Read everything you need to know about the medieval period – aka the Middle Ages – the period in European history between the fall of the Roman Empire in the west (5th century) to the Renaissance period in around the 15th century. It was one of the most turbulent and transformative periods in history, popularised by the Black Death, Magna Carta and the Hundred Years’ War
The Black Death of October 1347 to c1352 is one of the worst catastrophes in recorded history – a deadly plague that ravaged communities across Europe. Over three or four years, as many as 50 million people died in Europe. The Black Death arrived in western Europe in 1347 and in England in 1348
On 15 June 1215, King John signed Magna Carta, a document that safeguarded the basic freedoms, rights and privileges of the clergy and the nobles and placed limits on the power of the crown. Above all it asserted a fundamental principle: that the king was subject to the law
The battle of Hastings, in which the Anglo-Saxon king Harold II attempted to defend his realm from the Norman invasion forces of William, Duke of Normandy (later known as William the Conqueror), took place on 14 October 1066. The battle, won by William, marked the beginning of the Norman conquest of 1066
The battle of Agincourt – Henry V’s major victory over the French on 25 October 1415 – was fought during the Hundred Years’ War (1337–1453), a series of conflicts between England and France over succession to the French throne that lasted 116 years
The battle of Bosworth, which took place on 22 August 1485, was the last significant clash of the Wars of the Roses. The armies of Yorkist king Richard III were defeated by Henry Tudor (later Henry VII), which heralded the end of the Plantagenet dynasty and marked the birth of the Tudor age. Richard III was killed during the brutal battle
Beginning in the late 11th century, the crusades were a series of military expeditions mounted by western European Christians in a bid to conquer the Holy Land. The first was called in November 1095 by Pope Urban II and while there is some disagreement among historians as to which campaigns to consider ‘crusades’, it is undeniable that the movement had a profound impact on eastern and western cultures and societies
The first Norman king of England, William the Conqueror (previously William, Duke of Normandy) defeated the Anglo-Saxon king Harold II at the battle of Hastings on 14 October 1066 – a triumph famously recorded in the Bayeux Tapestry
Richard III (1452-85) was the last Yorkist king of England, whose death at the battle of Bosworth in 1485 signified the end of the Wars of the Roses and marked the start of the Tudor age. His remains were discovered beneath a Leicester car park in 2012
King John (c1167–1216) was king of England from 1199 until his death in October 1216 and is most famous for signing Magna Carta in 1215. Famously nicknamed ‘Bad King John’, he is said to have been cruel and tyrannical
King Arthur, the “once and future king”, is one of the most enduring figures of British myth and legend. Most commonly known as a fifth-century warrior who supposedly led the fight against Saxon invaders, King Arthur is a composite of layers of different legends, written by different authors at different times