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.
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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 organised 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 Times 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 and Horseman pick.
Bardiches Bills Glaives Halberds Guisarmes Lances Lucerne hammers, Lochaber axes Man catchers Military forks Pikes Swordstaffs War hammers War scythes.
The most famous among medieval ranged weapons was the ‘English Longbow’.
There were also recursive bows with the Mongol bow one of the most used types.
Ranged weapons also included crossbows, Arbalest, Ballista and repeating crossbows were the famous crossbow types.
Throwing weapons such as Francisca and Nzappa zap were also used during the Medieval Times.
Other commonly known types of ranged weapons used in medieval times were slings, throwing spears, shurikens, chakrams, hand cannons, muskets and culverins.
Battering rams, ballistas, bombards, cannons, siege towers, mortars and catapults. Famous types of Medieval Times catapults were mangonel, onager, petrary and trebuchets.
Caravels, carracks, cogs, fireships, galleons, galleys, junks and long ships.
The major types of fortifications in which medieval weapons were used were in battlements, barbicans, gatehouses, around drawbridges, fortified towers, curtain walls, city walls, murder holes!
Medieval Times 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.
Different styles and symbols were used to decorate a Knights armour and shield.
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 armour, chain mail which was flexible and composed of thousands of metal rings and plate armour.
Prior to the development of suits of armour, combinations of padded garments and chainmail 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 styles 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 Times Battles & Wars
The Medieval time is supposed to be the most violent period in English history because many brutal battles and wars were fought in that era. Many battles were fought between the Christians and Muslims on the issue of the Holy Land during the Crusades.One of the most famous wars called “the hundred years war” was fought between England and France, which lasted for over 116 years! Medieval Battles were a part of people’s life in the middle Ages and that’s why hundreds of battles and wars were fought in medieval times. All the major warfare and violence in the later medieval periods started from the Battle of Hastings in 1066 and ended with the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485.
Other famous battles and wars include The Crusades, The Barons War, The Hundred Years War and The Wars of the Roses. These battles were spread all over the world and not only restricted to England and Europe. With the passage of time, like other areas of medieval life, there was a significant advancement in the medieval war and battle tactics.
There were dramatic changes in warefare tactics and usually the battle victors had the most advanced weapons, armors and best trained knights. Although battles and wars in medieval times were full of violence and were bloodthirsty, they also led to developments in warfare technology, weaponry and armour as well as progression in both offensive and defensive strategies and structures. These wars and battles had a great impact on the overall economies of medieval Europe and the culture and social life of the common man.
During the medieval times, new modes of warfare were developed that ranged from the field battles to siege warfare. For larger battles, most of the planning was done by war leaders and knights. During this period new military defensive techniques were also developed that saw the introduction of weapons such as crossbows. With the introduction of improved knights’ armour and fitted plate armour safety for knights in later medieval times was also improved, hence plate armours were widely adopted in place of traditional chain mail.
Medieval Times 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 revolutionised. It was the era in which the tailoring industry was born and when fashion was introduced and adopted by common medieval people. During 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. The 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 used to wear simple dresses, but also tended to adopt new trends and 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 Times Knights
The most important figures of the violent period of Medieval Times were the Medieval Knights. There is a long history of knights which began from around the year 800 and went all the way to 1500 A.D. In the era of warfare a medieval knights’ role was dominant because of their strength, influence and power. In Medieval Times it was not an easy to become a Knight, one could only earn the title by either fighting bravely on the battlefield or by becoming an apprentice to a knight and earning the title through years of devotion and hard work.
Medieval knights were heavily armoured soldiers. Although gaining Knighthood was an arduous task, but one of the main advantages of becoming a medieval knight was not only the respect they got from people in exchange of their esteemed courage and devotion but they also received loot and rewards from their battles.
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 Lancelot, who was the good friend of the legendary King Arthur and part of the group of knights know as “The Knights of the Round Table”.
In the later Medieval Times, Medieval Knights became less importance because of the change in warfare tactics and the introduction of the new weapons such as the invention of longbows and firearms which made the heavy armour of the knights cumbersome and useless. Moreover, these new technological developments were more than enough to bring about the fall of the knights, but the decline was completed with the development of gunpowder. As guns came into use, it was clear that knights stood no chance as no armour could offer protection against a bullet.
Medieval Times Music
Medieval times Music is the music that was written and composed during the Medieval Times, the era that started with the fall of the Roman Empire and ended in the fifteenth century. This era had so much to offer in terms of its rich and sophisticated music. Music was obviously part of the world’s civilizations for hundreds of years, the only difference was that medieval music was regulated by the church. The whole concept of medieval music included music, instruments, poetry and art. During the Medieval Times, Troubadours, Trouveres and Minstrels were among the poets and musicians who played vital role in providing Medieval Music. 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 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” often known as “Plain chant” or “Gregorian Chant”. It was the music of the Christian church and contains single line melodies that we sung by medieval monks. The surviving monophonic scripts include the Musica Enchiriadis, Winchester Troper and Codex Calixtinus of Santiago de Compostela. And the second type was called “polyphonic music” that contained multiple melodic lines sung and played simultaneously.
Medieval music had an important role in the theatre and army, but it was initially introduced for learning and education of young people. Regarding musical instruments, “Lyre” and the “Aulos” were mostly used in the medieval times.
Medieval Times 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 his joints were dislocated.
The Breaking wheel which was also named the Catherine wheel in later medieval times was also used as a torture device during medieval times. In the early medieval period 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 mounted to move it freely and either fire was burnt under the wheel or the victim’s body was dragged across the metal spikes.
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 burnt 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 device such as the breast ripper which 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 Times Swords
Medieval Times swords were the favourite weapons of medieval times. Swords were especially used by the Knights who wore armour and fought on their horses. During the 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 the initial part of medieval times, small yard length swords were popular as these type of swords could be controlled with one hand and the other hand was concerned more with the grip of the shield. Swords had very sharp and thin edges and were primarily used to cut. Whereas in the later part of the medieval era 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 armour.
As improvements were made in medieval armour there was no need for a shield and larger heavy swords that could cut a person in half controlled with both hands started to become popular in the later medieval periods. 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. Arming sword or the Knightly sword was the most used sword in the high middle ages. It was a single handed, straight and double edged weapon. Its blade was 70 to 80 meters in length. A 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 Times Food
During Medieval Times foods and eating habits did not change much. In the earlier part of medieval period, cereals were the most important staples. 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. Among the poor medieval people such as serfs, oat, rye and barley were eaten as 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 to their cereal based diet.
Among medieval times foods, meat was considered a prestigious and more expensive item and was mostly eaten by the nobility. Beef was not very common as it required greater investment in land. More common forms of meat were pork, chicken and domestic fowl. 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.
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. 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 labour. The nobility ate food through refined cooking, a method that was developed in the late Medieval Times.
Medieval Times Life
Medieval Times life was different for people with different backgrounds. The life of a rich person was easy and luxurious whereas the life of a poor person was difficult and challenging. Most people led the same style of life that their parents led. There were not many examples where someone from the humble background improved his lifestyle through education or some other means.
During Medieval times, nobles lived in the castles. The castles had different parts such as the great hall, minstrel’s gallery, Garderobe, ladies’ day room, solar and moat. The great hall had at least one fireplace with a chimney. The lord’s room was called a solar that had the curtains for privacy. “Garderobe” was the name for the toilet. The ladies had their own day room on top of the castle.
Meals included different kinds of meats. A thick bread “trencher” was also served and the whole meal was eaten with a knife and the fingers. The life of the peasants in a medieval village was tough. Under the feudal a system a serf led a very hard life, he remained busy throughout the year. He followed the same routine every year, i.e. ploughing in the autumn, sowing in spring and harvesting in August. A medieval peasant would get up very early in the morning. Everyday routines included the preparation of animals at the start of the day and then in the evening cleaning and putting them back in the stalls. Peasants lived in small huts that had no windows and thatched roofs. Both animals and human beings lived in the same hut.
A Peasants’ food included the vegetables that he farmed and he also ate nuts and berries that were collected from the fields. Some of the peasants would starve to death in late spring due to non availability of food at that time of year as food stores used to run out of food.
Medieval Times History
Medieval times History includes the era from around 500AD to 1500AD. It is the period in European history that began after the fall of the Roman Empire and ended when the modern world is thought to have begun. 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, wars took place regularly during these medieval times to spread the reach of kingdoms and as a result many people died.
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 had imense 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 better, safe and fast means of communications. 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 that took the lives of millions of people in the 14th century is one of the most important events of the Medieval Times History.
Medieval Times Art
Medieval Times Arts consists of the thousand years of the arts in Europe. 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 arts can be seen as the mixture of the classical, early Christian and Barbarian art. Historians have divided the Medieval Times art into different groups based on styles and periods. Different phases include Early Christian art, Byzantine art, Migration period art, Insular art, Pre-Romanesque, Romanesque art, and Gothic art and other periods that used the combination of these arts. During the Middle Ages many different regions were going through the process of becoming nations or cultures, and as a result, they also had their own distinct style of art. Examples of such medieval art include Norse art and Anglo Saxon art.
Medieval Times Art was produced in almost all types of media at that time. The most prominent of these media 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 product of the “dark ages”.
Medieval Times Europe
The Medieval Times or Middle Ages were a long period of history that lasted for almost 1000 years from 500 to 1500 AD in the Europe. The whole era covers the fall of the Roman Empire to the rise of the Ottoman Empire and it was the time of kings, castles, churches, crusades and peasants.
Medieval Europe had so much to offer to the historians because of the many diversified historical events that occurred in the medieval times. The Holy Roman empire had kept an excellent record of everything that had happened in that era, that’s why historians know a lot about Europe. The events that occurred in that era had a great impact on the evolution of democratic ideals. Medieval Europe had a very rich culture and many of the great kings in history were associated with that time.
Medieval Europe changed a lot after the fall of Roman Empire after initially falling into what was described as the dark ages a better Europe slowly began to emerge and eventually a very structured system called feudalism which spread to the major European countries organised peoples lives.
That occurred only due to the disintegration of central power and control of the ancient Romans. The strong and impolite people of German barbarian origin, swept across the Rhine and the Danube and then into the Europe. They changed the life of the Europe and accepted Christianity as a divine religion. During the Medieval times people were far from enlightened and people were commonly ignorant, superstitious, and socially oppressed.
Charlemagne, also known as the Charles the great, was one of the most influencial figures in medieval European history and he played an important role in extending Christian civilization in Europe by setting up barriers to prevent invasions of the Slavs and Avars. He tried to create a new Europe by producing a Medieval European civilization, distinct from the Byzantines to the east and the Muslims to the south.
Medieval Times Kings
During Medieval Times the man who had the most influence and important role in the daily life of the people was a Medieval King. A special religious ceremony commonly known as the “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, they were often consecrated with holy oil.
In the 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. Sometimes kings came to power because of an assassination or by forcefully conquering lands through invasion. Being a crowned king was not an easy task and they had to manage the whole kingdom during later medieval periods when the kingdoms were not divided by smaller tribes. Moreover kings spent a lot of time making sure that their court and lords remained loyal.
The 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 his rules.
In Medieval Times, the king usually wore fancy clothes to show off his wealth and luxurious lifestyle. They had many jesters and troubadours in the castle to amuse and entertain them. At that time the king was the lawmaker and everyone was bound to obey him because of his power and support from his nobles and lords. There is a long history of Medieval Kings and Richard the Lionheart king was the most famous among them due to his bravery.
Medieval Times 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 summarise 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 Times 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.
In religious Medieval Times 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 contained 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. Windows that were designed for archers called arrow slits or arrow loops which were added into the castles design, walls were crenellated, Gatehouses, murder holes and battlements were placed in areas of the castle that were vulberable 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 the 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 Times 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 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 called the early, high and late medieval periods.
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 favourite 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 Times & The Feudal System
It is important to understand how society operated in Medieval times, people were organised 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 Knights, military men, tradesmen, merchants, peasants etc. who all contributed to the make-up of medieval society.
The Church and the Pope were really the most powerful people in the Feudal Medieval system, they could depose a King/Queen, force them out of power and take away their authority, they could remove a King and put someone else in their place. The Pope could also make a judgement against a King/Queen, Intervene and even impose sanctions on any King or Queen that was considered to be unjust.
Beliefs in Medieval Times | Feudalism
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 people believed that they were carrying out instructions directly from him, this allowed the Clergy to become very powerful and they along with the Royals and Nobility were the most powerful people within the Feudal system which was brought to England in 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.
Royalty and Religion in Medieval Times
Under the Medieval Feudal system Kings and Queens ruled by a divine right that had been handed down to them through successive generations, however this divine right in the Feudal system concluded that God was the ultimate owner of everything and meant that the Pope was more important than any king or queen in the eyes of the people. In fact, The whole history of England has been greatly influenced by the decisions made by the Pope and the Church, For example it was a Pope who instigated the Norman invasion of England and supported William The Conqueror against the claim of King Harold for the throne.
Nobility & Knights in Medieval Times | Hierarchy
Nobleman and Knights were also very important people in medieval times and it was vitally 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.
Feudal System in Medieval Times Summary
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