The Downfall Of The Middle Ages Essay

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.


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