Famous Medieval Events


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 c.476 and ended c.1485

This ushered in the so-called Dark Ages which were marked by mass migrations, chaos, a lack of strong kingdoms, and an overall period of disorder.

Towards the high and late medieval period, new kingdoms and empires came into being until the Renaissance of Europe finally began and brought back the once-forgotten Roman and Greek knowledge into mainstream consciousness.


Key Events in Medieval History

Battle of Tours *732

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 Umayyad Caliphate army led by Abdul Rehman Al Ghafiqi. Martel led a decisive victory against the Muslim army.

Battle of Tours

Battle of Tours

Charles 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 advance into 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.

Charles-Martel

Charles Martel


Battle of Hastings *1066

The Battle of Hastings was fought on 14th October 1066 between an English army under the command of Anglo-Saxon king Harold Godwinson and a Norman-French army led by William who was the Duke of Normandy. Harold Godwinson fought to block the invasion of the Norman army.

King William The Conqueror Medieval KIngs

William The Conqueror

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 *1086

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 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.

Domesday Book

Reculver in the Domesday Book


Battle of Hattin *1187

The Battle of Hattin was fought on 4 July 1187 between the Crusader state of the Levant and Salahuddin, the founder of the 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 the crusaders from the Middle East.

Medieval Mamluk Military in Ayyubid Dynasty Hattin

Medieval Military Medieval Mamluk Soldiers Ayyubid Dynasty Hattin


Siege of Constantinople *1453

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 the 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 the Ottoman Emperor after the death of Mehmed I. This led Mehmed II to attack Constantinople. He laid siege to the city for 53 days and was finally successful in breaching its ancient wall. Sultan Mehmed shifted the capital of the Ottoman state to Constantinople from Edirne after the conquest.


Issue of Magna Carta *1215

Magna Carta was a treaty that was issued in 1215 to develop peace between kings and rebel barons. The Magna Carta was issued by Henry III in 1215 and remains very significant as a landmark constitutional development in the history of Europe.

Signing Magna Carta

King John Signs the Magna Carta

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 the law. It was one of the most important documents in English history because it ensured and guaranteed every individual’s right to justice by a fair trial. It laid the foundations for other individual liberties.

Magna Carta

The Magna Carta

See the Original Magna Carta


Battle of Bannockburn *1314

The Battle of Bannockburn was fought between the armies of the Kingdom of Scotland and the 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.

Robert the Bruce

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 Robert the Bruce to expand his sphere of influence. He would subsequently become the rightful King of Scotland.

Battle of Bannockburn

Robert the Bruce Battle of Bannockburn


Battle of Bosworth Field *1485

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 to 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.

Medieval King Richard III is pictured in the midst of battle

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

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 in a new era in English history.

King Richard III portrait painting of medieval king

King Richard III Painting Portrait in medieval king ceremonial dress

Many Historians believe that the Battle of Bosworth Field was an event that signaled the end of the Medieval Period


Summary

  • The Battle of Tours was fought between Frankish and Umayyad forces in 732. Franks under Charles Martel defeated the Muslim army and halted their advance into Europe.
  • The battle of Hastings was fought in 1066 between Anglo-Saxon and Norman armies. Normans under William the Conqueror won the battle, effectively ending the Anglo-Saxon rule in England.
  • The Domesday Book was compiled on the orders of William the Conqueror in 1086. It contained public records of lands in England for the purpose of taxation.
  • The Battle of Hattin was fought in 1187. It was fought between the Ayyubid army of Salahuddin and the Crusader army. It was a decisive Ayyubid victory that ultimately restored the control of Jerusalem to the Muslims.

Medieval Mamluk Military in Ayyubid Dynasty Hattin

  • The Siege of Constantinople in 1453 resulted in the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople, effectively ending the Byzantine Empire.
  • Magna Carta was issued in 1215 as an agreement between rebel barons and the King. It laid the foundations for individual liberties, legal rights, and the position of the King in England.
  • The battle of Bannockburn was fought in 1314 between English and Scottish armies. Robert the Bruce led Scots to victory in the battle, ensuring Scottish independence.
  • The battle of Bosworth Field took place in 1485. It was the final battle of the War of the Roses – the English Civil War between the House of Lancaster and York. The Yorkists won the battle and thus began the Tudor dynasty.