Medieval Europe was a constant battleground, from petty border disputes to internal power struggles and National rivalries. The Church was as much a competitor as it was a peace keeper. Feudalism, the Roman Catholic Church and the Code of Chivalry provided the framework for the social, political and economic environments of Europe during the Middle Ages. Emphasis was on manor life in the Early Middle ages but shifted to the cities and commercial activities during the later period. Monasteries gave way to Universities as centers of learning.
Medieval art was primarily art of the Church. After the period of migration (AD500 - 800) in which the art was small and personal, the Germanic tribes settled into the old Roman Empire. Intricate and organic designs dominated this period. Later, beautiful illuminated manuscripts as well as relief sculpture was use to instruct an illiterate faithful. Massive Romanesque and then richly ornate Gothic cathedrals with ethereal stain glass windows soared to unbelievable heights. The journey from pessimism and superstition to intellectual and creative revival was reflected in the changing styles of art.