The Medieval Age was an important period in the history of Europe. Although historians hold different views about its start, many believe that it began with the end of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century. This ushered in the so-called Dark Ages which were marked by mass migrations, chaos, lack of strong kingdoms and an overall period of disorder.
Towards the High and Late Middle Ages, new kingdoms and empires came into being until the Renaissance of the Europe finally began and brought back the once-forgotten Roman and Greek knowledge into mainstream consciousness. Following are some key events of the Medieval Age that changed the course of history.
The Battle of Tours was fought in 732 by the Frankish and Burgundian troops under the command of Charles Martel. Martel led them against the Umayad Caliphate army led by Abdul Rehman Al Ghafiqi. Martel led a decisive victory against the Muslim army.
Martel was the ruler of the Frankish kingdom at the time and was able to expand his territory after this victory. In the battle, Charles Martel defeated Spanish Moors and effectively halted their advanced into the Western Europe. Muslim governor, Abdul Rehman, was killed and Spanish Moors retreated. This victory ensured the rule of Martel’s family. Later, Martel’s son and grandson became the Carolingian kings of the Franks.
The Battle of Hastings was fought on 14th October 1066 between an English army under the command of Anglo-Saxon king Harold Godwinson and Norman French army led by William who was the Duke of Normandy. Harold Godwinson fought to block the invasion of the Norman army.
On the other side, William of Normandy believed he had a right to the English throne. The battle was won by William the Conqueror. This victory was very important for the history of England as the battle completely changed the ruling dynasty. The 600-year long Anglo-Saxon rule came to an end and the Anglo-Saxon aristocracy was completely replaced by the Norman aristocracy.
The Domesday Book was a manuscript of public records that was compiled and completed on the orders of William the Conqueror in 1086.The basic purpose of this written document was to assess the land owned in the England for the purpose of taxation.
William commissioned this survey to assess the wealth across England so that the taxes could be implemented. He also sought to know the resources and assets available throughout the land of England. The Domesday Book helped William build a good taxation system. It also laid the foundations for the systemization of public records and taxation in medieval Europe.
The Battle of Hattin was fought on 4 July 1187 between the Crusader state of the Levant and Salahuddin, the founder of Ayyubid dynasty in Egypt. The Christian Crusader army was defeated by the Muslim forces and opened the way for the Muslim conquest of the holy city of Jerusalem.
After defeating the Crusader forces, Muslims once again became the dominant force in the holy land. They were also able to take back many other cities held by the Crusader forces in subsequent battles. The battle of Hattin was one of the biggest victories of Salahuddin who was also the Sultan of Egypt and Syria at the time. The defeat of the Crusader forces led to the total elimination of crusaders from the Middle East.
The fall of Constantinople was a landmark event in the Late Middle Ages. It resulted in the capture of the Byzantine capital city by the Ottomans on May 29, 1453. This led to a collapse of the empire. The Ottoman army was commanded by Sultan Mehmed II who defeated the Byzantine army commanded by Emperor Constantine XI Palaiologos.
Palaiologos tried to interfere in the succession of Ottoman Emperor after the death of Mehmed I. This led Mehmed II to attack Constantinople. He laid a siege to the city for 53 days and was finally successful in breaching its ancient wall. Sultan Mehmed shifted the capital of Ottoman state to Constantinople from Edirne after the conquest.
Magna Carta was a treaty that was issued in 1215 to develop peace between king and rebel barons. It was issued by Henry III in 1215 and remains very significant as a landmark constitutional development in the history of Europe.
The treaty provided a practical solution to the dispute between barons and the king. It stipulated that everyone, including the king, will be subject to law. It was one of the most important documents in English history because it ensured and guaranteed every individual’s right to justice by fair trial. It was laid the foundations for other individual liberties.
The Battle of Bannockburn was fought between the armies of the Kingdom of Scotland and Kingdom of England. It came about when the English King Edward II led an invasion of Scotland to reinforce English authority. He was confronted by a Scottish army led by Robert the Bruce.
The battle took place on June 23 – 24, 1314. Although significantly outnumbered, the Scots were able to engage and defeat the English in a pitched battle. Victory in the battle enabled Bruce to expand his sphere of influence. He would subsequently become the rightful King of Scotland.
The Battle of Bosworth was the last battle fought between the Houses of Lancaster and York in England on 22 August 1485. Both houses were claimants of the English throne. The ensuing civil war came to be known as the War of the Roses. The fate of the war, and the future of England, was decided in the Battle of Bosworth Field.
The Yorkist King Richard was defeated and killed by Lancastrians. King Richard was the last English monarch to die in the battle. Lancaster leader Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, became the new monarch and laid the foundations of the Tudor dynasty. His victory ended the civil war and ushered a new era in English history.