Medieval Facts

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Medieval Facts

Facts About the Medieval Times!

The Medieval Times were a period of time from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Medieval Times are also referred to as the Middle Ages or Dark Ages.

This era was characterized by feudalism, manorialism, and vassalage; however, this is not what it’s all about. This era also had a lot of interesting events that you might find interesting, such as knights and princesses, castles, and more!

The medieval era, which lasted from the 5th century until 1485, is most famous for the turbulent rebellions and revolutions of the Middle Ages, gruesome punishments, festivals and celebrations, brave knights, and fairytale princesses.

Some refer to the Early Middle Ages as The Dark Ages, as Europe was invaded by Byzantines and Arabs. The Middle Ages are also known as the Dark Ages (due to lost technologies from the Western Roman Empire) or the Faithful Ages (due to the rise of Christianity and Islam).

The Middle Ages began about the year 476 CE, with the Western Roman Empire ending, and continued to around the time that Christopher Columbus arrived in the New World in 1492.

The Middle Ages is so named because it was a period of time that was sandwiched between the end of the Imperial Rome and the start of the Early Modern Period of Europe. Many scholars instead refer to this European period as Medieval “period” – they claim Medieval “ages” wrongly implies the period was a minor flashpoint between two far more significant periods.

The Middle Ages is a period of European history that spans from the collapse of Roman civilisation in the fifth century CE, through to the period of the Renaissance (variously interpreted to have begun in the thirteenth, fourteenth, or fifteenth centuries, depending on region and other factors within Europe).

Feudalism denotes the social, economic, and political conditions in Western Europe in the Early Middle Ages, a lengthy time span spanning from the 5th century through the 12th century.

During the early Middle Ages, Muslim caliphs collected the ancient texts from major empires (Rome, Greece, Egypt) and attempted to integrate this knowledge.

During the Renaissance, scholars and thinkers began calling the earlier age as the Dark Ages, since this divided ancient Roman and Greek cultures, from the Renaissance.

Renaissance-era historians tended to reject the centuries following the Fall of Rome as a Dark Age with no meaningful achievements in the arts or sciences.

The late medieval period as a whole in Europe was equivalent to the Trecento and early Renaissance cultural periods in Italy.

Medieval writers divided history into periods like six centuries, or four empires, and considered their times to be the last before the apocalypse.

The Medieval Period, aka, the Dark Ages, describes the time frame of about 1,000 years between the Fall of Rome in 476 AD to the beginning of the Renaissance in the 14th century.

Medieval Facts 2It will be some time before the term dark age is completely phased out, but many historians believe “dark age” is an obsolete, derogatory label for a time when arts, culture, and literature were thriving throughout Europe. Still, as we know more about this early medieval period, historians are increasingly using the terms medieval and dark age interchangeably to denote this mysteriously veiled period of time in our history.

The Early Middle Ages referred to the time without Roman Emperors in Western Europe, and was a time of declining populations, instability, and migration.

The “Dark Ages” is the term given to the Early Medieval period, or Middle Ages, in Western Europe following the collapse of the Western Roman Empire. The collapse of the Western Roman Empire is characterized in Europe by a period marked by economic, intellectual, and cultural decline. The Dark Ages was a period of European history marked by the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the onset of the Dark Ages, lasting approximately from 476 to 1,000 AD.

While most scholars will agree that the Dark Ages represented a distinctive time in much of Europe, many of the assumptions that made this a popular term are no longer valid.

The beginning of the 20th century saw a drastic reappraisal of the medieval period that called the terminology dark, or at least its most derogatory uses, into question. Today, scholars use the term “dark age” to denote the period of cultural, intellectual, and economic decadence in the Early Middle Ages.

As the achievements of this era became more widely understood during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, scholars began limiting the Dark Ages appellation to the Early Middle Ages, and scholars also now dismiss its usage during this time.

In the 20th century, scholars used “Dark Ages” more explicitly to refer to the 5th-10th centuries, but it is now mostly seen as a pejorative term, concerned to contrast periods of perceived enlightenment with a time of cultural ignorance.

The Dark Ages is so named because it was a period of time in Europe in the late medieval and early modern periods. While the Dark Ages might have begun with the Fall of the Romans, The Medieval Period, from about the late eighth century, began with the rise of leaders like Charlemagne of France, whose reign united most of Europe and brought about a continuation under the aegis of the Holy Roman Empire.


Medieval Castles

Medieval Facts - CastleThe first kind of castle in Medieval Europe was a Motte-and-Bailey Castle.

The Normans were the first group of people to build castles in England, though the Romans before them had built forts which the Normans later expanded and improved.

Motte and Bailiey Castles were early forms of medieval castles, built entirely by Normans. The first medieval castles built by Normans were constructed within existing Roman forts, or were Motte and Bailiey castles.

The Normans brought motte-and-bailey castles from their homelands to England, and these, built from wood, could be built within weeks, thereby allowing them to rapidly establish control of the lands.

People eventually castles from stone as it was stronger and would last for a much longer period.

As the Normans began establishing their control of England, castles began taking on various different roles.

After successfully invading and conquering the United Kingdom, the Normans began a period of castle-building which was to continue well into the Medieval Period.

Although castles had been built in Britain in the English language since Roman times, they had never been built at such speed, nor over such an extensive area.

Over time, stone castles were built with a variety of different architectural styles, as builders experimented with the techniques for building a castle. Essentially, different castle designs were a result of changes in the purposes and meanings of the castles.

Whether they were a permanent residence for the local lord, or temporary residences for rulers on tour in their realm, castles were converted from timber to stone, becoming increasingly spectacular structures, with increasingly protective features, such as circular towers and strong gates.

In addition to walls, medieval castles were also frequently equipped with different types of defensive features, such as crenellations, turrets, and arrow-slits, further assisting defenders if they were to be sieged.

To properly defend the temporal rulers who lived within, castles were built as defensive structures. Fortifications and barriers were built around main castle entrances to keep attackers away.

In their early days, castles were mostly military fortifications used to protect captured territories against attacks. A castle is a type of fortified structure built in the medieval period, predominantly by nobles or royals, and under orders of war.

The term castle generally refers to a stone building constructed in the Middle Ages.

Medieval Facts - CastleDuring the Medieval era, the castle was generally a residence for a King, or lord of the area where it was built.

Durham Castle was first built during the late 11th century, on orders from William the Conqueror, England’s first Norman King.

Pevensey Castle, East Sussex, England, United Kingdom is an example of a Norman castle built within the existing Roman fortress.

Tower houses, closely associated with the Castles, including Pele towers, are defensive towers which were permanent dwellings built during the 13th and 14th centuries. Tower houses became a main feature of medieval castles, though before the 16th century they were called a donjon.

The keep was the core of any stone castle, usually the first section built. The keep was the section of the castle in which the men lived and animals were kept.

The Bailey was a fortified enclosure that contained the domestic buildings in the castle.

The motte was composed of a large earthen mound, which had a timber tower at its summit, and the bailey was a large ditch-and-banked enclosure surrounding the motte.

The moat was the protective ditch built around the castle, which could either have been dry or filled with water. The soil or stones dug during moat preparations could be used to construct a mound upon which a castle was later built.

The castle’s “toilets” were usually constructed using an overhanging masonry shaft through part of the outer walls, with waste falling straight down to a ditch or moat on the exterior.

The early forms of castles later evolved into the motte-and-bailey – a wall surrounding a common or courtyard area (bailey) and a natural or man-made hill (motte) with a timber tower built atop.

Concentric castles were generally built without a central keep, either in a square or polygonal plan, with towers facing each direction, and double curtain walls surrounding them.

Some castles were designed for a cultural sense of luxury and grandeur, whereas others were built for strictly military purposes, with solid walls which could easily defend themselves and provided sanctuary to local populations.

Medieval castles were built from the 11th century AD onwards, to allow rulers to show off their wealth and power to the local populace, provide a location of defense and a safe place to retreat to if attacked, protect strategically important sites such as river crossings, passes over hills, mountains, and boundaries, and to serve as places to live.

The term castle may also refer to the fortresses of antiquity, as well as to the towers built on the front and rear of medieval ships, where archers could fire their arrows.

Despite developments in the stone construction of castles, it became more common for medieval attackers to break through Gothic defenses. Common techniques included tunneling under corners of towers–undermining their foundations, encouraging a collapse of the castle.

Medieval Knights

Knights of the Middle Ages Knights were highly regarded during the Middle Ages for being fighters who protected the people.

On the battlefield, medieval knights were the best-protected, and the most-feared, fighters. When they were not fighting, they were also considered to be the best-behaved and best-dressed members of society.

Medieval Facts - KnightsThe principles of chivalry as codified by knighthood were promoted by writers on knighthood. The Code of Chivalry is also mentioned in The Song of Roland.

The notion of knighthood referred to a religious motive held by certain knights during the medieval period–a motive that was so powerful that the loot they took was frequently donated to churches and monasteries owned by certain knights.

Knights were the most-feared and best-protected fighters on the medieval battlefield, and while not in it, they were some of the most fashionably dressed and well-mannered members of society.

Medieval knights were soldiers who fought for their lords, either on horseback or sometimes on foot.

Early medieval knights were professional horsemen, some were vassals, holding land as fiefs from the lords in whose armies they served, and others were not land-entitled.

The medieval period was a time of extreme violence — and medieval knights did much more than defend castles.

Richard Caeuper, a historian at the University of Rochester and the author of several books about medieval chivalry, believes that although knights typically saw themselves as honorable and pious, they did not necessarily follow the rules set by their religious leaders. Richard Kaeuper believes our modern understanding of chivalry, which is coded about appropriate male conduct, especially in relationships with women, has little in common with actual medieval knights.

During the Middle Ages, knights used coats of arms to identify themselves, a characteristic which was particularly helpful during combat.
The average knight might not have lived up to this impeccable standard, but the heroic archetype was promoted through Medieval literature and folklore, with the codification of the correct manners for knights known as chivalry developed by the late 12th century.

As knighthood evolved, the Christian ideals of knightly behavior came to be accepted, which involved fidelity to the Church, protecting the poor and the weak, loyalty to one’s feudal or military superiors, and maintaining one’s personal honor.

The code of knighthood commands that you should fear God and uphold his church, and also to serve your lord by faith. It is true, a knight’s duty was to serve the lords and the kings as soldiers, landowners, and enforcers of justice, eventually taking the role of protecting the pilgrims who were helpless to defend themselves, as we saw in the numerous Crusades.

Knights were considered elite soldiers during the Battles, Wars, and Crusades, but when they were not in those situations, they generally served as the enforcers for local Lords Courts or those of Queens.

Medieval Princesses

Although the medieval period was mostly dominated by men, a number of medieval princesses and queens rose to prominence and continued to have significant roles in public life.

A medieval princess was a member of a royal family, who were often descendants of the King and Queen.

Medieval Facts Contrary to common perception, a medieval princess’ life was not completely divorced from politics and state affairs.

It is a familiar truth that, during the Middle Ages, princesses were political currency, pawns, married as young children to strangers abroad, expected to perform their duties gracefully, and without complaint.

The role of the princess was not glamorous during medieval times, since they were used in making alliances among countries. The women who became princesses and queens during the medieval period had complicated lives filled with politics, public opinion, and social pressures.

Royal women might have had more power in 1300 than most princesses have today, but theirs was hardly a life to romanticize, though we constantly do.

From a young age, plenty of girls were promised off to the king, and plenty of marriages took place before the princess reached her teen years. Young women were removed from their homes and sent across Europe to marry, often never to see their native realms again.

The princesses of medieval times were expected to dress elegantly, often being sent at a young age to live with the families of those whom they were expected to marry, in order to learn to behave and dress properly.

Princesses, or daughters of other nobles who were appropriately senior, were used as political pawns in order to obtain power and build alliances. The tumultuous politics of the Middle Ages sometimes came at a cost, and the princess might have been married to the prince or king of a rival nation as part of a peace treaty.

One woman who challenged these expectations that we have for medieval royals was Isabella of Woodstock, the elder daughter of England’s King Edward III and his wife, Philippa of Hainault.

As the princess and oldest child in the royal family, Isabella was of great importance to King Edward III of England in forging alliances, especially as he launched his claim for the crown of France, thereby beginning a conflict known as the Hundred Years War.

Isabella de Courcy, Princess of England and eldest daughter of King Edward III, was once given five offers all at once — Isabella de Courcy and her parents rejected them all, instead having her live independently for fourteen years and marrying the suitor of her own choosing.

Nearly 30 years before, another princess named Eleanor held Dover Castle against her own brother, King Henry III, for months in an insurrection led by her husband, rebel baron Simon de Montfort.

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