MIddle ages

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Middle Ages
Every time period is defined by certain events, certain aspects of that period’s culture, and certain people. The Middle Ages are not an exception. The Middle Ages lasted from about AD 350 to about 1450. At the beginning of the Middle Ages, the western half of the Roman Empire began to fragment into smaller, weaker kingdoms. By the end of the Middle Ages, many modern European states had taken shape. During this time, the precursors of many modern institutions, such as universities and bodies of representative government, were created. Throughout this incredible time period many great works of art, changes in religion, and horrible diseases shaped history. The Middle Ages are remembered for the impact of Christianity, the fantastic architecture, and the horrible diseases that spread throughout Europe.
In medieval England, Christianity was by far the most dominant religion, and the Bible was the most popular book. Religion played an important part in the lives of the people of that time, and was seriously viewed as a pleasurable pastime by the majority. There were approximately 9,000 parishes in medieval England, and each had one or more parish guilds associated with it. Membership into a parish guild was voluntary, although one was expected to pay an annual fee. Naturally there were more wealthy people than poor in each association, giving each guild a hierarchical structure. Members often spent time praying for those who had passed away recently. Feasts and processions were organized to celebrate religious days, and charity work was encouraged. Each guild was usually formed to honor a particular Saint, and so was named after that Saint, the most popular being The Virgin Mary (Rice 37).
The Christian calendar was of great importance to the ordinary folk of medieval England. It gave their lives structure. The stories and teachings appropriate to each time of year could be shared, and this gave the masses a common purpose for their existence. There were thirty-six separate observances throughout the year, ranging from the circumcision of The Lord on January 1st, to the worship of St. Thomas of Canterbury on December 29th. The large number of days of worship highlights how essential this calendar was in giving people’s lives structure. Also, people would have looked forward to these religious days because it meant no ...

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...a wealth. A new type of consumer, who preferred variety and luxury, began to appear in both the towns and the countryside. People who were unsure if they would be alive the next day wanted to spend their money on fine foods and luxuries. Many lords and wealthy merchants built churches and commissioned religious art, partly in thanks for being spared the horrors of the Black Death. Some of the artistic styles that developed in this period were very influential later during the Renaissance. Some historians suggest that people who invested in culture in hard times financed the Renaissance (Rice 67).
The impact of Christianity, the fantastic architecture, and the horrible diseases that spread throughout Europe all contribute to the history of the Middle Ages. They helped shape one of the greatest periods in history. The Middle Ages will always be remembered as a time of great accomplishments and horrible struggles. The great architecture still stands today, while the literary works are continuously studied and reflected upon. The Black Death still remains one of the most devastating epidemics that the world has ever seen. The Middle Ages were truly a great period in Europe’s history.

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