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Medieval Chronicles - Discover our medieval past in hundreds of factual, informative and easy to understand articles. See how the medieval times looked by clicking on any of the hundreds of images available or use the drop down menu in the menu bar to see all the medieval categories that are available. We have all the information you need about the places, events and daily lives of medieval people from the lowly peasant to the most famous Kings and Queens of medieval times.

The medieval times of our history was packed with amazing Kings, Knights, events, inventions, peoples, battles and wars etc that shaped future generations and led to many advancements in our civilisation.

There were some very dark periods in medieval times such as the Spainish inquisitions, Black Death and the gruesome medieval torture techniques that were inflicted on many victims in medieval castle dungeons. We have chronicled the good and bad periods of medieval times equally hopefully leaving no stone unturned in our quest to accurately chronicle our medieval past.

Medieval People

Medieval People

Learn about medieval rulers who controlled medieval society, Medieval nobility helped the king control peasants and commoners Read more about the Medieval People >>

Medieval Castles

Medieval Castles Roof Tops

Formidable Medieval Castles were constructed across England and Europe to protect Royalty and Nobility from their enemies and outside threats   Read more about the Medieval Castles >>

Medieval Weapons

All kinds of medieval weapons such as swords and siege weapons were being developed as battles raged across medieval Europe Read more about the Medieval Weapons >>

Medieval Armour & Shields

Medieval Armor and Shields

Armor and shields improved as medieval technology improved, earlier medieval armor and shields were no match for later designs Read more about the Medieval Armour & Shields >>

Medieval Battles & Wars

Medieval Wars and Medieval Battles

There were many brutal wars throughout medieval times such as the Battle of Hastings, the quality of weaponry and armour were deciding factors Read more about the Medieval Battles & Wars >>

Medieval Clothing

Medieval Clothing

Medieval clothing made big advancements during medieval times from the basic materials used such as wool due to the discovery of new materials Read more about the Medieval Clothing >>

Medieval Knights

Medieval Knights

The legendary Medieval Knights favourite weapon was the sword, it had special meaning to them and they lived their lives by the Code of Chivalry Read more about the Medieval Knights >>

Medieval Music

Medieval Music Medieval Lute

Medieval Music was very important to medieval people and they loved to be entertained by all types of musicians like Troubadours Read more about the Medieval Music >>

Medieval Torture Devices

Medieval Torture Devices

Torture devices were designed to cause maximum pain to the victim, gruesome and usually caused death Read more about the Medieval Torture Devices >>

Medieval Swords

Medieval Sword and Chainmail

There were many types of Medieval swords such as Arming swords, Shortswords, Longswords and Broadswords Read more about the Medieval Swords >>

Medieval Food

Medieval Food

Medieval Food was organic and people ate a natural diet of meat, fish, vegetables and berries. Medieval people usually drank water or ale Read more about the Medieval Food >>

Medieval Life

Medieval Life

Medieval life was much easier if you were lucky enough to be a nobleman, knight or even a King, Medieval life for peasants was usually hard Read more about the Medieval Life >>

Medieval Times History

Medieval History

Medieval history spanned around one thousand years from the late 4th century until around the end of the 15th century. Read more about the Medieval Times History >>

Medieval Art

Medieval Art

Gothic and Byzantine Art were popular in medieval times as were other forms of art and architecture, most medieval art could be seen in the church  Read more about the Medieval Art >>

Medieval Europe

Medieval Europe

Medieval Europe was in a constant state of warfare, some of the most powerful Medieval countries in Europe were England, France, Spain and Italy Read more about the Medieval Europe >>

Medieval Kings

Medieval Kings

Medieval Kings ruled over the people in medieval times, in 1066 the feudal system was introduced which further consolidated the power of medieval kings. Read more about the Medieval Kings >>

The Crusades

The Crusades

The were many crusades during the medieval times, the most famous and most talked about of these were the first four crusades to the Holy Lands.  Read more about the The Crusades >>

Medieval Architecture

Medieval Architecture

Medieval architecture had distinctive architectural characteristics and designs Read more about the Medieval Architecture >>

Medieval People

In medieval times people belonged to different classes and had different social status. Kings ruled large parts of the land and ruled by the belief that the land belonged to God and kings had the divine right to manage the land and use it as they wished.

There was a feudal system in most of Europe in later medieval times. Kings lived in castles and had the highest standard of living as compared to other medieval people!

Vassals ruled and maintained the lands that were granted to them by the medieval kings. Kings gave land to others in medieval times in order to protect their land without much effort, in return vassals promised to defend the King’s land and trained armies for this purpose.

In Medieval times poor people such as serfs and other peasants had very harsh lives, they had to work very hard in order to earn their livelihood!

People of the peasants class included serfs and slaves. They worked in the fields and lived in small communities called manor estates.

The medieval manors were ruled by the local lords or the vassals and the serfs could not leave the area without the lord’s approval. Whereas other servants in the peasant class worked in the lord’s house and did chores such as cooking, laundering, cleaning and other household chores.

Medieval Knights were warriors who fought for the King in order to defend his lands. Potential Knighthood candidates used to start their training at the age of seven years old at this time they were known as ‘Page Boys’.

Page Boys became Squires around the age of fourteen years, during this time their development became more intense, training with weapons would be harder and they would participate in fighting on the horseback.

A squire would eventually become a full blown Knight around the age of twenty one if he passed all his tasks!

Medieval times clergy included Bishops, priests, monks and nuns. Bishops were the leaders of the church.

Medieval priests provided spiritual guidance to medieval people and organized religious ceremonies in local churches, whereas monks and nuns used to give up ordinary lives and settled in monasteries and convents, devoting their lives to help poor people.


Medieval Weapons

Different kinds of weapons were used in medieval times which ranged from simple tools, which could be controlled with a single hand to very complex and sophisticated devices.

Medieval times weapons included swords, blunt or cleaving weapons, spears, pole axes, ranged weapons, siege weapons and weapons used in fortifications such as castles and city walls.

There were different kinds of swords in the middle ages such as Arming Swords, Broadswords, Claymores, Falchion, Katana, Longswords, Sabres and Ulfberhts.

Blunt or Cleaving Weapons

  • Battle Axes
  • Clubs
  • Flails
  • Maces
  • Flanged Maces
  • Pernaches
  • Mauls
  • Shestopyors
  • Morning stars
  • Bec de Corbin
  • Warhammers
  • Bludgeon
  • Horseman pick.

Polearm Weapons

  • Bardiches
  • Bills
  • Glaives
  • Halberds
  • Guisarmes
  • Lances
  • Lucerne
  • Hammers
  • Lochaber
  • Axes
  • Man catchers
  • Military forks
  • Pikes
  • Swordstaffs
  • War hammers
  • War scythes.

Ranged Weapons

The most famous among medieval ranged weapons was the ‘English Longbow’.

Ranged weapons also included:

    • Crossbows
    • Arbalest
    • Ballista
    • Repeating crossbows

Other commonly known types of ranged weapons used in medieval times were

  • Slings
  • Throwing spears
  • Shurikens Chakrams
  • Hand cannons
  • Muskets
  • Culverins

Siege Weapons


Medieval Armour & Shields

During medieval times the most important items for a Knight was his armour and shield. These were the items which helped a knight to survive on the battlefield.

Armour and shields were were very expensive and only medieval knights could afford to wear them, because they were able to regain their cost through pillage during war times.
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Armour was used to gain body protection from various weapons of warfare which could be encountered on the battlefield.

A knights armour was composed of a complex series of garments, chain mail and iron plates.

In the middle ages there were two prominent types of armor, chain mail which was flexible and composed of thousands of metal rings and plate armour.

Prior to the development of suits of armor, combinations of padded garments and chain mail were widely used.

Medieval shields were another form of protection that was used by the knights in the medieval times.

Throughout the middle ages the design of shields varied according to the requirement of the battlefield, but normally shields were in the form of a protective covering or structure.

Medieval shield designs changed with the passage of time as different types of body protection and weapons evolved with new ideas and technology being introduced.

Shields were usually in a circular or oval form. Commonly used shields of the medieval knight were, Heater, Buckler shield and Targe shields.

Medieval Battles & Wars

The medieval times was a very violent period in English history because many brutal battles and wars were fought in that era. For example many battles were fought between the Christians and Muslims on the issue of the Holy Lands during the Crusades.

There were many extraordinary battles during the middle ages one of the most famous medieval wars called “the hundred years war” although it actually lasted 116 Years!

Other famous battles and wars of medieval times include the following:

As the medieval period progressed there were dramatic changes in not only the warfare tactics used but the advancement of weapons and armor – usually the most dominate armies had the most advanced weapons, armor, and best trained knights.

Although battles and wars in medieval times were full of violence and were bloodthirsty affairs, they also led to developments of better warfare technology, weaponry and armor as well as progression in both offensive and defensive strategies and structures.

New types of warfare that developed during the Middle Ages ranged from basic field battles to advanced siege warfare.

These advancements led to the introduction of more advanced weapons such as crossbows and finally gunpowder weapons which changed ‘Medieval Warfare’ completely.

These wars and battles also had a great impact on the overall economies of medieval Europe and the culture and social life of the common man.


Medieval Clothing

The Medieval times brought many changes to the lives of the people because it was an era in which the clothing of the people was revolutionized.

The tailoring industry was born in medieval times, when fashion was introduced and adopted by common medieval people.

During the medieval times new changes and fashion trends were introduced in the clothing of both men and women by introducing new diversified outfits, fabrics and styles that not only provided comfort to medieval people, but also fulfilled their dire need to get rid of their old rough and shapeless clothes.

Similarly the medieval clothing and outfits of women of medieval times were sophisticated, stylish and classy.

Medieval times clothing was highly dominated by the upper class of the medieval times and a peasant womans dress would be simple, itchy, rough and scratchy in contrast to the luxurious clothing worn by medieval royals and nobility.

The wardrobe of a medieval peasant woman included a free fitting long gown and a linen wrap to cover the hair. Married women wore tight-fitting caps and nets over their hair while other women wore veils over their hair.

The common medieval people would wear simple dresses, but also tended to adopt new trends and medieval fashions to get warmth and comfort from what they wore.

The quality of clothes and their attire truly depended on their social standing. Even in the modern world certain styles are inspired from the Medieval times clothing.


Medieval Knights

Medieval Knights history can be traced all the way back to around the year 800

In this era of medieval warfare a medieval knights’ role was dominant because of their strength, influence and power, indeed a medieval knight can be thought of as the battle tank of his day, able to take out a large number of foot soldiers on his own.

In Medieval Times it was not an easy to become a Knight and most came from families of the nobility – one could earn the title by either fighting bravely on the battlefield or by becoming an apprentice to a knight – a pageboy and then a Squire – and by earning the title through years of devotion and hard work.

Medieval knights were heavily armored soldiers. Although gaining Knighthood was an arduous task, but one of the main advantages of becoming a medieval knight was the respect they gained from people in exchange of their esteemed courage and devotion – they also received loot and rewards from their battles and were quite wealthy and respected members of medieval society.

According to the code of conduct normally known as “Chivalry” a medieval Knight was not only bound to serve and defend his lord, but also his people, his castle and his motherland.

The Knight was expected not only to be brave and fearless, but also courteous and generous. One of the most famous knights in medieval times history was the Knight Sir Lancelot, who was the good friend of the legendary King Arthur and part of a famous group of legendary knights known as “The Knights of the Round Table”.

In the later Medieval Times, Medieval Knights became less importance because of a change in warfare tactics and the introduction of the new weapons such as longbows and ‘gunpowder weapons’ which could penetrate a knights armor

Nobility & Knights – Hierarchy

Nobleman and Knights were also very important people in medieval times and it was important for Kings/Queens to have a good relationship with them as they often needed to be defended from enemies by the armies that the nobleman controlled.

Knights were important allies in the brutal medieval world, especially in times of war, in return for their services a Knight would be granted land and or payment, noblemen and knights always gave their allegiance to the king for these things.

Nobility were expected to be productive and contribute to the medieval system, they provided the soldiers that would fight for the King and also made sure that back up equipment for the kings armies such as clothes and weapons were always available.


Medieval Castles

The UK and Europe is Home to thousands of castles once inhabited by lords, knights and nobles. The Castles of the United Kingdom have a lot of secret tales to tell. Most of these castles have survived the test of time, exuding the brilliant fragrance of history from bloody battles and political conspiracies to ghosts and family heirlooms.

Here are a few examples of Famous UK castles:

Windsor, Edinburgh, Leeds and Caernarfon Castle are all famous UK castles that have survived the ages as living legacies of a bygone era.

Windsor Castle, as home to Britain’s monarchs, is regarded as one of England’s most popular castles with Hampton Court and Leeds not too far behind in reputation.

Edinburgh castles fame is augmented by the presence of the crown jewels and, together with Stirling Castle, has a place in the famous list in Scotland and in all of UK.

Other famous UK castles are St. Michael’s Mount, Warwick Castle and Tower of London just to name a few. St. Michael’s Mount is situated on a rocky island just a little ways off from the South of London. A 12th century Benedictine monastery stands on a nearby hill where people make a pilgrimage each year.

Warwick Castle, on one hand, showcases a beautiful interior and is usually the setting for most Medieval throwback festivities such as jousts, morality plays and the like.

The Tower of London is an imposing structure that has stood for more than a thousand years. Much like Edinburgh Castle, it protects and safeguards the English crown jewels at present. The castle used to be a famous executioner’s den and torture chamber. Three queens, including Henry the VIII second wife, was beheaded here.

UK castles do not only exemplify great architecture and impressive engineering. They have also contributed to British culture, encouraging today’s generation to explore the past and learn from it.


Medieval Music

The medieval times had so much to offer in terms of its rich and sophisticated music. Medieval Music was obviously part of the world civilizations for hundreds of years, the only difference was that medieval music was regulated by the church. Sacred and secular compositions of the music were most dominant because of the involvement of the Catholic Church in the middle ages.

The Catholic Church was the main contributor to the music and art because most of the musicians were trained in the church and they were financially strong enough to buy papers where music was initially written down.

The whole concept of medieval music included music, instruments, poetry and art. During the Medieval Times the following were the best known medieval musicians who were also poets and story tellers.

      • Troubadours
      • Trouveres
      • Minstrels

The importance of Medieval music in medieval times can be judged by looking at medieval art such as medieval paintings; one can clearly see Angels playing organs, harps, shawms and trumpets amongst other medieval instruments.

One of the most important aspects of medieval music was the written-down notations and composer attributions that were introduced for the first time.

Medieval times contain two types of medieval music

One was called “monophonic music” also known as “Plain chant” or “Gregorian Chant”. This was the music of the Christian church and contained single line melodies that we sung by medieval monks.

Surviving monophonic scripts include:

      • Musica Enchiriadis
      • Winchester Troper
      • Codex Calixtinus of Santiago de Compostela.

The second type was called “polyphonic music” that contained multiple melodic lines sung and played simultaneously.

Medieval music also had an important role in the theater and army, but it was initially introduced for learning and education of young people.

The Lyre and the Aulos were commonly used medieval instruments in medieval times.


Medieval Torture Devices

There were many torture devices in medieval times that were used for different punishments and were granted for different crimes.

The brazen bull torture device was a Greek device used to torture the criminals till death by heating them alive. It was one of the most gruesome methods of executing criminals during the medieval times.

Then there was also such torture devices as the thumb screw that was supposedly a Russian device and had three upright metal bars between which thumbs were placed and a screw was used to press the wooden bar in a downward direction and as a result the victims thumb was crushed.

Other Medieval times torture devices such as the rack were used throughout Europe. The victim was tied down at both ends of the torture rack and then stretched with the help of a mechanical device until the joints were dislocated.

The Breaking wheel (also named the Catherine wheel in later medieval times) was also a very nasty middle ages torture device. The victim was tied to the breaking wheel and it was rolled down a rocky hill. Later a wooden frame was introduced to the wheel was so it could move more freely – The breaking wheel could also be set on alight or metal spikes added for addition pain.

During the Medieval Times victims were also burned at the stake where they were burned to death. Many heretics (non believers of the Christian faith) were burned at stake.

Another Medieval Times torture device was the pillory in which a set of wooden boxes were clasped together to provide holes for the neck and the hands. These boxes were opened and victim’s neck and hands were placed inside them. It was mostly used to humiliate the victim.

Other Medieval times torture devices such as the breast ripper was used to torture women. It was a metal claw that pierced and shredded the breaded to pieces after the victim was tied to a wall.

The scavenger’s daughter and the pear of anguish were some of the other torture devices that were popular and used during the medieval times.


Medieval Swords

The Medieval swords was the weapon of choice in medieval times, knights in particular loved their medieval swords

Medieval Swords were especially favored by the medieval Knight – during medieval times two types of swords were mostly used. One was pointed and small with sharp blades and could be controlled by a single hand (the short sword). Whereas the other type of sword had a rounded end and was long with sharp edges and was controlled with both hands (the long sword).

In early medieval times, small yard length swords were popular as these type of swords could be controlled with one hand, whilst the other hand was concerned more with holding the shield tightly. Swords of this period had very sharp and thin edges and were primarily used to cut.

In the latter part of the medieval period swords became stouter and more sharply pointed in a way to create more thrust towards the opponent and were better for penetrating the gaps in a knights armor.

In later times improvements made in the strength of medieval armor reduced the need for a medieval shield, thus large heavier swords became more popular, these massive swords – controlled with both hands could literally cut a person clean in half.

There were many different types of Medieval Times Swords. The most famous among these swords was the Falchion sword, which was a one-handed single edged sword of European origin.

Another type of popular sword in medieval times was the broadsword or the basket-hilted sword, which was primarily used as a military sword.

The Arming sword or ‘Knightly sword’ as it was also known was the most used sword in the high middle ages – The Knightly sword was a single handed, straight and double edged weapon. Its blade was 70 to 80 meters in length.

The longsword was popular in the late middle ages and it was controlled with both hands. It was a straight and double edged sword and blade’s length was between 85 and 110 cm.

The Claymore sword was the Scottish version of the longsword and was used in the later part of medieval times.


Medieval Food

During medieval times eating habits and the type of food did not change too much over the period.

Food of the Peasant Class

In the early part of the medieval period, cereals were probably the most important staples. Poor medieval people such as serfs ate oats, rye and barley – they used these ingredients to make bread, gruel, porridge and pasta, whereas the governing class used wheat for this purpose. The lower classes also used Fava beans and vegetables as supplements for their cereal based diet.

Socially people were divided among different classes in medieval times, hence the refinement of food in the later medieval period also differed among the classes. Food of the lower working classes was less refined as it was believed that there was a natural similarity between one’s food and labor. The nobility ate food through refined cooking, a method that was developed in the late Medieval Times.

Long distance trading of food in medieval times was very expensive because the transportation was very slow and food preservation techniques were not developed, only based on drying, pickling, smoking and salting. Due to this reason the food of the nobility’ was under foreign influences, whereas the food of poor people was not affected as much, if at all.

Food of the Nobility and Royalty

Meat was considered a prestigious food in medieval times and was therefore a more expensive food item, it was mainly eaten by nobility. Beef was not very common as it required greater investment in land. More common forms of meat were pork, chicken and domestic fowl.

Rice was introduced in the later part of medieval times, whereas potato was introduced in the sixteenth century and was not widely eaten during the medieval period. Medieval time’s foods of the rich and poor were different.

The Northern populations also consumed cod and herrings. Fish was eaten as dried, smoked or salted and was also popular further inland. Other species of freshwater and saltwater fish were also eaten as part of the food.


Medieval History

The medieval period spanned from the end of the Roman empire around 500AD to just before the renaissance period around 1500AD.

The term medieval times or middle ages was first used by Italian historians in the late fifteenth century during the period of enlightenment when they used the words to describe the last thousand years of European history.

The feudal system began in the latter part of medieval times as the national monarchies of England, France and Spain emerged.

During the medieval times Christianity emerged as the main religion of Europe and the idea of considering Europe as a large church-state emerged right after the fall of the Roman Empire. The Pope was the strongest person in medieval times and held immense power during this period.

The 12th century is remembered as the century when an economic revival took place in Europe. New towns were developed and people enjoyed a better, safer life with speed of communications also improved.

During this period agriculture also developed and the cultivation of beans took place on a large scale that provided food for all the classes of society. Due to the proper supply of food the population increased rapidly.

During the 13th century in medieval times history, advancement in the field of architecture took place and the classic formulation of the culture and Gothic architecture took place.

The ‘Black Death’ took the lives of millions of people in the 14th century is considered one of the most important events of medieval history.


Medieval Art

After the fall of Roman Empire, medieval art took shape that was not only different from the artistic heritage of the Roman Empire, but also from the iconic tradition of the early Christian church.

A new artistic legacy was produced when the old sources of art were mixed with the “barbarian” artistic culture of northern Europe.

Medieval times art can be seen as the mixture of the classical, early Christian and Barbarian art. Historians have divided medieval times art into different groups based on styles and periods

Different medieval art styles include:

Medieval times art was produced in almost all types of medium at that time. The most prominent of these styles were sculptures, metal works, stained glass, fresco wall paintings, mosaics, tapestry and work in precious metals or textiles.

In the earlier Middle Ages decorative arts were more famous and highly valued as compared to medieval paintings. Decorative arts were also classed as “minor arts” and included work such as metal work, enamel, ivory craving and embroidery using precious metals.

Another notable thing about medieval art was the realistic depiction of the objects. After the end of the Medieval period, the Renaissance rejected medieval art and termed it as “Gothic” art and as a product of the “dark ages”.


Medieval Kings

During medieval times medieval kings were one of the most important an d powerful people in medieval society.

A special religious ceremony commonly known as a “coronation” was arranged in which the new king was crowned by a Pope or a Bishop of the Christian church. To indicate the kings right to rule, and they were often consecrated with holy oil.

In medieval times, kings were chosen in different ways. One of the common ways was to choose a successor from the kings own bloodline commonly known as hereditary succession. Medieval kings came to power because of an assassination or by forcefully conquering lands through an invasion.

Being crowned king was not an easy task, a king had to manage the whole kingdom during later medieval periods when the kingdoms were not divided by smaller tribes. Moreover kings had to spend a lot of time making sure that their court, lords etc. remained loyal to them.

Medieval times produced both good and bad Kings. Some Kings were much more generous to their people and others brought shame to their land and people.

Generous kings allowed peasants to live on their lands with low taxes and used their tax money wisely for the betterment of the society and the kingdom. On the other hand a cruel king either sent the peasants to the dungeons or put them to death if they broke the rules placed upon them.

Medieval kings usually wore fancy clothes to show off their wealth and status and had a very luxurious lifestyle. Jesters and troubadours would amuse and entertain them in the medieval castles.

At that time the king was a lawmaker and everyone was bound to obey him because of his power which was supported by the nobles and lords loyal to him.

Legendary Kings and Knights

King Arthur was a legendary figure in early medieval times but was he even a real person? he is believed to have won no less than twelve battles in the 5th century and is considered by many to be the greatest king of England.

William the Conqueror (1028-1087) defeated the English at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 and brought his form or feudalism to these lands which changed the course of our history.

Richard the Lion heart (1157-1195) was the favorite son of Eleanor of Aquitaine and a central figure of the third crusades which lasted hundreds of years as the Christians tried to recapture the holy lands and the city of Jerusalem from the Muslim Turks.


Medieval Crusades

During medieval times military expeditions were very common and known as the crusades. The crusades were a series of Holy wars launched by the Christians against the Muslims who were in control of Jerusalem at various times during the medieval period.

Crusades were normally launched to take control of any area or to achieve a specific goal. The First crusade was launched by the Christian Pope to reclaim the Holy lands from the Muslim conquerors. The expedition was successful and the Christians captured the Jerusalem in 1095. After the victory the Christians set up several Latin Christian states.

During the medieval times a total of nine crusades were initiated after different intervals of time. The first four crusades were known as the Principal Crusades and were the most important and historical most discussed amongst historians.

The remaining four Crusades were called the Minor Crusades, including a less significant expedition called Children’s crusade which was started by a French child and ended in total disaster for all the children involved.

In medieval times every crusade was fought between Christians and the Muslims to conquer the Holy city of Jerusalem. Jerusalem had a significant importance for both of the religions at that time and the prime goal of Christians was to release the Holy Land from the Saracens.

This was the era in which the Crusades and the Orders of Religious Knights including the Knights Templar, the Teutonic Knights and the Hospitallers became famous because of their power, strength, fight to the death attitude and battlefield skills.

The crusades not only provoked the voyages of discovery, but they also affected the wealth and power of the Catholic Church along with their social effects on the common people of medieval Europe.

To summarize the fact it is clear that all of the crusades failed to achieve their defined goals permanently, however the influence that they had created extended over more lands than just the Holy Land.


Medieval Architecture

Medieval times architecture can be broadly divided into three different types that are religious architecture, military architecture and civic architecture, whereas into three different styles Pre-Romanesque architecture, Romanesque architecture and Gothic architecture.

Religious architecture – The Latin cross plan developed over the years with its primary model of a Roman basilica. The basic architecture included a nave, altar stands to the east and transepts. Justinian I commissioned the cathedrals in the Byzantine style of domes with a Greek cross that resembled a plus sign. In this type of architecture sanctuary was on the east side of the church and it also contained an altar.

Castles and fortified walls were mostly of the non religious types of medieval times architecture. These buildings were designed in a fashion to assist defending soldiers like crossbowmen.

Castle windows that were designed for archers called arrow slits or arrow loops which were added into the castles design, walls were crenelated and Gatehouses, murder holes and battlements were placed in areas of the castle that were vulnerable to attack.

Civic architecture was either of the military or religious type and included town halls, manor houses, bridges and also residential houses. Medieval times architecture can be divided into Pre-Romanesque, Early Christian, Romanesque architecture, Russian church architecture, Norse Architecture, including Ottonian, Merovingian, Asturian and Carolingian.

Early medieval architecture was religious and secular as well. The palace of Santa María del Naranco in pre-Romanesque Spain is an example of such architecture. The Romanesque style of Medieval architecture included the style of architecture of buildings that were mostly constructed in the 11th and 12th centuries.

After Roman Imperial architecture the Romanesque style was the first pan European style.

In Romanesque style of architecture round or slightly pointed arches were used along with barrel vaults, and cruciform piers that supported these vaults. Gothic style of medieval architecture also emerged during the 11th and 12th centuries.

The most first example of such style of architecture was the 12th century abbey church of Saint-Denis in Saint-Denis near Paris. Cathedrals were taller and because of competition and the prestige of image and power new churches/cathedrals were built as high as possible.


Medieval Timeline

The medieval times are also commonly known as the middle ages and the dark ages, this medieval period started around the end of the 4th century and lasted approximately one thousand years with the collapse of the roman empire up until late into the 15th century, it came to an end with the beginning of the great renaissance period around 1492.

There were some truly remarkable events that changed the course of history during medieval times such as the Norman conquest, Feudalism, the signing of the Magna Carta and the Black Death to name a few.

There was so much going on in medieval times in fact that historians decided to split the medieval times into three distinct periods to make all the information easier to manage. These medieval periods are called the early, high and late medieval periods.


Feudal System

It is important to understand how society operated in medieval times, people were organized into a medieval feudal system where the wealthiest in society also tended to be the most important and powerful people who made all the rules.

At the very top levels of medieval society were Popes, Kings and Queens. The majority of medieval people were poor and did not have much wealth, these people made up the main population in medieval times and they had different roles, there were also knights, military men, tradesmen, merchants, peasants etc. who all contributed to the make-up of medieval society.

The Church and it’s leader the ‘Pope’ were really the most powerful people in the Feudal system, they could depose a King/Queen, force them out of power and take away their authority, they could also remove a King and put someone else in their place.

The Pope could also make a judgment against a King/Queen, Intervene and even impose sanctions on any King or Queen that was considered to be unjust.

Feudal System

      • At the top of the Pyramid was the Pope, Church and then the King/Queen of the day
      • The King claimed ownership of the land from the Pope who represented God who owned everything
      • The King then granted land to important noblemen in return of their allegiance to serve and protect the King
      • The King granted land to Knights who were less powerful than Nobleman but would fight for the King
      • The Vassals also agreed allegiance to the King and were required to fight for the King as requested in exchange for land
      • The land owned by Noblemen and Knights was worked by the peasants or serfs who were usually very poor
      • The serfs/peasants usually belonged to the land, meaning they couldn’t leave under the Feudal systems rules

Beliefs

In medieval times people were highly religious and believed that God was all powerful, the Pope and Church were deemed to be the servants of God and ‘medieval people’ believed that they were carrying out instructions directly from God – this allowed the Clergy to become very powerful and they along with Royalty and Nobility, who were the most powerful people within the Feudal system which was brought to England by the Normans during the Norman conquests.

The Pope was so powerful in medieval society that he could literally excommunicate a king, this basically meant that all communication to that person could be stopped and would lead to the king becoming an outcast.

In medieval England this was very significant because being outcast by the church was a major thing that meant you would be unable to communicate with friends and family because they could turn their back on you if you did not belong to the Catholic Church.

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