Medieval Information

Everything About the Dark Ages

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Medieval Warfare

 

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The following list of articles contains a huge array of information about medieval warfare. I strongly recommend that you read the following articles in order:

- Medieval Warfare - Contains information about the way battles were fought a thousand years ago including new technologic developments, battle formation, logistics the way troups retreated and more.

- Medieval Weaponry - This article features a vast amount of information about medieval weapons. It includes an extensive research about swords, daggers, bows, maces and more. Additionally, it contains information about shields which were used as weapons.

- Medieval Castles History - This article contains many resources to pages which contain plenty of information about the history of medieval castles.

- Important Medieval Battles - This article features the most important battles that were fought during the Middle Ages.

- Medieval Siege Weapons - Features a quasi-complete list of the medieval siege engines used to both storm and castle and defend it. Additional resources are located at the end of this article.

- Naval Warfare - Describes the way battles were fought on water. Additional information includes the develpment of cannons for ships, pirates and more.

- Viking Invasions to Europe - The most remarkable adversaries that most of Europe had during the early Medieval Times were the Vikings. What brought an end to their savage and continous raids to Europe? What kind of troops did they command? Who was the last Viking warlord? Find these, and more answers in this article.

- Asian Invasions to Europe - Asian invasions were though not as frequent, still a threat to Europe. Learn about them here.

- Medieval Crusades - Not only is the first crusade contained in this article, but all of them are. What happened during the crusades? Were they successful? What was the children's crusade? Who was Saladin? Learn this and much more in this category of this website.

- The Hundrer Years War - Who was Joan of Arc? What did she do? What was the event known as the Hundrer years War? What originated it? Find all the answers in this article.

- Medieval Shields - Features the way shields were used during combat.

- Viking Weapons and Fighters - The Vikings were formidable opponents in the battlefield. Learn about their tactics and the weapons they used in this article.

- Retreating from a Battle - When a battle was lost, a calm retreat could save hundreds of soldiers while panic could kill them all. Learn about how soldiers retreated in this article.

Medieval Life

 

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The following articles are meant to provide both students and teachers with a full knowledge about medieval life. I have arranged the following articles in hierarchical order for a better understanding to be had:

- Brief Insight into Medieval Life - Features the life of most medieval people during the Middle Ages. Additionally, this article includes many resources for further reading and links to other pages.

- Life in a Medieval Castle - How was life in a medieval castle? It is a common belief that inhabiting a castle could be a remarkable experience; but how true is this statement?

- Medieval Feudalism - Feudalism is the system that managed most of Europe from the X to the XXII century. It's importance is very remarkable for it successfully expelled the Vikings and other invading tribes from Europe...

- Medieval Health - How was the health of a regular medieval peasant? Was, as some say, medieval health based purely in religion?


- Medieval Knights - Knights are often portrayed as strong and noble, but what was the purpose of their existence? Were they really lovely and noble to their beloved, or were they something completely different to what we are shown every day? Find out!

- Medieval Sorcery, Witches and Spells - Witches were feared throughout the Medieval Times, reason for which many torture devices were designed specifically for them. Medieval people were very superstitious which made them fear witches, sorcerers, spells, cats and more.

- Medieval Housing
- The better the house one inhabited, the wealthier he looked. This was true throughout the Middle Ages and it is still a reality today. This article's scope is to acknowledge the reader into the way houses were used, who inhabited and where they were situated.

- 1 Day of Being a Peasant - A peasant would often spend much - if not most - of his time working the land in order to make a living. This article is divided in 24 sections all describing what a regular peasant would do during each hour of the day.

- How was Food Acquired During the Medieval Times? - This article's main scope is to inform the reader about the different kinds of food and how it was acquired a thousand years ago.

- Medieval Gold and Jewelry - Jewelry was a very important aspect for medieval people since gold itself represented the most effective way for merchants to sell their goods. Additionally, medieval people were also obsessed with jewelry, most notoriously the king and queen.

- Medieval Entertainment - What did peasants do to entertain themselves? Did kings celebrate feasts for diversion? Learn this and more in this article.

- Medieval Folklore - Robin Hood, Mythology, Witches, Dragons - read these and more stories in this section of this site.

- Medieval Literature - The Middle Ages were not a time without any art or science. As a matter of fact much literature did exist and you may read all about it in this page.

- Medieval Agriculture - For most peasants, agriculture meant their whole life. Kings, nobles, lords and knights all depended in agriculture for their survival. Serfs were the ones in charge of working the land. Agriculture was a very important practice which was done in all countries and in every town. Agriculture was far more important than fishing and hunting, but you should read more about this in this article.

- Medieval Torture - What inspired fear in peasants and supposedly reduced crimes committed during the Middle Ages was torture. Torture has existed since the very beginning of humanity, but it was during the Dark Ages when its use became even much more widespread and began to be used to punish heretics, thieves and other criminals.

- Medieval Crimes - Features information about crimes, punishments and more.

- Medieval Professions - Ranging from spies to smiths, everyone capable had to have a profession.

- Medieval Life - For more information about medieval life, make sure to visit this section of medieval-castles.org.

Medieval Castle History

 

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In this website you will learn all about medieval castles including the way they were attacked, defended and inhabited. Since it would be virtually impossible to hold such an immense array of information within one single page, I have broken it into many pages. I recommend that you read the following articles in order:

-History of Medieval Castles - Features the beginning and end of medieval castles. Additionally, it has many resources available for further reading.

-Castle Attackers - How were castles attacked? Which weapons were used a thousand years ago to overcome a castle's defenses? Learn about this here.

-Castle defenders - When a siege was evident, defenders deployed many traps to protect themselves. When this failed, and no possibility to attack was conspicuous, defenders often had to spend weeks or months resisting a siege.

-Medieval Castle Timeline - The medieval castle timeline shows how castles evolved through time.

-Castle Frequently Asked Questions - Features many questions and answers that have been asked to me through my e-mail. This is a great learning resource - remember that you may send more questions at ngi@truewebsite.com.

-Improvements to Castles After Gunpowder was Implemented into Medieval Warfare - After the Battle of Cracy, medieval warfare changed enormously. Castles had to be fortified in order to prevent cannons from hastily destroying a wall - and cannons were incorporated into a castle's defense as well.

-Why did Castles in the Medieval Times Change? - Why did castles change?

-Castle Rooms - Depending on a castle's size, bigger or smaller rooms were built. The king and queen had an enormous chamber very often.

For a complete reading of medieval castle history, read the medieval castle information page which is frequently updated.

Medieval History

 

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It is not possible for one to fully write about the Middle Ages in a single article. Henceforth, I have made a complete list of articles contained within this site for the sole purpose to provide you with as much information as possible. I strongly recommend that you read the following articles in order:

-Introduction to the Dark Ages - This page features information about the period that spawned Europe from the V to the XV century.

- Medieval Life - How did people live during the Middle Ages? Were there many diseases? Read this article which contains many sources for your study.

- Medieval Warfare Required Reading - This page features links to many resources about medieval warfare including important battles, retreating techniques, and much more. Additionally you will learn about the ways a castle was stormed and defended including the improvements castles suffered throughout the ages.

- Medieval Castles - This page features a huge amount of information about the history of medieval castles which is required for you to have a good understanding of medieval history.

- Medieval Feudalism Feudalism was the most important practice in medieval Europe. It successfully enriched the king while stopping foreign invasions.

- Medieval Glossary - For you to completely understand the articles contained within this website, it is extremely important that you get used to the medieval nomenclature. Henceforth, you should try to memorize as many terms as possible which are contained within this excellent resource.

- Medieval Facts - This page features hundreds of facts about the Medieval Times.

- Medieval Kings - Kings were the fundamental part of the medieval system. They controlled vast areas of land and held enough power to wage war at another kingdom.

- Medieval Knights - We all imagine knights as strong and noble. How true is this claim? What were knights after? How many knights existed? Read this article to find these and more questions.

- Medieval Plague - During the Middle Ages, plague was very frequent. Read this excellent article to know exactly what happened and how many deaths were accounted to plagues in general.

Medieval Feudalism

 

Life

During much of the early Medieval period, foreign invasions were very common. Kings began to lose their power because they could no longer protect their people from the Vikings who destroyed everything in their path.

This led to many economical and social problems which were firstly addressed in Normandy when the first settlers arrived during the X century. Their fear was enormous and so was their courage for they devised a way to effectively diminish Vikings and other invaders which seemed to be possessing most of Europe. This received the name of "Feudalism" in which the king appointed a lord to take care of his land. The lord then appointed many knights or nobles to possess the land he firstly acquired from his king by distributing it equally among them. They in turn used serfs to work the land. This is all better illustrated in the following picture:

Medieval Feudalism

As it can be noted, it was kings who received most of the pay whilst the serfs (bottom) worked almost all day long and were subject to heavy taxes which were later deposited in the royal treasury.

Serfs were very numerous and constituted a strong percentage of the medieval population. Knights were much more rare to find and lords were much more important and far between. Of course there was only one king who was supreme in the feudalism.

Feudalism began to decline after the XIII century when foreign invasions were not as frequent and economy began to change. Merchants became much more important and most lords who would previously work land, began to trade goods which rendered feudalism obsolete. Nevertheless, this didn't occur completely in England until the midst of the XVI century and in France it lasted until the late XVIII century.

Additional Reading:

-1 Day of Being a Peasant (serf)
-Brief Insigh into Medieval Life
-Medieval Life

Why did Castles in the Medieval Times Change?

After castles began being built in England and many parts of Europe, timber and earth were often employed for their construction. Unfortunately for the defendants, thse materials; even though cheap, proved to be severely weak against a well-planned attack involving fire, arrows and some siege weapons (which were available even at the turn of the millenium).

After the XII century, many nobles sought to strengthen their castles to be effective against fire. This very often involved much work and in most cases the utter reconstruction of a castle for it to be strong from its roots which was extremely useful when defending against diggers.

As it can be noted in the castle timeline, castles were oftenly enlarged because they were highly effective against foreign invaders.

When the trebuchet was invented and introduced into medieval warfare, most castles were completely re-designed in order to be once again protective because the trebuchet was a completely devastating weapon. The same held true for other common siege weapons which were often improved such as the catapult itself which often threw normous projectiles which consisted of human beings to spread disease - reason for which every part of a castle had to be accessible by the defenders to avoid a rotting body in an unreachable position.

The changes that ocurred to castles were nothing compared to what happened after the first cannon was used against a castle.

I have written a very interesting article about the changes to medieval castles after the introduction of gunppowder here.

A resource that I highly recommend is the castle timeline which emphasizes everything I have previously written enormously.

The Robber and the Thief - Dracula Story

 

Dracula

After Dracula's exile, he was once living in a small home when a police officer was pursuing a robber who entered into Dracula's house.

Dracula instead of helping the officer capture the thief, stabbed the officer in the back because he "didn't ask for permission to enter his house".

This is the reason why in some Dracula novels and books, vampires are said to be unable to enter a person's house without being invited first.

Medieval Names

 

General

Before the year 1066, the English were known by their single Christian name. Of course, this was a great problem when living in a big town and when not everyone was familiar with each other.

After the Norman conquest of Great Britain in 1066, a new system which included the use of a surname was introduced to England. This proved to be very useful, but nevertheless inaccurate.

At first, surnames could be based on a person's job, place of birth, characteristic or from his father such as "Joseph the smith", "Gilbert of Hastings", "Edward the red" or "William son of John". The three former surnames (job, place of birth and attribute) were found to be inaccurate because they could change and were very prone to confusion. For example, if "John the Tall" lost his two legs, his surname would be completely mistaken.

For this reason, the paternal name has been traditionally used as a surname, for it is very accurate and cannot change.

Church Building

The principal reason why churches were built is because a town's inhabitants felt pride when they had a mighty church to praise God within. The first problem arose when money was needed to actually build it. However, raising money was easy for the townspeople were happy to donate and that combined with the very generous donations from the rich nobles and the king, made the economical problem perish.

A style had to be chosen. After the XII century, most French churches followed the Gothic Style, though many other styles existed.

Architects had to be especially careful when making a church for it had to be very illuminated and decorated. Some churches were fully painted and adorned with religious objects which the church paid for. Additionally, many religious statues were also set within the church for it to look more divine.

Most churches took more than ten years to complete though a church was never really finished for the vast majority of churches were continuously improved and new rooms were added as well.


The cathedrals built during or shortly after the reign of William the Conqueror were the largest buildings seen in Great Britain up to that time. The pillars, for example, were widely improved after his reign as they were meant to support the church's wall.

The reason why a town paid so much attention in building an enormous and well-adorned church was because the better the church looked, the 'happier' God would be, as they so believed. For this reason, a town could be literally starving and close to become a ghost-town, but there had to be a church and the bigger the better.



Medieval Gothic Style

Gothic Style

In the early XII century France, a new architectonical style emerged. At first, it was simply called "The French Style", but the name was later adjusted to "Gothic" because of its simplicity which resembled the older barbarian tribes including the Goths.

The gothic style has many characteristics, but by far the most important ones are its illumination and simplicity. During the crusades, many French architects were influenced by the buildings in the Arab world which can be noted in the pointed archs, vaults and buttresses. Another major characteristic of the gothic style is the sculptures which were now free standing and not incorporated within a column.

The windows were enormous and not as decorated in the early gothic style; however, after many years architects began decorating the support for the stained windows which along the pointed arch, are the main points of reference denoting the gothic style.

Roumeli Hissar - the Bosporus - Castle

Guarding the narrow portion of sea linking the Mediterranean Sea with the Black Sea, this XV century castle could easily defend Constantinople against attacks coming from the Mediterranean. However, guarding Constantinople wasn't this castle's main objective, for its Turkish architects sought to make it very mighty with the sole objective of inspiring fear in the local populace.

This was mainly because Constantinople was already defended by the Ottoman empire (who had recently acquired Constantinople) by the castle known as the "Anadoluhisari Castle".

The castle is situated near the Bosporus, which is a very strategic place to situate a castle since it prevents unauthorized ships to cross from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean - giving much protection against naval warfare in the actual Meditarranean.

After the XVI century, this castle began to evolve and when gunpowder was introduced into medieval warfare, narrow openings were made because archers became obsolete. Besides being a military fortress, this castle was seldom used as a feudal residence for a few nobles who stayed there from time to time during times of war.

Medieval Fishing

 

Life

Besides farming and hunting, fishing was also a major source of food for the medieval people. Consuming fish was mainly reserved for the rich, though the poor did frequently eat what was left from a good day's catch.

It was common to devise new ways to fish as much as possible in the lowest amount of time. Many discoveries were henceforth done during the Medieval Times including the rod, which had existed previously in China, but was not as advanced as during the Middle Ages.

Obviously, the most common way to fish was simply with a hook and line because of its simplicity. As time passed, nets grew in popularity until a very important percentage of fish was caught with nets. They consisted of a very simple principle in which a net was placed in a river and many men had to lift it up with as many fish as possible.

Sicily had the best fish which were widely caught. It was there where most fishing progress happened and where the use of fishing spears to catch bigger fish was more common.

Medieval castles were frequently built near a lake or river to make fishing easier for the castle's inhabitants.

Fishing as a hobby was though rare, existent. There are many records of kings sailing in a ship with the sole purpose to fish big and exotic creatures.

Medieval people were skeptical (and sometimes even scared) when fishing in the sea because it was said that enormous and deadly creatures inhabited it.

Joseph-Ignace Guillotin

 

People

Joseph-Ignace Guillotin (1738 - 1814) was a French physician president of the Chamber of Provinces (1755, founder of the academy of medicine and deputy of the French Assembly.

It was Dr. Joseph-Ignace who argued for a way to make capital punishment as quick and painless as possible. It wasn't him who invented the guillotine - nor did he die in it - but his name is used to reffer to the deadly machine for unknown reasons since the early 1800's.


Related Resources:



-The Guillotine
-Medieval Torture

Henry II of England

 

People

Henry II (5 March 1133 - 6 July 1189) ruled not only as the king of England, but was also the count of Anjou and the Duke of Normandy.

His grandfather was Henry I, who had also been a king long before him.

His sobriquets were very numerous and he was often referred to as "The Lion of Justice (like his grandfather)", the "Curt Mantle" and the "Fitz Empress".

On May 18 1152, Henry II married a young and powerful lady known as Eleanor of Aquitaine who also added numerous pieces of land to his reign including Touraine, Aquitaine and Glascony.

Henry II was enthralled in conquering land and expanding his territory. Henceforth, he possessed - at one time - parts of Ireland, Scotland and western France.

Before the time of his death, Henry II divided his title among his five sons who fought against Henry II himself. This angered him and fought them back only to be killed by Henry's third son, Richard the Lionheart.

Nevertheless, Henry II is remembered as one of England's greatest rulers for he successfully adhered many laws and gave much justice to the poor.

Medieval Spies

Spies were very common during the Middle Ages. They were used for many purposes and sometimes they had to climb trees or use stealth in order to acknowledge sensitive information.

It is a well documented fact that spies very often carried poison with them for two purposes. First, if they were caught, they were told by the person who hired them to commit suicide.

Secondly, if a spy was ordered to kill an enemy army or soldier, poison very often made things easier because spies were sometimes hired to infiltrate an enemy's camp and poison the enemy's supplies.

Unfortunately for spies, they were often caught and punishments varied, but they were almost invariantly related to death. Torture was often used - and more surprisingly, when caught by an attacking army, spies were often used as a projectile for a catapult (in order to spread diseases).

The tools used by spies included daggers, lock picks, poison, etc. Medieval armies were so afraid of spies that security had to be very tight in order to prevent them.

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