THE 'DARK' AGES (AD 500-1000)
To protect themselves from roving bands of invaders and primitive tribes, men were forced to sacrifice their freedom andindependence for the security offered by rigid institutions. Insecurity in this world led to a demand for certainty to insure salvation, through religion, in the next world.
1. Political - The institutionof feudalism provided a system whereby an individual swore an oath (fealty) to offer his services and support to a feudal lord in exchange for protection from attack.
2. Economic - The institutionof manorialism provided economic and military security for the farmer in case of famine, raiding, etc., but he lost the freedom of private land ownership.
3. Religious - Since St. Augustine, andother Church Fathers, had asserted the primacy of faith over reason, Roman Catholicism required the individual to submit his will and reason to the Church in exchange for salvation. Moreover, theindividual was constantly reminded of his extreme guilt and sinfulness. This doctrine of 'natural depravity' was based on original sin and was later taken up by Calvinism (Swiss Reformed Church,Presbyterianism, Puritanism).
4. Art - Basilica-type churches; Byzantine wall mosaics; Beowulf.
THE DAWN OF HUMANIZATION (AD 1000-1250)
The individual came to seek greater freedom and relaxation fromthe austerity of the previous period while managing to stay within the limits prescribed by the institutions described above.
1. Socio-Political - Chivalry tended to humanize feudalism.
2.Military - The Crusades offered opportunities for adventure and gain while putting men in contact with new ideas and exotic, luxurious cultures in the Near East.
3. Economic - The rise of the cities,especially in Italy, resulted in a richer, more colorful life than that of the meager, dreary villages of medieval life.
4. Religious - The Cult of the Virgin tended to soften the austerity of...