Medieval Government - Europe in Medieval Times
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Medieval Government

Palazzo Vecchio
Palazzo Vecchio, where Florence's government
met (Florence, Italy, 1200s AD)

April 2016 - In the Middle Ages, Europe was divided into many different states. Each state had its own system of government. Some of these, like Denmark, Spain, France or England, were monarchies, and had kings or caliphs to rule them. There were also two empires: the Eastern Roman Empire in Eastern Europe and the Holy Roman Empire that ruled most of Germany and Italy. Some parts of northern Italy were independent city-states with a republican government like ancient Rome.

The main problem with all of these governments was that the kings and emperors of the Middle Ages weren't very powerful. They tried to tell their subjects what to do, but a lot of the time their subjects just said "No" and didn't pay any attention. The western European governments used feudalism to help the king keep control, but often this just caused more problems. In Italian republics like Florence and Genoa, there were a lot of civil wars, when one side wouldn't accept the decision of the majority vote and they fought each other.

Learn by doing: Medieval Europe game
More about feudalism

Bibliography and further reading about the Middle Ages:

More about feudalism
Crafts and Projects on the Middle Ages
More about the Middle Ages
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Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
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