The Middle Ages 1:

Questions for Thought

  1. How did Christian missionaries convert the pagans? What devices and techniques did they use in the assimilation of Germanic peoples into Christianity?
  2. One of the major concerns of early Christian leaders was the response to pre- Christian culture and civilization. How did the early Christian church view the pre-Christian world? How was the conflict resolved? How did the Christian church in the Byzantine Empire differ from that of the West in this regard?
  3. What ideas did Saint Augustine contribute to Christian thought? What was happening to Rome at the time St. Augustine wrote City of God? How could this have influenced his philosophy that the City of God is more important than the city of man?
  4. One of the long-range results of Diocletian's division of th Roman Empire was the schism between the Eastern and Western Christian churches. Trace the evolution of theschism from about 350 to 1054. What were the differences between Eastern and Western Christianity?
  5. Why was the defeat of the Roman army by the Visigoths in 378 a turning point in European history?
  6. The Bishop of Rome acquired not only spirititual but also secular leadership in the early fifth century. How did this come about? What was the intellectual justification for this development?
  7. What patterns of social and political life existed in German socity and what was the economy like? How and why did Germanic law evolve and how did it work? What impact did the traditions, beliefs and laws of the Germanic peoples have on the subsequentof European civilization?
  8. Why was there no church-state conflict in the eastern part of the empire? What was Muhammad's message? What impact did the Muslims have on the politics and culture of the Mediterranean world?
  9. What was the relationship between the Carolingians and the pope? How did both sides benefit from the relationship?
  10. How successful was Charlemagne in expanding the power of the Frankish state? What techniques and methods did Charlemagen use to govern his vast empire? How well did his empire function? Why did it collapse and fragment after his death? what were the consequences of this collapse?
  11. What were the probable reasons for Charlmagne's quest forthe title of emperor? What were the results?
  12. What was the Church's attitude toward Charlemagne and the political value ofthe "state"?
  13. In the early medieval period, a person of forty was considered old. Why did people die so young? How much did people understand about disease, and what kind of health care existed?
  14. What role did the church play in the recovery of Europe after 900 from a period of war and invasion?
  15. During the High Middle Ages, the church underwent reform on two fronts: spiritual and secular. Why? Trace and discuss these two reform movements. What were the immediate and long-term effects of the reforms?
  16. What were the goals of the Cluniac reformers? Why were the interested in isolation from lay society? Compare their reforms with those of the papal reformers. What abuses did Leo IX, Gregory VII and their allies see as most important to cure? Why?
  17. The battle over lay investiture affected all the monarchs of Europe, but was fought most bitterly by the German emperors. What was the main issue? What happened? Why did lay investiture cause greater concern in Germany than in France or England? Who were the ultimate winners and losers in this struggle?
  18. The Crusades were a symbol of the religious enthusiasm of the age. Did people have other motivations to go on holy wars besides religious zeal? What were they? In what sense were the Crusades a"steam valve" for late medieval society? What were the goals of the Crusades? How can we account for their general failure? How did Muslims view the Crusades? What lasting impact did they have?
  19. What changes did the Crusades bring to western European society? Did the benefits outweigh the disadvantages?
  20. Why did the population of Europe begin to increase in the eleventh century? What consequences did this have?
  21. The eleventh century saw great economic revival and recovery. What factors influenced this? Who enjoyed the benefits of prosperity?
  22. How did the political revival of the era affect reform of the church? In what ways did church reform affect secular developments? Which benefited most, the church or the secular rulers?
  23. Describe the idea of "the freedom of the church," which emerged from the Gregorian reform movement, and how it was connected to the practice of lay investiture. What role did this idea play in the conflict between Emperor Henry IV and Pope Gregory VII?
  24. "In the society of the High Middle Ages, function determined social classification." Discuss this statement in terms of those who worked, those who prayed, and those who fought. Does it adequately describe the reality of society in the 11-13th centuries? Why or why not?
  25. Describe popular religion in the 11-13th centuries. How did Church authorities respond to these popular beliefs and practices? What do these popular beliefs and practices reveal about medieval society?
  26. In medieval times, the nobles were considered to be "those who fought." Is this an adequate description of the European nobility of the period? How did the code of chivalry reinforce this function? What other functions did nobles perform?
  27. One of the greatest concerns of medieval nobles was the preservation of family holdings. What practices did they adopt to ensure the continuation of family property? What did these strategies mean for their wives and children?
  28. Why did aristocratic men in the Middle ages marry late, and aristocratic women marry early? Why was noble society marked by sexual tension and generational conflict?
  29. Most people in the Middle Ages believed that the role of monasteries was to pray for the rest of society. Is this an accurate description of what the monastic orders did? Why or why not? What other contributions did the monastic orders make to medieval society? How did monastic organization reflect and reinforce these functions? What was the social background of most medieval monks? How did this tend to change in the later Middle Ages?
  30. Medieval agriculture was based on the manor. Describe a typical manor and the life of a typical inhabitant. What changes had European agriculture undergone between the early Middle Ages and the 13th century? With what consequences? How effect was manor-based agriculture in supplying the needs of Europeans at the time?
  31. Discuss the opportunities for social and economic mobility for both men and women in the three social groups recognized in the High Middle Ages­those who fought, those who prayed, and those who worked. Who among these people had the greatest opportunities? In what ways did these opportunities tend to expand or contract during this period? Who made the greatest contribution to society? What role did the growing importance of the towns and townsmen play ?

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