She asks that her father be given sovereignty over Britain, thus formalising the transfer of authority from Rome back to the Britons themselves. The marriage also makes possible British descendants, a point not lost on medieval kings. The earliest Welsh genealogies give Maximus the role of founding father for several royal dynasties, including those of Powys and Gwent ,   a role he also played for the rulers of medieval Galloway in Scotland, home to the Roman-era Novantae whose territory was also made independent of Roman rule by Maximus.
Tradition holds that following the Roman departure, Roman customs held on into the 5th century in southern Wales, and that is true in part. Caerwent continued to be occupied, while Carmarthen was probably abandoned in the late 4th century. Indeed, aside from the many Roman-related finds along the southern coast and the fully romanised area around Caerwent, Roman archaeological remains in Wales consist almost entirely of military roads and fortifications.
When the Roman garrison of Britain was withdrawn in , the various British states were left self-governing. Evidence for a continuing Roman influence after the departure of the Roman legions is provided by an inscribed stone from Gwynedd dated between the late 5th century and mid 6th century commemorating a certain Cantiorix who was described as a citizen cives of Gwynedd and a cousin of Maglos the magistrate magistratus.
One of the reasons for the Roman withdrawal was the pressure put upon the empire's military resources by the incursion of barbarian tribes from the east. These tribes, including the Angles and Saxons , who later became the English, were unable to make inroads into Wales except possibly along the Severn Valley as far as Llanidloes. It has been suggested that this battle finally severed the land connection between Wales and the kingdoms of the Hen Ogledd "Old North" , the Brythonic-speaking regions of what is now southern Scotland and northern England , including Rheged , Strathclyde , Elmet and Gododdin , where Old Welsh was also spoken.
Wales was divided into a number of separate kingdoms, the largest of these being Gwynedd in northwest Wales and Powys in east Wales. When Cadwallon was killed in battle by Oswald of Northumbria , his successor Cadafael ap Cynfeddw also allied himself with Penda against Northumbria, but thereafter Gwynedd, like the other Welsh kingdoms, was mainly engaged in defensive warfare against the growing power of Mercia. Powys as the easternmost of the major kingdoms of Wales came under the most pressure from the English in Cheshire , Shropshire and Herefordshire.
This kingdom originally extended east into areas now in England, and its ancient capital, Pengwern , has been variously identified as modern Shrewsbury or a site north of Baschurch. The construction of the earthwork known as Offa's Dyke usually attributed to Offa , King of Mercia in the 8th century may have marked an agreed border. For a single man to rule the whole country during this period was rare. This is often ascribed to the inheritance system practised in Wales.
All sons received an equal share of their father's property including illegitimate sons , resulting in the division of territories. However, the Welsh laws prescribe this system of division for land in general, not for kingdoms, where there is provision for an edling or heir to the kingdom to be chosen, usually by the king. Any son, legitimate or illegitimate, could be chosen as edling and there were frequently disappointed candidates prepared to challenge the chosen heir.
The first to rule a considerable part of Wales was Rhodri Mawr Rhodri The Great , originally king of Gwynedd during the 9th century, who was able to extend his rule to Powys and Ceredigion. Rhodri's grandson, Hywel Dda Hywel the Good , formed the kingdom of Deheubarth by joining smaller kingdoms in the southwest and had extended his rule to most of Wales by Hywel followed a policy of peace with the English. On his death in his sons were able to keep control of Deheubarth but lost Gwynedd to the traditional dynasty of this kingdom.
Wales was now coming under increasing attack by Viking raiders, particularly Danish raids in the period between and According to the chronicle Brut y Tywysogion , Godfrey Haroldson carried off two thousand captives from Anglesey in , and the king of Gwynedd, Maredudd ab Owain is reported to have redeemed many of his subjects from slavery by paying the Danes a large ransom. Gruffydd ap Llywelyn was the only ruler to be able to unite Wales under his rule.
Originally king of Gwynedd, by he was ruler of Wales and had annexed parts of England around the border. He ruled Wales with no internal battles  until he was defeated by Harold Godwinson in and killed by his own men. His territories were again divided into the traditional kingdoms. At the time of the Norman conquest of England in , the dominant ruler in Wales was Bleddyn ap Cynfyn , who was king of Gwynedd and Powys.
By the forces of the Earl of Shrewsbury were ravaging Deheubarth. The killing of Bleddyn ap Cynfyn in led to civil war and gave the Normans an opportunity to seize lands in North Wales. In Gruffudd ap Cynan , who had just won the throne of Gwynedd from Trahaearn ap Caradog at the Battle of Mynydd Carn was enticed to a meeting with the Earl of Chester and Earl of Shrewsbury and promptly seized and imprisoned, leading to the seizure of much of Gwynedd by the Normans. In , however, there was a general Welsh revolt against Norman rule, and gradually territories were won back.
Gruffudd ap Cynan was eventually able to build a strong kingdom in Gwynedd. Owain followed his father on the throne of Gwynedd the following year and ruled until his death in Powys also had a strong ruler at this time in Madog ap Maredudd , but when his death in was quickly followed by the death of his heir, Llywelyn ap Madog , Powys was split into two parts and never subsequently reunited.
In Rhys met King Henry II and came to an agreement with him whereby Rhys had to pay a tribute but was confirmed in all his conquests and was later named Justiciar of South Wales. Rhys held a festival of poetry and song at his court at Cardigan over Christmas which is generally regarded as the first recorded Eisteddfod. Owain Gwynedd's death led to the splitting of Gwynedd between his sons, while Rhys made Deheubarth dominant in Wales for a time.
Out of the power struggle in Gwynedd eventually arose one of the greatest of Welsh leaders, Llywelyn ab Iorwerth , also known as Llywelyn Fawr the Great , who was sole ruler of Gwynedd by  and by his death in was effectively ruler of much of Wales. Llywelyn the Great's other son, Gruffudd had been killed trying to escape from the Tower of London in Gruffudd had left four sons, and a period of internal conflict between three of these ended in the rise to power of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd also known as Llywelyn Ein Llyw Olaf ; Llywelyn, Our Last Leader.
The Treaty of Montgomery in confirmed Llywelyn in control, directly or indirectly, over a large part of Wales. Llywelyn was obliged to seek terms, and the Treaty of Aberconwy greatly restricted his authority. On 11 December , Llywelyn was lured into a meeting in Builth Wells castle with unknown Marchers, where he was killed and his army subsequently destroyed. His brother Dafydd ap Gruffudd continued an increasingly forlorn resistance.
He was captured in June and was hanged, drawn and quartered at Shrewsbury. In effect Wales became England's first colony until it was finally annexed through the Laws in Wales Acts After the passing the Statute of Rhuddlan , which restricted Welsh laws, King Edward I's ring of impressive stone castles assisted in the domination of Wales, and he crowned his conquest by giving the title Prince of Wales to his son and heir in English kings appointed a Council of Wales, sometimes presided over by the heir to the throne.
This Council normally sat in Ludlow , now in England but at that time still part of the disputed border area in the Welsh Marches. Welsh literature, particularly poetry, continued to flourish, however, with the lesser nobility now taking over from the princes as the patrons of the poets. Many consider Dafydd ap Gwilym , who flourished in the middle of the 14th century, the greatest of the Welsh poets.
There were a number of rebellions including ones led by Madog ap Llywelyn in —  and by Llywelyn Bren , Lord of Senghenydd, in — In the s the last representative in the male line of the ruling house of Gwynedd , Owain Lawgoch , twice planned an invasion of Wales with French support. The English government responded to the threat by sending an agent to assassinate Owain in Poitou in Owain inflicted a number of defeats on the English forces and for a few years controlled most of Wales.
Some of his achievements included holding the first Welsh Parliament at Machynlleth and plans for two universities. Eventually the king's forces were able to regain control of Wales and the rebellion died out, but Owain himself was never captured. His rebellion caused a great upsurge in Welsh identity and he was widely supported by Welsh people throughout the country.
These prohibited the Welsh from carrying arms , from holding office and from dwelling in fortified towns. These prohibitions also applied to Englishmen who married Welsh women. These laws remained in force after the rebellion, although in practice they were gradually relaxed. In the Wars of the Roses which began in both sides made considerable use of Welsh troops. In Jasper's nephew, Henry Tudor, landed in Wales with a small force to launch his bid for the throne of England.
Henry was of Welsh descent, counting princes such as Rhys ap Gruffydd The Lord Rhys among his ancestors, and his cause gained much support in Wales. Under his son, Henry VIII of England , the Laws in Wales Acts were passed, integrating Wales with England in legal terms, abolishing the Welsh legal system, and banning the Welsh language from any official role or status, but it did for the first time define the England-Wales border and allowed members representing constituencies in Wales to be elected to the English Parliament. Following Henry VIII 's break with Rome and the Pope, Wales for the most part followed England in accepting Anglicanism , although a number of Catholics were active in attempting to counteract this and produced some of the earliest books printed in Welsh.
In William Morgan produced the first complete translation of the Welsh Bible. Wales was overwhelmingly Royalist in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms in the early 17th century though there were some notable exceptions such as John Jones Maesygarnedd and the Puritan writer Morgan Llwyd.
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Fagans in May and the rebel leaders surrendered to Cromwell on 11 July after the protracted two-month siege of Pembroke. Education in Wales was at a very low ebb in this period, with the only education available being in English while the majority of the population spoke only Welsh. In Griffith Jones started circulating schools in Carmarthenshire , held in one location for about three months before moving or "circulating" to another location. The language of instruction in these schools was Welsh.
By Griffith Jones' death, in , it is estimated that up to , people had learnt to read in schools throughout Wales. This also led to the strengthening of other nonconformist denominations, and by the middle of the 19th century Wales was largely Nonconformist in religion. This had considerable implications for the Welsh language as it was the main language of the nonconformist churches in Wales. The Sunday schools which became an important feature of Welsh life made a large part of the population literate in Welsh, which was important for the survival of the language as it was not taught in the schools.
The end of the 18th century saw the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution , and the presence of iron ore, limestone and large coal deposits in south-east Wales meant that this area soon saw the establishment of ironworks and coal mines, notably the Cyfarthfa Ironworks and the Dowlais Ironworks at Merthyr Tydfil.
The population of Wales doubled from , in to 1,, in and had reached 2,, by Most of the increase came in the coal mining districts especially Glamorganshire , which grew from 71, in to , in and 1,, in However, there was also a large-scale migration of people into Wales during the industrial revolution. The English were the most numerous group, but there were also considerable numbers of Irish and smaller numbers of other ethnic groups,   including Italians , migrated to South Wales. Many of these self-identify as Welsh. The modern history of Wales starts in the 19th century when South Wales became heavily industrialised with ironworks; this, along with the spread of coal mining to the Cynon and Rhondda valleys from the s, led to an increase in population.
The first decade of the 20th century was the period of the coal boom in South Wales, when population growth exceeded 20 per cent. Kenneth O. Morgan argues that the — era:. The world wars and interwar period were hard times for Wales, in terms of the faltering economy of antiwar losses, and a deep sense of insecurity. Men eagerly volunteered for war service. Plaid Cymru was formed in but initially its growth was slow and it gained few votes at parliamentary elections. The coal industry steadily declined after There was a similar catastrophic decline in the steel industry the steel crisis , and the Welsh economy, like that of other developed societies, became increasingly based on the expanding service sector.
In May , a Labour government was elected with a promise of creating devolved institutions in Scotland and Wales. In late a referendum was held on the issue which resulted a "yes" vote. The Welsh Assembly was set up in as a consequence of the Government of Wales Act and possesses the power to determine how the government budget for Wales is spent and administered.
This compares with a pattern of steady decline indicated by census results during the 20th century. Though still higher than in , the number of people aged 3 and over able to speak Welsh in Wales decreased from , The Government of Wales Act c 32 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that reformed the National Assembly for Wales and allows further powers to be granted to it more easily.
The Act creates a system of government with a separate executive drawn from and accountable to the legislature. Following a successful referendum in on extending the law making powers of the National Assembly it is now able to make laws, known as Acts of the Assembly, on all matters in devolved subject areas, without needing the UK Parliament's agreement.
In the referendum, Wales joined England in endorsing Brexit and rejecting membership in the European Union. They used the model of the Synod of Dort of Calvinism developed through the Puritan period, following the restoration of the monarchy under Charles II, and within Wales' Methodist movement. However few copies of Calvin's works were available before the midth century. In William Morgan completed a translation of the whole Bible. These translations were as important to the survival of the Welsh language and had the effect of conferring status on Welsh as a liturgical language and vehicle for worship.
This had a significant role in its continued use as a means of everyday communication and as a literary language down to the present day despite the pressure of English. Nonconformity was a significant influence in Wales from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries. The Welsh Methodist revival of the 18th century was one of the most significant religious and social movements in the history of Wales. The revival began within the Church of England in Wales and at the beginning remained as a group within it, but the Welsh revival differed from the Methodist revival in England in that its theology was Calvinist rather than Arminian.
Welsh Methodists gradually built up their own networks, structures, and even meeting houses or chapels , which led eventually to the secession of and the formal establishment of the Calvinistic Methodist Presbyterian church of Wales in As a result, by the middle of the nineteenth century, Wales was predominantly a nonconformist country. The — Welsh Revival was the largest full scale Christian Revival of Wales of the 20th century. It is believed that at least , people became Christians during the — revival, but despite this it did not put a stop to the gradual decline of Christianity in Wales, only holding it back slightly.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Part of a series on the. Welsh cultural history. Mythology and folklore. Mythology Matter of Britain Arthurian legend Mabinogion. Music and performing arts. Radio Television Cinema. Against this economic background the culture and the imperial traditions of the Eastern Roman Empire attracted its northern neighbours—Slavs, Bulgars, and Khazars—to Constantinople , in search of either pillage or enlightenment.
The movement of the Germanic tribes to the south triggered the great migration of the Slavs , who occupied the vacated territories. In the 7th century, they moved westward to the Elbe , southward to the Danube and eastward to the Dnieper. By the 9th century, the Slavs had expanded into sparsely inhabited territories to the south and east from these natural frontiers, peacefully assimilating the indigenous Illyrian and Finno-Ugric populations.
From the 7th century Byzantine history was greatly affected by the rise of Islam and the Caliphates. The Byzantines and neighbouring Persian Sasanids had been severely weakened by a long succession of Byzantine—Sasanian wars , especially the climactic Byzantine—Sasanian War of — In the mid 7th century AD, following the Muslim conquest of Persia , Islam penetrated into the Caucasus region, of which parts would later permanently become part of Russia. Over the next centuries Muslim forces were able to take further European territory, including Cyprus , Malta , Septimania , Crete , and Sicily and parts of southern Italy.
They landed at Gibraltar on 30 April and worked their way northward. Tariq's forces were joined the next year by those of his superior, Musa ibn Nusair. During the eight-year campaign most of the Iberian Peninsula was brought under Muslim rule—except for small areas in the north-northwest Asturias and largely Basque regions in the Pyrenees. This territory, under the Arab name Al-Andalus , became part of the expanding Umayyad empire. The unsuccessful second siege of Constantinople weakened the Umayyad dynasty and reduced their prestige.
After their success in overrunning Iberia, the conquerors moved northeast across the Pyrenees. Charles Martel's son Pippin the Short retook Narbonne , and his grandson Charlemagne established the Marca Hispanica across the Pyrenees in part of what today is Catalonia , reconquering Girona in and Barcelona in The Umayyads in Hispania proclaimed themselves caliphs in Due to a complex set of reasons, [ which? The Franks, in contrast, were barely any different from their barbarian Germanic ancestors.
Their kingdom was weak and divided. Though much of Roman civilization north of the Po River had been wiped out in the years after the end of the Western Roman Empire, between the 5th and 8th centuries, new political and social infrastructure began to develop. Much of this was initially Germanic and pagan. Arian Christian missionaries had been spreading Arian Christianity throughout northern Europe, though by the religion of northern Europeans was largely a mix of Germanic paganism , Christianized paganism, and Arian Christianity.
Through the practice of simony , local princes typically auctioned off ecclesiastical offices, causing priests and bishops to function as though they were yet another noble under the patronage of the prince. These monasteries remained independent from local princes, and as such constituted the "church" for most northern Europeans during this time. Being independent from local princes, they increasingly stood out as centres of learning, of scholarship, and as religious centres where individuals could receive spiritual or monetary assistance. The interaction between the culture of the newcomers, their warband loyalties, the remnants of classical culture, and Christian influences, produced a new model for society, based in part on feudal obligations.
The centralized administrative systems of the Romans did not withstand the changes, and the institutional support for chattel slavery largely disappeared. The Anglo-Saxons in England had also started to convert from Anglo-Saxon polytheism after the arrival of Christian missionaries around the year The Lombards , who first entered Italy in under Alboin , carved out a state in the north, with its capital at Pavia.
The next two hundred years were occupied in trying to conquer these territories from the Byzantine Empire. The Lombard state was relatively Romanized, at least when compared to the Germanic kingdoms in northern Europe. It was highly decentralized at first, with the territorial dukes having practical sovereignty in their duchies, especially in the southern duchies of Spoleto and Benevento. For a decade following the death of Cleph in , the Lombards did not even elect a king; this period is called the Rule of the Dukes.
The first written legal code was composed in poor Latin in the Edictum Rothari. It was primarily the codification of the oral legal tradition of the people. The Lombard state was well-organized and stabilized by the end of the long reign of Liutprand — , but its collapse was sudden. Unsupported by the dukes, King Desiderius was defeated and forced to surrender his kingdom to Charlemagne in The Lombard kingdom ended and a period of Frankish rule was initiated. The Frankish king Pepin the Short had, by the Donation of Pepin , given the pope the " Papal States " and the territory north of that swath of papally-governed land was ruled primarily by Lombard and Frankish vassals of the Holy Roman Emperor until the rise of the city-states in the 11th and 12th centuries.
In the south, a period of chaos began. The duchy of Benevento maintained its sovereignty in the face of the pretensions of both the Western and Eastern Empires. In the 9th century, the Muslims conquered Sicily. The cities on the Tyrrhenian Sea departed from Byzantine allegiance. Various states owing various nominal allegiances fought constantly over territory until events came to a head in the early 11th century with the coming of the Normans , who conquered the whole of the south by the end of the century.
Roman Britain was in a state of political and economic collapse at the time of the Roman departure c. A series of settlements traditionally referred to as an invasion by Germanic peoples began in the early fifth century, and by the sixth century the island would consist of many small kingdoms engaged in ongoing warfare with each other.
The Germanic kingdoms are now collectively referred to as Anglo-Saxons. Christianity began to take hold among the Anglo-Saxons in the sixth century, with given as the traditional date for its large-scale adoption. Western Britain Wales , eastern and northern Scotland Pictland and the Scottish highlands and isles continued their separate evolution. The Irish descended and Irish-influenced people of western Scotland were Christian from the fifth century onward, the Picts adopted Christianity in the sixth century under the influence of Columba , and the Welsh had been Christian since the Roman era.
Northumbria was the pre-eminent power c. Wessex would absorb all of the kingdoms in the south, both Anglo-Saxon and Briton. In Wales consolidation of power would not begin until the ninth century under the descendants of Merfyn Frych of Gwynedd , establishing a hierarchy that would last until the Norman invasion of Wales in The first Viking raids on Britain began before , increasing in scope and destructiveness over time. In a large, well-organized Danish Viking army called the Great Heathen Army attempted a conquest, breaking or diminishing Anglo-Saxon power everywhere but in Wessex.
Under the leadership of Alfred the Great and his descendants, Wessex would at first survive, then coexist with, and eventually conquer the Danes. It would then establish the Kingdom of England and rule until the establishment of an Anglo-Danish kingdom under Cnut , and then again until the Norman Invasion of Viking raids and invasion were no less dramatic for the north. Their defeat of the Picts in led to a lasting Norse heritage in northernmost Scotland, and it led to the combination of the Picts and Gaels under the House of Alpin , which became the Kingdom of Alba , the predecessor of the Kingdom of Scotland.
The Merovingians established themselves in the power vacuum of the former Roman provinces in Gaul, and Clovis I converted to Christianity following his victory over the Alemanni at the Battle of Tolbiac , laying the foundation of the Frankish Empire , the dominant state of early medieval Western Christendom.
The Frankish kingdom grew through a complex development of conquest, patronage, and alliance building. Due to salic custom, inheritance rights were absolute, and all land was divided equally among the sons of a dead land holder. Likewise, those princes and their sons could sublet their land to their own vassals, who could in turn sublet the land to lower sub-vassals.
This also allowed his nobles to attempt to build their own power base, though given the strict salic tradition of hereditary kingship, few would ever consider overthrowing the king. This increasingly absurd arrangement was highlighted by Charles Martel , who as Mayor of the Palace was effectively the strongest prince in the kingdom.
It was under his patronage that Saint Boniface expanded Frankish influence into Germany by rebuilding the German church, with the result that, within a century, the German church was the strongest church in western Europe. His son, Pepin the Short , inherited his power, and used it to further expand Frankish influence. Unlike his father, however, Pepin decided to seize the Frankish kingship. Given how strongly Frankish culture held to its principle of inheritance, few would support him if he attempted to overthrow the king. Pepin agreed to support the pope and to give him land the Donation of Pepin , which created the Papal States in exchange for being consecrated as the new Frankish king.
Given that Pepin's claim to the kingship was now based on an authority higher than Frankish custom, no resistance was offered to Pepin. Pepin's son Charlemagne continued in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. He further expanded and consolidated the Frankish kingdom now commonly called the Carolingian Empire.
His reign also saw a cultural rebirth, commonly called the Carolingian Renaissance. Upon Charlemagne's death, his empire had united much of modern-day France, western Germany and northern Italy. The years after his death illustrated how Germanic his empire remained. West Francia would be ruled by Carolingians until and East Francia until , after which time the partition of the empire into France and Germany was complete. Around there was a return to systematic agriculture in the form of the open field , or strip, system.
An acre measured one "furlong" of yards by one "chain" of 22 yards that is, about m by 20 m. A furlong from "furrow long" was considered to be the distance an ox could plough before taking a rest; the strip shape of the acre field also reflected the difficulty in turning early heavy ploughs. In the idealized form of the system, each family got thirty such strips of land.
The three-field system of crop rotation was first developed in the 9th century: wheat or rye was planted in one field, the second field had a nitrogen-fixing crop, and the third was fallow. Compared to the earlier two-field system, a three-field system allowed for significantly more land to be put under cultivation. Even more important, the system allowed for two harvests a year, reducing the risk that a single crop failure will lead to famine.
Three-field agriculture created a surplus of oats that could be used to feed horses. This surplus allowed for the replacement of the ox by the horse after the introduction of the padded horse collar in the 12th century. Because the system required a major rearrangement of real estate and of the social order, it took until the 11th century before it came into general use. The heavy wheeled plough was introduced in the late 10th century. It required greater animal power and promoted the use of teams of oxen.
Illuminated manuscripts depict two-wheeled ploughs with both a mouldboard, or curved metal ploughshare, and a coulter, a vertical blade in front of the ploughshare. The Romans had used light, wheel-less ploughs with flat iron shares that often proved unequal to the heavy soils of northern Europe. The return to systemic agriculture coincided with the introduction of a new social system called feudalism. This system featured a hierarchy of reciprocal obligations.
Each man was bound to serve his superior in return for the latter's protection. This made for confusion of territorial sovereignty since allegiances were subject to change over time and were sometimes mutually contradictory. Feudalism allowed the state to provide a degree of public safety despite the continued absence of bureaucracy and written records. Even land ownership disputes were decided based solely on oral testimony.
Territoriality was reduced to a network of personal allegiances. During this period, the Vikings , Scandinavian warriors and traders raided and explored most parts of Europe, south-western Asia, northern Africa, and north-eastern North America. With the means to travel longships and open water , desire for goods led Scandinavian traders to explore and develop extensive trading partnerships in new territories. Some of the most important trading ports during the period include both existing and ancient cities such as Aarhus , Ribe , Hedeby , Vineta , Truso , Kaupang , Birka , Bordeaux , York , Dublin , and Aldeigjuborg.
Viking raiding expeditions were separate from, though coexisted with, regular trading expeditions. Apart from exploring Europe via its oceans and rivers, with the aid of their advanced navigational skills, they extended their trading routes across vast parts of the continent. They also engaged in warfare, looting and enslaving numerous Christian communities of Medieval Europe for centuries, contributing to the development of feudal systems in Europe. Influence from the Byzantine Empire impacted the Christianization and hence almost every aspect of the cultural and political development of the East from the preeminence of Caesaropapism and Eastern Christianity to the spread of the Cyrillic alphabet.
The turmoil of the so-called Barbarian invasions in the beginning of the period gradually gave way to more stabilized societies and states as the origins of contemporary Eastern Europe began to take shape during the High Middle Ages. Magyar region. Turkic and Iranian invaders from Central Asia pressured the agricultural populations both in the Byzantine Balkans and in Central Europe creating a number of successor states in the Pontic steppes.
The Khazars were a nomadic Turkic people who managed to develop a multiethnic commercial state which owed its success to the control of much of the waterway trade between Europe and Central Asia. Through a network of Jewish itinerant merchants, or Radhanites , they were in contact with the trade emporia of India and Spain. Once they found themselves confronted by Arab expansionism , the Khazars pragmatically allied themselves with Constantinople and clashed with the Caliphate.
Despite initial setbacks, they managed to recover Derbent and eventually penetrated as far south as Caucasian Iberia , Caucasian Albania and Armenia. In doing so, they effectively blocked the northward expansion of Islam into Eastern Europe even before khan Tervel achieved the same at the Second Arab Siege of Constantinople and several decades before the Battle of Tours in Western Europe. Islam eventually penetrated into Eastern Europe in the s when Volga Bulgaria exploited the decline of Khazar power in the region to adopt Islam from the Baghdad missionaries.
The state religion of Khazaria, Judaism , disappeared as a political force with the fall of Khazaria, while Islam of Volga Bulgaria has survived in the region up to the present. In the beginning of the period the Slavic tribes started to expand aggressively into Byzantine possessions on the Balkans. The first attested Slavic polities were Serbia and Great Moravia , the latter of which emerged under the aegis of the Frankish Empire in the early 9th century.
Great Moravia was ultimately overrun by the Magyars , who invaded the Pannonian Basin around The Slavic state became a stage for confrontation between the Christian missionaries from Constantinople and Rome. Although West Slavs , Croats and Slovenes eventually acknowledged Roman ecclesiastical authority, the clergy of Constantinople succeeded in converting to Eastern Christianity two of the largest states of early medieval Europe, Bulgaria around , and Kievan Rus' circa In the Bulgars founded a powerful and ethnically diverse state that played a defining role in the history of early medieval Southeastern Europe.
Bulgaria withstood the pressure from Pontic steppe tribes like the Pechenegs , Khazars , and Cumans , and in destroyed the Avar Khanate. The Danube Bulgars were quickly slavicized and, despite constant campaigning against Constantinople, accepted Christianity from the Byzantine Empire. Through the efforts of missionaries Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius ,  the Bulgarian Glagolitic and Cyrillic alphabets were developed in the capital Preslav and a vernacular dialect, now known as Old Bulgarian or Old Church Slavonic , was established as the language of books and liturgy among Orthodox Christian Slavs.
After the adoption of Christianity in , Bulgaria became a cultural and spiritual hub of the Eastern Orthodox Slavic world. The Cyrillic script was developed by Bulgarian scholar Clement of Ohrid in and was afterwards introduced to Serbia and Kievan Rus'. Literature, art, and architecture were thriving with the establishment of the Preslav and Ohrid Literary Schools along with the distinct Preslav Ceramics School.
In the Bulgarian Orthodox Church was the first European national Church to gain independence with its own Patriarch while conducting services in the vernacular Old Church Slavonic. Under Simeon I — , the state was the largest and one of the most powerful political entities of Europe, and it consistently threatened the existence of the Byzantine empire. From the middle of the 10th century Bulgaria was in decline as it entered a social and spiritual turmoil. It was in part due to Simeon's devastating wars, but was also exacerbated by a series of successful Byzantine military campaigns.
Bulgaria was conquered after a long resistance in Led by a Varangian dynasty, the Kievan Rus' controlled the routes connecting Northern Europe to Byzantium and to the Orient for example: the Volga trade route. The Kievan state began with the rule — of Prince Oleg , who extended his control from Novgorod southwards along the Dnieper river valley in order to protect trade from Khazar incursions from the east and moved his capital to the more strategic Kiev.
Sviatoslav I died achieved the first major expansion of Kievan Rus' territorial control, fighting a war of conquest against the Khazar Empire and inflicting a serious blow on Bulgaria. A Rus' attack or , instigated by the Byzantines, led to the collapse of the Bulgarian state and the occupation of the east of the country by the Rus'. An ensuing direct military confrontation between the Rus' and Byzantium ended with a Byzantine victory The Rus' withdrew and the Byzantine Empire incorporated eastern Bulgaria.
Both before and after their conversion to Christianity conventionally dated under Vladimir I of Kiev —known as Vladimir the Great , the Rus' also embarked on predatory military campaigns against the Byzantine Empire, some of which resulted in trade treaties. The importance of Russo-Byzantine relations to Constantinople was highlighted by the fact that Vladimir I of Kiev, son of Svyatoslav I, became the only foreigner to marry a Byzantine princess of the Macedonian dynasty which ruled the Eastern Roman Empire from to , a singular honour sought in vain by many other rulers.
With the end of the Western Roman Empire and with urban centres in decline, literacy and learning decreased in the West. This continued a pattern that had been underway since the 3rd century. Much of the Greek literary corpus remained in Greek, and few in the west could speak or read Greek. In this sense, education was not lost so much as it had yet to be acquired. Education did ultimately continue, and was centred in the monasteries and cathedrals. A "Renaissance" of classical education would appear in Carolingian Empire in the 8th century.
In the Eastern Roman Empire Byzantium , learning in the sense of formal education involving literature was maintained at a higher level than in the West. The classical education system, which would persist for hundreds of years, emphasized grammar, Latin, Greek, and rhetoric.
Pupils read and reread classic works and wrote essays imitating their style. By the 4th century, this education system was Christianized. In De Doctrina Christiana started , completed , Augustine explained how classical education fits into the Christian worldview: Christianity is a religion of the book, so Christians must be literate.
Tertullian was more skeptical of the value of classical learning, asking "What indeed has Athens to do with Jerusalem? De-urbanization reduced the scope of education, and by the 6th century teaching and learning moved to monastic and cathedral schools, with the study of biblical texts at the centre of education. In the 7th century, however, learning expanded in Ireland and the Celtic lands, where Latin was a foreign language and Latin texts were eagerly studied and taught.
In the ancient world, Greek was the primary language of science.
Advanced scientific research and teaching was mainly carried on in the Hellenistic side of the Roman empire, and in Greek. Late Roman attempts to translate Greek writings into Latin had limited success. For a time, Latin-speakers who wanted to learn about science had access to only a couple of books by Boethius c.
Saint Isidore of Seville produced a Latin encyclopedia in Private libraries would have existed, and monasteries would also keep various kinds of texts. The study of nature was pursued more for practical reasons than as an abstract inquiry: the need to care for the sick led to the study of medicine and of ancient texts on drugs;  the need for monks to determine the proper time to pray led them to study the motion of the stars;  and the need to compute the date of Easter led them to study and teach mathematics and the motions of the Sun and Moon.
In the late 8th century, there was renewed interest in Classical Antiquity as part of the Carolingian Renaissance. Charlemagne carried out a reform in education. The English monk Alcuin of York elaborated a project of scholarly development aimed at resuscitating classical knowledge by establishing programs of study based upon the seven liberal arts : the trivium , or literary education grammar , rhetoric , and dialectic , and the quadrivium , or scientific education arithmetic , geometry , astronomy , and music.
From on, decrees began to circulate recommending the restoration of old schools and the founding of new ones across the empire. Institutionally, these new schools were either under the responsibility of a monastery monastic schools , a cathedral , or a noble court. The teaching of dialectic a discipline that corresponds to today's logic was responsible for the increase in the interest in speculative inquiry; from this interest would follow the rise of the Scholastic tradition of Christian philosophy.
In the 12th and 13th centuries, many of those schools founded under the auspices of Charlemagne, especially cathedral schools , would become universities. Byzantium's great intellectual achievement was the Corpus Juris Civilis "Body of Civil Law" , a massive compilation of Roman law made under Justinian r. The work includes a section called the Digesta which abstracts the principles of Roman law in such a way that they can be applied to any situation.
The level of literacy was considerably higher in the Byzantine Empire than in the Latin West. Elementary education was much more widely available, sometimes even in the countryside. Secondary schools still taught the Iliad and other classics. As for higher education, the Neoplatonic Academy in Athens was closed in There was also a school in Alexandria which remained open until the Arab conquest Higher education in this period focused on rhetoric, although Aristotle 's logic was covered in simple outline.
Under the Macedonian dynasty — , Byzantium enjoyed a golden age and a revival of classical learning. There was little original research, but many lexicons, anthologies, encyclopedias, and commentaries. In the course of the 11th century, Islam's scientific knowledge began to reach Western Europe, via Islamic Spain. The modern Hindu-Arabic numeral system , including a notation for zero, were developed by Hindu mathematicians in the 5th and 6th centuries.
Muslim mathematicians learned of it in the 7th century and added a notation for decimal fractions in the 9th and 10th centuries. Monasteries were targeted in the eighth and ninth centuries by Vikings who invaded the coasts of northern Europe. They were targeted not only because they stored books but also precious objects that were looted by invaders.
In the earliest monasteries, there were no special rooms set aside as a library, but from the sixth century onwards libraries became an essential aspect of monastic life in the Western Europe. The Benedictines placed books in the care of a librarian who supervised their use. In some monastic reading rooms, valuable books would be chained to shelves, but there were also lending sections as well. Copying was also another important aspect of monastic libraries, this was undertaken by resident or visiting monks and took place in the scriptorium.
In the Byzantine world, religious houses rarely maintained their own copying centres. Instead they acquired donations from wealthy donors. In the tenth century, the largest collection in the Byzantine world was found in the monasteries of Mount Athos modern-day Greece , which accumulated over 10, books. Scholars travelled from one monastery to another in search of the texts they wished to study. Travelling monks were often given funds to buy books, and certain monasteries which held a reputation for intellectual activities welcomed travelling monks who came to copy manuscripts for their own libraries.
One of these was the monastery of Bobbio in Italy, which was founded by the Irish abbot St. Columbanus in , and by the ninth century boasted a catalogue of manuscripts, including religious works, classical texts, histories and mathematical treatises. From the early Christians , early medieval Christians inherited a church united by major creeds, a stable Biblical canon, and a well-developed philosophical tradition.
The history of medieval Christianity traces Christianity during the Middle Ages—the period after the fall of the Roman Empire until the Protestant Reformation.
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The institutional structure of Christianity in the west during this period is different from what it would become later in the Middle Ages. As opposed to the later church, the church of the early Middle Ages consisted primarily of the monasteries. In addition, the papacy was relatively weak, and its power was mostly confined to central Italy.
For the typical Christian at this time, religious participation was largely confined to occasionally receiving mass from wandering monks. Few would be lucky enough to receive this as often as once a month. During the early Middle Ages, the divide between Eastern and Western Christianity widened, paving the way for the East-West Schism in the 11th century.
In the West, the power of the Bishop of Rome expanded. Pope Gregory the Great used his office as a temporal power, expanded Rome's missionary efforts to the British Isles, and laid the foundations for the expansion of monastic orders. Roman church traditions and practices gradually replaced local variants, including Celtic Christianity in Great Britain and Ireland.
Various barbarian tribes went from raiding and pillaging the island to invading and settling. They were entirely pagan, having never been part of the Empire, though they experienced Christian influence from the surrounding peoples, such as those who were converted by the mission of St. Augustine of Canterbury , sent by Pope Gregory the Great.
In the East, the conquests of Islam reduced the power of the Greek-speaking patriarchates. The Catholic Church , the only centralized institution to survive the fall of the Western Roman Empire intact, was the sole unifying cultural influence in the West, preserving Latin learning, maintaining the art of writing, and preserving a centralized administration through its network of bishops ordained in succession. The Early Middle Ages are characterized by the urban control of bishops and the territorial control exercised by dukes and counts.
The rise of urban communes marked the beginning of the High Middle Ages. The Christianization of Germanic tribes began in the 4th century with the Goths and continued throughout the Early Middle Ages, led in the 6th to 7th centuries by the Hiberno-Scottish mission and replaced in the 8th to 9th centuries by the Anglo-Saxon mission , with Anglo-Saxons like Alcuin playing an important role in the Carolingian renaissance.
He helped shape Western Christianity, and many of the dioceses he proposed remain until today. After his martyrdom, he was quickly hailed as a saint. Listless and often ill, Carolingian Emperor Charles the Fat provoked an uprising, led by his nephew Arnulf of Carinthia , which resulted in the division of the empire in into the kingdoms of France, Germany, and northern Italy. The German nobles elected Henry the Fowler , duke of Saxony, as their king at a Reichstag, or national assembly, in Fritzlar in Henry's power was only marginally greater than that of the other leaders of the stem duchies, which were the feudal expression of the former German tribes.
Henry's son King Otto I r. In , Otto marched into Italy and married the widowed Queen Adelaide , named himself king of the Lombards, and received homage from Berengar of Ivrea , king of Italy r. Otto named his relatives the new leaders of the stem duchies, but this approach did not completely solve the problem of disloyalty. His son Liudolf, duke of Swabia, revolted and welcomed the Magyars into Germany At Lechfeld , near Augsburg in Bavaria, Otto caught up with the Magyars while they were enjoying a razzia and achieved a signal victory in The Magyars ceased living on plunder, and their leaders created a Christian kingdom called Hungary The defeat of the Magyars greatly enhanced Otto's prestige.
He marched into Italy again and was crowned emperor imperator augustus by Pope John XII in Rome , an event that historians count as the founding of the Holy Roman Empire , although the term was not used until much later. The Ottonian state is also considered the first Reich, or German Empire. Otto used the imperial title without attaching it to any territory.
He and later emperors thought of themselves as part of a continuous line of emperors that begins with Charlemagne. Several of these "emperors" were simply local Italian magnates who bullied the pope into crowning them. Berengar was captured and taken to Germany. John was able to reverse the deposition after Otto left, but he died in the arms of his mistress soon afterwards.
Besides founding the German Empire, Otto's achievements include the creation of the "Ottonian church system," in which the clergy the only literate section of the population assumed the duties of an imperial civil service. He raised the papacy out of the muck of Rome's local gangster politics, assured that the position was competently filled, and gave it a dignity that allowed it to assume leadership of an international church.