The High Middle Ages lasted from about 1000 to 1300 and saw great economic, political, and social change. The period began with the decline of the Carolingian Empire and the rise of feudalism. Political power became more decentralized as rulers granted lands to their followers for military service. This led to the development of powerful noble families who often warred with each other for control of land and resources. Economic activity increased as trade revived and new technologies were developed, such as the windmill and the three-field agriculture system.
Social structure became more complex as cities grew and a new class of merchants and artisans emerged. The High Middle Ages was also a period of religious change. The papacy rose to new prominence, and the first crusades were launched to capture the Holy Land from Muslim rule.
The High Middle Ages was also important to the arts, with the development of Gothic architecture, Romanesque painting, and the beginnings of Renaissance literature. All of these changes helped to create a unique culture that was distinctly different from earlier periods in medieval history.