Unit 1, Creating and Defining the Middle Ages





To complete this assignment, please do the following:

Part I:

  1. Provide an overview of how Byzantine and Islamic societies were significant during the medieval time period. Make sure you give specific examples from our readings that give the historical context (world history encyclopedia readings/videos). Be sure to address how the fall of the Western Roman Empire impacted their medieval development.

  1. Provide a summary of the main scholarly arguments put forth for how the medieval world is more than Western Europe. You should be assessing the analysis essays/videos of our contemporary historians (e.g., the Medieval Dark Ages Debunked video and the article by Marianne O’Doherty). In this summary, identify the scholars’ arguments, and what evidence they use to support their ideas.


  1. Based on your readings in this unit, what do you think is a significant aspect of the Middle Ages? What further questions about the Middle Ages did this unit raise for you as a new medieval historian to investigate further? Why do you think this question is important for understanding the time period?


  1. Your assessment of the background and historical debates about defining the Middle Ages will be due by Wednesday, May 18th.

Part II:

  1. You must choose one post by your classmate to respond to.
  2. Your response must assess how your classmate’s ideas about the Middle Ages, and their significance, now fit with the new material that you have learned from unit two.  Do the people, events, and societies described in this unit support the ideas your classmate has put forth?  Why or why not?  What questions or issues does this material now raise? You should address the historical context of the material you are using in unit two, and also provide specific evidence from at least one primary source from the unit to further support your assessment.
  3. Your assessment of your classmate’s post using materials from Unit 2 are due by Friday, May May 20th.

In total, your initial assessment and response to a classmate’s assessment should be at least 500 words.

Andrew Emmanuel

YesterdayMay 17 at 9:46 am

As shown in Mark Cartwright’s “Byzantine Empire”, the Byzantine Empire created a unique culture of art, architecture, religion, and law. As observed throughout history, the thriving Byzantine society was significant during the medieval time because of their view on individual rank, women’s social position, and the influence of education and religion. As expressed through rank, many societal members were able to receive higher individual status through wealth, religion, and education (Cartwright). This thinking was significant throughout their society because it was able to show how people could earn themselves into higher classes without depending on one’s family history. Women, in their society, were also dependent on their rank, which could increase through the influence of their education and religion (Cartwright). Even though they could not hold office or become a governmental official, they could own property, businesses, and various lands. The social position is significant because it shows how their society is progressing in terms of giving rights to women and better showing equality within a growing community (Cartwright). As shown through society’s stress on education and religion, this belief is significant because it shows their priorities on increasing knowledge and becoming well-rounded leaders. Since the Eastern Roman Empire split and became the Byzantine Empire, the fall of the Western Roman Empire did not impact their medieval development. Not only is this shown through the Byzantine Empire existing for hundreds of years, but this is also shown through their various developmental skills experienced through architecture and cultural traditions (“What Caused the Fall of the Western Roman Empire?”). As expressed in Syed Muhammad Khan’s “Islamic Caliphates”, Islamic societies were also significant. They played a role in expanding religion, revealing the power within territories, and examining the importance of Constantinople (Khan). Collectively, these three ideas and experiences were significant because of how they had an impact on power and rule. As shown through the caliphate, the Islamic societies are known for their abundance of power and how this played a role in gaining territories and different methods of thinking and religion (Khan). Regarding the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Islam, as a religion, was able to rise. However, Islamic societies would increase in trade and trade routes, grow in military conquests, and grow their influence on other developing societies.

As shown in Dr. Paul Sturtevant’s and Dr. Amy Kaufman’s research, they were able to conclude that the medieval world is more than Western Europe. These two scholars showed how Islamic culture and civilizations played a major role in the medieval world as expansion and growth were taking place (“Debunking the Medieval ‘Dark Ages’ Myth”). Dr. Sturtevant and Dr. Kaufman were then able to show how the rising impact of religion and medicine could be considered a factor during the medieval world through the influence on knowledge. These scholars argued that the medieval world was often looked at poorly through various negative connotations and how it helped societies thrive. By showing the impact of the Renaissance and the growth in culture, Dr. Sturtevant and Dr. Kaufman provided evidence to support their ideas. However, in Marianne O’ Doherty’s “Where Were the Middle Ages,” she argues that the impact of Northern and Eastern Europe was just as prevalent in the medieval world as in Western Europe. By showing how art, architecture, visual aesthetics, and modern styles were being adaptive in Northern and Eastern Europe rather than Western Europe, O’ Doherty was able to provide evidence and support for her ideas.

Based on the reading in this unit, I believe that a significant aspect of the Middle Ages was religion. As shown through the many sources of the week, religion played a role in determining wars and battles, social status, and wealth. As a new medieval historian, I would further want to investigate the influence of Christianity and how new religions could rise from the predominantly Christian Middle Ages. Even though the Middle Ages was a time of Christianity, I think it would be interesting to see how new religions were able to be introduced. For understanding the time, this question is important because it shows whether the Middle Ages was truly a time of innovation and creativity or whether it was strict depending on the changes that wants to be made.

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