In European history, the 11th century is regarded as the beginning of the High Middle Ages, an age subsequent to the Early Middle Ages. The century began while the translatio imperii of 962 was still somewhat novel and ended in the midst of the Investiture Controversy. It saw the final Christianisation of Scandinavia and the emergence of the Peace and Truce of God movements, the Gregorian Reforms, and the Crusades which revitalised a church and a papacy that had survived tarnished by the tumultuous 10th century. In 1054, the Great Schism rent the church in two, however.
In Germany, the century was marked by the ascendancy of the Holy Roman Emperors, who hit their high-water mark under the Salians.
In Italy, it opened with the integration of the kingdom into the empire and the royal palace at Pavia was summoned in 1024. By the end of the century, Lombard and Byzantine rule in the Mezzogiorno had been usurped by the Normans and the power of the territorial magnates was being replaced by that of the citizens of the cities in the north.
In Britain, it saw the transformation of Scotland into a single, more unified and centralised kingdom and the Norman conquest of England in 1066. The social transformations wrought in these lands brought them into the fuller orbit of European feudal politics.
In France, it saw the nadir of the monarchy and the zenith of the great magnates, especially the dukes of Aquitaine and Normandy, who could thus foster such distinctive contributions of their lands as the pious warrior who conquered Britain, Italy, and the East and the impious peacelover, the troubadour, who crafted out of the European vernacular its first great literary themes. There were also the first figures of the intellectual movement known as Scholasticism, which emphasized dialectic arguments in disputes of Christian theology as well as classical philosophy.
In Spain, the century opened with the successes of the last caliphs of Córdoba and ended in the successes of the Almoravids. In between was a period of Christian unification under Navarrese hegemony and success in the Reconquista against the taifa kingdoms that replaced the fallen caliphate.
In China, there was a triangular affair of continued war and peace settlements between the Song dynasty, the Tanguts-led Western Xia in the northwest, and the Khitans of the Liao dynasty in the northeast. Meanwhile, opposing political factions evolved at the Song imperial court of Kaifeng. The political reformers at court, called the New Policies Group (新法, Xin Fa), were led by Emperor Shenzong of Song and the Chancellors Fan Zhongyan and Wang Anshi, while the political conservatives were led by Chancellor Sima Guang and Empress Dowager Gao, regent of the young Emperor Zhezong of Song. Heated political debate and sectarian intrigue followed, while political enemies were often dismissed from the capital to govern frontier regions in the deep south where malaria was known to be very fatal to northern Chinese people (see History of the Song dynasty). This period also represents a high point in classical Chinese science and technology, with figures such as Su Song and Shen Kuo, as well as the age where the matured form of the Chinese pagoda was accomplished in Chinese architecture.
In India, the Chola Dynasty reached its height of naval power under leaders such as Rajaraja Chola I and Rajendra Chola I, dominating southern India (Tamil Nadu), Sri Lanka, and regions of South East Asia. They also sent raids into what is now Thailand.
In Japan, the Fujiwara clan dominated central politics by acting as imperial regents, controlling the actions of the Emperor of Japan, who acted merely as a 'puppet monarch' during the Heian period.
In the Middle East, the Fatimid Empire of Egypt reached its zenith only to face steep decline, much like the Byzantine Empire in the first half of the century. The Seljuks came to prominence while the Abbasid caliphs held traditional titles without real, tangible authority in state affairs.
In Nigeria, formation of city states, kingdoms and empires, including Hausa kingdoms and Borno dynasty in north,
Oyo and Benin kingdoms in south.
In Korea, the rulers of the Goryeo Kingdom were able to concentrate more central authority into their own hands than in that of the nobles, and were able to fend off two Khitan invasions with their armies.