The Info List - High Middle Ages

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Central Europe Guelf
, Hohenstaufen , and Ascanian domains in Germany about 1176

* Duchy of Saxony * Margravate of Brandenburg * Duchy of Franconia

* Duchy of Swabia * Duchy of Bavaria

The HIGH MIDDLE AGES or HIGH MEDIEVAL PERIOD was the period of European history around the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries (c.1001—1300). The High Middle Ages
Middle Ages
were preceded by the Early Middle Ages
Middle Ages
and followed by the Late Middle Ages
Middle Ages
, which by convention end around 1500.

The key historical trend of the High Middle Ages
Middle Ages
was the rapidly increasing population of Europe, which brought about great social and political change from the preceding era, the Renaissance
of the 12th century , including the first developments of rural exodus and urbanization . By 1250 the robust population increase greatly benefited the European economy, reaching levels that would not be seen again in some areas until the 19th century. This trend was checked in the Late Middle Ages
Middle Ages
by a series of calamities , notably the Black Death but also including numerous wars and economic stagnation.

From about the year 780 onwards, Europe
saw the last of the barbarian invasions and became more socially and politically organized. The Carolingian Renaissance led to scientific and philosophical revival of Europe. The first universities were established in Bologna, Paris, Oxford and Modena. The Vikings had settled in the British Isles, France and elsewhere, whilst Norse Christian
kingdoms were developing in their Scandinavian homelands. The Magyars
had ceased their expansion in the 10th century, and by the year 1000, a Christian Kingdom of Hungary
Kingdom of Hungary
was recognized in Central Europe
Central Europe
, forming alliances with regional powers. With the brief exception of the Mongol invasions in the 13th century, major nomadic incursions ceased. The powerful Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
of the Macedonian and Komnenos dynasties gradually gave way to the resurrected Serbia and Bulgaria and to a successor Crusader state from 1204 to 1261, while countering the continuous threat of the Seljuk Turks in Asia Minor
Asia Minor

In the 11th century, populations north of the Alps
began to settle new lands, some of which had reverted to wilderness after the end of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
. In what is known as the "great clearances", vast forests and marshes of Europe
were cleared and cultivated. At the same time settlements moved beyond the traditional boundaries of the Frankish Empire to new frontiers in Europe, beyond the Elbe River , tripling the size of Germany in the process. The Catholic Church
Catholic Church
, reaching the peak of its political power at this time, called armies from across Europe
to a series of Crusades
against the Seljuk Turks , occupying the Holy Land
Holy Land
, and founding the Crusader States
Crusader States
in the Levant
. Other wars led to the Northern Crusades
, while Christian kingdoms took the Iberian Peninsula from Muslim
control, and the Normans colonized southern Italy, all part of the major population increases and resettlement patterns of the era.

The High Middle Ages
Middle Ages
produced many different forms of intellectual, spiritual and artistic works . This age saw the rise of ethnocentrism , which evolved later into modern civic nationalisms in most of Europe, the ascent of the great Italian city-states , and the rise and fall of the Muslim
civilization of Al-Andalus . The rediscovery of the works of Aristotle
led Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas
and other thinkers of the period to develop Scholasticism
, a combination of Catholicism and ancient philosophy. For much of the time period Constantinople
remained Europe's most populous city and Byzantine
art reached a peak in the 12th century . In architecture, many of the most notable Gothic cathedrals were built or completed during this era.

The Crisis of the Late Middle Ages
Middle Ages
, beginning at the start of the 14th century, marked the end of this era.


* 1 Historical events and politics

* 1.1 Great Britain and Ireland * 1.2 Scandinavia * 1.3 France and Germany * 1.4 Georgia * 1.5 Hungary * 1.6 Poland and Lithuania * 1.7 Spain and Italy * 1.8 Southeastern Europe
* 1.9 Climate and agriculture * 1.10 The rise of chivalry

* 2 Religion

* 2.1 Christian

* 2.2 Crusades

* 2.2.1 Military orders

* 2.3 Scholasticism
* 2.4 Golden age of monasticism * 2.5 Mendicant orders

* 2.6 Heretical movements

* 2.6.1 Cathars
* 2.6.2 Waldensians

* 3 Trade and commerce

* 4 Science

* 4.1 Technology

* 5 Arts

* 5.1 Visual arts * 5.2 Architecture * 5.3 Literature * 5.4 Music * 5.5 Theatre

* 6 Timeline * 7 See also * 8 Notes * 9 References * 10 External links


Bayeux Tapestry depicting the Battle of Hastings during the Norman invasion of England


Main articles: England in the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
, Scotland
in the High Middle Ages
Middle Ages
, and History of Gwynedd during the High Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The painted effigies of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II of England from the Fontevraud Abbey
Fontevraud Abbey
in Anjou
, France, which no longer houses their remains

In England, the Norman Conquest
Norman Conquest
of 1066 resulted in a kingdom ruled by a Francophone nobility. The Normans invaded Ireland by force in 1169 and soon established themselves throughout most of the country, although their stronghold was the southeast. Likewise, Scotland
and Wales
were subdued to vassalage at about the same time, though Scotland
later asserted its independence. The Exchequer was founded in the 12th century under King Henry I , and the first parliaments were convened. In 1215, after the loss of Normandy
, King John signed the Magna Carta
Magna Carta
into law, which limited the power of English monarchs .


Main articles: History of Denmark § Christianity, expansion and the establishment of the Kingdom of Denmark
Kingdom of Denmark
; History of Norway § The Viking
kings ; and Early Swedish history

From the mid-tenth to the mid-11th centuries, the Scandinavian kingdoms were unified and Christianized, resulting in an end of Viking raids, and greater involvement in European politics. King Cnut of Denmark ruled over both England and Norway. After Cnut's death in 1035, England and Norway were lost, and with the defeat of Valdemar II in 1227, Danish predominance in the region came to an end. Meanwhile, Norway extended its Atlantic possessions, ranging from Greenland
to the Isle of Man
Isle of Man
, while Sweden, under Birger Jarl
Birger Jarl
, built up a power-base in the Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
. However, the Norwegian influence started to decline already in the same period, marked by the Treaty of Perth of 1266. Also, civil wars raged in Norway between 1130 and 1240.


Main articles: France in the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
and Germany in the Middle Ages

By the time of the High Middle Ages, the Carolingian Empire
Carolingian Empire
had been divided and replaced by separate successor kingdoms called France and Germany, although not with their modern boundaries. Germany was under the banner of the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
, which reached its high-water mark of unity and political power.


Main article: Georgian Golden Age

During the successful reign of King David IV of Georgia (1089–1125), Kingdom of Georgia grew in strength and expelled the Seljuk Empire from its lands. David's decisive victory in the Battle of Didgori (1121) against the Seljuk Turks, as a result of which Georgia recaptured its lost capital Tbilisi
, marked the beginning of the Georgian Golden Age . David's granddaughter Queen Tamar continued the upward rise, successfully neutralizing internal opposition and embarking on an energetic foreign policy aided by further decline of the hostile Seljuk Turks . Relying on a powerful military élite, Tamar was able to build on the successes of her predecessors to consolidate an empire which dominated vast lands spanning from present-day southern Russia on the Black Sea
Black Sea
to the Caspian Sea
Caspian Sea
. Georgia remained a leading regional power until its collapse under the Mongol attacks within two decades after Tamar's death.


Main article: Kingdom of Hungary
Kingdom of Hungary
in the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
King Saint Stephen I of Hungary .

In the High Middle Ages, the Kingdom of Hungary
Kingdom of Hungary
(founded in 1000), became one of the most powerful medieval states in central Europe
and Western Europe. King Saint Stephen I of Hungary introduced Christianity to the region; he was remembered by the contemporary chroniclers as a very religious monarch, with wide knowledge in Latin grammar, strict with his own people but kind to the foreigners. He eradicated the remnants of the tribal organisation in the Kingdom and forced the people to sedentarize and adopt the Christian
religion, ethics, way of life and founded the Hungarian medieval state, organising it politically in counties using the Germanic system as a model.

The following monarchs usually kept a close relationship with Rome like Saint Ladislaus I of Hungary , and a tolerant attitude with the pagans that escaped to the Kingdom searching for sanctuary (for example Cumans
in the 13th century), which eventually created certain discomfort for some Popes . With entering in Personal union with the Kingdom of Croatia and annexation of other small states, Hungary became a small empire that extended its control over the Balkans
and all the Carpathian
region. The Hungarian royal house was the one that gave the most saints to the Catholic Church
Catholic Church
during medieval times.


Main articles: History of Poland in the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
and Grand Duchy of Lithuania

During the High Middle Ages
Middle Ages
Poland emerged as a kingdom . It decided to bond itself with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania , confirmed by the Union of Krewo and later treaties, leading to a personal union in 1569.


Main articles: Spain in the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
and Italy in the Middle Ages
Middle Ages

Much of the Iberian peninsula
Iberian peninsula
had been occupied by the Moors
after 711, although the northernmost portion was divided between several Christian
states. In the 11th century, and again in the thirteenth, the Christian
kingdoms of the north gradually drove the Muslims from central and most of southern Iberia.

In Italy, independent city states grew affluent on eastern maritime trade. These were in particular the thalassocracies of Pisa
, Amalfi
, Genoa
and Venice
. The Pontic steppes , c. 1015


Main articles: Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
, Second Bulgarian Empire , Serbian Grand Principality , Principality of Arbanon , Banate of Bosnia , and Kingdom of Croatia

The High Middle Ages
Middle Ages
saw the height and decline of the Slavic state of Kievan Rus\' and emergence of Cumania . Later, the Mongol invasion in the 13th century had great impact on the east of Europe
, as many countries of the region were invaded, pillaged, conquered and/or vassalized.

During the first half of this period (c. 1025—1185) the Byzantine Empire dominated the Balkans
, and under the Komnenian emperors there was a revival of prosperity and urbanization; however, their domination of Southeastern Europe
came to an end with a successful Vlach-Bulgarian rebellion in 1185 , and henceforth the region was divided between the Byzantines in Greece, some parts of Macedonia , and Thrace
, the Bulgarians in Moesia
and most of Thrace
and Macedonia, and the Serbs to the northwest. Eastern and Western churches had formally split in the 11th century, and despite occasional periods of co-operation during the 12th century, in 1204 the Fourth Crusade
Fourth Crusade
treacherously captured Constantinople
. This severely damaged the Byzantines, and their power was ultimately weakened by the Seljuks and the rising Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
in the 14-15th century. The power of the Latin Empire , however, was short lived after the Crusader army was routed by Bulgarian Emperor Kaloyan in the Battle of Adrianople (1205) .


The Medieval Warm Period , the period from 10th century to about the 14th century in Europe, was a relatively warm and gentle interval ended by the generally colder Little Ice Age . Farmers grew wheat well north into Scandinavia, and wine grapes in northern England, although the maximum expansion of vineyards appears to occur within the Little Ice Age period. During this time, a high demand for wine and steady volume of alcohol consumption inspired a viticulture revolution of progress. This protection from famine allowed Europe's population to increase, despite the famine in 1315 that killed 1.5 million people. This increased population contributed to the founding of new towns and an increase in industrial and economic activity during the period. They also established trade and a comprehensive production of alcohol. Food production also increased during this time as new ways of farming were introduced, including the use of a heavier plow, horses instead of oxen, and a three-field system that allowed the cultivation of a greater variety of crops than the earlier two-field system—notably legumes , the growth of which prevented the depletion of important nitrogen from the soil.


Household heavy cavalry (knights ) became common in the 11th century across Europe, and tournaments were invented. Although the heavy capital investment in horse and armor was a barrier to entry, knighthood became known as a way for serfs to earn their freedom. In the 12th century, the Cluny
monks promoted ethical warfare and inspired the formation of orders of chivalry , such as the Templar Knights . Inherited titles of nobility were established during this period. In 13th-century Germany, knighthood became another inheritable title, although one of the less prestigious, and the trend spread to other countries.


A limestone statue depicting Aaron
, brother of Moses in the Old Testament, from the Cathedral of Noyon
, c. 11170


The East–West Schism
East–West Schism
of 1054 formally separated the Christian church into two parts: Western Catholicism in Western Europe
and Eastern Orthodoxy in the east. It occurred when Pope
Leo IX and Patriarch
Michael I excommunicated each other, mainly over disputes as to the existence of papal authority over the four Eastern patriarchs , as well as disagreement over the filioque .


Main article: Crusades

The Crusades
occurred between the 11th and 13th centuries. They were conducted under papal authority with the intent of reestablishing Christian
rule in The Holy Land
Holy Land
by taking the area from the Muslim Fatimid Caliphate
Fatimid Caliphate
. The Fatimids had captured Palestine in 970 AD, lost it to the Seljuk Turks in 1073 AD and recaptured it in 1098 AD, just before they lost it again in 1099 AD as a result of the First Crusade .

Military Orders

In the context of the crusades, monastic military orders were founded that would become the template for the late medieval chivalric orders .

The Knights Templar were a Christian
military order founded after the First Crusade to help protect Christian
pilgrims from hostile locals and highway bandits. The order was deeply involved in banking, and in 1307 Philip the Fair (Philippine le Eel) had the entire order arrested in France and dismantled on charges of heresy.

The Knights Hospitaller
Knights Hospitaller
were originally a Christian
organization founded in Jerusalem
in 1080 to provide care for poor, sick, or injured pilgrims to the Holy Land. After Jerusalem
was taken in the First Crusade, it became a religious /military order that was charged with the care and defence of the Holy Lands. After the Holy Lands were eventually taken by Muslim
forces, it moved its operations to Rhodes
, and later Malta

The Teutonic Knights were a German religious order formed in 1190, in the city of Acre , to both aid Christian
pilgims on their way to the Holy Lands and to operate hospitals for the sick and injured in Extremer . After Muslim
forces captured the Holy Lands, the order moved to Transylvania
in 1211 and later, after being expelled, invaded pagan Prussic with the intention of Christianizing the Baltic region. Yet, before and after the Order's main pagan opponent, Lithuania , converted to Christianity, the Order had already attacked other Christian
nations such as Novgorod and Poland . The Teutonic Knights' power hold, which became considerable, was broken in 1410, at the Battle of Grunwald
Battle of Grunwald
, where the Order suffered a devastating defeat against a joint Polish-Lithuanian army. After Grunwald, the Order declined in power until 1809 when it was officially dissolved. There were ten crusades in total.


Main article: Scholasticism

The new Christian
method of learning was influenced by Anselm of Canterbury (1033–1109) from the rediscovery of the works of Aristotle
, at first indirectly through Medieval Jewish and Muslim Philosophy ( Maimonides
, Avicenna
, and Averroes
) and then through Aristotle
's own works brought back from Byzantine
and Muslim libraries; and those whom he influenced, most notably Albertus Magnus , Bonaventure
and Abélard . Many scholastics believed in empiricism and supporting Roman Catholic doctrines through secular study, reason, and logic. They opposed Christian
mysticism , and the Platonist-Augustinian belief that the mind is an immaterial substance. The most famous of the scholastics was Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas
(later declared a " Doctor of the Church "), who led the move away from the Platonic and Augustinian and towards Aristotelianism. Aquinas developed a philosophy of mind by writing that the mind was at birth a tabula rasa ("blank slate") that was given the ability to think and recognize forms or ideas through a divine spark. Other notable scholastics included Roscelin , Abélard, Peter Lombard
Peter Lombard
, and Francisco Suárez
Francisco Suárez
. One of the main questions during this time was the problem of universals . Prominent opponents of various aspects of the scholastic mainstream included Duns Scotus , William of Ockham
William of Ockham
, Peter Damian , Bernard of Clairvaux
Bernard of Clairvaux
, and the Victorines .


* The late 11th century/early-mid 12th century was the height of the golden age of Christian
monasticism (8th-12th centuries).

* Benedictine Order
Benedictine Order
- black-robed monks

* Cistercian Order - white-robed monks

* Bernard of Clairvaux
Bernard of Clairvaux


* The 13th century saw the rise of the Mendicant orders such as the:

* Franciscans (Friars Minor, commonly known as the Grey Friars), founded 1209 * Carmelites (Hermits of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Carmel, commonly known as the White Friars), founded 1206–1214 * Dominicans (Order of Preachers, commonly called the Black Friars), founded 1215 * Augustinians (Hermits of St. Augustine, commonly called the Austin Friars), founded 1256


heresies existed in Europe
before the 11th century but only in small numbers and of local character: in most cases, a rogue priest, or a village returning to pagan traditions. Beginning in the 11th century, however mass-movement heresies appeared. The roots of this can be partially sought in the rise of urban cities, free merchants, and a new money-based economy. The rural values of monasticism held little appeal to urban people who began to form sects more in tune with urban culture. The first large-scale heretical movements in Western Europe
originated in the newly urbanized areas such as southern France and northern Italy and were probably influenced by the Bogomils and other dualist movements . These heresies were on a scale the Catholic Church
Catholic Church
had never seen before; the response was one of elimination for some (such as the Cathars
), and acceptance and integration of others (such as the veneration of Francis of Assisi
Francis of Assisi
, the son of an urban merchant who renounced money).


being expelled from Carcassonne
in 1209 Main article: Catharism

CATHARISM was a movement with Gnostic elements that originated around the middle of the 10th century, branded by the contemporary Roman Catholic Church
Catholic Church
as heretical . It existed throughout much of Western Europe
, but its origination was in Languedoc
and surrounding areas in southern France.

The name Cathar stems from Greek katharos, "pure". One of the first recorded uses is Eckbert von Schönau who wrote on heretics from Cologne
in 1181: "Hos nostra Germania catharos appellat."

The Cathars
are also called ALBIGENSIANS. This name originates from the end of the 12th century, and was used by the chronicler Geoffroy du Breuil of Vigeois in 1181. The name refers to the southern town of Albi (the ancient Albiga). The designation is hardly exact, for the centre was at Toulouse
and in the neighbouring districts.

The Albigensians were strong in southern France, northern Italy, and the southwestern Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire

The Bogomils were strong in Balkans
, and became the official religion supported by the Bosnian kings .

* Dualists believed that historical events were the result of struggle between a good force and an evil force and that evil ruled the world, though it could be controlled or defeated through asceticism and good works. * Albigensian Crusade , Simon de Montfort , Montségur , Château de Quéribus


Peter Waldo of Lyon
was a wealthy merchant who gave up his riches around 1175 after a religious experience and became a preacher. He founded the Waldensians which became a Christian
sect believing that all religious practices should have scriptural basis. Waldo was denied the right to preach his sermons by the Third Lateran Council in 1179, which he did not obey and continued to speak freely until he was excommunicated in 1184. Waldo was critical of the Christian
clergy saying they did not live according to the word. He rejected the practice of selling indulgences, as well as the common saint cult practices of the day.

Waldensians are considered a forerunner to the Protestant Reformation , and they melted into Protestantism with the outbreak of the Reformation and became a part of the wider Reformed tradition
Reformed tradition
after the views of John Calvin
John Calvin
and his theological successors in Geneva proved very similar to their own theological thought. Waldensian churches still exist, located on several continents.


In Northern Europe, the Hanseatic League , a federation of free cities to advance trade by sea, was founded in the 12th century, with the foundation of the city of Lübeck
, which would later dominate the League, in 1158—1159. Many northern cities of the Holy Roman Empire became hanseatic cities, including Amsterdam
, Cologne
, Bremen
, Hanover
and Berlin. Hanseatic cities outside the Holy Roman Empire were, for instance, Bruges
and the Polish city of Gdańsk
(Danzig), as well as Königsberg, capital of the monastic state of the Teutonic Knights. In Bergen
, Norway and Veliky Novgorod , Russia the league had factories and middlemen. In this period the Germans started colonising Europe
beyond the Empire, into Prussia
and Silesia

In the late 13th century, a Venetian explorer named Marco Polo
Marco Polo
became one of the first Europeans to travel the Silk Road
Silk Road
to China. Westerners became more aware of the Far East when Polo documented his travels in Il Milione . He was followed by numerous Christian missionaries to the East, such as William of Rubruck , Giovanni da Pian del Carpine , André de Longjumeau , Odoric of Pordenone
Odoric of Pordenone
, Giovanni de\' Marignolli , Giovanni di Monte Corvino , and other travellers such as Niccolò de\' Conti .


Main articles: Science
in the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
and Medieval medicine Further information: List of medieval European scientists

Philosophical and scientific teaching of the Early Middle Ages
Middle Ages
was based upon few copies and commentaries of ancient Greek texts that remained in Western Europe
after the collapse of the Western Roman Empire . Most of them were studied only in Latin as knowledge of Greek was very limited.

This scenario changed during the Renaissance of the 12th century . The intellectual revitalization of Europe
started with the birth of medieval universities . The increased contact with the Islamic world in Spain and Sicily during the Reconquista
, and the Byzantine
world and Muslim
during the Crusades
, allowed Europeans access to scientific Arabic and Greek texts, including the works of Aristotle
, Alhazen , and Averroes
. The European universities aided materially in the translation and propagation of these texts and started a new infrastructure which was needed for scientific communities. Detail of a portrait of Hugh de Provence (wearing spectacles ), painted by Tomasso da Modena in 1352

At the beginning of the 13th century there were reasonably accurate Latin translations of the main works of almost all the intellectually crucial ancient authors, allowing a sound transfer of scientific ideas via both the universities and the monasteries. By then, the natural science contained in these texts began to be extended by notable scholastics such as Robert Grosseteste
Robert Grosseteste
, Roger Bacon , Albertus Magnus
Albertus Magnus
and Duns Scotus . Precursors of the modern scientific method can be seen already in Grosseteste's emphasis on mathematics as a way to understand nature, and in the empirical approach admired by Bacon, particularly in his Opus Majus
Opus Majus


Main articles: Medieval technology
Medieval technology
and Artes Mechanicae

During the 12th and 13th century in Europe
there was a radical change in the rate of new inventions, innovations in the ways of managing traditional means of production, and economic growth. In less than a century there were more inventions developed and applied usefully than in the previous thousand years of human history all over the globe. The period saw major technological advances, including the adoption or invention of windmills , watermills , printing (though not yet with movable type), gunpowder , the astrolabe , glasses , scissors of the modern shape, a better clock , and greatly improved ships. The latter two advances made possible the dawn of the Age of Discovery . These inventions were influenced by foreign culture and society.

Alfred W. Crosby described some of this technological revolution in The Measure of Reality: Quantification in Western Europe, 1250-1600 and other major historians of technology have also noted it. Ships of the world in 1460, according to the Fra Mauro map .

* The earliest written record of a windmill is from Yorkshire
, England, dated 1185. * Paper
manufacture began in Italy around 1270. * The spinning wheel was brought to Europe
(probably from India) in the 13th century. * The magnetic compass aided navigation, first reaching Europe
some time in the late 12th century. * Eye glasses were invented in Italy in the late 1280s. * The astrolabe returned to Europe
via Islamic Spain. * Fibonacci
introduces Arabic numerals
Arabic numerals
to Europe
with his book Liber Abaci in 1202. * The West's oldest known depiction of a stern-mounted rudder can be found on church carvings dating to around 1180.



A fresco from the Boyana Church depicting Emperor Constantine Tikh Asen . The murals are among the finest achievements of the Bulgarian culture in the 13th century. Main article: Medieval art

Art in the High Middle Ages
Middle Ages
includes these important movements:

* Anglo-Saxon art
Anglo-Saxon art
was influential on the British Isles
British Isles
until the Norman Invasion of 1066 * Romanesque art
Romanesque art
continued traditions from the Classical world (not to be confused with Romanesque architecture
Romanesque architecture
) * Gothic art developed a distinct Germanic flavor (not to be confused with Gothic architecture
Gothic architecture
). * Byzantine
art continued earlier Byzantine
traditions, influencing much of Eastern Europe. * Illuminated manuscripts gained prominence both in the Catholic and Orthodox churches


Fan vaulting and glass windows at Bath Abbey
Bath Abbey
Main article: Gothic architecture
Gothic architecture

Gothic architecture
Gothic architecture
superseded the Romanesque style by combining flying buttresses , gothic (or pointed) arches and ribbed vaults . It was influenced by the spiritual background of the time, being religious in essence: thin horizontal lines and grates made the building strive towards the sky. Architecture was made to appear light and weightless, as opposed to the dark and bulky forms of the previous Romanesque style . Saint Augustine of Hippo taught that light was an expression of God. Architectural techniques were adapted and developed to build churches that reflected this teaching. Colorful glass windows enhanced the spirit of lightness. As color was much rarer at medieval times than today, it can be assumed that these virtuoso works of art had an awe-inspiring impact on the common man from the street. High-rising intricate ribbed, and later fan vaultings demonstrated movement toward heaven. Veneration of God was also expressed by the relatively large size of these buildings. A gothic cathedral therefore not only invited the visitors to elevate themselves spiritually, it was also meant to demonstrate the greatness of God. The floor plan of a gothic cathedral corresponded to the rules of scholasticism: According to Erwin Panofsky's Gothic Architecture and Scholasticism, the plan was divided into sections and uniform subsections. These characteristics are exhibited by the most famous sacral building of the time: Notre Dame de Paris
Notre Dame de Paris


Main article: Medieval literature John the Apostle and Marcion of Sinope in an Italian illuminated manuscript , painting on vellum , 11th century

A variety of cultures influenced the literature of the High Middle Ages, one of the strongest among them being Christianity. The connection to Christianity was greatest in Latin literature , which influenced the vernacular languages in the literary cycle of the Matter of Rome . Other literary cycles, or interrelated groups of stories, included the Matter of France (stories about Charlemagne
and his court), the Acritic songs
Acritic songs
dealing with the chivalry of Byzantium\'s frontiersmen, and perhaps the best known cycle, the Matter of Britain , which featured tales about King Arthur
King Arthur
, his court, and related stories from Brittany
, Cornwall
, Wales
and Ireland. An anonymous German poet tried to bring the Germanic myths from the Migration Period
Migration Period
to the level of the French and British epics, producing the Nibelungenlied . There was also a quantity of poetry and historical writings which were written during this period, such as Historia Regum Britanniae by Geoffrey of Monmouth .

Despite political decline during the late 12th and much of the 13th centuries, the Byzantine
scholarly tradition remained particularly fruitful over the time period. One of the most prominent philosophers of the 11th century, Michael Psellos , reinvigorated Neoplatonism on Christian
foundations and bolstered the study of ancient philosophical texts , along with contributing to history, grammar, and rhetorics. His pupil and successor at the head of Philosophy at the University of Constantinople
Ioannes Italos continued the Platonic line in Byzantine thought and was criticized by the Church for holding opinions it considered heretical, such as the doctrine of transmigration . Two Orthodox theologians important in the dialogue between the eastern and western churches were Nikephoros Blemmydes and Maximus Planudes
Maximus Planudes
. Byzantine
historical tradition also flourished with the works of the brothers Niketas and Michael Choniates in the beginning of the 13th century and George Akropolites a generation later. Dating from 12th century Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
is also Timarion , an Orthodox Christian anticipation of Divine Comedy
Divine Comedy
. Around the same time the so-called Byzantine
novel rose in popularity with its synthesis of ancient pagan and contemporaneous Christian

At the same time southern France gave birth to Occitan literature
Occitan literature
, which is best known for troubadours who sang of courtly love . It included elements from Latin literature and Arab-influenced Spain and North Africa. Later its influence spread to several cultures in Western Europe, notably in Portugal and the Minnesänger in Germany. Provençal literature also reached Sicily and Northern Italy laying the foundation of the "sweet new style" of Dante and later Petrarca . Indeed, the most important poem of the Late Middle Ages
Middle Ages
, the allegorical Divine Comedy
Divine Comedy
, is to a large degree a product of both the theology of Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas
and the largely secular Occitan literature.


Main article: Medieval music Musicians playing the Spanish vihuela , one with a bow, the other plucked by hand, in the Cantigas de Santa Maria of Alfonso X of Castile , 13th century Men playing the organistrum , from the Ourense Cathedral , Spain, 12th century

The surviving music of the High Middle Ages
Middle Ages
is primarily religious in nature, since music notation developed in religious institutions, and the application of notation to secular music was a later development. Early in the period, Gregorian chant was the dominant form of church music; other forms, beginning with organum , and later including clausulae , conductus , and the motet , developed using the chant as source material.

During the 11th century, Guido of Arezzo was one of the first to develop musical notation, which made it easier for singers to remember Gregorian chants.

It was during the 12th and 13th centuries that Gregorian plainchant gave birth to polyphony, which appeared in the works of French Notre Dame School ( Léonin and Pérotin ). Later it evolved into the ars nova ( Philippe de Vitry , Guillaume de Machaut ) and the musical genres of late Middle Ages. An important composer during the 12th century was the nun Hildegard of Bingen .

The most significant secular movement was that of the troubadours , who arose in Occitania
(Southern France) in the late 11th century. The troubadours were often itinerant , came from all classes of society, and wrote songs on a variety of topics, though with a particular focus on courtly love . Their style went on to influence the trouvères of northern France, the minnesingers of Germany, and the composers of secular music of the Trecento in northern Italy.


Main article: Medieval theatre
Medieval theatre

Economic and political changes in the High Middle Ages
Middle Ages
led to the formation of guilds and the growth of towns, and this would lead to significant changes for theatre starting in this time and continuing into in the Late Middle Ages
Middle Ages
. Trade guilds began to perform plays, usually religiously based, and often dealing with a biblical story that referenced their profession. For instance, a baker's guild would perform a reenactment of the Last Supper
Last Supper
. In the British Isles
British Isles
, plays were produced in some 127 different towns during the Middle Ages. These vernacular Mystery plays were written in cycles of a large number of plays: York (48 plays), Chester (24), Wakefield (32) and Unknown (42). A larger number of plays survive from France and Germany in this period and some type of religious dramas were performed in nearly every European country in the Late Middle Ages. Many of these plays contained comedy , devils , villains and clowns .

There were also a number of secular performances staged in the Middle Ages, the earliest of which is The Play of the Greenwood by Adam de la Halle in 1276. It contains satirical scenes and folk material such as faeries and other supernatural occurrences. Farces also rose dramatically in popularity after the 13th century. The majority of these plays come from France and Germany and are similar in tone and form, emphasizing sex and bodily excretions.


Further information: Timeline of the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris
Notre Dame de Paris
, whose construction began in 1163, is one of the finer examples of the High Middle Ages
Middle Ages

* 1003 — death of Pope
Sylvester II * 1018 — the First Bulgarian Empire is conquered by the Byzantine Empire under Basil II
Basil II
. * 1027 — the Salian Conrad II succeeds the last Ottonian Henry II the Saint * 1054 — East–West Schism
East–West Schism
* 1066 — Battle of Hastings * 1066–1067 Bayeux Tapestry * 1073–1085 — Pope
Gregory VII * 1071 — Battle of Manzikert * 1077 — Henry IV 's Walk to Canossa * 1086 — Domesday Book
Domesday Book
* 1086 — Battle of az-Zallaqah * 1088 — University of Bologna founded * 1091 — Battle of Levounion
Battle of Levounion
* 1096–1099 — First Crusade * 1123 — First Lateran Council * 1139 — Second Lateran Council * 1145–1149 — Second Crusade * 1147 — Wendish Crusade * c. 1150 — University of Paris
University of Paris
founded * 1155–1190 — Frederick I Barbarossa * 1158 — foundation of the Hanseatic League * 1167 — University of Oxford
University of Oxford
founded * 1185 — reestablishment of the Bulgarian Empire * 1189–1192 — Third Crusade * 1200–1204 — Fourth Crusade
Fourth Crusade
* 1205 — battle of Adrianople * 1209 — University of Cambridge founded * 1209 — foundation of the Franciscan
Order * 1209–1229 — Albigensian Crusade * 1212 — Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa
Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa
* 1215 — Magna Carta
Magna Carta
* 1216 — recognition of the Dominican Order * 1215 — Fourth Lateran Council * 1217–1221 — Fifth Crusade * 1218 — University of Salamanca
University of Salamanca
founded * 1220–1250 — Frederick II * 1222 — University of Padua founded * 1223 — approval of the Franciscan
Rule of Life * 1228–1229 — Sixth Crusade * 1230 — Prussian Crusade
Prussian Crusade
* 1230 — battle of Klokotnitsa * 1237–1242 — Mongol invasion of Europe
* 1241 — Battle of Legnica
Battle of Legnica
* 1242 — Battle of the Ice
Battle of the Ice
* 1248–1254 — Seventh Crusade * 1257 — foundation of the Collège de Sorbonne * 1261 — the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
reconquers Constantinople
. * 1274 — death of Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas
; Summa Theologica
Summa Theologica
published * 1277-1280 - Uprising of Ivaylo
Uprising of Ivaylo
- Medieval Europe's only successful peasant uprising * 1280 — death of Albertus Magnus
Albertus Magnus
* 1291 — Acre , the last European outpost in the Middle East, is captured by the Mamluks under Khalil . * 1299 - Peak of Mongol supremacy in Southeastern Europe
with Chaka of Bulgaria * 1299 — Osman I founds the