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The Normans

Back to British History
Feudalism in Medieval England


Battle of Hastings
William The Conqueror
William II
Henry I
Geoffrey Plantagenet
Roman Britain
Saxon Britain
Viking Britain
Viking Britain
1066
1066-87
1087-1100
1100-35
xxx

Land Grab

The very first thing William did after he took the English throne was to declare in 1067 that all lands, which had previous been in the hands of many landowners, belonged exclusively to him. He then instituted feudalism when he began to parcel land out to the loyal soldiers who helped him win the throne.That brings us to today. According to The Guardian, 70% of Britain’s land remains in the hand of less than 1% of its population, with a mere 160,000 families owning 66% of it. More troubling, Queen Elizabeth II remains the nominal owner of every bit of land in England, and every landowner is technically just a tenant (who pays rent in the form of loyalty).

This is not the only vestige of the Norman Conquest, as the descendants of those early invaders, with names today like Darcy, Percy, Montgomery and Mandeville, remain significantly wealthier (at least 10%) than those who descend from Anglo-Saxon stock. Furthermore, Norman descendants also enjoy other privileges, including attendance at the best universities. In a recent study that examined the enrollment at Cambridge and Oxford over the last thousand years, it was revealed that at certain times, Norman names were 800% more common at Oxford than in the general population, and more recently, were at least twice as likely to found in that institution’s enrollment.

Under William, when a landholder died their heir did not automatically inherit the land.They had to prove their loyalty to William, and pay him to use the land. This payment was called a relief. William could reward loyal followers with low reliefs, or threaten difficult landholders with high reliefs.This was a new system, which even Normans hadn’t had before. It was designed to encourage loyalty to the king and reduce the power of potential challengers.


The Impact of Norman Conquest today

Take house prices in England today. According to the author Kevin Cahill, the main driver behind the absurd expense of owning land and property in Britain is that so much of the nation’s land is locked up by a tiny elite. Just 0.3% of the population – 160,000 families – own two thirds of the country. Less than 1% of the population owns 70% of the land, running Britain a close second to Brazil for the title of the country with the most unequal land distribution on Earth.

Much of this can be traced back to 1066. The first act of William the Conqueror, in 1067, was to declare that every acre of land in England now belonged to the monarch. This was unprecedented: Anglo-Saxon England had been a mosaic of landowners. Now there was just one. William then proceeded to parcel much of that land out to those who had fought with him at Hastings. This was the beginning of feudalism; it was also the beginning of the landowning culture that has plagued England – and Britain – ever since. The dukes and earls who still own so much of the nation’s land, and who feature every year on the breathless rich lists, are the beneficiaries of this astonishing land grab. William’s 22nd great-granddaughter Elizabeth, was the legal owner of the whole of England. Even your house, if you’ve been able to afford one, is technically hers. You’re a tenant, and the price of your tenancy is your loyalty to the crown. Now Charles has inherited the crown (another Norman innovation, incidentally, since Anglo-Saxon kings were elected). As Duke of Cornwall, he is the inheritor of land that William gave to Brian of Brittany in 1068, for helping to defeat the English at Hastings.

The land grab was not the only injustice perpetrated by the Normans that has echoed down the centuries. William built a network of castles with English slave labour from which he controlled the rebellious populace by force. This method of colonisation and control was later exported to Ireland, Scotland and Wales, as the descendants of the Norman kings extended their empire from England to the Celtic nations. They taxed the poor harshly (the Domesday book is a tax collector’s manual), deepening rural poverty to enrich royal coffers which were used to fight the continental wars that ravaged medieval Europe. Not without justification has one historian referred to Norman rule as a system of “medieval apartheid“.

These days, I can’t stop myself wondering what kind of country this might be now if William had lost at Hastings. Would we have been spared the aristocratic estates and the hereditary monarchs? Could the industrial revolution, even the empire, have happened in the same way without that intense concentration of land and power? Would the English be a less deferential people than they often still, frustratingly, are?

Questions like this can never be answered. But I think it’s worth noting that in 2012, as in 1066, the ruling class still drink wine while the “plebs” drink beer, much of the country remains the property of a few elite families and the descendants of the Normans remain wealthier than the general population. Meanwhile, the nation as a whole is paying the price for the rapacity of a wealthy elite which feels no obligation to its people.

But it’s worth noting something else too. The Norman conquest spurred a decade-long campaign of underground resistance by guerrilla bands across England – a story that is largely forgotten now. The Normans called these rebels the “silvatici” – the men of the woods, or the wild men – and they proved as hard to defeat as guerrilla fighters always are. Though the Normans were never expelled, the spirit of the silvatici can be traced throughout later English history, from the Peasants’ Revolt to the tales of Robin Hood. Not everyone takes conquest lying down. Today’s elites might like to take note.


The Impact of Norman Conquest

William’s possession of the English throne had far-reaching consequences. One of the repercussions was the introduction of a new nobility. The old English nobility was virtually annihilated and replaced with Norman followers. William also purged the English church: gradually Norman bishops and abbots occupied the cathedrals and monasteries, and for many generations after the conquest, the great estates and important positions were held by French-speaking Normans.
The most significant consequence, however, was the dominion that the French language acquired in England. The Norman Conquest brought not only a new way of life but also a new way of speaking. The Norman incomers’ mother tongue was French and it remained so until the second half of the 12th century. French became the language of the ruling class and their servants. It was adopted across the entire range of written registers: literature, legal proceedings, commerce, government businesses and private correspondence.
The Normans continued to use French once they settled in England. First, only those of Norman origin would speak French, but soon many English people, through intermarriage and relation with the Normans, found it to their benefit to master the new language. Therefore French became the ‘language of power and prestige’.
For almost three hundred years after the Norman conquest English existed only as language of the masses. But French ‘became the official language of the land’. All the kings of England spoke French as their first language. Command of French would also be found amongst the middle class. Knights also had a tendency to using it, even if they were English natives. Merchants and tradesmen spoke French, and also clerks and bailiffs would use the language due to the fact that different services were conducted in that language.
Nonetheless Latin remained the language of church and scholarship. It was the language of records used for any documents that were felt to be important to be left to posterity. Though French had cultural and social prestige in this period, both English and French were regarded ‘as inferior to Latin’.

So from 1066 there were three languages that pervaded medieval England: Latin, French and English, and ‘literature, religion, law, science were all conducted in languages other than English’. English was the language of the masses. French was the language of the ruling class: all official communications used to be carried out in French. Latin was the ‘unifying European language’ and was learned and studied in the schools and universities in England. Latin was mainly the language of religion. Nonetheless Latin was mainly used for written purposes. The language was spoken by a tiny minority of the English and it was employed only in the ‘highest ecclesiastical circles’.

House of Plantagenet

Back to British History


Henry IV (r 1399 to 1413) was the first English ruler since the Norman Conquest of 1066, over three hundred years prior, whose mother tongue was English rather than French. The Norman Conquest was a linguistic sea change for England, as Anglo-Saxon rule — who spoke the Old English — gave way to Norman kings who spoke a dialect of Old French. These kings had varying degrees of English language ability.


How did Magna Carta come about?


England – The Stuarts

Back to History of England


The Stuarts

  • Stuarts were Roman Catholics
  • James I of England 1603 – 1625
  • Charles I
    • In 1625 Charles Stuart, Protestant, marries Henrietta Maria, a Catholic Bourbon princess — The Wars of the Three Kingdoms 1639 to 1652 Charles’ religious policy and The Civil War — The Trial and execution of Charles I (1649) — Exile of Charles II — Cromwell — Restoration of monarchy 1660
  • Charles II 1660-85
    • Married Catherine of Braganza, a catholic — Parliament’s Test Act 1673 — Dissolution of the English Parliament in 1681
  • James II (1685-1688)
    • Brother of Charles II — commanded the Royal Navy from 1660 to 1673 — first (Protestant) wife, Anne Hyde —  second (Roman Catholic) wife, Mary of Modena — converted to Catholicism in 1669 — William of Orange, Protestant husband of James’s elder daughter, Mary arrives in England  in 1688 — James flies to France –exile in France, dying there in 1701.
  • The Glorious Revolution of 1688-89 — Role of the Whigs
  • William III (1689-1702) and Mary (1689-94)
  • Anne (1702-14) — Scotland and England unites under a common flag in 1707, The 1713 Treaty of Utrecht, , Death of Sophia and Anne in 1714, George I, son of Sophia becomes king
  • Princess Sophia, Electress of Hanover
  • Next: The House of Hanover (Protestants) – George I, (1714-27) son of Sophia
  • The unification of England and Scotland into Great Britain in 1707
  • Protestantism in the United Kingdom in the 17th Century

Charles I (1625-49)

Charles inherited not just the English throne but also a war with Spain as well as the religious and financial problems of his father’s reign. James I had left the largest peacetime debt in English history. Without experience in government affairs, Charles relied heavily on a favorite of his father George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham, for advice. But Villiers, who was widely despised, was assassinated in 1628.
After the death of Buckingham, Charles turned for comfort to his wife Henrietta Maria, who, being a French princess, was thoroughly unpopular with the English populace. Although not originally a love match, the royal couple’s relationship deepened to one of genuine affection and loyalty, and together they invested greatly in art and culture. Some historians have considered Charles I one of the greatest connoisseurs of the arts, due in large part to his enthusiastic acquisition of Flemish, Spanish, French and Italian paintings and tapestries.
Yet Charles’s reign was notably marked by intense political and religious turmoil. His rigid adherence to the divine right of kings (the belief that monarchs are chosen by God to rule) meant that he frequently clashed with Parliament over almost every issue. Charles pushed unpopular religious policies and enacted taxes without the approval of Parliament including, most notably, a practice known as ship money, which required counties to provide warships for defense of the realm or pay their equivalent costs in money.

The Wars of the Three Kingdoms, sometimes known as the British Civil Wars, were an intertwined series of conflicts that took place between 1639 and 1653 in the Kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland, all under Charles I. He ruled these tumultuous kingdoms dominated by diverse Christian religions: Calvinism in Scotland, Anglicanism in England and Catholicism in Ireland. In 1641, the Irish Catholics revolted, killing English and Scottish Protestants who had settled there. Charles wanted to suppress the Irish rebellion but didn’t have the money to raise troops on his own. He called Parliament, but the members of Parliament refused to give the king money or raise troops for him unless their own problems were addressed — among them, a requirement that the king must call Parliament at least once a year.

He seemed determined to rule without calling Parliament at regular intervals, a habit that bothered many people living in England. By 1642, the tensions between Charles and Parliament erupted into civil war, plunging the entire country into mayhem with those loyal to the king, the Royalists (Cavaliers), squaring off against the Parliamentarians (or Roundheads). Not since the Wars of the Roses (1455-85) had England been so horribly divided. Contemporaries described this time as a “world turned upside down.”
Charles lost the war and — in an unprecedented and historic moment — he was tried and convicted of treason. On Jan. 30, 1649, Charles was beheaded, and onlookers reportedly dipped their handkerchiefs in the king’s blood as a grisly keepsake of the regicide.
Yet not all celebrated his death. After Charles’s death, a cult of mourning grew around him, and his loyal followers began wearing commemorative jewelry with his portrait, beginning the trend of mourning rings.


Charles II

After Charles’s death, his firstborn son, Charles, did not immediately succeed him. Rather, governance fell into the hands of Oliver Cromwell, the leader of the Parliamentarians who ruled as a de facto king. During this period of parliamentary rule, Charles lived in exile in Europe, spending time at the Dutch and French courts with his mother and siblings.

After Cromwell’s death, it became clear that the best option was the “restoration” of the monarchy and negotiations began to recall Charles. On his 30th birthday, Charles returned to London and was formally crowned Charles II in 1661.

In sharp contrast to his father, Charles II was tall, dark and handsome, impressive in both appearance and personality. He had escaped many close calls during the civil wars and even hid in an oak tree to avoid capture by the Parliamentarians after the Battle of Worcester in 1651.

While living in exile at the French royal court, he developed a taste for all things French — art, food, music, clothing. And when he returned to England in 1660, he brought the French cultural influence with him. He often copied the styles that his cousin King Louis XIV of France popularized, even the trend for red-heeled shoes, which appear in his coronation portrait by John Michael Wright. Yet he was a fashion trendsetter as well. In 1666, he introduced a new style of vest aimed at bolstering England’s wool trade. The new plain vest, which was knee-length and worn under a coat, would gradually evolve into the modern three-piece suit, that is, a jacket, trousers and waistcoat.

Charles II’s reign ushered in a new cultural golden age as he reopened the theaters, lifted censorship of the press and reinstituted the celebration of Christmas. He also promoted the sciences by establishing the Royal Society, which is still in existence today. He is often referred to as the “Merry Monarch,” a title that references his now-notorious affinity for fine food and drink, beautiful women and “merry making.” And the moniker is understandable. The king partied with the lower orders and had several mistresses at any given time. He had at least a dozen children with women he was not married to; he acknowledged five children with his longtime paramour Barbara Palmer, Countess of Castlemaine.

His reign was also marked by intense religious and political problems, including profound anti-Catholic feeling and xenophobia. Such tensions were further exacerbated by the fact that Charles’s younger brother and heir James (the future James II) was Catholic, as many wished to avoid the throne falling to another papist. Charles contended with political scandals, assassination plots and national disasters including the Great Plague from 1665-66 (the last major outbreak of the bubonic plague) and the Great Fire of 1666, which razed parts of London and killed more than 100,000. When Charles died in 1685 at age 55, the throne passed to his brother, who reigned for a mere three years before he was overthrown by his own daughter and son-in-law (Mary II and William III).

After the return of Charles II, the Church of England was fully restored, and in 1662 Parliament authorized a revised Prayer Book. Re-imposing Anglican uniformity was, however, by now hopelessly complicated by the growth of other religious sects or groups which had thrived without hindrance under Cromwellian rule.

Post-restoration Parliaments  nevertheless chose firmly to defend the established Church. During the 1660s and 1670s a series of penal laws were enacted which persecuted both Catholics and members of the various nonconformist groups.

Enforcement of these laws unleashed a period of violent religious disturbance and hatred across England, Scotland and Wales.

Under the Test and Corporation Acts, holders of public office – including peers and MPs – schoolmasters, clergy, students of Oxford and Cambridge, members of local corporations and others, all had to swear an oath upholding the position of the King as head of the Church of England.

Those who did not risked losing most of their civil rights. Attending Catholic worship or nonconformist religious meetings was declared illegal and punishable by fine or imprisonment.


Coronation of Charles II

On April 23, 1661, King Charles II of England, Scotland, and Ireland processed through the
streets of London with his royal entourage to Westminster Abbey for his coronation. James Heath, a Royalist historian of the late seventeenth century, recorded the magnificence of the spectacle:

it is incredible to think what costly clothes were worn that day:
the cloaks could hardly be seen what silk or satin they were
made of, for the gold and silver laces and embroidery that were
laid upon them: besides the inestimable value and treasures of
diamonds, pearls, and other jewels, worn upon their backs and
in their hats: to omit the sumptuous and rich liveries of their
pages and footmen; the numerousness of these liveries, and
their orderly march; as also the stately equipage of the esquires
attending each earl by his horse’s side: so that all the world saw
it.

In exile only a year earlier, Charles began his reign with all the splendid pomp andceremony that had been absent during the preceding years of the Interregnum. In drastic contrast to the puritanical style of Oliver Cromwell, Charles’s Restoration reinitiated a cultural shift within England to the absolutist opulence of the Continent’s royal courts. Such a royal garb projected a majestic image of kingly power modeled after Charles’s cousin, the Catholic monarch Louis XIV of France (1643–1715). Charles’s regal dress attempted to convey to the English people that their glorious king had returned, with an absolutist flair, after decades of tumultuous civil war and staunch parliamentary rule.

Charles’s royal court at Whitehall maintained a greater importance and continuity than the Parliament at Westminster as the main center of fashionable social life and the focal point of politics and administration. The men and women of the royal court were visual representations of the English government and thus what Charles’s court did, ate, and wore was especially significant.  Charles’s reign began after the death of Cromwell in 1658 and the failed Protectorate of his son Richard (1658–59). The Declaration of Breda in 1660 solidified the return of the constitutional monarchy as Charles inherited an England teeming with numerous conflicting perceptions of political, religious, and cultural identity. The Restoration period experienced the tensions between Whigs and Tories, Protestants and Catholics, and English and Continental powers. Continuous warfare, assassination plots, widespread disease, and a devastating fire exacerbated these tensions throughout Charles’s twenty-five year reign.


Religion under Cromwell

Cromwell was a Puritan. Puritans were Protestants who wanted to purify the Church of England of Roman Catholic practices. They believed that the Church of England was too similar to the Roman Catholic Church, and that the reformation was not complete until it became more protestant. One of the main beliefs of the Puritans was that if you worked hard, you would get to Heaven. Pointless enjoyment was frowned upon. Cromwell shut many inns and the theatres were all closed down. Most sports were banned. Boys caught playing football on a Sunday could be whipped as a punishment. Swearing was punished by a fine, though those who kept swearing could be sent to prison. Sunday became a very special day under he Puritans. Most forms of work were banned. Women caught doing unnecessary work on the Holy Day could be put in the stocks. Simply going for a Sunday walk (unless it was to church) could lead to a hefty fine.

Despite being a highly religious man, Cromwell had a hatred for the Irish Catholics. He believed that they were all potential traitors willing to help any Catholic nation that wanted to attack England (he clearly did not know too much about the 1588 Spanish Armada).

During the period of republican rule between 1649 and 1660 Parliament completed the work begun during the Civil War years of dismantling the official Church. A Presbyterian Church was established in its place, governed by non-hierarchical assemblies – or presbyteries – of clergy and lay elders, rather than by bishops and a supreme head.

Emphasis in worship was placed on preaching from the Bible rather than the set prayer book. In the 1640s the celebration of Christmas and other holy days was restricted.


The Bill of Rights had established the succession with the heirs of Mary II, Anne and William III in that order, Mary had died of smallpox in 1694, aged 32, and without children. Anne’s only surviving child (out of 17 children), The Duke of Gloucester, had died at the age of 11, and William was, in July 1700, dying. The succession had to be decided.

The Act of Settlement of 1701 was designed to secure the Protestant succession to the throne, and to strengthen the guarantees for ensuring parliamentary system of government. According to the Act, succession to the throne therefore went to Princess Sophia, Electress of Hanover, James VI & I’s granddaughter, and her Protestant heirs.

Sophia of Hanover. the grand daughter of James I became the heiress presumptive to the thrones of England and Scotland (later Great Britain) and Ireland under the Act of Settlement 1701. She died less than two months before she would have become Queen of Great Britain.


References 1. https://www.royal.uk/william-and-mary

Charlemagne

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Table of contents


Book
Life of Charles the Great by Einhard (830–833)

Feudal system during the Middle Ages | World History | Khan Academy


The Palace of Aachen and

The Palatine Chapel (built 790–805) of Charlemagne

The Fronsac castle (770) by Charlemagne


Carolingian Empire and its capital, Aachen, in the early 9th century.
Pavia, the capital of Lombardy from 572 to 774


Map of Italy and Northern Italy at the death of Lombard king Alboin (572)


History of creation of Papal states by Pepin and the Map of Lombard territories in Italy in 756 before the donation by Pepin to Pope Stephen II. During Stephen’s pontificate, Rome was facing invasion by the Lombard king Aistulf when Stephen II went to Paris to seek assistance from Pepin the Short. Pepin defeated the Lombards and made a gift of land to the pope, eventually leading to the establishment of the Papal States. The gift included the following cities:  the Emilia-Romagna, the Duchies of Spoleto and Benevento, and the Pentapolis (the “five cities” of Rimini, Pesaro, Fano, Senigallia and Ancona). Pepin however left the Lombard king Aistulf in possession of their kingdom with Pavia as their capital.


Map of Europe at the death of Cherlamagne, 815 AD


Map of Francia in 714 (Austrasia shown in green)

The Holy Roman Empire between 972 and 1032


We might begin by emphasizing that at the summit of the Carolingian governmental system was the head of the Carolingian family, who bore the title of king up to 800, of emperor — the Holy Roman Emperor — afterwards. Backed by the power of the Church, this Carolingian monarch was ruler by the grace of God, and rebellion against him was, in theory at least, disobedience to the Almighty. As ruler of the Franks, Lombards, and the other peoples who made up this vast empire, he was supreme judge and lawgiver, general, and administrator. In practice he was head of the Church. He was not a despot, however, and his authority was absolute rather than arbitrary, since he was limited by both law and custom. He did not have the right, for instance, of taxing his subjects directly, nor could he arbitrarily interfere with their property or rights, except in war, without following the cumbersome legal procedures of the time.


Aquitaine after the Battle of Poitiers (734-743)


The chief limitation upon the power of the Carolingian monarch, however,  does not appear to have been the result of the restraining influence of law, custom, and other precedents. It lay in the paucity of his financial resources. He did not have adequate money to pay for a self-perpetuating bureaucracy of officials who could govern in his name, or resources which enabled him to hire soldiers to fight for him. In this respect his government was inferior to that of his Moslem and Byzantine neighbors. In addition the extent of the Carolingian empire made it impossible for a monarch to supervise personally remote regions, as might have been possible had the empire been smaller. Though efforts were made, as we will note, to get around such limitations, no real solution of a governmental sort was ever devised in the Carolingian period.


Carolingian Empire and its capital, Aachen, in the early 9th century.


The count was the basic official of the Carolingian  governmental system. He was a man of proven ability, often related to the royal house, who was given a charge or honorem as it was called, as ruler of a district, which he exercised in the name of the monarch. He was a kind of sub-king in this district, exercising all the functions of government. He led into battle the army of his county, consisting of the ban, or levy of free-born men, and was responsible for the county’s defense and its fortifications. He managed the fiscus of the crown, that is to say, the royal estates of his county and such dues and levies as the king had a right to exact. He was responsible for law and order and presided over the royal courts in cases brought before them. He was in charge of the mint, which he operated in the name of the monarch. Except where royal immunities or private seigneurial jurisdiction intervened, he was supreme in his county. A count did not receive a salary for his services, but was rewarded by a share in the fines of the county courts and other revenues which were the perquisite of his office. Often too he was given land owned by the monarch as his own. The eagerness with which men sought the dignity of count seems to show that the office carried with it ample rewards.  ——


While the count was the leading official of his county, there were others who, in a sense, shared his authority. These were the archbishops, bishops, and abbots of important monasteries. More often than not appointed by the Carolingian monarchs, possessing important lands in local areas of the Southern France, such churchmen eagerly sought and generally received special privileges from the crown. The most important were the royal immunities which placed their churches or abbeys under royal protection and which gave them a right to hold their own courts and manage their properties free of fiscal interference by the counts.


Map of France 1030


Map of France in 1154


To control their counts, the leading weapon available to the Carolingians, (besides support for their potential rivals, the abbots and bishops of the local region) was removal from office. There were some other methods also used by them to keep the counts in check. None of these methods, however, seems to have been really satisfactory in keeping counts from entrenching their families firmly in particular districts of the Midi or the Spanish March.


This being the case, Charlemagne and Louis the Pious made use of another method which had been begun by their predecessors — vassalage or fidelitas. All counts, bishops, and abbots who were given honores had to do homage to the monarch for them and in a special ceremony swear an oath of personal allegiance. This solemn oath and ceremony established a special tie between him who swore it and the ruler, a tie which, according to the Manual of Dhuoda, could not be broken as long as either was alive. Nor were counts and important churchmen the only ones who were bound to the ruler by such ties. In the Midi, as elsewhere in the empire, are to be found a class of important landowners known as vassi dominici, who were given land belonging to the royal fisc as life benefices in return for an oath of allegiance or fidelitas. These men, often Frankish in origin, and known as fideles, seem to have had special military responsibilities, which meant they were to present themselves fully equipped for campaigns upon call of king or count.

According to the Astronomus, Charlemagne followed the policy of his predecessors in Aquitaine about 778, when he appointed as abbots and counts men of Frankish origin exclusively. In examining men who were appointed as counts later on by Charlemagne and Louis the Pious many historians have been impressed by the number of these officials who were of Frankish origin. These facts made some historians think that the Carolingians were  leaders of a group of Austrasian noble families, who were tied to them by blood and vassalage, through whom they conquered and governed their empire and kept control over the Church.


Did the Carolingians try to establish throughout Southern France colonies of Franks as military garrisons to hold down the local population? The Astronomus certainly implies as much when he tells us  that Charlemagne established the Franks throughout Aquitaine  to control the local population who were not Franks. But what evidence can we find to back up his assertion? Here Septimania seems of particular importance since it had never been Frankish prior to the eighth century, and, any evidence of Frankish colonies there must date from the Carolingian period.


Southern French and Catalan Society (778-828)

During the reigns of Charlemagne and Louis the Pious a number of changes took place in the
society of Southern France and Catalonia, which were more significant than the purely governmental ones discussed in the last chapter. These changes helped to modify the nature of this society and to lay the bases for its development. The most important were the emergence of a new method of landholding, especially in Septimania and Catalonia, the development of a set of personal relationships which might be called proto-feudal, and the revitalization of the Church, particularly in respect to its monastic institutions. To these should be added two more: the beginnings of an agricultural revolution which put vacant and unused land in cultivation, and a limited but no less real revival of trade.

With two systems of landholding already in existence, the Carolingian monarchs added a third, the aprisio. In 780, when Charlemagne had to face the problem of providing for Spanish refugees with land. He solved this problem by allotting to these hispani tracts of uncultivated land in Septimania. Two different types of refugees were given such allotments, the important ones or majores, who arrived in the Midi with servants and many followers, and the less important ones known as minores.  As territory south of the Pyrenees was gradually liberated from the Moslem yoke, the aprisio system was extended into Catalonia, until by 812 such holdings were to be found over a wide area in the maritime Catalan counties of Barcelona, Gerona, Ampurias, and Roussillon, as well as around Narbonne, Carcassonne, and Béziers, and in Provence.

Privileges enjoyed by the large aprisio holders also carried with them certain responsibilities. The most important one was the duty of military service. These milites, as they were sometimes called, were required, upon call, to join the count’s army and take part in frontier campaigns. They also had to furnish horses and purveyance to royal missi and envoys traveling to and from Spain. They were also permitted to receive benefices from counts and to enter into a dependent relationship with them in return for such grants of lands.

But what of small holders who were given aprisiones: the minores? What about these and their rights? We know less about them than the majores, other than that they were dissatisfied with their situation in 815 and complained about how they were being oppressed by the majores. They were certainly numerous, particularly a little later where they formed a considerable element in the population of Catalonia. Like the milites who help aprisiones, the  minores seem to have been free men, who were given their grants of aprisiones by larger landholders: counts, churches, or abbeys. In return they appear to have put it into cultivation and to have paid the original proprietor a cens, sometimes one third of the crop. They were certainly also subject to call for military service and responsible for the same corvées and purveyance as the more important aprisio holders.


Map of France 1030


Map of France in 1154


The Governmental System of the Midi and Catalonia

To sum up, then, the governmental system of the Midi did change during the years from 828 to 900 from what it had been under Charlemagne and Louis the Pious. Not only did noble families establish themselves as de facto hereditary rulers of important regions, but in the process the use of viscounts became more widespread, along with some use of vicars in a minor but important subordinate capacity. As this happened vassi dominici — or the bondage towards the Carolingian emperors — disappeared though some of their functions may have been taken over or transformed into those of vassi beholden to local counts instead of to Carolingian and Capetian monarchs who lived north of the Loire. In other words, the empire had shown signs of decay, there was no central power in the region and regional counts became dominant.

Another consideration, however, seems more important — a subtle but real change in the nature of power exercised by counts after 870. As they made their authority private and hereditary, they came to think of it as a private family possession and so subject to traditions of the equal division of family property among all heirs — as Roman and Visigothic law provided.  Down to 900, at least, the system of law and of courts continued in a form like that
established by the earlier Carolingian rulers. Courts, judging from our documents, continued to be held in most regions and were presided over by counts, or their legal representatives, the viscounts, the vicars, and the missi. In addition to such secular tribunals we find evidence of other courts in these regions. These are ecclesiastical ones presided over by bishops and abbots. They were in line with Carolingian practice which, in granting immunities to abbeys and churches, gave them the right to establish courts for those subject to their authority. The earliest example of such a court in our sources is one held in the Limousin over which Bishop Stodile of Limoges presided and in which a dispute between a nearby abbey and a vassus of the bishop was handled.

Stephen III

The Ottonians

Back to The Holy Roman Empire


Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Otto The Great
  3. Otto II (973 – 983)
  4. Henry II (1014-24)

By the early tenth century, a ducal family from Saxony (in northern Germany) had mustered the power to claim royal standing, and in 936, Otto I, known as Otto the Great, was crowned king at Aachen; in 962, the pope invested him with the imperial title. Under the reigns of Otto I (r. 936–73), and of his son and grandson, Otto II (r. 973–83) and Otto III (r. 983–1002), the Holy Roman Empire was revived, albeit with a different geography and a different character. The Ottonian empire encompassed the lands that now are Germany, Switzerland, northern and central Italy, but not the vast French territories that Charlemagne had held. The Ottonian emperors styled themselves the equals of the greatest rulers. They constructed a palace in Rome and spent long periods there near the pope, whose spiritual authority bolstered their claim to rule by God-given right. They also sought close ties with Byzantium, a power of much superior might and sophistication, and sealed a strategic alliance when the Byzantine princess Theophano married Otto II in 972.

Otto II died in Southern Italy while campaigning against the Byzantine Empire and the Emirate of Sicily. Otto III was crowned as King of Germany in 983 at the age of three. Otto III installed his cousin as Pope Gregory V, the first Pope of German descent.

The Holy Roman Empire

The History of Germany
To The Franks


Table of Contents


Voltaire said that the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire. And he was right. It was actually a loose confederation of European states in what is today’s Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, and parts of France, Italy and Poland.

It is one of the most intriguing stories of central Europe that starts with the Pope anointing Charlemagne — the King of the Franks — as the king of Italy. Hence the title the Holy Roman Empire. From there you find that Charlemagne’s children — the Carolingians — ruling that vast central Europe along with Italy for a long time; with time, it gets fragmented into many kingdoms ruled by the Carolingians. The entire empire became a confederate of several kingdoms with more powerful kings dominating the show.

After a while, it was Otto the Great, a Saxon, seized power around 919. He again unified all the fragmented kingdoms into one empire and  became the Holy Roman Empire again.

After Otto, the empire lost its strength again and slowly the control of power, starting with Frederick III, shifted to the Habsburgs. It also designated a complete shift of power from Rome: Frederick III was the penultimate emperor to be crowned by the pope, and the last to be crowned in Rome. From there the Habsburgs ruled the present day Germany, Italy and Austria until the arrival of Charles VI whose reign ended in 1740.


The Reformation of the 16th century had made managing the empire more difficult and made its role as “holy” questionable. Despite Lutheranism and Calvinism being tolerated from 1555 and 1648 onwards respectively, Catholicism remained the only recognized faith. Even then, the Imperial Church diminished from the 16th century onwards, only Mainz surviving as an ecclesiastical territory by 1803. The “holy” nature of the empire became even more questionable when the possibility of permanent peace with the Ottoman Empire, widely seen as the mortal enemies of Christian Europe, was accepted through the 1699 Peace of Karlowitz.


  1. Otto I. The Holy Roman Emperor
  2. The Treaty of Verdun
  3. The Kingdom of West Francia (the precursor of medieval France)
  4. The Middle Francia or Lotharingia
  5. The East Francia (the Kingdom of Germany)
  6. Maps
    1. Under Charlemagne (800 AD)
    2. Sixteenth century under Charles V
    3. Map of Germany
    4. Northern Germany
      1. Schleswig-Holstein
      2.  Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
      3.  Lower Saxony ( Area where Weser river drains into North sea. The valley up to the Elbe river on the east of Weser and equal area on the west. Dortmund, Bremen on the west,  Hamburg on east of Elbe)
    5. Western Germany
      1. Lombardy  (North Italy with Milan, Parma, Genoa, Turin)
      2. Burgundy (Marseilles, Nice, Lyon, Geneva, Basel)
      3. Swabia ( Zurich, Lake Constance) Current Switzerland
      4. Lorraine(Metz, Verdun, Triar, Aachen. Cologne, Antwerp)
      5. Franconia
    6. Eastern Germany
    7. Bohemia (Prague, Czech Republic. Elbe river)
    8. Bavaria

  1. Introduction
  2. Charlemagne
    1. Pippin, Charlemagne’s son, died 810
    2. Charles the Younger, Charlemagne’s son. died 811
    3. Louis the Pious, Charlemagne’s son, King of the Franks. 814 AD
      1. Lothar I, first son of Louis the Pious, king of Middle Francia
      2. Charles the Bald, second son of Louis the Pious, king of West Grancia
      3. Louis the German, third son of Louis the Pious, king of East Francia
    4. Charles VI, 1740, last ruler of Habsburg House
    5. Francis II Last Holy Roman Emperor 1769-1821
    6. French Revolution 1789
    7. The Battle of Austerlitz i
    8. Napoleon Bonaparte and end of the Holy Roman Empire: 1806

The Dutch Classical Painting: Portraits

To The Dutch Classical Paintings


List of Portraits in The National Gallery Of Art, Washington

Bagpipe Player Brugghen 1624
Young Boy in Profile Judith Leyster 1630
A Young Man in a Large Hat Frans Hals 1629
Portrait of an Elderly Lady Frans Hals 1633
Saskia van Uylenburgh Rembrandt 1635
Man in Oriental Costume Rembrandt 1635
Portrait of a Member of the Haarlem Civic Guard Frans Hals
An Old Lady with a Book Rembrandt 1637
A Polish Nobleman Rembrandt 1637
Willem Coymans Frans Hals 1645
Adriaen van Ostade Frans Hals
A Girl with a Broom Rembrandt 1651
Portrait of a Young Man Frans Hals
Portrait of a Man Frans Hals
Portrait of a Gentleman Frans Hals
Portrait of Rembrandt Rembrandt
Head of an Aged Woman Rembrandt
Portrait of a Gentleman with a Tall Hat and Gloves Rembrandt
Portrait of a Lady with an Ostrich-Feather Fan Rembrandt
A Woman Holding a Pink Rembrandt

Dutch Classical Painting

Master Index of Painting
Genre Painting of the 17th Century
Background of Renaissance Art


Reformation
Hals
Rembrandt
Vermeer
Steen
Bosch
Dutch War
Roman Britain
Saxon Britain
Viking Britain
Norman Britain
Tudor Britain
Victorian Britain
World War Two
1500
1525
1580
1606
1632
1626
1450
1672

Table of Content

  1. Introduction to Dutch Classical Painting 1620 – 1672
    1. Protestant Reformation
    2. How did the Reformation affect the artists of sixteenth century northern Europe?
    3. Index of Renaissance Art 14-16th Century
  2. Subject matter
    1. Genre
    2. Still lives
    3. Portraits
    4. Land/Seascapes
  3. Famous Dutch Painters
    1. Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669)
    2. Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675)
    3. Pieter Brueghel the Elder (c. 1525-1569)
    4. Jan Steen (1626-1679)
    5. Hieronymus Bosch (c. 1450-1516)
    6. Lucas van Leyden (1494-1533)
    7. Frans Hals (1580-1666)
    8. Hendrick Terbrugghen (1588-1629)
  4. Comments

Background

Because Dutch trade, science, military, and art were among the most acclaimed in the world during much of the 17th century, this period became known in Dutch history as the Dutch Golden Age.

To understand the Classical Dutch paintings, it is important to remember the outbreaks of destruction of religious images that occurred in Europe in the 16th century, known in English as the Great Iconoclasm. During these spates of iconoclasm, Catholic art and many forms of church fittings and decoration were destroyed in unofficial or mob actions by Protestant crowds – particularly in Netherland or in the seven provinces by the Calvinist Protestants –  as part of the Protestant Reformation. Most of the destruction was aimed at destroying all forms of art, such at painting in churches and public places.

So, for the painters in most of Europe,  that area of work obviously dried up — something that  Italian renaissance excelled upon. This is one difference between the Italian Renaissance and 17th century art.

Another major difference was in the nature of the economy. In the 17th century, there was market economy, artists had to sell their products in the market to the public to make a living. There was no king or queen’s court where they could spend their life painting for them. In fact, most monarchies in the seventeenth century spent significant amount of their budgets on  military matters.  For example, by the end of the century France spent over three quarters of its revenue on warfare alone.

Also. Protestant reformers were suspicious of sculptural expression, so painting became a more popular medium. The decline in religious patronage by the Protestant Churches led artists to change their focus to secular subjects. 

These quite possibly is one of the main reason for the Dutch Golden era painters fan out into  secular areas like history, portraiture, genre, landscape, still life  etc. The amount of religious art produced in Protestant countries was hugely reduced.  Rembrandt did about 80 portraits and the fact that he did so many has a lot of do with virtually no work available inside churches of Holland.


Rembrandt

The Medici Family


Back to Renaissance
Renaissance Humanism
Petrarch: One of the earliest Humanists


The Medici Family

Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici Filippo Brunelleschi
1377-1446
The Basilica of San Lorenzo, Florence
1419-1426
The Sacrifice of Isaac
Masaccio
1401-1428
Holy Trinity, 1427
Santa Maria Novella, Florence
Lorenzo Ghiberti the bronze reliefs for the door of the Baptistery of Florence.
Leon Battista Alberti Della pittura (On Painting), his famous treatise on painting
Giorgio Vasari The painting on the inside of the Dome
Cosimo di Giovanni de’ Medici
1389-1464
founded the first public library in Florence 1444
had started the collection of books that became the Medici Library
Donatello Donatello’s David Ref 1
Ref 2
Donatello Judith and Holofernes
Fra Angelico
Fra Filippo Lippi
Michelozzo Michelozzi

Lorenzo de’ Medici

Lorenzo de’ Medici
1449-1492
the most powerful and enthusiastic patron of Renaissance culture in Italy
Michelangelo
Leonardo da Vinci
Botticelli
Domenico Ghirlandaio
Andrea del Verrocchio
Piero del Pollaiuolo
Antonio del Pollaiuolo
Giovanni di Lorenzo de’ Medici (1475–1521)


1400: Florence was split into four quarters – Santo Spirito, Santa Croce, San Giovanni, and Santa Maria Novella. Florence is changing due to tourist influence and has some amazing non-Italian options as well. My favorites are Gandhi (Indian), Gangnam (Korean BBQ), and Tehran (Persian.)

1401 Ghiberti lands commission for Baptistry doors
1402 Giovanni di Bicci elected Prior of Florence for first time
Baldassare Cossa made a Cardinal
1404 Donatello begins working for Ghiberti
1406 Filippo Lippi born
1410 Baladassare Cossa elected Pope John XXIII with the financial help of the Medici
1412 1412: Medici family made official Papal bankers
1415 1415: Henry V of England wins famous battle of Agincourt
Jan Hus questions the authority of multiple claimants to papacy and is burned at the stake. Baldassare Cossa deposed from papacy, flees to Florence
1416 1416: Piero de’Medici born
1418 1418: Brunelleschi, the Renaissance’s premiere engineer, starts work on Church of San Lorenzo
1419 1419: Brunelleschi begins work on Ospedale degli Innocenti Donatello unveils tomb of Baldassare Cossa
Baldassare Cossa, the Pope who fled, dies in Florence
1420 1420: Brunelleschi commissioned to erect the dome of Florence Cathedral
1421 1421: Giovanni di Bicci elected Gonfaloniere, head of state in Florence
1424 1424: Goldsmith and artist, Ghiberti’s first set of baptistry doors unveiled
1435 1425: Ghiberti starts his second set of baptistry doors
1427: Medici list 31 family branches in city tax return
1429 1429: Giovanni di Bicci dies
Led by Albizzi, Florence declares war on Lucca
Brunelleschi unveils tomb of Giovanni di Bicci, San Lorenzo
1430 1430: Plague in Florence
1433 1433: Disastrous war with Lucca ends in defeat for Florence.
Cosimo de’Medici banished from Florence by the Albizzi family: a public vote banishes him for 10 years
1434 1434: The Albizzi family collapse after making war against Duke of Milan
Pope Eugenius IV demands Cosimo return from exile
1436 1436: Brunelleschi’s dome complete
1437 1437: Cosimo opens world’s first public library at San Marco
1439 1439: Council of Florence: leads to a temporary union of the Orthodox and Catholic Churches
1440 1440: Florentine victory over Milan at Battle of Anghiari.
1445 1445: Botticelli born
1446 1446: Donatello unveils David
Brunelleschi dies
1449 1449: Lorenzo de’Medici born
1450 Cosimo’s friend, Francesco Sforza, becomes Duke of Milan
Johannes Gutenburg publishes the first printed book – the Bible

The development of humanism in Florence during Medici


The Linear Perspective

Masaccio was the first painter in the Renaissance to incorporate Brunelleschi’s discovery, linear perspective, in his art. He did this in his fresco the Holy Trinity, in Santa Maria Novella, in Florence. He moved away from the International Gothic style and elaborate ornamentation of artists like Gentile da Fabriano to a more naturalistic mode that employed perspective and chiaroscuro for greater realism. Uponh earing of Masaccio’s death, Filippo Brunelleschi said: “We have suffered a great loss.”