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Medieval History: Most Popular Articles

These articles are the most popular over the last month.
The Black Death: Causes and Symptoms
A graphic description of Black Death symptoms and causes of the disease.
Everything You Need to Know About the Black Death
A quick introduction to the horrific plague of the 14th century known as the Black Death, with links to further resources, here at the Medieval History site.
What You Need to Know About the Crusades
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What Did People Wear in the Middle Ages?
What did people wear in the Middle Ages? Find out in this introduction.
What to Know About the Epic Poem Beowulf
Beowulf is the oldest surviving epic poem in the English language and the earliest piece of vernacular European literature.
The Spread of the Black Death through Europe
A series of maps by your guide depicting how the dreaded 14th-century plague spread through Europe
The Black Death Comes to Europe, 1347
Map of the route the Black Death took to arrive in Europe in 1347. Page 3.
How To Avoid the Plague
Traveling back in time to the 14th century? Make sure you know how to avoid the deadly plague.
Beowulf Quiz
Beowulf Quiz Here are 25 questions to test your knowledge of the poem Beowulf and its history. Don't
Defining the Middle Ages
The Middle Ages are often broken into three sub-eras: Early, High, and Late Middle Ages.
What Was Underwear Like in Medieval Times?
What men and women wore under their clothing in the Middle Ages.
Medieval Food Preservation
Keeping food edible for months and even years during the Middle Ages. Page one: drying foods, preserving foods with salt, and smoking meat and fish.
The Book of Kells
The Book of Kells is a stunningly beautiful manuscript from the early Middle Ages containing the Four Gospels. This introduction provides information about the origins and history of the book as well as its construction, and offers suggested reading.
An explanation of the origin and history of the term medieval.
Before the Black Death, There Was the...
Centuries before the horrific Black Death, a virulent epidemic of plague struck Byzantium, Persia, and parts of southern Europe, shaking the empire and affecting it for decades.
Renaissance Love Poems
English love poems of the Renaissance era by six poets.
El Cid - National Hero of Spain
The national hero of Spain, El Cid displayed remarkable military ability in his conquest of Valencia, and after his death he became the subject of many legends, stories, and poems.
Blaming the Crusades
Can the crusades be blamed on an individual? A reader's question elicits a response.
Richard the Lionheart
A biography of King Richard I of England, known as Richard the Lionheart.
What Made Charles So Great?
An introduction to the life of Charlemagne and his impact on European history.
The medieval manor was an agricultural estate, and more.
Abu Bakr - The First Muslim Caliph
Abu Bakr was the closest friend and companion of Muhammad and the first Muslim caliph. He was one of the first men to convert to Islam, and was chosen by the prophet as his companion on the hijrah to Medina.
What Peasants and Laborers Wore in the Middle...
Undergarments, overgarments, accessories and everyday clothes for members of the medieval working class.
Medieval Christmas Traditions
Christmas traditions that began or evolved during the Middle Ages.
The People's Crusade
The People's Crusade was a popular movement of crusaders who did not wait for the official leaders of the expedition but took off for the Holy Land early, unprepared and inexperienced.
The Art and (proto)Science of Alchemy
A mixture of science, philosophy and mysticism, medieval alchemy was a precursor to chemistry, and medieval alchemists accomplished some important scientific advances.
Origins of Plague
Map of the possible origins of the 14th-century plague and the route it took to Europe. Page 2.
The Black Death Spreads through France
A map of the routes taken by the Black Death through France in the 14th century, by your Guide. Page 6.
Aryabhata the Elder
Aryabhata the Elder wrote an important early work on astronomy and mathematics.
The Spread of the Black Death through Italy
A map depicting the Spread of the Black Death through Italy in the 14th century, by your Guide. Page 5.
A Swift Strike
A map depicting the spread of the Black Death from January to June, 1348. Page 4.
Charlemagne Study Guide - Timeline
This study guide offers general information to help you learn about Charlemagne. The timeline of Charlemagne's life provides a chronological listing of significant events in the Frankish king's life and reign.
Powerful Pontiff Pope Innocent III
Pope Innocent III was one of the most powerful and influential popes of the Middle Ages.
An Insidious Spread
A map depicting the spread of the Black Death in Europe from July to December, 1348. Page 7.
Charlemagne - King of the Franks and Lombards
Charlemagne consolidated a large portion of Europe under his rule, promoted learning, and instituted innovative administrative concepts. This profile of the emperor offers quick facts about the emperor and a concise biography. Part of the Who's Who in Medieval History resource.
Donatello - Master of Renaissance Sculpture
Donato di Niccolo di Betto Bardi, called Donatello, was one of the foremost sculptors of the Italian Renaissance. He was a master of both marble and bronze, and had an extensive knowledge of ancient sculpture.
The Problem With Feudalism - the F-Word
Feudalism was once considered the prevailing social system of medieval Europe. But most medievalists have serious problems with both the term and the concept it describes.
The chamberlain played an important role in the royal household.
Why Bother with Beowulf?
Medieval literature provides a gateway to our past.
The Bad Old Days - Canopy Beds
The real development of canopy beds in medieval Europe. Part of your Guide's refutation of the infamous Bad Old Days net hoax.
Everything You Need to Know About Charlemagne
This study guide offers general information to help you learn about Charlemagne. Here are some important facts about Charlemagne's birth and family, conquests and campaigns, administration, cultural impact and legacy.
The Papal States
In the Middle Ages, the papacy owned land. Not just a nice corner lot with a three-bedroom cottage and a shed, either. They owned lots and lots of land. How much land? And how did they come to control it? Find out in this introduction.
The Dream of the Rood - Earliest English Dream...
The Old English lyric The Dream of the Rood is the earliest English dream poem to be found in written form. The Dream of the Rood was first discovered on the Ruthwell Cross.
When Were the Middle Ages?
When did the Middle Ages start and end? A look at some of the many different ways this much-misunderstood era is defined.
Map of the spread of the Black Death in Europe in the year 1349, by your Guide. Page 8.
Childbirth in the Middle Ages
The dangers of medieval childhood, estimated death rates, and the attitudes of medieval parents towards the loss of a child. Page 2.
The Beowulf Story
A description of the events that transpire in the Old English Epic poem, Beowulf.
Peter the Hermit
Also known as known as Cucu Peter, Little Peter or Peter of Amiens, Peter the Hermit preached Crusade in the wake of Urban's speech at Clermont.
The Avignon Papacy
The Avignon Papacy was the period in the 14th century when the popes lived in and operated out of Avignon, France, instead of their traditional home in Rome
Defining the Knight
Definition of Medieval knights, their armor, roles, and duties
The Nika Revolt: Violent Uprising in Medieval...
The Nika Revolt was a devastating riot that took place in early medieval Constantinople, in the Eastern Roman Empire.
A Medieval Christmas
In the Middle Ages, yuletide celebrations were somewhat different than today -- yet modern Christians will recognize aspects of a Medieval Christmas.
Top 8 Books about the History of the Templars
Your Guide's choices for the best books that offer factual historical information about the Templar Knights, the warrior monks of the Crusades.
Charlemagne Study Guide - Biography
This study guide offers general information to help you learn about Charlemagne. This overview is an introductory biography of the important Frankish king.
The Knights Templar: Warrior Monks
A concise introduction to the origins, expansion, organization and downfall of the Templars, the warrior monks who defended pilgrims in the Holy Land.
Fresh Meat & Fish
The availability and use of fresh meat, poultry and fish in the Middle Ages
In the Middle Ages, there was no specific rank associated with the term Baron.
Medieval Food Preservation, Page Two
Keeping food edible for months and even years during the Middle Ages, page two: pickling, confits, fermenting, freezing and cooling. Page 2.
Amerigo Vespucci
Amerigo Vespucci is the navigator and explorer for whom two continents are named.
Who's Who in Medieval History
A resource to help you find information on the web and off about significant individuals from the Middle Ages and Renaissance.
Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus made a historic voyage in 1492, searching for a westward route to the treasures of the east and instead encountering a new world.
Dark Legacy
How centuries of war in the name of Christianity began with one man's ambition.
The caliphate was both a political and a religious entity.
Silk Production and Trade in Medieval Times
The use of silk in the Middle Ages.
There are several different uses of the term Bailiff in the Middle Ages.
Medieval Clothing by Region and Period
Medieval clothing varied according to the time frame as well as the region. Here are some societies (and segments of society) whose clothing styles are especially evocative of their cultures.
Medieval peasant pottage and the peas porridge rhyme. Part of your Guide's refutation of the infamous Bad Old Days net hoax.
The Holy Land
The onetime Roman province of Palestine would prove to be a holy land for Muslims, Christians, and Jews.
The epic of Beowulf, the most precious relic of Old English, and, indeed, of all early Germanic literature, has come down to us in a single MS.
Paracelsus - Alchemist and Physician
Paracelsus was a physician and alchemist who made significant strides in the field of medicine
What role did Bishops play in the history of...
Bishops performed priestly and administrative duties, and they played an important role in the development of the medieval Christian Church.
The Hospitallers - Monastic Knights
The Hospitallers were a monastic brotherhood of knights who both tended to ill and injured pilgrims and took up arms to protect them on their way to the Holy Land.
The sources of wool, types of wool, and uses of wool in medieval Europe.
Charlemagne Quotes
Words of wisdom attributed to the great Frankish king.
Giotto di Bondone - Father of the Renaissance
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The Medieval Child, Part 1: Introduction
The first in a series of articles exploring the status and daily life of children in the Middle Ages, Part I examines the concept of childhood, the importance of children, and the question of affection in the medieval family.
When ancient society evolved into medieval society, slavery didn't disappear.
Augustine of Canterbury
Saint Augustine founded the Christian Church in southern England and became the first archbishop of Canterbury.
Profile of Michelangelo Buonarroti
He is considered by many to be the greatest sculptor who ever lived, and was certainly one of the greatest artists of all time. His extraordinary work has deeply moved people throughout the world for more than half a millennium with its breathtaking beauty. Get the basic facts about Michelangelo in this Who's Who Profile.
Charlemagne's Pope, Leo III
They wanted to blind him and cut out his tongue, and so they attacked him in the streets of Rome. But Pope Leo III had Charlemagne on his side.
Constantine the Great
What is a fourth-century Roman emperor doing at a Medieval History site? See the important actions he took that would have effects reaching far into the Middle Ages.
A Medieval Atlas
Find the map you need or explore some fascinating pieces of the past.
Concise Biography of El Cid
The subject of many legends, stories and poems, El Cid was nevertheless a real historical individual. He has been painted both as a chivalrous knight and a freebooter, depending on who's doing the painting. But whatever else he was, El Cid was a remarkable military leader whose achievements still command respect.
Frankish King Clovis, the First Merovingian
Clovis was the founder of the Merovingian dynasty of Frankish kings, and became a Catholic instead of an Arian Christian.
Alfred the Great
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Chansons de Geste
An introduction to the Chansons de Geste, or Songs of Deeds, epic poems of medieval France.
A Medieval Love Story
Peter Abelard and his student, Heloise, engaged in a true-life romance in the 12th-century.
The History of Algebra
Get a rundown about the origins of Algebra from this article that originally appeared in a 1911 encyclopedia.
The Chaucer Quiz
Shell for testing HTML code and text.: geoffrey chaucer quiz script quick quiz script src text javascript
Christ Enthroned
Public-domain image of Christ Enthroned from the Book of Kells, free for your use, here at the Medieval History site. Page 2.
Who the Saxons were, when and where they thrived, and what happened to them.
Medieval Methods for Making Fabric from Wool
How a wide variety of wool cloth was manufactured in the Middle Ages, from sorting the wool to the finishing stages.
The Medieval Child, Part 5: The Learning Years,...
Learning a trade and the life of apprentices in medieval times. Page 3.
Pope Urban II
Pope Urban II launched the Crusade Movement with his call to arms at the Council of Clermont.
The Forgotten Empire
After Rome fell, Byzantium lasted another thousand years. A brief look at a forgotten empire.
Alexander Nevsky
Prince of Novgorod and Kiev and Grand Prince of Vladimir, Alexander Nevsky is best known for stopping the advance of the Swedes and the Teutonic Knights into Russia.
Concise Biography of Alexander Nevsky
He kept both the Swedes and the Teutonic Knights from advancing into Russia, but Grand Prince Alexander Nevsky may be best known for his victory in the Battle on the Ice.
Pope Gregory I
Gregory's influence was paramount in shaping the early medieval papacy. A monk, theologian, and Doctor of the Church, he has even been credited with originating Gregorian Chant.
King John of England
During his lifetime and for long after, John was considered a bad king.
A.D. (Anno Domini)
The initials A.D. stand for Anno Domini, which was part of the dating system used in the Middle Ages. A definition from your Guide.
The Establishment of the Papacy
How the bishopric of Rome came to be established as the foremost authority in the western Christian Church.
The Medieval Child, Part 2: Entry into the...
The second in a series of articles exploring the status and daily life of children in the Middle Ages, Part 2 examines childbirth and baptism.
The Secret of Kells
The Secret of Kells is an Oscar-nominated animated film.
Harun Al-Rashid - Abbasid Caliph
The fifth Abbasid caliph, Harun al-Rashid and his fabulous court at Baghdad are immortalized in The Thousand and One Nights.
C.E. (Common Era)
The initials C.E. stand for Common Era, a relatively new nomenclature for our current, most common dating system. A definition from your Guide.
Fresh Meat & Fish, Page Two
The availability and use of fresh meat, poultry and fish in Towns and Cities. Page 2.
The Hagia Sophia
A cathedral was only one of the incarnations of the Hagia Sophia.
Donatello Sculpture Gallery
A selection of sculptures and carvings by the master of Renaissance sculpture, Donatello.
The Sheriff was the chief administrative and judicial officer of a shire.
The Dead
Measures against getting buried alive that were never taken. Part of your Guide's refutation of the infamous Bad Old Days net hoax
Splendor in Medieval Africa
A brief introduction to the medieval kingdom of Mali and the splendid African society that flourished there.
Famous Medieval Couples
A survey of some of the most famous -- and not-so-famous -- couples in Medieval and Renaissance history and fiction.
Renaissance Poetry: William Shakespeare
A poem from the Renaissance era by William Shakespeare, from your Mining Co. Guide
Decorated Initial
Public-domain image of a Decorated Initial from the Book of Kells, free for your use, here at the Medieval History site. Page 3.
Otto the Great
Otto consolidated the German Reich and made significant advances for secular influence in papal politics. His reign is generally considered to be the true beginning of the Holy Roman Empire.
Canon Table
Public-domain image of a Canon Table from the Book of Kells, free for your use, here at the Medieval History site.
The Myth of Rotten Meat
Did medieval people regularly use spices to disguise the taste of rotten meat? A medieval myth exploded by your Guide.
The Theodosian Code
The Theodosian Code is an important indicator of the continuity of Roman law from the ancient era into the Middle Ages.
Incipit to the Gospel of Matthew
Public-domain images of the Incipit to the Gospel of Matthew from the Book of Kells, free for your use, here at the Medieval History site. Page 4.
Origins and Early History of Heraldry
A look at the possible origins of this colorful art and the early history of heraldic usage.
Dirt floors and the use of straw in the Middle Ages. Part of your Guide's refutation of the infamous Bad Old Days net hoax.
Europe on the Eve of Plague
A map depicting the political boundaries of nations in Europe in the year 1346, from your Guide.
Images from the Book of Kells
Public-domain images from the Book of Kells, free for your use, here at the Medieval History site.
Emperor Justinian I
One of the most important emperors in Byzantine history, Justinian would reign for nearly 40 years, sponsoring an important law code, surviving a plague and the Nika Revolt, acquiring considerable territory and initiating an extensive building program.
Charles the Bald
Charles the Bald was king of the West Frankish kingdom and, later, Western Emperor.
The Medieval Child, Part 5: The Learning Years
The fifth in a series of articles exploring the status and daily life of children in the Middle Ages, Part 5 examines education during adolescence.
Court of Star Chamber
The Court of Star Chamber evolved from the medieval English king's council as a supplement to common-law courts, but though it served swift justice, it was subject to abuses.
Muslim Leader Saladin - Hero of the Third Crusade
Saladin was the most famous Muslim hero of the Middle Ages and a consummate military tactician, whose capture of Jerusalem set off the Third Crusade.
Four Evangelist Symbols
Public-domain images of the Four Evangelist Symbols from the Book of Kells, free for your use, here at the Medieval History site. Page 7.
Saint Patrick
One of the patron saints of Ireland, Saint Patrick is credited with bringing Christianity to the Emerald Isle.
A New Religion: The Spread and Survival of...
Christianity managed to spread throughout the Roman Empire and survive at a time when many other religions appeared and swiftly disappeared.
The Code of Justinian
The Code of Justinian was an important law code issued under the sponsorship of Emperor Justinian I.
King Henry VII of England
Henry Tudor became King Henry VII of England after defeating Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field. He was frugal, cautious and, when it came to threats to the throne, ruthless.
Portrait of John
Public-domain image of the Portrait of John from the Book of Kells, free for your use, here at the Medieval History site. Page 5.
The Lombards
The Lombards established a kingdom in Northern Italy.
Best General Histories of the Medieval Era
A general reference of the Middle Ages is a must-have for medieval history buffs and students alike. Each of these introductory works provides a sound starting point for what you need to know about this much-misunderstood time.
Explorer Erik the Red
His exile from Iceland was only the beginning of his greatest adventure.
The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy
The complete text of the Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy by Jacob Burckhardt. A public-domain document online here at the Medieval History site.
Concise Biography of Alfred the Great
Alfred resisted the Danes and united much of the individual English kingdoms under one rule. For his military skill, his administrative acumen, his promotion of learning and his achievement in uniting virtually all of England, Alfred is the only English king to be called Great.
Work and Adolescence in the Middle Ages
The sixth in a series of articles exploring the status and daily life of children in the Middle Ages, Part 6 examines the work options of adolescents and recreational activities.
Saint Dominic Quotations
Quotes attributed to the austere-living saint.
Byzantine Emperor Alexius Comnenus
Alexius founded the Comnenus dynasty of Byzantine emperors and strengthened the empire considerably. But when he asked the pope for help driving the Turks from his territory, he had no idea how events would unfold.
Renaissance Poetry: Ben Jonson
A poem from the Renaissance era by Ben Jonson, from your Mining Co. Guide
Top 10 General Crusades History Books
Books that focus on the Crusades in general, and are not limited to a single Crusade.
Types of Fowl
The birds that were cooked and consumed by people in the Middle Ages.
Concise Biography of Leon Battista Alberti
Humanist philosopher, Renaissance architect and artistic theorist, Leon Battista Alberti was a prolific writer on many subjects. Find out more about him in this straightforward biography.
Concise Biography of Amerigo Vespucci
The life, expeditions, and further career of the man for whom two continents were named.
Baldwin IV
The problems of the reign of Baldwin IV. may be said to have been two - his sister Sibylla and the fiery Raynald of Chatillon.
Incipit to Mark
Public-domain image of the Incipit to Mark from the Book of Kells, free for your use, here at the Medieval History site. Page 8.
The position of reeve was usually filled by one of the villeins of the manor.
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