13: The High Middle Ages

Rose Window Notre Dame Paris cropped


The Rose Window
Notre Dame, Paris

Key Terms

  • Great Schism
  • Gothic Architecture
  • Abbot Suger
  • Thomas Aquinas
  • Scholasticism
  • To explain the significance of Paris as the center of learning and architecture in the High Middle Ages
  • To demonstrate the characteristics of Gothic architecture and to explain their significance in the three churches: the Abbey of Saint Denis, the Cathedral of Chartres, and the Cathedral of Notre Dame
  • To set forth changes in the music during the High Middle Ages that result in the creation of polyphony
  • To describe the major features of Scholasticism
  • To detail the lives and contributions of Abbot Suger, Francis of Assisi, Thomas Aquinas, and Dante Alighieri
  • Know the terms middle class and the Great Schism.

I. Historical Context

  • 1054: The Great Schism, European Christianity splits East and West
    • After Roman Empire becomes Christian (380), the bishop of Rome rises in power and begins to over shadow the eastern bishops
    • Church authority continues to be debated, with the fall of Rome in 476
    • Eastern Church - Constantinople and the Byzantine Empire
    • Western Church - Protected by Emperor Charlemagne HRE, as of 800
  • The Catholic West and the Orthodox East
    • Theological differences regarding the primacy of the pope and the nature of the Holy Spirit, etc., continue to erode east–west relationship
    • Emissaries of Pope Leo IX excommunicate the Patriarch of Constantinople & the Patriarch excommunicates the emissaries
    • Division of Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christianity, a division that continues to the present day

II. Politics

  • Significance of Paris, the center of Western Civilization
    • Time of the High Middle Ages
    • Origin of Gothic architecture
    • Origin of Scholasticism
    • Origin of the University
    • Classical texts + Judeo-Christian influence worldview

III. Texts

  • A. Thomas Aquinas
    • University of Paris educator
    • Summa Theologica
    • Harmony of human reason and divine revelation

  • B. Francis of Assisi
    • Founder of the Mendicant brotherhood - total poverty and mobility
    • Goodness of God’s creation
    • Biographies to promote the emotional, caring aspects of religion

  • C. Dante Allighieri
    • Influenced by Parisian intellectualism
    • Divine Comedy - symbolic journey through hell, purgatory, and heaven
    • Encounters with historical figures in the afterlife

IV. Religion

  • A. Crusades
    • Pope Urban II
    • Exaggerated reports of attacks on Christians
    • Provides plenary indulgences
    • Importance of Jerusalem
      • Christians associate it with the nativity, ministry, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus
      • Predominantly Christian by the end of the 4th century
      • Under Arab control in 638
      • Muslims build Dome of the Rock and mosques and destroy Church of the Holy Sepulchre in 1009
      • Muslims associate Jerusalem with Muhammad’s ascension to heaven
      • Third most sacred site in Islam (after Mecca and Medina)
      • Jews and Christian pilgrims welcome in Jerusalem (mostly)
      • Fought alongside Jews in the defense of Jerusalem in 1099 during the First Crusade
    • Saladin retakes Jerusalem in 1187: igniting the Third Crusade
    • Spares civilians and churches
    • Negotiates treaty with Richard the Lionheart

  • B. The Cathedral
    • Social functions - education, the law, social services
    • Economic impact - pilgrimages, donations by guilds
    • Development of Gothic architecture

V. Art

VI. Music: The School of Notre Dame

  • Guido di Arezzo - musical notation
  • Polyphony - “many voices”
  • Secular music - troubadours, Trouveres, Minnesingers
  • School of Music in Paris
  • Development of the Motet - 3 voices

VII. Education

  • Rise of the University, University of Paris most famous
  • Demand for educated class - lawyers, administrators
  • Rediscovery of Ancient Greek texts, Aristotle
  • Scholasticism - scholarly study
  • Follows format for the Seven Liberal Arts
  • Trivium (grammar, rhetoric, dialectic)
  • Quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, music, astronomy)
  • Women typically not admitted

VIII. Historical Context

  • High Middle Ages saw growth in cities, education and commerce
  • Saw decline in feudalism with the birth of the Middle Class