HY1010 Columbia Southern University Unit V Early Medieval Cultures Paper 500 WORDSEarly Medieval Cultures Essay Compare the development of one specific Islamic and one specific Christian location between 6321000 C.E. When discussing each location, provide a more specific timeline, and consider adding examples of significant leaders, political and social structures, beliefs, and cultural products (stories, philosophies, theologies, artifacts, art, and architecture). Your comparison should identify similarities and differences in the two religious-based cultures, and also indicate influences they share. Be careful not to compare the religions as a whole but instead focus on a range of cultural elements in your two specific locations because cultures may vary even within one religion depending on time and place. What insight about the historical development of these two cultures did you gain from the comparison?PLEASE READ THE ATTACHED INSTRUCTIONS AND THE STUDY GUIDE ATTACHED AS WELL. INSTRUCTIONS
Early Medieval Cultures Essay
Compare the development of one specific Islamic and one specific Christian location between
6321000 C.E. When discussing each location, provide a more specific timeline, and consider
adding examples of significant leaders, political and social structures, beliefs, and cultural
products (stories, philosophies, theologies, artifacts, art, and architecture). Your comparison
should identify similarities and differences in the two religious-based cultures, and also indicate
influences they share. Be careful not to compare the religions as a whole but instead focus on a
range of cultural elements in your two specific locations because cultures may vary even within
one religion depending on time and place. What insight about the historical development of these
two cultures did you gain from the comparison?
Step 1: Review the section below of the Unit V Study Guide entitled, Be Careful When Making
Step 2: Choose two appropriate sources, not including the textbook. At least one source must
come from the CSU Online Library. The Academic Search Complete and eBook Academic
Collection databases in the CSU Online Library would be good places to start your search.
Resources from outside of the library should be credible and peer-reviewed by historians and
cannot include Wikipedia, Biography.com, History.com, or any other .com site; resources should
also not be taken from any type of message board or other encyclopedia-type sites, including
those listed in the CSU Online Library research guides, which are provided for quick reference
only and not for paper research.
If you need additional help with using or locating information in the CSU Online Library, there
are library video tutorials available on the main page of the online library under the heading
Step 3: Complete your research. Choose one interesting comparison that illustrates the main
point that you want to make about these cultures during this period. Gather details about your
Compare similar features (known as comparing like terms). For example, compare cities to
cities, education systems to education systems, technologies to technologies, stories to stories,
ideas about the nature of God to ideas about the nature of God, and other features. Make sure you
complete the comparison for all features or note why you think there is not a like term for some
Comparison includes consideration of both similarities and differences.
Here are some examples to consider:
the promotion and use of learning by leading figures;
the relationship between religious and political authority;
the shaping of artifacts (leader, idea, practice, or structure) by time period and
the shaping of societies by artifacts and whether different people were affected
the way that different elements of culture reflect power arrangements, goals, hierarchies,
Step 4: Prepare your introduction, including your thesis statement. A thesis is prepared after you
have completed your research and includes the comparison of what you found. It should be a
one- or two-sentence statement of the conclusions you drew from the comparison.
Step 5: Write your essay. Your essay must be at least 500 words in length.
Step 6: Reflect on how this comparison paper shaped your understanding of how to practice
cultural history ethically, as discussed in the Be Careful When Making Historical Assumptions
section of the Unit V Lesson. Write one paragraph to be placed after the concluding paragraph of
your essay, reflecting on how the guidelines in the unit lesson shaped your understanding of how
to use historical evidence, including artifacts, to practice cultural history ethically.
UNIT V STUDY GUIDE
Europe in the Early Middle Ages, 6001000:
The Rise of Christianity and Islam
Course Learning Outcomes for Unit V
Upon completion of this unit, students should be able to:
3. Discuss key individuals in Western culture.
3.1 Identify the influence of key leaders in shaping culture during the period 6001000 C.E.
4. Recognize significant Western cultural practices.
4.1 Compare and contrast the features of Islam and Christianity in the period 6001000 C.E.
6. Recognize influences that contributed to the development of Western society.
6.1 Trace the influences of Islamic and Carolingian society on developments in Western society in
the Middle Ages from 6001000 C.E.
7. Contrast attributes of Western societies across different periods and locations.
7.1 Compare the historical attributes of Islamic and Christian societies from 6001000 C.E.
Unit V Essay
Unit V Essay
Unit V Essay
Unit V Essay
Chapter 8: Europe in the Early Middle Ages, 6001000
Castles, marauders, gargoyles, illuminationsthe Middle Ages inspire more movies and novels than any
other period in history. The Pillars of the Earth, Game of Thrones, Robin Hood, Vikings, The Secret of Kells,
The Name of the Rose, and even Monty Pythons The Holy Grail reflect an enduring fascination. In fiction, we
can propel ourselves into imaginary futures or steep ourselves in the past, and something about the mystery
of such a different life captures our imaginations.
This can have a downside, however, as the repetition of such familiar stories can lead us to assume that we
already understand this period and, therefore, neglect learning what really happened. Entertainment stories
have to be tested by the practice of ethical historical scholarship if the knowledge that shapes our decisions is
to be sound.
Possibly the greatest lesson to recover from the period 6001000 C.E. is the variation in beliefs and customs
across regions and among different peoples in the West, from Gibraltar to Iceland, from Russia to Persia,
HY 1010, Western Civilization I
from North Africa to the land of the Norsemen, and the Great Lake of the Mediterranean
midst. At this
UNIT x STUDY
same time, we see the expansion of two religions shaping culture and politicsChristianity
and Islam. There
are many questions historians explore.
What beliefs and strategies led still-pagan cultures to convert?
What was different but also similar in the ways that Islam and Christianity shaped societies?
Why did the new governments advance knowledge?
How do we understand the persistence of unique local cultures?
How do we approach the history of faiths and societies that seem similar or different from our own?
How does our way of thinking about encounters among cultures shape the conclusions we reach?
How do we encounter the full past and not just our own cultural filters?
Be Careful When Making Historical Assumptions
As we come closer and closer to our own time and see familiar names and institutions, the temptation to
assume similarity and to assume we already know what they mean becomes stronger.
Historians have specific guidelines to prevent these assumptions from distorting our understanding of the
actual data from the times. Distortion of data can come from projecting our own beliefs onto the past, resulting
in error. The measures we take to avoid error are also the measures that help to ensure the ethical study of
other cultures. This involves five main practices students can apply in this units essay assignment. All
academic departments (disciplines) have different subjects and methods, but all have a version of guidelines
to ensure ethical study and sound conclusions.
1. Historians seek to understand the past for itself.
Of course, we all think about where our society came from and what we value or regret. That is an
important outcome of historical thinking for citizenship. However, when we create knowledge about
the past, we commit to learning about the past for its own sake and try to determine the significance
of change for those in the pastnot for us. The task is to learn what really happened before we try to
2. Historians adopt intellectual empathy to recreate the multiple points of view in past cultures.
This does not mean that historians feel for or agree with the people they study but, rather, that they
must try to understand how specific people actually experienced events and acted within their own
3. Historians use only evidence from specific times to generate and explain insights about those times.
This is a fundamental rule of logicyou cannot understand the past by using data that did not come
from it. Anachronism, which is the insertion of subsequent developments or ideas into the past and
projection of present values onto the past, mars our views of the past. In this unit especially, we will
see that the meanings of words we think we know very well used to be different. Whether studying
Christian, Muslim, Irish, Persian, or Viking culture, students of history ideally realize that while they
are studying a variety of cultures out of which theirs may have evolved, these past cultures are not
the same as a students own culture. Beliefs and meanings of words and phrases change, so
historians create definitions reflecting what was meant at the time.
4. Historians expect to be surprised and remain eager to learn what they do not know!
Generalizations erase actual variations among cultures, within cultures, and across time. We look for
the unique and complex to deepen our understanding. We allow these understandings to evolve with
new data. We read accounts that counter our own to enhance the complexity and reliability of our
work; this is called anticipating objections.
5. Historians pay attention to different types of evidence.
HY 1010, Western Civilization I
Exploring cultures that ranged widely in how they recorded events andUNIT
artifacts for what they tell us about their societies. During this period, cities,
Title spaces, technologies, and
images all provide clues to culture.
Students of history, then, seek to recreate as nearly as possible the culture in its own moment. With these
guidelines, students can enter that unfamiliar world of the past with the mindset of an explorer of the
unknown, making strange what we might assume is familiar. Learning the complex details of early medieval
life enables us to learn from the past as well as to enjoy our fictions about it.
The rise of new central powers or kingdoms coincided with a loosened grip on local culture, laws, and social
practices over this period. While adherents of Islam and Christianity gained converts, local faiths persisted or
accompanied sanctioned beliefs. Kings and caliphs, or Muslim rulers, adapted Roman administrative
practices and created new political entities while local lords and monks generated their own sometimes
greater local authority. The key to understanding this period is awareness of a dynamic or fluid political
landscape molded by competing forceson one hand to extend and on the other to resist centralized power.
The Rise of Islam
Within 100 years of Mohammeds visions in the 7th century C.E., most people on the Arabian Peninsula had
converted to Islam and were ruled by Islamic caliphs. During the next century, Islam spread throughout the
Middle East toward India, across North Africa, and into most of what is modern Spain. Scholars identify
several historical reasons for the rapid acquisition of so much territory by Muslim rulers:
military strength deployed in battles over succession of rival caliphs (Sunni vs. Shia) that spread to
conquests of once Hellenistic and Roman regions;
military weakness of the Byzantine Empire (Eastern Roman Empire) due to continuous fighting
against the Persians;
local treaties offering protections for the families, practices, and property of Christians and Jews
(Peoples of the Book who were viewed by Muslims as sharing in the covenant between God and
clear tenets of faith, such as the Five Pillars of Islam, particularly on the unified nature of God or
Allah, that appealed to people used to debate over the nature of Jesus and the Trinity;
trade routes ensuring the interchange of ideas and technologies; and
a sophisticated culture in urban centers of learning and the application of technology to agriculture,
architecture, and civic engineering that raised standards of living (McKay et al., 2017).
The Expansion of Christianity
By the end of Late Antiquity (around 650 C.E.), the unified Roman empire no longer existed, but the power
bestowed by Constantine in the West and Justinians enforced uniformity of belief in the Byzantine Empire
aided the spread of Christianity. There were many reasons why Christianity and Christian governance
continued to spread:
military conquests by Christian leaders and especially Charlemagne, who required conversion of
vanquished Lombards and Germans;
manorialism that increased the influence of nobility elevated by conquest or service and bound serfs
to a lords land and command;
marriages among nobility creating alliances or fusing kingdoms;
monasteries (orders) converting, educating, organizing, and sometimes even governing in
competition with kings or nobles (for a summary of this process, see p. 243 of the textbook);
Roman-like taxation policies augmenting the authority of the Merovingian dynasty (established by
Clovis, 481 C.E.);
Charlemagnes recreation of Roman-like cities (civitas), decrees (capitularies), and overseers
(comites) true to Roman traditions of loyalty;
HY 1010, Western Civilization I
the 8th-century expansion of Charles Martels power and cooperation UNIT
Charlemagnes determination to rebuild Roman glory through patronage
of the arts, architecture,
engineering, education, and scholarship; and
syncretism, or Christian re-purposing of the beliefs, practices, and holy places of the vanquished
faiths (McKay et al., 2017).
The Decentralizing Impacts of Civil War, Migrations, and Invasions
To add to the influence of expanding Christianity and Islam, consider the impact of peoples from other regions
as refugees, migrants, marauders, challengers, and conquerors. A caliphs rule could be destabilized through
war with Christian leaders or via warring factions within Islam (we will discuss this further in Unit VI). In
Christian Europe, even among what were called kings, authority on the ground was limited, and strength
depended on the loyalty and military resources of local lords or dukes. This decentralized feature left the
frontiers of any kingdom or duchy, manor, or civitas vulnerable to violent attack or extortion.
The Vikings, or Northmen, radiated out of the North Sea and into coastal regions in northern and southern
Europe, creating an economy of fear by trading on their earned reputation for ruthlessness. They pillaged and
burned or extorted payment and so undermined the authority of kings and lords by force or debt. Masters of
navigation and shipbuilding, the Vikings pounded with formidable force against monastery outposts and the
hopes for expansion held by kings on the European continent. Viking dominance pushed people away from
the coasts, and as a result, the Viking impact rippled inland. For example, in what is now Eastern Europe,
these attacks generated migrations south and east into central Europe and Russia that resulted in the
Still, how does our habit of calling the Vikings invaders reflect assumptions that we then project back onto the
time based on our knowledge of the modern map? In a society in which boundaries shifted regularly, and
expansion of caliphs and Christians pushed peoples around the West, why do we call some invaders and
We are used to seeing in our maps a permanence that might lead us to think that boundaries were also
similarly set during the Middle Ages. However, by the time a monk or soldier might draw a map during this
period, the borders had already likely shifted. Montgomery (2008) suggests that a truer picture of cause and
effect arises if we step back and witness the movement instead of branding it. The artifact remnants of Viking
society reveal a society of family and law, including the use of what we think of as grand juries (McKay et al.,
2017). Alcuin of York (as cited in Browne, 1908) noted the following thoughts on the time.
The pagans have contaminated the sanctuaries of God, and have poured out the blood of [saints]
round about the altar; have laid waste the house of our hope, have trampled upon the bodies of saints
in the temple of God like [dung] in the street It is now nearly 350 years that we and our [others] have
dwelt in this most fair land, and never before has such a horror appeared in Britain as we now have
suffered at the hands of pagans. And it was not supposed that such an attack from the sea was
possible. Behold, the church of the holy Cuthbert is deluged with the blood of the priests of God, is
spoiled of all its ornaments; the place more venerable than any other in Britain is given as a prey to
pagan races. (p. 132)
Arabic accounts of Vikings suggest an alternative picture; they intended to trade rather than to destroy, and it
is probable that they traded with Arabs (Montgomery, 2008). Yet, many accounts written by victims confirm
Alcuins version. Historians must consider how point of view shapes our conclusions when trying to determine
which account is accurate and just how accurate each account may be.
HY 1010, Western Civilization I
UNIT x STUDY GUIDE
(Top left) The Oseberg ship on display at the Viking ship museum,
Oslo, Norway (c. 800850)
(Right) Detail from the Oseberg ship
Culture in the Medieval West
The chronological account can leave out so muchsuch as the variations in Viking behaviors giving the false
impression of time marked by strife alone. It may be more accurate to think of the Middle Ages to 1000 C.E.
as a medieval tapestry woven from many threads into questions to explore. The required textbook reading is
essential to understanding the political developments and also looks more closely at cultural questions
Wisdom and Power in the City
Among the cultural developments of this period are methods of governing that relied on administrative and
civic expertise. Christian and Muslim leaders became patrons of learning, promoting wisdom in new centers
of scholarship. Throughout world history, there occur episodes of educational reform revealing their times.
These often reflect the needs and aspirations of ruling groups. During the period we are studying in this unit,
leaders of both faiths supported schools that could fulfill their social and political vision. By no means dark,
this age was challenged to create the stability and wealth that protected knowledge and encouraged
Writing is an innovation scholars study closely and, as with all artifacts, writing is best understood as reflecting
specific times. The anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss identified early, nonwriting cultures to be among the
most creative in human history, producing the means of survival through agriculture, social hierarchies, and
cooperation. In these societies, he conjectured that memories might survive only a few generations, but the
development of oral traditions and architecture guaranteed that ideas and values would survive longer.
Writing was essential to the growth of more complex forms of cooperation, like cities, with written records
acting as what Levi-Strauss (1961) called artificial memory. He claimed that when writing became
widespread, it facilitated the control and even enslavement of peop…
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