The period in medieval history between 800 AD and 1100 AD is characterized by the feudal disintegrity, which as a result led to the creation of modern European states of France, Spain, Germany, Italy, etc. It took a period of nearly 6 centuries for the modern European states to transform from disintegrated feudal counties to modern unified states. Such process was especially prolonged for Germany, which finished unification only in the second half of the nineteenth century. Feudal disintegrity, which followed Carolingian empire, after the death of king Charlemagne, lead to the creation of national states all over Europe, it led to the development and local languages and local cultures, which nevertheless have much in common. It can be stated that alienation of feuds on the early stage of dissolution of Carolingian empire led to local particularities in culture, language, etc.
The reason for the feudal disintegration laid in the norms of Roman law, which in many respects contradicted Frankish inheriting traditions. In fact it’s important to note that norms of Roman law led to the collapse and dissolution of Ancient Roman Empire, as rich aristocrats on the hand with privileges received certain autonomy from central government. King Charlemagne before his death expressed a will to divide his empire among his sons. Such decision led to the collapse of Great Carolingian empire and led to the creation of numerous medieval feudal states:
“Succession in the Carolingian Empire followed the Salic Law of equal division among male heirs, hastening the emergence of the multiplicity on political, religious, and linguistic fronts that spelled subsequent disunity, if not disharmony, in medieval European interactions” (from http://www.bookrags.com/history/medieval-europe-transportation-exploration/)
It’s important to note that in a relatively short period of time some 35 years, the former territory of Carolingian empire was already linguistically diverged. It was witnessed in Oaths of Strasbourg, which was written and signed by two of Charlemagne sons in different languages. Since that time, Rome lost it’s political influence and authority among feudal states of former Frankish Empire, and it only restored it after the feudal centralization in Medieval Europe was completed (in 13-14 centuries).
In such period of time, characterized by state and territorial disintegration, most of contacts among people were defined mainly by common religious similarities and similarities of language. Of course, there existed higher degree of interaction among scholars, clergymen and aristocrats, but nevertheless it did not define the whole set of geopolitical processes and primary signs of national unification in Medieval Europe.
The interaction of medieval population of today’s Germany, France and later Spain was much determined by local concentration of population and similarities, which those communities had. These economic and political bonds later led to the creation of villages, towns, cities, churches, etc. which were under the rule of a certain feudal. The level of interaction of those communities- trade, talking, common attendance of church, etc. defined future unification and establishment of national traits, mainly common language.
It’s important to note that feudalism in Spain had a different way of development, comparing to feudalism of French and German feudal states. Pyrenean peninsula was conquered by Arabs by the 7th century, and since that time Franks had continuing wars with Mauritanian states of Spain up until 1492. These wars got the name of Reconquista. The constant hazard from the side of Arabs and shaky positions in Northern Peryneneans forced Spanish feudalists to be in close political and military unions with each other, in order to resist Arabs. Such historical situation played a key role in quick unification of Spain and defined absence of feudal disintegration, which was common for the most of European states in a period from 800 to 1100 AD.
Later the sons of Charlemagne also divided their possessions among their children, which only deepened crisis of centralization. The results were fatal for the future hundred years, turning once a powerful and flourishing kingdom into a battlefield of civil wars among the descendants of Charlemagne. By the treaty of Verdun, signed in 843, the empire was divided into three parts: Western Franks (modern territory of France) was ruled by Charles the Bald, Eastern Franks (Germany) were ruled by Louis the German, and central lands ruled by Lothair. Due to the historical and political particularities, central kingdom quickly dissolved, making Eastern and Western Franks to be dominant groups in Western Europe.
The role of church in feudal disintegration and alienation from former interaction in Medieval European relations was important as well, as Catholic Church was also an important player on Medieval political arena: “The church also had great influence in shaping feudalism; although the organization of the church was not feudal in character, its hierarchy somewhat paralleled the feudal hierarchy. The church owned much land, held by monasteries, by church dignitaries, and by the churches themselves. Most of this land, given by nobles as a bequest or gift, carried feudal obligations; thus clerical land, like lay land, assumed a feudal aspect, and the clergy became participants in the temporal feudal system. Many bishops and abbots were much like lay seigneurs. This feudal connection between church and state gave rise to the controversy over lay investiture.”(from http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1E1-feudalis.html)
Making a conclusion I would like to say the lack of interaction in Medieval Europe in the period from 9th century and up to 12th century, on the hand with economical, cultural and political stagnation played a key role in the development of self-identity among different groups of Franks, which populated former Charlemagne Empire. It was an epoch of growing interaction inside the communities, which resulted in creation of strong feudal states ruled by landlords: “political, military, judicial, and other functions of government exercised at the local level; feudalism was a political arrangement that provided for the performance of these functions of government by a class of landed nobles” (fromhttp://www.neu.edu.tr/tr/staff/301/carolingian.htm )At the same time it was an epoch of great civil conflicts, attacks form the side of Vikings, and Normans who as a result influenced future history of Western Europe, introducing particularities into culture, language and mentality of Anglo-Saxes, French, German and other peoples.
Feudalism, article available at http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1E1-feudalis.html
Carolingian Culture and History http://www.neu.edu.tr/tr/staff/301/carolingian.htm
Medieval Europe 814-1350: Communication, Transportation, Exploration, article available at:
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