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The Middle Ages: politics, religion, people

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Feudalism was the leading way of political and economic life in the Medieval era. Monarchs, like kings and queens, maintained control and power by the support of other powerful people called lords.

Lords were always men who owned extravagant homes, called manors, and estates in the country. These men would pledge their support – including providing troops, money, food and more – to the king. They often supplied and funded the king’s wars.

Lords provided some of their land to vassals, or tenants, in exchange for their support to the Lord. Vassals generally were required to serve guard duty, and, later, they paid a fee to acquire mercenaries (soldiers-for-hire).

Vassals were in a somewhat higher class than peasants. In exchange for protection, land to work and a place to live, peasants provided the Lord with labor or a share of the produce or livestock yielded from his lands.

In the Middle Ages, there was a definite structure in society. You were born into a class of people and generally stayed in that class for your entire life. Working hard did not change your status. Your clothing, food, marriage, homes, etc., were determined for you. After the rank of king, the hierarchy was the nobles, the knights, the clergy (religious people), the tradesmen and the peasants.

One of the most unifying elements of the Middle Ages was the Roman Catholic Church. All classes and ranks of people — nobles, peasants and tradesmen — were profoundly affected by the rulings of the church.

The clergy were the religious people of the Middle Ages. Following the pope, in order of rank, there were bishops, priests, monks and nuns. In the latter part of the Middle Ages, the pope, as head of the church, had much influence over the king and total control of the clergy.

In the latter part of the Middle Ages, people were heavily taxed to support the church. In return for their tax money they received the “way to everlasting life” and happiness after leading lives that were often short and hard. Children were taught basic prayers and to go to church every week.

The Roman Catholic Church was the single largest unifying organization in medieval Europe. It touched everyone’s life, no matter what their rank or class or where they lived.

Religion in the Middle Ages was dominated by Christianity. It is the era in which the great cathedrals of Europe were built and the Catholic Church started its universities. During the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church was the only church in Europe. The laws of the land and leading roles in the government were all in the hands of the leading church leaders like bishops and archbishops.

It was an era when the vested powers in the hands of the Pope were so great that he could even excommunicate a king for a misdeed. From birth to death, the life of the medieval people was dominated entirely by the church and many religious institutions gained power and wealth.

During the Medieval times, the only recognized religion in Europe was Christianity, in the form of the Catholic religion. The lives of the Medieval people of the Middle Ages were dominated by the church. From birth to death, whether a peasant, a serf, a noble a lord or a King – life was dominated by the church and Medieval religion. Various religious institutions, such as monasteries and convents, became both important, rich and powerful. The lives of many Medieval people including various orders of monks and nuns were dedicated to the Catholic Church and religion. This was also a period of great change in the Christian church. Disputes of the Crusades led to the split between the Eastern and Western Christian Churches, called the Great Schism of 1054. The practices of the Catholic religion were questioned and the beliefs of men such as Martin Luther (1483 – 1546) prompted a new religion called Protestantism which led to a further split in the Christian Church referred to as the Protestant Reformation.

During the Middle Ages religion, was everything. It was not unusual for people to go to church every day and pray five times a day. People believed that all the good things in life were due to the bounty of god and that the evil events of the times were due to their sins. Medieval religion was extremely important and even the doctors and physicians of the era were also well versed in religion.

From the 11th through the 14th centuries, medieval clothing varied according to the social standing of the people. The clothing worn by nobility and upper classes was clearly different than that of the lower class. Medieval clothes provided information about the status of the person wearing them. The clothing and fashion during the times of the Middle Ages was dominated and highly influenced by the Kings and Queens of the era. Only the wealthy could dress in fashionable clothes.

Peasant men wore stockings or tunics, while women wore long gowns with sleeveless tunics and wimples to cover their hair. Sheepskin cloaks and woolen hats and mittens were worn in winter for protection from the cold and rain. Leather boots were covered with wooden patens to keep the feet dry. The outer clothes were almost never laundered, but the linen underwear was regularly washed. The smell of wood smoke that permeated the clothing seemed to act as a deodorant. Peasant women spun wool into the threads that were woven into the cloth for these garments.

Many of the things that we take advantage of today were quite expensive during the Middle Ages or were just simply not available for the average home. Glass was one of these items. Homes did not use glass to block up their windows. They were little more the cutouts in the wall, and they were often small, sparse, and would be boarded up in the evening.

While people did not really fear break-ins or robberies like they do today, but wild animals and bad weather are what threatened the homes. There was also the threat of pillagers and windows were kept small so that the people that lived in the home could see what was outside, but it would be difficult for those outside to see into the home.

The average Middle Ages houses were extremely small and housed the entire family. They rarely had completed floors, many of them having dirt or straw floors that added to the dampness. Most homes only consisted of a couple of rooms in which the entire family resided. This was not only their sleeping quarters, but their cooking, resting, and area in which they had family time.

Most family time was extremely limited since most of the homes of peasants contained both the parents and the children, the whole family worked in order to help support the entire family. This meant that it was generally early to bed and early to rise, and left little time in between to try and work on their schooling or bond with their family.

The wealthy homes were a vast difference from the peasant homes. Since the Middle Ages houses that were owned by the wealthier people would sometimes be visited by royalty they were often a great deal larger than those of the peasants. Many of the wealthier titled families were often even appointed homes by the royal family, and since the homes often went with the title the homes were extremely large and well developed including large windows, tiled floors, and often furnished with gorgeous furniture. These homes often had servants quarters on the premises or the homes were built with an area in which could house servants in the interior of the home.

A joint excavation team from Osaka University and the Institute of History and Archaeology of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences discovered the ruins of a unique monument surrounded by 14 large stone pillars with Turkic Runic inscriptions arranged in a square on the steppe called Dongoin shiree in eastern Mongolia during their three-year (2015 ~ 2017) joint excavation. (Figure 1)

This monument will reveal that power relationships of rulers in the east area of the Turkic Qaghanate and their territories as well as their political and military relationships with Mongolian tribes, such as the Khitan, Tatabi, and Tatar. In addition, the arrangement of these stone pillars on the plateau will also provide important information for discussing the religious ideas and world outlook of the ancient nomads.

Animals were criminals

There are records of animals being taken to court for killing people, as well as smaller crimes. Examples include mice having been publicly tried for stealing part of the harvest, and a swarm of locusts being convicted also for eating crops.

Clown shoes were “in’

From the 1330s onward, men considered long-toed shoes as the height of fashion. By the late 14th century, toes were so long they had to be reinforced with wool, moss or whalebone; nobles had to tie their toes to their leggings in order to get around, while crusaders would chop them off in order to escape the enemy.

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