During the High Middle Ages in
Europe, a new style of architecture,
known as Gothic, evolved.
Gothic architecture intended to
achieve greater height and light
than Romanesque architecture.
The Crusades were launched in A.D.
1096 by Christians in an attempt to gain
control of the Holy Land from Muslims.
The English king, Richard the LionHearted, led the Third Crusade (11891191) in an attempt to regain Jerusalem
from Saladin, the most famous and
respected Muslim leader of his age.
Thomas Aquinas and other
scholars who met at universities
were known as scholastics.
Aquinas wrote Summa
Theologicae, which combined
Christian belief with the ideas of
Aristotle and other thinkers from
William the Conqueror led the
Normans in a battle that changed
the course of English history-- the
Battle of Hastings in England on
October 14, 1066.
The Magna Carta, signed in 1215,
limited the king’s powers and
established basic legal rights for the
Bubonic plague, also known as the
Black Death, swept through Europe
starting in 1347. The plague was
spread by black rats that carried fleas
infested with a bacillus.
The plague left a shortage of peasant
laborers who left manors in search of
better wages, which accelerated the
breakup of the feudal system.
During the Hundred Years’ War (13371453), England and France battled
each other. The success of the
longbow hastened the end of the
mounted, heavily armored medieval
In 1429, a teenage French peasant girl
named Joan of Arc led French troops
who broke the siege of Orleans.
Japan’s earliest religion, Shinto,
was based on a belief in divine
spirits that dwelled in nature. The
Japanese later accepted
Buddhism, which they combined
with their Shinto beliefs.
During the Heian Period (794-1185), a
highly refined court society developed
that advanced art, culture, and etiquette.
During Japan’s feudal period, small
farmers looked to warlords for protection.
The first shogun, “supreme general of the
emperor’s army,” was named in 1192.
Warriors called samurai, who protected
rival lords, lived according to a code of
behavior called Bushido, or “the way of
In Africa, rulers of Ghana and Mali built
empires based on their control of the
Sundiata became Mali’s first great
mansa, or emperor.
Mansa Musa ruled Mali from 1312 to
1332. He gave away so much gold in
Egypt while on a hajj to Mecca that the
value of gold declined for 12 years.
The two largest kingdoms of the
Yoruba people were Ife and Oyo.
According to tradition, an Ife artist
was brought to the kingdom of
Benin to teach his craft to Benin
artists. Benin is famous for its
bronze and brass sculptures.
The Shona people of southeastern
Africa established a city called
Great Zimbabwe, the capital of a
thriving state from the 1200s
through the 1400s.
In the Americas, the Maya built
spectacular cities that featured giant
pyramids, temples, palaces, and ball
The Maya developed a calendar based
on careful observations of the planets,
sun, and moon. They developed an
advanced writing system that consisted
of about 800 glyphs.
The Aztecs founded the city of
Tenochtitlan on an island in a lake
in 1325. By the early 1500s, it
had become a large, planned
urban center with temples,
palaces, causeways, canals,
chinampas or “floating gardens,”
and a huge market.
Aztec priests practiced human
sacrifice because they believed their
sun god, Huitzilopochtli, needed the
nourishment of human blood to be
strong enough to battle the forces of
evil to get to the next day. Without
human blood, Huitzilopochtli would
be too weak, the sun would not rise,
and all life would perish.
Under the leadership of Pachacuti, the Inca
ruled an empire along the western coast of
The Inca road system traversed rugged
mountains to span the empire. A system of
runners, known as chasquis, carried
messages along these roads as a kind of
The decline of the Incan Empire can be
traced to a struggle for the throne between
Atahualpa and his brother.
The Renaissance (A.D. 1300-1600)
started in Italy. Renaissance thinkers
hoped to bring back to life the culture
of classical Greece and Rome.
Florence came under the rule of the
Medici, a powerful banking family.
Lorenzo de Medici became a
generous patron of the arts.
Renaissance artists used the
technique of perspective to create
the appearance of three
dimensions on a flat surface.
Raphael used perspective for his
painting, School of Athens.
Leonardo da Vinci was a true
“Renaissance Man”-- a painter,
sculptor, inventor, and scientist.
His masterpieces include The Last
Supper, Vitruvian Man, and the
Michelangelo used a realistic
style when depicting the human
body. Among his achievements
are the statue of David and the
paintings on the ceiling of the
Erasmus, The Praise of Folly
As Renaissance ideas spread out of
Italy, they mixed with traditions of
The best known Christian humanists
were Erasmus, author of The Praise of
Folly, and Thomas More, author of
Utopia. More’s Utopia is about a model
society where greed, corruption, and
war have been eliminated.
William Shakespeare is regarded
by many as the greatest playwright
of all time. His plays were
performed at the Globe Theater in
London. His most famous plays
include Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet,
and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Around 1440, Johann Gutenberg
developed a printing press that made it
possible to produce books quickly and
The greater availability of books
resulted in an increase in literacy
throughout Europe. Writers began to
use vernacular (native) languages
rather than classical languages (Greek
and Latin) to express their ideas.
The Reformation began in 1517 when Martin
Luther posted his Ninety-Five Theses to the door
of a church in Wittenberg, Germany. These were
Luther’s objections to Catholic Church practices
that included the sale of indulgences by Johann
Tetzel. An indulgence was said to cancel
punishment for a person’s sins.
Reformers who protested against the Catholic
Church became known as Protestants.
The Protestant religion inspired by Luther’s
teachings was known as Lutheranism.
In 1559, Queen Elizabeth I restored
Protestantism to England when
Parliament set up the Church of
England, or Anglican Church, with
Elizabeth as its head.
John Calvin was the leader of
Protestants in Geneva, Switzerland.
He developed the doctrine of
predestination, the belief that God has
known since the beginning of time who
will be saved.