Medieval Europe

Medieval Europe followed the fall of the Roman Empire and lasted from 500 AD to 1500 AD. This era represented a low point physically and intellectually. Many church leaders and the Catholic church opposed frivolous activities that might detract from proper commitment to worship and godly living. For example, St. Augustine spoke against dancing because it had degenerated from its earlier status for religious expression. They also believed that anything benefitting the body was sinful. Schools during this period were very rare. They only existed at the monasteries, thus restricting intellectual education to those who served the church. The languages spoken in Medieval Europe varied depending on the geographical location and the time period. For example, Old English was spoken in England at the beginning of the Medieval time period, but Middle English was spoken near the end. Survival rather than education highlighted this period. The Middle Ages existed during the Medieval time period and the Dark Ages began near the end of the Medieval time period.

During the eleventh to sixteenth centuries European society was feudalistic. The economic, political, and social aspects of life centered around the ownership of the land and the military power needed to maintain or expand territory. The monarch or the king owned the land. He was unable to rule the land successfully because of diverse properties, being far away from land he owned, and he didn't have time to govern or to listen to all the problems. The king only gave or declared laws that would govern all of the people. So the king divided the land or territory among nobles who, in turn, promised military service and protection. These nobles governed the land in the king's name. As vassals to the king, they similarly divided their holdings among lesser vassals. These vassals governed in their noble's name and offered him/her military service and protection also. At the bottom of the pyramid were the peasants who toiled in the fields. Their labors were meagerly rewarded with protection provided by those who served.

Knights, the vassal landowners, were the only ones in the feudal society who valued physical training. Peasants, however, engaged in various recreational activities. At the age of seven, the sons of nobles left their home to go to the manors of other knights. For the next seven years the pages were under the guidance of the ladies of the castle. During this time the pages were educated through stories about chivalry and its code of moral and social duties of knighthood.. At the age of fourteen pages became squires. At this time squires learned the arts of archery, climbing, dancing, fencing, jousting, riding, swimming, tourneying, and wrestling. As a valet for a knight, the squire served meals, cleaned armor, cared for the knight's horse, played chess and backgammon, and accompanied the knight into battle. Following seven years of extensive training as a squire, the youth became eligible for knighthood. Once knighted, these nobles engaged in hunting and hawking and continued their training for battle.

Related Essays on History: European