Developments in Europe

Unit 1: c. 1200-1450

Main Ideas:

  • Western Europe was politically fragmented with feudalism and decentralized monarchies

  • The Catholic Church (centered in Rome) was the main source of unity throughout Western Europe

  • As monarchies started centralizing, more people moved to the cities, sparking a commercial revolution

Western Europe

All of Europe West of the Byzantine Empire 

Key Ideas:

  • Very politically fragmented and decentralized

    • Feudalism: Peasants lived on large rural land plots and worked on the land under the supervision of their lords

    • Monarchies were very decentralized and relied on local feudal lords for stability

  • The Catholic Church was the main source of centralized power

    • Nearly all Western Europeans were Catholic and were under the discretion of the Roman Catholic Church

    • Even though Western Europe was politically decentralized, the Catholic Church helped maintain unity

  • Monarchies started centralizing power → People moved to the cities → Commercial Revolution

    • In mid 1400s, monarchies (Spain, France, England, etc.) started consolidating their power, causing peasants to move from the countryside to the cities

    • With more people in the cities, they engaged in commercial activities & traded with other European cities

      • One group of commercial cities is the Hanseatic League in Northern Europe​

St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, the head of the Roman Catholic Church

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A painting showing crop rotation, an agricultural technique, on a feudal plantation