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Common questions about medieval times

How is medieval timeline subdivided?


The medieval period survived from the 5th century to the late 15th century. The Middle Ages was further sub-divided into Early Middle Ages, High Middle Ages and lastly the Late Middle Ages.

The early medieval period comprised of formation of new societies, the survival of Byzantine architecture, the building of western society, Islamic population rise, better trade prospects, church monasticism, breaking up of the mighty Carolingian Empire, military and other technological progressions.

The high medieval period comprised of many new changes such as the formation of proper society and economic life, the rise of the state ruling power, the introduction of crusades, development of architecture, art and music and monarchy Church power.

Medieval Times

Late medieval period paved way for many unfortunate incidents in the chapter of medieval times. Late Middle Ages saw the start of many wars and grim battles, natural famines, and the deadly period of Black Death. The late Middle Ages also saw the collapse of Byzantium, contention within the Church, the discovery of intellectual society of scholars, rise of military power, and bloom of medieval artistic talent and architecture.

What were popular medieval names?

Sybil – medieval name

According to the historical medieval records, a detailed study of the personal names of the medieval people revealed that ‘William’ was one of the most popular and common names among the men. While ‘Matilda’ and ‘Alice’ were some of the most favourite female names.

Most common male medieval names were: William, John, Richard, Robert, Hugh, Henry, Ralph, Thomas, Roger, and Walter.

Common female names were Alice, Matilda, Joan, Cecilia, Emma, Mabel, Beatrice, Margaret, Isabella, and Agnes.

Historians claim that almost 15 per cent of the men were known as William and John was the second popular name at 8 per cent in the thirteenth and fourteenth century.

Which were the popular medieval weapons used in the battlefields and warfare?

Medieval Warfare

The feudal armies of the Middle Ages used numerous kinds of medieval weapons. All the young and able-bodied men were expected to be war-ready and fight for the King. They had compulsory military training in their everyday lives. Special weapon training was also given to them under their Lord’s or Knight’s supervision. From simple cheap tools to costly war tools, every kind of weaponry was used for waging wars and fighting enemies. Most common medieval weapons used by soldiers were maces, swords, crossbows, spears, battle-axes, longbow, axes, hammer, and batons to name a few.

What were popular medieval games played by people?

Medieval games

The medieval period was not only famous for engaging in battles but also the people also entertained themselves by engaging in various fun pursuits or hobbies. Medieval entertainment included playing games and sports, conducting feasts and banquets, arranging parties, watching mystery plays, hunting, seeking animal-related entertainment using monkeys, dogs, tamed bears, etc. Some popular games were Chess, philosophers game, backgammon- tables, shovel-board, nine men’s morris, fox & cheese.

What is a medieval manor?

Medieval manor

An agricultural estate of medieval times was known as a manor. It consisted of numerous agricultural land-tracts, a small village with workers living in the land, a huge manor house for the Landlord who owned the entire estate. Some palatial manors also contained huge spaces of orchards, woodlands, gardens, lakes, and ponds. Manor castles were built of stones and were built for providing protection and comfort.

How was the medieval art like?

Medieval art

Medieval art underwent many changes due to the beginning of the Renaissance period. In the medieval times, artistic subjects were strictly restricted to the religious or Christian artworks. They were also known as Pietistic paintings that were in the form of mosaics, fresco and vibrant manuscripts. They were used in churches and monasteries. Portrait paintings were absent during the Middle Ages. Church authorities preferred muted colours and the main focus was to highlight their religion.

Some important facts on Medieval Artwork and architecture of the Middle Ages involved Byzantine Art, Gothic Art, Romanesque Art, Bayeux Tapestries, Natural art-scenes, and medieval literature.

How were medieval castles built? Who lived in the castles? What was the purpose of these castles in the Middle Ages?

Motte and Bailey Castle
Motte and Bailey Castle

Building protective fortresses and structures were crucial during medieval times. To defend themselves against surprise attacks from enemies and to launch attacks on their opposition, the rich nobles, knights, and lords built great castles right in the centre of their land. Initially, castles were built using wood or timber, later they were made using stones for better durability and strength.

Some of the famous early castles built by Normans were known as Motte and Bailey designed castles. A typical motte and bailey castle design consists of a fortified wooden or stone keep, which is situated on a raised platform on the top of a hill. This is called a motte. The motte is accompanied by a large enclosed courtyard known as a bailey that is surrounded by a protective formation like a man-made ditch or palisade.

Most motte-and-bailey castles were constructed using forced labour hands between the 10th and the 13th-century medieval period. It was the mighty Normans who introduced such a defensive castle design. Apart from England, this design was also adopted by Denmark, Scotland, Ireland and the Low Countries.

After the 13th century, new alternative forms of castle fortifications were invented and applied to build stronger castles. During the Middle Ages, the Kings, lords, noblemen, and royalty lived in big protective castles from the 10th to the late 16th century.

How was the middle age clothing for noblewomen and men, peasants, kings and royalty?

Medieval Clothing
Medieval Clothing

Medieval clothing styles were governed by a hierarchy. The clothes worn by the royal members, nobility and upper-class people were very different from those worn by the lower class public. The clothing provided vital information about the exact status of any person who wore them. The fashionable clothing was influenced by the Kings and Queens. And only the wealthy could actually afford to dress in stylish or fashionable attires.

Medieval nobility wore woollen or velvet clothes. The noblemen wore embroidered woollen tunics that were belted at the waist. Over that dress, they also wore velvet or woollen cloaks which were held with lovely brooches. The noblewomen wore pretty woollen dresses tied around the waist over a light underskirt. Over that, they wore woollen cloaks. Their clothing was complete with expensive linen headdress and headbands.

The peasant clothing was very minimal and basic. The men wore short woollen tunics that were tied at the waist. The tunics were worn over short-length woollen trousers. Likewise, peasant men also wore a small hat under a woollen cowl and cheap boots for the feet. Peasant women wore cheap woollen dresses and underskirt. They protected their heads with woollen cowls and used inexpensive boots to cover their feet.

Medieval kings and royal members usually wore a detailed embellished tunic complete with gold embroidery and thread-work. Over that attire, the King wore a surcoat with the royal emblem printed or embroidered on it. In addition to the standard dress, the royal members also wore expensive silk or velvet robes and coats for special occasions.

What were medieval torture techniques?

Torture Wheel
Torture Wheel in Middle ages

The Middle Ages was a cruel era, wherein feelings of compassion and humanity were exceedingly rare, especially among the people in power. These rich, arrogant and powerful medieval rulers invented several forms of punishments and torture devices. The medieval torture techniques and devices were very gruesome and painful.

People were tortured and beaten in the cases of hearsay, so as to extract a confession from the accused man or woman. Some of the torturous procedures included burning, thrashing, beating, whipping, and suffocating the accused. The Roman Catholic Church also actively participated in the medieval activities connected with torture in the middle ages.

Popular and devilish torture methods 

Metal Bull Torture
Metal Bull Torture
  • Brazen Bull Torture – The victim was placed inside a metal bull and burned alive.

  • Burned at the Stake – The victim was hanged from a stake with the help of chains and a burning pile of wood was set-up around it.

  • Burning Alive – The victim was stripped and made to wear a shirt that was covered in sulphur. He was then tied to a pole amidst a pyre of woods and straw. After he was tied securely, the straw was lit and the painful execution would begin.

  • Catherine Wheel – A very common torture tool used during the Middle Ages, also popular as the breaking wheel. The condemned was severely lashed, beaten and affixed to the wheel, and the poor victim suffered agonizing pain before his death. This punishment was common all over Europe, Germany and also France.

Other unbearable torture devices included the Garrotte Torture, Iron Maiden, Judas Cradle Thumbscrew torture, Impaler Vlad, and Rack torture to name a few.

How was medieval Europe like? How was medieval England?

Medieval Period
Medieval Period

Middle Ages was the lively era of castles, cathedrals, kings, knights, noblemen, and peasants. It was the times when powerful kings and their soldiers made laws and collected taxes. It was the period when the Church was the most important part of people’s lives. The Church also provided medieval Europe with numerous schools, universities, medical camps, and hospitals.

England during the Middle Ages reflects the history of England starting from the 5th century to the beginning of the new Modern Age at the end of the 14th century. Medieval England was clearly dominated by the unjust feudal system.

What was so special about medieval swords? What were different types of swords in the middle ages?

Medieval Swords
Medieval Swords

The swords used in the Middle Ages were mostly the weapons used by knights and soldiers. The swords of the knights were special as they had various symbols and markings. The swords with symbols were related to the chivalrous achievements of the knights. Different types of swords include the Bastard sword, Broadsword, the Falchion Sword, the Greatsword, the Longsword, and the Scimitar.

What were popular medieval craft and craftsmen?

Medieval Craft
Medieval Craft

The medieval crafts were created by a group of tradesmen and craftsmen who were employed in varied professions such as masons, carpenters, painters, cloth makers, tanners, shoemakers, cobblers, etc. Popular medieval crafts were leather-making, cloth-making, and creation of medications to name a few. Such crafts were learnt and practised by townsmen, who were nor poor peasants or rich-class noblemen.

How was medieval music like? What were popular instruments during the medieval period?

Medieval Music
Medieval Music

During the dramatic medieval era, there was too much influence of the church in the creation of music. It was the church heads that regulated and supervised the making of musical notes and tunes. The Fiddle and the Rebec were some of the popular musical instruments that were played by musicians. Street music was also quite popular in the Middle Ages.

Who were medieval knights? What did the knights do in medieval times?

Medieval Knights
Medieval Knights

The armoured soldiers, expensive weapons and who rode powerful horses were known as medieval knights. Only the rich class and nobility could afford to assign knights. The very first medieval knights had fought for the King of Franks in the year 700 AD. Their main job was to enhance their knightly skills such as excel in fighting with weapons, horsemanship and win in combats. Most of the knights were sons of noblemen.

What was the primary medieval food? What food was available for poor peasants, people, and nobles?

Medieval Food
Medieval Food

The people living in medieval times did not eat a healthy or balanced diet. They were simply not aware of the benefits of green veggies and fruits. The diet of the poor peasants were home-grown vegetables and fruits, they could not afford rich spices or meat.

Whereas the nobles had access to various spices and meat, but they ate few vegetables or fruits as they considered them food for the low-class people. Even dairy products like curd and cheese were seen as inferior foods and only eaten by the peasants and working class. As a result, the wealthy nobles suffered from many health issues like bad teeth, scurvy, rickets and skin allergies.

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