times while still alive and associating them to the throne. The fact that the candidate was the first-born male was not a necessity, but it ended up being imposed as an obvious consequence, which was also imitated by the other families of warriors, enriched by the possession of lands and turned into noble lineages that were related to the ancient Roman nobility, in a process that can be called feudalization . Over time, the monarchy became patrimonial, even allowing the division of the kingdom between the king's children.
Respect for the figure of the king was reinforced by the sacredness of his inauguration ( anointing with the sacred oils by the religious authorities and the use of distinctive elements such as orb , scepter and crown , in the course of an elaborate ceremony: the coronation ) and the addition of religious functions (presidency of national councils , such as the Councils of Toledo ) and thaumaturgic ( royal touch of the kings of France for the cure of scrofula). The problem arose when it came time to justify the deposition of a king and his replacement by another who was not his natural successor. The last Merovingians did not rule by themselves, but through the offices of their court, among which the palace steward stood out . Only after the victory against the Muslim invaders at the Battle of Poitiers was the butler Carlos Martel justified in arguing that the legitimacy of exercise gave him sufficient merits to found himself his own dynasty: the Carolingian . At other times, more imaginative solutions were used (such as forcing the tonsure- ecclesiastical haircut - of the Visigoth king Wamba to incapacitate him).
The problems of coexistence between the Germanic minorities and the local majorities (Hispano-Roman, Gallo-Roman, etc.) were solved more effectively by the kingdoms with more projection in time (Visigoths and Franks) through the merger, allowing marriages mixed, unifying the legislation and converting to Catholicism against the original religion, which in many cases was no longer the traditional Germanic paganism , but the Arian Christianity acquired during its passage through the Eastern Empire.
Some characteristics of the Germanic institutions were conserved: one the predominance of the common law on the written law itself of the Roman law . However, the Germanic kingdoms carried out some legislative codifications, with greater or lesser influence from Roman law or Germanic traditions, written in Latin from the 5th century on ( Theodorician laws , edict of Theodoric , Code of Eurico , Breviary of Alaric ). The first code written in the Germanic language was that of King Ethelbert of Kent , the first of the Anglo-Saxons to convert to Christianity (early6th century ). The Visigothic Liber Iudicorum ( Recesvinto , 654) and the frank Salic Law ( Clovis , 507-511) maintained a very long validity due to their consideration as sources of law in the medieval monarchies and the Old Regime. [ 19 ]
Latin Christianity and the barbarians
The spread of Christianity among the barbarians, the establishment of episcopal authority in the cities and monasticism in rural areas (especially since the rule of San Benito de Nursia - Montecassino monastery , 529-), constituted a powerful fusion force of cultures and helped ensure that many features of classical civilization , such as Roman law and Latin , survived in the western half of the Empire, and even spread throughout Central and Northern Europe . The francsthey converted to Catholicism during the reign of Clovis I (496 or 499), and thereafter spread Christianity among the Germans on the other side of the Rhine . The Suebi , who had become Arian Christians with Remismundo (459-469), converted to Catholicism with Teodomiro (559-570) through the preaching of San Martín de Dumio . In that process they had been ahead of the Visigoths themselves, which had been previously Christianized in the East in the Arian version (in the fourth century), and maintained for a century and a half the religious difference with the Hispano-Roman Catholics even with internal struggles within the Gothic ruling class, as demonstrated by the rebellion and death of Saint Hermenegildo (581-585), son of King Leovigildo ). Recaredo's conversion to Catholicism (589) marked the beginning of the merger of both societies, and of the royal protection of the Catholic clergy, visualized in the Councils of Toledo (presided over by the king himself). The following years saw a true Visigothic revival [ 20 ] with figures of the influence of SaintIsidoro de Sevilla (and his brothers Leandro , Fulgencio and Florentina , the four saints of Cartagena ), Braulio de Zaragoza or Ildefonso de Toledo , of great repercussion in the rest of Europe and in the future Christian kingdoms of the Reconquest ( see Christianity in Spain , monastery in Spain , Hispanic monastery and Hispanic liturgy ). The OstrogothsOn the other hand, they did not have enough time to carry out the same evolution in Italy. However, the degree of coexistence with the papacy and the Catholic intellectuals showed that the Ostrogoth kings elevated them to positions of greater trust ( Boethius and Cassiodorus , both magister officiorum with Theodoric the Great ), although also of the vulnerability of their situation (The first -523- executed and the second -538- set aside by the Byzantines). His successors in the dominion of Italy, the Lombard Arians , also did not experience integration with the subject Catholic population, and their internal divisions led to the conversion to Catholicism of King Agilulf. (603) will not have major consequences.
Christianity was brought to Ireland by St. Patrick in early the V century and from there spread to Scotland , where a century later returned by the north to England abandoned by Christians Brythons the Picts pagans and Scotti (from from the north of Great Britain) and also the pagan Germans from the continent (Angles, Saxons and Jutes). At the end of the 6th century , with Pope Gregory the Great , Rome also sent missionaries to England from the south, which resulted in England becoming Christian again within a century.
In turn, the Britons had begun an emigration by sea to the Brittany peninsula , even reaching as far away as the Cantabrian coast between Galicia and Asturias, where they founded the diocese of Britonia . This Christian tradition was distinguished by the use of the Celtic or Scottish tonsure , which shaved the front of the hair instead of the crown .
The survival in Ireland of a Christian community isolated from Europe by the pagan barrier of the Anglo-Saxons, caused a different evolution to continental Christianity, which has been called Celtic Christianity . They preserved much of the old Latin tradition, which they were in a position to share with continental Europe as soon as the invasion wave had temporarily subsided. After its extension to England in the 6th century, the Irish founded monasteries in France, Switzerland ( Saint Gall ), and even Italy in the 7th century , with the names of Columba and Columbano standing out in particular.. The British Isles were for some three centuries the nursery of important names for culture: the historian Bede the Venerable , the missionary Bonifacio from Germany , the educator Alcuino from York , or the theologian Juan Escoto Erígena , among others. Such influence goes as far as the attribution of legends such as that of Saint Ursula and the Eleven Thousand Virgins , a Breton woman who would have made an extraordinary journey between Britain and Rome to end up martyred in Cologne. [ 21 ]
Other medieval Christianizations
For its part, the spread of Christianity among the Bulgarians and most of the Slavic peoples ( Serbs , Moravians and the peoples of Crimea and Ukrainian and Russian steppes - Vladimir I of Kiev , year 988 -) was much later, and in charge of the Byzantine Empire, with what was done with the orthodox creed (preaching of Cyril and Methodius , 9th century); while the evangelization of other peoples of Eastern Europe (the rest of the Slavs - Poles , Slovenes and Croats -, Baltics andHungarians - Saint Stephen I of Hungary , around the year 1000—) and of the Nordic peoples ( Scandinavian Vikings ) it was made by Latin Christianity starting from Central Europe, in an even later period (until the 11th and 12th centuries); allowing (especially the conversion of Hungary) the first pilgrimages by land to the Holy Land. [ 22 ]
It's crazy to believe in gods.
The Khazars were a Turkish people from central Asia (where the empire of the Köktürks had been formed since the 6th century ) who in its western part had given rise to an important state that dominated the Caucasus and the Russian and Ukrainian steppes up to the Crimea in the 7th century. Its ruling class converted mainly to Judaism , a religious peculiarity that made it an exceptional neighbor between the Islamic caliphate of Damascus and the Christian empire of Byzantium .
The Byzantine Empire (4th to 15th centuries)
The division between East and West was, in addition to a political strategy (initially by Diocletian —286— and made final with Theodosius I —395—), a recognition of the essential difference between the two halves of the Empire. The East, in itself very diverse (the Balkan Peninsula , Mezzogiorno , Anatolia , Caucasus , Syria , Palestine , Egypt and the Mesopotamian border with the Persians), was the most urbanized part with the most dynamic and commercial economy, compared to a West on the way. of feudalization, ruralized, with an urban life in decline, increasingly scarce slave labor and the aristocracy increasingly alien to the structures of imperial power and secluded in their luxurious self-sufficient villae , cultivated by settlers in a regime similar to serfdom. The lingua franca in the East was Greek , as opposed to Latin in the West. In the implantation of the Christian hierarchy, the East had all the patriarchates of the Pentarchy except that of Rome ( Alexandria , Antioch and Constantinople , to which Jerusalem was added after the Council of Chalcedon.of 451); even the Roman primacy ( pontifical see of Saint Peter) was a disputed fact because the Byzantine State was operated according to Caesaropapism (started by Constantine I [ 24 ] and founded theologically by Eusebius of Caesarea ). [ 25 ]
The survival of Byzantium did not depend on the fate of the West, while the opposite did: in fact, the eastern emperors chose to sacrifice Rome - which was no longer even the western capital - when they saw fit, abandoning it to its fate or even displacing towards her the Germans (Heruli, Ostrogoths and Lombards), which precipitated their fall. However, the Eternal City, which had a symbolic value, was reconquered and included in the short-lived Exarchate of Ravenna .
Justinian's imperial restoration
Justinian I consolidated the Danube border and, from 532, achieved a balance on the border with Sassanid Persia , which allowed him to move the Byzantine efforts towards the Mediterranean, rebuilding the unity of the Mare Nostrum : In 533 , an expedition of General Belisarius annihilates to the Vandals (battles of Ad Decimum and Tricamerón ) incorporating the province of Africa and the islands of the Western Mediterranean ( Sardinia , Corsica and the Balearic Islands ). In 535 Mundus occupied Dalmatiaand Belisario Sicilia . Narsés eliminates the Ostrogoths of Italy in 554 - 555 . Ravenna was once again an imperial city, where the lavish mosaics of San Vital will be preserved . Liberio only managed to displace the Visigoths from the southeast coast of the Iberian Peninsula and from the Betica province .
In Constantinople two ambitious and prestigious programs were initiated in order to establish imperial authority: one of legislative compilation: the Corpus iuris civilis , directed by Triboniano (promulgated between 529 and 534 ), and another constructive: the church of Santa Sofia , by the architects Antemio de Tralles and Isidoro de Mileto (built between 532 and 537 ). A symbol of classical civilization was closed: the Academy of Athens ( 529 ). [ Note 6 ] Other, the races ofChariots continued to be a popular diversion that aroused passions. In fact, they were used politically, expressing the color of each team religious divergences (an early example of popular mobilizations using political colors ). The revolt of Niká ( 534 ) was about to cause the flight of the emperor, who avoided the Empress Theodora with her famous phrase purple is a glorious shroud . [ Note 7 ]
Crisis, Survival and Hellenization of the Empire
The 7th and 8th centuries represented a dark age for Byzantium similar to that of the West, which also included a strong social and economic ruralization and feudalization and a loss of prestige and effective control of the central power. The internal causes were joined by the renewal of the war with the Persians, not decisive but especially exhausting, which was followed by the Muslim invasion, which deprived the Empire of the richest provinces: Egypt and Syria. However, in the Byzantine case, the decline in intellectual and artistic production also responded to the particular effects of the iconoclastic quarrel , which was not a simple theological debate between iconoclasts and iconodules., but an internal confrontation unleashed by the Patriarchate of Constantinople , supported by the Emperor Leo III , which sought to end the concentration of power and political and religious influence of the powerful monasteries and their territorial supports (you can imagine its importance seeing how it has survived until currently the Mount Athos , founded more than a century later, in 963 ).
The recovery of the imperial authority and the greater stability of the following centuries also brought with it a process of Hellenization , that is, of recovery of the Greek identity vis-à-vis the official Roman entity of the institutions, something more possible then, given the limitation and geographical homogenization produced by the loss of the provinces, and which allowed a militarized and more easily manageable territorial organization: the themes ( themata ) with the ascription to the land of the military established in them, which produced forms similar to western feudalism.
The period between 867 and 1056 , under the Macedonian dynasty , is known as the Macedonian Renaissance , in which Byzantium was once again a Mediterranean power and was projected towards the Slavic peoples of the Balkans and towards the north of the Black Sea . Basil II Bulgaróctono who occupied the throne in the period 976 - 1025 took the Empire to its maximum territorial extension since the Muslim invasion, occupying part of Syria , Crimea and the Balkans up to the Danube . The evangelization ofCyril and Methodius will obtain a Byzantine sphere of influence in Eastern Europe that culturally and religiously will have a great future projection through the diffusion of the Cyrillic alphabet (adaptation of the Greek alphabet for the representation of Slavic phonemes, which is still used today); as well as that of Orthodox Christianity (predominant from Serbia to Russia ).
However, the second half of the 11th century will witness a new Islamic challenge, this time led by the Seljuk Turks and the intervention of the Papacy and Western Europeans, through the military intervention of the Crusades , the commercial activity of Italian merchants ( Genoese , Amalfi , Pisans and above all Venetians ) [ 27 ] and the theological controversies of the so-called Eastern Schismo Great Schism of East and West, with which the theoretical Christian aid proved as negative or more for the Eastern Empire than the Muslim threat. The feudalization process was accentuated when the Comneno emperors were forced to make territorial cessions (called pronoia ) to the aristocracy and members of their own family. [ 28 ]
The spread of Islam (from the 7th century)
In the 7th century , after the preaching of Muhammad and the conquests of the first caliphs (both political and religious leaders, in a religion - Islam - that does not recognize distinctions between lay and clergy), the unification of Arabia had taken place. and the conquest of the Persian Empire and a good part of the Byzantine Empire . In the 8th century , the Iberian Peninsula , India and Central Asia were reached ( Battle of Talas - 751- Islamic victory against China, after which it did not deepen that Empire, but which allowed greater contact with its civilization, taking advantage of the knowledge of the prisoners). In the west, the Muslim expansion stopped from the battle of Poitiers (732) against the Franks and the mythical battle of Covadonga against the Asturians ( 722 ). The presence of the Muslims as an alternative rival civilization based in the southern half of the Mediterranean basin , whose maritime traffic they come to control, forced the closure of Western Europe itself for several centuries, and for some historians it marked the true beginning of the Middle Ages. [ 29 ]
Since the 8th century there has been a slower spread of Islamic civilization as far away as Indonesia and the African continent , and from the 14th century on to Anatolia and the Balkans . Relations with India were also very close during the rest of the Middle Ages (although the imposition of the Mughal Empire did not occur until the 16th century), while the Indian Ocean became almost an Arab Mare Nostrum , where the Adventures of Sinbad the Sailor (one of the tales from The Thousand and One Nights of theHarun al-Rashid ). [ 30 ] The commercial traffic of the maritime routes and caravans linked the Indian Ocean with the Mediterranean through the Red Sea or the Persian Gulf and the caravans of the desert. This so-called spice route (prefigured by the incense route in ancient times) was essential for scraps of the science and culture of the Far East to reach the West . To the north, the Silk Road fulfilled the same function through the deserts and mountain ranges of Turkestan . The chess , the numbering indo-arabicand the concept of zero , as well as some literary works ( Calila e Dimna ) were among the Hindu and Persian contributions. The paper , the engraving or the gunpowder , among the Chinese. The role of the Arabs, and of the Arabized Persians, Syrians, Egyptians and Spaniards (not only Islamic, as there were many who maintained their Christian or Jewish religion - not so much the Zoroastrian -) was far from being a mere transmission, as evidenced by the influence of the reinterpretation of classical philosophy that arrived through Arabic texts to Western Europe from Latin translations from the twelfth century, and the dissemination of crops and agricultural techniques throughout the Mediterranean region. At a time when they were practically absent from the European economy, commercial practices and monetary circulation in the Islamic world stood out, encouraged by the exploitation of gold mines as far away as those of sub-Saharan Africa, along with other types of activities, such as the slave trade .
The initial unity of the Islamic world , which had already been questioned in the religious aspect with the separation of Sunnis and Shiites , was also broken politically with the replacement of the Umayyads by the Abbasids at the head of the caliphate in 749 , who also replaced Damascus for Baghdad as the capital. Abderramán I , the last Umayyad survivor, managed to found in Córdoba an independent emirate for al-Ándalus (Arabic name for the Iberian Peninsula ), which his descendant Abderramán IIIbecame an alternate caliphate in 929 . Shortly before, in 909 the Fatimids had done the same in Egypt . From the eleventh century , very important changes took place: the challenge to Arab hegemony as the dominant ethnic group within Islam by the Islamized Turks , who will come to control different areas of the Middle East ( Mamluks , Ottomans ), or Kurds like Saladin. ; the irruption of Latin Christians in three key points of the Mediterranean (Christian kingdoms of the Reconquest in al-Andalus, Normansin southern Italy and crusaders in Syria and Palestine); and that of the Mongols from central Asia.
Los eruditos como al-Biruni , al-Jahiz , al-Kindi , Abu Bakr Muhammad al-Razi , Ibn Sina , al-Idrisi , Ibn Bayya , Omar al-Jayyam , Ibn Zuhr , Ibn Tufail , Ibn Rushd , al-Suyuti, and thousands of other scholars were not an exception, but the general norm in Muslim civilization. The Muslim civilization of the classical period was remarkable for the large number of multifaceted scholars it produced. It is a sample of the homogeneity of Islamic philosophy on science, and its emphasis on synthesis, interdisciplinary research and the multiplicity of methods. [ 31 ]
Al-Andalus (8th to 15th century)
Carolingian Empire (8th and 9th centuries)
Emergence and rise
By the eighth century , the European political situation had stabilized. In the east, the Byzantine Empire was strong again, thanks to a series of competent emperors. In the West, some kingdoms ensured relative stability to various regions: Northumbria to England, the Visigothic Kingdom to Spain, the Lombard Kingdom to Italy, and the Frankish Kingdom to Gaul and Germany . In reality, the Frankish Kingdom was a composite of three kingdoms: Austrasia , Neustria, and Aquitaine .
The Carolingian Empire arises from the foundations created by Charlemagne's predecessors from the beginning of the 8th century ( Charles Martel and Pepin the Short ). The projection of its borders through a large part of Western Europe allowed Charles the aspiration of rebuilding the extension of the old Western Roman Empire , being the first political entity of the Middle Ages that was in a position to become a continental power. Aachen was chosen as the capital, in a central location and far enough away from Italy, that despite being liberated from the dominion of the Lombardsand of the theoretical Byzantine claims, it preserved a great autonomy that reached temporal sovereignty with the cession of some incipient Papal States (the Patrimonium Petri or Patrimony of Saint Peter, which included Rome and a good part of central Italy). As a result of the close ties between the pontificate and the Carolingian dynasty, which had been legitimizing and defending each other for three generations, Pope Leo III recognized Charlemagne's imperial claims with a coronation under strange circumstances, on Christmas Day 800 .
The marks were created to fix the borders before the external enemies (Arabs in the Hispanic Mark , Saxons in the Saxon Mark , Bretons in the Breton Mark , Lombards - until their defeat - in the Lombard Mark and Avars in the Ávara Mark ; later also one was created for the Hungarians : the Mark of Friuli ). The interior territory was organized in counties and duchies (union of several counties or marks). The officials who ran them ( counts , marquisesand dukes ) were watched over by temporary inspectors (the missi dominici - sent from the lord -), and it was ensured that they were not inherited to prevent them from being patrimonialized in a family (which, over time, could not be avoided). The consignment of lands together with the charges, was intended above all the maintenance of the expensive heavy cavalry and the new battle horses ( chargers , introduced from Asia in the 7th century, which were used in a completely different way from the old cavalry, with stirrups , bulky chairs and that could hold armor ). [ 32 ]This process was at the origin of the birth of the fiefdoms that had to be handed over to each soldier according to his rank, up to the basic unit: the knight who acted as lord over a territory, remained for its maintenance with a stately reserve and He left the meek for his servants , who were obliged to cultivate the reserve with free labor benefits in exchange for military protection and the maintenance of order and justice, which were the functions of the lord. Logically, the fiefdoms at their different levels suffered the same patrimonial transformation as brands and counties, establishing a pyramidal network of loyalties that is the origin of thefeudal vassalage .
Charlemagne negotiated as equals with other great powers of the time, such as the Byzantine Empire , the Emirate of Córdoba , and the Abbasid Caliphate . Although he himself, as an adult, did not know how to write (something common at the time, when only a few clergymen did), Charlemagne followed a policy of cultural prestige and a remarkable artistic program. He tried to surround himself with a court of wise men and start an educational program based on the trivium and the quadrivium , for which he sent for the intelligentsia of his time to his domains, promoting, with the collaboration of Alcuinus of York , the so-called Carolingian Renaissance. Within this educational endeavor, he ordered his nobles to learn to write, which he himself tried, although he never managed to do it fluently. [ 33 ]
Division and collapse
When Charlemagne died in 814 , his son Ludovico Pio took power . The sons of this: Carlos el Calvo ( western France ), Luis el Germanico ( eastern France ) and Lotario I (eldest son and heir to the imperial title), fought militarily for the different territories of the empire, which, beyond the aristocratic alliances , manifested different personalities, interpretable from a proto-national perspective (different languages: towards the south and west the Romance languages were imposed that were beginning to differentiate from Vulgar Latin , towards the north and east theGermanic languages , as the previous Strasbourg Oaths testified ; customs, traditions and institutions of their own — Roman to the south, German to the north). This situation did not end even in 843 after the Treaty of Verdun , since the subsequent division of Lothair's kingdom between his sons (the Lotharingia , the central strip from the Netherlands to Italy , passing through the Rhine region , Burgundy and Provence ) led their uncles (Carlos and Luis), to another cast (the Treaty of Mersen of 870) which simplified the borders (leaving only Italy and Provence in the hands of his nephew, the Emperor Louis II the Younger - whose position was no more primacy than the honorific - but did not lead to a greater concentration of power in the hands of those weak monarchs. and in the hands of the territorial nobility. In some regions, the pact was nothing more than an entelechy, since the coast of the North Sea was occupied by the Vikings . Even in the theoretically controlled areas, the subsequent inheritances and internal fights between the Successive Carolingian kings and emperors subdivided and reunified the territories almost randomly.
The division, added to the institutional process of decentralization inherent in the feudal system, in the absence of strong central powers, and the pre-existing weakening of the social and economic structures, caused the next wave of barbarian invasions, especially those carried out by Hungarians and Vikings, plunge Western Europe back into the chaos of a new dark age.
The feudal system
Use of the term "feudalism"
The failure of the centralizing political project of Charlemagne led, in the absence of that counterweight, to the formation of a political, economic and social system that historians have agreed to call feudalism , although in reality the name was born as a pejorative to designate the Old Regime by his enlightened critics. The French Revolution solemnly abolished "all feudal rights" on the night of August 4, 1789 and "definitively the feudal regime", with the decree of August 11.
The generalization of the term allows many historians to apply it to social formations throughout western Europe, whether they belonged to the Carolingian Empire or not. Those in favor of a restricted use, arguing the need not to confuse concepts such as fiefdom , villae , tenure , or lordship limit it both in space (France, West Germany and North Italy) and in time: a "first feudalism" or "Carolingian feudalism" from the 8th centuryuntil the year 1000 and a "classical feudalism" from the year 1000 to 1240, in turn divided into two periods, the first, until 1160 (the most decentralized, in which each castle lord could be considered independent, and there is the process called incastellaciones ); and the second, that of the "feudal monarchy"). There would even be "imported feudalisms": Norman England from 1066 and the Latin states of the East created during the Crusades ( 12th and 13th centuries ). [ 34 ]
Others prefer to speak of "regime" or "feudal system", to subtly differentiate it from strict feudalism, or feudal synthesis , to mark the fact that traits of classical antiquity mixed with Germanic contributions survive in it, involving both institutions and individuals. productive elements, and signified the specificity of Western European feudalism as an economic and social formation compared to other feudal ones, with far-reaching consequences in the future historical development. [ Note 8 ]There are more difficulties for the use of the term when we move further away: Eastern Europe experiences a process of "feudalization" since the end of the Middle Ages, just when in many areas of Western Europe the peasants are liberated from the legal forms of servitude, so it is often spoken of Polish or Russian feudalism. The Old Regime in Europe, medieval Islam or the Byzantine Empire were urban and commercial societies, and with a variable degree of political centralization, although the exploitation of the countryside was carried out with social relations of production very similar to medieval feudalism. Historians who apply the methodology of historical materialism ( Marx defined the feudal mode of productionas the intermediate stage between the slaveholder and the capitalist) do not hesitate to speak of "feudal economy" to refer to it, although they also recognize the need not to apply the term to any non-slave pre-industrial social formation, since throughout the In history and geography, there have been other modes of production also foreseen in Marxist modeling, such as the primitive mode of production of poorly evolved, homogeneous societies with little social division - such as those of the Germanic peoples themselves prior to the invasions - and the Asian mode of production or hydraulic despotism- Pharaonic Egypt, kingdoms of India or Chinese Empire - characterized by the taxation of peasant villages to a highly centralized state. [ 35 ] In even more distant places the term feudalism has come to be used to describe an age. This is the case of Japan and the so-called Japanese feudalism , given the undeniable similarities and parallels that the European feudal nobility and their world have with the samurai and theirs. It has also been applied to the historical situation of the intermediate periods of Egypt's history , in which, following a millennial cyclical rhythm, central power and life in the cities decline, military anarchy breaks the unity of the lands of the Nile, and the temples and local lords who manage to control a space of power rule in it independently over the peasants forced to work.
The vassalage and the fiefdom
Two institutions were key to feudalism: on the one hand, vassalage as a legal-political relationship between lord and vassal , a synalagmatic contract (that is, between equals, with requirements on both sides) between lords and vassals (both free men, both warriors , both nobles), consisting of the exchange of mutual support and fidelity (endowment of positions, honors and lands - the fiefdom - by the lord to the vassal and commitment to auxilium et consilium - military aid or support and advice or political support), that if it was not complied with or was broken by either party, it would give rise to a felony, and whose hierarchy was complicated in a pyramidal way (the vassal was in turn lord of vassals); and on the other hand the fiefdom as an economic unit and of social relations of production , between the lord of the fiefdom and his servants , not an egalitarian contract, but an ideologically justified violent imposition as a do ut of protection in exchange for work and submission.
Therefore, the reality that is stated as feudo-vassal relations is really a term that includes two types of social relationship of a completely different nature, although the terms that designate them were used at the time (and continue to be used) in an equivocal and with great terminological confusion between them:
The vassalage was a pact between two members of the nobility of different categories. Knight lower rank became vasallo ( vassus ) of the most powerful nobleman, who became his master ( dominus ) through the Tribute and Investiture, in a ritualized ceremony took place in the tower of the homage of the castle of the Lord. The homage ( homage ) —of the vassal to the lord— consisted of prostration or humiliation —usually on his knees—, the osculum (kiss), the immixtio manum —the vassal's hands, joined in a prayerful position, were welcomed between the lord's— , and some phrase that acknowledged having becomeher man . After the tribute, the investiture took place - from the lord to the vassal - which represented the delivery of a fiefdom (depending on the category of vassal and lord, it could be a county, a duchy, a mark, a castle, a town, or a simple salary; or even a monastery if the vassalage was ecclesiastical) through a symbol of the territory or of the food that the lord owes to the vassal - a bit of land, grass or grain - and the accolade , in which the vassal receives a sword (and a few blows with it on the shoulders), or a staff if he was religious.
The encomienda , entrustment or patronage ( patronium , commendatio , although it was customary to use the term commendatio for the act of homage or even for the entire institution of vassalage) were theoretical pacts between the peasants and the feudal lord, which could also be ritualized in a ceremony or — more rarely — result in a document. The lord welcomed the peasants into his fiefdom, which was organized in a manor reserve that the serfs had to work obligatorily ( sernas or corveas ) and in all the small family farms ( mansos) that were attributed to the peasants so that they could subsist. The lord's duty was to protect them if they were attacked, and to maintain order and justice in the fiefdom. In return, the peasant became his servant and passed to the double jurisdiction of the feudal lord: in the terms used in the Iberian Peninsula in the late Middle Ages, the territorial lordship , which forced the peasant to pay rents to the noble for the use from the earth; and the jurisdictional lordship , which made the feudal lord a ruler and judge of the territory in which the peasant lived, for which he obtained feudal rentsof very different origin (taxes, fines, monopolies, etc.). The distinction between property and jurisdiction was not clear in feudalism, since in fact the very concept of property was confusing, and jurisdiction, granted by the king as a mercy , put the lord in a position to obtain his rents. There were no jurisdictional lordships in which all the parcels belonged to the lord as property, with different forms of allodium being very widespread in the peasants. In later moments of depopulation and refeudalization , such as the crisis of the seventeenth century , some nobles tried to consider a manor completely depopulated of peasants in order to free themselves from all kinds of restrictions and turn it intoRound box that can be converted for another use, such as the rancher. [ 36 ]
Along with the fiefdom, the vassal receives the servants that are in it, not as slave property , but not under liberty; since their servile condition prevents them from leaving it and forces them to work. The obligations of the lord of the fiefdom include the maintenance of order, that is, civil and criminal jurisdiction ( mere and mixed empire in the legal terminology reintroduced with Roman Law in the late Middle Ages), which gave even greater opportunities to obtain the surplusproductive that the peasants could obtain after the work obligations -corveas or sernas in the manorial reserve- or the payment of rent -in kind or in money, of very little circulation in the High Middle Ages, but more generalized in recent centuries. medieval times, as the economy became more dynamic. As a stately monopoly, the exploitation of forests and hunting, roads and bridges, mills, taverns and shops used to remain. All of this was more opportunities to obtain more feudal income , including traditional rights, such as the ius prime noctis or right of pernada., which became a marriage tax, a good example that it is in the surplus from which the feudal income is extracted in an extra-economic way (in this case in the demonstration that a peasant community grows and prospers).
The feudal orders
Over time, following the trend set by the Lower Roman Empire , which was consolidated in the classical era of feudalism and which survived throughout the Old Regime , a society organized in a class-based manner was formed, in the so-called estates or ordines (orders ): nobility , clergy and common people (or third estate ): bellatores, oratores and laboratores the men who fight, those who pray and those who work, according to the vocabulary of the time. The first two are privileged, that is, the common law is not applied to them, but their own jurisdiction (for example, they have different penalties for the same crime, and their execution is different) and they cannot work ( vile and mechanical trades are prohibited ) , since that is the underprivileged condition. In medieval times, feudal orders were not closed and blocked estates, but maintained a permeability that in extraordinary cases allowed social advancement due to merit (for example, to the demonstration of exceptional value), which were so rare that they were not lived as a threat, something that did occur from the great social convulsions of the final centuries of the late Middle Ages, in which the privileged were forced to institutionalize their position by trying to close access to their estates from the underprivileged (in which were not totally effective either). Completely inappropriate would be the comparison with the caste society of India , in which warriors, priests, merchants, peasants and outcaststhey belonged to different castes understood as disconnected lineages whose mixing was prohibited.
The functions of the feudal orders were ideologically fixed by political Augustinianism ( Civitate Dei - 426 -), in search of a society that, although as earthly it could not stop being corrupt and imperfect, could aspire to be at least a shadow of the image of a perfect "City of God" with Platonic roots [ Note 9 ] in which everyone had a role in its protection, its salvation and its maintenance. This idea was reformulated and outlined throughout the Middle Ages, successively by authors such as Isidore of Seville (630), the Auxerre school ( Haimón de Auxerre-865- in the Burgundian abbey where Erico de Auxerre and his disciple Remigio de Auxerre worked , who followed the tradition of Escoto Eriúgena ), Boecio (892), Wulfstan of York (1010), Gerardo de Cambrai (1024) or Adalberón of Laon ; and used in legislative texts such as the so-called Compilation of Huesca de los Fueros de Aragón ( Jaime I ), and the Siete Partidas ( Alfonso X el Sabio , 1265). [ 37 ]
The bellatores or warriors were the nobility, whose function was physical protection, the defense of all against aggression and injustice. It was organized pyramidically from the emperor, through the kings and descending without solution of continuity until the last squire, although according to their rank, power and wealth it can be classified into two different parts: high nobility ( marquis , counts and dukes ) whose fiefdoms have the size of regions and provinces (although most of the time not in territorial continuity, but distributed and diffuse, full of enclaves and exclaves ); and the lower nobility or knights( barons , infanzones ), whose fiefdoms are the size of small counties (at the municipal level or lower than the municipal level), or do not directly have territorial fiefdoms, living in the castles of the most important lords, or in cities or towns where they do not they exercise jurisdiction (although they can exercise their regiment , that is, participate in their municipal government on behalf of the noble state ). At the end of the Middle Ages and in the Modern Age, when the nobility no longer exercised its military function, as was the case of the Spanish hidalgos , who claimed their estate privileges to avoid paying taxes and obtain some social advantage, boasting of enforceable or ofcoat of arms and manor house , but because they did not have sufficient feudal income to maintain the noble way of life, they ran the risk of losing their status by contracting an unequal marriage or earning a living working:
For the blood of the Goths,
and the lineage of the nobilitywith non-due trades they are maintained.
by how many ways and ways
is his great highness lost
in this life!
Some, hardly worth,
because of how low and dejected
others who, for not having,
In addition to religious legitimation, through secular culture and art (the epic of the chants of deed and the lyric of courtly love of the Provencal troubadours ) the ideological legitimation of the way of life , social function and the values of the nobility. [ 38 ]
The oratores or clergymen were the clergy , whose function was to facilitate the spiritual salvation of immortal souls: some formed a powerful elite called high clergy, ( abbots , bishops ), and others more humble, the lower clergy (village priests or brothers lay of a monastery). The extension and organization of Benedictine monasticism through the Order of Cluny , closely linked to the organization of the centralized and hierarchical episcopal network, culminating in the Pope of Rome, established the double feudal pyramid of the secular clergy., destined to the administration of the sacraments (which controlled the entire vital trajectory of the population, from birth to death); and the regular clergy , separated from the world and subjected to a monastic rule (usually the Benedictine rule ). The three monastic vowsof the regular clergy: poverty, obedience and chastity; As well as the ecclesiastical celibacy that was being imposed on the secular clergy, they functioned as an effective mechanism for linking the two privileged estates: the second son of the nobility entered the clergy, where they were maintained without restrictions thanks to the numerous foundations, donations, dowries and testamentary orders; but they did not dispute the inheritances from their brothers, who could keep the family patrimony concentrated. Church lands were left as dead hands, whose function was to guarantee the masses and prayers provided by the donors, so that the children prayed for the souls of their parents. The whole system guaranteed the maintenance of the social prestige of the privileged, attending mass in prominent places while they lived and buried in main places of churches and cathedrals when they died. [ Note 10 ] The confrontations were not lacking: the evidence of simony and Nicolaism (appointments of ecclesiastical positions interfered with by the civil authorities or their pure sale) and the use of the main religious threat to temporal power, equivalent to a civil death : the excommunication. The Pope even attributed the authority to exempt the vassal from the fidelity due to his lord and claim it for himself, which was used on several occasions for the founding of kingdoms that became vassals of the Pope (for example, the independence that Afonso Henriques obtained for the county that became the kingdom of Portugal against the kingdom of León ).
The laboratores or workers, were the common people, whose function was the maintenance of the bodies, the ideologically lowest and humble function - humiliores were those close to humus , the earth, while their superiors were honest , those who could maintain honor or honor. [ Note 11 ] Necessarily the most numerous, and the vast majority of them dedicated to agricultural tasks, given the very low productivity and agricultural yield , typical of the pre-industrial era and the very low technical level (hence the identification in Spanish of laborator withlabrador ). Usually they were subject to the other estates. The common people were composed in its great majority by peasants , servants of the feudal lords or free peasants ( villains ), and by artisans , who were scarce and lived, well in the villages (those of less specialization, who used to share the agricultural tasks : blacksmiths, saddlers, potters, tailors) or in the few and small cities (those with greater specialization and products of less pressing need or in demand from the upper classes: jewelers, goldsmiths, chandlers, coopers, weavers, dyers). The self-sufficiency of fiefdoms and monasteries limited their market and ability to grow. The construction trades (quarrying , masonry , carpentry ) and the profession of builder or architect itself are a notable exception: forced by the nature of their work to move to the place where the building is built, they were transformed into a nomadic guild that moved along the roads Europeans communicating technical or ornamental novelties transformed into trade secrets , which is at the origin of their distant and mythical link with the secret society of Freemasonry , which from its origin considered them as the primitive Freemasons . [ Note 12 ]
The areas without intermediate dependence on noble or ecclesiastical lords were called royals and they used to prosper more, or at least they used to consider as a misfortune to become dependent on a lord, to the point that on some occasions they managed to avoid it with payments to the king, or the repopulation of border or depopulated areas was encouraged (as happened in the Asturian-Leonese kingdom with the depopulated Duero Plateau ) where mixed figures could appear, such as the villainous knight (who could maintain with his own exploitation at least one war horse and arm himself and defend himself) or the behetries, who chose their own lord and could change from one to the other if it suited them, or with the offer of a charter or charter that granted a population its own collective lordship . The initial privileges were not enough to prevent most of them from falling into feudalization over time.
The three feudal orders were not yet closed estates in the Middle Ages: they were a basic consequence of the social structure that had been created slowly but inexorably with the transition from slavery to feudalism since the crisis of the third century (ruralization and formation of large estates and villae , Diocletian's reforms , decomposition of the Roman Empire, invasions, establishment of the Germanic kingdoms , institutions of the Carolingian Empire , decomposition of this and new wave of invasions). The feudal lords were a continuation of client linesof the Carolingian counts, and some can be traced back to the Roman latifundistas or Germanic retinues, while the peasantry came from former slaves or colonists, or from free peasants who were forced to entrust themselves, sometimes receiving a part of their former lands own in the form of a meek "granted" by the lord. The peasant inherited his servile condition and his subjection to the land, and he seldom had the opportunity to rise in rank other than for his flight to a city or for an even more extraordinary fact: his ennoblement by an outstanding act of arms or service to the king, who under normal conditions were completely forbidden to him. The same can be said of the artisan or the merchant (who in some cases could accumulate fortune, but not alter his humble origin).Roberto Guiscardo ). The clergy, on the other hand, was recruited by co-option , with a different access according to social origin: assured for the second men of the noble houses and restricted to the lower levels of the lower clergy for those of the common people; but in particular or prominent cases, the ascent in the ecclesiastical hierarchy was open to intellectual merit. All this gave the feudal system an extraordinary stability, where there was "a place for each man, and each man in his place", as well as an extraordinary flexibility, because it allowed political and economic power to atomize throughout Europe, from Spain to Poland .
The year thousand
The legendary year one thousand , the end of the first millennium , which is conventionally used for the passage from the High to the Late Middle Ages, is actually only a round figure for the calculation of the Christian era , which was not universally used: the Muslims used their own lunar Islamic calendar beginning in Hegira ( 622 ); in some parts of Christendom local eras were used (such as the Hispanic era , which counts from 38 BC ). But certainly, millennialism and the prognoses of the end of timethey were present; even the pope himself during the turn of the millennium Sylvester II , the Frenchman Gerberto de Aurillac, interested in all kinds of knowledge, earned an esoteric reputation. [ 40 ] Astrology could always find extraordinary celestial phenomena in which to support its prestige (such as eclipses ), but certainly other events of the time were among the most spectacular in history: Halley's Comet , which is approaching Earth periodically every eight decades, it peaked in the visitation of 837, [ 41 ] dismissed the first millennium in 989, and arrived in time for the Battle of Hastings.in 1066; Much more visible still, the supernovae SN 1006 and SN 1054 , which are given the number of the year in which they were recorded, were reflected in more detail in Chinese, Arab and even Indo-American sources than in the rare European ones (although the 1054 coincided with the Battle of Atapuerca ).
The entire 10th century , due to real conditions rather than imaginary ones, can be considered part of a dark, pessimistic, insecure era, dominated by the fear of all kinds of dangers , real and imaginary, natural and supernatural: fear of the sea, fear of the forest, fear of witches and demons and of everything that, without entering into the Christian supernatural, was relegated to the inexplicable and to the concept of wonder , attributed to beings of doubtful or perhaps possible existence ( dragons , goblins , fairies , unicorns). There was nothing unique about the event: a thousand years later, the 20th century gave rise to comparable fears: the nuclear holocaust , climate change (contemporary versions of the end of the world ); to communism (the witch hunt with which McCarthyism was identified ), to freedom ( Fear of Freedom is the basis of fascism in Erich Fromm's interpretation ), a comparison that has been highlighted by historians [ 42 ] And interpreted by sociologists ( Risk Societyde Ulrich Beck ).
The Middle Ages firmly believed that all things in the universe have supernatural meaning, and that the world is like a book written by the hand of God. All animals have a moral or mystical meaning, as do all stones and all herbs (and this is what the bestiaries, lapidaries, and herbaria explain). In this way, it is possible to attribute positive or negative meanings also to colors ... For medieval symbolism a thing can even have two opposite meanings depending on the context in which it is contemplated (hence the lion sometimes symbolizes Jesus Christ and sometimes the demon).
The juncture of the year thousand
At the historical juncture of the year 1000, the strongest political structures of the previous period were proving very weak: Islam was decomposed into caliphates (Baghdad, Cairo and Córdoba), which by the year 1000 were proving incapable of containing the Christian kingdoms, especially the Kingdom of León, in the Iberian Peninsula (final failure of Almanzor ) and the Byzantine Empire in the Eastern Mediterranean. The Bulgarian Empire also undergoes the Byzantine expansion, which is destroyed. The French, Polish and Hungarian national particularisms draw protonational borders that, curiously, are very similar to those of the year 2000. Instead, the Carolingian Empire had dissolved into ungovernable feudal principalities, which the Ottonids proposed to include in a second Restauratio Imperii ( Otto I , in 962 ), this time on German bases. [ 44 ]
The persistence of fear and the role of laughter
In the middle of the journey of our life
I found myself in a dark forest
that the straight path was lost.In the middle of the path of our life
I was in a dark forest
because the straight path had lost.
Fears and insecurity did not end with the year 1000, nor did we have to wait to meet again the terrible black plague and the flagellants of the fourteenth century. Even in the medieval optimum of the expansive thirteenth century, the most common was to find texts like Dante's, or like the following:
This hymn by an unknown author, attributed to very different characters (Pope Gregory -who could be Gregorio Magno , to whom Gregorian chant is also attributed , or another of those of that name-, the founder of the Cistercian San Bernardo de Claraval , a the Dominican monks Umbertus and Frangipani and the Franciscan Tomás de Celano ) and incorporated into the liturgy of the mass :
- Dies iræ, dies illa,
- Earth in ashes,
- Test David as Sibylla!
- How a tremor is,
- when the judge;
- To strictly
- searing flames;
- call me.
- heart reduced to ashes;
- Take care of my end.
- Lacrimosa dies illa,
- rises from the ashes
- to be judged.
- Therefore spare this one, O God.
- Day of anger; that day
- in which the centuries are reduced to ashes;
- as witnesses King David and the Sibyl.
- How much terror there will be in the future
- when the judge is to come
- to judge everything strictly!
- After confusing the damned
- thrown into ravenous flames
- make me call among the blessed
- I beg you, pleading and on my knees,
- the heavy heart, almost turned to ashes:
- take charge of my destiny.
- Day of tears will be that day
- when he will rise from the dust
- for the judgment, the guilty man.
- That one, then, forgive him, oh God.
- The Fortuna
- velvet moon
- state variables,
- ever growing
- and waning;
- hateful life
- now is tough
- and then soothes
- on a whim
- like ice.
- and empty;
- rota tu volubilis,
- status malus,
- vana salus
- and secretly
- Like the moon
- you grow incessantly
- or you disappear.
- Detestable life!
- blunt first
- and then stimulate,
- as a game, the sharpness of the mind.
- and power
- they melt like ice.
- Monstrous destiny
- and empty,
- A spinning wheel is what you are
- if it is wrongly placed
- health is vain,
- can always be dissolved,
- and eveningFortuna imperatrix mundi : Fortuna emperatriz del mundo ( Carmina Burana )
The supernatural was present in everyone's daily life as a constant reminder of the brevity of life and the imminence of death, whose radical egalitarianism was applied, in counterpoint to the inequality of conditions, as a social cohesioner, just like the promise of eternal life. The imagination was excited with the most morbid images of what would happen in the final judgment , the torments of hell and the merits that the saints had obtained with their ascetic life and their martyrdoms (which, if well administered by the Church, could save the temporal penalties of the purgatory ). This not only operated in the frightened illiterate who only had the gospel in stoneof the churches; Most educated readers gave full credit to the gruesome scenes that filled the martyrologies and the unlikely stories of Jacopo da Vorágine's Golden Legend .
Fear was inherent in the permanent structural violence of feudalism, which although it was channeled through socially acceptable mechanisms and established a theoretically perfect class order, was a permanent reminder of the possibility of subversion of the order, periodically renewed with wars, invasions and internal uprisings. In particular, the satires against the rustic were manifestations of the mixture of contempt and distrust with which clergymen and nobles saw the servant, reduced to a deformed, ignorant and violent monster, capable of the greatest atrocities, especially when grouped. [ 46 ]
From the fury of rural Deliver us, OFrom the fury of the peasants, deliver us Lord.
But at the same time, it was held, as an essential part of the ideological edifice (it was the justification for the papal election ) that the voice of the people was the voice of God ( Vox populi, vox Dei ). The medieval spirit had to accept the contradiction of promoting public displays of piety and devotion while allowing generous concessions to sin . The carnivals and other grotesque parodies (the party of the donkey or the Charivari ) allowed all types of licenses, including blasphemy and mockery of the sacred, reversing hierarchies (were elected kings of fools obispillos or bishops party) making success of everything that was forbidden for the rest of the year, was considered ugly, unpleasant or scary, as a healthy reaction to the daily terror of the afterlife and a guarantee that, after the excesses of the party, he would meekly return to work and life obedience. Seriousness and sadness were the prerogatives of those who practiced a sacred optimism (we have to suffer, then eternal life awaits us), while laughter was the medicine of those who lived a miserable and difficult life with pessimism . [ 48 ] Faced with the greater rigor of early Christianity, medieval theologians speculated on whether Christ laughed or not (the Epistle of Lentulus , one of the apocryphal gospelsHe maintained that no; while some church fathers defended the right to a holy joy ), which justified ecclesiastical comic texts, such as the Coena Cypriani and the Joca monachorum . [ 49 ]
Full Middle Ages (11th to 13th centuries)
The name of Fullness of the Middle Ages is assigned to the period of European History that occupies the 11th to 13th centuries. That Full Middle Ages or Fullness of the Middle Ages would end in the crisis of the fourteenth century or crisis of the Middle Ages , in which "decadent" processes can be seen, and it is customary to describe it as sunset or autumn. However, the last medieval centuries are full of dynamic events and processes, with enormous repercussions and projections in the future, although logically they are the events and processes that can be understood as "new", that prefigure the new times of modernity. At the same time, the events, processes, social agents, institutions and values characterized as medieval have clearly entered into decline; survive, and will survive for centuries, largely thanks to their institutionalization (for example, the closure of privileged estates or the adoption of the mayorazgo ), which is still a symptom that it is then, and not before, that considered it necessary to defend them so much.
The justification for this name is the exceptional economic , demographic , social and cultural development of Europe that takes place in that period, coinciding with a very favorable climate (the " medieval optimum " has been spoken of ) that allowed the cultivation of grapevines in England . There has also been talk, specifically for the twelfth century , of the twelfth century revolution or twelfth century renaissance.
The symbolic year one thousand (whose millennial terrors are a frequently exaggerated historiographical myth) does not mean anything by itself, but from then on the Dark Ages of the invasions of the High Middle Ages are over : Hungarians and Normans are already settled and integrated into Latin Christianity . The Europe of the Full Middle Ages is also expansive in the military field: the crusades in the Near East , the Angevin domination of Sicily and the advance of the Christian kingdoms in the Iberian Peninsula.(the Caliphate of Córdoba disappeared ) threaten to reduce the Islamic space to the southern shore of the Mediterranean basin and the interior of Asia .
The feudal mode of production develops without finding limits to its extension for the moment (as will happen with the crisis of the fourteenth century ). The feudal income is distributed by the lords outside the countryside, where it originates: cities and the bourgeoisie grow with the increase in demand for artisan products and long-distance trade , fairs , land trade routes and maritime and institutions like the Hansa . Central and Northern Europe enter the heart of Western civilization. The Byzantine Empireit is maintained between Islam and the Crusaders, its cultural influence extended by the Balkans and the Russian steppes where the Mongol push is resisted .
Art Romanesque and the first Gothic are protected by religious orders and secular clergy . Cluny and the Cistercian fill Europe with monasteries . The Camino de Santiago articulates the Iberian Peninsula with Europe. Universities are born ( Bologna , Sorbonne , Oxford , Cambridge , Salamanca , Coimbra ). The scholasticism reached its summit with Thomas Aquinas , after receiving the influence of translations of Arabic (Averroism ). The rediscovery of Roman law ( Bartolo of Sassoferrato , Baldo degli Ubaldi ) begins to influence kings who see themselves as emperors in their kingdom .
The expansion of the feudal system
Far from being a stagnant social system (the closure of access to the estates is a process that occurs as a conservative reaction of the privileged , after the final crisis of the Middle Ages, already in the Old Regime), medieval feudalism demonstrated enough flexibility to allow the development of two processes, which mutually fed back, favoring rapid expansion. On the one hand, assigning a place to each person within the system, allowed the expulsion of all those for whom there was no place, sending them as colonists and military adventurers to lands not won by Western Christianity, thus brutally expanding its limits. On the other hand, ensuring a certain order and social stability for the agrarian world after the end of the invasion period; Although the wars - inherent to the feudal system - were far from over, the usual level of violence in war periods tended to be controlled by the institutions themselves - code of honor , truce of God, welcome to sacred - and in normal periods it tended to ritualize - challenges, duels , rieptos , jousts , tournaments , honorable passage -, although it did not disappear neither in international relations nor within the kingdoms, with cities that based their security and peace urban in its strong walls, its curfews and its expeditious justice, and insecure fields in which lords of the gallows and knife imposed their prerogatives and even abused them ( feudal criminals ), not without encountering the anti-seignorial resistance of the serfs, [50 ] sometimes mythologized ( Robin Hood ). Unlike the slave mode of production , the feudal mode of production placed on the producer — peasant — the responsibility for increasing production: whether the harvest is good or bad, he must pay the same rents. That is why the system alone stimulates work and the incorporation of what experience shows as good agricultural practices, including the incorporation of new techniques that improve the yield of the land.. If the increase in production is permanent and not temporary (a single good harvest due to climatic reasons), who will begin to receive stimuli will be the feudal lord, who will detect this increase in surpluses whose extraction is the basis of his feudal income (greater use of the mill, greater circulation on the roads and bridges, greater consumption in shops and taverns; of all of which it charges taxes or will aspire to do so), it will even be driven to raise the rent. When what happens is that the peasants, pushed by the increase of their families, press the limits of the meek, clearing previously uncultivated lands ( wastelands , pastures, forests , wetlands desiccables), the lord may impose new conditions, and even prevent it, because they are part of his reserve or of his monopolistic uses (hunting, food for his horses).
This dynamic class struggle between serfs and lords made the economy more dynamic and made possible the beginning of a concentration of accumulated wealth from agricultural income; but never in a way comparable to the accumulation of capital characteristic of capitalism, since they were not made productive investment (as would have happened if the peasants had the use of the surplus), but hoarding in the hands of nobility and clergy. Such a thing, ultimately, through building programs (castles, monasteries, churches, cathedrals, palaces) and sumptuous spending on luxury goods - horses , sophisticated weapons , jewelry, works of art , quality fabrics , dyes , silks , tapestries , spices - could not help but stimulate rudimentary long-distance trade , monetary circulation and urban life; in short, the economic resurgence of Western Europe. Ironically, both processes would end up undermining the foundations of feudalism, leading to its destruction. [ Note 13 ] However, do not imagine that anything similar to the agricultural revolution occurred prior to the industrial revolutionThe fact that neither peasants nor lords could convert surplus into capital (some because they extracted it and others because their social position was incompatible with economic activities) made any innovation slow and costly, in addition to the fact that any innovation collided with ideological prejudices and a strongly traditionalist mentality , both characteristic of pre-industrial society . Only in the course of centuries, and due to the trial and error of the good craftsmanship of anonymous blacksmiths and saddlers without any connection with scientific research, was the incorporation of few but decisive technical improvements such ascollera (which enables the effective use of force of draft horses , they begin to replace oxen ) or plow of moldboard (replacing the Roman plow in humid and heavy soils of northern Europe, but not in the dry and light from the south). The fallow of year and timeit remained the most widely used cultivation method; crop rotation was unknown, the fertilizer was an exceptional resource, given the scarcity of animals, whose manure was the only available fertilizer; irrigation was limited to some of the Mediterranean areas of Islamic culture; The use of iron in tools and farm implements was spared, given its unaffordable cost by the peasants; the technical level, in general, was precarious. The windmill was a technological transfer that, like so many others in other fields (gunpowder, paper, compass, engraving), came from Asia. Even with its limited scope, the set of innovations and changes was concentrated especially in a period that some historians have come to call the "Renaissance" of the twelfth century or theRevolution of the twelfth century , a moment in which economic and social dynamism, starting from the main engine, which is the countryside, produces the awakening of an urban world until then marginal in Western Europe, and the emergence of intellectual phenomena such as the medieval university and scholasticism .
Following the precedent of the Carolingian organization of the palatine, cathedral and monastic schools (due to Alcuinus of York - 787 -), more than that of other similar institutions existing in the Islamic world, [ Note 14 ] the first universities in Europe Christian churches were founded for the study of law , medicine, and theology . The central part of the teaching involved the study of the preparatory arts (called liberal arts because they were mental or spiritual and liberated from the manual work typical of handicrafts , consideredvile and mechanical trades ); These liberal arts were the trivium ( grammar , rhetoric, and logic ) and the quadrivium ( arithmetic , geometry , music, and astronomy ). Afterwards, the student came into contact with more specific studies. In addition to teaching centers, they were also the place of research and production of knowledge, and the focus of vigorous debates and polemics, which sometimes required even the interventions of civil and ecclesiastical power, despite the privilegesof those that were endowed and that turned them into independent institutions, well endowed economically with a patrimonial base of land and buildings. The cultural transformation generated by the universities has been summarized as follows: In 1100, the school followed the teacher; in 1200, the teacher was still going to school. [ 53 ] The most prestigious received the name of Studium Generale , and their fame spread throughout Europe, requiring the presence of their teachers, or at least letter communication, which began a fruitful intellectual exchange facilitated by the common use of the cultured language, Latin.
Between 1200 and 1400 52 universities were founded in Europe; 29 of them of papal foundation, the rest of imperial or royal foundation. The first was possibly Bologna (specialized in Law, 1088), followed by Oxford (before 1096), from which its rival Cambridge (1209), Paris , in the mid-twelfth century (one of whose colleges was La Sorbonne , 1275), Salamanca (1218, preceded by the General Survey of Palencia of 1208), Padua (1222), Naples (1224), Coimbra (1308, transferred from the General Survey of Lisbon of 1290),Alcalá de Henares (1293, refounded by Cardinal Cisneros in 1499), La Sapienza (Rome, 1303), Valladolid (1346), Carolina University ( Prague , 1348), Jagiellonian University ( Krakow , 1363), Vienna (1365) , Heidelberg (1386), Cologne (1368) and, already at the end of the medieval period, Louvain (1425), Barcelona (1450), Basel (1460) and Uppsala (1477). In medicine the Salernitana Medical School enjoyed great prestige, with Arab roots, which came from the 9th century; and in 1220 the Montpellier Faculty of Medicine began to rival it .
The scholasticism was the theological and philosophical dominant medieval thought, after the patristic of late antiquity, and was based on the coordination of faith and reason , which in any case always supposed the clear submission of reason to faith ( Philosophia ancilla theologiae - philosophy is a slave to theology -). But it is also a method of intellectual work: all thought had to submit to the principle of authority ( Magister dixit-the Master said-), and the teaching could be limited in principle to the repetition or gloss of ancient texts, and especially of the Bible , the main source of knowledge, since it represents divine Revelation ; In spite of all this, scholasticism encouraged speculation and reasoning, since it implied submitting to a rigid logical framework and a schematic structure of discourse that had to be exposed to refutations and prepare defenses. From the beginning of the 9th century to the end of the 12th, the debates centered on the question of universals , which opposes the royalists led by William de Champeaux to the nominalists represented byRoscelino and the conceptualists ( Pedro Abelardo ). In the 12th century the reception of texts by Aristotle previously unknown in the West took place, first indirectly through Jewish and Muslim philosophers, especially Avicenna and Averroes , but then directly translated from Greek into Latin by St. Albert the Great and William of Moerbeke , secretary of Saint Thomas Aquinas , true summit of medieval thought and elevated to the rank of Doctor of the Church . The apogee of scholasticism coincides with the thirteenth century, when the universities were foundedand the mendicant orders emerged : Dominicans (who followed an Aristotelian trend -the aforementioned-) and Franciscans (characterized by Platonism and the patristic tradition - Alexander de Hales or Saint Bonaventure -). Both orders will dominate the chairs and the life of the university colleges, and from them will come most of the theologians and philosophers of the time.
The fourteenth century will represent the crisis of scholasticism through two British Franciscans: Dr. Subtilis Juan Duns Escoto and Guillermo de Occam . Preceding both would be the Oxford School ( Robert Grosseteste and Roger Bacon ) focused on the study of nature , defending the possibility of an experimental science supported by mathematics , against the dominant Thomism . The controversy of the universals ended up opting for the nominalists, which left a space for philosophy beyond theology.
Well then, Lord, You who give understanding to faith, grant me that, so that, as much as you know it beneficial, to understand that you are as we believe, and that You are not what we believe. Now we believe that you are something which no greater can be conceived. Or is there no such nature, that "the fool said in his heart, there is no God"?Then Lord, you who give understanding to faith, give me to understand, as much as you consider good, that you are how we believe and what we believe. Well, we believe that you are something greater than which nothing can be thought. Now, does not this nature exist, because "the fool said in his heart: there is no God"?
It is said in Exodus 3, in the person of God, I AM WHO I AM.
God be proved in five ways ... The fifth way is the governance of the world. We see that things which lack intelligence, such as natural bodies, act for an end, and this is evident from their acting always, or nearly always in the same way they work, so as to obtain the best result Hence it is plain that not fortuitously, but designedly, do they achieve their end. Now whatever lacks intelligence can not move towards an end unless directed by a knowledge and intelligence; as the arrow. Therefore, there is some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God.It is said in Exodus 3,14 of the person of God: "I am who is."
The existence of God can be proven in five different ways ... The fifth is deduced from the order of things. Well, we see that there are things that do not have knowledge, such as natural bodies, and that they work for a purpose. This can be seen by observing how they always or often do the same to get the best. From which it follows that, to achieve their objective, they do not act by chance, but intentionally. Things without knowledge do not tend to the end without being directed by someone with knowledge and intelligence, like the arrow by the archer. Therefore, there is someone intelligent by whom all things are directed to the end. We call him God.
The rise of the bourgeoisie
The bourgeoisie is the new social agent formed by the artisans and merchants that emerge in the surroundings of the cities, either in the ancient Roman cities that had decayed, or in new nuclei created around castles or crossroads -the properly called boroughs. -. Many of these cities incorporated that name - Hamburg , Magdeburg , Freiburg , Strasbourg ; in Spain Burgo de Osma or Burgos -.
The bourgeoisie was interested in pressuring the political power (empire, papacy, the different monarchies, the local feudal nobility or ecclesiastical institutions -dioceses or monasteries- on which their cities depended) to facilitate the economic opening of the closed spaces of the cities. cities, port taxes will be reduced and forms of safe commerce will be guaranteed and a centralization of the administration of justice and equality of rules in large territories that allow them to develop their work, while ensuring that those who violate said rules would be punished with equal harshness in the different territories.
Those cities that opened the doors to trade and greater freedom of movement saw the wealth and prosperity of their inhabitants and those of the lord increase, so with reluctance but firmly the model was spreading. Alliances between lords were more common, not so much for war, but to allow the economic development of their respective territories, and the king was the unifying element of these alliances.
The bourgeois can be considered as free men insofar as they were partially outside the feudal system, which literally besieged them - cities have been compared with islands in a feudal ocean - [ 57 ] because they did not participate directly in feudal-vassal relations: neither were they feudal lords, nor peasants in servitude, nor churchmen. Subjection as a subject of political power was similar to a bond of vassalage, but rather as a collective dominionthat made the city respond as a whole to the demands of military and political support from the king or the ruler to which it was linked, and that in turn participated in the feudal exploitation of the surrounding countryside ( alfoz in Spain).
The German expression Stadtluft macht frei "The airs of the city give freedom", or "they make you free" [ Note 15 ] (paraphrase of the evangelical phrase "the truth will make you free"), [ 59 ] indicated that those who could settle in the cities, sometimes literally fleeing from the subjection of servitude. The escaped serf considered himself free to return to his master if he managed to domicile himself in an urban corporation for a year and a day. [ 60 ] had a whole new world of opportunities to exploit, though not in solitary freedom, understood in its contemporary form. Subjection to union norms and urban laws could be harsher even than those of the countryside: the urban pax meant rigidity in the application of justice, which kept the roads and entrance gates flanked by the corpses of the executed and a severe curfew, with door closings at dusk and surveillance rounds. Of course: it granted the bourgeoisie the opportunity to exercise a portion of power, including the use of arms in the urban militia (such as the Castilian brotherhoods that were unified in the Holy Brotherhood already in the 15th century), which on many occasions were used against the feudal hosts, with the approval of the emerging authoritarian monarchies. In the earliest and most spectacular case were the Italian communes , which in fact became independent from the Holy Roman Empire from the Battle of Legnano (1176).
In the boroughs many new social institutions emerged. The development of commerce brought with it that of the financial system and accounting . The artisans joined in associations called guilds , leagues, corporations, brotherhoods, or arts, depending on the geographic location. The inner workings of the union workshops involved learning several years of the apprentice by a teacher (the owner of the shop), which involved passing that the status official when demonstrated to know the trade, which involved consideration as salaried worker, a condition in itself alien to the feudal world that even moved to the countryside (in principle marginally) with the day laborers who did not have their own lands or those granted by the lord. The association of the workshops in the guilds, worked in a completely contrary way to the capitalist free market : it was tried to avoid every possible feature of competitionsetting prices, qualities, hours and working conditions, and even the streets where they could be located. The opening of new workshops and the passage from the rank of officer to that of teacher were very restricted, so that in practice inheritance and endogamous marriage bonds within the guild were encouraged. The objective was to achieve the survival of all, not the success of the best.
More openness demonstrated the trade. The peddlers who went from village to village, and the few adventurers who dared to make longer journeys were the most common merchants of the High Middle Ages, before the year 1000. In three centuries, by the beginning of the fourteenth century, the fairs of Champagne and Medina had created stable and more or less safe land routes that (on mules or carts in the best of cases) traveled across Europe from north to south (in the Castilian case, following the transhumant ravines of the Mesta, in the French case linking the Flemish and North-Italian emporiums through the prosperous Burgundian and Rhineland regions, all of them dotted with cities). The HansaThe Hanseatic League in turn established maritime routes of similar stability and security (with greater cargo capacity, in ships with innovative technology) that linked the Baltic and the North Sea through the Scandinavian Straits, connecting territories as far away as Russia and Flanders and river routes that connected all of northern Europe (rivers such as the Rhine and the Vistula ), allowing the development of cities such as Hamburg , Lübeck and Danzing , and establishing commercial consulates called Kontor . [ 61 ]In the Mediterranean they were called the Consulate of the Sea : the first in Trani in 1063 and then Pisa , Messina , Cyprus , Constantinople , Venice , Montpellier , Valencia (1283), Mallorca (1343) and Barcelona (1347). [ 62 ] When the Strait of Gibraltar was safe, both Europes could be connected by sea, with routes between Italian cities (especially Genoa ), Marseille , Barcelona , Valencia, Seville , Lisbon , the Cantabrian ports ( Santander , Laredo , Bilbao ), those of the French Atlantic and those of the English Channel (English and Flemish, especially Bruges and Antwerp ). The increasingly fluid contact of people from different nations (as groups of merchants of close geographical origin began to be called that understood each other in the same vulgar language, as was the case in the sections of the military orders ) ended up producing that both institutions will in fact function as primitiveinternational organizations .
All this developed an incipient commercial capitalism ( see also History of capitalism ) with the increase or emergence ex novo of the monetary economy , banking ( credit , loans, insurance , bills of exchange ), activities that always maintained moral misgivings (sin of usury for all those that meant undue profit , and in which only the Jews could incurwhen they lent to others who were not of their religion, a profession prohibited both to Christians and Muslims). The emergence of rich bourgeois and a poor urban populace originated a new type of social tensions, which produced urban revolts. [ 63 ] In terms of ideological aspects, the expression of bourgeois nonconformity with its marginal position in feudal society is at the origin of heresies throughout the Late Middle Ages ( Cathars , Waldensians , Albigensians , Dulcinians , Hussites , Wycliffians). Attempts to respond to these demands of the urban world by the Church, as well as to control and, if necessary, repress them, produced the appearance of the mendicant orders ( Franciscans and Dominicans ) and the Inquisition . Sometimes the inability to get control did opt for extermination, as in Beziers in 1209, following the response of the papal legate Arnaud Amaury : [ 64 ]
- How will we distinguish heretics from Catholics? - Kill them all, that God will recognize his own
New political entities
Universal powers, feudal monarchies and city-states
In the Full Middle Ages a great disparity was observed in the scale on which political power was exercised: the universal powers (Pontificate and Empire) continued to claim their primacy over feudal monarchies , which in practice functioned as independent states. At the same time, entities much smaller in size proved to be very dynamic in international relations (the Italian city-states and the free cities of the Germanic Empire ), and municipalism proved to be a force to be reckoned with in all the territories of Europe. [ 66 ]
The rediscovery of the Justinian Digest ( Digestum Vetus ) allowed the autonomous study of Law ( Pepo and Irnerio ) and the emergence of the School of Glossers and the University of Bologna (1088). This event, which will allow the gradual rediscovery of Roman law , will lead to the formation of the so-called Corpus Juris Civilis and the possibility of raising a Ius commune (common law), and justifying the concentration of power and regulatory capacityin the imperial institution, or in the monarchs, each of which will begin to be considered as imperator in regno suo ("emperor in his kingdom" -definitions of Bártolo de Sassoferrato and Baldo degli Ubaldi -).
The superior failed to recognize him in his kingdom, the king is the emperor said: El rey no reconoce the superior ones, you have added to su reino emperador.
The difficult coexistence of the Pontificate and the Empire ( regnum et priestdocium ) throughout the centuries gave rise between 1073 and 1122 to the dispute of the investiture . Different ideological formulations ( theory of the two swords , Plenitudo potestatis , Dictatus papae , condemnations of simony and