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Medieval Western Europe Essay

811 words - 4 pages

The image of medieval western Europe can be attributed to political, religious, economic, and cultural factors. The impulse of expansion, unity under Christianity, trade, and education were key developments within the factors. Ultimetly, these developments contributed to the advancement of medieval western Europe in the postclassical period.
The medieval government in western Europe exercised feudalism which also established the structure of political powers. Kings held the most authority while lords and knights were above peasants. These relationships were able to continue since government was local rather than centralized. Though the government remained local in a majority of kingdoms, leaders wanted to expand their land. Wars became more frequent as a result of expansion, so the formation of allies became more important. For further protection, strict laws were passed and the judicial court system evaluated criminals. The Church made itself a part of the courts through the use of symbolic interpretation as the judgment of God. Torture and biased decisions were common as well, especially in the Catholic Church Inquisition. However, some kingdoms had a limited government. A consensus had to be made by an assembly rather than court judgment. Therefore, the political structure held its own authoritative power while religion was incorporated into some areas of government.
Religion had a similar structure to the government, held great power as an individual institution, and influenced parts of culture in medieval western Europe. The hierarchy in the Church established the pope in the highest position while local bishops overlooked the priests. The organization of the Church gave it extensive power beyond spiritual order across the majority of western Europe. The Catholic Church Inquisition and Crusades were meant to reinforce Church power through torture and violence. The primary goal of these types of events was to strengthen religious authority in society, separate from politics. Additionally, some economic roles in the arts were influenced by religion because Church leaders paid artists to create symbolic and religious artistic works. The Christian religion was incorporated into political matters. However, it was considered a separate entity with power of its own.
The economy of Western Europe relied on differences between social classes for local agriculture and international trade. Manorialism did institute a social system, but more importantly, it defined the economic roles of a regional kingdom. Peasants cultivated land and paid rent while knights and lords provided military service plus paid homage to the king. Though this system supported life in the early Middle...

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