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Medieval History: Most Popular Articles

These articles are the most popular over the last month.
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 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.
General Knowledge Quiz - Medieval History
General Knowledge Quiz Here are ten questions on a variety of topics from the Middle Ages. How well do
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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Medieval
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 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 Black Death Comes to Europe, 1347
Map of the route the Black Death took to arrive in Europe in 1347. Page 3.
Who's New in Who's Who
The most recent additions to our Who's Who resource.
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.
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
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
Richard the Lionheart
A biography of King Richard I of England, known as Richard the Lionheart.
The Beowulf Story
A description of the events that transpire in the Old English Epic poem, Beowulf.
A Medieval Atlas
Find the map you need or explore some fascinating pieces of the past.
Defining the Middle Ages
The Middle Ages are often broken into three sub-eras: Early, High, and Late Middle Ages.
How To Avoid the Plague
Traveling back in time to the 14th century? Make sure you know how to avoid the deadly plague.
General Knowledge Quiz II - Medieval History
General Knowledge Quiz II This mixed bag of general questions about the Middle Ages will test your knowledge
Charlemagne Quotes
Words of wisdom attributed to the great Frankish king.
Renaissance Love Poems
English love poems of the Renaissance era by six poets.
What Peasants and Laborers Wore in the Middle...
Undergarments, overgarments, accessories and everyday clothes for members of the medieval working class.
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.
General Knowledge Quiz III - Medieval History
A fairly tough quiz to test your general knowledge of the Middle Ages.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Augustine of Canterbury
Saint Augustine founded the Christian Church in southern England and became the first archbishop of Canterbury.
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
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.
Explorer Erik the Red
His exile from Iceland was only the beginning of his greatest adventure.
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 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
A quick and easy quiz for newcomers to the Middle Ages.
Manor
The medieval manor was an agricultural estate, and more.
Powerful Pontiff Pope Innocent III
Pope Innocent III was one of the most powerful and influential popes of the Middle Ages.
Petrarch - Founder of Renaissance Humanism -...
One of the most influential poets of the Middle Ages, Petrarch is generally considered the founder of Renaissance Humanism.
A Swift Strike
A map depicting the spread of the Black Death from January to June, 1348. Page 4.
Origins of Plague
Map of the possible origins of the 14th-century plague and the route it took to Europe. Page 2.
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 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.
What Made Charles So Great?
An introduction to the life of Charlemagne and his impact on European history.
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 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 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.
The Quest for Conquest Quiz
The Quest for Conquest Quiz What do you really know about the Norman Conquest? This quiz will test your
Porridge
Medieval peasant pottage and the peas porridge rhyme. Part of your Guide's refutation of the infamous Bad Old Days net hoax.
The History of Algebra
Get a rundown about the origins of Algebra from this article that originally appeared in a 1911 encyclopedia.
The Medieval History Starter Quiz - Question One
The Medieval History Starter Quiz Question 1 There are no precise, incontrovertible dates to define the
Pope Gregory I
Saint Gregory was the foremost influence in shaping the early medieval papacy. Strongly involved with monasticism, Pope Gregory the Great also reformed the mass, and was named a Doctor of the Church.
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.
Chlotar I - Merovingian King of France
The youngest son of Clovis and Clotilda, Chlotar ruled part of Frankish Gaul after the death of his father and acquired more after the deaths of his brothers.
Giotto di Bondone - Father of the Renaissance
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An Insidious Spread
A map depicting the spread of the Black Death in Europe from July to December, 1348. Page 7.
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.
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.
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 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 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 Ruthwell Cross - Early Medieval Stone Carving
The Ruthwell Cross is a powerful religious symbol, a marvelous work of Anglo-Saxon art, and a significant source of literary and historical evidence.
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.
1349
Map of the spread of the Black Death in Europe in the year 1349, by your Guide. Page 8.
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 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.
Donatello
Donatello, Italian sculptor, was one of the leading spirits in the art movement of the 15th century.
The Hoax
The hoax in question, with associated links leading to specific information refuting the bogus assertions.
Harald Bluetooth - King of Denmark and Norway
Harald is credited with unifying Denmark under one rule. He also allowed the spread of Christianity through much of his territory, and at one point had control of Norway.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Leif Ericsson - Leif the Lucky
Leif the Lucky displayed the Viking spirit of adventure when he sailed off to explore what lay west of Greenland about a thousand years ago, undoubtedly making it to North America.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Christopher Columbus in Print
Biographies of Christopher Columbus, historical background, primary and secondary sources, and books for younger readers.
Primary Characters in Beowulf
Brief descriptions of the most significant figures of the Beowulf poem.
Saxons
Who the Saxons were, when and where they thrived, and what happened to them.
Terms Used in Beowulf
Explanations of unusual terms used in the Beowulf poem.
Famous Medieval Couples
A survey of some of the most famous -- and not-so-famous -- couples in Medieval and Renaissance history and fiction.
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.
Modern English Translations of Beowulf
A selection of modern English translations of the Old English Epic, Beowulf, including verse and prose versions.
The Chaucer Quiz
Shell for testing HTML code and text.: geoffrey chaucer quiz script quick quiz script src text javascript
The Medieval Child, Part 5: The Learning Years,...
Learning a trade and the life of apprentices in medieval times. Page 3.
Saint Dominic Quotations
Quotes attributed to the austere-living saint.
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.
Why Bother with Beowulf?
Medieval literature provides a gateway to our past.
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
Eleanor of Aquitaine
Eleanor of Aquitaine, Queen of France and later England, was arguably the most powerful woman of High Medieval Europe.
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.
The Medieval History Starter Quiz - Question...
The Medieval History Starter Quiz Question 3 After the Roman Empire collapsed in the west, many Barbarian
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.
The Medieval History Starter Quiz - Question Five
The Medieval History Starter Quiz Question 5 Ten years before his death, the prophet Muhammad led a hijrah
Amerigo Vespucci
Amerigo Vespucci is the navigator and explorer for whom two continents are named.
Thegn
A thegn was a lesser noble in Anglo-Saxon England
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.
The Forgotten Empire
After Rome fell, Byzantium lasted another thousand years. A brief look at a forgotten empire.
The Medieval History Starter Quiz - Question Four
The Medieval History Starter Quiz Question 4 Those Barbarians were everywhere after Rome fell, including
The Medieval Child
An index to our series of articles about childhood in the Middle Ages.
Quotations by Saint Jerome
From the prolific writings of Saint Jerome come insights into spirituality and everyday life.
Pope Alexander VI
Pope Alexander VI - Rodrigo Borgia - is the most famously corrupt pope in history.
Edward, the Black Prince - Renowned Military...
Edward, the Black Prince was a renowned military commander during the Hundred Years' War.
Baron
In the Middle Ages, there was no specific rank associated with the term Baron.
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.
The Medieval History Starter Quiz - Question Six
The Medieval History Starter Quiz Question 6 In the eighth century, Charlemagne built an empire that
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.
The Medieval History Starter Quiz - Question Nine
The Medieval History Starter Quiz Question 9 In the tenth century, Otto, King of Germany, was crowned
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.
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.
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.
A Medieval Love Story
Peter Abelard and his student, Heloise, engaged in a true-life romance in the 12th-century.
Silk Production and Trade in Medieval Times
The use of silk in 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.
Pope Urban II
Pope Urban II launched the Crusade Movement with his call to arms at the Council of Clermont.
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.
Hildegard of Bingen Quotes
Quotations written by German abbess, composer and mystic Hildegard of Bingen.
Charlemagne in Print
Biographies of Charlemagne and books offering historical background concerning the reign of Charlemagne
The Medieval History Starter Quiz - Question Ten
The Medieval History Starter Quiz Question 10 Historians divide up the Middle Ages into three sub-eras.
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 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.
The Bad Old Days
A popular net hoax purports to provide facts about the Middle Ages that explain the origins of phrases and customs. Your Guide offers contrary evidence for your perusal.
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.
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.
Heptarchy
The term heptarchy should really refer to seven individual rulers of one country, but historically, it has another meaning.
Frankpledge
The frankpledge had to do with law enforcement in the Middle Ages. But they weren't exactly police.
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.
The Great Mortality, Part 1
Statistics concerning the death tolls of the Black Death of 14th-century Europe. Page 2.
Justinian Quotes
Excerpts from the Code of Justinian and quotations that have been attributed to the Byzantine emperor.
Wool
The sources of wool, types of wool, and uses of wool in medieval Europe.
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.
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.
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.
Young King Henry VIII
Portrait of Henry VIII in early manhood by an unknown artist. Page 6.
Top 6 Books about Medieval Knights
An accurate picture of the medieval knight is not easy to draw. Here are books that succeed in separating fact from fantasy and in providing a fairly clear look at the historical knight of the Middle Ages.
Charlemagne Picture Gallery
No contemporary illustrations of Charlemagne exist, but a description provided by his friend and biographer Einhard has inspired numerous portraits and statues.
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.
Medieval Christmas Traditions
Christmas traditions that began or evolved during the Middle Ages.
Alfred the Great
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The Theodosian Code
The Theodosian Code is an important indicator of the continuity of Roman law from the ancient era into the Middle Ages.
Beowulf, Page Two
It is probable that there are few readers of Beowulf who have not felt that the general impression produced by it is that of a bewildering chaos. Page 2.
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.
Medieval Atlas - Fourteenth Century Maps -...
Maps of political boundaries as they stood in the fourteenth century.
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