Mystics such as Meister Eckhart d. Besides mysticism, belief in witches and witchcraft became widespread, and by the late 15th century the Church had begun to lend credence to populist fears of witchcraft with its condemnation of witches in and the publication in of the Malleus Maleficarum , the most popular handbook for witch-hunters. Their efforts undermined the prevailing Platonic idea of universals. Ockham's insistence that reason operates independently of faith allowed science to be separated from theology and philosophy.
The lone exception to this trend was in England, where the common law remained pre-eminent. Other countries codified their laws; legal codes were promulgated in Castile, Poland, and Lithuania. Education remained mostly focused on the training of future clergy. The basic learning of the letters and numbers remained the province of the family or a village priest, but the secondary subjects of the trivium —grammar, rhetoric, logic—were studied in cathedral schools or in schools provided by cities.
Commercial secondary schools spread, and some Italian towns had more than one such enterprise. Universities also spread throughout Europe in the 14th and 15th centuries. Lay literacy rates rose, but were still low; one estimate gave a literacy rate of ten percent of males and one percent of females in The publication of vernacular literature increased, with Dante d. Much literature remained religious in character, and although a great deal of it continued to be written in Latin, a new demand developed for saints' lives and other devotional tracts in the vernacular languages.
The Middle Ages: Birth of an Idea
In the early 15th century, the countries of the Iberian peninsula began to sponsor exploration beyond the boundaries of Europe. Prince Henry the Navigator of Portugal d. After his death, exploration continued; Bartolomeu Dias d. One of the major developments in the military sphere during the Late Middle Ages was the increased use of infantry and light cavalry. In agriculture, the increased usage of sheep with long-fibred wool allowed a stronger thread to be spun. In addition, the spinning wheel replaced the traditional distaff for spinning wool, tripling production.
Northern Europe and Spain continued to use Gothic styles, which became increasingly elaborate in the 15th century, until almost the end of the period. Although royalty owned huge collections of plate, little survives except for the Royal Gold Cup. In France and Flanders tapestry weaving of sets like The Lady and the Unicorn became a major luxury industry. The large external sculptural schemes of Early Gothic churches gave way to more sculpture inside the building, as tombs became more elaborate and other features such as pulpits were sometimes lavishly carved, as in the Pulpit by Giovanni Pisano in Sant'Andrea.
Painted or carved wooden relief altarpieces became common, especially as churches created many side-chapels. Early Netherlandish painting by artists such as Jan van Eyck d.
From about printed books rapidly became popular, though still expensive. There were around 30, different editions of incunabula , or works printed before ,  by which time illuminated manuscripts were commissioned only by royalty and a few others. Very small woodcuts , nearly all religious, were affordable even by peasants in parts of Northern Europe from the middle of the 15th century.
More expensive engravings supplied a wealthier market with a variety of images. The medieval period is frequently caricatured as a "time of ignorance and superstition" that placed "the word of religious authorities over personal experience and rational activity. Renaissance scholars saw the Middle Ages as a period of decline from the high culture and civilisation of the Classical world; Enlightenment scholars saw reason as superior to faith, and thus viewed the Middle Ages as a time of ignorance and superstition.
Others argue that reason was generally held in high regard during the Middle Ages. Science historian Edward Grant writes, "If revolutionary rational thoughts were expressed [in the 18th century], they were only made possible because of the long medieval tradition that established the use of reason as one of the most important of human activities".
Writing the Barbarian Past: Studies in Early Medieval Historical Narrative
The caricature of the period is also reflected in some more specific notions. One misconception, first propagated in the 19th century  and still very common, is that all people in the Middle Ages believed that the Earth was flat.
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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about medieval Europe. For a global history of the period between the 5th and 15th centuries, see Post-classical history. For other uses, see Middle Ages disambiguation. Period of European history from the 5th to the 15th century. Main article: Early Middle Ages. See also: Early medieval European dress and medieval cuisine.
Main article: Early Muslim conquests. Expansion under Muhammad, — Expansion during the Patriarchal Caliphate, — Expansion during the Umayyad Caliphate, — Main article: Medieval economic history. Main article: Christianity in the Middle Ages. Main articles: Francia and Carolingian Empire. Main article: Carolingian Renaissance.
Territorial divisions of the Carolingian Empire in , , and See also: Byzantine—Arab wars — and Byzantine—Bulgarian wars. Main articles: Medieval art and Medieval architecture. Main article: High Middle Ages. Further information: Agriculture in the Middle Ages. Main articles: Crusades , Reconquista , and Northern Crusades. Main articles: Renaissance of the 12th century , Medieval philosophy , Medieval literature , Medieval poetry , and Medieval medicine of Western Europe. Further information: List of medieval European scientists. Further information: Medieval architecture , Medieval art , and Medieval music.
Main articles: Gregorian Reform and Church and state in medieval Europe.
Main article: Late Middle Ages. Main article: Crisis of the Late Middle Ages. See also: Europeans in Medieval China. See Dark Ages for a more complete historiography of this term. The revolt was triggered when one of the Roman military commanders attempted to take the Gothic leaders hostage but failed to secure all of them.
It was adapted in the 19th century from a word used by the 2nd-century historian Tacitus to describe the close companions of a lord or king. If their sworn lord died, they were expected to fight to the death also.
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Charles was deposed in and died in January They descended from serfs who had served as warriors or government officials, which increased status allowed their descendants to hold fiefs as well as become knights while still being technically serfs. Most German cities co-operated in the Hanseatic League, in contrast with the Italian city-states who engaged in internecine strife.
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In sieges the slowness is not as big a disadvantage, as the crossbowman can hide behind fortifications while reloading. That refinement was not invented until the 15th century. Random House Dictionary p. Gardner's Art Through the Ages p. Adams, Laurie Schneider A History of Western Art Third ed. Albrow, Martin Backman, Clifford R. The Worlds of Medieval Europe.
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Barber, Malcolm The Two Cities: Medieval Europe — London: Routledge. Barber, Richard New York: Scribner. Barlow, Frank The Feudal Kingdom of England — Fourth ed.