The Early Medieval Ages (500-1000AD)
The early medieval period came immediately after the fall of the Western Roman Empire and it basically refers to the time between the fifth and tenth centuries. Historical evidence indicates that it was characterized by various development with the most pronounced being the rise of the Latin West, the Byzantine Empire and the Islamic States. This paper reviews the rise of these three entities in order to generate inherent differences and similarities.
To begin with, the Latin west was comprised of various kingdoms that were characterized by ethnic diversity but still had common religious and social characteristics. With regard to religion, they practiced Christianity and specifically, Roman Catholicism. However, Tertius indicates that there were small factions of the society that embraced Jewish (36). Although the Byzantium Empire also embraced Christianity, it is indicated that orthodox was the dominant. Islam Empire on the other hand was dominated by monotheistic Islam. Further, Latin language and Christianity have been cited to be the unifying factor in the Latin West (McCluskey 42). From a structural perspective, it is clear that the Latin west was more complex than the Byzantium and Islam Empire. It is because unlike the two, Latin west comprised of various kingdoms that were governed by the pope.
Further, Marenbon points out that unlike the Latin West, the Muslim and Byzantium empires were faced with the challenges of warfare (16). Nevertheless the reasons for engaging in military activities for the two empires differed considerably. While the Byzantium struggled with the neighbors who wee threatening to conquer them, the Islam initiated religion related war in Byzantium, Spain and other regions in a bit to spread the religion. However, Tertius shows that this was not successful as they were defeated and hence withdrew (38).
With regard to the economy, Morrinson postulates that the Latin West and the Byzantium economies were anchored on Agriculture (36). In Latin West, it is indicated that increased agricultural production played a fundamental role in attracting foreign settlement. In Byzantium, historical studies contend that Agriculture was aided by iron tools and played a vital role in improving the health of the inhabitants. However, the economy of Islam is cited to have been largely depended on long distance caravan trade (Freeman 52). Political wise, Latin West lands are speculated to have been headed by the pope. In this respect, studies ascertain that Christianity and specifically Catholicism were dominant and acted as unifying factors. Byzantium on the other hand was governed by the emperor who oversaw all the activities including those related to the military. Finally, Islam Empire practiced hereditary monarchy in that leadership was inherited. Further, Marenbon indicates that his was autocratic and highly centralized (23).
From the review it is certain that all the empires had traces of the influence of the Roman Empire that was exhibited through religion and traditional practices. Nevertheless, there are inherent differences that make each one of them unique in different ways. Of great reference is the Latin West land that had different kingdoms but still maintained a single identify. Seemingly, this state of affairs was greatly influenced by a common law and Christian values.
Chandler, Tertius. Three Thousand Years Ago. USA: Edwin Mellon Press, 1997.
Charles, Freeman. Review of Life after Rome. UK: Heinemann, 2002.
John, Marenbon. Early Medieval Period. UK: Rutledge, 1992.
Karl, Morrinson. Traditional Rome. Princeton: University Press, 1998.
Stephen McCluskey. Early Medieval Europe. Cambridge: University Press, 1989.