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Holy Roman Empire
  What Your Child  Needs to Know   You may choose to use the following text inseveral different ways, depending on yourchild’s strengths and preferences. Youmight read the passage aloud; you mightread it to yourself and then paraphrase itfor your child; or you might ask your childto read the material along with you or onhis or her own. EUROPE  As shown in Chapter 4, by A.D. 400, the oldRoman Empire of the West was on the verge of col-lapse. Soon the period that historians of Europecall the Middle Ages would begin. The noun Mid-dle Ages and the adjective  medieval refer to the pe-riod between ancient history and modern history. The Fall of Rome In A.D. 410, the barbarian Visigoths from the northlaid siegeto Rome. Exhausted and with little foodleft, Roman citizens opened the city gates and let inthe invaders. The Visigoths pillagedmuch of Rome,but Alaric (AL uh rik), who was a Christian con-vert, commanded his soldiers not to molestwomen,destroy churches, or steal church valuables.Soon after, there appeared an enemy that theRomans and their invaders could unite against. InA.D. 433, Attila (uh TIH luh) became ruler of the  Huns, a people from Mongolia in Asia. He con-quered much of eastern Europe and helped createa new Hun homeland in Hungary. Then Attila in-vaded Gaul (France) and Italy. Romans, Goths,and Franks fought Attila and defeated him. TheHuns retreated, and Attila died two years later. Nostrong ruler took his place, and the empire of theHuns quickly fell apart.What effect, then, did Attila have on the west-ern Roman empire? By displacing other barbariantribes who were in his way as he moved towardRome and driving them west, Attila indirectly has-tenedthe final fall of Rome. The Vandals sackedthe city in A.D. 455. Then in A.D. 476, the Ger-man chief deposedthe last western Roman em-peror and took over the throne. The westernRoman Empire was no more. Western Christianity Spreads With Rome gone as a political power, Christianitywas the one unifying force left in Europe. Thechurch of Rome sent missionariesto other lands toconvert the people to the Christian faith. One of these was the man who would become St. Patrick. He converted the population of Ireland beginningin A.D. 432. Irish monasteriesbecame great centersof learning. Scholars went there from all over Eu-rope, and monksthere copied important works of religion and literature. In A.D. 597, the man whowould become St. Augustine (AW guh steen ) of Canterbury traveled from Rome to southern En-gland. There he converted the paganking to theChristian religion and spread the faith among thepeople who lived in that part of the world.Later, in A.D. 751 in Gaul, Pepin (PE puhn) theShort became king of the Franks, who had earlierinvaded Rome. Now Pepin’s coronation was blessedby the Roman church. Then Pepin’s son, Charle-magne (SHAR luh  mayn ), or “Charles the Great,”conquered the rest of France, Germany, and Italy.He created the largest empire since that of Rome,the Holy Roman Empire. Charlemagne spreadChristianity throughout his empire and built schoolsand churches.In Rome, Pope Leo III wanted to strengthenthe king’s ties to the church even more. Therefore,on Christmas Day A.D. 800, he intended to crownCharlemagne the first  Holy Roman Emperor. Ac-cording to legend, Charlemagne took the crownfrom the pope and crowned himself as a signal of his power. The title Holy Roman Emperor meantthat Charlemagne had legitimate claims on Italy.Charlemagne ruled until his death in A.D. 814. The Birth of Russia In the northern European lands of Norway, Den-mark, and Sweden, there lived a hardy peoplecalled the Vikings. In the 700s and 800s, manyVikings left those lands and headed south in ves-sels called longships to find new lands to settle.Each longship could hold fifty or more men; the Religious EmpiresA.D. 400–1000  51  men could sail, row, or haul the sturdily built boatoverland when necessary and could even take it onnavigablerivers to attack cities far inland.The Vikings probably had heard of Charle-magne’s victories and wanted to avoid capture bythat brutal emperor. Some Vikings attacked andsacked coastal European cities. But not all Vikingswere destroyers. Some were traders and farmers.Many of them settled in western and southern Eu-rope. Other Vikings settled in Iceland and Green-land, and by the year 1000 even sailed to andexplored North America.Swedish Vikings entered present-day Ukraineand Russia and established the city of  Kiev (KEE ef  ). These Vikings called themselves Ros, whichmeans “oarsmen.” This is how Russia got its name.Kiev became a great trading center between theEast and the West and the capital of the first Rus-sian state. In A.D. 989, Vladimir (VLA duh  mir ) I, a Kievan prince, married a Byzantine princess andconverted to eastern Christianity (discussed next). THE BYZANTINE EMPIRE  After the fall of Rome in the 400s, the ByzantineEmpire with its capital in Constantinople (formerlyByzantium) became the main Christian power inthe world. Christianity in the Byzantine Empirewas influenced by Greek culture, so it developeddifferently from Christianity in the west. WesternChristians—who would later call themselvesRoman Catholics—regarded the pope as the onlyleader who could speak for the church. EasternChristians—who would call themselves EasternOrthodox Christians—did not see the pope thatway.The Byzantine emperor  Justinian (  juh STIHnee uhn) ruled from A.D. 527 to 565. Justiniantried to win back most of the lost western empire inItaly, Spain, and North Africa. He was successful,but after his death most of these lands were lostagain—some to the religion Islam (discussedlater). Justinian’s more lasting legacy was a set of important laws called the  Justinian Code. Thiscode was based on Roman laws and became amodel for European lawmakers for centuries.By the time  Basil II became emperor in A.D. 976, the Byzantine Empire (even without thelands it had lost) was experiencing its golden age.Literature and art flourished. The emperor built li-braries, schools, and museums. After Basil’s death in1025, the Byzantine Empire began a long decline. THE RISE OF ISLAM Arabia is the general name given to the largepeninsula in southwest Asia, east of Egypt. Nowa-days, we consider Arabia part of what we call theMiddle East. In A.D. 610, a forty-year-old Arabtrader named Muhammad (mu HAH muhd) saidhe had a visionin which the Archangel Gabriel ap-peared to him and told him to spread the faith of God—in Arabic, Allah. This message and manyothers form the religious book called the  Koran (also spelled Qur’an), from the Arabic verb mean-ing “to read.” Muhammad founded a new religion,Islam. In Arabic, Islam means “surrender to Allah.”Islam stresses the importance of love, equality,and the unity of all Arab people. Believers in Islamconsider Allah the same God worshiped by Chris-tians and Jews and consider Muhammad theprophet of Allah. According to the Koran,Muhammad is the last prophet of God and themessages he received from God are more authori-tative than those received by Moses and Jesus.Islam attracted many followers, called Muslims, and the rulers of Muhammad’s home city, Mecca (ME kuh), felt threatened by his power. Muham-mad and his followers fled to Medina (muh DEEnuh) for their safety in A.D. 622. Their flight wascalled the  Hegira (hih JYE ruh) and marks the first Get Ready! for Social Studies – World History   52   Reproduction of a Viking ship   year of the Muslim calendar. In A.D. 630, a Muslimarmy led by Muhammad captured Mecca. ByMuhammad’s death in A.D. 632, Islam had spreadthroughout Arabia. Today there are more than abillion Muslims throughout the world.AfterMuhammaddied,Muslimreligiousandpo-liticalleaderscalled caliphs conqueredPersianlandsandotherpartsoftoday’sMiddleEastandcentralAsia.TheMuslimarmyalsomarchedonEgyptandLibyainNorthAfrica,conqueringlandsonceheldbytheByzantineemperorJustinian.InA.D.711,theMuslimsinvadedSpain.TheymighthavesucceededinconqueringtherestofwesternEurope,butinA.D.732theFranks,ledby  Charles Martel (marTEL),agreat-grandfatherofCharlemagne,defeatedthematthe  Battle of Poitiers (pwahTYAY)inFrance.TheMuslimsretreatedfromFrancebutre-mainedincontrolofSpainforalmosteighthundred years.ByA.D.751,theMuslimdomainstretchedfrom the borders of France to the edge of China.Although fierce fighters, the Muslims were notcruel conquerors. They did not force conqueredpeoples to adopt their religion and were tolerant of other religions. They built schools, libraries, andgreat universities throughout their growing empire.The Muslims made great advances in mathe-matics—especially in algebra—and medicine. Theyalso produced fine works of literature such as TheRubáiyát (ROO bee aht ), by the twelfth-centuryPersian poet Omar Khayyám ( oh mar kye YAHM),and The Arabian Nights, a collection of stories thatwas produced between the 800s and the 1400s.From the late 700s until the 1200s, the capitalof the Muslim world was  Baghdad (BAG dad ), inpresent-day Iraq. Baghdad had a great mosque, theplace of worship for Muslims, but it also had aninternational flavor, with products from India,Africa, Russia, and China. Baghdad even had apaper mill after merchants learned about paperfrom the Chinese (see next section). Religious EmpiresA.D. 400–1000
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