ch16 - Chapter 16 A New Civilization Emerges in Western...

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Chapter 16 A New Civilization Emerges in Western Europe CHAPTER SUMMARY. The postclassical period in western Europe, known as the Middle Ages, stretches between the fall of the Roman Empire and the 15th century. Typical postclassical themes prevailed. Civilization spread gradually beyond the Mediterranean zone. Christian missionaries converted Europeans from polytheistic faiths. Medieval Europe participated in the emerging international community. New tools and crops expanded agricultural output; advanced technologies improved manufacturing. Mathematics, science, and philosophy were stimulated by new concepts. The Flavor of the Middle Ages: Inferiority and Vitality. Although western European society was not as commercially or culturally developed as the great world civilizations, it had its own distinctive characteristics. Western political structures had many similarities with the other more recent civilizations of Japan, Russia, and sub-Saharan Africa. Europeans long lived under threat of incursions from the stronger Islamic world. There were many indications of a developing, vital society: population growth, economic productivity, increased political complexity, technological innovation, and artistic and intellectual complexity. Major contributions to the development of Western civilization occurred in politics and social structure; in intellectual life medieval striving produced the university and Gothic architectural forms. STAGES OF POSTCLASSICAL DEVELOPMENT. From the mid 6th century C.E. until about 900 disorder prevailed in western Europe. Rome's fall left Italy in economic, political, and intellectual decline. The Catholic church remained strong. Muslim controlled Spain maintained a vibrant intellectual and economic life, but only later influenced European development. The center of the postclassical west was in France, the Low Countries, and southern and western Germany. England later joined the core. Continual raids by Scandinavian Vikings hindered political and economic development. Intellectual activity sharply diminished; most literate individuals were Catholic monks and priests. The Manorial System: Obligations and Allegiances. Until the 10th century most political organization was local. Manorialism was a system of reciprocal economic and political obligations between landlords and peasants. Most individuals were serfs living on self-sufficient agricultural estates (manors). In return for protection they gave lords part of their crops and provided labor services. Inferior technology limited agricultural output until the 9th century introduction of the moldboard plow and the three-field cultivation system increased yields. Serfs bore many burdens, but they were not slaves;. They had heritable ownership of houses and land as long as they met obligations. Peasant villages provided community life and limited self-government. The Church: Political and Spiritual Power.
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ch16 - Chapter 16 A New Civilization Emerges in Western...

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