What Were Some Characteristics of Life in the Middle Ages?

Life during the Middle Ages was characterized by feudalism, power of the Catholic church and war between Christianity and Islam. People who lived during these times also had to deal with unsanitary conditions and rampant disease.

People during the Middle Ages lived in a feudal society, a class system where a few members such as bishops and noblemen were granted tracts of land, also known as fiefs, by the king and the peasants or serfs worked the land. Although feudalism was a part of everyday life throughout the medieval centuries, it shifted a bit toward the end of the era with fewer people working the land due to agricultural advancements and more people moving toward urban areas.

The Catholic church was another reality of life during the Middle Ages. It wielded a great deal of power and united people across borders and countries. People paid a tithing to the church regularly. Islam rose along with Christianity, resulting in the Crusades over the Holy Land that lasted over two centuries. Despite the conflict between the two belief systems, the Crusades brought the science and technology of Islamic states to medieval Europe.

The Middle Ages were also characterized by unsanitary practices such as dumping chamber pots into streets that spread disease and polluted water sources. Disease including the plague and smallpox ran rampant among populations.