Author Topic: High vs. Low Middle Ages  (Read 5436 times)

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Offline Phidippides

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High vs. Low Middle Ages
« on: May 16, 2008, 03:09:42 AM »
Define the High Middle Ages and the Low Middle Ages and describe how they differ from one another.
"Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses" ~Juvenal

Offline DonaldBaker

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Re: High vs. Low Middle Ages
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2008, 08:04:00 PM »
The Low Middle Ages was a period of transition Europe underwent in the wake of the fall of the Western Roman Empire.  The High Middle Ages was a period of transition Europe underwent after the rise of the Carolingian Dynasties culminating in the expulsion of Islam from Western Europe.  It can be argued that the rise of the "nation-state" system occured during the High Middle Ages with the formation of France, Spain, and England.  Not my area, but that's my best guess.

Offline Phidippides

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Re: High vs. Low Middle Ages
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2008, 03:22:27 PM »
That's a pretty good timeline.  I would add that there were a few other things that can distinguish the Low and High Middle Ages - significant urban, technological, and economic expansion.  In fact I would go so far as to say it paralleled the Industrial Revolution in a sense as one advancement would lead to advancements in a related field which would bring advancements in another area.  Key here was economic vigor within markets which brought wealth to people and towns.  This, of course, is only really possible under a government which provides security and stability.
"Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses" ~Juvenal

Offline skiguy

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Re: High vs. Low Middle Ages
« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2008, 03:29:09 PM »
Could we also say there was more societal orderin the High Middle Ages?  Also, what about the rise of kingdoms and imperialism or imperialistic goals?
"The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it."    - Michelangelo

Offline Phidippides

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Re: High vs. Low Middle Ages
« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2008, 04:11:20 PM »
I think inherent with the notion of "imperialism" is that of geographic expansionism into new lands.  Obviously we saw it in Rome when it took over the Mediterranean world and beyond, as well as in Muslim conquests of the 7th century.  Charlemagne seems to have consolidated his holdings but didn't really go beyond them into new territories.  I don't know that you see this so much during the High Middle Ages either.
"Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses" ~Juvenal

Offline Wally

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Re: High vs. Low Middle Ages
« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2008, 07:14:04 PM »
The following descriptions are after Mysteries of the Middle Ages (Thomas Cahill; Anchor Books) page 63...

Early Middle Ages (so-called Dark Ages) 4th-11th Centuries;
Accession of Constantine in 312 to the increase (in Europe) of scholarship, commerce, and the size of cities.

High Middle Ages: 12th and 13th Centuries to the first half of the 14th;
From the beginnings of the 12th century Renaissance to the Black Death in 1347.

Late Middle Ages: 2nd half of the 14th through the 15th Century;
From the Black Death until the first voyage of Columbus.


I read this a few months back; like all his books, very thought provoking and well done.

FWIW,
Wally
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Offline Phidippides

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Re: High vs. Low Middle Ages
« Reply #6 on: August 23, 2008, 07:37:02 PM »
I think that goes to show that classifications in history are the result of historians looking back and trying to make sense of things.

Italy experienced its "Renaissance" clearly in the 15th century, and even back into the 14th century, which would suggest that the Middle Ages was waning during this time.  However, Cahill says the Middle Ages continue through the 15th century. 

That said, different geographical areas did not experience the same cultural phenomena at the same time, so the Middle Ages likely continued later further north in the Frankish lands than it did further south.
"Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses" ~Juvenal

Offline Wally

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Re: High vs. Low Middle Ages
« Reply #7 on: August 23, 2008, 07:54:09 PM »
I too was uneasy about his divisions... disregarding the nomenclature, he makes a good case for the beginnings of the growth and modernization that we associate with the classical Renaissance rather earlier than we are used to. In all, it is a terrific read.

I'm still going to teach the 15th century norm....  8)
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Offline DonaldBaker

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Re: High vs. Low Middle Ages
« Reply #8 on: August 24, 2008, 08:23:31 PM »
I have a serious problem with Constantine being placed as the beginning of the Early Middle Ages.  Constantine belongs in the Classical Age because he is a part of the story of Christianity's rise....not a Middle Age oriented theme no?

Offline Wally

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Re: High vs. Low Middle Ages
« Reply #9 on: August 24, 2008, 08:35:05 PM »
Point well taken; that's why we have horse races, eh?
I'm impressed with Cahill's book but truth be told it's a bit of a stretch for me too in some areas.

Wally

edit for spelling of author name...
« Last Edit: August 25, 2008, 08:19:18 AM by Wally »
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Offline Phidippides

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Re: High vs. Low Middle Ages
« Reply #10 on: August 25, 2008, 12:11:07 AM »
Good catch, Donnie - I agree on that one.  The 4th century is far too early for the Dark Ages/Low Middle Ages to begin.  Even if the Western Empire did show its signs of weakness in this century the real decay occurred in the 5th century.
"Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses" ~Juvenal

Offline Wally

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Re: High vs. Low Middle Ages
« Reply #11 on: August 25, 2008, 08:20:40 AM »
...check out his work, eh?
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Offline skiguy

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Re: High vs. Low Middle Ages
« Reply #12 on: November 30, 2009, 08:03:27 PM »
High middle ages = intellectual expansion.  Increased literacy, and codified laws.
"The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it."    - Michelangelo

Offline DonaldBaker

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Re: High vs. Low Middle Ages
« Reply #13 on: December 11, 2009, 08:46:55 PM »
High middle ages = intellectual expansion.  Increased literacy, and codified laws.

I can see this.