Medieval Europe and the Islamic world

Medieval Europe and the Islamic world

Medieval Europe and the Islamic world:

The history of the medieval Europe begins after the fall of the Roman Empire in 476 C.E. This fall of the empire which had so many kings and queens, saw chaos and disturbance for the next 500 years. These years were called the dark ages. There was no intellectual development, the lifestyle was pathetic and the Roman currency began to come down. 1/3 of the infants died before the age of 5 and 5% of women died in childbirth. Nothing was going right in Europe. It was after C.E. 1000 that things began to change as the learning began to spread. It entered into High Middle ages. When there was so much of turbulence and chaos after the downfall of Roman Empire, many groups tried to invade Rome and take control.

Muslims came from the South but they were stopped after the Battle of Tours in 732. The Vikings attacked Rome from the North. They came in long ships which could go inland on rivers and could hold 50 men each. By the ninth century they had control over Denmark, England, Ireland, Norway and Belgium.  Magyars who originated from Central Asia invaded from the east. They conquered Byzantine empires and spread their hold over France, Italy and Germany.

Carolingian Dynasty

Franks, who were not French but Germanic, were smaller than Roman Empire and lacked a central ruling government. Their first capital was in Paris. King Clovis was the first king to unite all the Frankish tribes. He also became the first Roman Catholic to rule the Franks. He ruled from 481 -511 C.E and after him there were none to hold the tribes. After a lull Charles Martel took control in 718 and ruled till 741. He established the Carolingian Dynasty. He lead the forces of Northern France and Belgium, which was Christian. He defeated the Muslims from taking control. After his death his son Pepin took over. Pepin got the support of the Pope as well.Charlemagne who was the son of Pepin ruled Frankish Kingdom from 768 to 814. He conquered of Lombardy and Italy and the Pope declared him the Emperor of Romans in 800. He defeated the Saxons and spread the Christianity through the educational systems. He forcibly took territories from the smaller tribes and consolidated his empire.

After the death of Charlemagne in 814, the Carolingian Kingdom split. Feudalism developed and the empire once again broke into small Germanic tribes. Under different rulers in 888 C.E there is once again despair and chaos. It was only in 926 that the small tribes were united and formed a larger kingdom under Otto I. He was known as Otto the Great and the Dukes who were generally considered to be at par with the kings lost some of their powers. All of them came under the control of Otto I the Roman Emperor. Otto defeated the Magyars in 955 thereby ending the expansion of the Magyars. Though Papacy supported him, he had differences towards the end of his life. A new class of people evolved called the Lords and they had knights who formed the force of these Lords. In 1054 the Holy Roman Empire split into two branches which were the Eastern Orthodox and the Roman Catholic. This was known as The Great Schism. While the former had a stronghold in the eastern region the latter was strong in the western region.

This divide facilitated many others to crusade into these territories. Jews, Muslims and Christians wanted to take control of Palestine the Holy Land. The people were exposed to Islam and Byzantine culture. Global trade opened up. The first crusade by Muslims in 1186 resulted in Muslims taking over Jerusalem. Around 1202 the fourth crusade of the Muslims was to Constantinople, Venice and Zara.  Hanseatic League was formed which was a commercial alliance between Scandinavia and Northern Germany. Around 1265 the English Parliament was formed with the House of Lords and the House of Commons. House of Lords were the representatives from the nobles and church hierarchy. The House of Commons were the elected representatives of wealthy people in the town. In 1337 the Hundred Years War began. At the same the roots of Renaissance was gaining a foothold. In 1347 the plague killed many children and it was also the reviving the art forms and in 1400 Renaissance had taken root. During the first couple of decades of the 12th century the Papacy had complete control over the kingdom.

Muslim Caliphates

The Muslims tried to invade Europe when the Roman Empire was in shatters but Charles Martel managed to beat them back. The Muslims were controlled by the Caliphs during the period between 600 to 1400 C.E.  Umayyad became caliph after the fourth caliph. Based in Damascus they managed to spread their empire to Egypt, Spain, North Africa, Syria, Persia and parts of Byzantine Empire in West Asia. They established monarchy which became hereditary. The bureaucracy depended on local administrations. Only if cultures obeyed the caliphate they were tolerated.  Others had to pay a tax and they could not revolt. Arabic was the official language.

Abbasid caliphate assumed control in 750 C.E. The capital moved from Damascus to Baghdad, the second largest city in the world. The empire weakened under this caliphate as it was difficult to control a big city and its population and they depended on their slaves called Mamluks. They served in the army too but ultimately weakened the Abbasid rule. It broke into smaller states between 861  and 945 but Islam continued to be the connecting force. These small kingdoms were called Dar-al-Islam. Merchants brought in techniques o improved irrigation and food production increased. Their main income was from pottery, rugs and fabrics.

Fatimid caliphate established themselves in North Africa. They belonged to the Arab origin and were the followers of Fatima, daughter of Prophet Mohammed. In 921, this caliphate made Mahdia in Tunisia their capital. It was later changed to Al Mansuriya. Once Cairo was captured in 969,that became the new capital. They conquered extensively but practised religious tolerance as well. Maltese, Christians, Jews could live in peace under this caliphate. During the end of 1tth Century and early 12th century the Fatimid caliphate began to decline rapidly. In 1171 Ayyubid dynasty was established which was founded by Saladin. He took in Fatimid caliphate into the Abbasid caliphate.

Medieval Europe and the Islamic world: