Medieval History Periods

The history of medieval Europe began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire in around 476 AD. The medieval ages lasted until around the end of the 15th century and the beginning of Renaissance.

During these ten centuries, Europe underwent a number of periods and many rapid transformations. This was a period marked by the birth of the Byzantine Empire, the beginnings of Islam and its consequent influence over Europe, the period of the Frankish and the later Holy Roman Empire.

The changes that Europe underwent during this period cemented many identities which continue to inform Europe's cultural heritage to this day.

Anglo Saxons *410 – 1060

The Anglo Saxons originated from Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands and were fearsome warriors and excellent farmers. Read more about the Anglo Saxons *410 – 1060 >>

Carolingian Empire

Carolingian Empire was one of the most important early medieval empires that unified much of Europe, learn more about the Carolingian Empire Read more about the Carolingian Empire >>

Dark Ages

The Dark Ages came about because of the collapse of the Roman Empire which caused chaos around Europe Read more about the Dark Ages >>

Moorish Period

The Moorish period in Europe began when Tariq Bin Ziyad ivaded Spain and defeated a significant Visigothic army in 711 Read more about the Moorish Period >>

Plantagenet Period *1154 to 1485

The House of Plantagenet ruled over England and brought about lasting changes Read more about the Plantagenet Period *1154 to 1485 >>

Reconquista Period

Reconquista Period

The Reconquista period lasted for 750 years, during this struggle to drive out the Muslims from European lands lasted until 1492 Read more about the Reconquista Period >>

The Normans

Norman Knights

The Normans took control of England in 1066 after William the Conquerors armies defeated the English in the famous battle of Hastings Read more about the The Normans >>

Tudor England


Tudor England is considered, in many ways, the golden period of English history. Read more about the Tudor England >>


The Vikings were a formidable and destructive fighting force that were known for their fierce and rapid inland raids, Vikings played an important role in the History of medieval Europe Read more about the Vikings >>

Medieval England – History Periods

Fall of Rome *476

The Fall of Rome around 476 is considered by many modern historians to be the start of the medieval period.

This early medieval period is also commonly reffered to as the Dark Ages in an attempt to describe what was considered to be a chaotic period of struggles after the collapse of the Roman Empire that had conquered both England and Mainland Europe.

fall of rome 2

Anglo Saxon Period c. 500 – c. 1100

The Anglo Saxons were Germanic tribes that migrated across Europe and settled in large numbers in England, they fought with the remaining Roman soldiers after the collapse of the Roman empire and the local Breton population.

Over time they came to dominate large areas of England until they became the main peoples living in the country.

Anglo Saxons also mixed with the remaining Roman settlers and Local populations and created a unique culture, they would remain as the dominate force in England until the Norman conquest.

The Anglo Saxon People

Viking Abroad Period – *Explorers *Raiders *Traders c.800 – c.1100

The Vikings abroad period began in which they started raiding European countries 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 themselves in England, France, Iceland, and Greenland, among other regions.

Viking Longboats viking raids with sail

In France, the king effectively gave them control of the Duchy of Normandy by the 10th century rather than face them battle.

In England, they were able to create many different settlements of their own. Before the Norman Conquest of England, the country had two Viking Kings.

viking warrior face

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.

viking warrior attacks

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

The Danes ruled a large part of Northern and Eastern England from the 9th to the 11th-century until the Normans conquered these areas, this was known as Danelaw. The Normans were in fact also descendants of the Vikings.

Norman Period c.1060 – c. 1160

The Norman period is specifically concerned with medieval England. 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.

Norman Clothing Medieval Times

The second half of the century permanently cemented this change when the Normans from French Normandy effectively conquered England.

The conquest was accomplished under William The Conqueror in 1066 and replaced the Anglo-Saxon nobility of the country with a Norman aristocracy.

Norman KIngs King William The Conqueror

The period ushered in a warring phase during which Anglo-Saxons fought against the invaders, in vain. Normans confirmed their rule by building castles, a kind of structure that came to be their lasting legacy.

Norman Knight Kite Shield Norman Knight

The 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.

Plantagenent 1

The House of Plantagenet ruled England after the reign of the Normans from 1154, their reign came to an end at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 in which the Yorkist king Richard III was killed, they were succeeded by the Tudor Dynasty.

House of Plantagenet Cadet Branches *Lancaster 1267 *York 1385

  • From 1399 – 1461  a cadet breakaway branch of the Royal house of Planetagenent ruled England called the House of Lancaster. (Red Rose)
  • From 1461 – 1485  another breakaway cadet branch of the Royal house of Plantagents was formed called the House of York. (White Rose)
Wars of the roses emblems

White Rose York – Red Rose lancaster

The House of York and Lancaster became rivals and became involved in a power struggle with one another in the remaining years of plantagenent rule.

What Does Cadet Branch Mean?

This term is used to describe a rulers younger sons who were called (cadets) So basically these breakaway family members started a family fued over control of the plantagenent kingdom.

Who were the Plantagenets?

The Plantagenents were a very powerful family from the Anjou region of France.

Who was the First Plantagenet King?

Henry II was the First Plantagenet King on the English throne from 1154

KIng Henry II Platagenet King

King Henry II *First Plantagenet King

Who was the Last Plantagenet King?

Richard III was the last Plantagenet king (House of York) – he was killed in the Battle of Bosworth.

King Richard III of England

Richard III *Last Plantagenet King

Where The Plantagenets Good Rulers?

The Plantagenents were very powerful rulers and there were many major events during their rule, they had good and bad points during their 331 year reign.

Plantagenet Rule *Good

      • Creation and signing of the Magna Carta one the the most important documents in English history
      • Introduced a sophisticated justice system
      • Creation of a distinct English national identity
      • Creation of the English language as the primary language
Signing Magna Carta

King John Signs the Magna Carta

Plantagenet Rule *Bad

      • The Plantagenets Started the 100 years war with France
      • Plantagenets were defeated in the Hundred Years’ war with France
      • During their reign there were economic and political problems that led to social unrest and many Revolts
      • High taxation was introduced throughout the Kingdom
      • Freedom was restricted during their reign *This led to the creation of the Magna Carta

End of the Plantagenet Rule

The warring factions of the Plantagenet Cadet brances of the House of York and Lancaster for overall control led to a 10 year war called the War of the Roses in which there were many battles across England.

Why was it called the War of the Roses?

The House of York was represented by a white rose the House of Lancaster a red rose, this led to the term ‘war of the Roses’.


Battle of Tewkesbury War of the Roses

Who Won the War of the Roses

The War of the Roses led to the destruction of both houses and the plantagenent dyynasty, the last plantagenet ruler Richard III was killed during the battle of Bosworth in 1485.

What happened Next?

The end of the Plantagenet dynasty created a new dysnasty called the Tudors Henry VII (January 1457 – 1509) was King of England and Lord of Ireland and the first King of the Tudor Dynasty, his reign lasted from 1485 until his death in 1509.

Henry Tudor

First Tudor monarch –  Henry VII became King in 1485

The Tudors centralised their power which gave them more control, the English Renaissance followed, this was the creation of early modern Britain.

So what happened to the Plantagenets?

In reality the same families ruled but with more control as Henry VII the first Tudor King was from the House of Lancaster, he later married Elizabeth of York.

Elizabeth of York Medieval Queens

Elizabeth of York

Tudor Period – 1485 (End of Medieval Period)

Many historians consider that the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 signaled the end of the medieval period.

The Tudor period was a famous part of the History of England and began in 1485 and ended in 1603, concerned specifically with the English and Welsh territories.

It featured some of the most prominent English monarchs, hailing from the Tudor dynasty.

Henry Famous Tudor Kings VIII

These include:

  • Henry VI
  • Henry VII
  • Edward VI
  • Mary I
  • Elizabeth I

The most notable developments during the Tudor period were a break with the Roman Papacy, the increasing influence of Protestantism in English territories, and the beginning of the English Renaissance which coincided with the ascent of the Tudor dynasty.

The Tudor period came to an end in 1603 when Elizabeth I died without an heir.


Historic Tudor Houses

Mainland Europe (Continental Europe) History Periods


Fall of Rome *476

The Fall of Rome around 476 is considered by many modern historians to be the start of the medieval period.

This early medieval period is also commonly reffered to as the Dark Ages in an attempt to describe what was considered to be a chaotic period of struggles after the collapse of the Roman Empire that had conquered both Mainland Europe and England.

Europe was divided into many kingdoms during the medieval period, kingdoms borders would change and overlap, empires would expand, collapse or change, making it a very complex and difficult task to chronicle the events and timelines of events and ruling dynasties during the medieval period.

Fall of Rome 410 Siege of Rome

Byzantine Period * c.400

After the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century, the Eastern Roman Empire continued to exist fairly intact.

Christianity became a dominant influence in the Eastern Roman Empire which became the Byzantine Empire, beginning from the 4th century.

The official language of the Byzantine Empire was Greek, and Church authorities enjoyed a close relationship with the state authorities.

The Byzantine Empire reached its apex during the 6th century, regaining most of the territory formerly under the control of the Eastern Roman Empire.

This marked a glorious period of the Empire which lasted until many vital provinces were lost to Muslims in the 7th century.

From the 11th century onwards, the Empire underwent a decline, dividing into many states in the 13th and 14th centuries before finally falling to the Ottomans in the 15th century.

Byzantine Empire

Moorish Period

Following the rapid expansion of the Muslim conquests in the 7th century, Muslim Moors of Berber and Arab descent attacked and conquered a portion of the Iberian Peninsula.

This was followed by the establishment of Al-Andalus, a Muslim territory encompassing modern-day Spain, Portugal and for a brief period, Sicily as well. The Moors remained at war with their Christian neighbours for the next few centuries.

Example of Moorish Warriors Clothing El Campello Moors

However, their era was marked by rapid advancements in science, culture, architecture, literature, music, and other fields, advancements that were later critical in bringing about the end of the European Dark Ages.

The Christian kingdoms of Europe continued to fight against the Muslim rule in the region and after a protracted conflict continuing from the 8th century to the 15th century, the Moorish rule finally came to an end.

Conquest of Spain by the Moors

The Moorish conquest of Spain and Europe lasted around 700 years

Reconquista Period

Reconquista collectively refers to the long and protracted struggle undertaken by different Christian European kingdoms to expel the Moors from the Iberian Peninsula.

The Reconquista began soon after the arrival of the Moors on the Iberian soil. Initial victories by Christian forces included the routing of Muslim forces in the 1732 Battle of Tours by Charles Martel.

Reconquista Timeline

This effectively halted the Muslim expansion in Western Europe. The cause was later championed by later Frankish rulers, including Charlemagne, who continuously sought to diminish the Muslim influence in Iberia.

The conflict continued for nearly 800 years, heavily influencing the culture of Spain, Portugal, and the surrounding territories.

Charles Martel

Charles Martel

Later, the Church became aligned with the efforts of Christian states and encouraged a collective effort against Muslim rule.

Muslim rule was significantly weakened following the decisive defeat of Almohads in the 13th century. The Reconquista continued until 1492 when the last Muslim kingdom in the region, the Emirate of Granada, fell to the monarchs of Castile.

Reconquista Armies

Reconquista Armies

Holy Roman Empire

The Holy Roman Empire is considered to have begun with the coronation of the Frankish King Charlemagne. He was crowned Emperor by the Pope in 800.

Although the Empire soon fell apart after Charlemagne, it was restored and further expanded during Otto I’s reign in the 10th century.

Charlemagne King of the Franks Carolingian Empire

The Empire lasted a long time, all the way until the 19th century. One of the most remarkable things about the Empire was the development of electors who would in turn choose the King, a concept that evolved in the Empire far before any other medieval European entity.

At its peak, the Empire comprised the kingdoms of Germany, Burgundy, Italy, and Bohemia.

Carolingian Dynasty Charlemagne

The Empire came to an end in 1806, although little of its original glory remained by this time.