So when exactly was the Medieval Period?

Historians are always arguing about when historical eras began and ended. Usually, the changeover between these periods can be aligned with a big change of some kind, be it political, economic, technological or religious. It’s generally accepted that the Middle Ages spanned around 1000 years, beginning after the Romans left in the early 5th Century. We tend to look at this millennium as made up of three parts: firstly, the Early Medieval, which covers the Saxons and the Vikings, then there’s the High Medieval which comes in during the 11th Century and encompasses the Normans (that’s when we start seeing castles) and the first Plantagenet kings, before the Late Medieval takes over during the 14th and 15th Centuries.

But when did it end? Well, there were different changes happening at different speeds all over Europe in 15th Century, such as the invention of movable type by Johannes Gutenberg in Germany in 1450’s leading to the print revolution, and new ideas emerging from the Italian Renaissance movement in the fields of art and science. So in the end, I think it depends on whereabouts in Europe you lived as to when the Middle Ages gave way to the Early Modern era. But for me it’s much simpler. I believe that, for us in Britain, the end of the Middle Ages can be pinned to one day: 22nd August 1485: the day of The Battle of Bosworth. That was when the last Plantagenet King, Richard III, was killed and Henry Tudor wore the dead king’s crown amid the spoils of war, becoming Henry VII and going on to found the Tudor dynasty. The Tudors are part of the Early Modern period, so for me, there’s a clear separation. Of course, to ordinary people in their everyday lives, the 23rd August was probably not much different from the day before, but things at the top had changed and England would never be the same again…

I’ve never understood why the Tudors get all the attention and the glory, when the Plantagenets and their contemporaries of medieval times are hugely more entertaining. In terms of colourful characters and great stories they’d leave Henry Tudor and his family in the dust. Hopefully, over the course of this blog, I’ll be able to show you just that.

25 thoughts on “So when exactly was the Medieval Period?

  1. Good post. I’m terrible at history and have to admit to not having a huge interest in it but my friend whom I walk with loves it.

    I was going to comment on your about page but couldn’t see a comment button on it? I was going to say that we’ve got a lot in common – I got 2/3 of the way through the Private Pilot’s course before I ran out of money and had to give it up and am also an archer – although I haven’t got a long bow (I have used them). And, obviously, I’m a walker too.
    Carol.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Carol, great to meet you! And so interesting to hear we have two big things in common – unusual to find someone who flies and is also an archer! And of course there’s the walking too. Sorry about the comment button – the blog is very new and I’m trying to look into these little glitches. I’m total novice in this blogging lark, so please bear with me. In the meantime, thanks for your interest and look forward to further chats.
      All the best,
      Alli

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I reckon your interpretation of the Medieval Period is spot on. I’m no expert in these things, but I’ve always thought of Bosworth Field as being a big turning point in British history. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your kind comment, Malc. Indeed, Bosworth was such a seismic battle heralding such a massive change and the onset of the Tudor dynasty that it seems daft not to mark it as the end of the Middle Ages in England. Thanks for reading.

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  3. Ok. I’m finally able to settle into your blog! I thought I’d start at the beginning! I love your storytelling style! I feel like I’m embarking on a Hobbit-type journey. I’ve already learned more than I knew about the Medieval timeline and I can’t wait to dig into the stories of the characters that enlivened the period! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh wow – that’s very kind, thank you for reading! I hope you enjoy your medieval journey with me. You’re in for a few surprises and hopefully some great stories. Welcome!

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  4. Thank you for liking one of my blog entries – In doing so you have lead me to your blog on a topic dear to my heart – novice in it though I am. I look forward to learning more as I join you in your journey. For what it’s worth I feel that the 22nd August 1485 is a splendid choice of day on which to bring down the curtain on Medieval times in Britain.

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    • I’m only too pleased to welcome you to my blog, Albert, and so happy to find someone with the same interest! Lovely phrase, to bring down the curtain on Medieval Britain, and I can’t think of a more fitting time for it to happen than the Battle of Bosworth. Thank you for reading, and I look forward to reading your blog too, and to lots of great conversations. 🙂

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  5. I am so glad to have found your blog. I read your reblogged Easter post on Serendipity and wanted to read some more. My best friend, who lives in Melbourne, Australia is a Ricardian so I’m going to send her a link. She would quite agree with you that the Tudors are overrated. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of your posts. May I also suggest some kind of search function or menu on your home page. I had to google the blog address to get back to this post. I do like to begin at the beginning. I’m in Australia too so I do envy you being able to see castles.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Vanda, and welcome! I’m so glad you’re enjoying my blog and thanks for your welcome comments. I’m new to blogging – only been doing this for a couple of months – so I’ll look into a search function. I’m a Ricardian too, so I’m looking forward to greeting your friend too. I hope you have a lovely Easter and look forward to chatting with you more. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Since the focus of my medievalism isn’t Britain, in my mind the Middle Ages dwindles away during hundred year interval between 1350 and 1450. I think the major plague and the hundred years war changed Europe and the fundamental social dynamic so radically it was never as it had been during the high Middle Ages. For me the death knell was the formation of the Old Swiss Confederation in 1353. I can’t imagine such a thing happening before that.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, they did a thorough job. I agree, and it always irritates me that they get all the attention and glory. It’s not fair, and I’m on a mission to redress the balance. 🙂

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