World History Homework Five Answers - Student 5
Answer four of the following questions (honors - answer six of the following):
1. What is the difference between the "Holy Roman Empire" and the Roman Empire?
The Roman Empire (Imperium Romanorum - although the Romans themselves did not actually call their state by this name) was the continuation of the Roman Republic (509-27 BC); a hegemon still administered by the Senate (de jure) but run by increasingly centralised military dictators (de facto) whom modern historians refer to as "Emperors". At no point was this hegemon an official monarchy, although by the Third Century it had acquired all the characteristics of absolute monarchy bar primogeniture. This polity faded during the fourth and fifth centuries and - for reasons which are still fiercely debated by historians - officially ended in Western Europe in 476 and in the Eastern Mediterranean in 1453; although both empires had long ceased to be anything more than a vague ceremonial idea before these dates.
The Holy Roman Empire (Sacrum Imperium Romanorum or, after 1519, Heiliges Römisches Reich von Teutscher Nation; the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation) was a resuscitation of the ancient Roman Empire. During Mass on Christmas Day 800, Pope Leo III crowned an unsuspecting Charlemagne, King of the Franks and the strongest political leader in contemporary Europe, as the Imperator Romanorum or Roman Emperor. Historians disagree as to the Pope's reasons for this, citing the West's frosty relations with the surviving Roman Empire ("Byzantines") in the East, theological and ecclesiastical disputes between Rome and Constantinople, the Pope's need for Charlemagne's military protection while simultaneously asserting spiritual superiority over the secular, and the prestige offered by publicly associating Charlemagne with the nostalgia of the ancient Romans. This was the revival of the Roman Empire, but the term "Holy Roman Empire" did not exist until Charlemagne's great-grandson, Otto I, was crowned Sacrum Imperator Romanorum (Holy Roman Emperor) in 962. The Holy Roman Empire existed in a flux between the secular and spiritual, between sacerdotium et imperium - political terms relating to God's transubstantiative power in the temporal realm (as expressed by the Church, which itself claimed to both receive and dispense secular power through the fraudulent Donatio Constantini) and the ethereal (metaphysical) realm. As a consequence, relations between the Pope and the Emperor became increasingly frosty throughout the Middle Ages.
The Holy Roman Emperor, unlike the ancient Roman Emperors, was a de jure and de facto monarch, elected by the nine Imperial Electors of the Diet. As the Empire was nominally composed of semi-independent fiefdoms and kingdoms, one of the nine Electors (Princes, Prince-Bishops, and Kings) would be elected Emperor and ratified by the Reichstag or Imperial Aulic Council. The office of Emperor, while officially open to any of the nine Electors, increasingly became dominated by the powerful Hapsburg family of Austria. At the Reichstag of 1495, delegates restricted the absolute power of the Emperor by ending territorial expansion in the name of the Empire itself - much as Hadrian had done to the ancient Roman Empire - although territorial expansion could still be pursued by component states. The Reich (from the Latin regnum, or "reign") experienced a devastating civil war from 1618-1648, commonly referred to as the Thirty Years' War, a continental conflict in which some eight million Imperial citizens were killed. The 1648 Treaty of Westphalia ended the war by granting component states the right to pursue their own foreign policy without reference to the Emperor, and over the next hundred and fifty years, the Reich became increasingly ignored as individual monarchs accumulated territorial and commercial power, and Austria and Prussia fought on and off the battlefield during the "German Dualism" for control of the moribund Empire. When Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Imperial territories in 1806, the Empire's response was extremely individualist and, defeated on the battlefield, Emperor Franz Joseph I officially gave Charlemagne's sword to Napoleon and thereby dissolved the Empire in 1806, some 1,006 years after its foundation. The Hapsburgs continued to rule the Austro-Hungarian Empire from 1806-1919, and in March 2011 the last heir to the Hapsburg throne (and thereby the last claimant to the Roman Empire), Otto von Hapsburg, died. The Imperial Regalia remain in Nuremberg and popular legend asserts that the Reichskrone, the Imperial crown first worn by Charlemagne and now in a museum case in Nuremberg, await the day when Europe is in need of a new Roman Emperor to defend us from our enemies.
3. Who was "Charles the Hammer," and why was he important?
Charles Martel (c.688-741), or Charles the Hammer, had been a majordomo under the Frankish Merovingian dynasty. Following the Frankish civil war between Prince Ragenfrid and Dagobert III, he became Regnum Francorum (King of the Franks) in 737; although he rejected a higher title of Consul Francorum offered by the Pope. From 718-732 he subjugated the neighbouring Saxons and Alemanni, winning a battle at the Teutoberg Forest where Emperor Augustus' 45,000 troops had been annihilated 709 years previously. At the Battle of Tours in 732, Charles Martel and Odo of Bordeaux defeated the forces of Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi, Emir of Cordoba, who was striking north into Europe from the Caliphate. The Battle of Tours effectively ceased Islamic permeation of Europe. It is worth noting that Charles' son, Pepin the Short, was crowned by Pope Stephen II as Patricius Romanorum, or Protector of the Romans; a precursor for the soon-to-appear "Holy Roman Emperor".
4. Explain what feudalism in Western Europe was.
Traditionally, historians and social scientists have identified feudalism as a social system which emerged following the gradual collapse of central government in the Roman Empire. Once Roman trade had ground to a halt (due to civil wars, marauders, and financial devastation), the provincia and colonia had to be become self-sufficient in terms of economics and defence; and as the situation deteriorated, the scale became increasingly local. Luckily, the crowded Roman cities had, by this time, largely emptied due to the impact of plague and refugees escaping obvious targets for the Germanics. So, small-scale, self-sufficient estates appeared who managed their own defence, agriculture, and administration - feudalism. These estates were gradually corralled into loose Kingdoms, but retained much of their own autonomy.
Under feudalism (so states this theory), the King legally owned all the land in the Kingdom, by dint of him having divine right and the loyalty of whatever semi-professional soldiers and mercenarieswho had survived the collapse of the Roman Empire and the Germanic invasions, and remained in rudimentary units. The King would lease this land to his nobles and knights (aristocrats consisting not of educated rhetoricians, but the most aggressive thugs who had slashed and backstabbed their way to the top of the social pile) in exchange for the nobles performing military service on behalf of the King, when required. These knights, in turn, would lease their land to the peasants who worked the fields and paid the taxes (in goods, not currency), in exchange for military protection from the knights against marauders and enemies. In a nutshell, feudalism was a simple hierarchy of social contracts whereby the man at the top protected those beneath you, on condition that they worked for him. It was very localised and operated on a small basis.
But in recent decades, medievalists have increasingly questioned to what extent - if any - this system differed at the conceptual level from the Roman Empire, or the primitive capitalism of the Renaissance, or indeed any form of hierarchical, stratified social structure (including ours). The scale is different - feudalism was very localised and consisted of many small, self-sufficient "manors" or estates, rather than a large-scale system of large aristocratic estates and trade between specialists who need each other to survive - but the basic concept of a rural, agrarian society built around a King-Aristocracy-Peasant social contract remained unchanged from the Roman Empire (or indeed, from the time of the Pharaohs) and only began to change, much later, as industrialisation in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries created new classes and reshuffled the social order. Like many historical concepts, feudalism is, at best, a dubious tool with which to chip away at the socio-economic vagueness surrounding the Early Middle Ages.
6. Discuss one of the major civilizations or tribes in Central and South America in the lecture, and contrast it with another major civilization or tribe from that area.
The Aztecs of Central Mexico were a remarkable civilisation. Indeed, estimates suggest that by the year 1350, Tenochtitlan was the largest city on Earth; a clean, neat, geometric city of grid-plan streets connected by canals and floating gardens. When the Spanish conquistadores arrived, Bernardo de Diaz famously described the city as "something from a dream". The Aztec polity was maintained through diplomatic and military subjugation of neighbouring societies, notably the Tabasco and Tlaxcala, who became subsidiaries to the Emperor in Tenochtitlan by sending tribute and slaves for sacrifice to the sun. While highly advanced in learning, architecture, and the military, the Aztecs pursued the same arrogant foreign policy as all imperial powers; hence when the Spaniards arrived in 1519, the Aztec state collapsed with extreme speed as its subjugated peoples rose up in revolt.
In contrast to the Aztecs, the Maya were a much more diplomatically astute civilisation who dissipated some three centuries before the Aztec state was unified. The Maya are perhaps most famous today for their three calendars. The Tzolk'in (a modern word, not used by the Ancient Mayans) was a 260-day calendar with origins possible in the timespan of human pregnancy, or possibly from calculations of 13 and 20; sacred numbers in Mayan mythology. The Ha'ab was exactly 365 days in length; the Mayans were possibly aware of the concept of leap years, but as the extra time only adds up significantly over centuries, it doesn't really matter. The Ancient Egyptians, for example, also used a calendar of exactly 365 days, which only required reshuffling every couple of centuries. The Tzolk'in and Ha'ab coincide with each other once every 52 years; thus giving rise to the "Long Count" calendar with which, thanks to foolish liberal New-Age conspiracy theories about 2012, we are all tiresomely familiar!
8. Write an essay about any aspect of the lecture.
Charlemagne inherited an extensive Frankish kingdom when he came to the throne, one that had been largely carved out through the military and diplomatic achievements of his grandfather and father, and the only realm in Europe which had official blessing from the Pope in Rome. Charlemagne's territorial extensions were mostly assimilations of the Burgindians who lived in what is now eastern France and western Germany, and pressing into Saxon territories in Central Europe. He also subdued northern Italy and the Low Countries. Much of his military ability stemmed from expanding the professional army of trained, full-time soldiers (first instituted by Charles Martel), in response to news of Viking raids around the coasts of the North Sea. This army, unlike contemporary warbands, could be mobilised at any time of the year and deployed to any part of the Kingdom, and its trained, disciplined men had a significant strategic and tactical advantage over much larger bands of amateur warriors and conscripted peasants. Equally as significant was his recognition that his Kingdom required a proper administrative apparatus to hold it all together. Using literate men educated at the monasteries, Charlemagne constructed the first proper civil service since the Romans, allowing him to levy taxes, raise troops, and facilitate trade. The peace and administrative organisation of Charlemagne's realm was perhaps most significant in allowing Western Europe's population to climb back up to its pre-fifth century levels, and by 800 the Frankish Kingdom had a bigger population than the Western Roman Empire in 400. This was largely due to Charlemagne's government and taxation enabling more efficient production and distribution of food. At the same time, historians point to Charlemagne's Christian realm as instrumental in forming a collective European identity, based on Christianity and contrasted against non-Christians, rather than a hotchpotch of local identities. He was an astonishingly significant leader - without his tax levying and creation of bureaucratic government, Europe would have taken much longer to emerge from the early Middle Ages.
9. What was the Carolingian Court?
The Carolingian Dynasty was a Frankish noble family which emerged in the seventh century AD. The name is a derivative of karolingi, a hybrid of medieval Latin and Old German meaning "descendant of Charles" (Charles Martel) - the name was applied retrospectively. In 751 the Carolingian Dynasty was officially acknowledged as superior to the Merovingian Dynasty when Charles Martel's son, Pepin the Short, was crowned Dux Francorum et Patricius Romanorum by the Pope. Arguably the most famous Carolingian was Charlemagne, and after his death and the division of the new Imperium Romanorum following the 818 Treaty of Verdun, the Carolingians were pushed out of political power in the Regnum Francorum (Kingdom of the Franks), Regnum Burgundinae (Kingdom of Burgundy), and the Regnum Teutoricum (Kingdom of the Germans; Holy Roman Empire from 962). In 1122 the last members of the Carolingian Court, Odo and Adelaide of Vermandois, died.