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Medieval History: Most Popular Articles

These articles are the most popular over the last month.
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.
Beowulf Quiz
Beowulf Quiz Here are 25 questions to test your knowledge of the poem Beowulf and its history. Don't
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.
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
A simple introduction to Crusades history, offering a rundown of the basics of the significant religious wars of the Middle Ages.
The Black Death Comes to Europe, 1347
Map of the route the Black Death took to arrive in Europe in 1347. Page 3.
The Beowulf Story
A description of the events that transpire in the Old English Epic poem, Beowulf.
Defining the Middle Ages
The Middle Ages are often broken into three sub-eras: Early, High, and Late Middle Ages.
The Dream of the Rood
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.
Frequently Asked Questions about Our Directory
Frequently asked questions about finding information at the Medieval History site.
Medieval
An explanation of the origin and history of the term medieval.
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, its construction, and a modern reconstruction, and offers suggested reading.
Richard the Lionheart: The Warrior Poet
A biography of King Richard I of England, known as Richard the Lionheart.
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 Was Underwear Like in Medieval Times?
What men and women wore under their clothing in the Middle Ages.
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
How To Avoid the Plague
a simple how-to on staying alive during the black death
El Cid - National Hero of Spain
El Cid - National Hero of Spain - Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar
Beowulf
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.
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 Dead
Measures against getting buried alive that were never taken. Part of your Guide's refutation of the infamous Bad Old Days net hoax
European Peasant Dress
Undergarments, overgarments, accessories and everyday clothes for members of the medieval working class.
King Louis IX of France
A straightforward narrative of the life and reign King Louis IX, also Saint Louis.
Renaissance Love Poems
English love poems of the Renaissance era by six poets.
Petrarch - Founder of Renaissance Humanism -...
One of the most influential poets of the Middle Ages, Petrarch is generally considered the founder of Renaissance Humanism.
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.
B.C. (Before Christ)
The initials B.C. stand for Before Christ, the counterpart to A.D. and part of the dating system used in the Middle Ages. A definition from your Guide.
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.
Primary Characters in Beowulf
Brief descriptions of the most significant figures of the Beowulf poem.
Charlemagne - King of the Franks and Lombards
Charlemagne consolidated a large portion of Europe under his rule, promoted learning, and instituted innovative administrative concepts.
Giotto di Bondone - Father of the Renaissance
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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.
Alchemy in the Middle Ages
An introduction to the proto-science of alchemy, its origins and history, the goals and achievements of medieval alchemists, its disreputable associations, and some recommended reading from your Guide.
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.
Charlemagne Quotes
Words of wisdom attributed to the great Frankish king.
The Beowulf Story, Page Two
A description of the events that transpire in the Old English Epic poem, Beowulf. Page 2.
What Made Charles So Great?
An introduction to the life of Charlemagne and his impact on European history.
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.
Origins of Plague
Map of the possible origins of the 14th-century plague and the route it took to Europe. Page 2.
A Medieval Atlas
Find the map you need or explore some fascinating pieces of the past.
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.
Medieval Atlas - Maps of All of Europe -...
An index of continental maps of Europe and maps that depict portions of Europe during the Middle Ages.
Vlad Dracula
The 15th-century Prince of Wallachia, Vlad Dracula, was known for his fierce defense of his homeland against the Turks and for his brutality.
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 Spread of the Black Death through Europe
A series of maps by your guide depicting how the dreaded 14th-century plague spread through Europe
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Harald Bluetooth - the real king they named the...
Harald is credited with unifying Denmark under one rule.
Anglo-Saxons
Who the Anglo-Saxon people were, where they lived, and where they came from.
General Knowledge Quiz - Medieval History
General Knowledge Quiz Here are ten questions on a variety of topics from the Middle Ages. How well do
Floors
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.
Manor
The medieval manor was an agricultural estate, and more.
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.
Famous Medieval Couples
A survey of some of the most famous -- and not-so-famous -- couples in Medieval and Renaissance history and fiction.
The Medieval History Starter Quiz
A quick and easy quiz for newcomers to the Middle Ages.
Before the Black Death, There Was the...
A quick introduction to the deadly plague of the Justinian's reign, with links to further resources, here at the Medieval History site.
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.
A Medieval Love Story
Peter Abelard and his student, Heloise, engaged in a true-life romance in the 12th-century.
Images from the Book of Kells
Public-domain images from the Book of Kells, free for your use, here at the Medieval History site.
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.
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.
Powerful Pontiff Pope Innocent III
Pope Innocent III was one of the most powerful and influential popes of the Middle Ages.
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.
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.
Porridge
Medieval peasant pottage and the peas porridge rhyme. Part of your Guide's refutation of the infamous Bad Old Days net hoax.
The Hoax
The hoax in question, with associated links leading to specific information refuting the bogus assertions.
Wool
The sources of wool, types of wool, and uses of wool in medieval Europe.
The Papal States
The Papal States were territories in central Italy that were directly governed by the papacy. Also know as the Republic of Saint Peter and Church States.
Heptarchy
The term heptarchy should really refer to seven individual rulers of one country, but historically, it has another meaning.
King Richard I of England
King Richard I of England was known as Lionheart for his courage and prowess on the battlefield.
Raphael Sanzio - Extraordinary Renaissance Artist
Raphael Sanzio is considered by many to have produced some of the world's most beautiful paintings. .
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.
Explorer Erik the Red
His exile from Iceland was only the beginning of his greatest adventure.
Harun al-Rashid
Harun al-Rashid was the fifth Abbasid caliph. He and his fabulous court at Baghdad are immortalized in The Thousand and One Nights
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.
King William I of England - William the Conqueror
Basic information and useful websites about William the Conqueror.
Medieval Atlas - Maps of Britain - Medieval...
An index of maps that depict all or portions of the British Isles during the Middle Ages.
Amerigo Vespucci
Amerigo Vespucci is the navigator and explorer for whom two continents are named.
A Swift Strike
A map depicting the spread of the Black Death from January to June, 1348. Page 4.
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.
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.
Abu Zayd 'Abd al-Rahman ibn Khaldun
A straightforward biography of Ibn Khaldun.
The Beowulf Story, Page Three
A description of the events that transpire in the Old English Epic poem, Beowulf. Page 3.
King Louis IX Quotes
Many of Louis' words have come down to us through his friend and biographer, Jean de Joinville.
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.
Medieval Atlas - Maps of England - Medieval...
An index of maps that depict England throughout the Middle Ages.
Leif Ericsson
A profile of Leif Ericsson, the Scandinavian explorer who visited North America around the year 1000. Leif also governed Greenland and was a devout convert to Christianity.
Eleanor of Aquitaine
Eleanor of Aquitaine, Queen of France and later England, was arguably the most powerful woman of High Medieval Europe.
Medieval Atlas - Maps of Constantinople -...
A selection of maps depicting Constantinople in Medieval times.
The Medieval History Starter Quiz - Question One
The Medieval History Starter Quiz Question 1 There are no precise, incontrovertible dates to define the
1349
Map of the spread of the Black Death in Europe in the year 1349, by your Guide. Page 8.
The History of Algebra
Get a rundown about the origins of Algebra from this article that originally appeared in a 1911 encyclopedia.
Pope Innocent III
Pope Innocent III was one of the most powerful and influential popes of the Middle Ages.
The Knights Hospitaller - Defenders of Sick and...
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.
Pope Urban II
Pope Urban II launched the Crusade Movement with his call to arms at the Council of Clermont.
The Medieval Child, Part 1: Introduction, Page...
Were children held in any value in medieval society? Was there any affection in the medieval household? A brief introduction from your Guide. Page 2.
Constantine the Great
Constantine the Great was the first Roman emperor to profess Christianity. Constantine's support of the religion would help transform it into the institution it would remain through the Middle Ages.
Medieval Christmas Traditions
Christmas traditions that began or evolved during the Middle Ages.
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.
The Lombards
The Lombards established a kingdom in Northern Italy.
Giovanni Boccaccio - Poet - Scholar - Diplomat
Giovanni Boccaccio was a poet, scholar and diplomat whose work helped raise literature in the vernacular to the respectability of classical texts.
Weddings & Hygiene
Whether or not brides bathed more than once a year, and why they carried flowers at their weddings. Part of your Guide's refutation of the infamous Bad Old Days net hoax.
Catherine of Aragon
Catherine was the first wife of Henry VIII of England. Her refusal to go quietly when Henry sought to annul their marriage and the political connections that bolstered her position played a significant role in Henry's break with the Catholic Church.
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.
Saxons
Who the Saxons were, when and where they thrived, and what happened to them.
Medieval Clip Art
A collection of medieval-themed clip art, including shields, swords, knights and ladies, created by your Guide.
Free Online Jigsaw Puzzles
A collection of free jigsaw puzzles for you to solve online, right here at the Medieval History site.
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.
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.
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.
The Bad Old Days - Tomatoes
Why tomatoes were sometimes considered poisonous in the late Middle Ages. Part of your Guide's refutation of the infamous Bad Old Days net hoax.
Donatello Sculpture Gallery
A selection of sculptures and carvings by the master of Renaissance sculpture, Donatello.
Muslim Hero Saladin
Salah Ad-din Yusuf Ibn Ayyub, or Saladin, was the most famous Muslim hero and a consummate military tactician. His capture of Jerusalem from the Crusaders prompted Christian forces to initiate The Third Crusade.
Chains
When ancient society evolved into medieval society, slavery didn't disappear.
Bailiff
There are several different uses of the term Bailiff in the Middle Ages.
Medieval Atlas - Maps of Iberia - Medieval...
An index of maps that depict all or portions of Spain, Portugal, or the entire Iberian peninsula through the Middle Ages.
Modern English Translations of Beowulf
A selection of modern English translations of the Old English Epic, Beowulf, including verse and prose versions.
King Henry IV of England
King Henry IV of England usurped the English crown from Richard II, beginning the Lancastrian dynasty and planting the seeds of the Wars of the Roses.
Types of Meat
The types of animals that provided meat to cooks in the Middle Ages, including cows, goats, sheep, pigs and rabbits.
The Medieval Child
An index to our series of articles about childhood in the Middle Ages.
Tithe
A tithe was a donation to the church.
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.
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
Dark Legacy
How centuries of war in the name of Christianity began with one man's ambition.
Iraq - Historical Setting - World War I and the...
Online text of the History of Iraq; public domain document that you may copy, download, print and distribute as you see fit.
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.
Canute the Great
Canute was. Medieval History.
King Philip IV of France
Philip the Fair is well known for his troubles with the papacy.
Pope Alexander VI
Pope Alexander VI - Rodrigo Borgia - is the most famously corrupt pope in history.
Hildegard of Bingen Quotes
Quotations written by German abbess, composer and mystic Hildegard of Bingen.
El Cid
Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar was a notable military leader and the national hero of Spain.
Margaret Paston
An ordinary individual of medieval England whose surviving letters display resilience, ingenuity and fortitude.
Silk
The use of silk in the Middle Ages.
Medieval Atlas - Fourteenth Century Maps -...
Maps of political boundaries as they stood in the fourteenth century.
Baron
In the Middle Ages, there was no specific rank associated with the term Baron.
Leon Battista Alberti - Renaissance Man
Humanist philosopher, writer, Renaissance artist and architect, Leon Battista Alberti is considered by many scholars to be the quintessential Renaissance universal man of learning. He could also, from a standing position, with his feet together, jump over a man's head.
Joan of Arc on the Web: Primary Sources
Useful websites about this historical figure of the Middle Ages, from your About.com Guide
Pope Nicholas the Great
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General Knowledge Quiz II - Medieval History
General Knowledge Quiz II This mixed bag of general questions about the Middle Ages will test your knowledge
Types of Fowl
The birds that were cooked and consumed by people in the Middle Ages.
The Medieval Child, Part 5: The Learning Years,...
Learning a trade and the life of apprentices in medieval times. Page 3.
The Medieval Child, Part 4: The Playful Years
The fourth in a series of articles exploring the status and daily life of children in the Middle Ages, Part 4 examines play, chores, socialization, and discipline for youngsters of ages four to twelve.
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.
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.
Leovigild - King of the Visigoths in Spain
Leovigild is considered by some to be the most capable Visigothic king that Spain ever knew. But he was also a fiercely Arian Christian who dealt harshly with his son when he converted to Catholicism.
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