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Europe

» Feudalism

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Knighting Ceremony

When the Roman Empire fell, Europe was plunged into a period known as The Dark Ages. Chaos broke out as the many tribes of people that had been under Roman control vied for land and power. There were frequent wars for almost two hundred years but in the 700’s Charlemagne, King of the Franks, succeeded in conquering many of the warring tribes. Charlemagne built a large empire to which he brought peace and the Christian religion he felt so strongly about.

Under Charlemagne and for years to come, warfare gave way to a system called Feudalism which brought order to the chaotic continent. Under this system kings subdivided their lands, giving fiefs, or portions of land, to loyal nobles called vassals in exchange for protection and service. These nobles in turn gave fiefs to lesser vassals in exchange for protection and service, and so forth. At each level nobles maintained armies of knights to protect the land and aid the noble in the position above. Before long, most of Europe was divided and well-defended so wars occurred less frequently.

Feudalism also reduced the power of the kings, giving it instead to local landowners at every level. Local lords ruled their lands called manors, self-sufficient estates which the lord controlled along with all of the people living on them. Though the size of the manor varied with the levels of nobles in charge, the vast majority of people in Europe at the time lived on manors. For most, their days were long and filled with hard labor. Life was difficult and grim.

Answer the following questions from the reading above.

Based on the passage, what was of the GREATEST value during the Dark Ages?

chaos
empires
land
religion

During the Dark Ages ___ ruled, but ____ had a great deal more power.

peasants . . . lords
kings . . . nobles
nobles . . . Charlemagne
feudalism . . . estates

Manors were important for all of the reasons listed, EXCEPT

tribes constantly fought for them.
they brought order to the chaos.
most people lived on them.
manors provided many jobs.

Manor Diagrams

Use the reading and the diagram to the right to explain how medieval society worked.
(Requires Paragraph)