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A brief history of the middle ages told by student-made instagram posts

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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.


Eventually the King became too powerful and the Lords didn't like it. They forced King John to sign the Magna Carta.

Eventually this led to the forming of a legislative group called the Great Council, which eventually became Parliament. Parliament is still the legislative body of English government today.


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. 


The Crusades were a series of 8 bloody wars where thousands of Christians, Muslims, and Jews died and no one really ever won.

One positive outcome, however, was that the people of Europe and Asia began trading with each other again. This growth in trade boosted the economy and led to the growth of towns and cities. 

Christianity spread because of the Crusades and the Roman Catholic Church made sure that the Christian religion was preserved.


Some Christians created monasteries where they could devote their entire lives to God. The men who lived in monasteries were called monks.  Monks spent their time praying, studying, and serving God. The first universities developed near monasteries. 

The Roman Catholic Church was the only real source of stability after the fall of the Roman Empire in 476 CE. Not only did they keep the monarchy in line, but they encouraged learning and a dedication to Chrisitianity.



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.