Feudalism and Manorialism

Feudalism and manorialism developed as a direct result of the 9th and 10th century invasions. During the 9th and 10th centuries, the Kings of France, Germany and other countries in that region were unable to cope with invasions from the Vikings of the north, and from the Magyars and Muslims of the east.

The Kings were not able to offer protection to their subjects from these ruthless raids, so the subjects had to turn to local noblemen for protection. These subjects entered into a sort of contract with the Lord of their particular region. They became known as Serfs, and would work on the Lord’s land for two to three days per week, in exchange for protection against the Viking raids. The Serfs would use the other days to work on their own plot of land (which ultimately belonged to the Lord), and were able to use the goods they produced to consume or trade. The Lords exercised political authority over their realms, collecting taxes, maintaining the infrastructure, etc.This system was known as manorialism.

In order for a Lord to provide this protection, he would appoint warriors, called Vassals. These Vassals were given a portion of the Lord’s land, called fiefs, so they could support themselves, and have enough time to practice their combat skills. This relationship is called feudalism. The Vassals did not only protect the Lord and his Serfs, but also offered advice to the Lord. This was the basis of modern Parliaments. The Vassals had political authority over their fiefs, and some even had Vassals of their own. This is known as subinfeudation.

Manorialism gave the Serfs the opportunity to be closer to their rulers, and possibly to influence the way their feudal Lord governed. If they did not like a particular tax or law, they might have taken it to their local Vassal, who may have taken it to his Lord in a meeting. However, the Serfs were not able to exit their contract of Serfdom with their Lord, so if they did not like the way a Lord ruled, they could not leave. Like any political system, feudalism and manorialism were not perfect. They did, however, provide something desperately needed by the local villagers, and that is protection.


The Main Difference Between Jesus and the Pharisees

The leaders of Israel, and especially the Pharisees, were so focused on the ritual ceremonies and rules of their religion that they missed the purpose of these practices. Jesus taught that the outward laws of men were far less important than the commandments of God. This was one of the most important of the many dividing points between Jesus and the leaders of Israel.

On several occasions, Jesus was confronted by the Pharisees for performing miracles of healing on the Sabbath. The Jews were forbidden from performing even the slightest amount of work on the Sabbath days, and when Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath, the Pharisees were outraged. Jesus asked them if it was lawful to do good on the Sabbath, or to do evil, but the Pharisees kept their silence. This is an example of how Jesus taught that the letter of the law was not as important as doing good works with the right intentions.

Jesus and His disciples were confronted by the Pharisees for not washing their hands before eating (the practice of washing hands before a meal seems to be common hygiene to us, but we must remember that this took place almost 2000 years before the discovery of germs). The Pharisees and the scribes asked Jesus “Why do not thy disciples walk according to the tradition of the ancients, but they eat bread with common [unwashed] hands?” [Mark 7:5], to which Jesus replied, quoting Isaias, 29:13, “This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. And in vain do they worship me, teaching doctrines and precepts of men” [Mark 7:6-7].

Jesus’ reply in Mark 7:6-7 truly summarizes the differences between Him and the Pharisees and scribes. The rulers of Israel were so caught up in the “doctrines and precepts of men” that they did not honor God.

First Impressions of Islam From the Koran

From the Koran, it is obvious that Islam is based very firmly in faith and belief in Allah. It is shown many times that those who do not believe will suffer many negative sanctions directly from Allah. Allah does not seem to show forgiveness to those who transgress against him. There is no call to attempt to peacefully convert the “unbelievers”, but to “smite their necks; and, when you have overcome them, by causing great slaughter among them, bind fast the fetters” [47:5]. Those who do not believe in Allah are not to be persuaded to convert, but murdered. Islam seems to be different from other monotheistic religions, such as Christianity, which focuses on forgiveness from one’s transgressions, and non-violence. Allah seems to show characteristics of the Jewish God, ruthlessly smiting those who disbelieve. Judaism and Islam are also very similar in that they both seem hostile to outsiders, and seemingly not focused on converting unbelievers. The first impressions of Islam to an outsider reading the Koran are not conducive to new conversions.

Procopius’ View of Justinian

Procopius (c. 500-554 AD), a Byzatine historian, had a very dim view of the character of the Emperor Justinian. In his Secret History, Procopius described Justinian as:

“deceitful, devious, false, hypocritical, two-faced, cruel, skilled in dissembling his thought, never moved to tears by either joy or pain, though he could summon them artfully at will when the occasion demanded…”

He also said that:

“nature seemed to have taken the wickedness of all other men combined and planted it in this man’s soul.”

Procopius obviously viewed Justinian as the most undesirable person in the world. His only complement involved Justinian’s facial appearance, which he compared to Domition’s, an insane Emperor who demanded his subject’s worship, and was responsible for the deaths of thousands of early Christians. So then again, maybe not so much of a complement.

Essay 9: On Fruit

Fruits are very useful tools that aid plants in reproduction. They are also a major food source for many organisms. They may be very costly for  the plant to produce, but they are worth it.

Fruits are structures produced by angiosperms that are formed from the ovaries of flowers and that bear seeds. There are four different classifications of fruit; simple fruit, aggregate fruit, accessory fruit, and fruits which exhibit inflorescence. Simple fruit are comprised of a single carpel, or several fused carpels (a flower part which houses the ovaries), like blueberries. Aggregate fruit are formed from a single flower sporting many carpels, such as blackberries. Accessory fruit, or false fruit, are formed not from the carpel, but from accessory tissue outside of the carpel called the receptacle, like apples and pears. Fruits which are inflorescent are formed from several flowers that have fused together, forming one fruit, such as pineapples.

Fruits allow plants to widely disperse their seeds. They may be eaten be an animal and spread seeds through the animal’s feces. Fruits (like the ”helicopters” of maple trees) may develop wing-like appendages that allow them to glide away. Some fruits may have small hooks or bristles that allow them to attach themselves to animals and travel with them. There is also a process called dehiscence in which a mature fruit breaks open to release the seeds. These seeds may then be transported to other areas by wind or water. There is a variation on this process known as explosive dehiscence in which the fruit blows up and shoots seeds in all directions. There are many different types of fruit, and many methods of seed dispersal .

Fruits are very costly for plants to produce. They require lots of nutrients, and tons of energy. However, they do achieve their goal of dispersing seeds, whether by the digestive system of animals, by using wings to fly away, or by explosive force. Fruits may be expensive, but they are worth it.

The Spread of Catholicism to England

During the early 400s,  Rome had to withdraw its soldiers from the island of Britain to help defend itself against the invasions by various barbarian groups. This left the native Romano-British vulnerable to attacks from invaders from all around. In order to defend themselves, the Romano-British hired Saxon mercenaries to fight off the attacking forces. This plan backfired when the Saxons seized this opportunity to steal land from the Romano-British, forcing them into the north-western areas of Britain. After this, the native Britons were so angry with the Saxons that they would not try to convert them.

Pope Gregory the Great (r. 590-604) decided that he needed to take action in the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons, and sent Augustine of Canterbury to head a mission to England in 596. Upon their arrival in 597, the 40 missionaries went to the chief King, Æthelberht of Kent  (r. 589-616) of to seek his approval. They received it, and had great success with the conversions, including Æthelberht himself around 597. After the death of Æthelberht, missionary work in England was thrown into confusion.

The Benedictine missionaries sent by Gregory the Great weren’t the only missionaries operating in England. The Irish, who had been single-handedly converted to Christianity by St. Patrick in the 5th century, had been sending missionaries as well. The Irish Church had different traditions than the Roman Church, like the dating of Easter, but more importantly the system of hierarchy among the clergy. Unlike in the Roman Church, authority came not from the Bishops, but from the Abbots of monasteries. Irish monks also practiced extreme asceticism, which was at odds with traditional Benedictine monasticism. Because of this, the Anglo-Saxons were being converted to two different types Catholicism.

Finally, things were resolved between the Irish and Benedictine traditions in 664 at the Synod Whitby. When King Oswiu of Northumbria (r. 642-670) heard at the Synod that the dating of Easter and other Benedictine traditions came from the Pope, he decreed that the traditions of the Roman church were the legitimate ones to be followed, and in so doing resolved the differences between the Roman and Irish traditions.

The Shift From the Merovingian Dynasty to the Carolingian Dynasty

From the 5th to the 8th centuries, the kingdom of the Franks was ruled by the Merovingian family. The Merovingian dynasty was founded by Childeric I (r. 457-481), but it was his son, Clovis (r. 481-511) who united all of Gaul under one rule. Clovis was also very significant for having converted to Catholicism. He was baptized on Christmas day, and subsequently made what is now France the first of the barbarian kingdoms to become e Catholic. It was his wife, Clotilde, who was credited with converting Clovis, and for that she is venerated as a saint among both the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches.

Despite the early success of the Merovingian dynasty, it soon fell apart. After Clovis’s death, fighting ensued over control of the kingdom throughout the 6th century. Many of the Merovingian monarchs were very unskilled administrators. Some were unsuited to rule, being women, children, and the mentally subnormal. The church was also in terrible condition. People were buying church offices, some priests were not celibate, some carried weapons and killed people. There were even some priests that worshipped the old Germanic gods.

St. Boniface (c. 680-754) was very upset with the condition of the church in the Frankish kingdom, set about reforming the system, with the help of Pepin, and Carloman, who was mayor of the palace. These reforms took a long time to make any changes, but their most important effect is that they fostered the idea of Papal sovereignty among the clergy.

The Carolingian family held the title of mayor of the palace, and  wielded de facto power over the Frankish kingdom. Pepin the Short (c. 714-768), a Carolingian, was interested in becoming king and came to Pope Zachary I asking him if it was good that the man with no power should have the title, and the man with all the power should have no title. Zachary replied that it was not good, and agreed to bless the change in dynasty from the Merovingians to the Carolingians. And in 751, the last of the Merovingian kings had his hair ceremonially cut, was deposed, and Pepin the Short was made the first Carolingian monarch of the Frankish kingdom.


The Importance of Miracles in the Teachings of Jesus

Jesus performed many miracles during the time of His ministry, his such as curing the sick, raising the dead, walking on water, and more. These miracles were essential to His teachings. Without them, Jesus would not have attracted so many followers, and would not have been as successful in His teachings.

The miracles of Jesus helped to reinforce the belief that he was the son of God. They were a way for Jesus to prove to His listeners and followers that what He was saying was true. He did not, however, want His followers to take any rash action and make Him their king. It was not His intention to be a political or military leader on earth. In John 6:15, Jesus had to flee to the mountains in order to escape the people He had been preaching to because He perceived that they would take Him by force and make Him king. This happened after He had fed 5000 people with five loaves of bread and two fishes. He told some of the people He had healed not to tell anyone of the miracles He had performed, but most of them went out and told everybody.

The miracles Jesus performed also allowed him to reach a large audience. People flocked from all around to be cured by Him. Thousands showed up to listen to his sermons and be healed. If Jesus had not cured people of their sicknesses, he would not have reached so large an audience.

The miracles performed by Jesus were of huge importance to his ministry. They helped Him to prove He was who He said He was, and they allowed Him to reach a huge audience. Jesus is the Son of God. The miracles were part of His plan, but ultimately superfluous to His ultimate mission.

Daniel McAdams

The Significance of Rome

Roman culture made significant contributions to western civilization for which we are greatly indebted. Their contributions ranged from literature, to architecture, to language, and others.

Rome produced many great writers and poets, such as Ovid, Livy, Virgil, Horace, and more. The Roman language was a foundation for many modern Romance languages, such as French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Romanian. The English language borrowed more than half of its vocabulary from Latin, which is still used in the traditional Catholic Church, and in the classification of species.

The Roman contributions to architecture were also of great importance. The roads, bridges, and aquaducts were the finest in the world, and some are still in use today. They also made some contributions to the arts. They made frescoes, various portraits, and statues. Although it was very beautiful, most of the Roman art borrowed heavily from the Greek culture.

One of the main reasons why Rome is so important is that it preserved the ancient Greek culture. Much of the style of Roman architecture came from the Greeks, as did much philosophy and many schools of thought. Many Roman artists copied styles of the Greeks, and gave us an idea of what Greek art was like. They also preserved some of the great works of literature, such as the Iliad and the Odyssey, and the works of the great philosophers, such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.

We owe a great deal to Roman civilization, without which we would not have many of things we have today. Their contributions to language, architecture, and the arts are very great, but perhaps most importantly, they preserved the culture of one of the most important civilizations in history, the Greeks.

Horace’s Views on Ethical Conduct

Horace was the most important poet of the reign of Augustus. He believed in living according to pleasure (in moderation), and personal virtue. He did not concern himself with inheritance, or anything long-term, and believed that the best life was one lived in moderation, or within the “golden mean”.

Horace belonged to the stoic and epicurean schools of philosophy, believing that life is short and pointless, and the best you can do is enjoy the simple pleasures of personal virtue while you still can. He believed that good and bad times alternate, and if conditions are adverse, they will improve. He believed that there is nothing that can be done to change fate, and that it is better to adapt and hunker down until things get better. Conversely, if things are working out well, and you are experiencing good fortune, it will not last. It is best to weather bad conditions until they improve, and when they do, enjoy them while they last.

Horace believed that the accumulation of wealth is a waste of time. Since everyone will be taken by death, there is no point in accumulating something which will be left behind when you go. He had the same views on power, and discouraged against political careers. He thought that the best thing you can do is to enjoy as much of life as possible before it ends.

Horace believed in pursuing the “golden mean”. One should enjoy the pleasures of life, because they will not last, but should always exercise moderation. One should not be greedy and try to acquire as much wealth as possible, but should not live in complete poverty.

Horace did not think people should concern themselves with inheritance because:
“A worthier heir will drink the wine
you guard now with a hundred keys: he’ll
drench the pavement with your best — more fine
than that on which the highest priests do feast.”  [Ode II. 14]
So again, do not accumulate riches (in this case good wine) because your children and heirs will simply squander it.

Horace showed the ideas of the epicurean and stoic schools of thought in his work. He was very stoic in that he thought that one should simply accept the hardships of life. He was very epicurean in that he believed that when things are good, they should be enjoyed, which is somewhat contrary to the stoic philosophy, which says that nothing can make a good man happier accept for virtue. He believed that acquiring power and material goods was pointless, and the best one could do was to try his best to follow the golden mean of enjoyment with moderation.