World History Lecture Six

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With this lecture we reach the second millennium, which began in A.D. 1001. The first millennium, or first thousand years after the approximate birth of Christ, was from A.D. 1 through 1000. The second millennium, or second thousand years, was from A.D. 1001 through 2000. We are now in the third millennium after Christ, beginning in A.D. 2001.

The first millennium began with Christ and Pax Romana, then saw the fall of the Roman empire followed by what historians call the Dark Ages. There was the founding of Islam and the struggle for control of Europe and the Middle East. There was the institution of feudalism, both in Christian Europe and non-Christian Japan.

Most of all, the first millennium was defined by the rapid growth of Christianity, particularly in Eastern and Western Europe. This expansion brought growing pains: heresies, which were successfully overcome, and then challenges by Islam in Western Europe, which Christianity overcame, and finally a massive split ("schism") between the Christian Church in the West and East that remains to this day (this was not the Reformation, which did not occur until much later).

We are now in the middle of the Middle Ages, around A.D. 1000. Let us begin.

The 1st Century of the 2nd Millennium: A.D. 1001-1100

The second millennium began in the 1000s with a century of turmoil as Christianity grew larger and Islam continued to challenge it. Two key dates were 1054, when the schism or split occurred between the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches, and 1055, when the Seljuk Turks captured Baghdad in present-day Iraq. Both events then set the stage for a massive struggle between Christian and Muslim forces in Palestine.

In 1054, the Byzantine empire established its own church, known as the “Eastern Orthodox Church.” This church resulted from the “Great Schism” in the Roman Catholic Church, which was much different from the Protestant Reformation that occurred centuries later. This Great Schism resulted in two separate churches, each of which claimed to be the true Catholic Church. In contrast, the Protestant Reformation did not result in two large churches making similar assertions of authority.

The Great Schism began with a controversy over the popular use of icons and then spread to other issues such as whether priests could marry and whether divorce would be allowed. There was also a doctrinal dispute over a single term, “filioque”.

“Filioque” means “and the Son,” a phrase from the Nicene Creed, the statement of faith that united Christians against heresies. Roman Emperor Constantine adopted this Creed in A.D. 325. The Nicene Creed includes this: “We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son.”[1] The Western Church (Rome) believed that the Holy Spirit originates from both Jesus and His Father, but Eastern Christians believed that the Holy Spirit originates only from God the Father.

The dispute over the use of icons is easier to understand. The word “icon” comes from the Greek word “eikon” for “image”. The Eastern Orthodox Church embraced icons but rejected three-dimensional statutes. The Eastern Orthodox Church also allowed its priests to marry, and permitted divorce. The Roman Catholic Church took the opposite position on all three issues by allowing statutes, prohibiting marriage by priests, and prohibiting divorce. There were also minor differences. An Orthodox wedding ceremony has no public exchange of vows between husband and wife. That is done privately.

These churches – the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church – also disagreed about the authority of the pope. To this day there have been many unsuccessful attempts to reunite East and West. By now there are many other differences. Both churches make a sign of the Cross, but the final “cross” motion in making the sign is from left-to-right for the Catholics and from right-to-left for the Eastern Orthodox. The Eastern Orthodox Church determines the date for Easter in a different manner from the Western Church, and often they are on different Sundays.

The Eastern Orthodox Church remains the dominant church in Russia and many countries of Eastern Europe (including Greece) and Asia, but is no longer influential in the home of the former Byzantine empire, which is Turkey, now 97% Muslim. There are many adherents of the Eastern Orthodox Church today in the United States.

The Eastern Orthodox Church and particularly its Saint Cyril were extremely influential in converting the Slavic regions of Eastern Europe (including Russia) to Christianity. Saint Cyril even established a new alphabet for the purpose of teaching the Slavs to read the Bible. His Cyrillic alphabet remains the basis today of the alphabet for Russia and other Slavic countries.

After the Great Schism, the Catholic Church strengthened its organizational structure in 1059 when it established the College of Cardinals to elect future popes, thereby ensuring a smooth transition from pope to pope that has continued to this day. At that time power in Western Europe was centered in two places: Germany, where the Saxons ruled, and Rome, where the papacy presided. Their relationship was sometimes friendly, sometimes not-so-friendly. Smaller kingdoms in France and England existed too.

The most important pope in the first century of the new millennium was Pope Gregory VII, who reigned from 1073 to 1085. He is known for ending the control of the western church by the secular (non-church) rulers, particularly by abolishing “lay investiture,” by which non-church lords had control over the choice of bishops, abbots and other church officials. Pope Gregory excommunicated the German King Henry IV because he insisted on installing bishops. Henry IV then crossed the Alps in wintertime to seek forgiveness and absolution from the pope in the Canossa incident in 1077. Historians today view the incident as an example of humiliation of a king by a religious leader. Pope Gregory forgave him, but then Henry IV continued to demand control and even removal of Pope Gregory, ultimately causing Gregory to flee from Rome in 1084 in order to survive. Pope Gregory then died a year later, while Henry IV lived on for another 20 years. This conflict between Germany and Rome would emerge again with the Protestant Reformation hundreds of years later. Meanwhile, Christianity continued to grow in power based on the productive feudal system. The Christians defeated the Muslims in Spain in 1085 at the battle of Toledo, beginning the process of converting Spain back to Christianity after hundreds of years of Muslim rule.

Several strict Christian religious orders were established in the 1000s in Europe, including the Carthusian Order (1086) and the Cistercian Order (1098). There are monks today who continue to belong to these orders. Both orders require silence and vegetarianism, in addition to giving up all worldly possessions. The Carthusians lived (and still live) like hermits; the Cistercians spread Christianity and western farming knowledge to Eastern Europe, hosting many retreats for citizens to attend and participate in a week or weekend of prayer and learning. At its peak, the Cistercians had over 700 monasteries.

In 1066, the biggest event in English history occurred: the Battle of Hastings (near London today). The Normans (Vikings who had settled in northwest France) invaded and conquered the British island. Based on winning this battle the Normans established the reign of William the Conqueror, which lasted until 1087. The Normans continued on to conquer most of Italy in 1084. A few years later, in 1088, the first university in the world was established as the University of Bologna in Italy.

The end of this important first century of the second millennium was the capture by the Christians of Jerusalem. This was the victory of the Crusades, a controversial military expedition that we discuss next.


The most famous military activity during the feudal period was the “Crusades”, a series of wars covering nearly 200 years, from A.D. 1096-1291. The First Crusade was immensely successful. To a lesser extent, the Third Crusade was also a success. The other Crusades were not successful.

The primary motivation of the Crusades was to make Jerusalem safe for Christian pilgrimages. Fed up with reports of the murdering of defenseless Christian pilgrims, in 1095 Pope Urban II called for feudal knights to retake the Holy Land from the Seljuk Turks. At the time the Seljuk Turks were considered to be invincible fighters, having conquered Asia Minor and even defeating the once-mighty Byzantine empire. Even now, as proven in wars such as the Korean War, Turkish soldiers are known to be incredibly tough and tenacious. The communist torture and brainwashing of Western forces in the Korean War broke soldiers from every nation, including the United States, but had little effect on the Turkish soldiers, who have always been extremely tough mentally.

The Seljuk Turks defeated all opponents, ruling from the 1000s to the 1200s. They did particularly well under their ruler Malik Shah, who died in 1092. But some Muslims were unhappy with being ruled by the Turks, and once Malik died dissension in the Islamic world grew.

The Byzantine emperor, Alexius Comnenus, had been repeatedly defeated by the Seljuk Turks and he asked the pope for help to defeat the Muslims. He promised a reunion of the Eastern Orthodox Church with the Roman Catholic Church, and to transfer Byzantine lands (“fiefs”) to victorious knights from feudal Western Europe.

At the Council at Clermont in southern France, Pope Urban II gave one of the greatest speeches in history. Promising absolution and assurance of salvation to anyone who died in a crusade for the Holy Land, he urged a huge crowd to protect Christian pilgrims from the Turks. He demanded that all internal feuds end in the West and he threatened excommunication (expulsion from the Catholic Church) for anyone who continued to bicker internally. Those who decided to fight in the crusades were said to be “taking up the cross,” because many wore a tunic with a large red cross on it.

“Peter the Hermit” answered the call of Pope Urban and led an unprepared group of peasants in a small first mission (not large enough to be called the “First Crusade”). Peter the Hermit and his band of peasants failed. But news of its failure led to renewed determination by Christians, and a well-equipped religious mission led by the Normans followed. The subsequent all-out effort was the First Crusade.

When these western forces reached Constantinople to join with Alexius’ soldiers, the western army was already overwhelming. It proceeded to capture Nicaea in 1097, and went onward to Jerusalem despite intense fighting and hardship.

In 1099, the First Crusade invaded and succeeded in capturing Jerusalem, and set up four feudal kingdoms that would remain for nearly 100 years. Critics claim that the Christian crusaders massacred the inhabitants of Jerusalem in the process. But it was a huge military victory for the Western forces, and Jerusalem was finally made safe for the pilgrims.

A mixture of Christian spirituality and military adventure motivated the participants in the Crusades as never before in history, and perhaps never again. Merchants participated also in the hope of establishing new trade connections. While historians emphasize abuses committed by soldiers, most of the crusaders were acting to advance the cause of Christianity and secure salvation for others and perhaps themselves. Of course not everyone who participated was so noble. Criminals fought in the Crusades to receive pardons, and a crusader was exempt from taxation from the time that he “took up the cross,” until he returned from the war. Still, for the most part, this was a religious war fought by devout Christians.

The Second Crusade in 1147-49, however, was a failure. Then, in 1187, the Muslims captured Jerusalem under their leader Saladin. A subsequent Third Crusade (1189-92) had the limited success of obtaining a truce from Saladin in order to allow Christian pilgrimage to Jerusalem. The partially successful Third Crusade was spearheaded by the leaders of France, the Holy Roman Empire, and King Richard the Lion-Hearted of England. Only King Richard saw this mission to its completion; the other leaders returned home after bickering, or drowned.

Two subsequent Crusades were tragic. The Fourth Crusade (1202-04) never reached the Holy Land and ended with the crusaders’ sacking Constantinople—a Christian city—wounding it forever and embittering the East against the West. A Children’s Crusade (1212) consisted of peasants leading thousands of children on a mission of love to Jerusalem, but the children either drowned or were taken and sold into slavery.

The Crusades remain a controversial issue, particularly by opponents of Christianity who describe it as unjust violence by Christians. Regardless, the impact of the Crusades on the world was enormous, even leading to Christopher Columbus (much later) to explore the New World. The Crusades were, in fact, the biggest cause of the subsequent end of the Middle Ages in Western Europe. Here's why:

(1) The Catholic Church gained more power due to the Crusades, and this led to the Reformation.

(2) The Crusades introduced Europeans to many new goods from the East, and this greatly increased trade. These new goods included cotton, citrus, sugar, oriental carpets, glassware, paper and gems.

(3) The Crusades introduced Europeans to gunpowder, one of the most significant inventions in the history of the world. Gunpowder influenced all future military conflicts.

(4) The Crusades contributed to the end of feudalism and gave power to kings, because the knights had to sell land to the kings to pay for the mission to Jerusalem. Many nobles lost their lives in the Crusades, further strengthening the relative power of the monarchs. Merchants favored the rise of kings, who could better promote and protect trade than feudal knights could.

(5) The increase in trade due to the Crusades led to an increased use in money rather than barter, and a new middle class (the “bourgeoisie”) developed.

(6) Italian city-states, such as Rome, grew in power based on providing supplies and ships for the crusaders trying to reach the Holy Land.

(7) Europeans were inspired by magnificent cities they saw in the East, such as Constantinople, along with achievements in business and artistic works.

(8) Historians argue that the Crusades improved the power of women who were left to manage property as the crusaders went off into battle.

The Mongols

Asia and Eastern Europe suffered the scourge of vicious fighters known as the Mongols. Japan was very fortunate in one key respect: it is an island enjoying the protections of water against invaders like the Mongols.

The Mongol tribe came from Mongolia, which is northwest of China in central Asia. They were skilled warriors and expert horsemen, capable of riding for days without any difficulty. They would pitch tents as needed and they would roam throughout Asia, destroying anything that stood in their way. They were known for their savagery and were not good at managing the lands they conquered.

The founder of the Mongol empire was Chinggis (Genghis) Khan (1162-1227), who united the Mongol tribes. He dreamed of creating the biggest empire in world history, and he did exactly that. To accomplish his goal, he built a massive and powerful army based on meritocracy (promotion based on merit rather than friendship or seniority).

Chinggis (Genghis) Khan led the Mongols from 1206 to 1227. Historians consider him to have been a military genius, and he conquered the largest contiguous empire in the history of the entire world.

In all of history, only the Mongols were able to invade Russia successfully in the wintertime. The Mongols conquered Russia in 1237, and ruled over it for nearly 250 years, until 1480. This caused isolation of the Russians from Europe, thereby creating a distrust of Europeans (and Americans) that persists to this day. Russia suffered economically and intellectually from the Mongol rule, and its citizens were subjected to the status of peasants who could act only as serfs for their protectors among the Russian ruling class. Taxes were imposed for the benefit of the Mongols. Prince Alexander Nevsky, based on his cooperation with the Mongols, became the first prince of Moscow and all of Russia. The tributes by the Russians to the Mongols did not end until Ivan III of Moscow refused to pay tribute in 1480. By then the Mongols were too weak to do anything about it.

In 1231, the Mongols invaded Persia and killed hundreds of thousands of people. In 1258, the Mongols defeated the Muslims in Baghdad, located in modern-day Iraq. The Mongols spared Christians in the city but killed the Muslim caliph Abbasid. Only later did the Mongols themselves convert to Islam. The Mongols destroyed cities, irrigation systems, and anything else that they wanted to. They were greatly feared. They ruled so much land that they had to divide it into four regions: Russia, China, central Asia and Persia. The region of Russia is known as the Khanate of the Golden Horde.

Brutal in their military techniques, the Mongols added the Chinese invention of gunpowder and the catapult to their fierce arsenal. They seemed unstoppable and, in addition to conquering much of Asia (including present-day Russia), they also ruled what is now Poland, eastern Germany and Hungary by 1242. They were finally beaten back by Egyptian Mamluks in a famous battle in Palestine, where for the first time another group was able to defeat the Mongols in tough hand-to-hand combat. The furthest the Mongols could reach into Western Europe was the outskirts of Vienna.

The Mongols enjoyed continued success in China, where Kublai Khan founded the Yuan dynasty beginning in 1260, with its capital in present-day Beijing. He connected the Huang He River with Beijing by extending the Grand Canal. He promoted Buddhism and ended mandatory education in the teachings of Confucius. He allowed freedom of religion. He installed foreign administrators to manage the vast country.

But every great conqueror in history has met its match, the one conquest that it could not do. Alexander the Great did not take India and the Roman empire never conquered Germany. The Mongols could not conquer Japan. Twice they tried to cross the waters to reach Japan, in 1274 and 1281. Each time an intense wind that the Japanese call the “kamikaze” turned back the Mongols. It was not until World War II that a larger seaborne invasion of Japan was attempted by anyone, when the United States successfully invaded Okinawa in March 1945. The Mongols were also unable to conquer Cambodia or Vietnam. But the Mongols did control Korea from 1231 to 1350.

The Mongols retained control of the area known as “Eurasia”, which is the region where Europe and Asia meet. It consists of large, flat tracts of treeless grassland, also called “steppes”.

From the 1250s to 1350s, there was a period of “Mongol Peace” (“Pax Mongolica,” similar to “Pax Romana”) when traders were not harassed. Some might say that traders were even protected by the Mongols along the Silk Road (also known as the Silk Routes), which were the old trade routes linking the Mediterranean world to China.

Inflation (weakening of the money) destroyed the Mongol empire, just as it destroyed so many other empires and countries. The rulers kept printing more money and its value kept declining, until businessmen did not want to use it anymore and the money (and empire) thereby lost its influence. Persia obtained its independence from the Mongols in 1335. China rebelled against the worthless money too, ridding themselves of the Mongols in 1369, when the Chinese established their own Ming Dynasty. But the Mongols remained a constant threat to China into the 1700s.

The collapse of the Mongol empire in Persia and Eastern Europe enabled the Ottoman (Muslim) Turks to rise to power. They built their own empire then, which lasted until World War I and continues to influence Turkey to this day. Today about 9 million people speak the Mongol language: 2.7 million in Mongolia; five million in Inner Mongolia; and one million in Russia. Some in Afghanistan and Turkey are descended from the Mongols.

Nation-States in Europe

Feudalism was weakened by the Crusades. This set the stage for a rise in power of the nation-states that exist today. The threat of foreign invasions was diminished and feudalism, with its strong defensive system, was no longer needed. With new stability, trade began to flourish once again. The European population tripled between A.D. 1000 and 1300. The Catholic Church also became more powerful due to the Crusades.

Towns began to grow, and merchants formed “guilds”, which were organizations to establish rules and fairness in trade. Guilds were led by men, but both men and women could be members of a guild. The practice of apprenticeship began during this time period, by which teenagers could receive training from master craftsmen. A middle class arose, comprised of bankers, merchants and craftsman, and was known as the “burgess” in England, the “bourgeoisie” in France, and the “burgher” in Germany. As prosperity grew, there was also a rise in banking and investment, and gold coins were used as currency. An agricultural revolution occurred, bringing improvements such as new plows, harnesses and farming methods. Few farmers were needed as more food was produced by more productive technology and methods. Feudalism declined as many serfs could leave the manors: food surpluses occurred, population increased, and overall wealth increased.

But then disaster struck. An epidemic of the bubonic plague known as the Black Death swept through Europe and many parts of Asia between 1347 and 1351. The plague was spread by rats and other rodents, and spread rapidly along trade routes and especially the Silk Road. It originated amongst the crude Mongols in Asia, who carelessly allowed their sacks of food to be exposed to rats and fleas that carried the fatal disease. Traders brought it with them into the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe. In four short years, 40 to 45% of the European population died from the plague, especially among the poor. Incredibly, the Mongols amplified the problem by using catapults to toss plague-ridden bodies over city walls to attack their enemies. The modern world is not the first to use biological warfare.

The fatality rate was even higher in China, where an estimated 25 million died from it. It took 100 years for Europe and China to recover, and a longer period of time for Islamic countries and the Middle East to recover also. Egypt was hit particularly hard, with some areas not recovering for 500 years.

The germ theory of disease had not yet been discovered, so nobody could figure out what was causing people to catch and die from the disease. How do you know if you have the disease? Here are the symptoms. Three to seven days after an infection, the person experiences initial symptoms of chills, fever, diarrhea, headaches, and the swelling of the infected lymph nodes. If it is untreated, 30-75% of those who contract the plague die.

The plague weakened the Catholic Church, which appeared helpless to stop it.

After the plague began to subside in the 1350s, the loss of life from it caused severe worker shortages and even rebellions as workers demanded higher pay. This was an example of hardship resulting from too few people, not too many. What remained of feudalism collapsed due to too few workers. Even today, while some try to pretend there are too many people, serious problems could be solved by having more people, not less (such as having more people to distribute food to the poor). Another harmful effect of the plague was to create a demand for more centralized government that could respond effectively to disease.


The rise of a centralized government in England began with a series of Anglo-Saxon kings including Alfred the Great, Edward the Confessor and Harold. The Anglo-Saxons were Germanic tribes who settled in England in the AD 449. But in 1066, William the Conqueror, a Norman duke, led an invasion of Britain and defeated the Saxon King Harold. William the Conqueror then declared himself owner of all its land, granting fiefs to his Norman lords. The system of feudalism under William led to the rise of a centralized government, and the blend of the Norman and Saxon cultures would come to define the people of England for the future. In 1166, William’s relative Henry II introduced trial by jury and took control of the court system in the “assize of Clarendon.” Royal judges traveled throughout the land, and their decisions established an English “common law,” which has greatly influenced law in the United States and continues to this day. William was married to Eleanor of Aquitaine, and her sons became kings too.

Henry’s successor was his son, Richard “The Lionheart,” who fought in the Third Crusade. Richard’s successor was his brother John “Lackland”. History and myth surrounding these two men have been immortalized in legendary figures such as Robin Hood and Ivanhoe. John unsuccessfully defended Normandy against attack by Philip II of France, and the nobles of England objected to John’s extreme taxation to fund the war. They revolted in June 1215, and forced John to sign the “Magna Charta” (or “Magna Carta”), a “great charter” that diminished the king’s power and gave increased rights to the nobles. It granted the rights to trial by jury and equal protection under the law, and prohibited taxation without representation. The English parliament was also established at this time; the burgesses and knights of the middle class (which later became known as the “House of Commons”) were now allowed to participate in the legislative process along with bishops and lords (which became the “House of Lords”). These parliamentary bodies -- the House of Commons and the House of Lords -- govern Britain to this day.


The rise of a unified nation-state in France began with a line of kings known as the “Capetians” (987-1328). Hugh Capet was the first of the Capetian kings. By the beginning of the fourteenth century (A.D. 1300s), the Capetians had subjected most of France to a centralized government. Philip II was a Capetian king who expanded France, seizing territories including Normandy from John of England, and establishing the official office of “bailiff”, with tax collecting and royal court duties. Louis IX “the Pious” established an appeals court, with authority surpassing that of the local courts. Under the Capetian kings, a French legislative body known as the “Estates General” was created, including the “Third Estate,” which allowed commoners to participate in lawmaking. Hundreds of years later, this Third Estate of commoners would cause the French Revolution.

Unsuccessful: Germany and Italy

Both Germany and Italy failed in their attempts to establish nations, or nation-states, during this period.

Attempts were made in Germany to form a nation-state, beginning with Otto I “the Great.” Otto ruled from 936-973, allied himself with the pope and attempted to establish a “Holy Roman Empire.” His efforts did not succeed in uniting Germany as one nation, however.

Likewise, in Italy, a unified nation failed to emerge. Instead many city-states fought bitterly among each other, infighting that continued for centuries.

Another "Great Schism"

While nation-states were rising, particularly in England and France, and as kings were gaining more and more authority, controversy arose over who held supreme authority: the pope or the king. Another “Great Schism” occurred in 1378-1417, which is not to be confused with the split between the West and East centuries earlier. This schism was an internal dispute within the Catholic Church resulting in French cardinals electing an “antipope” (Clement VII) in order to dispute the authority of the recently elected Pope Urban VI. This and other controversies within the Catholic Church set the stage for the Protestant Reformation about 100 years later.

Hundred Years' War

The Hundred Years’ War was fought between England and France, and lasted from 1337 to 1453. This war began when the last French Capetian king died without leaving a successor, and English King Edward III seized the French throne.

Joan of Arc, a teenage girl who felt called by God to lead the French army, defeated the English at the siege at Orleans in 1429 at the age of seventeen, but was later captured by the English and burned at stake as a heretic in 1431. The Catholic Church later honored her with sainthood.

The High Middle Ages

The period from the late 1000s to about 1300 is known as the “High Middle Ages,” as society flourished in several ways. There was substantial population growth and there was significant intellectual activity.

Many new universities developed. While nation-states were growing in Europe, so were universities. A rapidly growing number of rich and poor students were instructed in universities in Paris, Oxford, Naples, Padua, Salerno and many others in theology, philosophy, law and medicine.

There were advances in architecture (the design of buildings).

Perhaps most important of all, a new intellectual movement known as “scholasticism” arose.


Scholasticism strengthened understanding of Christian doctrine through systematic arguments based on careful definitions. It flourished during the 1100s and 1200s, combining the logic of the classical philosophers with medieval Christian theology. The Scholastics were divided into two groups, the realists (preferring the works of Plato) and the nominalists (preferring Aristotle’s teachings).

Saint Anselm (1033-1109), born in northern Italy, was an early intellectual giant of scholasticism. Anselm preferred to defend Christianity through use of powerful logical arguments, rather than relying entirely and solely on scripture. Anselm is famous for developing the first “ontological” argument, which is an argument attempting to prove the existence of God by reasoning from the definition of God.

Anselm was a brilliant Latin scholar who became a Benedictine monk to the disappointment of his father, who wanted him to enter politics. After Anselm became a monk, he “proved” the existence of God as follows:

Everyone, even a fool, can conceive of a variation in perfection of a being. In other words, some beings are more perfect than others with respect to justice, wisdom, strength or other desirable attributes. Because there is a variation, with some wiser and stronger than others, there must be a ranking of who is more perfect, and there must be a being who is most perfect (ranked #1). But “existence” is an attribute of perfection: it is more perfect to exist than not to exist. Therefore the most perfect being must also exist. Therefore God, defined as the most perfect being conceivable, must exist.

Each student is invited to read and reread that argument until it sinks in. Explained slightly differently, it defines God as the most perfect being conceivable. Conceive of the most perfect being, and existence must be an attribute of that being because it is better to exist than not to exist. Thus the most perfect being conceivable (God) must exist!

To this day this “proof” is studied by college students in philosophy or religion classes. Some students and professors claim it has a flaw, while others find it to be extremely insightful. It was enormously important historically in the way that it opened the door to the use of logic in religion.

Anselm also had a logical proof for the existence of Jesus Christ. In the feudalism of Anselm’s day, the severity of criminal punishment depended on who the victim was. Someone who committed a crime against the king would be punished more harshly than someone who committed the same crime against a peasant. In practice the same can occur today, such as punishing a highly publicized crime against a policeman or top government official more harshly than a similar crime against an unknown person. Anselm wrote a paper entitled Cur Deus homo? (“Why Did God Become Man?”), in which he explained that man’s Original Sin against the infinite God would require infinite punishment, and nothing done by an ordinary man could fulfill or satisfy the infinite punishment. Instead, only an infinite man (Christ) could provide full satisfaction because the victim of the original crime (Original Sin) was the infinite God. Hence the existence of Christ was necessary to fully redeem Original Sin, as a matter of logic.

In his personal life, Anselm was appointed as the archbishop of Canterbury, England, which he accepted reluctantly. He became determined to reform the English Church and he fought against efforts by the King of England to control or interfere with the Church. At one point Anselm presented his grievances against King William to Pope Urban II. These conflicts were precursors to the departure by the King of England from the Catholic Church centuries later, when the king formed his own church and refused to recognize religious authority in Rome.

The most famous Scholastic was Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), a Dominican monk who wrote Summa Theologica. Many consider this to be the most perfect and complete summary of Christian theology, and he established an entire type of Christian philosophy known as “Thomism”, which many study to this day.

Aquinas was controversial during his life, and became more respected only after his death. He developed five new proofs for the existence of God using logic. The first three were “cosmological” proofs rather than the “ontological” approach of Anselm. A cosmological proof deals with the natural order of the universe. Aquinas’ most famous cosmological argument was that whatever is in motion (for example, us) must have been put in motion by something else (our parents). They, in turn, must have been put in motion by something else (their parents). But this sequence cannot go on to infinity. There must have been a first mover. This we call “God”. As with Anselm, Aquinas used logic to enhance religious beliefs.

Thomas Aquinas’ views on the nature of man included a unique interpretation of the Fall of Man, which some criticize as being an incomplete view. Aquinas believed that while men had rebelled against God and the human will was fallen, the human intellect remained perfect. Therefore, human wisdom could be relied upon and given as much prominence as the teachings of the Bible. This idea justified mixing the works of the classical, secular philosophers into Christian theology. Under this view, the authority of the church became as important, if not more so, than that of the Bible. These ideas set the stage for humanism, which became the predominant philosophy of the Renaissance.

Thomas Aquinas is further known for his famous observation that the devil cannot withstand mockery. Mockery can be useful in defeating a bad idea or temptation.

There were other prominent Scholastics, such as Peter Abelard (1079-1142), who used logic and questioning to discuss issues of religious controversy in his work entitled Sic et Non (“Yes and No”).


There was outstanding architecture in the Middle Ages, which can be seen in the majestic churches built during that era. There were two main styles: Romanesque in the early years and the more popular Gothic design in the later years. Romanesque architecture is characterized by thick walls, rounded arches and small windows. The Gothic style, developed later, consisted of taller, perpendicular structures with long windows, pointed arches and “flying buttresses” (stone supports on the outer walls of churches).

Chartres Cathedral drawing.jpg

Gothic architecture, with its tall, pointed spires, is said to reflect the desire of people of the Middle Ages to grow closer to God, reaching towards heaven and away from the earth. Tall windows allowed sunlight to illuminate the interior, unlike Romanesque architecture, in which windows were small and interiors were dim. A particularly stunning example of Gothic architecture is the Notre Dame in Paris, on which construction began in 1163 during the reign of Louis VII, and which was completed about 200 years later in about 1345. The Notre Dame features a beautiful stained-glass “rose window,” another distinguishing characteristic of Gothic churches.

West facade Chartres Cathedral.jpg

The image above at right is a drawing of a long side of the Chartres Cathedral, which is the only significant medieval church preserved in its original form, as completed and dedicated in A.D. 1260. It stands in the town of Chartres, France, merely 50 miles from Paris. Its long side (above right) is a classic example of Gothic architecture, featuring:

  • flying buttresses (arched external supports of high ceilings)
  • stained-glass colored windows (notice the round window above the 3-door entrance above)
  • relics (not visible on the drawing)
  • a labyrinth inside, which includes maze-like walkways designed like paths in Jerusalem

Inside, a Gothic cathedral utilizes a high nave (the central or open space of a church), supported by the flying buttresses on the outside, and with three aisles in the interior. In the Chartres Cathedral, one end has five semi-circular radiating chapels.[2]

The west facade of the Chartres Cathedral (see right) is not Gothic, but is Romanesque in architecture. It was built earlier, in 1150 before a fire ignited by lightning destroyed the other parts. This facade was left intact as the rest of the church was rebuilt, leaving the Chartres Cathedral today with both the Romanesque and Gothic styles of architecture in different parts of the same church!

The End of the Byzantine Empire with the Expansion of Islam

The end of the Byzantine empire occurred when Mongols invaded in the 13th century (the 1200s), followed by the rise of the Ottoman (Muslim) Turks to power in the 14th century (the 1300s), who replaced the Byzantium empire with their own. The Ottoman empire then lasted over 600 years, from 1299 to 1923,[3] when it was divided by the victors in World War I. At the height of its power in the 16th and 17th centuries, the Ottoman empire included Anatolia, the Middle East, portions of North Africa, and much of southeastern Europe.

While powerful nation-states were developing in Europe, absolutist empires were spreading throughout the East, and Islam was growing rapidly. In present-day Turkey, in a region known as “Anatolia,” Muslim warriors called “ghazi” arose, seeking to conquer land belonging to infidels, or people of non-Islamic religions. A famous ghazi named Osmen Bey began the Ottoman empire. The strongest characteristic of the Ottoman and other Asian empires of the time was their use of gunpowder, which gave rise to the term “gunpowder empires.” Under Ottoman rule, non-Muslims had to pay a tax to avoid military service, which was mandatory for Muslims. Slaves called “janissaries” were also used as warriors.

In 1453 Ottoman sultan Mehmed II captured Constantinople, and tore the cross off the top of the Hagia Sophia, declaring the Christian church to be a mosque. Selim the Grim and Suleiman I followed, expanding the Ottoman territories into an empire comprising Constantinople (now Istanbul), Syria, Palestine, Egypt, North Africa, Greece and even parts of Hungary and Austria. The height of the Ottoman empire existed during the reign of Suleiman I, which lasted from A.D. 1520 to 1566. Suleiman was known by Europeans as “the Magnificent” because of the splendor of his reign, but he had the greatest historical influence as a provider of laws and legal standards. His picture can be found in the United States Supreme Court alongside those of Moses, Thomas Jefferson and Solon. Called “people of the book,” Christians and Jews were allowed to practice their religions under Ottoman rule.

There were other Islamic empires in addition to the Ottoman empire: the Islamic empires of Safavid and Mughal. The Safavid dynasty, located in northwest Persia, was founded by a 14-year old “shah” (king) named Ismail (another spelling of the biblical name “Ishmael”), who conquered the Seljuk Turks in North India. The Shi’ite Safavids fought with the Sunni Ottomans for 200 years. Safavid Shah Abbas the Great saw the peak of the Safavid Empire during his reign from 1588-1629, and established trade with Europe.

The beginnings of the Mughal Empire, located in India, were established by Babur around A.D. 1525. Under the reign of Babur’s grandson Akbar (1556-1605), the Mughal Empire experienced its “Golden Age,” during which taxes were decreased. The languages spoken were Persian, Hindi (still spoken in India today), and Urdu (a new language combining Persian, Hindi, and Arabic characters, and today it is Pakistan’s official language). Other religions were tolerated under Akbar’s rule, but not under Aurangzeb’s notoriously intolerant rule (from 1659-1707), during which Hindus were taxed and their temples torn down. This caused discord in the Mughal Empire, and resulted in an uprising of the previously non-violent Hindi-Muslim Sikhs.

Contributions of these Islamic empires include the stunningly beautiful Taj Mahal, an enormous tomb built of pure white marble beginning in 1631 by Akbar’s grandson Shah Jahan for his beloved wife. The construction of the Taj Mahal in India took 18 years, and 20,000 workers were used. Jahan was so overwhelmed with its beauty, and so cruel to its workers, that he had their hands cut off so they would never build another one like it! Jahan also constructed the “Red Fort,” a red-sandstone palace and the “Peacock Throne,” encrusted with thousands of gems. Many beautiful mosques and palaces were built in Constantinople under Ottoman rule, many designed by artist and architect Pasha Sinan. The most famous Ottoman form of art was the blue-and-white pottery of Iznik.

The Islamic empires participated in international trade (especially the Ottomans and Safavids), but did not participate in trade as much as the Europeans did. The Islamic empires also resisted technological advances that flourished in Europe, such as the printing press. In dar-al Islam (lands under Islamic control), western technology was disfavored. These factors, combined with prolonged periods of warfare, eventually led to the downfall of these Islamic empires.


Bantu migration.png

As we have already seen in this course, language plays a key role in defining a society. This was true again in sub-Saharan Africa (south of the Saharan desert), where the Bantu language was shared by peoples in West Africa prior to 1000 B.C. Historians refer to the West Africans as “Bantu speakers” who lived along the rain forest on the edge of what is now Nigeria. The Bantu speakers began migrating to the east and south of Africa around 2000 B.C. (see the movement from the region labeled as "1" in the first map below), and this migration was at its peak between 700 and 500 B.C. (forming the nucleus labeled as "9" in the second map below). By A.D. 1000, the migration southward (e.g., the three downward arrows labeled as "10" in the second map) had ceased and several Bantu kingdoms then arose in southern Africa.

In eastern Africa, the Arabic language was influential. When the Bantu language collided with Arabic, the result was the language of Swahili for the peoples of east Africa.

There was no private property in these settlements, as property was shared among the community. Typically a family member served as the leader of each family or “kinship group,” and there was no formal government.

Fruits, particularly bananas, initially imported from Southeast Asia by traders, were a major source of nutrition that helped improve the health of the people. Malay sailors brought the banana over the Indian Ocean to an island known as Madagascar (see the isolated island off the southeast coast of Africa in the figures to the right), where the people still speak a language similar to that spoken in Malaysia.

The primary African religion was “animism”, or a belief that spirits exist in nature similar what some American Indians believe. The religion was handed down from generation to generation not in writings, but in oral stories. The storytellers are called “griots”. There was a little bit of farming along the edges of the rain forests, but most of the activity was a “hunting-gathering” type, in when men hunted for food rather than growing it on farms. In central Africa there was some cattle-raising.

By 700 B.C. the Bantu speakers in West Africa discovered iron smelting, and began using it to make tools and weapons. The distribution of knowledge of that invention followed the same path as the Bantu language itself in spreading through central and southern Africa.

There was an active slave trade in Africa long before Americans began importing slaves in the early A.D. 1600s. Muslims engaged in African slave trade across the Indian Ocean to the Far East and South Asia. Africans captured fellow Africans and sold them into slavery, where they would work in households in faraway lands. Typically the slaves sold to Muslim traders were from central and eastern Africa. Slaves were the only type of private property that existed, so personal wealth depended on how many slaves one owned.

The term “age grade” refers to how people having the same age would gather in African tribes to perform work or share stories. Both men and women shared in any farming work.

There were several empires in Africa. In West Africa, the kingdoms thrived based on transporting and trading gold and salt across the Saharan desert. Once the Berbers discovered how to use camels to take them across the desert in the A.D. 200s, trade across the desert began. Ironically, salt became so important to preserving food and promoting health that it became almost as valuable as gold! These empires in West Africa raised money by taxing the goods as they passed through their empires. Islam was popular in West Africa and children were taught to read the Qu’ran in Arabic.

The Kingdom of Kongo was a Bantu-speaking society that lasted from sometime after A.D. 1000, to the A.D. 1500s. This Kingdom consisted of present-day Congo and Angola. It declined once the Portuguese explored and invaded the east coast of Africa in the mid-1500s, which introduced the Catholic religion to the Kongo.

The Kingdom of Aksum, located in present-day Ethiopia, traced its roots of Aksum to the migration of Arabs across the Red Sea into Africa in 1000 B.C. It had a written language called “Ge’ez” (a Semitic languge using Arabic characters) and controlled the southwestern portion of the Arabian Peninsula. The peak of its power was under a strong ruler named Ezrana in A.D. 325-360. Ezrana conquered Kush and destroyed the city of Meroe. He also converted to Christianity and a Coptic Church formed in the Aksum kingdom. Aksum developed a coin currency and a unique architectural style called a “stele”, which consisted of large stone pillars. But in A.D. 710, the Muslims conquered Aksum and destroyed its big trading city known as Adulis.

The Kingdom of Ghana (A.D. 800-1076), Mali (A.D. 1235-1403) and Songhai (A.D. 1403-1591) were all located in West Africa and were mostly Muslim. Ibn Battuta, a Muslim traveler who toured the Islamic regions of the world around A.D. 1352, wrote of his admiration of Mali. All these West African empires thrived under strong rulers and the very active gold-salt trade across the Sahara. Trade was based on leopard skins, slaves, pepper, ivory, bronze, brass and copper. A society known as Hansa was famous for its leather goods and cloth. But by A.D. 1500 both Islamic countries and Christian European countries were gaining influence in Africa.

The Kingdom of Zimbabwe existed from southeastern Africa to the Indian Ocean around A.D. 1200s to the 1500s. Like other African empires, the city of Great Zimbabwe was built on trade, particularly gold. Numerous Swahili towns in this region of Africa profited from trade in slaves, ivory and goods from Persia, China and India, such as cotton, silk and perfumes.

Islam and Christianity both spread in Africa, and still do today. However, the Africans would often retain some of their tribal customs. Historians claim that the Africans treated women better under tribal customs than under Islam, citing less use of the veil by women in African societies than in Arab Muslim societies. Christianity is growing much faster in Africa today than it is in Europe. Coptic Christians in Egypt slightly differ from European Christians in their view of Christ, and they split in A.D. 451.

Islam was more popular in North Africa, where it became the main religion for the peoples bordering the Mediterranean Sea. The Berbers converted to Islam, and then merged with the Almoravid and Almohad dynasties to bring North Africa under Muslim rule by the end of the seventh century. From northern Africa, the Muslims entered and conquered southern Spain, where they were known as Moors. The Muslims then increased trade with other African peoples and regions bordering in the Indian Ocean. The Almoravid dynasty conquered Morocco in the A.D. 1000s and Ghana and parts of southern Spain in A.D. 1076. By the mid-1100s, the Almoravids conquered the Almohads also.

Meanwhile, Christianity had some success in East Africa, and particularly in what is now Ethiopia. Trade between eastern and central Africa and the Indian Ocean flourished both under the Muslims in East Africa and, later, the Portuguese.


The name “Oceania” describes the lands of the central and south Pacific, including Australia, New Zealand, Polynesia, Melanesia and Micronesia, and sometimes the Malay Archipelago. The islands traded with each other, but usually did not trade with any faraway lands.

The Australian aborigines (natives) exist to this day on the island, having their own culture that began to change only with immigration by Europeans in the past 200 years. The aborigines foraged (searched) for food and did not farm.

In fact, Australians did not have agriculture until the Europeans arrived. The earliest agricultural civilizations in the world were the Indus Valley, Sumer (Southwest Asia), Egypt and Andean highlands (potato). Agriculture developed independently in different areas of the world in ancient times, but not in Australia. Recall that the Book of Genesis describes farming by explaining that "the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it."[4]

Like other cultures, the Polynesians in Oceania were polytheistic and used a flattened or terraced pyramid for worship, similar to a ziggurat. They grew in population most significantly after A.D. 1000.

The Hawaiian islands in the middle of the Pacific are so far away that they are not considered part of Oceania, and the distance was too far to establish trade until European sailors arrived.

The New Zealand population, which is close to Australia, survived by growing sweet potatoes and fern roots, and also by raising dogs. Fish was obviously a major food source on most of the Pacific islands.

None of these Oceanic societies had metallurgy (e.g., iron) or other technology. But they did have social structures common to nearly every society, with a military class and both the rich and the poor.


  3. The Ottoman Turks conquered Constantinople in 1453.
  4. Genesis 2:15 (NASB).