Great Famine of 1315-1322
This cataclysmic event was caused by a combination of "considerable price inflation" (379), resulting in an increased cost of food products, and severe weather, which ruined the harvests of these years; both led to "scarcity and starvation." (380) In effect, reduced calorie intake increased susceptibility to disease and decreased worker productivity. The famine was especially damaging in France, where "in Burgundy perhaps one-third of the population died." (380) Additionally, "to none of these problems did governments have effective solutions." (380)
This is the bacillus that causes bubonic plague and caused the Black Death. It prefers to reside in the stomach of a flea, which in turn ideally resides in the fur of the black rat. These rats survived on trade ships, which effectively transported the bacilli to the ports of Europe.
During truces and after the Hundred Years' War, when nobles had little to do and no fixed incomes, many turned to fur-collar crime (so named for the fur collars only nobles were permitted to wear) as a means of making money. In this type of crime, "nobles used their superior social status to rob the weak and then to corrupt the judicial process." (400) Often, gangs of knights demanded protection money from their peasant tenants; if the money was not paid, then their homes and fields would be burned. "Attacks on the rich often took the form of kidnapping..." (400) and ransom. However, many of these criminal nobles were not punished, because they intimidated witnesses, threatened jurors, and bribed judges. The government was too weak to prevent such extortion, and "persecution by lords, on top of war, disease, and natural disaster, eventually drove long-suffering and oppressed peasants all across Europe to revolt." (401)
English Statute of Labourers
Shortage of labor and demand for higher wages by workers resulted in measures such as the 1351 English Statute of Labourers, "an attempt by the English Parliament to freeze the wages of English workers at pre-1347 levels." (386) This measure could not be enforced and was thus unsuccessful.
This movement called for a more "constitutional form of Church government, with papal authority shared with a general council, in contrast to the monarchial one that prevailed." (394) Conciliarists believed that the pope should be head of the Church, but share power with general councils that represented all Christian people. These ideas were considered revolutionary at the time.
"Beginning in the fourteenth century...national languages-the vernacular-came into widespread use not only in verbal communication but in literature as well." (405) Three examples of vernacular literature, literature written in the national language of a country, include Dante's Divine Comedy, Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, and Villon's Grand Testament. The first two examples "reflect...the cultural tensions of the times" (406) and are distinctly medieval, while the third leans toward the Renaissance and modernity. The appearance of vernacular literature in the fourteenth century demonstrates the growing concept of nationalism.
"In the thirteenth century, the craft guilds provided the small minority of men and women living in towns and cities with the psychological satisfaction of involvement in the manufacture of a superior product." (399) The guilds provided economic security, and cared for the poor, the sick, the orphaned, and the widowed. However, in the fourteenth century, guilds tried to maintain monopolies on products, thus restricting recruitment and promotion of guild members. Women faced much exclusion as well, and "Popular and educated culture, supporting a patriarchal system that held women to be biologically and intellectually inferior, consigned them to low-status and low-paying jobs." (399) Eventually, strikes and riots began to occur in England, Flanders, and France.
The Statute of Kilkenny
This 1366 law reflects the developing racism in the late Middle Ages, and the English attempt to protect their economic interests in Ireland. The law prohibited intermarriage between the English and the Irish, stated that English immigrants must speak English, have English names, ride a horse in the English way, and wear English clothing, and banned the Irish from being granted ecclesiastical benefices or be admitted to monasteries.
Named after the mythical agricultural laborer, Jacques Bonhomme (meaning Good Fellow), this was a massive French peasant uprising in 1358. It began "when French taxation for the Hundred Years' War fell heavily on the poor" (401) because the peasants had to pay for the ransom of the French king John and several nobles who had been captured by the English. Resentful of this, "Recently hit by plague, experiencing famine in some areas, and harassed by fur-collar criminals, peasants" (401) across France revolted. However, nobles responded with brutality and indifference, and attempted to end the rebellion without addressing the problems that caused it.
Queen Isabella of England
Queen Isabella (along with her lover Mortimer and a group of barons) deposed and murdered her incompetent husband, Edward II, declaring his son as king Edward III. Edward III and Isabella thus claimed the French throne, leading a group of French barons to legalize the Salic Law, stating that "'No woman nor her son could succeed to the [French] monarchy'" (387) in their effort to block their inheritance of the French throne.
Hundred Years' War
The war began when France confiscated the duchy of Aquitaine in 1337. Outraged, Edward III believed this to be an outright violation of the Treaty of Paris signed in 1259, stating that the English king was the vassal of the French crown for Aquitaine. France then made Edward III's claim to the French throne illegitimate. During the early stages of the war, England was very successful, (i.e. Battle of Crécy, Battle of Agincourt) However, Joan of Arc's actions ultimately helped lead the French to victory from 1428 to 1430.
The ballads of Robin Hood and his merry men demonstrate the rampancy of fur-collar crime in the late Middle Ages. Most of the villains in the tales are fur-collar criminals, who steal from the poor. Robin Hood's motto: "Steal from the rich to give to the poor" was "a sort of retributive justice...he symbolized the deep resentment of aristocratic corruption and abuse; he represented the struggle against tyranny and oppression." (401)
Marsiglio of Padua
When acting as rector of the University of Paris, Marsiglio wrote the Defensor Pacis, in which he stated that the Church should be subordinate to the state, defying the medieval concept that the Church was above the state. He also said "that the Church had no inherent jurisdiction and should own no property" (394) and that "Authority in the Christian Church ... should rest in a general council made up of laymen as well as priests and superior to the pope." (394) Defensor Pacis was condemned and Marsiglio was excommunicated.
Battle of Crécy (1346)
In this battle between France and England during the Hundred Years' War, England abandoned chivalric values. The English used the longbow, using its rapid reloading rate to send showers of arrows into the French ranks. In this confusion, the crossbowmen were defeated, and French knights were unhorsed. The English used cannons to create panic among the French; at this point the English horsemen were able to charge and slaughter the French. This battle is representative of the successes of the English early in the war.
He was elected pope in 1417 at the Council of Constance (1414-1418). "Martin proceeded to dissolve the council. Nothing was done about reform. The schism was over..." (395) In ignoring the pressing need for reform, Martin V was "laying the foundations for the great reform efforts of the sixteenth century." (395)
Joan of Arc
She was born in 1412 to well-to-do peasants in France. She grew up in a religious household and began to hear voices, attributing them to various saints. In 1428, these voices told her that the uncrowned King Charles VII must be crowned and the English must leave France. By this time, France could hope for nothing short of a miracle to save the war effort, and "hoping that she would provide the miracle, Charles allowed her to accompany the army that was preparing to raise the English siege of Orléans. (390) "Joan's presence at Orléans, her strong belief in her mission, and the fact that she was wounded enhanced her reputation and strengthened the morale of the army." (390) Indeed, the withdrawal of the English from Orléans and the following crowning of Charles VII marked the turning point of the war. However, Joan was eventually captured, sold to the English, tried for witchcraft, accused of heresy, and burned at the stake. She was eventually canonized in 1920, and is revered as France's second patron saint.
This was the period from 1309 to 1376 in which the popes resided in Avignon, France. The name of the period referred to the time in which the ancient Hebrews were imprisoned in Babylon. Pope Clement V was originally pressured to move here by Philip the Fair of France in his attempt to control the Church and its politics. During their stay at Avignon, the popes "concentrated on bureaucratic matters to the exclusion of spiritual objectives... [and] the general atmosphere was one of luxury and extravagance" (393) thus damaging papal prestige. Meanwhile, Rome, which had relied on the lucrative tourist trade the papal court attracted, was left poverty-stricken, without stability, and without good government.
Records of her marriage with John Paston provide an example for marriage in the fifteenth century. While John worked in London, eventually dying, Margaret supervised family lands in Norfolk. She had enormous responsibilities on the estate, proving herself to be a shrewd businesswoman. She raised eight children and conducted their marriage negotiations. Margaret and John "seem to have reserved their love for each other... [and] although [their marriage was] completely arranged by their parents, [it] was based on respect, responsibility, and love." (396)
These were the followers of John Wyclif. Lollards were "'mumblers of prayers and psalms,' [which] refers to what they criticized." (394) Lollard teaching permitted women to preach, and women played significant roles in the movement.
House of Commons
Originally, this formed along with the English Parliament during the Hundred Years War. It consisted of knights and burgesses, who "recognized their mutual interests and began to meet apart from the great lords." (392) They realized they too controlled the country's finances, and were key in Edward III's signing of a parliamentary statue in 1341, which stated that the king could not tax without the consent of Parliament. This demonstrated that "if the government was to raise money, it had to correct the wrongs its subjects protested." (392)
Edward III, the son of Edward II, was declared king by Queen Isabella, her lover Mortimer, and a group of barons when they deposed and murdered the incompetent Edward II. Edward III and Isabella thus claimed the French throne, leading a group of French barons to legalize the Salic Law, stating that "'No woman nor her son could succeed to the [French] monarchy'" (387) in their effort to block their inheritance of the French throne.
A Czech priest, Hus "denounced superstition, the sale of indulgences, and other abuses, but his remarks were thoroughly orthodox." (397) "The people of Prague ... found Hus's denunciations of an overendowed Church appealing. Hus considered the issues theological; his listeners saw them as socioeconomic." (397) He was burned at the stake in 1415 for allegedly supporting Wyclif's ideas. However, Bohemian nobles claimed that Hus' execution was unjust and rejected the ruling of the Council of Constance. "This event marks the first time that an ecclesiastical decision was publicly defied." (397) In times since he has been considered the forerunner of Protestantism, hailed as a defender of the freedom of expression, and used as a defense of Czech nationalistic sentiment.
This revolutionary English theologian is considered the precursor of the Reformation of the 1500's. He believed that "the Scriptures alone should be the standard of Christian belief and practice. He urged the abolition of such practices as the veneration of saints, pilgrimages, pluralism, and absenteeism." (394) He believed that people should read the Bible themselves, resulting in the publishing of the Bible in its first English translation. "His idea that every Christian free of mortal sin possessed lordship was seized on by peasants in England during a revolt in 1381 and used to justify their goals...Wyclif struck at the roots of medieval Church structure." (394) His followers were called Lollards.
Christine de Pisan
She was "Perhaps the most versatile and prolific French writer of the later Middle Ages." (406) She "had a broad knowledge of Greek, Latin, French, and Italian literature" (407) and wrote about many topics, including love, religion, morality, history, women and their contributions to society, and household management for women. She had great wisdom and wit, as demonstrated in her autobiographical Avison-Christine. "She records that a man told her an educated woman is unattractive, since there are so few, to which she responded that an ignorant man was even less attractive, since there are so many." (407)
This was a widespread practice "In the early periods of conquest and colonization, and in all [European] frontier regions...native peoples remained subject to their traditional laws; newcomers brought and were subject to the laws of the countries from which they came." (403) For example, On the Polish and Prussian frontier, Polish men were judged by Polish laws and Germans were judged by German laws.
"Premarital pregnancy may have been deliberate: because children were economically important, the couple wanted to be sure of fertility before entering marriage." (395-396) Careful planning by the parents of the couple-to-be was important, because the marriage would determine the economic circumstances of the couple, the future family head, and other important factors. "The general pattern in late medieval Europe was marriage between men in their middle or late twenties and women under 20." (396) However, "In the later Middle Ages...economic factors, rather than romantic love or physical attraction, determined whom and when a person married...[even so] Deep emotional bonds knit members of medieval families" (398) and this was encouraged by the Church. "Divorce did not exist in the Middle Ages ... [and] Annulments were granted in extraordinary circumstances." Intermarriage was prohibited because of growing racial tensions during the later Middle Ages. Additionally, "Prostitution became socially accepted during this time period. "Publicly owned brothels were more easily policed and supervised than privately run ones ... Legalized brothels also reflect a greater tolerance for male than for female sexuality." (398)
During the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, "chivalric code demanded lavish generosity and an aristocratic lifestyle." (400) During truces and after the Hundred Years' War, "Many nobles turned to crime as a way of raising money." (400) Therefore, feudal chivalry was in part responsible for the development of fur-collar crime during the later Middle Ages. Additionally, chivalric values were abandoned during the Battle of Crécy during the Hundred Years' War, representing the decline of the values of the Middle Ages and the advent of the Renaissance.
"The recreation of all classes reflected the fact that late medieval society was organized for war and that violence was common." (399) The aristocracy participated in tournaments and jousts. The common people engaged in archery, wrestling, bull baiting, and bear baiting. Public executions and mutilations of criminals were popular events. "Beer or ale commonly provided solace to the poor, and the frequency of drunkenness reflects their terrible frustrations." (399)
This is "the feeling of unity and identity that binds together a people." (393) It began to grow in England and France during the Hundred Years War, when citizens of each country experienced a feeling of pride in their country's military strength. The fourteenth century appearance of vernacular literature, literature written in the national language of a country, reflects the growing concept of nationalism.