Culmination of Transformations Molded Europe

Europe underwent some major transformation from 1100-1300. The High Middle Ages, as this period was known, economic, political, religious and cultural revivals began to shape Europe. These changes were made possible for several reasons. One of those reasons was that Europe had become more settled after numerous invasions that occurred in the Early Middle Ages. The medieval kings began to apply centralized control. Advancement in agricultural practices also contributed to the European reform, as increased food supply stimulated commercial and urban growth.

Also, due to pressures from the church, internal warfare and chronic violence in Europe was declining. One of the most exciting areas of revival was in economic conditions. The increase in food supply and agricultural production meant that trade increased. Commerce and interaction, which declined or completely halted during the dangerous disruptive years of the Central Middle Ages, reemerged. Increased trade led to several related and extremely important developments.

One was the reintroduction of movement and interchange in parts of Europe, a dramatic change for people who had been isolated by limited resources and the dangerous conditions that had surrounded them. Now it was safer to travel, and there was the strong motive of trading surplus goods. Another change was the reemergence of currency throughout Europe. This was an extremely important change in the long run. Currency meant that land was no longer the only source of wealth. This eroded the monopoly of power held by feudal lords and vassals.

Currency meant the beginning of a more complex economy and social system, providing more opportunities for people. Political revival was the most threatening to feudal lords and vassals. This was the process by which kings started to successfully build states in some parts of Europe. Although this took a long period of time, in some cases centuries, the process of state building began in the 1100’s and 1200’s in regions such as England and France and parts of Central Europe. The rise of kings meant less power for feudal lords as these monarchs built up their centralized control in the areas of military, taxation and legal enforcement.

Although most modern states did not truly emerge until the 14th and 15th centuries, the threat to feudal lords became clear during the High Middle Ages. In the area of religion, the Catholic Church began to reassert its power in two ways. One was a movement within the Church to confront the problems of moral and financial corruption. An influential internal reform movement began in the 10th century. Over several decades, the efforts to create truly devout religious communities independent of outside political influence, and cleansed of corruption, sparked the imagination and passion of many in the Church.

The emphasis on cleaning up corruption spread throughout Europe. The second area of reform took place at the highest level of the Church leadership. During the Central Middle Ages, popes were weak and often corrupt. During this period, the clergy was manipulated by powerful families. During the High Middle Ages, the Church distanced itself from political influence and corrupting influences as it gained greater support and respect from the common people and also greater control of its wealth.

The culture of the High Middle Ages displayed a time of artistic vigor. Universities as we know them today, with faculty and students, were produced during this period. Kings and Popes competed to start up new universities. By the end of the Middle Ages, over 80 universities were in existence. Christianity was pivotal in the medieval society, as theology would play a vital role in the academic world. Christianity effected the actions of the kings and princes. Christianity would touch all Europeans lives.

A philosophical and theological system was created in the schools and was referred to as scholasticism. This system was created to merge faith and reason and to exhibit that what was accepted on faith was in accord with what was learned as reason. The European civilization was transformed in the Middle Ages into a growing economy, nurtured by explosive trade, centralized government, agricultural progression and a cultural revival.