Medieval Europe

(500 AD to 1500 AD)

In Europe, the medieval period lasted approximately from 500 to 1000 AD. The medieval period also knows as the Medieval Ages. It was the time between the ambiguity of the Dark Ages and the intellectual blooming of the Renaissance. The medieval Europe was a time and place of contrasts. At a time, when most people were living lives of desperate poverty, the finest religious arts were being created.

During this period, there was an expansion of trade, and population explosion, which resulted in the development of many towns.

Many towns flourished because of an increased interest in trade and growth in population, and the towns were mainly based around markets or ports. By 14th century, Hanseatic League was formed by some 70 towns in northern Europe to monopolize the trade in the area.

The Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantine empire was a vast empire and its capital Constantinople was the largest city of that time. The Byzantines built beautiful churches and the most famous of these is the church of St. Sophia in Constantinople. This church was built during the reign of Byzantine emperor Justinian in the 6th century AD. The Ottoman Turks conquered the Byzantine territories in 1453.

Life of Common People

In Europe, during medieval times, most people lived in the countryside and worked on the land. They had to give a share of their produce to a local in return for protection and a home. Ordinary families live in small huts comprising of just two rooms: one for cattle or animals and another for people. They prepared food in a cauldron using simple utensils. Since food could not be preserved, People used to face hard times in the winter season.

People worked hard on the land. Apart from the horse-drawn plough, there was no other labour-saving machine. Each & everything from digging to cutting the crop, and shearing sheep were done by hand.

Because of the frequent and unpredictable Black Death epidemic, life expectancy was much shorter than it is today. In those days, Black Death was seen as a malicious joker who is ready to take on anyone at any time.

Peasant’s Uprising

After the Black Death, Europe’s population fell dramatically. Peasants used to work hard but were not paid higher wages. This led to peasant revolt in France (1358) and in England (1381), and both of the uprising were crushed brutally.


The word feudalism comes from the medieval Latin terms feudalis (fee), and feodum (fief), which means a fief or land on condition or service. In a feudal society, land was a source of power. For the very first time in 8th & 9th century, feudal system was developed in western Europe.

In a feudal society, the main division was between ‘feudal lords’ and ‘peasants.’ Peasants worked on the land with minimal or even without payment on the land. Feudal lords either used to get a share of the peasants’ produce or they had peasants to work on their land without any payments.