Medieval Times – Understanding Medieval Times c. 500 to c.1500

When were Medieval Times – Dating Medieval times?

Did the Medieval Period Start After the Collapse of the Roman Empire or in 1066 -1485 as some people believe – Who is Right?

Introduction to Medieval Times

The medieval period was a critically important historical period in Europe’s history. During this time, Europe saw the collapse of the ancient empires and power spheres. These were replaced by new kingdoms and social systems like the feudal system which arose in their place.

It is important to differentiate between the differences of opinion when dating medieval times when talking about Medieval England and the Medieval world as a whole.

Some scholars believe that the medieval period in England began in 1066 with the Norman invasion but that the medieval period as a whole (world) began with the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century.

This transitional period from ‘ancient times’ to ‘medieval times’ is often referred to as antiquity

Medieval times also saw a demographic shift in Europe with more Germanic tribes arriving from the east and settling the European lands. Christianity also became more widespread.


Beginning and Ending of Medieval Times

There is a general consensus that the medieval times in Europe came to an end in the 15th century with the beginning of Renaissance. However, there is some disagreement as to when the medieval period began.

Some regard the fall of Roman Empire as the beginning while some have also used the Norman Conquest of 1066 as the real beginning. Here is a look at both events and how they may be used as the start of the medieval period.

The Collapse of Roman Empire and start of Medieval Times

The 4th century was a time of great tumult and change in Europe. This was particularly true for Western Europe. The Roman Empire which had spanned most of Western Europe and stood with glory for centuries was declining.

Its decline coincided with mass migration of Germanic tribes from the East who were, in turn, pushed by other tribes from the east.

This migration sped up the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. Germanic tribes settled in Roman territories, took over Roman lands and ultimately deposed the last Roman Emperor.

With this, the Roman Empire effectively ended and was replaced by a large number of splinter kingdoms. This is usually denoted by many historians as the start of the medieval period.

The Norman Conquest of England in Medieval Times

The Norman Conquest of England in 1066 is often regarded as the start of the medieval period. This makes sense in the context of England.

Anglo-Saxons began to settle in England from 5th century onward, after the Romans had decisively withdrawn from the Isles. From 5th to 11th centuries, Anglo-Saxons established several settlements and kingdoms.

The culture and traditions of Anglo-Saxons were largely old-school. For instance, while the feudal system gained traction across continental Europe from 8th century onward, Anglo-Saxon England didn’t accept

the concept. This finally changed when William the Conqueror landed in England in 1066. He defeated Anglo-Saxons and ushered in a French-Norman rule based on feudal system. In many ways, this could be considered the true beginning of the medieval period in England.

The End of Medieval Period in 1485

The medieval period in England is believed to have come to an end in 1485. In 1485, Henry defeated Richard III in the fateful Battle of Bosworth Field. Richard’s death at this battle effectively ended the

War of the Roses and helped Henry ascent the throne as Henry VII.

Henry VII was the first monarch of the famous Tudor dynasty which would continue to rule England for nearly the next 120 years.

The reign of the Tudor dynasty coincided with a weakening of the feudal systems, the rise of the merchant class, establishment of a stronger navy, centralization of powers and the beginning of Reformation in England.

Medieval Period – Fast Facts

  • The widely held view of historians is that the Medieval period started after the Roman Empire collapse in the 4th century.
  • When the Medieval period is mentioned as starting in 1066 it is usually in relation to Medieval England only.
  • The feudal system was brought to England by the Normans in 1066 and this could be considered the start of the Medieval period in England.
  • Many historians believe the end of Medieval period to be around 1485 with the end of the war the Roses.
  • The Tudor period would serve to weaken the Medieval feudal systems of the Norman period.