AN03e_Ch.14-Formation of Western Europe: England and France Develop as ‘Nations’
Timeline: 11th – 16th C.
FQ: How did strengthening monarchies ‘chip-away’ at the feudal system and put Europe on the path toward nationhood?
Main Idea: As agricultural production fuels a commercial resurgence, monarchs and nobles realize that the old feudal source of wealth and power, land, is being supplanted. Feudal bonds of vassalage are not able to withstand changes in other sectors of society. Feudal values, upon which feudal loyalties were based, are changing along with everything else.
The Nation-State, as a political entity, is ‘born’ during this period. The social forces that produced challenges to the Church, an investigation of nature and Man’s place in it, and the desire to replicate the beauty of the ‘natural’ world, now tackled another area of human existence- the rule of Man. In one of our case studies, ‘La Reconquista’ (The Reconquest), the nation-state of Spain was united by faith, geography, language, and a strong central government. This historical event defined the Spanish national identity. Nearby, the kingdoms of England and France began to develop into nations, with certain democratic traditions evolving.
Collaborative Analysis: Word Cloud of Lincoln Town Charter, Magna Carta
I. Political Developments- Overview
A. Towns could acquire a charter from the landholder. Charters granted autonomy in return for payment or other aid of value. Monarch and subjects become increasingly bound by a common identity.
B. Serf populations on Manors dropped. This undermined the feudal order.
C. The king becomes increasingly powerful as he gains wealth from commercial use of his land. The nobility (Aristocracy: Lords & Knights) lose ‘status’ and power as their feudal role is undermined. The horse, long a status symbol in feudal Europe, becomes affordable for other levels of society.
II. Political Developments- England & France
A. William, Duke of Normandy (France & England: 1028-1087)
1. Claims the throne of England after the death of his cousin (King Edward). He enforces his claim by invading England in 1066 and is later known as William the Conqueror.
2. Reserves 20% of land he conquers as personal property. He disburses the rest as fiefs to loyal Normans and the Church.
3. He awards religious offices to loyal followers and thus re-enforces a monarch’s right to make such appointments (Lay Investiture).
B. King Henry II (England: 1133-1189)
1. First of the Plantagenet family monarchs (Great-Grandson of William the Conqueror)
2. Combines the land holdings of the Duke of Normandy, Duke of Anjou (via his parents), and Aquitaine (wife was Eleanor of Aquitaine)
3. Founder of the Angevin Empire
4. Established royal courts of law: Introduced a ‘Jury’ of 12 to help decide disputes. These courts gradually replaced the courts held by the aristocracy. The body of legal decisions accumulates over time to become English Common Law.
C. King Richard I (Lion Heart) (England: 1157-1199)
1. Son of Henry II
2. Spent much time as a warrior during the Third Crusade
3. Defended England’s territories in France (including Aquitaine) against the Capetian monarchs.
D. King John (England: 1166-1216)
1. Brother of Richard I
2. Poor military leader. Lost much of the Plantagenet land holdings in France to Capetian monarch Phillip II (Phillip Augustus).
3. English and French identity begins to form as landholders must decide to hold land in England or France, but not both.
4. Loses support of aristocracy in England partially because of burdensome taxes.
5. Magna Carta: “Great Charter”. A document signed in 1215 by King John. The king was forced to sign if he wanted to avoid a rebellion by the aristocracy. Though the document was originally intended to safeguard the privileges of the nobility, its great historical impact comes centuries later; Clauses limiting the power of the king were interpreted to protect all men.
E. Edward I (England: 1239-1307)
1. Grandson of King John
2. Reestablishes royal power over nobility by depending increasingly on the support of subjects and towns.
3. Contributes to the birth of Parliament (late 13th C.). Parliament, as a taxation authority, becomes a source of revenue for the king without the feudal tradition of convening a gathering of nobles.
F. Capetian Dynasty of France
1. Founder of this dynasty was chosen by a group of nobles after the last Carolingian monarch died in 987 (officially ending the Frankish Kingdom).
2. Nobles intended to control this first king, and they did for several generations.
3. Capetian family holdings, including Paris, proved commercially valuable. The family tightened their control over that commerce and their wealth grew.
4. Increasing wealth permitted Capetian monarchs to shake-off control by the aristocracy and unite all feudal territories under one ruler.
5. Challenged the claims of English monarchs to lands in France.
6. Royal courts of justice supplant those held by the aristocracy.
7. The Estates General is born under the Capetian kings. (Church leaders, Nobles, Middle Class)
III. Political Developments- Italy
A. Some towns of Northern Italy, like Sienna, had to acquire and defend their independence with military action. Civic pride and citizenship replaces feudal bonds of loyalty.
B. The Church, largest landholder in feudal Europe, had conflicts with towns attempting to acquire charters.
C. Some northern Italian cities become city-states.
D. Northern Italians exchange their title as ‘Subjects’ for ‘Citizens’.
IV. Summary: Why it matters now.
Modern concepts of jury trials, common law, legal rights, and national pride developed during this period.
– National Flags
– El Cid; Excalibur, DVD/ Warner Brothers, 1981; Joan of Arc, VHS/ F-H-E (Family Home Entertainment), 1999.
– World History: Patterns of Interaction.
– Sam Houston State University ([http://www.shsu.edu/%257ehis\_ncp/charters.html](http://www.shsu.edu/%257ehis_ncp/charters.html))
– National Archives & Records Administration ([http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/featured\_documents/magna\_carta/translation.html](http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/featured_documents/magna_carta/translation.html))