Toward a New World Order
During the Middle Ages, Europeans dramatically enlarged the boundaries of the Christian world through travel, trade, exploration, and conquest. But Europe’s remarkable powers of expansion developed very slowly after the fall of Rome. By about 1,000 c e , the social fabric of Europe was transformed by knights who established landed estates based on their military power and control over formerly free laborers. Peasants, who lived in an uncertain world of famine, disease, and violence, had little choice but to support the clerics who prayed for them and the warriors who pledged to protected them. Inse curity and fear ruled their lives, and their existence was marginal at best.