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The Earth and Its Peoples: A Global History, Second Edition
Richard W. Bulliet, Pamela Kyle Crossley, Daniel R. Headrick, Steven W. Hirsch, Lyman L. Johnson, David Northrup
History WIRED

Chapter 16: The Latin West, 1200-1500


The Black Death in Europe and Asia

The Spread of the Black Death in Europe

Medieval Trade Routes

Economic Map of Europe in the Middle Ages

Holy Roman Empire and Central Europe, c 1490

Italy in the Fifteenth Century

Maps Exploring the Hundred Years War

Europe in 1519


The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Medieval Art

Romanesque Architecture

Early Gothic
This comprehensive site offers images of early Gothic cathedrals from the thirteenth century.

Late Gothic
A companion site to the one above.

Italian Renaissance
A comprehensive site that explores the architecture of the Italian Renaissance.

End of Europe's Middle Ages: Visual Arts, Architecture
Observe and learn about architectural developments in the later Middle Ages.

End of Europe's Middle Ages: Visual Arts, Art
Observe and learn about painting during the later Middle Ages.

WebMuseum: Jan Van Eyck
Explore the life of this influential Flemish painter and view several images of his masterpieces.

WebMuseum: Michelangelo
Explore the life of this influential Italian artist and view several images of his masterpieces.

WebMuseum: Leonardo da Vinci
Explore the life of this influential Italian artist and view several images of his masterpieces.

The Bibliothèque Nationale de France: The Age of King Charles V (1338-1380), The Hundred Years War
Explore this important event through these medieval images.

Prague Astronomical Clock
This site provides many images of this medieval masterpiece.

Manuscripts, Books, and Maps: The Printing Press and a Changing World
The first four chapters of this site contain links to images of manuscripts both before and after the Gutenberg's development of his printing press.

This site contains two images of Gutenberg's Bible.

Activity One:

The Black Death that ravaged western Europe in the middle of the fourteenth century set into motion many changes.  For a brief overview of the plague's destruction, go to The Pestilence Tyme Home Page and read Chapters 3 and 9.  According to this author, what impact did the plague have on western Europe? What was its physical toll? What were its psychological and emotional effects?  To understand the plague and its role in history, it is essential to understand its global scope in the fourteenth century. Return to The Pestilence Tyme Home Page and read Chapters 1 and 2.  Also examine Map 1.  Where did the Black Death begin?  How did it spread?  What impact did it have on other areas of the world?  For an Islamic scholar's account of the plague, see IBN KHALDUN: THE PLAGUE IN THE MIDDLE EAST (note that he uses a different calender--the western dates are in parentheses).  According to Khaldun, was the plague as disruptive to society in the Middle East as it was in western Europe?  One reason for the plague's rampant destruction, both physical and emotional, was ignorance.  Return to The Pestilence Tyme Home Page and review Chapter 2.  According to this site, how did medieval doctors and other intellectuals explain the Black Death?  Why were they so unprepared to understand its causes and cures?  Read Chapters 7 and 8 at this site.  What did western Europeans do to stop the spread of the disease?  How did ordinary people cope with its devastation?  Historians have debated the long-term impact of the plague on European and world history.  Examine The Black Plague: Population Change, The Black Plague: Economic Trends, and the The Black Plague: Prices and Wages in England.  After studying these charts and texts, make a list of changes the Black Death brought about in Europe.  Consider how changes in population, prices, wages, and rents affected the social and economic structure in the decades after the plague.  Who might have benefited in the long run?  Who might have suffered?  Read the essay In the Wake of the Black Death.  How do your responses compare to this historian's?

Activity Two:

The legacy of the Black Death was not the only force bringing change to the Latin West between 1200 and 1500.  The fourteenth century also witnessed other significant developments that would deeply change western European civilization.  Study The End of Europe's Middle Ages: The Church, focusing on the sections covering the Babylonian Captivity.  According to this site, what major trend in the fourteenth century undermined the political institutions of the Latin West?  Compare and contrast this development with the plague. Did they have similar or different effects?  How did they reinforce each other? 

Activity Three:

Another important event that began in the fourteenth century was the Hundred Years War.  For a brief overview of this conflict, go to THE HUNDRED YEARS' WAR.  Who were the winners and losers in this conflict?  According to this site, what were the major effects of this long conflict?  What impact did technology have on the outcome of this struggle?  Go to Gunpowder Weapons of the Late Fifteenth Century and answer the following questions. How did this new military technology transform traditional political institutions in western Europe?  Explain the long-term impact of the Hundred Years War on the Latin West.  How did it alter previous political institutions?

Activity Four:

Changes in the economic environment also undermined medieval institutions and traditions in the Latin West.  The rise of towns symbolized the growth in commerce and industry between 1200 and 1500.  To put this growth of towns in a global context, go to Population of the Larger Urban Areas and trace the urbanization of western Europe.  Begin by identifying western European cities.  You might also want to consult Map 16.2 on page 400 of The Earth and Its Peoples (Second Edition) for help.  According to this chart, when did European cities become as large as other major urban areas in the world?  During what time did the number of large-scale European cities increase?  For a brief description of the impact of cities on western Europe during the central and later Middle Ages, go to Town Life (be sure to read the entire essay by clicking the link at the bottom).  According to this site, what role did cities play in Europe during this time period?  How did they challenge the existing social order?
One result of the growth of cities in western Europe during the central and later Middle Ages was the increase in commerce.  Go to Map 1.   This map shows the trade routes in Europe around the year 1300.  If you can not read every word on the map, do not worry; analyze the big picture.  What role did cities play in these trade routes? Which cities in particular do you think served as emporia?  How did this trade promote greater contact between western Europe and other civilizations? With which civilizations in particular did merchants have extensive contact?   For more information on the role of towns and the growth of long-distance trade, see Old World Contacts: Venice.  The growth of cities and commerce brought western Europe into contact with the wider world.  One outgrowth of this trend was the diffusion of new technologies into western Europe.  Go to the Medieval Technology Timeline and click on the years 1000-1200.  Review this timeline up until the year 1500. Click on all hyper links.  As you study the technological developments in western Europe during this period, keep a list of those you can identify as having originated elsewhere.   For example, paper was first developed in China but did not appear in western Europe until the central Middle Ages.  When finished, analyze the role of towns in the transformation of the Latin West.   Be sure to consider the increase in knowledge, technology, and wealth.