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However, before they were given any land they had to swear an oath of fealty to the King at all times. The men who leased land from the King were known as Barons, they were wealthy, powerful and had complete control of the land they leased from the King.

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Barons leased land from the King that was known as a manor. They were known as the Lord of the Manor and were in complete control of this land.

They established their own system of justice, minted their own money and set their own taxes. In return for the land they had been given by the King, the Barons had to serve on the royal council, pay rent and provide the King with Knights for military service when he demanded it. They also had to provide lodging and food for the King and his court when they travelled around his realm. The Barons kept as much of their land as they wished for their own use, then divided the rest among their Knights.

Guide to Online Primary Sources: Medieval

The Islamic world - a larger and more advanced civilisation It was created by the Arab conquests of the 7th and 8th centuries. From the 11th to the 16th centuries many thousands of Turks and Mongols migrated across the vast plains of Central Asia into the Middle East. They also adopted Islam. It stretched from India to Spain.

Introduction to the middle ages

Muslims traded high-quality goods such as silk, carpets, ivory and spices. As usual, the dates are vague, but something between the hinged rudder and an oar fixed at the stern is found in a bas-relief in Winchester Cathedral; it dates from , barely years after the Bayeux Tapestry.

Why is the rudder so important? Suffice it to say that without this invention, Columbus could not have sailed to America, and the history of the rest of the millennium would have been rather different. I would like, however, to discuss a series of inventions that, rather than characterize this millennium, have enabled us to celebrate its conclusion. Without these inventions, perhaps we would never have been born.

A thousand years ago we were squarely in the middle ages. Of course, ''Middle Ages'' is a scholastic convention. For example, in certain countries -- including Italy -- the term ''Middle Ages'' is employed even when the writer is referring to the time of Dante and Petrarch; in other countries, scholars already speak of these years as the Renaissance.

History of Europe - The Middle Ages |

To make things a bit more clear, let us say that there are at least two ''Middle Ages'': one lasting from the fall of the Roman Empire fifth century A. Now the Middle Ages before the year can deservedly be called the Dark Ages, a term carelessly used to cover all the centuries between the 5th and the 14th. I say ''deservedly'' not because those Ages were full of burnings at the stake, for there were flames and pyres also in the highly civil 17th and 18th centuries we must not forget ''The Scarlet Letter'' , or because superstitious beliefs were widespread, for when it comes to superstitions -- though for different reasons -- our own New Age is second to none.

No, they can deservedly be called the Dark Ages because the barbarian invasions that took place during this time beset Europe for centuries and gradually destroyed Roman civilization. Cities were deserted, in ruins; the great highways, neglected, disappeared under a tangle of weeds; and fundamental techniques were forgotten, including the processes of mining and quarrying. The land was no longer cultivated and, at least until the feudal reform of Charlemagne, entire agricultural areas reverted to forest. In this sense, the Middle Ages before A. In his splendid ''La civilisation de l'Occident medievale,'' rich in observations of everyday life in the Middle Ages, Jacques Le Goff illustrated how impoverished this time was by recounting popular tales.

In one such story, a saint appears magically to retrieve a sickle that a peasant had accidentally dropped down a well.

The Islamic world in the Middle Ages

In an era when iron had become rare, the loss of a sickle would have been a terrible thing, making it impossible for the peasant to continue harvesting: the sickle's blade was irreplaceable. As the population became smaller and less strong physically, people were mowed down by endemic diseases tuberculosis, leprosy, ulcers, eczema, tumors and by dread epidemics like the plague.

It is always risky to venture demographic calculations for past millennia, but according to some scholars, Europe in the seventh century had shrunk to roughly 14 million inhabitants; others posit 17 million for the eighth century. Underpopulation combined with undercultivated land left nearly everyone undernourished. As the second millennium approached, however, the figures changed -- the population grew.

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  • Some experts calculate a total of 22 million Europeans in ; others speak of 42 million in In the 14th century, Europe's population hovered between 60 million and 70 million. Though the figures differ, on one point there is agreement: in the five centuries after the year , Europe's population doubled, maybe even tripled. The reasons for Europe's boom are hard to pinpoint; between the 11th and 13th centuries, radical transformations occurred in political life, in art, in the economy and, as we shall see, in technology.

    This new surge of physical energy and of ideas was evident to those living at the time.

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    The monk Radulphus Glaber, born in the very last years of the first millennium, began writing his famous ''Historiarum'' known in English as ''Five Books of the Histories'' about 30 years later. The monk did not have a particularly merry view of life, and he tells of a famine in , describing atrocious instances of cannibalism among the poorest peasants. But somehow he sensed that, with the year , a new spirit was stirring in the world, and things -- which until then had gone very badly -- were taking a positive turn. Thus he burst forth in an almost lyrical passage, which still stands out in the annals of the Middle Ages.