Medieval Life




Marry in Italy


Medieval European History

The Dark Ages. That's one of the terms used to describe nearly 1000 years of history-a history that is often hard to understand due to a lack of surviving documents, and often is clouded by myth and legends. Western Europe was under the rule of hundreds of feudal lords and kings. Castles dominated the landscape, and entire cities were built behind protective walls.

The Roman Empire formally legalized Christianity during the 4th century, and soon afterward, the zeal and evangelism of practitioners spread this faith throughout Western Europe as far west as Ireland. The Church would be one of the most powerful medieval institutions, controlling publication of books and the making of laws. Much of medieval Europe's art and architecture has a direct connection to the Christian church.

Knights, soldiers, peasants and pilgrims marched along European roads and trails during the Crusades and brought back with them stories of differing cultures, and began to adopt their architecture, tales of Romance, and advances in medicine. Trade was both a blessing and curse. Merchants began importing silks, cottons and rare spices from all over the known world. But these ships would also bring the horror that became known as the Black Death. The disease ravaged Asia, before wiping out nearly one-third of Western Europe.

Wars took their toll, from William the Conqueror's invasion of England in 1066, to the Hundred Year's War that ended in 1453, there were few years that didn't see battles raging in some part of Europe. This was an era of siege warfare-catapults, trebuchets, battering rams, and towers. Men fought hand-to-hand in the thousands in bloody conflicts using swords, axes, longbows, crossbows, stones and daggers. Medieval Europe saw some humanity-changing developments, such as Gutenberg's moveable types press in the middle of the 15th century. This would bring printed material to the masses, and improve communication between societies. Marco Polo would popularize the account of his voyage to the Orient, and intrigue Europeans about this exotic land.

Through these centuries, Europe was slowly waking from a harsh slumber, and begin to sow the seeds of a Renaissance.


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