A brief history of the Middle Ages as told through student-made instagrams
William the Conquerer was a Frank. He conquered England and made himself the new King of England. He introduced feudalism to the people of England.
Feudalism was an economic system that was based on land given in exchange for loyalty. Serfs lived on manors owned by a Lord that were similar to small villages. The serfs did most of the work, like farming. Their lives were not easy and they worked very hard.
Lords received land from the King in exchange for loyalty. The lords allowed serfs to live on their land and vowed to protect them in exchange for their loyalty and work. Lords lived more comfortably than serfs. They were in charge of everything that happened on the manor and they collected taxes.
The Magna Carta was a democratic document that forced the king to obey the same laws as everyone else. The Magna Carta outlined the basic rights of English citizens. Under the Magna Carta, England became a constitutional monarchy.
Meanwhile, in the Byzantine Empire, the Muslim Turks were becoming more powerful and more violent. The Byzantine Emperor asked Pope Urban II for help. The Pope called on European Catholics to start a Holy War against the Muslims to take back the Holy Land. This led to a series of wars now known as the Crusades.
The Pope had declared that Knights who fought in the Crusades would be forgiven of all of their sins and have a direct pass to Heaven. These men wore crosses over their armor to let the enemy know that they were Christians fighting for God.
European Knights were glad to accept the call to fight in the Crusades.
Monks spent a lot of their time copying texts by hand. They hand wrote hundreds of copies of the Bible. These monks are the reason that so many Christian texts were preserved, even though many people during this time could not read.
In the 1300's a deadly plague known as the Black Plague or the Black Death spread from Central Asia throughout Europe. The disease spread when fleas would bite rats who had the disease and then would bite humans.
The disease spread rapidly and the people of the Middle Ages did not know how to stop it. About 20,000,000 people died in Europe in a 5 year period, which was about a quarter (25%) of the population.
One major change to Europe after the plague was a positive one for peasants. Because so many people died, there were a lot less people to work in the fields, etc. So peasants began to demand higher wages and lower taxes. Since there weren't many people left to work, the lords had no choice but to give them what they asked for.