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Humanities: Middle Ages Essay

2439 words - 10 pages

The Middle Ages: A quick Historical Background

The Middle Ages is a vast period in Human History that lasted for roughly a millennium, particularly geo-centered around the territories of the former Western Roman Empire. It starts from the Fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century to the beginning of the early Modern Period in the 16th century, a period history refers to as that of the 'High Renaissance' marked by wide development and revolutionary thinking in the arts, humanities and burgeoning scientific practices. Some historians refer to the Middle ages as the Dark Ages because it is in this period where the feudal system and increased warfare between territories and pseudo ...view middle of the document...

It was a period of political and military struggle between factions and loyalties that made life hard for the most ordinary people as frequent warfare all but stopped the flourishing of trading centers and urban areas. It was the feudal system that eventually allowed for a sense of organized semblance in the social disorder of the Dark Ages which fostered the next period, that of the High Middle Ages. Development in this period further led to the Late Middle Ages also known as the Renaissance.

During the High Middle Ages (500AD to 1600 AD), the population of Europe was increasing, feudal Lords and nobles due to increase in labour source began to consolidate their influence and power, bringing about key social and political change that would ultimately lead to the Renaissance. This consolidation and increased trade among the territories saw the last of the barbaric invasions in 1000AD and even the Vikings have chosen to settle in Scandinavia in the same feudal system. Increased agriculture output saw the economic order change as specialist professions began to order themselves into guilds to further answer the demand - blacksmiths, glass makers, basket weavers, potters, dressmakers, and shoemakers were among the many and their cooperation as a union resulted in production levels never seen before. The idea of Laissez Fraire (free trade) began here. Markets were set up in major population centres that turned to become cities and key trading ports. Financial systems like banks also began to sprout. And as expected in the social network created by economics, burgeoning wealth and the exchange of ideas produced new ways of thinking that presented itself in philosophies, humanities & the arts (music, paintings, literature, architecture, etc.). Also, it is during this period that a series of invasion and attempts to retake the Holy Land happened. This period in History is known as 'The Crusades' and a key source of political and social movement that influenced thinking and way of life during said period. Via the Crusades and via trade, influence Middle eastern (Sassanid, Quranic & Egyptian/Berber arts & ideas reached Europe and these were subsequently adapted into their way of life. For example, the ideas of Knighthood and courtly traditions can be traced to the Sassanid Asawaran Knightly caste who via trade and the Crusades reached Europe.)

The Late Middle Ages is the early usherment of the period of renewal and revival of what Europeans saw as the period of Classical Antiquity - the time of the Golden Age of Greece and Rome. This renewal period is what we now term as the Renaissance which started as early as the 1400 AD until the 1700 AD which was immediately followed by the Baroque."He is a Renaissance man," is a phrase that refers to one who is well rounded and expert in various fields of science & the humanities - one who strives for knowledge & enlightenment by not just reviving the Classics; a renaissance man they say is one who is...

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