From Charlemagne to the Renaissance

The Middle Ages Was a Time of Transition for Europe

by Danielle Crim, age 10

The period of European history leading up to the Renaissance is known as the Middle Ages. Scholars generally agree that it began around A.D. 750 and ended in the 1400’s, lasting over 650 years.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, during the 400’s A.D, non-Christians, or pagans, were highly represented in Europe.In an attempt to reunite Europe under a christian leader, the pope crowned Charlemagne,king of the franks, as emperor in 800 AD. These two men held much power between them. By the end of the Middle Ages, the majority of Europe was unified in its Christianity and even ready to expand.

During this time the measure of wealth was mostly farmland. Europe was still divided into many kingdoms, dukedoms, bishoprics (church-ruled states), and other states. In addition, kings gave land to lords and knights in return for their military services. Even though each lord had power, he still had to be loyal to his overlord. Peasants, the lowest in the societal hiarchy, worked on the farms in exchange for food and lodging

After 1100, Europe became wealthy. Merchants and crafts-people formed organizations called guilds that set up rules for business and controlled prices. By 1400, a growing number of people were working in manufacturing and trade.

Rulers of Europe fought each other for power and wealth. The Hundred Years War took place from 1337 to 1453 when the kings of England and France fought over who should rule France. The Hapsburgs of Austria and the Hohenzollerns of Germany fought with each other to conquer new lands.

The Middle Ages was a very interesting and important era in history that set the stage for Europe’s rebirth and expansion.

[Source: Kingfisher Children’s Encyclopedia]