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Middle AgesThe Early Middle AgesThe Early Middle Age was the period of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire the invasion of the barbarians and the triumph of Christianity The Western Empire was broken up into barbarian kingdoms until Charlemagne was crowned emperor of the West by the pope in 800 In 843 the Treaty of Verdun divided Charlemagne s Frankish Empire among the three sons of Louis I By 900 the empire had fallen apart in a myriad of smaller lordships At the same time the frontiers of Western Europe were being devastated from the North by Vikings from the south by Muslims and from the east by Magyars Although during this period the tribes began to coalesce into kingdoms virtually no government existed political and economic development was local due to the scattered nature of the population Peasants became bound to the land and dependent on landlords for protection and the administration of justice Among the warrior aristocracy the most important social bonds were ties of kingships but feudal connections were also emerging All such connections impeded any tendency toward political consolidation The only universal European institution was the church All power within the church hierarchy was in the hands of the local bishops Opposed to the forces of fragmentation and local development were the tendencies within the church toward standardizing the rite the calendar and the monastic rule Besides such administrative measures the memory of the control of the roman Empire persisted By the 9th century with the rise to power of the Carolingians the beginnings of a new European unity based on the Roman legacy may be found for the political power of the emperor Charlemagne depended on educational reforms that used materials methods and aims from the Roman past Cultural activity during the early Middle Ages consisted primarily in appropriating the knowledge of the past The works of classical authors were copied and annotated Encyclopedic works which
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