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Medieval History: Most Popular Articles

These articles are the most popular over the last month.
Beowulf Quiz
Beowulf Quiz Here are 25 questions to test your knowledge of the poem Beowulf and its history. Don't
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.
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.
The Black Death: Causes and Symptoms
A graphic description of Black Death symptoms and causes of the disease.
What Did People Wear in the Middle Ages?
What did people wear in the Middle Ages? Find out in this introduction.
What You Need to Know About the Crusades
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The Black Death Comes to Europe, 1347
Map of the route the Black Death took to arrive in Europe in 1347. Page 3.
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
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.
An explanation of the origin and history of the term medieval.
What Was Underwear Like in Medieval Times?
What men and women wore under their clothing in the Middle Ages.
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.
How To Avoid the Plague
Traveling back in time to the 14th century? Make sure you know how to avoid the deadly plague.
Defining the Middle Ages
The Middle Ages are often broken into three sub-eras: Early, High, and Late Middle Ages.
Spain - Historical Setting - The Golden Age -...
Online text of the History of Spain; public domain document that you may copy, download, print and distribute as you see fit. Page Six: The Golden Age - Ferdinand and Isabella
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The medieval manor was an agricultural estate, and more.
Richard the Lionheart
A biography of King Richard I of England, known as Richard the Lionheart.
Renaissance Love Poems
English love poems of the Renaissance era by six poets.
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.
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.
What Peasants and Laborers Wore in the Middle...
Undergarments, overgarments, accessories and everyday clothes for members of the medieval working class.
Why Bother with Beowulf?
Medieval literature provides a gateway to our past.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Medieval Christmas Traditions
Christmas traditions that began or evolved during the Middle Ages.
Blaming the Crusades
Can the crusades be blamed on an individual? A reader's question elicits a response.
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.
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.
What Made Charles So Great?
An introduction to the life of Charlemagne and his impact on European history.
Powerful Pontiff Pope Innocent III
Pope Innocent III was one of the most powerful and influential popes of the Middle Ages.
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.
Origins of Plague
Map of the possible origins of the 14th-century plague and the route it took to Europe. Page 2.
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 Medieval Child, Part 3: Surviving Infancy,...
The dangers of medieval childhood, estimated death rates, and the attitudes of medieval parents towards the loss of a child. Page 2.
The chamberlain played an important role in the royal household.
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.
The Chaucer Quiz
Shell for testing HTML code and text.: geoffrey chaucer quiz script quick quiz script src text javascript
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.
A Medieval Atlas
Find the map you need or explore some fascinating pieces of the past.
A Swift Strike
A map depicting the spread of the Black Death from January to June, 1348. Page 4.
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.
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.
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.
The Theodosian Code
The Theodosian Code is an important indicator of the continuity of Roman law from the ancient era into the Middle Ages.
The Hoax
The hoax in question, with associated links leading to specific information refuting the bogus assertions.
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.
Medieval peasant pottage and the peas porridge rhyme. Part of your Guide's refutation of the infamous Bad Old Days net hoax.
The Medieval History Starter Quiz
A quick and easy quiz for newcomers to the Middle Ages.
Map of the spread of the Black Death in Europe in the year 1349, by your Guide. Page 8.
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.
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.
An Insidious Spread
A map depicting the spread of the Black Death in Europe from July to December, 1348. Page 7.
The sources of wool, types of wool, and uses of wool in medieval Europe.
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 Dead
Measures against getting buried alive that were never taken. Part of your Guide's refutation of the infamous Bad Old Days net hoax
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
Silk Production and Trade in Medieval Times
The use of silk in the Middle Ages.
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.
Charles the Bald
Charles the Bald was king of the West Frankish kingdom and, later, Western Emperor.
The Medieval Child, Part 3: Surviving Infancy
The third in a series of articles exploring the status and daily life of children in the Middle Ages, Part 3 examines life for the infant and a child's chances of survival.
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.
Young King Henry VIII
Portrait of Henry VIII in early manhood by an unknown artist. Page 6.
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.
Giotto di Bondone - Father of the Renaissance
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Augustine of Canterbury
Saint Augustine founded the Christian Church in southern England and became the first archbishop of Canterbury.
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.
The Medieval Child
An index to our series of articles about childhood 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 Atlas - Maps of Constantinople -...
A selection of maps depicting Constantinople in Medieval times.
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.
King John of England
During his lifetime and for long after, John was considered a bad king.
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.
The Salic Law
The Salic Law had ancient origins, but would be incorrectly applied in French laws of royal succession.
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.
The Medieval History Starter Quiz - Question One
The Medieval History Starter Quiz Question 1 There are no precise, incontrovertible dates to define the
Famous Medieval Couples
A survey of some of the most famous -- and not-so-famous -- couples in Medieval and Renaissance history and fiction.
The Bad Old Days - Thatched Roofs
Neither cats nor dogs could live inside a thatched roof. Part of our refutation of the infamous Bad Old Days email hoax.
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.
Medieval & Renaissance Monarchs of England
This table of the kings and queens of England, from the house of Wessex in the ninth century to the Tudors in the sixteenth, links to profile pages in Who's Who in Medieval History.
Alfred the Great
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King Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII's political maneuverings resulted in a break with the Catholic Church and the launch of the English Reformation.
The Forgotten Empire
After Rome fell, Byzantium lasted another thousand years. A brief look at a forgotten empire.
Charlemagne Quotes
Words of wisdom attributed to the great Frankish king.
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.
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.
In the Middle Ages, there was no specific rank associated with the term Baron.
Amerigo Vespucci
Amerigo Vespucci is the navigator and explorer for whom two continents are named.
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.
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.
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.
Paracelsus - Alchemist and Physician
Paracelsus was a physician and alchemist who made significant strides in the field of medicine
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.
Defining the Knight
Definition of Medieval knights, their armor, roles, and duties
Saint Jerome - A Concise Biography
Saint Jerome translated the Bible into Latin in what would become the Vulgate edition. He was a hermit, a priest, and a teacher, and he wrote voluminously on many theological topics.
The Medieval Child, Part 6: Teens at Work and...
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.
Pope Urban II
Pope Urban II launched the Crusade Movement with his call to arms at the Council of Clermont.
Manufacturing Cloth from Wool
How a wide variety of wool cloth was manufactured in the Middle Ages, from sorting the wool to the finishing stages.
Canute the Great
Canute conquered large parts of England, taking the crown in Denmark and Norway, and built a formidable -- if short-lived -- empire.
Images from the Book of Kells
Public-domain images from the Book of Kells, free for your use, here at the Medieval History site.
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.
Edward the Elder
Edward was the first-born son of Alfred the Great, and achieved further successes when he followed his father to the throne.
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 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 History of Algebra
Get a rundown about the origins of Algebra from this article that originally appeared in a 1911 encyclopedia.
Dark Legacy
How centuries of war in the name of Christianity began with one man's ambition.
The buying and selling of spiritual things is the essence of simony.
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.
There are several different uses of the term Bailiff in the Middle Ages.
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.
Relics and Reliquaries
Relics were important objects of veneration in medieval Catholicism.
Justinian Quotes
Excerpts from the Code of Justinian and quotations that have been attributed to the Byzantine emperor.
Saint Germanus of Auxerre
Saint Germanus, or St. Germain, visited England to preach against the Pelagian Heresy and helped to consolidate the British church. Saint Germanus was also the first bishop of the Scots and, according to tradition, helped St. Patrick evangelize Ireland.
A Medieval Christmas
What was it like to celebrate Christmas in the Middle Ages? An introduction by your Guide.
When ancient society evolved into medieval society, slavery didn't disappear.
Terms Used in Beowulf
Explanations of unusual terms used in the Beowulf poem.
The term heptarchy should really refer to seven individual rulers of one country, but historically, it has another meaning.
The Hagia Sophia
A cathedral was only one of the incarnations of the Hagia Sophia.
Quotations by Saint Jerome
From the prolific writings of Saint Jerome come insights into spirituality and everyday life.
The Bad Old Days - Baths
Medieval man liked to bathe, and babies were never thrown out with the bathwater. Part of your Guide's refutation of the infamous Bad Old Days net hoax.
Young Henry
Portrait of Henry as a child by an unknown artist. Page 4.
Christopher Columbus in Print
Biographies of Christopher Columbus, historical background, primary and secondary sources, and books for younger readers.
Saint Jerome
Though best known for his translation of the Bible into Latin, Jerome was an important scholar of the early Christian Church and wrote on many theological matters.
The Lombards
The Lombards established a kingdom in Northern Italy.
Godfrey of Bouillon - Crusader
Though he'd never shown any particular devotion to the Church, Godfrey of Bouillon answered the call to Crusade and became one of the First Crusade's most powerful leaders. He was also tall, blond and handsome.
Tomatoes & Pewter Plates
Why tomatoes were sometimes considered poisonous in the late Middle Ages. Part of our refutation of the infamous Bad Old Days email hoax.
The Prophet Muhammad
Muhammad founded Islam and saw the religion spread through much of Arabia during his lifetime.
King Henry IV of England
When his cousin Richard II was on the throne, Henry led a conspiracy against him, and years later, he usurped the throne from him. Why would he do such a thing? He had his reasons...
The 13th Warrior
Review of the film by your Guide.
Germany - The Protestant Reformation - Martin...
Online text of the History of Germany; public domain document that you may copy, download, print and distribute as you see fit. Page Ten: The Protestant Reformation: Martin Luther.
Pope Benedict II
Benedict was known for his singing as well as his mastery of Scripture.
King Francis I of France
King Francis I of France is considered France's first Renaissance King.
Eleanor of Aquitaine
Eleanor of Aquitaine, Queen of France and later England, was arguably the most powerful woman of High Medieval Europe.
John Ball
John Ball was an English priest who took a prominent part in the peasant revolt.
The Secret of Kells
The Secret of Kells is an Oscar-nominated animated film.
Germany - The Thirty Years' War - The Peace of...
Online text of the History of Germany; public domain document that you may copy, download, print and distribute as you see fit. Page Sixteen: The Thirty Years' War: The Peace of Westphalia.
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.
The Medieval History Starter Quiz - Question Two
The Medieval History Starter Quiz Question 2 The western portion of the empire may have fallen, but the
Did Medieval Brides Really Smell Bad?
Whether or not brides bathed more than once a year, and why they carried flowers at their weddings. Part of our refutation of the infamous Bad Old Days email hoax.
The Medieval Child, Part 5: The Learning Years,...
Learning a trade and the life of apprentices in medieval times. Page 3.
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.
The Holy Land
The onetime Roman province of Palestine would prove to be a holy land for Muslims, Christians, and Jews.
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