The Early Middle Ages

Watch online video lessons, and learn about the different aspects of the Early Middle Ages. These engaging lessons are just a portion of our online study guide and video collection. 

About this chapter

The Early Middle Ages - Chapter Summary and Learning Objectives

What do you know about the Middle Ages? Does the time period evoke images of people suffering from the Black Plague? Do you picture kings ruling over poor peasants and knights fighting gallantly to save the land? There was more to this period than sickness, royalty and fighting. The early Middle Ages, as you will learn in this chapter, was also a time of change. You'll learn about Charlemagne, monasticism and Vikings. Our lessons will introduce you to art and architecture from this time. We also cover things like the spread of feudalism and the importance of the crossbow. Additional things you will learn include:

  • How Charlemagne created the Holy Roman Empire
  • The influence of the church in the Holy Roman Empire
  • The Carolingian Renaissance
  • The role of the armored knight in feudalism
  • The establishment of manors
  • The decline of the Byzantine Empire

Feudalism: Charlemagne and the Holy Roman Empire Study how Charlemagne created, divided and administrated his empire.
Charlemagne's Holy Roman Empire and the Divine Right to Rule Explore Charlemagne's Holy Roman Empire and his relationship to the church.
Monasticism from St. Benedict to Cluny Discover the history of monastic movement and how Carolingian Renaissance, church schools and Carolingian miniscule were used by the state.
Carolingian Art: History, Style & Characteristics Take a look at the style and history of Carolingian art.
Carolingian Architecture: Style, Characteristics & Examples Explore Carolingian architecture.
History of the Vikings Take a quick tour of the history of the Vikings.
The Stirrup, Armored Knight and Spread of Feudalism Learn how these technologies responded to the threats posed by horse peoples and Vikings.
The Return of the Crossbow and Its Spread Across Europe Examine the crossbow's history, repression and gradual spread across Europe.
Order From Chaos: Establishing Stability through Feudal Ties and Manors Discover how feudal ties and the establishment of manors brought stability.
The Slow Decline of the Byzantine Empire Explore the events and factors that contributed to the rise and then slow decline of the Byzantine Empire.

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This lesson explains the rule of Charlemagne and his control over the Holy Roman Empire. It highlights his many military conquests and his divine rights as king, while also focusing on the role feudalism played before, during, and after his reign.

This lesson will explore the rule of Charlemagne and his exercise of the divine right of kings. It will highlight his reign as Holy Roman Emperor, focusing on his military conquests and his cultural reforms.

This lesson will trace the history of Western monasticism from Benedict to Cluny. It will focus on the Benedictine rule while also highlight monastic contributions to society.

This lesson covers the art of the Carolingian Renaissance. We'll explore the causes of the Carolingian Renaissance, then see how the art of illumination was adapted for new uses. Then we'll discuss treasure bindings and finish with a quick survey of the few other surviving forms of Carolingian art.

This lesson covers Carolingian architecture. We first look at Charlemagne's place in a long tradition of imperial builders. We then look at features that distinguish Carolingian churches from early Christian churches: piers, transepts, choirs and westworks. Finally, we explore the blueprint of a Carolingian monastery.

This lesson covers the history of the Vikings. We examine the Viking longships and their role in raids. Then we explore the impact these raids had on European history. Next we look at some of the other things the Vikings did besides raiding.

This lesson looks at the technology behind the armored knight. We'll follow the development of medieval armor and the development of the saddle. Finally, we'll look at the implications of this expensive form of warfare.

This lesson will explore the impact of feudalism on European society. While explaining the system of feudalism, it will highlight how it offered protection and stability to Europe, specifically after the 5th century fall of Rome.

This lesson will explore the slow decline of the Byzantine Empire. It will highlight internal instability and outside invasion as two of the major factors that led to the 1453 fall of Constantinople and the empire.

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