India and the rest of the world saw substantial transformation between the ninth and eighteenth centuries. New social and political structures emerged in Europe. By the third quarter of the sixth century, the powerful Roman Empire that formerly ruled Europe was divided in two. Slav and Germanic warriors from Russia and Germany had taken control of the western region, which had Rome as its city. Byzantium or Constantinople served as the focal point of the ancient Roman Empire’s eastern region. The majority of Eastern Europe was included in this empire, often known as the Byzantine Empire, along with modern-day Turkey, Syria, and North Africa, which included Egypt.
• Tribesmen of Slavic and Germanic descent from Russia and Germany had taken control of the western portion of Europe's Roman Empire, which had Rome as its capital.
• These tribes invaded the areas of the former Roman Empire in waves, devastating and pillaging them extensively.
• However, when these tribes dispersed over Europe over time, they significantly changed the linguistic and political structures, as well as the nature of the pre-existing population.
• The roots of several current European nations were laid at this time due to the mingling of these tribesmen with the local populace.
• Eastern Roman Empire capital was Byzantium, also known as Constantinople. The majority of Eastern Europe, as well as contemporary Turkey, Syria, and North Africa, including Egypt, were all parts of the Byzantine Empire.
• Many of the customs of the Roman Empire were upheld, including a strong monarchy and a highly centralized government.
• Its beliefs and rituals, however, were very different from those of the Western Catholic Church, which had its seat in Rome. The church in the East was known as the Greek Orthodox Church. Together with the Byzantine emperors, it worked to bring Christianity to Russia.
• After the Roman Empire in the West fell, the Byzantine Empire, which was vast and prosperous, carried on commerce with Asia.
• It developed political structures and cultural norms, many of which the Arabs later assimilated after capturing Syria and Egypt.
• It later helped revive Greek education in the West and acted as a bridge between Greco-Roman civilization and the Arab world.
• When the Turks took control of Constantinople in the middle of the fifteenth century, it eventually disappeared.
• Cities in Western Europe almost completely disappeared for centuries after the fall of the Roman Empire
in the West.
• The scarcity of gold, which the Romans had acquired from Africa and exploited in their trade with the Orient, was one factor in this. The time between the sixth and eleventh centuries has been known among historians as the "Dark Age."
• However, this was also a time of agricultural expansion, which helped to set the way for the resurgence of city life and the growth of international trade in the tenth century.
• Between the twelfth and the fourteenth centuries, Western Europe was able to reestablish a significant degree of prosperity.
• The development of science and technology, town growth, and the founding of universities in several places, including Padua and Milan in Italy, were all important features of the time period.
• Universities were crucial in the dissemination of new ideas and information that eventually sparked the Renaissance and the emergence of a new Europe.
Increase In Feudalism
• In Western Europe, a new kind of civilization and a new kind of government emerged after the fall of the Roman Empire. The name for the new system that gradually took hold is feudalism.
• This is a translation of the Latin term feudum, which in English became fief. The chiefs were the most influential people in this culture since they controlled substantial areas of territory and had a significant influence on politics because to their military support.
• The monarch was comparable to a great feudal leader in terms of authority. With time, the monarchy became more powerful, and measures were taken to curtail the chiefs' influence since they were continually at odds with one another and creating a chaotic social environment.
• The monarch adopted one technique to keep this under control: he made the chiefs swear an oath of allegiance to him as his vassals in exchange for him recognizing the region they controlled as their fiefs.
• Sub-chiefs could be appointed as vassals and given a portion of the chiefs' fief by the chiefs in turn. The king may theoretically take back a disloyal vassal's fief, but this rarely happened in reality.
• As a result, in the feudal system, a landed nobility controlled the government. The aristocracy took great efforts to keep outsiders out of its fold and quickly became hereditary.
• It was never a fully closed aristocracy, though, as rebellious chiefs were removed and new ones were either installed or ascended to power.
Two characteristics are linked to the feudal system:
• A serf was a peasant who worked the land but was unable to change jobs, relocate, or get married without the lord's or master's permission. This system was connected to the manor.
• The manor, which might be a home or castle, was where the lord resided. The lords of these manors possessed substantial land holdings throughout various nations in Europe.
• With the aid of serfs who had to split their time between tending to their own fields and those of their master, the lord directly farmed a piece of the land.
• The lord technically owned the land, and the serf was obligated to give him additional restitution in money and kind.
• In addition, the lord of the manor was in charge of enforcing the law, dispensing justice, and other duties.
• Even free peasants were occasionally eager to accept the lord of the manor's vassalage in exchange for security at the period due to the widespread lawlessness.
• According to certain historians, the serfdom and manor systems were fundamental elements of feudalism, and it is therefore wrong to refer to cultures in which these two systems did not exist as feudal societies. For instance, there was no serfdom or manor system in India.
• The peasantry was subject to the local landed elite (samantas), who possessed many of the feudal lords' powers.
• In other words, it was more important how and to what extent the peasantry could use its freedom than whether it was formally free.
• Many Western European nations abandoned the manor system and the system of peasant labor dues after the fourteenth century.
Military Organizational System
• The second characteristic of the feudal regime in Europe is the system of military organization. The most prevalent representation of the feudal order was the armored knight mounted on a horse.
• In Europe, the use of cavalry in battle dates back to the eighth century.
• The primary wings of the Roman army were the heavy and light infantry, who were armed with long spears and short swords.
• The chariots that the officers rode on were drawn by horses. It is widely believed that the Arab invasion altered the nature of warfare.
• Because the Arabs had so many horses and so many mounted archers, the infantry was ineffectual.
• The spread of feudalism in Europe was aided by the difficulty in creating and sustaining the organizational structure needed for the new kind of combat.
• A big cavalry force would be impossible for any king to support on his own, let alone outfit with armor and weapons.
• The army became decentralized as a result, with fief-holders in charge of keeping a stable of horse and infantry in the king's service.
• Two considerably older ideas that started being employed extensively during this time led to cavalry warfare being the predominant form of warfare.
• The first was the iron stirrup. A person wearing heavy armor could ride a horse safely and firmly thanks to the iron stirrup.
• It also made it possible for cavalrymen to charge while holding their lances tightly to their bodies without the rider being knocked off balance.
• The previous tool was either a rope or a wooden stirrup that simply offered a toehold.
• A new style of harness that enabled a horse to draw two times as much weight as it had previously was another invention.
• It is believed that both of these innovations originated in the East, presumably in East Asia, and were brought to Europe. In the eleventh century, they started to spread throughout India.
Role of Catholic Church
• The Christian Church, in addition to the feudal system, influenced the way of life in Europe during the so-called mediaeval period.
• Because there was no strong empire in the West, the Catholic Church also took on some governing duties.
• As head of the Catholic Church, the Pope developed significant political and moral authority in addition to his status as a religious leader.
• In Europe, West Asia, and India during the middle Ages, religion played a significant role in society, and individuals who spoke out in favor of religion held positions of authority.
• Land endowments from kings and feudal leaders, as well as contributions from affluent merchants, were used to establish several monastic orders and monasteries.
• Some of these orders, like the Franciscans, offered aid to the indigent and underprivileged. Many monasteries offered travelers lodging or medical care.
• They were also centers for education and learning. The Catholic Church made a considerable contribution to European cultural life in this way.
Feudalism's Decline: Its Causes
• The opposition of kings and the general populace to feudalism was a crucial factor in its collapse. In actuality, the nobility, who profited the most from the system, were the only class to never have a favorable opinion of it.
• Kings resisted it and worked to destroy it since it merely provided them a pretence of authority. Because it exploited them and treated them like trash, the regular people hated it.
• The crusades, often known as the Holy Wars, which raged throughout Europe in the 12th and 13th centuries significantly reduced the influence of the nobility. Their resources were drained, and the kings or wealthy merchants of the cities gained power and influence.
• The same result was typically achieved by town growth. They were finally able to rebel against the lord whose fief they happened to be in and establish their own mini-republics as their riches and influence increased, enabling them to withstand his demands and oppression.
• Once more, improvements in combat, notably those involving the use of gunpowder, accelerated the end of feudalism. The foot soldier was brought up to the rank of the armored knight. The castle was now no longer necessary.
As a result, a variety of factors political, economic, and military helped feudalism spread over Europe. The tradition had grown too powerful for the king to simply curtail the power of the feudal leaders, even in the eleventh century, when stronger governments came into existence.