The Downfall of the Middle Ages


There were many reasons for the downfall for the Middle Ages, but the
most crucial ones were the decline of the feudal system, and the declination of
the Church\'s power over the nation-states. In feudal society, everyone had a
definite place and a definite role, with the power resting in the hands of the
local lords (instead of a central government). The lords, or nobles, lost power
after the Crusades, when the Europeans came into contact with the more advanced
civilizations of the Byzantine Empire and the Muslims. That spurred the growth
of trade, which in turn gave rise to a money system. The money system in turn
caused the birth of a middle class, which didn\'t fit anywhere into the feudal
system. It was made up of the serfs and peasants that left the feudal system in
search of making money in trade. For the middle class, the king granted
Charters, made a uniform law, started banking, offered protection, and expanded
territory. In return, the middle class payed taxes to the king. While t his
money economy grew, the feudal lords were put into an economic squeeze. As one
may see, that didn\'t leave much of a place for the nobles, who were rapidly
losing power. Another thing that contributed to their loss of power was the
enforcement of Common Law, which applied throughout the kingdom.
The effects of the Hundred Years\' War hastened the decline of the feudal
system. The use of the longbow and firearms made the feudal methods of fighting
obsolete. Monarchs replaced feudal soldiers with national armies made up of
hired soldiers. Finally, threats to the monarchy decreased as a result of the
large number of nobles killed in the war.
Another major factor that contributed to the end of the Middle Ages was
the declination of the Church\'s power over the nation-states. Conflicts between
the papacy and the monarchy over political matters resulted people losing faith
in the Church. Events like the Babylonian Captivity and the Great Schism
further weakened the Church\'s influence over the peole. Aside from that, people
were disgusted at the actions of the corrupt church officials. They would
charge the people money for all church services, and they also allowed church
positions to be bought. The princely lifestyle of the clergy further eroded
regard for the church. While some still believed that religion held all the
answers, others were beginning to put faith into reason and science. The
uncertainty of the existance of God made people question the Church. Perhaps
one of the most vital blows to the Church was the printing of the Bible in the
vernacular language. That was a revolutionary act because only the clergy was
permitted to interpret God\'s words in the Bible. People angrily criticized the
Church for that. A religious reformer, Jan Hus, led the Czechs who produced
religious pamphlets and copies of the Bible in Czech and criticized the
corruption of the leading Church officials. When Hus and his works were
condemned, riots broke out across Bohemia. Hus\' ideas were spread throughout
Europe after his death, and that left the Church with even more resistors.
These reasons resulted in the inevitable end of the Middle Ages, giving
rise to a new age full of new and wonderful things in art and society. Although
the Middle Ages are sometimes labeled as the Dark Ages, there were some really
important things accomplished in that time that have a crucial effect on society
today as we know it; for instance, the Magna Carta, which in the Middle Ages
placed clear limits on royal power, and today, is the basis of our Constitution.

Category: Social Issues