THE "MIDDLE" CENTURIES OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION FROM BYZANTIUM TO THE FRENCH REVOLUTION

AN INTERNET BOOK ON THE MEDIEVAL/RENAISSANCE/REFORMATION WORLD

PART I:  ROME'S FALL TO  THE EVE OF THE RENAISSANCE



THE EARLY AND/OR THE DARK DAYS
The Barbarians are Coming

THE BYZANTINE EMPIRE

THE EMERGING WORLD OF LORDS
AND VASSALS
-Knights and Chivalry

LEADERS, GOVERNMENT, STRUCTURE
Charlemagne, Feudalism, Castles

A STRUGGLE FOR MAN,GOD,SOULS -
The Early Church
SAINTS, SINNERS, MONKS, CATHEDRALS,
CHAPELS, CHURCHES, GOTHIC,
GARGOYLES, THE CRUSADES


BRITANNIA

BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE
THE PLAGUE, INQUISITION AND HERESIES,
MEDIEVAL WITCHCRAFT

THE MIDDLE TIMES

A FEW WARS AND THE MILITARY

POPES, SCHISMS, INQUISITION

LEADERS:  MYTH AND REALITY

ART AND LITERATURE

THE INVALUABLE SOURCES

TO PART II AND ONLINE COURSES

BOOKS, BOOKS, BOOKS ON THE
MIDDLE CENTURIES HERE
 



TO PART II:  SECOND WEB PAGE
HERE-->  

RENAISSANCE FORWARD

THE AGE OF DISCOVERY
THE REFORMATION
WARS OF RELIGION
ELIZABETH AND PHILIP
LIFE AND TIMES
ABSOLUTISM AND MONARCHY
ECONOMICS, CULTURE, SCIENCE
THE 18TH CENTURY:
AGE OF ENLIGHTENMENT

 THE "EARLY" AND/ OR THE "DARK" DAYS


 "THE BARBARIANS ARE COMING - AND THE "DARK AGES" 

"In the aftermath of the Fall of the Western Roman Empire, a new era began in Europe and the Mediterranean world. The ancient certainties of the Pax Romana lay in ruins and while the eastern emperors, ruling from Constantinople, kept the light of Roman civilisation burning, in the west that light flickered and almost... almost, went out. And so began the period of European history known as the Dark Ages, when out of the ruins of the Western Empire grew a number of new successor kingdoms, ruled over by the barbarian, usually Germanic, peoples who inherited it. For the barbarians, this new settlement was the culmination of a period of defeat, migration and conquest know as the Volkerwanderung - the 'Wandering of the Peoples."

TRANSFORMATION OF ROMAN WORLD:  ROLE OF THE NORSE AND GERMANIC PEOPLES

Did Barbarians call themselves Barbarians?
Nobody ever called themselves barbarians. It is not that sort of word. It is a word used about other people. It was used by the ancient Greeks to describe non-Greek people whose language they could not understand. The Romans adopted the Greek word and used it to label (and usually libel) the peoples who surrounded their own world. . . .The Roman interpretation became the only one that counted, and the peoples whom they called Barbarians became for ever branded €” and, of course ,babararianis has become a byword for the very opposite of everything that we consider civilised. The Erroneous Myth?: The Barbarians brought only chaos and ignorance, until the renaissance rekindled the fires of Roman learning and art.
Who Were The Vikings?
"In Norse, viking means piracy, and for centuries, ever since Viking raiders savagely attacked England's Lindisfarne monastery in A.D. 793 -- the Vikings have seemed to have been little more than blue-eyed barbarians in horned helmets. But archeological investigations of Viking sites stretching from Russia to Newfoundland have revealed a more human (if not altogether humane) side to the Viking character. Interview with NOVA  and the curator of exhibit on Vikings at the Smithsonian." Explore a Viking village.   Secrets of Norse ships,  diaspora.  Write your name in Runes.  Build Tree-Ring timeline.  Nova.
The Peoples of the Dark Ages
Comprehensive site examining origins of various tribes of Dark Ages and their battle for the remnants of the collapsing Empire. 
The Dark Ages
The period of history between the decline of the Roman Empire and the Renaissance known as the "Dark Ages" are an era of superstition, war, and death. For nearly a thousand years the rulers of various tribes across Europe and Asia arrive and decline as fast as a passing storm, but mold the structure of nations to come.
The Dark Ages :  Defining the Darkness
"Its definition depends on who is defining it. Indeed, modern historians no longer use the term because of its negative connotation. Generally, the Dark Ages referred to the period of time ushered in by the fall of the Western Roman Empire."

THE BYZANTINE EMPIRE


 BYZANTIUM
They called it "the second Rome."  A great city astride Europe and Asia and its vast empire which would preserve Greco-Roman culture and transmit it to the West, when Rome itself lay in barbarian hands.  It became the center of the trading world and the focus of Christianity.  Constantinople held the historic function "as the outpost of Europe against the invading hordes of Asia.  Under the shelter of that defense of its eastern gateway, western Europe could refashion its own life; and it is hardly an exaggeration to say that the civilization of western Europe is a by-product of the will of the Byzantine Empire to survive."

Byzantine Studies Page
One of the best Byzantine Studies pages. A Gateway. Listen to Byzantine music. Byzantine Culture. "Byzantium is the name given to both the state and the culture of the Eastern Roman Empire in the middle ages. Both the state and the inhabitants always called themselves Roman, as did most of their neighbors. Western Europeans, who had their own Roman Empire called them Orientals or Greeks... The composite nature of Byzantium. It was, without any doubt, the continuation of the Roman state, and until the seventh century, preserved the basic structures of Late Roman Mediterranean civic culture: - a large multi-ethnic Christian state, based on a network of urban centers, and defended by a mobile specialized army.  Byzantine civilization constitutes a major world culture. Because of its unique position as the medieval continuation of the Roman State, it has tended to be dismissed by classicists and ignored by Western medievalists. Its internal elite culture was archaicizing and perhaps pessimistic. But as the centrally located culture, and by far the most stable state, of the Medieval period, Byzantium is of major interest both in itself, and because the development and late history of Western European, Slavic and Islamic cultures are not comprehensible without taking it into consideration.
Metropolitan Museum of Art - Byzantium:  Faith and Power, 1261-1557
Major, remarkable exhibition.
Ancient Byzantine Civilization - Home   Reviewed Resources for Students and the Curious
"The most powerful periods of the Byzantium Empire were years that were stagnant in terms of advancement of thought, but were highly active in terms of religion. It should not be forgotten, however, that it was this highly detailed embroidery of the Middle Ages that was to pave the way for the Renaissance. The struggle between two very great religions, Islam and Christianity, was to lead to the development of Islamic civilization on the one hand, and Byzantine civilization on the other."

 

 

 THE EMERGING WORLD OF LORDS AND VASSALS

KNIGHTS AND CHIVALRY

The Chivalry Code
Chivalry, Knights and the Feudal System
The Knights Templar 
Who were they?  : "A monastic military order formed at the end of the First Crusade to protect pilgrims traveling on route from Europe to the recently captured city of Jerusalem. Within a couple of decades the group became an order with the backing of both the Pope and the collective European monarchies. . . Within two centuries they had become powerful enough to defy all but the Papal throne. Feared as warriors, respected for their piety and sought out for their wealth, there is no doubt that the Knights Templar were the key players of the monastic fighting orders. it. "  
The Steps of Knighthood
Knights of the Roundtable! 

 

LEADERS, GOVERNMENT, STRUCTURE


THE LIFE OF CHARLEMAGNE

"Charlemagne revived the political and cultural life of Europe, which had collapsed after the fall of the West Roman Empire in the A.D. 400's. His activities laid the foundation of the European civilization that arose during the later Middle Ages." .

Charlemagne
"Coronation of Charlemagne as emperor goes beyond the conflict between Church and state. It is a symbolic event, a convenient point to gather some separate threads." Nice, simple list format follows Charlemagne's life and ruling aspects. Explains cultural significance of various events. Good background and future references. Audio soundbites. And who was he? Charlemagne (742-814), or Charles the Great, was the most famous ruler of the Middle Ages and a key figure in European history. He conquered much of western Europe and united it under a great empire.
Charlemagne - Summary
Carolingian empire began when rivals were engaged elsewhere. Describes the character of the Carolingian Regime with limitations and solutions. Charlemagne recreated the power, prestige, and culture of the Western Roman Empire. Consequences of Charlemagne's coronation became one of most important forces in Medieval Europe.
Carolingians and After
Rise of Carolingian Dynasty and Papal support.  Charlemagne's reign consumed with wars in which he was usually victorious. Most important - the conquest of the Saxons and the Lombards bringing much of Germany and Italy into the circles of Holy Roman Empire and medieval civilization. Carolingian Decline and Division of the Empire to Louis the Pious.
The Charlemagne Map
Charlemagne - Charles the Great, King of the Franks and Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire
"He was so moderate in the use of wine and all sorts of drink that he rarely allowed himself more than three cups in the course of a meal. In summer after the midday meal, he would eat some fruit, drain a single cup, put off his clothes and shoes, just as he did for the night, and rest for two or three hours." Life of Charlemagne, written by Charlemagne's traveling companion and monk, Einhard. First-hand diary account adds more of a "personal touch" to the understanding of Charlemagne. Humorous "stream of consciousness" commentary by Einhard. Timelines, maps, story behind the "Song of Roland." Here Quote Page!
 

FEUDALISM

Feudalism was the dominant form of political organization in medieval Europe. It was a hierarchical system of social relationships wherein a noble lord granted land known as a fief to a free man, who in turn swore fealty to the lord as his vassal and agreed to provide military and other services. A vassal could also be a lord, granting portions of the land he held to other free vassals; this was known as "subinfeudation," and often led all the way up to the king. The land granted to each vassal was inhabited by serfs who worked the land for him, providing him with income to support his military endeavors; in turn, the vassal would protect the serfs from attack and invasion.

The "F" Word
The Common definition."Feudalism was the dominant form of political organization in medieval Europe. It was a hierarchical system of social relationships wherein a noble lord granted land known as a fief to a free man, who in turn swore fealty to the lord as his vassal and agreed to provide military and other services. A vassal could also be a lord, granting portions of the land he held to other free vassals; this was known as "subinfeudation," and often led all the way up to the king. The land granted to each vassal was inhabited by serfs who worked the land for him, providing him with income to support his military endeavors; in turn, the vassal would protect the serfs from attack and invasion. Feudalism arose at a time when central governments were weak or nonexistent in Europe, and kings used the system to exert control over their subjects and secure military strength throughout their lands. In the absence of a strong monarchy and rule of law, the feudal relationship between the lord and his vassal was the glue that held medieval society together."
But what if none of this is true? Good examination. "The problem? Virtually none of it is accurate. Feudalism was not the "dominant" form of political organization in medieval Europe. There was no "hierarchical system" of lords and vassals engaged in a structured agreement to provide military defense. There was no "subinfeudation" leading up to the king. The arrangement whereby serfs worked land for a lord in return for protection, known as manorialism or seignorialism, was not part of a "feudal system." Monarchies of the early Middle Ages may have had their challenges and their weaknesses, but kings did not use feudalism to exert control over their subjects, and the feudal relationship was not the "glue that held medieval society together." In short, feudalism as described above never existed in Medieval Europe." READ ON IN THE ARTICLE.
Feudalism and Feudal Institutions
"Feudalism is a method of government, and a way of securing the forces necessary to preserve that method of government. It is also an extreme form of decentralization. There many centers of power. Power does not reside at a center, or at the top, even though there a pyramidal structure in theory, with the emperor at the top and the simple knight at the bottom. In other words, feudalism is rather more complex than it appears to be on paper."  "In the Middle Ages, networks of personal agreements formed the basis of the political, economic and social systems. How these agreements developed and how they were utilised during the early Middle Ages are currently topics of scholarly debate. Nevertheless, by the late Middle Ages, the terminology and concepts that are implied in the designation of a feudal society had been defined by the legal profession."
The Middle Ages: Feudal Life
"In this "feudal" system, the king awarded land grants or "fiefs" to his most important nobles, his barons, and his bishops, in return for their contribution of soldiers for the king's armies. At the lowest echelon of society were the peasants, also called "serfs" or "villeins." In exchange for living and working on his land, known as the "demesne," the lord offered his peasants protection."
Feudalism and the Military Elite
 "Feudalism - a situation where there is no dominant political power or effective central leadership - no state or empire. Local leaders control political decisions, command the military power, have the controlling economic power and even dominate in the cultural realm. In a feudal society, power is treated as private possession; there is no effective state. Feudalism is a military based society. In feudal Europe, military might was the primary basis of power. The dominant leaders based their top status on their ability to command this military elite. The very culture of Europe during this period was military in nature - a warrior code.  The glue that holds the society together is not a written law or formal bureaucratic system . Nor is there a formal economic system; this collapses in the absence of central political control. Instead, a number of complex social relationships tie the society together. A world where oaths and obligations, vows and promises and established expectations and customs provide the only stability possible. Loyalty to others and fulfilling one's oaths are the most important values in a feudal society. If these ties break down - anarchy."
Feudal Terminology - Feudalism was NOT a term used in the Middle Ages!
Over 130 feudal terms providing an essential resource to undergraduate students. Feudalism, the system of government based on ownership of land as it was practiced in Europe in the Middle Ages. Terms relating to the ebb and flow of daily feudal life, reflecting its poverty and brutality. Entries expose with luminous clarity the structure of power in European Society during the medieval era. Comprehensive reference for academics, intellectuals and students. Includes explanations of words and phrases where meanings have changed or lost through time. Valuable online companion.
Medieval Sourcebook: Crisis? Collapse? Recovery? Feudalism?
Short piece regarding the term feudalism and what it is supposed to mean. Historians are recently challenging the modern popular usage of the term as well as the meaning that 20th century professional medievalists have come to give it. Rather interesting on how we look back and try to explain our history.  Range of original sources.
The Feudal System
The Feudal System was introduced to England following the invasion and conquest of the country by William I (The Conqueror). The system had been used in France by the Normans from the time they first settled there in about 900AD. It was a simple, but effective system, where all land was owned by the King. One quarter was kept by the King as his personal property, some was given to the church and the rest was leased out under strict controls."  Good basic summaryand great organization charts.


CASTLES

"What is a castle? A castle is a properly fortified military residence. Why were castles built? Initially, they were designed and built to hold down conquered territory. They also served to intimidate and strike fear into the local peoples, were places of refuge, and places for the lords to live. They were also impressive symbols of the power and wealth of their owners."

Castle and Siege Terminology
English definitions for over 70 entries pertaining to Medieval castles and siege terminology. Univ. Mississippi's Department of English clear and comprehensive reference. Covers terms commonly used in undergraduate studies of Medieval history. Includes explanations of words and phrases where meanings have changed or lost through time.
What Was it Like to Live in a Castle!
A hard life.  " Hardships were plenty, and even the wealthiest individuals often found themselves living in less than adequate quarters. There was no central heating, except for the central hearth or fireplace, which had to be tended to be efficient. Of course, that heat was usually saved for the lord and his family. Servants, soldiers, and others made due with tiny lamps and shivered a lot in the cold medieval nights.  Even during the warmest months of the year, the castle retained a cool dampness and all residents spent as much time as possible enjoying the outdoors. Oftentimes, members wrapped blankets around themselves to keep warm while at work. Baths were taken in transportable wooden tubs, so that the summer sun could warm the water and the bather." 
Castles of Britain - Castles Learning Center
"What is a castle? A castle is a properly fortified military residence. Why were castles built? Initially, they were designed and built to hold down conquered territory. They also served to intimidate and strike fear into the local peoples, were places of refuge, and places for the lords to live. They were also impressive symbols of the power and wealth of their owners." Special castle learning-center, all the major castles and information on them in Britain. About Castles, Birds Eye Views, Building a Castle, Drawings, Dungeons, Food, Furnishings, Gatehouses, Images, King Edward l, Kitchens , Knights, License, Life in a Castle, Medieval Jobs, Parts of a Castle, Towers.
Castles of Germany
"The castles which are today such an unmistakable feature of the Rhein landscape date back to the Middle Ages. Their founders were feudal overlords, who, so far from cherishing any romantic notions, built them with one simple aim in mind: to protect their lands from marauders and predatory neighbors. They chose mountain-tops as strategically ideal situations based on the warlike function for which they were built and the back-breaking labour of the feudal serfs." Roadtrip journal of castles from Cologne to Mainz. Maps, timelines, histories, photos, art. Interactive  map of Heidelberg's castle.  Castles of Wales and  Castles of Scotland
Castles on the Web
Search and tour individual Castles from around the world - from Austria to Yugoslavia. Palaces and Great Homes, Abbeys and Churches, Abbeys and Churches, Castles for Kids, books, glossary, myths and legends from Arthur to Robin Hood.  For a castle or palace to stay in, you can click to info.
The English Medieval Castle - Tight Summary and Background From Britannia
Island Castles - Medieval Fortresses of Great Britain
"When William the Conqueror and his Norman army successfully invaded England in 1066 A.D., they were viewed by the local English population as aliens. The Norman occupation however, was destined to last for centuries and would waste no time in introducing the English people to feudalism. A key instrument in the enforcement of the new feudal system was the castle. Before 1066 most English fortifications followed the lines of the old Roman works and the Saxon burghs. These public projects had formerly offered general protection to whole villages and towns. The new order called for heavily fortified private strong points which would intimidate the local civilians into a more passive role." Photographs, explanation of old Norman castles at York, Edinburgh, Windsor, and the Tower of London.
Medieval Fiefdom
Well organized with topics on castles in every respect. Interworkings, design, structure, rooms, uses, and the seige. Also medieval society with excellent descriptions on each class and profession.  Society, people, way of life.
Schoenbrunn Castle - The great German castle.

A STRUGGLE FOR GOD, MAN, AND SOULS - THE EARLY CHURCH


SAINTS, SINNERS, MONKS AND THEIR MISSIONS

THE MONASTAIC REALM. The collapse of the Roman Empire led to a period of instability and invasions. Both the Frankish Merovingian dynasty (486-751) and the Carolingians (751-987) were unable to bring more than spasmodic periods of political calm. Throughout this turbulent period, the Church provided an element of continuity. As centres for Christian scholars and artists, the monasteries helped to restore the values of the ancient world. They also developed farming and viticulture and some became extremly powerful, dominating the country economically as well as spiritually.  

    Safe Haven - St. Augustine
    "Saint Augustine was one of the foremost philosopher-theologians of early Christianity and the leading figure in the church of North Africa. He had a profound influence on the subsequent development of Western thought and culture, and shaped the themes and defined the problems that have characterized the Western tradition of Christian theology." Informative account of Augustine's life and his search for a reasonable and plausible religion of which to live by. It wasn't until the age of 32 that Augustine finally "...converted to Christianity and devoted the rest of his life to the pursuit of truth." His many works and teachings.
    Writings of Saint Augustine
    "Give me chastity and continence, but not just now." Quotations, letters, Christian Doctrine. Some links may be a little stubborn - but as Saint Augustine would say, "Patience is the companion of wisdom."

    St. Benedict and his Order
    "One man whose simple genius remains undimmed to this day: Benedict of Nursia. Not only was he considered the father of Western monks, but he has been called the Co-Patron of Europe, along with Sts. Cyril and Methodius. For the simple reason that, through the influence of his spiritual sons and daughters, Western civilization was nurtured and largely preserved. In fact much of Europe's Christian roots were planted directly or indirectly through the work of the Benedictines, the black monks of legend who named a religious order after their muse." Synopsis of life of St. Benedict. Links to "Rule of St. Benedict" and "The Spirit of Benedictine Life" providing commentaries on the expectations of those called to the monastic life.
    St. Jerome
    "Jerome (Eusebius Hieronymus), c.347-420, was a Father of the Church and Doctor of the Church, whose great work was the translation of the Bible into Latin, the edition known as the Vulgate (see Bible)." "Jerome was by several accounts a rather bad-tempered, prickly and unpleasant person, who was also unsuccessful when he tried the life of a monk. However, his reputation for disciplined holiness and biblical scholarship has survived over 1,500 years and should be of encouragement to those of us aware of our own unpleasant personal traits and habits. Heaven is populated not with the perfect, but with ordinary people who have tried their best to love God and serve humanity."

    Medieval Monasticism
    I do not usually include another history course in this Book in detail.  But this one is close to brilliant, by Dr. Deborah Vess of Georgia College and University.   "Forms of religious life in the medieval west, the major contributions of medieval monasticism to medieval and modern culture, and of the major texts which governed medieval monastic life, expressed its fundamental values, and which inform us about patronage and the relationship of the monasteries to the secular world. A journey together into the desert, and through the lives and sayings of the desert hermits  to explore the origins of monasticism; from there, we shall explore the legacy of Benedictine, Cluniac, and Cistercian monasticism, and the new orders of the Central Middle Ages. How European culture was formed and developed out of the peregrinations of such monastics as St. Boniface, St. Columba, and St. Columbanus. The great medievalist Jean Leclerq once described monastic culture,  'as the love of learning and the desire for God,' and we shall explore the legacy of learning which grew out of the monasteries, as well as the impact of the Benedictine motto "Ora et Labora" on the economic, social, and political life of Europe."
Medieval Monastery
    "The Medieval monastery was established during the Middle Ages. The first type of Medieval monastery adhered to the Benedictine Rule, established by St. Benedict in 529AD. Different orders of monks were also established during the Middle Ages. The major orders of Medieval monks were the Benedictines, the Cistercians and the Carthusians. These monastic orders differed mainly in the details of their religious observation and how strictly they applied their rules. In the twelfth century four hundred and eighteen monasteries were founded in England; in the next century, only about a third as many. In the fourteenth, only twenty-three monasteries were founded in England."
    Monasticism in Medieval Christianity
    "The term "monasticism" (monachos, a solitary person) describes a way of life chosen by religious men or women who retreat from society for the pursuit of spiritual salvation. Though monasteries were landowners from their inception, in the tenth century they began to acquire substantial gifts of cash, precious liturgical objects, land, and livestock. Monasteries, in turn, provided a haven from the world for pious men and women, as well as for social outcasts in need of assistance. One of the major contributions of the monastic members was their achievement in scholarship, providing instrumental books about hymnography, hagiography, and theology. Monastic centers encouraged a fiercely intellectual environment, requiring literacy of brothers and sisters and creating major libraries."  Important site. 
    Early Medieval Monasticism
    "The monks became the heroes of early medieval Europe for a number of reasons. They had clearly dedicated their lives to the devotion of God. Their lives served as examples for others. They also provided a sense of security in a world that always seemed on the brink of tumult and catastrophe. They founded an organization, the monastery, which allowed them to live communally -- some monks worked the earth, some copied and illuminated manuscripts, while still others read and studied. And, of course, because of their asceticism, the monks became the vehicles of economic and cultural change -- they helped teach medieval Europe to save and invest for the future. Of course, what the monks and their monasteries meant for Europe in, say, 800, meant something vastly different more than 700 years later when the Christian humanist, Erasmus, could write of the monks that "they are so detested that it is considered bad luck if one crosses your path."
    Regia Anglorum - Monastic Life in Anglo-Saxon England
    "Monasteries were places where men could go and devote their entire life to God. Most of their waking hours were governed by a set of rules, laid down by St Benedict in the sixth century. Since the latin for a rule is 'regula', they are usually known as 'regular clergy'. In contrast, the priests were called 'secular clergy', from the latin 'saecularis', meaning 'of the world' - in other words, they were not shut up in a monastery all the time.  Monastic life was not easy. The Rule of Saint Benedict really does account for every hour of a monk's life, with prayer and work. The work the monks initially had to do was first in the field, or building the monastery, but later the monks began the important task of copying and translating manuscripts. Their life was supposed to be spent entirely inside the monastery, with little contact with the outside world, as the following extract from the Rule shows: 'When brethren return from a journey, they should lie prostrate on the floor of the oratory and ask for the prayers of all for any faults that may have overtaken them on their journey, such as the sight or hearing of an evil thing or idle chatter.'"
    Medieval Monks
    How to become a monk, life in the dining room, the chapel, the scriptorium.  See also "LIFE" HERE. and also Here.
Life in a Medieval Monastery
"Monastic life was generally one of hard physical work, scholarship and prayer. Some orders encouraged the presence of "lay brothers", monks who did most of the physical labour in the fields and workshops of the monastery so that the full-fledged monks could concentrate on prayer and learning. The day of a monk or nun, in theory at least, was regulated by regular prayer services in the abbey church. These services took place every three hours, day and night. When the services were over, monks would be occupied with all the tasks associated with maintaining a self-sustaining community. Abbeys grew their own food, did all their own building, and in some cases, grew quite prosperous doing so. Fountains Abbey and Rievaulx, both in Yorkshire, grew to be enormously wealthy, largely on the basais of raising sheep and selling the wool.  Throughout the Dark Ages and Medieval period the monasteries were practically the only repository of scholarship and learning. The monks were by far the best educated mermbers of society - often they were the only educated members of society. Monasteries acted as libraries for ancient manuscripts, and many monks were occupied with laboriously copying sacred texts."

CATHEDRALS, CHAPELS, CHURCHES, THE GOTHIC, GARGOYLES

A Brief History and Introduction to Westminster Abbey
Architectural masterpiece of the 13th-16th C., Westminster Abbey is home to innumerable tombs of English Kings, Queens and other famous persons. Every coronation since 1066, the Abbey is a living part of English history. Take virtual tour, visit shrine of Edward the Confessor and the Henry VII chapel. If you're interested in cathedrals, site is important.
Churches in Brussels
Part of the Belgium Travel Network, includes photos/descriptions of three of Brussel's magnificent Middle Age Cathedrals.
Gargoyles Then and Now
"What are these fantastic monsters doing in the cloisters under the very eyes of the brothers as they read? What is the meaning of these unclean monkeys, strange savage lions and monsters?"-- St. Bernard of Clairvaux. Interesting compilation of black/white photographs of gargoyles, brief description of pagan roots, symbolic meaning and function in medieval architecture.
Gothic Dreams
Immersive exploration of gothic architecture. Part of wonderful Earthlore Exploration series. On-line photographic galleries, cathedral profiles and detailed cathedral design section will floor you (pun intended). Truly astounding, inspiring site.
St. John the Divine - NYC - Pilgrimage to the Middle Ages
The world's largest gothic cathedral - and in NYC! Take the excellent tour.
A Walk Around Winchester Cathedral
Quality photos illustrate well written descriptions of history of Winchester - once England's capital - and the famous 800 year old cathedral. So well conceived it feels experiential.
Welcome to the Virtual Sistine Chapel
Michelangelo Buonarroti commissioned by Pope Julius II della Rovere in 1508 to repaint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel completing his work between 1508 and 1512. Clear, crisp graphics of Michelangelo's exquisite artwork make up for the busy wallpaper. You could not get a better view if you were standing in the Sistine Chapel itself.


THE CRUSADES

"Western Europe's most ambitious common enterprise and its most conspicuous failure was the attempt to bring together all mankind in Christian unity under the leadership of the pope. The most intense part of this enterprise and the one that enlisted the most widespread support in Europe from all levels of society was the Crusades. The Crusades in the narrow sense of the expeditions to conquer and hold the Holy Land for the West began at the end of the eleventh century and lasted throughout the remainder of the medieval period. "

The Crusades 1
"In a more inclusive sense, the Crusades include several other important contributing factors: The reconquest of Spain and Sicily from he Moslems; * The extension of the Christian frontier in the Baltic region to take in Lithuanians, Estonians, Prussians and Finns; * Christian missions to convert the Mongols and other Eastern peoples; * Concurrent with the Crusades was the effort to convert or eliminate the Jews within Europe that led ultimately to their expulsion from many parts of the West. "The Crusades inspired the most dedicated valor, the most bloodthirsty cruelty, and the greediest vandalism of medieval men. They offered the fullest opportunity for combined fulfillment of Germanic heroic aspirations and Christian ideals of brotherhood and self-sacrifice."
The Crusades 2
"The Crusades were a series of campaigns against Islam and against heretics and troublemakers in Europe itself. They were lead by kings, princes, knights and papal legates as well as by shepherd and hermits on unique occasions. They were not always under direct control of the Church, a fact which caused much distress to a number of Popes. Different motives influenced those who journeyed to the Holy Land, and they were not always religious ones. The Church offered many incentives to encourage men to take the Cross. These included remission from sins, protection for the Crusaders' families, freedom from law suits and exemption from interest on loans authorized by the Church."
"The Crusades, then, were more than just campaigns in a Holy War against Islam. Religious fervour was not the only motive and the actual Crusades rarely went according to plan. The initial idea of fighting for Christ's birth-right gave way to combatting heretical Christians, pagans and "evil" rulers. The sack of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade has been considered by many scholars the ultimate deviation from the original Crusading ideal. The failure of every Crusade after the First, the frequent degenerations into debauchery and drinking by members of the armies, emphasizes the abyss between the ideal and the reality of the Crusading movement. The inability to inspire commitment and establish a strong unified leadership or the strategy to defeat the Saracens on their own land, plagued each Crusade, dooming them to failure. Had those who organized them learned from previous mistakes, the result might have been different."
Childrens Crusade of 1213
"The survival of the Crusading spirit during the century is further shown by the extraordinary movement in 1212 which is known as the Children's Crusade.This expedition which, of course, was not a Crusade at all in the strict sense of the term ­ attracted thousands of children and young adults from northern France and western Germany to its banners. The "Crusade" was preached in France by a peasant boy named Stephen from a village near Vendome. In Germany, a boy named Nicholas from Cologne started the movement . The sorry business was summarized by a chronicler" on this site.
History of the Crusades - One Person's Point of View
"Rather" aggressively strong analysis.  "Notwithstanding their final overthrow, the Crusades hold a very important place in the history of the world. Essentially the work of the popes, these Holy Wars first of all helped to strengthen pontifical authority; they afforded the popes an opportunity to interfere in the wars between Christian princes, while the temporal and spiritual privileges which they conferred upon crusaders virtually made the latter their subjects. At the same time this was the principal reason why so many civil rulers refused to join the Crusades. It must be said that the advantages thus acquired by the popes were for the common safety of Christendom. From the outset the Crusades were defensive wars and checked the advance of the Mohammedans who, for two centuries, concentrated their forces in a struggle against the Christian settlements in Syria; hence Europe is largely indebted to the Crusades for the maintenance of its independence. Besides, the Crusades brought about results of which the popes had never dreamed, and which were perhaps the most, important of all. "
Chronology of the Crusades
The Crusades and the Rise of Islam
Crusades in simple terms. Although somewhat simplistic, the crisp facts can be a helpful summary and review.
Female Heroes:  The Women Left Behind
"The effect of the Crusades on women left behind to fend for themselves was dramatic. The absence of a husband, son or guardian could be as long as 10 years. Then there were the men who never returned. It is reported that in the second and third crusades perhaps 500,000 were lost, a significant drain on the male Christian population."
Medieval Sourcebook- Crusades
Over a hundred links organized in chronological order take reader through all the crusades, orders, with access to translations of key speeches and documents. Emphasize the period encompassed by the first four crusades, but includes comprehensive information encompassing the entire segment of history.
Siege and Capture of Jerusalem
First hand accounts.  Nasty, nasty stuff.
Story of the First Crusade
"The First Crusade began on November 27, 1095, with a proclamation from Pope Urban II delivered to clergy and lay folk who had gathered in a field in Clermont, central France. His topic: an appeal for help that he had received from the Byzantine Emperor, Alexius I Comnenus."
  

BRITANNIA

BRITANNIA

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
Fascinating (and massive) 52-part account of history covering the years 1 through 1154 AD from the point of view of the Anglo-Saxons. This is the COMPLETE TEXT.  And here:  The Anglo Saxon Chronicle
Brief History of Anglo Saxon England
After the Roman Empire crumbled, before the Norman Conquest, Anglo Saxon culture flourished in England. Depth of Anglo Saxon influence on subsequent English culture.
The Battle of Hastings
"The fight for Senlac Ridge on October 14th 1066 is probably the only battle date that most Englishmen can be expected to remember. Nearly a thousand years after the event, the memory of the resounding defeat of the last native Saxon King and his army rings down the centuries. But why did the battle take place? Why did William the Bastard, Duke of Normandy, think that he had a claim to the English throne in the first place. Or was it just an adventure; an enormous gamble that paid off and changed the course of world history in the course of an autumn day?"
Battle of Hastings:   An  Account of the Battle That Altered World History
"To gain a clear understanding of why the Battle of Hastings occurred, you should be aware of the political and cultural histories of England and Normandy before the battle, the intertwined relationships of England and Normandy, the relationship of the English royalty to the Norman dukes, and, lastly, the principal personalities: Harold Godwinson, Duke William, and Edward the Confessor. Armed with this knowledge, it will be very apparent why the battle occurred and why it was inevitable in the context of history, as history developed."  Full-service site.
Battle of Hastings 1066
"Story of the Battle of Hastings that was fought on the 14th October 1066. An event so significant, it totally changed the course of English history. To speak about this battle without recourse to the events that led up to it would be an injustice to the people of this island who have fought and died for her. What makes this event so important to the English is the fact that it was the last time any foreign power was to conquer her. Without doubt, a lesson was learnt that became etched into this island race for ever."
Britannia
Quintessential British site. Messy and hard to use but a catalog of great Web links. Articles, essays on castles, kings, popes, Wales, abbots, archibishops, British monarchs, cathedrals, King Arthur, documents.
Britannia's Narrative History of Britain
The Anglo-Saxon Period, The Arthurian Period , Medieval BritainFrom Reformation to Restoration and - The Age of Empire - First Rate Terse Historical Summarys.
Britannica Sources of British History
Repository of links to an incredible array of English historical source documents. St. Patrick's actual Confession, in his own hand; actual Magna Carta; laws of William the Conquerer. Eyewitness accounts of battles, rebellions, heroes and villains. Compelling reading. Humanizes history. "Britannia brings you the rich documentary history of England and Wales, so that you can begin to appreciate the foundation on which the present nation stands...Significant charters, histories, chronicles, accounts, laws and summonses."
Magna Carta
With the Magna Carta, King John placed himself and England's future sovereigns and magistrates within the rule of law. Read about this "charter of ancient liberties guaranteed by a king to his subjects." Translation of the 1297 version of Magna Carta.
Sub-Roman Britain: An Introduction
ORB Online Essay by Christopher Snyder. Britannia in the fifth and six centuries.
William the Conqueror
"Reigned 1066-1087. Duke of Normandy 1035-1087. Invaded England defeated and killed his rival Harold at the Battle of Hastings and became King. The Norman conquest of England was completed by 1072 aided by the establishment of feudalism under which his followers were granted land in return for pledges of service and loyalty."
Back to Basics--A Series for Newer Ricardians
"Background, major events, and principal players associated with that period of English history - the Wars of the Roses, the fall of the House of Lancaster and rise of the House of York, the Royal Bastards,  and the life, times, and reign of Richard III.
Not Guilty--Again!
" Three Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court find Richard III Not Guilty Following Mock Trial Oral Argument Held at the U.S. Supreme Court...On June 4, 1997, the Lawyers' Committee for the Shakespeare Theater in Washington, D.C. sponsored a mock trial before three Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court and a large number of members of the Washington, D.C. Bar. Following oral arguments, Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Associate Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Stephen G. Breyer, in a 3-0 decision, ruled that the prosecution had not met the burden of proof that 'it was more likely than not that the Princes in the Tower had been murdered; that the bones found in 1674 in the Tower were those of the Princes; and that Richard III had and that Richard III had ordered or was complicitous in their deaths."  The defense lawyers put on a good show.  The result?  Go and see.
Richard III - Brief Biography.
"Four months into his reign he crushed a rebellion led by his former assistant Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, who sought the installation of Henry Tudor, a diluted Lancaster, to the throne. The rebellion was crushed, but Tudor gathered troops and attacked Richard's forces on August 22, 1485, at the battle of Bosworth Field. The last major battle of the Wars of the Roses, Bosworth Field became the death place of Richard III. Historians have been noticeably unkind to Richard, based on purely circumstantial evidence; Shakespeare portrays him as a complete monster in his play, Richard III. One thing is for certain, however: Richard's defeat and the cessation of the Wars of the Roses allowed the stability England required to heal, consolidate, and push into the modern era."
Richard III Society
Thanks mainly to Shakespeare, England's Richard III (1452-1485), is known as the wicked, hunchbacked uncle who murdered his way to the throne. Site attempts to resurrect his reputation by exploring the events that surrounded his turbulent life. Uniquely English historic revisionism. Fun and surprisingly informative. Have an open mind and you'll be surprised at your reactions.


SCOTLAND

. Nessie on the Net
"Scotland's first and official Loch Ness Monster Site." Includes webcam which updates every 120 seconds showing "the most famous monster hunting location of Urquhart Castle." Also includes video streams of eyewitness interviews as well as a "search Nessie' search engine.

ROYALTY

The Monarchs of England
Britannia Web biographies of the men and women who have ruled Britain since 802 AD. Listed by royal house, excellent articles contain genealogies, maps and links to prehistoric period and Roman period, Anglo-Saxons, Arthur, Medieval Britain, Reformation, myths and legends.
Tudor England
Did you know ...that the population in Tudor England was over 4 million people in 1599? ...what "government by seal" means? ...what the 5 types of mental diseases were in the early Tudor medical opinion? ...where Sir Walter Raleigh's head was kept for 29 years - after his execution in 1618? Simply click and go - the answers are at your fingertips.
Tudors and Stuarts
Great jump-off point to learn about Tudor and Stuart periods. The Tudor period "begins when Henry Tudor, a Lancastrian, defeated King Richard 111 at the battle of Bosworth Field in 1485 ending the War of the Roses." Monarchs, Protestant church beginnings, Bloody Mary, Spanish Armada, Elizabethan Age, Mary Queen of Scots, Civil War, The Restoration. Link to complete works of Shakespeare.
The Housewife's Rich Cabinet: Remedies, Recipes, and Helpful Hints
"Have you ever wondered how Shakespeare's contemporaries dealt with toothaches and other ills, with cleaning their houses and clothing, and preserving food? If so, come explore the contents of The Housewife's Rich Cabinet : her medicines, perfumes, cosmetics, cleaning solutions, pest controls, and preserving hints, as they are recorded in 90 books and manuscripts of the 16th through the 18th century now on display in the Library's Great Hall."  Check this "helpful" place.
Tudor Food 
"Tudor Food and Drink varied according to status and wealth. In the early Middle Ages period meat was a sign of wealth. But as the population rose in Tudor England so did the improved agricultural techniques and inventions. The Tudor era also saw the introductions of different food from the New World, and continued to be influenced by the foods imported from the Far East, just it had during the earlier period of the Crusades. The Tudor era saw the expanded use of sugar. Increased cultivation of fruit trees and bee hives in England was also seen during the Tudor era increasing the range of foods available. The section and era covering Tudor Food includes sections on food in the Tudor times, food in Tudor England, Tudor food recipes and Tudor food for a banquet or feast."
Tudor History
A full range of "material," and good stuff on "Culturally and socially, the Tudor period saw many changes. The Tudor court played a prominent part in the cultural Renaissance taking place in Europe, nurturing all-round individuals such as William Shakespeare, Edmund Spenser and Cardinal Wolsey. The Tudor period also saw the turbulence of two changes of official religion, resulting in the martyrdom of many innocent believers of both Protestantism and Roman Catholicism. The fear of Roman Catholicism induced by the Reformation was to last for several centuries and to play an influential role in the history of the Succession."    And then the Tudor Monarchs.  Then to a BBC summary of Henry VIII.


BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE


THE PLAGUE

The Black Death - Eyewitness Account
The Black Death of 1348 to 1350
Effects the plague had on politics, culture, art, and economy. Brings to life the horror that came with the plague. "The sensible thing to do when the plague struck was to get out of town, for people expected the plague would remain local. Aristocrats could do this because they had estates in the countryside. The poor, of course, had nowhere to go, so they remained and died."  "The bubonic plague did not go away. It still exists, everywhere in the world. It is quite common among rodent populations--rats, of course, but squirrels, rabbits and skunks as well. . . .The plague is still very much with us."
The Black Death
"The Black Death serves as a convenient divider between the central and the late Middle Ages. The changes between the two periods are numerous; they include the introduction of gunpowder, increased importance of cities, economic and demographic crises, political dislocation and realignment, and powerful new currents in culture and religion. Overall, the later Middle Ages are usually characterized as a period of crisis and trouble. The portrait should not be painted unrelievedly bleak, but the tone is accurate enough and echoes voices from the era itself.
The Black Death did not cause the crisis, for evidence of the changes can be seen well before 1347. But the plague exacerbated problems and added new ones, and the tone of crisis is graver in the second half than in the first half of the century. Standing at the century's mid-point, the plague serves as a convenient demarcation."
Bubonic Plague A.K.A "Black Death"
How black death was transmitted, its symptoms, statistics, and medieval superstitutions treatments. Also the MACARONI GAME that gives an experience in the transmission of the bubuonic plague. (Good teaching tool for presentations and good resource for reports.)  "About 25% of the population of Europe was killed in the 14th century. That's 25 million people - more than the total population of Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland, and Delaware combined. Disease killed three times more people than died in WWI. Before the 1300's, the Plague had been absent from Europe for almost 1000 years. After that time, Plague epidemics occurred almost regularly for 200 years. The Plague changed people's attitudes about life, created new superstitions, and became engrained in folklore in Renaissance Europe."
Church's Involvement in the Bubonic Plague
"The Middle Ages marked a time of strong religious convictions, and it was during the Bubonic Plague that anger toward the Roman Catholic Church and the persecution of Jews intensified. The church played an important role in the lives of the people of the 13th and 14th Centuries, and it was forced to intervene when Christians demanded help." Maps of routes by which the plague was spread.  
Jewish History Sourcebook:  The Black Plague and the Jews, 1348-1349
How and why the Christians blamed the Jews for occurrence and spread of the Black Death. "Reported that the leaders in the Jewish metropolis of Toledo had initiated a plot and that one of the conspirators was a Rabbi." How some Jews were forced to confess, tortured, and killed.
Plague
"Plagues devastated Elizabethan England. They were a constant threat to the people and the land. The most devastating to England was the bubonic plague. London was afflicted over a dozen times during the 1500's. he bubonic plague originated in Central Asia, where it killed 25 million people before it made its way into Constantinople in 1347. From there it spread to Mediterranean ports such as Naples and Venice. Trade ships from these Mediterranean ports spread plague to the inhabitants of southern France and Italy. It had spread to Paris by June of 1348, and London was in the grips of plague several months later. By 1350, all of Europe had been hit by plague. From this time to the mid 1600's, the disease was seen in England."
Did you know that Elizabeth I, for example, had strict standards and guidelines enforced in order to protect herself and her court from contracting the plague virus. No one from London was allowed into Windsor Castle. Anyone trying to get in was immediately hanged. "
Plague and Public Health in Renaissance Europe
Physicians, writers, poets, and chroniclers wrote about how the plague might have started and how it was affecting the population of Europe. Certain individuals were persecuted because it was believed that they infected the population with the Black Death. To gain a better perspective of the plague, look at all types of facets, science, religion, politics, and economics during that time.  Good stepping stone in exploring the many faces of the Black Death.
Plague-Proof Yourself and Your Family
GREAT GUIDE!  List of  "helpful" recommendations.  One typical suggestion:  "Go forth barefoot in sackcloth sprinkled with ashes. Weep, pray, tear at your hair, carry candles and relics. Sometimes decorate yourself with ropes around your neck or beat yourself with whips."
Yersinia pestis
Bubonic plague has had a major impact on the history of the world. The plague has killed over 50 million people over the centuries. Scientific overview with microscopic pictures of Yersinia pestis and its manifestations,human symptions(warning graphic). Even thought it was small it had the power to almost exterminate the western world. .


INQUISITION AND HERESIES

Historical Overview
After the Roman Church had consolidated its power in the early Middle Ages, heretics came to be regarded as enemies of society. The crime of heresy was defined as a deliberate denial of an article of truth of the Catholic faith, and a public and obstinate persistence in that alleged error. At this time, there was a sense of Christian unity among townspeople and rulers alike, and most of them agreed with the Church that heretics seemed to threated society itself.
Brief History of the Inquisition
Full-scale summary by categories. "The Inquisition was one of the great blights in the history of Christianity. No other institution in the history of the Christian Church was so horrible, so unjust, so...un-Christian." Theological foundations, targets, inquisitors, time-line.
Catholics, Heretics and Heresy
 "Members of different religions have generally regarded each other, at the best, as different but also, very often, as enemies. . . The people who deviated from one religion, those that we know as heretics in general, have been most of the time in History the object of repression. The main religions have not hesitated to use the secular forces to eliminate what they saw as their worst enemies, those coming from within and trying to change the system and put in doubt the leadership in place."
And who were the enemies?  The Cathars,  "members of a definitely heretic sect - destroyed by the Church. The Templars,  a true Catholic Order, "accused of heresy, probably without any real reason ," and suppressed. "
Inquisition
The Galileo Project.  Click on Christianity to reach the Inquisition. Informative background on how the Catholic Church's permanent institution known as the Inquisition was in charge of eradicating heretics. How through the centuries the Church has dealt with the heretics. How the inquisition evolved through the centuries.
The Spanish Inquisition
Inquisition
The use of torture is not confined to the Dark Ages or to any religious sect or government.
 The Malleus Maleficarum
"Published in 1486, the Malleus Maleficarum (The Hammer of Witches) was the most popular handbook for Witch hunters during the great Witch craze of the 16th and 17th centuries. Indeed, until Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress began circulating in 1678, only the Bible sold better! Written by two German friars, Jacob Sprenger and Heinrich Kramer who were prosecutors of heretics in the Rhineland and Northern Germany. Although their own behaviour inspired protests to the Pope, in 1484 the recently elected Pope Innocent VIII endorsed their activities.
The Malleus Maleficarum gave theological approval to every grotesque superstition concerning diabolism and Witches, and resulted in the torture and death of thousands of innocent people - particularly Women. The book addressed such questions as 'Why is it that Women are cheifly addicted to evil superstitions?", and concluded that "All Witchcraft comes from carnal lust, which is in Women insatiable...wherefore for the sake of fulfilling their lusts, they consort even with devils.'"
The Medieval Inquisition
"Established in the early thirteenth century to combat widespread popular heresy, the Inquisition and its tribunals identified, prosecuted and punished heretics and their supporters. Seen as a symbol of religious and political intolerance against the Protestants, Jews, Catholic heretics and the political order of the Knights of the Templar. Presents the circumstances of the Medieval Inquisition and revisits the horror of the Church inquisition actions. While the church was accountable for the deaths of many, the townspeople also manipulated the Inquisition to their own advantage.  "When medieval people used the word 'inquisition,' they were referring to a judicial technique, not an organization. There was, in fact, no such thing as 'the Inquisition' in the sense of an impersonal organization with a chain of command. Instead there were 'inquisitors of heretical depravity,' individuals assigned by the pope to inquire into heresy in specific areas. They were called such because they applied a judicial technique known as inquisitio, which could be translated as 'inquiry' or 'inquest.' "
 

THE "MIDDLE" TIMES


MEDIEVAL/MIDDLE AGES WORLD

The Camelot International 
"Life in the middle ages was much, much harder than it is now. By 1200 AD life was more settled, but it was certainly not peaceful. Wars, crusades and peasant revolts. Plague, starvation, and great contrasts in living standards between rich and poor. Trade flourished and towns grew and prospered. New industries set up and luxury goods reached Europe from the far corners of the world. Skilled craftsmen built magnificent castles and cathedrals.  Thousands of medieval buildings still standing, and many everyday objects. Medieval people wrote books and letters about important events."
Marginality and Community in Medieval Europe - One of THE Most Important Essays and ESSENTIAL
From the Introduction:  "From a scientific perspective marginality is understood as deviance from the norm. For our purposes this is a good foundational definition, but ultimately it falls short of expressing the myriad of issues confronted in the context of exploring marginality in Medieval Europe. In an effort to create a more suitable definition it may be more efficacious for us to work backwards, from the particulars to the abstract. By beginning with the groups which we have studied as representative of marginality in medieval society and examining the characteristics they possess--either in common or individually--we may thus arrive at a working definition of what it meant to be marginal in the Middle Ages.The groups which informed our study include: Heretics, Jews, Homosexuals, Prostitutes, Lepers, and Witches. (Naturally an argument could be made for the expansion of this list). In general we discovered that the above listed groups displayed evidence of precarious positioning with regard to indications of status. In other words medieval Jews, heretics, homosexuals, prostitutes, lepers, and witches were vunerable socially, politically, economically, and legally. Moreover, they tended to be associated with rootlessness or wandering."
Defining the Middle Ages
When did it start and end?  There is no consensus among historians!  Read on.
What's the Deal with the Dark Ages?
"The Dark Ages refer to the early medieval period of European history that began with the fall of the Roman Empire.  Specifically, the term refers to the time (476-800) when there was no Roman (or Holy Roman) emperor in the West; or, more generally, to the period between about 500 and 1000, which was marked by frequent warfare and a virtual disappearance of urban life.  Not much is known about this time period, other than the "frequent warfare" bit. Indeed, there was fighting and plundering galore during the Dark Ages, as dozens of roaming barbarian hordes (Goths, Huns, Vandals, Franks, etc.) competed for land and riches."
The Not-so-Dark Middle Ages
“Darkness, famine, poverty and sickness are amongst the more popular words to describe the high middle ages. In a certain way this is true, but like all eras even the high middle ages had its ups and downs. There most certainly was corruption, civil war, famine and poverty but on the other hand the 13th and 14th centuries brought innovation and progress.
The Bad Old Days - GREAT FUN
Modern myths, hoaxes about the Middle Ages.
The Medieval History Starter Quiz - TAKE IT!
Here's your chance to see how much you know?
The Middle Ages Net
The Middle Ages stretched roughly from the fifth century to the fifteenth century. It began with the collapse of the Roman Empire and although Roman customs continued for a while, it was soon replaced by a system of running society called feudalism.  Good areas of life in Middle Ages.
Medival Europe - But the faculty got tired of doing it so site is dead.  But I leave the description up 
KEY SITE WITH RANGE OF OFFERINGS.  "For several hundred years, from about the first to around the fifth century AD, Rome was the greatest power on Earth, ruling Britain and the countries around the Mediterranean Sea. However, in northern Europe, there were fierce tribes that were only held at bay by the Romans. Around 400 AD, the Roman Empire began to weaken and the northern tribes swept across the continent of Europe and plundered the city of Rome. The Roman Empire collapsed and was gradually replaced by many small kingdoms ruled by a strong warrior.
    For many years, Europe was without the luxuries and riches that had marked the height of Rome. Many centuries later, a new interest in learning would mark the beginning of the Renaissance. The thousand years between is called the Middle Ages or the Medieval period. This period began and ended for different countries at different times across Europe. It also affected different areas of the continent in different ways. The northern tribes did not stamp out learning completely, only momentarily set it back.       The Catholic Church was already a powerful institution at the end of the Roman Empire and it continued to be the unifying force between the many small kingdoms that would become Europe. The Church salvaged much from the ruins of the ancient world and became one of the centers of learning during the Middle Ages. The people of the Middle Ages had a rich culture and produced many advances in art, literature, science, and medicine and paved the way for the ideas that would become the beginning of the Renaissance.
     To begin your journey into the Middle Ages, try to picture a world with far fewer people, where no one moved away from their hometown, and life moved at a slower pace. There was no electricity, no water from faucets, no television, and no cars. Imagine such a world to begin your journey into a land that was filled with real knights, castles, lords, and ladies." 
The End of the Middle Ages
Good tutorial.  Economy, Feudal Institutions, New Monarchies, Holy Roman Empire, Italy's City-States, Eastern Europe, Ottoman Turks, The Church, Literature, Intellectual Life, Visual Arts, Music.
Anonimalle Chronicle
Acccount of Peasants' Revolt of 1381
Fifteenth Century Life
"Many casual students of history today and most students of past generations thought of the fifteenth century in English history as a time when English folk had forgotten what was good for them politically, religiously, legally, and in most other ways. Such a viewpoint has become increasingly less tenable as researchers delve more deeply and with greater sensitivity into what was truly taking place in fifteenth-century England." 15th century life - cuisine, falconry, power and influence of medieval women.
Life in the Middle Ages World
Series of short essays by gifted resource students from Kyerene de las Brisas Elementary School. Many of the essays are illustrated by the children.
Medieval Life - NET
"Daily life during the Middle Ages is sometimes hard to fathom. Pop culture loves to focus on exciting medieval moments-heroic knights charging into battle; romantic liaisons between royalty and commoner; breakthroughs and discoveries made. But life for your average person during the Dark Ages was very routine, and activities revolved around an agrarian calendar."  Education, clothing, bathing, games, music, commerce, festivals, city and village."
Feudal Life
Good summaries.  Then move on to great "bits" on the range of "life" issues.
Life in the Middle Ages
JUST GREAT!  "What was life really like in the Middle Ages? The life of all the classes was dominated by the feudal system - feudalism. What was Village life like during the middle ages? Life in a manor and the Lord of the Manor during the Middle Ages. The life of women during the Middle Ages - peasants, lords, princess and Kings. The jobs and occupations dictated the quality of life during the Middle Ages and the medicine, entertainment and guilds of the Middle ages. Life in the Middle Ages also include an entertainment section providing the History, Facts and Information about the sports and games played during the time of Middle Ages. These subjects covered include Entertainment, Games, Gaming and Gambling, Bear & Bull Baiting, Hunting and Hawking during the period  of Middle Ages. When did Medieval people of the Middle Ages find time for entertainment, sports and leisure - the section covering religious festivals answers this question. The History, Facts and information about  Life in the Middle Ages History have been provided in this section."
Tales of the Middle Ages!!!
"True stories, Fables, and Anecdotes from the Middle Ages."  Great stuff.  Start with this idea:  "Contrary to popular legend, medieval man loved baths. People probably bathed more than they did in the 19th century, says the great medievalist Lynn Thorndike. Some castles had a special room beside the kitchen where the ladies might bathe sociably in parties. Hot water, sometimes with perfume or rose leaves, was brought to the lord in the bedchamber and poured into a tub shaped like a half-barrel and containing a stool, so that the occupant could sit and soak long. In the cities there were public baths, or "stews" for the populace."
Medieval  Life
Wide-ranging survey of daily, domestic medieval life. Most informative sections discuss Contraceptive Methods, Rape in the Middle Ages, Manners.  Eleanor of Aquitaine, iron working, witchcraft documents, prostitution, recipes, sexual development, the School of Trotula, famuli, marriage, love, beer. Many interesting brief vignettes.
The Medieval Manor
 " Manorialism is the other side of the feudal coin. You could say that the economic base of feudalism was manorial agriculture. The reason for this is to be found in the climate and the topography. Agricultural techniques were quite different in northern Europe from Mediterranean lands. It is no surprise that feudalism and manorialism never really developed in the south of Europe. In the north you could sow grain both in fall and the spring. so the work could be more evenly distributed during the course of the year. Because the land was much more fertile in the north you could have larger farms in the north than you could in the south. . . range of interesting stuff such as the The Moldboard Plow, as distinguished from the scratch plow, created a revolution in agriculture. It makes deep furrows and thus provides the necessary drainage for early use of the land. The moldboard plow was invented in Germany probably long before the invasions of the fourth and fifth centuries. It came into gradual use in Merovingian and Carolingian times in the area between the Rhine and the Elbe rivers. In the Romanized areas of southwestern Europe there were certain social obstacles to adoption of the moldboard plow. In these regions formerly a part of the Roman Empire, Roman conceptions of private property in land and slaves prevented the development of private farming. .Also few individual farmers could own the necessary number of draught animals to pull this heavy plow." Get the rest of this story!
Manorial Glossary
Over 144 terms defining ideas and principles of manorialism in the Middle Ages. Univ. Mississippi Department of English authored this comprehensive reference for academics, intellectuals and students. Indispensable reference tool for the study and understanding of manorialism. Includes explanations of words and phrases where meanings have changed or lost through time.
The Psalter Map
"Although tiny, it contains a wealth of information." Helps us to understand how Medievals thought of the world surrounding them.
Good Medieval Images and Medieval Macabre and Woodcuts - Collections of Art

DISEASE, ALCHEMY

From Miracles to Medicine - The Medieval Miracles of Healing
Medieval Health
Very Important Site. "Superstition and ignorance reigned during the Middle Ages, a time when characters we now consider to be simply from fairy tales; pixies, trolls, hobgoblins and so on, were thought to truly exist. Health was controlled by the stars, and affliction was a sign of impurity of the soul-a curse from God.   
Disease was a constant concern, as was infection from injuries. Hygiene was not always a priority and medieval diets were lacking in vital nutrition. Barbers doubled as surgeons, and a good bleeding was often the cure prescribed.  
Medieval science progressed slowly, and treatments for the sick were quite often out of reach, especially for the poor. But little by little, doctors were learning information that led to better cures, and understandings of how diseases were transmitted. Hospitals began to be constructed, and schools established for those wishing to practice medicine. Superstition remained, and medieval science certainly did not have all the answers. Information lost from the burning of the library at Alexandria by Christian zealots was slowly being rediscovered."Click on to Doctors, Medicine, Diseases.
Ailments and Cures of Medieval Women
" During the Middle Ages, cures for many common ailments were both realistic and far-fetched to the point of absurdity."  Take a look at a medieval birthing chair for example.
A History of Western Medicine and Surgery
"One must wonder at the people and methods used in medicine in the Middle Ages. Their drives for health, long life, and freedom from pain seem much like our own motivations today, but their approaches and ideas on medicine and life in general were completely different. Let us look at our history of medicine, how it affected the people and ideas of the times and how it was affected by them."
Mythical Plants of the Middle Ages
"Civilizations as early as the Chaldean in southwestern Asia were among the first to have a belief in plants that never existed, and the practice continued well beyond the Middle Ages and the Renaissance."
Museum of London: Exhibitions: Bedlam
The infamous Bethlem Royal Hospital of  London was recognised as the world's first and oldest institution to provide care for the mentally ill.  The Hospital became famous and notorious for the brutal ill-treatment meted out to the mentally ill.  Take a look!


TECHNOLOGY, SCIENCE, TRANSPORTATION, BUILDING

Technology During the Middle Ages
Although the Middle Ages is known as a backward period in history, many inventions greatly changed the lives of the European people.  Good list.
Population Estimates
Some interesting guesses..
Medieval Technology Pages
Astronomy/Astrology
"The terms "astronomie" and "astrologie" are more or less interchangeable; it was understood that the astrological condition of the skies affects the weather and influences the seasons and times for planting and harvesting (hence even today the Old Farmer's Almanac provides detailed astrological information for the benefit of those whose labors may be affected by the skies."
The Astrolabe - An Instrument With A Past and a Future
"The astrolabe is a very ancient astronomical computer for solving problems relating to time and the position of the Sun and stars in the sky."
Medieval Science
" During the Middle Ages, the best scientists and doctors were not in Europe, but in the Islamic Empire to the south and east. Most of the science and medicine that people were doing in Europe was learning from Islamic scientists and doctors. The Crusades, by sending a lot of Europeans to go live in West Asia for a while, helped to spread Islamic science to Europe."
Medieval Transportation - Pictures of
Population Estimates - Approximate Population for Parts of Europe


Peasant Houses - THE Best Article
" It seems clear that peasants did not live with their animals out of choice, but rather because structures like the long house were the economic solution to a problem. More prosperous peasants built separate barns for their animals, placing the barn at right angles to the house to emphasize the distinction."
Medieval Houses
"The only Medieval houses that survive today are those of the wealthy. They have survived because they were made of stone."  Look at the reconstruction of peasant homes.
Medieval Towns and Villages - The Ideal Site
Plus how to construct one, what to look for.  Also on site, info about farming, the manor, food, clothing, houses.  Simple but great.
Medieval English Towns  - Historical Information
Fortified Manors
Wharram Percy - The Lost Medieval Village
Castle Privies!
A privy is a medieval name for latrine.  Take a look.
Fortifications, and Buildings
Town wall, pesant's house, great hall, kitchen, towers, prison
What Was It Really Like to Live int he Middle Ages - GREAT SITE - Keep Clicking
Read on, even to garbage and disposal.

FAIRS, GAMES, MUSIC

A History of Traditional Games
"Nice job of placing each game within its historical context, and it covers a very wide range of games."
Medieval Music - Try Your Luck As A Medieval Musician
 Listen to the sound of a medieval instrument and then try to determine which instrument, from those pictured, made that sound.

SOCIAL LIFE, WORK,  AND CULTURE - AND THE ORDINARY

Period Movies !
Footwear of the Middle Ages
"By far what we know about shoes and shoemaking in the Middle Ages is surpassed by what we don't know. When it comes down to making any of the designs in this work, remember that all we have to work from are illustrations, which may only be artistic interpretations; and those shoes that have been excavated archaeologically, which at best represent slender visions into the techniques of manufacture, and highly limited examples of styles. It is as if someone was trying to reconstruct 20th C. shoe styles and manufacture techniques from photographs and ads in GQ and Vogue, and a large pile of half-rotten Tennis Shoes and one or two Cowboy Boots." - Enormous site! Tons of info on the Medieval shoe. Lots of graphics.
Le Poulet Gauche:  A Guide to 16th Century France
Guide to daily life in 16th century France. Created by a group dedicated to the recreation of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, Le Poulet Gauche is an actual tavern in France! Includes pages on history and politics, society and culture, tavern life, entertainment, as well as everyday life. Beautiful images and paintings!
Medieval Jobs
"One would expect the Middle Ages to have been a simple time, with few truly distinctive occupations, save the lord of the manor, his knights, his household, and the peasants. But, the complexity of the medieval working world is startling. Yes, the above are typical occupations of the age, but within these broad classifications we can define an incredible array of other occupations.   True, medieval jobs were not all fulfilling or stepping stones to success and status, as we envision the knight's position in the lord's court but ..........."  Read up on what folks actually did all day. And Medieval Occupations.
"Harbored in the palace latrine was the world's first flushing "water closet" or toilet, with a wooden seat and a small reservoir of water. The device, however, was lost for thousands of years amid the rubble of flood and decay. Not until the 16th Century would Sir John Harington invent a "washout" closet anew, similar in principle. And it would take still another 200 years before another Englishman, Alexander Cumming, would patent the forerunner of the toilet used today. The luminous names of Doulton, Wedgwood, Shanks, and Twyford would follow."  Informative to say the least.


MEDIEVAL ECONOMICS, TRADE, FARMING, LAW AND CRIME

Medieval Farming
Farms were much smaller then and the peasants who worked the land did not own the land they worked on. This belonged to the lord of the manor. In this sense, peasants were simply tenants who worked a strip of land or maybe several strips. Hence why farming was called strip farming in Medieval times. This reliance on the local lord of the manor was all part of the feudal system.   A peasant family was unlikely to be able to own that most valuable of farming animals – an ox. An ox or horse was known as a 'beast of burden' as it could do a great deal of work that people would have found impossible to do. A team of oxen at ploughing time was vital and a village might club together to buy one or two and then use them on a rota basis. In fact, villagers frequently helped one another to ensure the vital farming work got done. This was especially true at ploughing time, seeding time and harvesting.
Farming in the Middle Ages - How it Really Worked
Tales of Justice and Vengeance in the Medieval World
"All raise issues that currently resonate in radical legal scholarship."
The Clauses of the Magna Carta
Women and the Rules of Law
"It happens that the examination of what women can or cannot do is an excellent index for evaluating late twelfth century law as such. For dower, think about the appropriateness of the various jurisdictions and the demands of loyalty."
Medieval Economics
Medieval Law and Order
Law and order was very harsh in Medieval England. Those in charge of law and order believed that people would only learn how to behave properly if they feared what would happen to them if they broke the law. Even the ‘smallest’ offences had serious punishments. The authorities feared the poor simply because there were many more poor than rich and any revolt could be potentially damaging - as the Peasants Revolt of 1381 proved.
Medieval Trade Units
Crime, Prevention, Punishment Before 1450 - Good National Archives Site
Were the Middle Ages lawless and violent?  Who was responsible for crime prevention in Medieval England? What were the purposes of punishments given by courts in the Middle Ages?


MEDIEVAL FOOD, DRINK, COOKERY

Food and Drink - Great Place to Start
Ale and Brewing in the Medieval Times (Medieval/Renaissance Brewing Homepage)
If you're an Ale drinker or simply interested in its history, this site provides it all. Ale... the drink of choice in England throughout the medieval period. "Since ale was basic to the diet of ordinary people, each household required a large and steady supply; a household of five people might require about 1 1/4 gallons a day, or about 8 3/4 gallons a week." Virtually everyone drank ale for nutritional purposes. Mead was another alcoholic beverage made by the fermentation of honey and water. By varying the proportions of honey and water and the point at which fermentation is stopped, a wide variety of types can be produced ranging from a very dry and light, to sweet and heavy-bodied.Until the late middle ages meads were highly popular beverages. The guilds controlled all aspects of the trade and productionof ale, mead and only toward the end of the 16th-century wines. Recipes, articles, newsletters, biographies, and even a mailing list for Ale connoisseurs. "
A Boke of Gode Cookery
"Medieval cooking was not, as is so easily assumed today, a dubious practice that produced inedible dishes filled with strange spices and dangerous ingredients. Medieval cooks used many of the same type of foodstuffs that are in use today, in addition to forms of food preparation that would be familar to any of us. The dishes and recipes they prepared were neither inedible nor dangerous, but extremely delicious and tasty products that employed the finest meats, grains, fruits, and vegetables . . . Then as now, mankind knew what tasted good, and the sauces, stews, pies, roasts, and soups that satisfied the 14th c. family are just as wholesome and enjoyable today." Awesome, award-winning page with Medieval and other historical [unusual] recipes. Especially good because recipes have been adapted for modern times. Everything from beverages to desserts. Explains Four Humour food philosophy. Chaucerian relations to foods with a glossary of where foods are found in The Canterbury Tales."
Cooking Glossary
Savory selection of over 70 entries pertaining to Medieval cooking and food preparation. Provides insight into medieval food practices. Includes enticing descriptions of herbs, spices and other Medieval delicacies.
Dining in State: A High Cuisine Guide
Wonderful site. Information obtained from actual Middle Ages cook books! Interesting and thoughtful, contains insights as to how each class ate, how food was obtained, prepared, and served. Order of courses served in the king's presence. Medieval etiquette, with such taboos as scratching your head at the table!
Food in the Castle
"Eating was one of the castle dweller's most popular pastimes, for not only did food provide needed sustenance, it was a means of entertainment. In particular, the banquet was used to impress a lord's guests with his generosity and his wealth. Robert Dudley's 19-day festival of fun and feasting in honor of Queen Elizabeth is perhaps the most notorious of all, and the masses of food consumed are staggering by our modern, weight-conscious standard."  Read on.
Food, Drink and Cookery in Medieval Society
"The Food Heritage Press is your first stop on the internet for scholarly works on food and culinary topics during the Middle Ages." Online bookseller with links to pages on medieval cooking. Virtual handbook of food taken from Platina's original manuscript.
Medieval/Renaissance Food Homepage
"How to Pig Out With 130 of Your Closest Friends; Robbing Peter to Pay Paul: Halving Feast Costs; Camping Without a Cooler; and A Hitchhiker's Guide to Ancient Cookery" -- where else would you find information like this?? From the Renaissance Food Bibliography to a variety of articles and publications of this era. Also includes individual recipes.


WOMEN,  MEN, MARRIAGE, CHILDREN IN THE MIDDLE PERIOD

The Enduring Popularity of Courtly Love
"Lauded by nobility and idolized by troubadours, the ideal of "pure" love (which included strongly self-deprecating behavior and servitude by a man for a distant, unattainable woman) was a driving force throughout high period of medieval love literature. From 1100 to 1300, the language of lady love prevailed in the courts of England and Europe. " Read about this interesting "concept of romantic love rising to a higher plane and transforming the life of the giver for the sake of the receiver."  And then this good info for Backgrounds of Romance - Courtly Love.
Love, Romance, Marriage and Women - in Medieval Times
Great series, work and play, games, fun.  Not all was gloomy.   Start with PART ONE and continue from there.
Dominion and Domination of the Gentler Sex: The Lives of Medeval Women - SPECIAL SITE
"They were wives and writers, lovers and soldiers, mothers and midwives, scientists and traders. The day-to-day lives of medieval women of all classes and callings are often glossed over in modern history courses in favor of sequences of events. Not so here. This is the CITY OF WOMEN." Highlights the roles, so often invisible, of medieval women. "So how much DO you know about medieval women? Take the quiz and find out.
VISIT THE CITY Take a tour to examine the roles -- predictable and unexpected -- of medieval women. Inside a medieval walled city, . . . noisy and smelly. . . Streets were pitch-black at night and watchmen and thieves patrolled the streets."
THE DISTAFF SIDE: "Women and the circumstances of birth, childhood, marriage, and death. "
THE MARKETPLACE and THE ARMORY: "Women were invaluable to medieval economics. Focus on women in businesses of all sizes. AND Medieval women were soldiers long before the WAACs. Whether as defenders, commanders, or mercenaries, women made their mark on medieval warfare."
THREADNEEDLE STREET and THE APOTHECARY: "The fashion center of the City of Women. Here you can see fashion hits from the 11th to the 14th Centuries as well as the latest from the 15th. Information on medicine, science, and witchcraft.
THE ARTS: "From famous writers to nameless actors, many contributors to the medieval art scene were women, who created literature, music, theatre, dance, and visual art."
BIOGRAPHIES: "General information about the lives of medieval women in various occupations"

Joan of Arc (Jeanne d'Arc) Archive
"Joan of Arc Archive is an online collection of information, both general and scholarly, concerning Joan of Arc [Jehanne d'Arc or Darc in medieval French]; includingbiographies, trial excerpts and commentary,  letters and other documents. English translations and transcriptions of the original languages provided."
Hundred Years War: Joan of Arc and the Siege of Orleans
"In the marketplace within the gray walls of Rouen, Normandy, on May 30, 1431, in the shadows of the cathedral and guild shops, a harsh spectacle held the attention of the populace. A 19-year-old peasant girl was to be burned at the stake. A sign declared her ‘Jehanne, called la Pucelle, liar, pernicious, seducer of the people, diviner, superstitious, blasphemer of God, presumptuous, misbelieving the faith of Jesus Christ, braggart, idolater, cruel, dissolute, invoker of devils, apostate, schismatic and heretic.’ To many in the crowd, however, she was the innocent would-be rescuer of France from a century of English invaders. Unwittingly, the English were bestowing upon her a martyrdom that would haunt them for the rest of their numbered days on French soil."
Saint Joan of Arc's Trials
Full range of trials and testimony and documents.
Gendercide Watch: European Witch-Hunts
"For three centuries of early modern European history, diverse societies were consumed by a panic over alleged witches in their midst. Witch-hunts, especially in Central Europe, resulted in the trial, torture, and execution of tens of thousands of victims, about three-quarters of whom were women. Arguably, neither before nor since have adult European women been selectively targeted for such largescale atrocities."
Witchcraft Craze History
How many died?
The Decline of Witch Trials
"In 1684, Alice Molland was sent to the gallows in Exeter and became the last witch to be executed in England. Scotland closed its account with Janet Horne in 1722 while trials wound down across Europe. However, it would not be until 1782 that the last witch to be legally executed met her fate at Glarus in Switzerland. But by the late 17th century witch trials were already reasonably rare occurrences even in the same localities where, in the earlier part of that century, the greatest hunts had taken place. . . Witch trials only became common during the Renaissance and the fiercest hunts took place in the 1620s and 1630s in German speaking areas. Contrary to popular belief, they were not a phenomenon of the Middle Ages. Although magical belief and practice were just as common during this earlier period, they did not often lead to trials, let alone executions.


Medieval and Renaissance Marriage: Theory and Customs
"General overview of Christian wedding customs in Western Europe during the Middle Ages and Renaissance."
Art Slides of Women Artists
Medieval Women
The attitude toward women in medieval times, particularly held by the Church, was that they were inferior to men. Generally, women were taught that they should be meek and obedient to their fathers and husbands. In reality, medieval women had a lot of responsibility and were not at all inferior to men in terms of daily effort. Most worked and did not stay at home. Many toiled alongside their families in the fields, and some were employed in workshops or were trades-women.
ANGLO-SAXON WOMEN: MORE THAN "FRITHUWEBBAS"
" As Christine Fell, author of Women in Anglo-Saxon England, astutely points out, we cannot assume that Anglo- Saxon England was a uniform, unchanging society from its inception in the fifth century to its demise in 1066. The laws of different time periods and areas varied greatly, and nowhere is this more true than in the case of laws pertaining to women. Yet laws concerning the rights of women were in existence from the beginning of the Anglo-Saxon period, and it is on the basis of these sometimes widely varying laws that we know something about the status of women in Anglo-Saxon England."  Excellent article.
Brothels, Baths and Babes - Prostitution in the Byzantine Holy Land
Free prostitution, institutionalized prostitution, brothels, regulation, actresses, the poor, recruiting, syphillis, sin, contraception. " As a result of a chain of false logic, sexual repression dictated by the Church Fathers led to eroticism per se at the hands of prostitutes. Whilst controlled procreative sexuality was kept harnessed at home, pleasure blossomed amongst the harlots. The Midrash Genesis Rabbah (23.2) explained that at the time of the Great Flood, a man used to marry two women, one to bear him children, and another for sexual intercourse only. The latter took a 'cup of roots' to render herself sterile and was accustomed to keep company with him dressed like a mistress. Is this not reminiscent of Apollodoros' triad amputated of the pallake - the concubine? Had values therefore not changed despite the advent of Judaeo-Christian civilisation? 
In fact, values had changed, but in this particular context for the worse. Frankness had given way to prudish dishonesty displayed both by Rabbinic Judaism and Patristic Christianity. Such puritanism is surely to blame for the proliferation of Byzantine prostitution and in its trail the increase in numbers of abandoned children. The bad faith shared by Augustine and Jerome on the matter of prostitution encouraged prostitution in exactly the same way that the Victorian brothel was, according to Michel Foucault, the offshoot of bourgeois puritanism."  Excellent article.
The Life and Works of Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179)
Rich and exuberant, the life of Hildegard von Bingen, the eminent 12th century scholar. The power of her presence permeates each web page. Visionary, mystic, poet, musician naturalist, healer, theologian - the Rhineland nun. Genuine renaissance woman long before there was a renaissance. Hildegard's immense contributions included books, herbal cures, poetry as well as innovative chants.
Convents in the Middle Ages
Brief article.
Homosexuality in the Viking Age
"The Viking Age shows clearly that the Vikings had words (and therefore mental constructs and concepts) of same-sex activity.  However since the needs of agricultural/pastoral living require reproduction not only to work the farm but also to provide support for the parent in old age, it was expected that no matter what one's affectional preferences were that each individual would marry and reproduce." How was homosexuality viewed in the Viking Age? Norse terminology, laws, cultural practices of homosexual acts, lesbianism, literature regarding Norse insults, pre- and post Christian attitudes, "manliness" hierarchies.
Isabella d' Este (1473-1539, Patroness)
True heroine of the Renaissance. Brief introduction to vibrant and alluring Isabella d' Este. Isabella's accomplishments as a musician expressed through her utilization of the writings of Plato and Aristotle to shape her musical knowledge and composition.  These preferences may have contributed to the creation of the viola Artist sketch of Isabella.
MANTOVA Isabella d' Este
Renaissance women were to marry properly, be a proper wife to their husbands and provide proper male heirs. Many of these renaissance women were not refined or cultured, but Isabella d'Este was not one of these women. Brief narrative regarding Isabella and her patronage of the arts, including her impact on poets, artists and musicians. Promotion of her many new ideas regarding the traditional role of women are among her significant accomplishments.
Margery Kempe (ca.1373-1438)
One of the earliest autobiographies in English literature was that of Margery Kempe, religious mystic. Daughter of a mayor of Lynn, she married John Kempe in 1393 and bore 14 children before beginning a series of pilgrimages to Jerusalem, Rome, Germany, and Spain in 1414. Illiterate, she dictated her autobiography to scribes. "Famous" for her hysterical crying during church services and her contemporary use of language to describe her ecstatic and intimate visions. Quite a character! Life, book exerpts, articles, resources. Good music!
Medieval and Renaissance Weddings - Extensive, Fascinating
Notions of Gender in the Middle Ages: Myth vs. Reality
"What was the predominant image of women and women's place in medieval society? A rather sexist or misogynistic view--by twentieth century standards of course--was prevalent among learned clerics. The writings of the theologian Thomas Aquinas typify this view. But although the religious of Europe's abbeys and universities dominate the written record of the period, Thomistic sexism was not the only view of women's proper role."  Fascinating research study:  " Any 20th century ideas of wholesale female oppression in the middle ages are relativist "myths" which serve to glamorize the modern period rather than describe historical reality."
Women Artists in the Middle Ages
Good list. Although there were many significant women artists in the MA,  "Much of the works completed by Medieval women have not even been descovered yet. Because of their name changes due to marriage and the delilberate disappearance of their signatures on works by pompous men, much of their recognition goes unclaimed. This is such a shame. Because of such barriers, finding information on women artists in the Middle Ages can be quite a task. They did not even achieve major international reputations until the mid-sixteenth century."  Here are Slides. And here is another good summary.
Women Knights in the Middle Ages
"Were there women knights in the Middle Ages? Initially I thought not, but further research yielded surprising answers. There were two ways anyone could be a knight: by holding land under a knight's fee, or by being made a knight or inducted into an order of knighthood. There are examples of both cases for women."

A FEW WARS AND THE MILITARY


WAR

The Hundred Years' War History Page
Images of kings and Dukes involved.  Hostility between France and England erupted in 1337 when Edward III of England refused homage to France which sparked messy feud between England and France for 100 years.
Timeline for the Hundred Years War
The Hundred Years' War
Overview. "The Hundred Years War, lasting from 1337 until 1453, was a defining time for the history of both England and France. The war started in May 1337 when King Philip VI of France attempted to confiscate the English territories in the duchy of Aquitaine (located in Southwestern France). It ended in July 1453 when the French finally expelled the English from the continent (except for Calais). The Hundred Years War was a series of chevauchees (plundering raids), sieges and naval battles interspersed with truces and uneasy peace." Economic considerations, political ties and claims, and military considerations.  Causes, results.
Medieval Life and the Hundred Years War - More Than You Ever Wanted to Know
The Maid of Orleans
From the BBC.  Detailed biography of Joan of Arc. Brief background of the situation for France. Joan's voices, her inspiration and help in the fight for Orleans, her condemnation and burning as a witch, and her sainting and memory.
Medieval Sourcebook: Jean Froissart: On The Hundred Years War (1337-1453)
Translation of an original source. Excerpts from The Chronicles of Froissart describing the Battle of Crecy, the Battle of Poitiers, and the sacking of the city of Limoges.

The Grey Company Trebuchet Page
Remarkable historic Trebuchet illustrations, specific photos and details on how to build one.  All anyone would want to know about a Trebuchet.  Formidable! 
Siege Engines
Shows how a trebuchet works, with details on the sling release. Great "scale model of a trebuchet - a medieval siege engine. The real size of these things is stunning - 30 feet high at the "shoulder" - and full size replicas are capable of hurling pianos."
How to Make Maile Armour
The English Longbow
"The longbow is a weapon that revolutionized Medieval combat. In the hands of skilled archers, hundreds of thousands of arrows could rain down on an opposing force with severe consequences. In many battles, archer armies that were outnumbered by as much as 8 to 1 accomplished kill ratios of 1000's to 1. Yes, thousands of the enemy dead per one dead archer. Such was the case at the Battle of Crecy in 1346. The longbow helped bind England together throughout most of the Middle Ages. The history and stories of the longbow are rich and wonderful. So draw back your desk chair and loose yourself into the realm of the longbow."

POPES, SCHISMS, INQUISITIONS


THE CHURCH

The Avignon Papacy
Could there be two popes at the same time? YES! Site examines underlying events leading to the relocation of the popes' residence to Avignon (1305-1378) and the Great Schism (1378-1417) that follows.
The Avignon Papacy 1305-1378
How did the popes end up in Avignon and how did they finally get back to Rome?
The Beginning of the Medieval Period
The Church as the key to the integration of cultures and the dominant institution during the Middle Ages. Church assumes many political responsibilities giving more power to Popes, Bishops, and church leaders. Out of the growth of the church came two new institutions for the forwarding of learning and knowledge: the monastery and the cathedral. Feudalism, the political and military system. Manoralism, the economic foundation for feudalism.
Innocent III and the Great Schism
"The reign of Innocent III as Pontiff in Western Christendom, and the tragedy of the great schism between Eastern and Western Christians as a lasting consequence of the Fourth Crusade.
Citta - A Tour of the Vatican City - Important Christendom Site
Gender and the Medieval Beguines
"The Beguines of northern Europe have been called the first women's movement in Christian history. This group of religiously dedicated laywomen, who took no permanent vows, followed no prescribed rule, supported themselves by manual labor, interacted with the "world," and remained celibate, flourished in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries - a time when the Church had defined two legitimate roles for pious women: cloistered nun and keepers at home. With their freedom of movement, economic independence and spiritual creativity, the Beguines carved out an unusually expansive - and controversial - niche for female religious expression."


SOCIETY OF JESUS

Generals of the Society
"On July 2, 1558, they elected Diego Lainez as the second General of the Society." Reveals history regarding Ignatius's successor. To witness Jesuit politics in action, here it is.
Society of Jesus: What is it?
"A religious order founded by Saint Ignatius Loyola. Designated by him "The Company of Jesus" to indicate its true leader and its soldier spirit, the title was Latinized into "Societas Jesu" in the Bull of Paul III approving its formation and the first formula of its Institute ("Regimini militantis ecclesia", 27 Sept., 1540). The term "Jesuit" (of fifteenth-century origin, meaning one who used too frequently or appropriated the name of Jesus), was first applied to the society in reproach (1544-52), and was never employed by its founder, though members and friends of the society in time accepted the name in its good sense. "
INQUISITION AND HERESIES - SEE INQUISTION UNDER "BAD THINGS"


LEADERS - MYTH AND REALITY

EUROPEAN ROYALS AND THEIR DESTINIES

   Alexander Palace Time Machine

Alexander Palace, home of the last Tsar. Tour the Palace Parade Rooms, rooms of Nickolas II, Rooms of Aleksandra, childrens rooms, palace treasures, Faberge, the palace today, history of the characters in the story.
Faberge Eggs Collection
Not your average Easter egg! A cool site offering fantastic images of the infamous "Faberge Eggs."   Easter eggs, the age-old symbol of "Resurrection" and "New Life" took on a whole new meaning with the introduction of the first of 49 - the Imperial Easter Egg. Faberge, the acclaimed "Master by the Goldsmiths in France, was the most famous court jeweler in history - primarily to the Tsars Alexander III and Nikolai II of Russia. The eggs were lavished of design, workmanship, and mechanism... "each with mechanical devices (inside) which would puzzle the skills of a most expert watchmaker," containing a series of "surprises wrought in gold and platinum, precious gems and enamel."  Truly amazing depiction of these beautiful eggs with good resolution. You can even send your own personal "Faberge" e-post card! Worth the effort - even if the Sponsor can be annoying at times!
Joan's Favourite Royals
Descriptions of the lives of various royals, focusing primarily on absurdity, tragedy, scandal, and blood relations. Favourite books, novels, and magazines about royalty as well.
The Official British Monarch Page - Formal, official Web Site.
The Unofficial British Royalty Family Page
Seems to have everything! News, links to articles with news about the British Royal
family, line of succession to the British Throne, chat facility, links to other royalty pages, speeches by British royalty, royal celebrations, geneology.
Victoria's Dark Secrets
We particularly liked "The Bad Blood of the Hannovers,"  and "The Bleeding Sickness," the latter which details the scourge of hemophelia passed through Europe.  "The marriage of Victoria and Albert marked the beginning of hemophilia in the British royal line that would eventually infect most of the royal houses of Europe, earning the title of "the royal disease."


ART AND LITERATURE


ART FROM BYZANTIUM TO THE AGE OF ABSOLUTISM

Early Medieval Art
Excellent array.
A Medieval Mystery:  Can You Decode the Dark Secrets of this Cartoon?
It is a cartoon from 1233 during the reign of King Henry III. It's a detailed, complex cartoon and it is a bit of a mystery.
New York Carver Museum
Gothic & medieval art & sculpture online..
Gothic Painting
Informative Page from the Web Museum, Paris
DScriptorium
Devoted to collecting, storing and distributing digital images of Medieval manuscripts ( D is for Digital). Great. 
Web Gallery of Art
Virtual museum and searchable database of European painting and sculpture of the Gothic, Renaissance
Early Medieval Art
Go to Middle Ages General.  Wonderful array.
Images of Medieval Art and Architecture
Click away and enjoy.
The Art of the Book in the Middle Ages
Rich illustrations.  "Before the invention of mechanical printing, books were handmade objects, treasured as works of art and as symbols of enduring knowledge. Indeed, in the Middle Ages, the book becomes an attribute of God. Every stage in the creation of a medieval book required intensive labor, sometimes involving the collaboration of entire workshops. Parchment for the pages had to be made from the dried hides of animals, cut to size and sewn into quires; inks had to be mixed, pens prepared, and the pages ruled for lettering. A scribe copied the text from an established edition, and artists might then embellish it with illustrations, decorated initials, and ornament in the margins. The most lavish medieval books were bound in covers set with enamels, jewels, and ivory carvings."
Illumination in the Late Middle Ages
Amazing:  "Prior to the invention of the printing press by Gutenberg around 1450-1455, the process of producing and multiplying copies of books was strictly manual and performed by skilled craftsmen : the scribe calligraphed the text and various artists or specialized artisans decorated the manuscript. The two essential phases of writing and illuminating were preceded by a number of preliminary steps : the preparation of the parchment (the most common material then in use, though it was rivaled in the late Middle Ages by paper, a less expensive option) ; the cutting of the sheet into double leaves or bifolia which were then folded to the desired format ; the gathering of a number of these double leaves into a quire (the most common type was the quaternio, a gathering of four double leaves) ; and the ruling of the leaf (with drypoint or ink) to calibrate the writing surface. A final step, after the manuscript had been copied and illustrated, consisted of joining the quires together within a protective cover or binding. Books took time to produce and the end product was invariably costly. Sales and distribution were handled by a bookseller or stationer, who from the late thirteenth century onward played a vital role in book production."
Important Glossary of Medieval Art and Architecture
Medieval Art
Artists, Painting, Illumination, Stained Glass, Sculpture, Tapestries, Cartography, Images. Possibly the best overall Medieval Art site with significant links.  For the art lover, days could be spent here.


LITERATURE

Literature and the Middle Time
" Somewhere between the fall of the Roman Empire and the Renaissance there was a middle time. . . . ."  Special essay.  "Addresses time as a conceptual and historical problem, in literary, religious, and practical terms. Valuable information on the origins of French literature, how the Middle Ages got its name, theological and everyday measurements of time, and the relationships of myth and fiction to genealogy in the founding of aristocratic families and feudal dynasties....."  
Anthology of Middle English Literature
Wonderful anthologyy including Essays, Articles, Medieval Plays and Lyrics. Includes literary works and brief biographies of Chaucer, Gawain, Langland, Norwich, Kempe, Malory, and Everyman. A treasure of medieval literature. Introductions accompanied by medieval music that set the mood for perusing these fascinating personalities.
Canterbury Tales
"The Middle English Collection at the Electronic Text Center."  Text-based. Downloadable Chaucerian works in Old English. Features "The Canterbury Tales." Links to Online Library and Middle English text search engine. Allows word/phrase searching. Other Middle English authors' works. Links to classic humanities texts in twelve languages. Illustrations,  maps, images, art. Parts restricted to U of VA students - alternative public links given.
Canterbury Tales Project - Major Research Site
Decameron
Brilliant insight into medieval life, the "Decameron" by Bocaccio is a collection of 100 wonderfully human stories shared in 10 days by 10 people escaping the plague in 14th C. Florence. Contemporaneous maps and societal descriptions place the stories in clear historical context. High quality literary site.
EAWC Essay: Literature and the Middle Time
Helpful essay addressing the time between the fall of the Roman Empire and the Renaissance, when the French language was born. How the Middle Ages got its name. Origins of French literature. "The Renaissance invented the Middle Ages in order to define itself; the Enlightenment perpetuated them in order to admire itself; and the Romantics revived them in order to escape from themselves. In their widest ramifications 'the Middle Ages' thus constitute one of the most prevalent cultural myths of the modern world.
The Planets and Their Children. A Blockbook of Medieval Popular Astrology
15th C. Europe believed strongly in the influence of planets. "Blockbooks," printed entirely from wood blocks, were the paperback of the masses. Authentic images combined with illuminating translations give the viewer real taste of medieval popular culture.

THE INVALUABLE SOURCES

SOURCES, TIMELINES, MANUSCRIPTS, BOOKS

Hill Monastic Manuscript Library
One of most comprehensive sites in world of medieval and renaissance sources. Global information network for organized access to Web resources in medieval studies. Medieval texts, current research. Reference point for all medieval studies.
HyperHistory On-Line
Fantasic site for those who need to learn through visualization. Excellent time-line from 100-1900 and historical maps with clickable links to important information on events of the period. Recomend printing time-line and keeping it handy. 
Malaspina Great Books Home Page
Medieval Sourcebook
Extensive sourcebook for students, faculty, scholars, just plain fascinated folks. A section of the Online Reference Book for Medieval Studies. Sources are meant to take the place of expensive published sourcebooks students often required to buy. Fairly short classroom sized extracts, and the full documents. Hard to find any area not fully documented.
NetSERF - The Internet Connection for Medieval Resources
Remarkable site.  Over 1000 links sorted by catagory and presented in outline format.  Research center and the wonderful "random medieval site" button.
ORB: Online Medieval and Classical Library
Academic site, "written and maintained by medieval scholars for the benefit of their fellow instructors and serious students. All articles judged by at least two peer reviewers. Encyclopedia of original essays, medieval sourcebook, syllabi, links.
MOVIES! - Middle Ages, Renaissance, Dark Ages
The Middle Ages, Chivalry and Knighthood
Medieval Sites on the Web


ON TO MEDIEVAL PART II
From the Reformation and Forward to the 19th Century
Click here
  to PART II

REFORMATION /COUNTER REFORMATION

RENAISSANCE

THE AGE OF DISCOVERY
WARS OF RELIGION
ELIZABETH AND PHILIP
LIFE AND TIMES
ABSOLUTISM AND MONARCHY
ECONOMICS, CULTURE, SCIENCE
THE 18TH CENTURY:
AGE OF ENLIGHTENMENT

KF UPDATED REGULARLY - 2011-2013

 
   Thanks for joining me.

MAJOR DISTANCE LEARNING ONLINE COLLEGE COURSES

The Special Western Civilization Series COURSE CENTERS AND WEB INTERNET BOOKS

   Internet Book and Site Created, Designed, Executed
By Dr. KF, Professor of History/Political Science and the online Foohill College students, March 1999. Ongoing renewal.
Author, Hitler's Death Camps: The Sanity of Madness.
Full Copyright, Dr. KF
Internet Books and Sites on loan to Foothill College for Web Courses.
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