Unit 6.1 Discussion: The Middle Ages and Unit 6.2 Discussion: The Renaissance

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The Birth of Europe: The Middle Ages and Italian Renaissance

In Unit 6, we will be focusing on the birth of a distinct European culture and its development during the Middle Ages and Italian Renaissance. After the fall of the Roman Empire and the invasion of Germanic tribes, the early Middle Ages witnessed the rise of a patchwork of dynasties in Britain, France, Italy, and Germany, with much of Spain under the control of an Islamic Empire. A unifying force within the diverse European kingdoms was the Catholic Church. In 800 CE, Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne, ruler of the Franks, as the Holy Roman Emperor, creating not only a new political entity, but reinforcing the ties between holy and secular authority in Western Europe.

During the High Middle Ages (1000 -1300 CE), local dynasties continued to form, with developing nation states in Britain and France, and smaller political entities in Italy and Germany. The economic system that prevailed during the Middle Ages was feudalism, which gave authority to lords, who in turn acted as patrons for vassal knights. The lords and knights provided protection for the peasants and farmers whose labors fueled the feudal system. During these centuries, the papacy became increasingly powerful, leading to the Crusades to retake the Holy Land from the Islamic Empire.

The Late Middle Ages (1300-1450) witnessed one of the great crises of world history: the Black Death (1346–53), a plague that swept through Europe, killing over thirty percent of the continent’s population. The Hundred Years War (1337 – 1453) between France and England further changed the political landscape of Europe. Peasant uprisings reshaped the feudal system as did the growth of towns and ultimately urban environments. The fifteenth century Renaissance symbolized Europe’s transition from the Middle Ages to the early modern world, beginning in the city-states of Italy. The Renaissance was a literal rebirth of classical learning, the rediscovery of Greek and Latin texts and ancient art. New philosophical movements, such as humanism, placed mankind, rather than the divine or supernatural, as the central focus of rational thought. The painting and sculpture of the Renaissance embodied these new beliefs as well as the revival of ancient art forms.

By the end of this unit, you will be able to:

1. Compare and contrast the political, economic, and social characteristics that define the Middle Ages.

2. Analyze the changing role and relationship between the church and various European states throughout the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance Era. 

3. Describe how politics, culture, and art of the Italian Renaissance differed from that of the Middle Ages.

The image to the left is linked to an interactive map where you can see the approximate geographical location and learn more information about the civilizations discussed in this unit. If you are accessing this course from the Blackboard mobile application, you will need to visit the link or open the Interactive Map pdf listed below.•  Unit 6 Interactive Map•  Unit 6 Interactive Map Text Transcript

Unit Topic 1 – The Early Middle Ages

After the fall of the Roman Empire, Europe broke into a number of smaller states, which would eventually become the basis for many of the modern nations on the continent. By 1000 CE, an economic system called feudalism, which depended on a series of obligations that existed among different classes of people, would spread throughout Europe.

  • Wallech, S., Daryaee, T., Hendricks, C., Negus, A. L., Wan, P. P., & Bakken, G. M. (2013). World history volume I: A concise thematic analysis (2nd ed.). Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
    • Chapter 15: The European Middle Ages- The Failure of Tradition, pp. 294-303

Overview of the economic system of medieval Europe, feudalism and its local expression within the manor system. Includes global events taking place during this time period.

Watch Video

The Dark Ages…How Dark Were They, Really?: Crash Course World History #14

User: n/a – Added: 4/26/12

YouTube URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QV7CanyzhZg

Topic 2

Unit Topic 2 – The High and Late Middle Ages

As the Middle Ages developed, the Catholic Church continued to dominate the social landscape of Europe.  Major events, such as the Crusades, the Black Death, and the Hundred Years War, led to an increase in conflict with the Islamic Empire, a huge depopulation of the continent, and new political developments.

  • Wallech, S., Daryaee, T., Hendricks, C., Negus, A. L., Wan, P. P., & Bakken, G. M. (2013). World history volume I: A concise thematic analysis (2nd ed.). Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
    • Chapter 15: Part Three- Europe and the High Middle Ages (1000-1300), pp. 303-328

Overview of the causes of the Crusades, a series of wars fought between medieval Europe and the Islamic Empire in the Middle East.

Watch Video

The Crusades – Pilgrimage or Holy War?: Crash Course World History #15

User: CrashCourse – Added: 5/3/12

YouTube URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0zudTQelzI

Unit 6.1 Discussion: The Middle Ages

With your classmates, discuss the impact of feudalism and the church in creating class structure during the middle Ages. Debate if these political, economic, and religious influences had a positive or negative effect on life during the middle Ages. Make sure to provide specific examples for each of the following groups: peasants/serfs, nobles, and clergy. When responding to your classmates, provide new, additional research and thoughts to support or disprove their position. Make sure to use proper APA format for all citations provided and include a reference list for the citations you use.

Topic 3

Unit Topic 3 – The Renaissance

The Renaissance began as an intellectual movement, humanism, that re-established the importance of the individual.  In the realm of art, the Italian Renaissance led to the production of paintings, sculptures, and buildings that transformed influences from ancient Greece and Rome into a new expression of the human spirit.  Economically, the Renaissance created more commerce, cities, and ultimately, exploration.

  • Wallech, S., Daryaee, T., Hendricks, C., Negus, A. L., Wan, P. P., & Bakken, G. M. (2013). World history volume I: A concise thematic analysis (2nd ed.). Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
    • Chapter 15: Part Five- The Renaissance,  pp. 328-337

Discussion of the intellectual changes of the Renaissance for the elite members of society, while daily life remained constant for most of the population.

The Renaissance: Was it a Thing?- Crash Course World History #22

User: CrashCourse – Added: 6/21/12

YouTube URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vufba_ZcoR0

Overview of the main artistic figures and achievements of the Renaissance.

Watch Video

Renaissance – Overview – Goodbye-Art Academy

User: Philinthecircle – Added: 3/16/14

YouTube URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xf2G2Il8crw

Unit 6.2 Discussion: The Renaissance

Choose a work of art or architecture produced during the Middle Ages and one created during the Italian Renaissance. Describe the basic features of each work of art. Then argue how those two works of art represent the changing political and cultural identity of the Renaissance in comparison with the Middle Ages. When responding to your classmates, include new, additional research to support or disprove their position. Make sure to use proper APA format for all citations provided and include a reference list for the citations you use.

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