Question 3 Part II
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Feudalism involved vassalage, where a vassal fought for his lord in exchange for land, called a fief. In terms of this military fighting, new inventions, such as the stirrup and larger horses being introduced, were a positive development towards the advancement of civilization. These stirrups supported the rider, enabling them to attack more easily. Althoguh they were still expensive, vassals were enable to give their military service in return for the land. Another positive development of feudalism was subinfeudation, which included vassals containing vassals of their own. This bound the greater and lesser landowners together, enabling some form of stability in a very unstable time. Furthermore, this was not a form of slavery. Because it was an honorable relationship, this may have enabled some sort of morality within the population because both the lord and vassal had mutual obligations to abide by. Some of these obligations were providing the lord with hospitality, appearing in court, or making financial payments on the part of the vassal, while the lord was required to support him both economically and legally. Furthermore, improper behavior and disloyalty would result in a broken bond.
Aside from feudalism, new political conflagrations advanced the progress of civilization, enabling Rome to recover.
In the east Frankish kingdom, dukes elected Conrad of Franconia to serve as their king. Although he did not make much of an impact, Henry the Fowler’s creation of the Saxon dynasty was a positive development that brought Otto I to the throne. Otto took up the practice of allowing bishops and abbots to govern his kingdom, maintaining more control over them. Furthermore, the title “Roman Emperor” was once again given to a Frank by the pope. This proved unsuccessful as it gave the Franks the responsibility of governing both Italy and Germany, which was a setback towards civilization since it was impossible.
The western Franks similarly chose their own king, Hugh Capet, who created the Capetian dynasty. This was a negative impact on civilization which resulted in a loose alliance of powerful lords who disregarded the king’s superiority
In England, a unified kingdom by the Anglo-Saxons was established. Alfred the Great (871-899) was a great contributor to the advancement of civilization because he made peace with the Danes, reducing the risk of Viking invasions. Furthermore, his belief in education allowed the translation of past works from Latin into the vernacular, Anglo-Saxon. Furthermore, his establishment of a unified Anglo-Saxon monarchy enabled a well-developed and strong monarchical government, an aspect of civilization that for a while seemed incapable of occurring. He maintained control by employing sheriffs.
Another aspect of civilization that occurred was Manorialism. This was a positive advancement towards civilization because it provided economic sustenance that made life possible, especially for the military elite, who enjoyed leisure time for war. It comprised of a manor, called a demesne, worked by serfs and allowed protection and food for a population that was incapable of supporting themselves. Furthermore, this development allowed lords to possess the legal rights of the serfs and take up political and public rights over the sres. The only downfall of this system was the decline in trade due to the hoarding of coins and jewels. Still, trade never died, but occurred between the Byzantines and Islamic people. By 900, Italian merchants emerged in trade.
While the west was underdeveloped and just getting on their feet, the Byzantine empire made several advancements of civilization during their golden age. Michael III’s reign caused a revival. His reforms in education, church, military, and the peasant economy was a step towards improvement. Although iconoclasm was abolished, another problem arose that proved negative for the church. It involved the patriarch of Constantinople and the pope, who was accused of accepting a revised version of the Nicene Creed. This led to the excommunication of the pope, which negatively impacted society as it furthered the division between the eastern and western churches.
After Michael, a new Macedonian Dynasty in the Byzantine empire occurred. Their reign contains several positive improvements toward civilization. Seeing that farmers were the military strength of the empire (which were essential during times when invasions and collapses of empires were so prominent), they began by strengthening their position. They also expanded trade, enabling Constantinople to flourish. Missionary efforts also contributed to their cultural expansion. Eastern Orthodox Christianity was spread. The civil service was very strong and well-educated, which provided great leadership. They combined with talented generals to mobilitze the empire’s military resources and take the offensive, enabling the defeat of several outside forces, such as the Muslims. This expanded the Byzantine Empire to its largest ever.
In Eastern Europe, Slavic people, who experienced invasions and division, settled different areas with different results. The Western Slavs were converted to Christianity by the barbarians, enabling them to be closely tied to the Roman Catholic Church and its Latin culture.
The southern Slavs experienced the advancement of civilization through Cyril and Methodius, who created the Slavonic alphabet, Slavonic church services, and translated the Bible into Slvavnic. When the Bulgars wre assimilated into their population, they formed a larger kingdom with the acceptance of Eastern Orthodoxy.
The Eastern Slavs, called Varangians, in the beginning, met with Viking invaders. The Varangians were able to build trading settlements and trade with Byzantines. Eventually, they became involved in civil wars among the Slavics and dominated the native peoples. Soon, a Rus state was established called the principality of Kiev, which attracted religious missionaries. This eventually led to a Byzantine model of Christianity, leading to an influence of the Russian political life.
Perhaps the greatest advancement of civilization during this era was through the Islamic people. Under a new dynasty, the Abbasids, Muslims experienced a period of splendid rule. One caliph, Harun-al-Rashid, enabled the golden age of the caliphate. It was a period of growing prosperity.
Harun's son and fighting/ preservation
Harun’s son was a great patron of learning, founding an astronomical observatory and creating a foundation for translating Classical Greek works. Although internal fighting for succession and vast wealth eventually led to a fragmented Islamic culture only bounded by language of passion for the Qu’ran, Muslims are still responsible for making great advancements. In fact, they were heirs of the Greco-Roman culture of the Roman empire, assimiliating the culture of their conquered territories. They had several libraries with numerous manuscripts. Furthermore, they collected books from all over and translated them into Arabic and Latin, something that later contributed to the resurfacing of previous scientific texts. Schools were established, as well as several buildings, palaces, and mosques. Furthemrmore, they preserved scientific and philosophical works, especially those of Plato and Aristotle, which were put into the House of Wisdom. The preservation of works was eased with the use of paper, which would later positively benefit European universities.
Aside from their preservation of the culture, they made contributions of their own, especially in mathematics and natural sciences, such as astronomy. For example, Al-Khwarizmi, created the discipline of algebra and studied stars and naming them. They also perfected the astrolabe. Lastly, their discoveries in chemistry and medicine led to Avicenna’s creation of a medical encyclopedia that became the basic medical textbook during the university period.
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