Medieval History

The Medieval period spanned around a 1000 years from c.476 - c.1500

Discover the History of the **Britons **Anglo-Saxon Settlers **The Vicious Viking Raids **The Norman Conquests *Battle of Hastings - Learn about Famous Kings *Queens* Knights *Castles - What was happening in Continental Europe at the time and Much More....

  • Early Medieval c.476 – c.1000
  • High Medieval Period c.1000 – c.1250
  • Late Medieval Period c.1250 - c.1500

Coat of Arms

Medieval Coat of Arms

Emblems and the medieval Coat of Arms were introduced as a system to identify individuals, knights, and important families in medieval times. Read more about the Coat of Arms >>

Domesday Book

The Domesday Book recorded all the assets of medieval people in England, it was instigated by William the Conqueror Read more about the Domesday Book >>

Famous Medieval Events

Discover important Medieval events that helped change the course of History Read more about the Famous Medieval Events >>

Feudal System

Feudal System Pyramid

The Feudal system controlled most of Europe in medieval times and was brought to England by the French Normans. Read more about the Feudal System >>

Greensleeves

Greensleeves Song

Greensleeves is a very popular English folk song that is believed to have been created by King Henry VIII Read more about the Greensleeves >>

Magna Carta 1215

Magna Carta

The Magna Carta signed in 1215 was the first step towards modern democracy Read more about the Magna Carta 1215 >>

Medieval Castle History

History of the Magnificent Medieval Castle *Early Motte & Bailey Castles to Grand Concentric Castles Read more about the Medieval Castle History >>

Medieval History Periods

Medieval Era's

The Magnificent Medieval Period *From the Fall of the Roman Empire to the Start of the Tudor Period Read more about the Medieval History Periods >>

Medieval Inventions List

Important medieval inventions such as the Mechanical Clock, Printing Press, Gunpowder, Tidal Mills Read more about the Medieval Inventions List >>

Medieval Kings History

Medieval King William the Conqueror

It was during the middle and late medieval times that the concept of a medieval king took full form and Kings ruled entire Kingdoms Read more about the Medieval Kings History >>

Medieval Queens History

Medieval Queen with her Family

There were some famous medieval queens that ruled and left their mark on history during medieval times. Read more about the Medieval Queens History >>

Medieval Timeline c. 476 – c.1485

Medieval Timeline of Important Medieval Events

The Medieval Period in Europe was historically a period between the fall of Ancient Rome towards the end of the 4th century and the start of the Renaissance Read more about the Medieval Timeline c. 476 – c.1485 >>

Medieval Times *Top 10 Events

The Medieval Period started after the collapse of the Western Roman Empire and ended with the start of the Renaissance. Read more about the Medieval Times *Top 10 Events >>

Peasants Revolt *30 May 1381

Peasants revolt - the death of Wat Tyler peasant leader

The peasants revolt was caused by unfair taxes and a new poll tax that was introduced by John Gaunt the king of England Read more about the Peasants Revolt *30 May 1381 >>

Sack of Rome 410 *3rd Siege of Rome!

The Sack of Rome 410 was a momentous event in the history of Europe that took place on August 24, 410 Read more about the Sack of Rome 410 *3rd Siege of Rome! >>

The Black Death

Black Death Doctor wearing a herb mask in medieval England

The Black Death was also known as the bubonic plague, it was a disease spread by the fleas that lived on rats biting medieval people. Read more about the The Black Death >>

The Gutenberg Press

The Gutenberg Press was a revolutionary invention that had a similar impact to the Internet in the 21st century Read more about the The Gutenberg Press >>

The Visigoths *Alaric I *Sack of Rome

The Visigoths grew in power during the Migration Period, Invading Roman regions Read more about the The Visigoths *Alaric I *Sack of Rome >>

What is Feudalism?

Feudalism as it is widely understood in modern times refers to the social and legal systems of the Western European Middle Ages Read more about the What is Feudalism? >>



Prelude to Medieval Times in England

England Before the Romans

Bretons or Celtic Britons were a people which inhabited Britain when the Romans arrived in the region during the 1st century.

These Britons continued to inhabit the British Isles all the way until Germanic Anglo-Saxon tribes began to arrive wave after wave from the 4th century onwards.

Medieval-Times-History-Map

The Bretons were then largely subdued and most were forced to migrate to Continental Europe. In Europe, Bretons became established in Brittany France, giving the region its name. In time, a few of them would return to England as conquerors under the Norman, William the Conqueror.

Medieval-Times-Celtic-Period-Celtic-Cross

Bretons and Romans

In the 1st century, Roman Empire began a conquest of Britain. The Romans were successful in subduing several lands of the Bretons so that Romans and Bretons came to co-exist.

Before-Medieval-Times-Fall-of-Rome

This led to the creation of a unique Breton-Roman culture at this time. The Bretons also faced the threat of Anglo-Saxon attacks and invasions so they relied on the Roman administration to safeguard them from this threat. In time, Rome’s grip on Britain waned so that the Bretons became more vulnerable to the attacks of the Anglo-Saxons.

Bretons and Anglo-Saxons

From the beginning of the 4th century, Central and Western Europe witnessed the mass migration of the Germanic tribes from the further east. These tribes, in turn, were pushed westwards by other tribes who were coming from the east.

The Anglo-Saxons, who originally occupied lands along the coastline of north-western Europe, began to migrate to Britain around this time.

They arrived wave after wave at a time when Roman Empire was no longer able to protect the British lands it once ruled. Bretons were not a match for the Anglo-Saxons who were able to defeat and subdue them.

Anglo Saxon Warfare

Anglo Saxon Germanic Warriors


Fall of Rome c. 476

The fall of Rome around the year 476 was the catalyst from which the medieval period emerged. The Medieval period also known as the Middle Ages is divided into the Early, High, and Late Medieval times.

During early medieval times, England was in disarray and many villages and towns were simply deserted after the collapse of the Roman empire.


Medieval Times History *c. 476 – c. 1500

Anglo-Saxon Period c.500 – c.1100 *Settlers *Thanes, Churls, Slaves*

The Fall of Rome led to the Anglo-Saxon Period of history in medieval England.

During this period of the late 4th Century, Several Germanic tribes migrated to England from Europe, these tribes were called the Angles, Jutes, and Saxons. The merging of these tribes with each other, the remaining Romans, and the indigenous Britons created the Anglo-Saxon culture and identity.

Medieval-Times-Anglo-Saxon-Period

Seven Anglo-Saxon kingdoms were established and eventually merged under one Anglo-Saxon ruler creating the United Kingdom of England and the English language.

Medieval-Times-Anglo-Saxon-Period-map

The Anglo-Saxon period lasted for hundreds of years until the Norman conquest. This was a successful period in English history and led to many advancements such as the following.

  • Created the English Nation
  • Established Regional Government ‘shires and hundreds’
  • Established Christianity
  • Created Charters and Laws
  • Produced epic poems such as ‘Beowulf’
  • Pagans converted to Christianity in the 7th century

Anglo Saxon England


Vikings Abroad c. 800 – c.1100 *Explorers *Raiders *Traders

The Vikings raided large areas of Britain, France, Ireland, and Italy, terrorizing the peoples of Europe for around 300 years!

Medieval-Times-Viking-Period

The Vikings arrived on shallow boats called ‘longships’ that could travel inland *They were soon battling their way through towns and villages, killing, maiming, and stealing all the treasures they could carry!

Medieval-Times-Viking-Period-Invasions

The Viking period began in the late 8th century and is generally considered to have continued until the early 11th century.

In the late 8th century, Vikings began raiding the regions of England as well as coastal regions of Western Europe. In time, they carved settlements for them in England, France, Iceland, and Greenland, among other regions.

Medieval-Times-Viking-Settlements

In France, they were effectively given control of the Duchy of Normandy by the 10th century. In England, they were able to create many different settlements of their own.

Medieval-Times-Viking-Settlements

Before the Norman Conquest of England, the country had two Viking Kings. By the 11th century, the raiding Vikings had settled down in different regions, specifically in Denmark, Sweden, and Normandy.

The descendants of these Vikings in Normandy later came to be called the Normans and ushered in the Norman period in the 11th century.


Danish Kings *Danelaw * c. 1016 – c. 1040

Danish Kings ruled England for a short period from 1016 to 1040. Danes had been among the Vikings who had begun raiding England as early as the 8th century.

Medieval-Times-Viking-Invasions

In time, Danish Vikings mustered larger armies and established a permanent settlement in England, known as the Danelaw. During this period the Danish Kings controlled large parts of England.

Medieval-Times-Territories-under-Control-of-Danish-Kings-Pink

Territories under Control of Danish Kings *Shown in Pink

End of Danelaw *King of Norway *Harald III 1046 – 1066

During the famous Battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066, the armies of Harald Hardrada King of Norway were defeated, signaling the end of this short period of Danish rule. Harald failed in his attempt to take control of the English Crown and was killed in York.

Battle-of-Stamford-Bridge

Battle of Stamford Bridge 25 September 1066

The very same year another Viking descendant the ‘Duke of Normandy *William the Conqueror was crowned King of England on Christmas day, the first Norman king of England.


Normans c. 1060 – c. 1200 *Invaders *Conquerors *Feudalism

The Norman period is specifically concerned with medieval England.

The Norman conquest of England started with the defeat of King Harold at the Battle of Hasting which was a decisive victory for the Normans.

Until the Vikings began raiding English shores, England had been effectively ruled by Anglo-Saxon aristocracy and kings. The Vikings briefly altered this by ascending to the English throne in the first half of the 11th century.

The second half of the century permanently cemented this change when the Normans King William and his Barons from the French Duchy of Normandy effectively conquered England. The conquest was accomplished under the leadership of the Duke of Normandy ‘William The Conqueror’ in 1066.

William the conqueror secured a decisive victory over the Anglo Saxons at the town of ‘Battle’ near Hastings, in Sussex during the ‘the famous *Battle of Hastings!

The period ushered in a warring phase during which Anglo-Saxons fought against the invaders, in vain. Normans expanded and secured their rule by building castles, a kind of structure that came to be their lasting legacy, and replaced the Anglo-Saxon nobility of the country with Norman aristocracy over the coming decades.

Early Norman Motte and Bailey Castles

Early-Norman-Castles-Motte-and-Bailey-Castles

Early Norman Castles *Motte and Bailey Castles

Later Stone Norman castles *Warwick Castle

Norman-Stone-Castles-Warwick-Castle

Norman Stone Castles *Warwick Castle

Domesday Book *King William *1086

Battle-of-Hastings-1066

Battle of Hastings 1066

The ‘Duke of Normandy’ Conquered England in the Battle of Hastings in 1066 *He was crowned the same year on Christmas Day!

The Domesday Book

Duke of Normandy *William the Conqueror

Feudalism

The feudal system was brought to England by the all-conquering Duke of Normandy, it flourished in Medieval England and the rest of Europe from the 9th and 15th centuries.

Feudalism The Feudal Pyramid Image

Feudalism in Europe image showing the Hierarchy of the Feudal system

Domesday Book

The new king of England wanted to know exactly who held the land and wealth in England so that he could decide how much he could tax each person throughout England. To achieve this King William ordered the creation of the infamous Domesday book!

The ‘Domesday Book’ is a record called the ‘Great Survey’ of most of England and parts of Wales that were completed in 1086*


House of Plantagenet 1154 – 1485 (Cadet Branches House of Lancaster 1399 – 1461 * House of York 1461 – 1485)

The Plantagenets were one of the richest and most influential families in the whole of Europe during the Middle Ages. They ruled most of France and all of England from 1154 to 1485.

Image from the Historical Atlas by William R. Shepherd – Henry II’s continental holdings in 1154 (in various shades of red), forming part of the “Angevin Empire”

The first kings from this dynasty of England were Angevins, who ruled from 1154 to 1216.

Henry-II-first-Plantagenet-king-of-England.

Henry II (1154–1189) is considered by some to be the first Plantagenet king of England.

The main kings of this dynasty include Henry II, Ricard I the Lionheart, and John Edward I, II, and III (Angevins). Of these, Richard the Lionheart is most famously known for his role in the Third Crusade and battles with Saladin.

Medieval King Richard the Lionheart with his brother John

Richard the Lionheart *Angevins King

House of Lancaster *1399 – 1461

Famous rulers of the House of Lancaster

  • Henry IV *Henry Bolingbroke *Reign 1399 to 1413.
  • Henry V *Henry of Monmouth *Reign 1413 to 1422.
  • Henry VI *1st Reign 1422 to 1461 – 2nd Reign 1470 to 1471 *Disputed King of France

The financial conditions during the House of Lancaster rule were precarious. There were a lot of raids in England and the kingdom had to constantly fund ongoing warfare to tackle this situation.

The famous Hundred Years’ Wars started during the reign of Henry V. This was a long series of raids and military expeditions against France which England ultimately lost.

The House of Lancaster’s rule ended when the Yorkists defeated Henry VI in what was known as the ‘War of the Roses’.

The Wars of the Roses was a series of civil wars fought over control of the English throne between two rival Lancaster and York branches of the House of Plantagenet from c.1450 to c.1500.

Wars of the roses emblems

Wars of the Roses *Yorkist White Rose *Lancaster Red Rose

House of York *1461 – 1485 (Plantagenet Cadet Branch)

The Yorkists ruled England from 1461 – to 1485, as a dynasty, they ruled England for the shortest period. Their main kings were Edward IV, Edward V, and Richard III. Edward V was the son of Edward IV.

King Richard III of England

After the sudden death of Edward IV, Edward V went to London to claim his right to the throne. His uncle, Richard III, had been appointed as the protector.

Richard sent the young king Edward V and his brother Richard to the Tower of London, and the two were never seen again. This gave birth to the myth of the Princes in the Tower.

Princes in the Tower Edward V

Medieval King Edward V Princess in the Tower of London

Later, Richard III ruled England from 1483 to 1485. He was finally killed at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, ending the reign of the Yorkists.

Medieval King Richard III is pictured in the midst of battle

Medieval King Richard in the mix of things in the battle of Bosworth

Historians point to the Battle of Bosworth 1485 as an event that signaled the end of the medieval period


Tudors *1485 – 1603 *Post Medieval Period

Historians consider that the medieval period ended around 1485 and suggest that the Battle of Bosworth was the event that signaled a final end to this important period of history.

Medieval Tudor Coat of Arms

Tudor Medieval Coat Of Arms Henry VIII

England, under a new Tudor dynasty, grew politically and militarily, firmly annexing Ireland, defeating different European powers, and seceding from the Continental influence of the Catholic Church by establishing its own independent Church of England.

Medieval Clothing - Medieval Tudor Clothes

Tudor Period Family of Henry VIII 1545

The Tudor period established Protestantism as the official religion of England, marking the final departure of England from the Catholic Church.

Archbishop Thomas Cranmer Portrait

1533 – Henry appointed Archbishop Cranmer. Cranmer became one of the central supporting figures of English Protestantism.


Important Historical Events *c.476 – c.1500

The Magna Carta *June 15, 1215

*The Magna Carta was one of the most important documents in the History of England it was signed on June 15, 1215!

Many Lords across England had serious grievances with the ruling King John over his running of the country and the harsh laws and taxes that he had imposed on them, in fact, King John was a very unpopular king who seemed to upset everybody including the Pope.

Signing Magna Carta

King John Signs the Magna Carta

The Magna Carta was a document that was demanded by English Lords, it set limitations on the taxes and laws that could be made by king John.

Magna Carta Charter

A Charter in the Magna Carta

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