A mosaic of small states
Around the year 1000, Europe was formed by many
kingdoms and independent states: the kingdom of France, the Holy
Roman Empire, the kingdoms and earldoms in the Iberian Peninsula,
the Papal states, the Slavic countries, the kingdom of Hungary,
the Scandinavian territories and the British and Irish
Europe in the year 1000
Despite this political, linguistic and cultural diversity,
there were some elements which gave unity to the European continent:
Religion and the written culture. The religion
practised throughout the continent was Christianity and books and
official documents were written in Latin.
Trade, by which communication and exchange between
the north and the south was possible.
The same social structure, based on the separation
between lords and peasants.
Difficult living conditions
The living conditions of the European population around the
year 1000 were very tough. Life expectancy was short and those who
surpassed the age of 40 were regarded as old people.
Mortality was very high. Wars were numerous,
diseases were frequent and there were no efficient remedies to fight them. The
population lived on the products they cultivated and any disaster -such
as droughts and floods- caused great famine.
More than half of the newborn children died before
their first year and many women died in childbirth.
During the 9th and 10th centuries, the European
continent was the target of new waves of invaders.
• The Normans or Vikings originated in Scandinavia
and settled in the British Isles and Atlantic coasts.
• The Magyars from the steppes created a kingdom in
• The Slavs, from the Russian plains, settled in
eastern Europe and the Balkans.
Pillage was frequent and made life unsafe. During this
time, Saracen (Arab or Muslim) and Norman pirates attacked the
entire European continent. Thieves dominated the roadways.
In the Middle Ages, people were superstitious and
regarded disasters as acts of the devil or God’s punishments. Some people
predicted that the problems happening in the 9th and 10th centuries implied
the end of the world, which would take place in the year 1000.