The 11th century began on January 1, 1001 and ended on December 31, 1100. The world population in this century is estimated at 250 to 350 million people. In Europe, a religious reform movement led to the strengthening of the papacy, whose claims to rule collided with those of the emperor in the investiture dispute . At the end of the century, the conquest of Muslim-controlled territories on the Iberian Peninsula ( Reconquista ) and the capture of Jerusalem through the first crusade were religiously legitimized. In contrast, the Normans justified their conquests of England and southern Italy primarily on the basis of power politics.
The Muslim Seljuks conquered an area from Central Asia to Anatolia. The loss of territory in Anatolia permanently weakened the Byzantine Empire. On the Indian subcontinent, the Chola Empire rose to become a powerful regional and maritime power. China made great technical and economic advances under the Song Dynasty .
The European rulers can be grouped according to the dominant religious orientation. Northern, western and central Europe were shaped by Roman Catholic Christianity. The largest and most powerful empire in this region, also known as the West, was the Roman-German Empire in the center of Europe. Eastern and Southeastern Europe were shaped by Orthodox Christian empires, of which the Byzantine Empire dominated the region politically and culturally. There were Muslim empires in the Iberian Peninsula and Sicily, while ethnic religions still dominated in some areas of northeastern Europe .
Religious Reform Movements in Western Europe
11th century society was very religious. In Western Europe, Christian monasteries and church officials were heavily involved in the political order. In all empires, especially in the Holy Roman Empire, secular rulers exercised significant influence over the filling of church offices. Several popes also took office in the first half of the century on the initiative of the emperors, who saw themselves as representatives of God on earth.
On the other hand, some aristocrats had been promoting a movement towards monastic reform since the 10th century, which had originated from Cluny Abbey . This countered the neglect of religious practice in the monasteries with the strict observance of the Benedictine Rule . Furthermore, secular authorities demanded the independence of the monasteries. Some monastery reformers were also important supporters of the church reforms of the 11th century , which aimed at clarifying the contents of the faith, standardizing the practice of faith and making church institutions independent of secular violence. Following these goals, the reformers enforced the obligation of the clergy to lead a celibate life and outlawed the purchase of church offices called simony .
In the second half of the century, the papacy quickly fought for independence from emperors and city Romans. An important step was the stipulation in the papal election decree that in future the popes would only be elected by cardinals . The Catholic Church developed into a Europe-wide hierarchically structured organization headed by the Pope. In the Dictatus Papae, Pope Gregory VII documented the Pope's claim to leadership not only over the Church, but also over the entire Christian world. This demand led to conflicts with various rulers of Europe, which is also known as the investiture dispute . The conflict with Henry IV , King of the Holy Roman Empire, escalated the most. King and Pope declared each other deposed. In addition , the Pope excommunicated Heinrich, who was the first excommunicated Roman-German king. The conflict was not finally resolved in this century, despite the walk to Canossa . Even if the problem of the appointment of bishops was settled with the Worms Concordat in 1122, the power-political disputes between popes and emperors also shaped the following centuries. Overall, the church reform movement of the 11th century set in motion a centuries-long process that turned the Christian churches in Europe into institutions separate from the state.
The vehemently postulated priority claim of the popes reinforced the separation between the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches , which had gained in self-confidence with the Orthodox missionary work in Russia and the Balkans. The so-called Oriental Schism of 1054 was a milestone in the centuries-long separation process between the two Christian churches.
A more powerful and much more centralized Christian church began to religiously justify wars against people of other faiths. However, the Pope's call to the crusade at the end of the century was followed by the crusaders for both spiritual and secular motives. Before the First Crusade departed mainly French knights with their followers and conquered Jerusalem, a rogue of the official church formed People's Crusade of the rural poor in northern France and Lorraine. In the course of this failed crusade, the first Jewish pogroms of the Middle Ages occurred .
The Holy Roman Empire
In the first half of the century the Holy Roman Empire was ruled by three powerful emperors. After the last Ottoman Emperor Henry II. Was Konrad II. By the nobility for the first king of the Salian raised dynasty. He extended the empire by inheritance to include the Kingdom of Burgundy .
In Henry III's self-image and the exercise of power , the son and successor of Konrad, developments reached their climax which began with the Ottonians of the previous century. Albeit with a different focus, they clearly shaped the rule of his two predecessors in office. Henry III. saw himself not only as the highest worldly ruler, but also as the representative of Jesus Christ on earth. In enforcing his rule, he took little care of a compromise with the nobility, as his father Konrad II did and it corresponded to the sense of justice of the nobility. Like his predecessors, he filled almost all the episcopal offices of the empire with his faithful, increased the possession of the dioceses and based his government activities primarily on the bishops and their resources. In this context, historians speak of the Ottonian-Salian imperial church system . In the last years of his life before his death in 1056, his authoritarian style of rule met with increasing opposition from both secular nobles and church representatives.
But only his son Heinrich IV got into a far-reaching conflict with both the Pope and an opposition aristocracy who accused him of tyrannical power politics. Heinrich was able to revise his excommunication by going to Canossa , but he was unable to prevent the first appointment of a Roman-German counter-king . Heinrich only regained his power after his death in the battle of Hohenmölsen . The conflict had far-reaching consequences for the rule structure of the empire. The following kings were often opposed by a self-confident nobility. They could also rely much less on the bishops and abbots in the empire. They increasingly legitimized their rule with secular arguments.
Western and Northern Europe
The French Kingdom stretched west of the Holy Roman Empire. In the 10th and 11th centuries, the French kings were confined to their core area in the Île-de-France . This crown domain was about a tenth that of the kingdom. The remaining parts were ruled by around a dozen large crown vassals, over which the king had only nominal suzerainty. Like the monarch in his crown domain, the other crown vassals were also able to establish a central position of power within their territories. In the 11th century, contacts between France and the Holy Roman Empire, both of which had emerged from the Franconian Empire , declined sharply.
In 1016 the Danish King Canute the Great conquered England. He ruled England in personal union with large parts of Scandinavia. However, this North Sea region collapsed under his successors shortly after his death in 1035. With the Norman conquest by William the Conqueror , England experienced a fundamental political and social upheaval. His victory in the Battle of Hastings in 1066 was followed by an extensive exchange of secular and ecclesiastical leadership. A hierarchical feudal system was established and numerous castles were built in the country. Compared to the rest of Europe, the Normans took over an administrative and tax system that was well developed from their predecessors. To increase tax revenue, the king carried out the so-called Domesday Book, an unprecedented statistical survey of the property of his subjects for this time. Although the English and French monarchs came into conflict with the reform popes, this did not escalate as much as that with the Roman-German king.
The Italian and Iberian Peninsula
Another Norman group conquered Muslim-ruled Sicily and Christian southern Italy in the 11th century. The Norman conquest of southern Italy was a process that lasted almost the entire century and ended with the rule of the brothers Roger I and Robert Guiskard . During the conquest of southern Italy, the Normans found themselves exposed to the various interests of the popes as well as the Byzantine and Roman-German emperors in this region. Apart from the replacement of the top elite, there were no major changes for the population, half of which was Muslim in Sicily.
In the 11th century, four Italian cities, Venice , Genoa , Pisa and Amalfi were powerful naval powers. On the basis of their economic successes, they also asserted their political interests with their powerful military fleets.
Another borderline between Christian-ruled northern territories and Muslim-ruled southern territories ran on the Iberian Peninsula. At the beginning of the century, the Caliphate of Cordoba, which ruled the center and south of the peninsula, collapsed due to ethnic tensions. Numerous small Taifa kingdoms emerged from the central empire . The Taifas tried on the one hand to expand their power through culture and magnificence and on the other hand through military campaigns. Until the 1070s, there were numerous interreligious coalitions between individual Christian kingdoms in the north and individual Taifas. After that, the Christian reform movement in northern Spain quickly gained supporters. As a result, Christian Spain adopted many elements of the culture of the rest of Europe and the Church submitted to the immediate rule of Rome. However, only with the crusade movement in the last decade was the recapture of the Muslim territories, also known as the Reconquista , strongly religiously legitimized.
The Christian empires at the end of the century took advantage of the small size of the taifas to gain large territorial gains. The conquest of the city of Toledo had the greatest symbolic power. The Taifas brought the North African Almoravids into the country for their military support . This group represented a dogmatically rigid Sunni Islam and quickly came into conflict with the Taifa population, who interpreted Islam in a much more liberal manner. By the end of the century, the taifas were successively conquered either by the Christian north or by the Almoravids.
Eastern Europe, Southeastern Europe and Byzantium
The aim of the Polish kings was to preserve the independence of the Polish kingdom. They led multiple disputes with the Roman-German Empire and the Kievan Rus . Despite Polish attempts at conquest, the Czech Republic remained an independent part of the Holy Roman Empire.
The Kievan Rus was a loose federation of Slavic territories that stretched from the eastern Baltic Sea to Kiev. Long-distance trade flourished under Yaroslav the Wise, and with it the cities on the great rivers. The Russians cultivated economic and political contacts both with Europe and with Byzantium. Based on the economic strength, the Sophia Cathedrals of Kiev and Novgorod were built, whose architectural style was based on Byzantium. In the seniority principle introduced by Yaroslav , according to which the grand dukes inherited their office, lay the germ that led to the collapse of the empire in the 12th century.
At the beginning of the century, the Byzantine Empire conquered the entire Balkans, so that when Emperor Basil II died in 1025 Byzantium extended from the Balkan Peninsula to Syria, including several Mediterranean islands and parts of southern Italy. In relation to the time after the Islamic expansion of the 7th century, the politically stable Byzantium reached the height of its power. At the end of the century the empire was much weaker, having lost large parts of Asia Minor and its territories in southern Italy.
After the death of the childless Basilius, the Macedonian dynasty could no longer establish a long-term stable imperial rule. Rapid changes of office holder weakened the central imperial power. Already in the past centuries the nobility and the church had begun to acquire larger and larger estates. Not only did they pay less taxes, they also reduced the number of independent soldier farmers. This meant that the Byzantine army was increasingly dependent on mercenaries. In order to raise funds for this, the emperors weakened the value of the Byzantine currency in the middle of the century. The solidus , previously one of the most important leading currencies in Europe and the Mediterranean, lost a large part of its reputation, especially abroad, by the end of the century. This had a lasting negative effect on Byzantine power and economic strength.
In the second half of the century in particular, the Byzantine army faced numerous new external enemies of the empire. The Normans were able to completely drive the Byzantines out of Italy in 1071. However, the Byzantine army repulsed their attacks on the western Balkan Peninsula. The eastern Balkans were threatened by the nomadic Pechenegs who had expanded from western Siberia towards the Balkans. Byzantium was able to repel this threat to its territories through a military victory in 1091.
The reactions of the Byzantines to their defeat against the Muslim Seljuks in the Battle of Manzikert in 1071 proved to be particularly momentous. Pursuing their own goals, aristocratic families undermined the agreements made after the battle and thus provided the Seljuks with the pretext to occupy Anatolia and the Sultanate there to establish the Rum Seljuks . Only the second Komnenen Emperor Alexios I was able to stabilize the rest of the Byzantine territory. However, the crusaders who reached the Byzantine capital Constantinople at his request for help did not put themselves in his service as hoped, but pursued their own interests. They established independent crusader empires in the Levant .
Domination, society, economy and culture
The conditions in Europe in the 11th century were very different from region to region. In spite of its regional diversity, Western Europe with its feudal, Roman-Catholic structure also had numerous similarities and thus clearly distinguished itself from Byzantium and Muslim Europe.
Agriculture was the dominant industry. Due to a favorable climate and a peaceful time in contrast to the previous centuries, agricultural production increased. The three-field farming method, known since the 8th century , has now been used in many new territories. In addition to this methodological improvement, technical innovations such as the reversible plow, the collar and the horseshoeing of horses were also widely used. In addition to these yield-increasing factors in existing areas, there was the expansion of agricultural areas through intensive clearing activities.
The significant increase in agricultural yields led to a sharp reduction in famine and enabled broad population growth. This led to settlement densification, with villages becoming cities and existing cities growing. Only in the French empire were there more new city foundations in this century. Despite this urban growth, the cities of the West lagged behind the cities of other parts of the world in terms of complexity and size. Particularly in northern Italy, but also on the Rhine, the citizens of some cities began to fight for independent rights from the high nobility. In contrast to the following centuries, however, the cities were still integrated into aristocratic rulers and were not a dominant factor. In Western and Central Europe, the village began to become a decisive structural element. It summarized previously scattered farming settlements. Regulations for village coexistence and the use of community fields were created.
In western Europe in the 11th century, the money economy became more and more important. The increasing demand for coins due to expanding domestic trade was satisfied by newly opened silver mines. Iron production also increased significantly. The introduction of the horizontal loom helped the textile trade in Flanders and Champagne achieve previously unknown productivity. Furthermore, the boom in church building led to an upswing in the building trade.
Supported by the church reform movement and favored by the economic upswing and relative political stability, a building boom in stone churches began in the West. These churches, such as the Speyer Cathedral and the Abbey Church of Cluny , which were significantly larger than the churches of previous centuries, were built in the Romanesque style . This architectural style was based on the Roman construction method and adapted it to temporal needs and tastes. It is characterized by thick walls, round arches and cube capitals. Towards the end of the century, a structural innovation was realized in Central Europe with the use of the ribbed vault for roof construction. The church buildings were increasingly decorated with monumental sculptures. Like the sculptures, book and wall painting very often depict religious content. They are characterized by a high level of symbolism, which leaves little room for a lifelike depiction.
In Western Europe, people reflected on the structure of society for the first time in the Middle Ages. Three groups were identified that differed from one another in their function for society, the fighting nobility, the clergy and the peasants. Kings, secular nobility, bishops and abbots formed the leading elite in Europe. The land belonged to the elite either as own property or as a fief. Real estate was not only the most important economic resource, but often established rights to rule over the population who lived on it. The land was worked on by farmers who were dependent on the landlords. The earlier differences between free and unfree peasants leveled out to such an extent that one speaks of a uniform peasant class. There were many different forms of dependency relationships between peasants and landed property throughout Europe.
It became increasingly important for noble families to rule over closed territories. It did not necessarily depend on the fact that they legally belonged to them, but on the fact that they could exercise jurisdiction over them, be it as enfeoffed vassals or bailiffs . The king, secular aristocrats and the Church of the Holy Roman Empire increasingly used ministerials , unfree servants, primarily to administer parts of their territories, but also for military service . The core of the German knights developed from them . But the knights did not form a closed group as they did in the late Middle Ages.
Some church reformers wanted to understand Christian doctrine better with the help of reason. This is how Anselm von Canterbury formulated ideas that established the decisive philosophical direction of the Middle Ages, scholasticism .
The Empire of the Fatimids
A strip of land that stretched from the south of the Iberian Peninsula, across North Africa and the Middle East to Central Asia, was ruled by Muslims. At the beginning of the century, large parts of North Africa were under the rule of the caliphs of the Fatimid dynasty. This was based in Cairo, Egypt, while the Zirid family ruled Ifrīqiya , west of Egypt, for them . In the middle of the century, three developments changed the northwest of the African continent. First of all, the Zirids broke away from the Fatimids and switched from the Shiite to the Sunni denomination. Then Muslim nomads, the Arab Banū Hilāl , moved from Upper Egypt to northwest Africa and displaced numerous indigenous Berber tribes from the plateaus and flat coastal regions into the mountains of the Maghreb . With the immigration of the Banu Hilal, the Arab population in the region increased considerably. The nomads destroyed Qairawān , the most important city in northwest Africa, large parts of the region's agriculture and other economic resources. This weakened it both politically and economically. This weakness helped the Almoravids to conquer the Maghreb from the western Sahara. From this base they then conquered the south of the Iberian Peninsula. The Almoravids propagated a dogmatically rigid Sunni Islam, which they violently spread.
The Egyptian Fatimids ruled the most powerful Muslim empire of the 11th century. At the beginning of the century it comprised large parts of North Africa, Palestine and Syria. At times they were subordinate to the Sherif of Mecca and Medina, the holy places of the Muslims. The loss of Ifriqiya in the middle of the century was more than offset by gaining control of Yemen. The Fatimids, Shiite Ismaili caliphs, were in opposition to the Sunni Abbasid caliphs of Baghdad and the secular dynasties of the Buyids and Seljuks who supported them throughout the century . They lost parts of Syria to the latter at the end of the century.
The economic strength of the Fatimid Empire was based on the fact that both Egypt and Yemen were hubs for sea trade with Central and East Asia and Europe. For trade between Europe and the Muslim world, the trade routes between the Italian sea trading cities and Egypt were of central importance. Products from productive agriculture and high-quality textile production in Egypt were in just as much international demand as the mineral alums extracted there .
Although the rulers of Egypt belonged to Shiite Ismaili Islam and strongly promoted this direction of Islam, the majority of Muslims were Sunnis. Coptic Christians also made up a large proportion of the population. With the exception of the first quarter of the century, when the rulers used violence against Christians and Jews, the coexistence of religions was largely peaceful.
The expansion of the Turkic peoples
In Central Asia, at the end of the 10th century, Turkish clans and tribes that had converted to Islam by that time came into the inheritance of the Persian Samanid Empire. The beginning of the 11th century was marked by the conquests of two important ruling dynasties, the Karakhanids and the Ghaznavids . The last were former military slaves who conquered large territory from Ghazni , a city in what is now eastern Afghanistan. At the height of their power in the 1030s, this ranged from central Persia to the city of Lahore in what is now East Pakistan. Based on their strong army, they carried out regular raids to northern India as far as the Ganges plain. Due to the defeat against the Seljuks in the Battle of Dandanqan in 1040, they lost their western territory but were able to maintain their power in what is now eastern Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The Qarakhanid had towards the end of the 10th century their original territory, which from the Tarim Basin to the River Irtysh , enough to Transoxiana extended. This empire was divided into a western and an eastern empire in 1042/43, with the western empire being subordinate to the eastern empire. In 1072 the western empire in particular came under the suzerainty of the Seljuks. The Qarakhanid rulers ruled as Seljuk vassals in the following decades.
The Islamic-Turkish Seljuks began their triumphal march in 1040 with their victory over the Ghaznavids, whom they had fought for years. Starting from the Karakum desert , they moved west and conquered the Buyid Empire , who ruled over an area from the Levant to eastern Persia. The victory in the Battle of Manzikert against Byzantium enabled the Seljuks to permanently occupy large parts of Byzantine Anatolia. Even if the empire was of considerable size, it was only a loose association of units with a high degree of autonomy. After the death of their ruler Malik Shah I in 1092, the empire split into various regional rulers . They had their rule legitimized by the caliphs in Baghdad. The disintegration of the entire Seljuq empire from the 1090s onwards was encouraged by the institutions of the military fiefdom , Iqta , and the prince educator, Atabeg . Both groups, the feudal recipients and the prince educators, were able to establish local territorial rule on the basis of the sovereignty rights transferred to them.
While the caliph, like the Buyids, was the supreme authority of religious doctrine, the Seljuks exercised real political and military rule. As sultans , they saw themselves as secular rulers who also had the mandate to enforce Islam. That is why they tried to enforce the Sunni direction of Islam against the Shiites. To this end, they established the institution of the madrasa in the Islamic world . The establishment of some of these theological colleges by the sultans was followed by numerous private establishments by officials of the empire. The promotion of Sunni Islam by the rulers, however, left room for a largely peaceful coexistence of Sunnis and Shiites, as their common enemy was the Ismaili Islam of the Fatimid caliphs.
The Seljuks were nomads who mostly encountered a sedentary population in the conquered areas. The different ways of living and doing business were a constant source of conflict between the population groups. The Turkic peoples prevailed particularly in regions suitable for their nomadic way of life. The administration of the empire, headed by a vizier , was carried out by the rulers of old, mostly Persian elites. The Seljuks promoted Persian culture and literature. Persian architecture, handicrafts and literature flourished among them.
The Indian subcontinent was ruled by regional empires. The strongest among them was the southern Indian empire of the Chola . The kings Rajaraja I and Rajendra I continued the expansion course that had begun in the 10th century and conquered large parts of southern and eastern India, the Maldives and Sri-Lanka. Bengal and what is now Myanmar were also part of the Chola’s influence. The aim of the Chola was to get as large a share as possible of the maritime Asian trade. To do this, they used diplomacy, especially with China, and the power of their war fleet, with which they intervened in Southeast Asia.
The trade itself was carried out by powerful traders' guilds who used autonomous trading centers, emporia on the East Indian coast but also in Southeast Asia, or had self-governing bodies in large cities. The guilds employed their own craftsmen and mercenary troops.
The Chola Empire was ruled by Hindu kings. The temples they built, such as the Brihadishvara temple in Thanjavur , which was completed around 1012 , were used to legitimize the rule of kings religiously. For the same purposes as with the Chola, several imperial temples were created on the Indian subcontinent in the 11th century, which exceeded the size of previous temples many times over. The kings each played a central role in the religious rite, which could go as far as the sons of God. The temples financed the temple operations with the proceeds from their large estates. The Indian kings gave land to brahmins , members of the highest priestly caste, settling them evenly on their territory and thus securing their power against local forces.
In contrast to the prosperous south, the northern Indian areas suffered from the attacks of the Ghaznavids. During their raids in the first half of the century, they stole large amounts of valuables and destroyed a considerable part of the infrastructure. The north Indian regions could not recover from these economic losses until the 12th century.
politics and society
In the 11th century, China, ruled by the Song Dynasty , was East Asia's leading empire in cultural, economic and technological terms. In terms of area, it was much smaller than the empire of the previous Tang Dynasty and today's China was surrounded by militarily and politically equal states. The most powerful neighbor was from the Liao Dynasty ruled kingdom of Kitan . In 1005, the Song settled a 25-year border war with their northern neighbors. As a price for peace, China committed itself to regular extensive tribute payments to the Kitan, which the Chinese emperors considered more sensible than the higher costs of warfare. In addition to the tributes, the Liao dynasty was recognized as equivalent and thus diplomatically greatly upgraded. The Chinese imperial family also ended a year-long war with the northwestern XiXia Empire through a peace treaty that was signed in 1042, which was also associated with Chinese tribute payments to the neighbors. Furthermore, the Chinese waged a long war with their southern neighbors without any lasting success for either side.
The Song emperors built their rule on a hierarchical bureaucratic apparatus headed by the emperor. Access to civil servant posts was to a significant extent through audits. The examination system was open to most strata, but the majority of candidates who passed the civil service examination received strong financial support that only wealthy families could afford. The civil servants were the bearers of a centralist state bureaucracy that tried to control the increasingly heterogeneous society. By participating in the economic upswing, it had more funds at its disposal than in all centuries before. At the regional and local levels, however, the imperial officials' resources to which they had direct access were limited. Here the officials were dependent on the help of the local elite, mostly large landowners. These were the providers of local infrastructure, such as schools, social institutions and cultural funding. Due to their property rights, the large landowners also had a large part of the executive power over their tenants, whose freedom they could severely restrict.
Economy, technology and culture
There was a spirit of optimism in Song China in the 11th century. During this period the economic growth of the past centuries continued. This process was characterized by a significant increase in production and diversification of agriculture, favored by the mild climate of the time. Other hallmarks were an increase in population, an increase in trade, and the emergence and growth of cities.
80% of the Chinese lived in the south, particularly in the Yangtze River Delta and the coastal regions. The rice cultivation practiced here could feed four times as many people as the grain cultivation in the north. As in previous centuries, in addition to the larger reservoir of labor, the use of new techniques, such as the perfecting of wet farming, the use of new types of rice and the application of fertilizers, was the driving force behind agricultural development. In addition, there was the use of pumps and the use of mills and threshing machines. These funds made it possible not only to increase the yield of existing areas, but also to use areas that were previously not economically viable. To promote the economy, the Song Dynasty designated additional agricultural land, redistributed the tax burden and implemented infrastructure measures such as the construction of canals and dams. Large agricultural surpluses favored specialization. This required the expansion of trade and a market-oriented economy emerged.
The merchandise and money economy gained in importance, which was reflected in the strong expansion of coinage. The annual emission of bronze coins, which even quadrupled in the 1970s, was accompanied by a strong expansion in copper production. In addition to copper, coal was increasingly mined through privately operated mining. This was needed for iron production in blast furnaces, which was by far the largest in the world at that time. Metals were exported on a larger scale, increasingly in the form of coins. In addition to silk, ceramics were an important export good, a large part of which was produced in bulk for this purpose only. Export was an important source of income for the state, both through foreign trade monopolies and through tariffs paid by free traders. The previously heavily regulated foreign trade was liberalized in 1090, which opened up new opportunities for Chinese traders in particular. Inland trade, for which transport on rivers and canals was of central importance, also increased over the course of the century. State regulation from the 1070s onwards had a stimulating effect on trade.
An important shipbuilding industry manufactured ocean-going ships for maritime export, which were technically improved. Chinese traders traveled as far as India on their ships. The seafaring was supported by technical developments such as the compass. Considerable progress was also made in other areas of science and technology, so that the level of knowledge in almost all areas was significantly greater than that of Europe at the same time. The main driving force behind progress was the elite's interest in governing an increasingly complex society. The knowledge was gained on the basis of experience and observations. However, there was little interest in developing abstract scientific theories.
Population growth and the more effective and diversified economy resulted in the number and size of cities growing. The Chinese were the most urbanized society in the world in the 11th century. The largest city in the world, Kaifeng, whose population exceeded millions, was in China. In contrast to the cities of the Tang period, the structure of the cities was open, which allowed unrestricted mobility between the city districts. They were home to a variety of different establishments, including entertainment districts.
The bearers of the culture were the imperial court and local elites, mostly large landowners. They often promoted versatile universal geniuses who achieved exceptional achievements in several areas of art and science. On the one hand, idealized monumental landscapes were popular in painting. On the other hand, there were large images of everyday scenes that were implemented very accurately and realistically.
Korea and Japan
The Goryeo , which ruled a large part of the Korean peninsula, was able to repel the attacks of its northern neighbor Kitan , which he carried out in the first half of the century. From 1040 onwards, the traditional clans regained increasing influence over the imperial family.
Japan was de facto ruled by the Fujiwara family. The Japanese emperors were the heads of the country, but in reality they were deprived of all power and had to allow the Fujiwara to rule for them. In 1087, however, Emperor Shirakawa abdicated in favor of his son and withdrew from court to a Buddhist monastery. There he created a power base that weakened the Fujiwara family and the Japanese court. He thus established a tradition of ex-emperors who competed with the Japanese court. They often allied themselves with the Japanese warrior nobility based in the provinces, who were able to further expand their position in this century.
Despite the tensions associated with the weakening of the family, the work Genji Monogatari (The Story of Prince Genji) , written by a lady-in-waiting , was one of the most important works of Japanese literature. At court and in monasteries, the Chinese script was further developed into Japanese script.
Southeast Asian Empires
Southeast Asia was divided into great empires on the mainland, of which Bagan in the west, Angkor , and Champa in the east were the most important, and maritime empires centered on the islands, of which the Srivijaya Empire was the most powerful.
King Anawrahta conquered the territories of the Mon and ruled from Bagan an area that largely corresponded to today's Myanmar . With the construction of the Ananda Temple in the 1090s, his Buddhist successor set in motion an extensive building boom in Buddhist buildings in the empire, which would not end until 200 years later.
The Khmer kings of the neighboring Angkor Empire continued their tradition of temple building politics in this century. This should support the rulers. The establishment of the Western Baray , an approximately 17 km² reservoir , also had a predominantly symbolic function . Agriculture, which was irrigated by a large elaborately built system of canals, reservoirs and watercourses, gave the empire large surpluses. Angkor was also connected to the coast by waterways, which enabled it to be integrated into the Southeast Asian sea trade. Based on these economic resources, the Khmer extended their empire to what is now central and southern Thailand.
- 1024 : With the election of Conrad II as King of the Holy Roman Empire , the rule of the Salier dynasty begins .
- 1054 : The Oriental Schism is an important step in the process of dividing Christianity into Orthodox and Catholic Churches.
- 1066 : The victory at the Battle of Hastings was a key success in the conquest of England by the Normans under William the Conqueror .
- 1077 : With the walk to Canossa , Heinrich IV achieved the lifting of his excommunication by the Pope.
- 1085 : Alfonso VI. conquered Toledo , located in the middle of the Iberian Peninsula, from the Moors .
- 1095 : Pope Urban II called for the First Crusade .
The Muslim world
- 1009 : The Fatimid caliph al-Hākim had the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem destroyed.
- 1040 : In the battle of Dandanqan , the Seljuks defeated the Ghaznavids and then began their great campaign of conquest.
- 1055 : With the conquest of Baghdad, the Seljuks overthrew the Buyid dynasty and established themselves as protectors of the Abbasid caliphate .
- 1071 : In the battle of Manzikert , the Seljuks defeated the army of the Byzantine Empire
- 1099 : The Crusaders of the First Crusade conquered Jerusalem .
- 1016 : Fall of the Jewish Khazar Empire on the north bank of the Caspian Sea.
- 1023 : With a successful fleet expedition against the Srivijaya Empire , the Chola established themselves as a Southeast Asian trading power.
- 1087 : The Japanese Emperor Shirakawa abdicated in favor of his son. Then he founded the institution of ex-emperors, which competed with the Japanese court.
- Pope Gregory VII was the first pope to postulate that the popes had priority over other spiritual and secular powers.
- In the investiture dispute with the Pope, Emperor Heinrich IV fought for the emperor's primacy in the appointment of bishops.
- King William the Conqueror , conquered England and established the feudal system of rule of the English Middle Ages.
- Anselm of Canterbury is considered the first great scholastic, the predominant philosophical direction of the Middle Ages.
- Emperor Basil II led the Central Byzantine Empire to its peak of power.
- Sultan Tughrul Beg led the expansion of the Seljuq Empire
- Ibn Sina ( Avicenna ) was a Persian polymath whose canon of medicine held a prominent position in medical teaching and practice in the Muslim world as well as in Western Europe in the centuries that followed.
- King Rajendra I contributed significantly to the expansion of the Chola empire.
- Gudrun Krämer : History of Islam . Verlag CH Beck, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-406-53516-X .
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