Week 20 – 9th & 10th century invasions

Describe the ninth- and tenth-century invasions. Apart from the physical destruction involved, how did they affect life in the West?

These invasions were very significant, because they were so difficult for the kings to cope with, that there were political changes. The main invasions were from the Vikings, Magyars and Muslims.

Vikings raided mainly France, which was ruled by the Carolingian family. These raids became very overwhelming after the death of Louis the Pious; although the Franks were good fighters, they had a slow reaction, so when they were taken by surprise (which they were a lot), they couldn’t bare the attack.

The Vikings were very brutal, since they did not, unlike Barbarians before, have any intension of staying and living in those areas, which lead to many burned villages, farms, destroyed churches, looting and people taken into slavery. Sometimes they left some villages undamaged and that was due to their trades with those villages. (For example if the village was good at making swords, they didn’t loot the village, but they paid them to do their swords.)

The raids were so terrible, a special prayer was added, saying “Deliver us from the Norsemen!”. It also showed the kings’ weaknesses and inability to protect their people, which was an ideal opportunity for the development of feudalism.

Magyars had an Asian origin. They attacked mainly Germany, but sometimes they also attacked northern Italy and some parts of France. In the late 9th through mid-tenth century, they have burned many French monasteries and suburbs. By 1000, they had been Christianized and formed a Christian kingdom of Hungary.

Muslims were based in Africa and Spain. They wanted to make more people believe in their faith. They plundered, kidnapped and looted. This wounded down by the late 10th century.

Describe feudalism and manorialism

Both systems had lords in charge (there still was a king).

In manorialism, people exchanged their labour for protection by working on the lord’s land for two to three days a week. These people were called surfers and usually worked their whole lifetime for the lord. On the remaining days of the week they could work on their own, most of the time small, property.

Feudalism had lords and vassals. Lord kept a part of his realm as his own demesne and the rest was entrusted to his faithful companions in the form of fiefs. He collected taxes, maintained infrastructure, protected widows, orphans and poor. Vassals were given land grants from the king and provided income. Some vassals also gave advice to the lord – this is the origin of parliaments. There is also a subinfeudation, where the lord has vassals who have their own vassals.

A ceremony was developed, where people vowed and promised everything to their lord and he in return promised to protect them.

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