Explaining the Middle Ages in Seven Words

Last week, I mentioned Carl Pyrdum’s post on his blog Got Medieval about describing the Middle Ages in seven words or less — or I guess I should have said seven concepts or less. I also said I would post an explanation of why I chose the seven I did, so here is my brief explanation.

My list:

1) The Church
2) The Nobles
3) The Peasantry
4) The Crusades
5) The Black Death
6) Feudalism
7) Cathedrals (”Gothic” architecture)

The first three in the list (the Church, nobles, and peasantry) were the major classes in society during that period. You generally fell into one of those categories, though by the end of the High Middle Ages and the late medieval period, the merchant classes were starting to grow. These three classes had a major influence on each other and on all aspects of society (economically, politically, militarily, etc). The Church had the greatest influence of them all, and you cannot discuss medieval history without including the Church.

The next two, the Crusades and the Black Death, were two major events that arguably had the greatest impact on society during the medieval period. There are some others that could have been included, but I was limited to seven concepts, so I chose those two.

Number six: feudalism. This was the major social institution throughout the medieval period. As the merchant classes began to grow, and serfs began to gain their freedom (a major catalyst for this being the Black Death), the old feudal order began to break down, but for the major part of the Middle Ages, feudalism drove the interactions among the nobles and the peasantry and the Church, and it was this order alone that everyone understood and lived by.

“Gothic” architecture. One of the greatest contributions to art and architecture were the grand cathedrals of the Middle Ages. Medieval masons revolutionized the old forms of the Roman-style churches and ushered in a new age of architectural design.

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My life has been pretty simple. I grew up in Alabama and graduated from the University of Alabama with a Bachelor's in Advertising. I have spent about the last ten years in web development. In 1998, a friend of mine and I started a web design company we ran for three or four years before deciding to close it due to the demands of school. Since then, I stayed in the web working with various companies in Alabama. I worked for a brief period with Southern Progress, namely with Southern Living magazine and Health magazine, in their web departments. While there, I also wrote for Southern Living magazine, Health.com., and the company's internal newsletter. I write as much as I can. For the last five years, I have been working on my first novel. I am on the third revision now and hope to be finished with this draft by the end of the year. I also write short fiction, though not as frequently as I used to due to the time I spend on the novel. My goal is to have my novel published in the next three years. Other interests include: History (particularly medieval and ancient civlizations), Reading, Foreign Language (I currently speak Spanish but plan to learn as many as I can), Landscape Photography, the outdoors, sports (especially college football), and Travel.

3 thoughts on “Explaining the Middle Ages in Seven Words”

  1. I mostly agree with your list, although I’m not sure I’d put the style of architecture on there. Then again, I have no idea what I’d replace it with. I’ll have to give it some thought.

    I’ve nominated your blog for an award here! I don’t comment too often, but I really love reading your posts. =)

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