In the Early Middle Ages, depopulation, deurbanization, and barbarian invasions, which began in Late Antiquity, continued. The barbarian invaders formed new kingdoms in the remains of the Western Roman Empire. In the 7th century North Africa and the Middle East, once part of the Eastern Roman Empire (the Byzantine Empire), became an Islamic Empire after conquest by Muhammad's successors. Although there were substantial changes in society and political structures, the break with Antiquity was not complete. The still sizeable Byzantine Empire survived and remained a major power. The empire's law code, the Code of Justinian, was widely admired. In the West, most kingdoms incorporated extant Roman institutions, while monasteries were founded as Christianity expanded in western Europe. The Franks, under the Carolingian dynasty, established an empire covering much of western Europe; the Carolingian Empire endured until the 9th century, when it succumbed to the pressures of invasion — the Vikings from the north; the Magyars from the east, and the Saracens from the south.
During the High Middle Ages, which began after AD 1000, the population of Europe increased greatly as technological and agricultural innovations allowed trade to flourish and crop yields to increase. Manorialism — the organization of peasants into villages that owed rent and labor services to the nobles; and feudalism — the political structure whereby knights and lower-status nobles owed military service to their overlords, in return for the right to rent from lands and manors - were two of the ways society was organized in the High Middle Ages. The Crusades, first preached in 1095, were military attempts, by western European Christians, to regain control of the Middle Eastern Holy Land from the Muslims. Kings became the heads of centralized nation states, reducing crime and violence but making the ideal of a unified Christendom more distant. Intellectual life was marked by scholasticism, a philosophy which emphasized joining faith to reason, and by the founding of universities. The philosophy of Thomas Aquinas, the paintings of Giotto, the poetry of Dante and Chaucer, the travels of Marco Polo, and the architecture of Gothic cathedrals such as Chartres are among the outstanding achievements of this period.
The Byzantine Empire (a historiographical term used since the 19th century) and Eastern Roman Empire are expressions used to describe the Roman Empire of the Middle Ages, centered on its capital of Constantinople, referred to by its inhabitants simply as the Roman Empire (in GreekΒασιλεία Ῥωμαίων) or Romania (Ῥωμανία), its emperors continuing the unbroken succession of Roman emperors, preserving Greco-Roman legal and cultural traditions; to the Islamic world it was known primarily as روم (Rûm, "land of the Romans"). Due to the dominance of Medieval Greek language, culture and population, it was known to many of its western European contemporaries as Empire of the Greeks. As an outgrowth of the eastern portion of Empire founded in Rome, the Byzantine Empire's evolution into a separate culture from the West can be seen as a process beginning with Emperor Constantine's transferring the capital from Nicomedia in Anatolia to Byzantium on the Bosphorus (then renamed Nova Roma, and later Constantinople). By the 7th century under the reign of Emperor Heraclius, whose reforms changed the nature of the Empire's military and recognized Greek as the official language, the Empire had taken on a distinct new character. During its existence the Empire suffered numerous setbacks and losses of territory yet it remained one of the most powerful economic, cultural and military forces in Europe.
Majd ad-Dīn Usāma ibn Murshid ibn ʿAlī ibn Munqidh al-Kināni al-Kalbi (also Usamah, Ousama, etc.; Arabic: أسامة بن منقذ) (July 4, 1095 – November 17, 1188) was a medieval Muslim poet, author, faris (professional warrior), and diplomat from the Banu Munqidh dynasty of Shaizar in northern Syria. His life coincided with the rise of several medieval Muslim dynasties, as well as the arrival of the First Crusade and the establishment of the crusader states.
He was the nephew of the emir of Shaizar and probably expected to rule Shaizar himself, but he was exiled in 1131 and spent the rest of his life serving other leaders. He was a courtier to the Burids, Zengids, and Ayyubids in Damascus, serving the famous Zengi, Nur ad-Din, and Saladin over a period of almost fifty years. He also served the Fatimid court in Cairo, as well as the Artuqids in Hisn Kayfa. He often meddled in the politics of the courts in which he served, and he was exiled from both Damascus and Cairo.
During and immediately after his life he was most famous as a poet and adib (a "man of letters"). He wrote many poetry anthologies, such as the Kitab al-'Asa ("Book of the Staff"), Lubab al-Adab ("Kernels of Refinement"), and al-Manazil wa'l-Diyar ("Dwellings and Abodes"), and collections of his own original poetry. For modern readers, however, he is most well known for his Kitab al-I'tibar ("Book of Learning by Example" or "Book of Contemplation"), which contains lengthy descriptions of the crusaders, whom he interacted with on many occasions, and some of whom he considered friends, although he generally saw them as ignorant foreigners.
Most of his family was killed in an earthquake at Shaizar in 1157. He died in Damascus in 1188, at the age of 93, a remarkably advanced age for the time. (Read more. . .)
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