Major Events in the Middle Ages
Written by Simon Newman
History - Middle Ages
This brief timeline of Middle Ages events mentions details of the major events during the Middle Ages which were significant to the lives and incidences of famous people, Kings and lords of the Middle Ages.
The timeline starts with the beginning of the Dark Ages or Early Medieval period. The fall of Western Roman Empire brought significant political, religious and social changes in the European society. Other important events of the Middle Ages included the success of Charles Martel against Islamic invaders and the establishment of Charlemagne’s empire.
The agricultural revolution and establishment of Ottonian Empire was also important as it first proved to be a natural allegiance of the Church and the Kingdom of Germany and then, it also proved to be the forced partnership of Church and Holy Roman Empire that decimated the successful Holy Roman Empire of Germany. The Battle of Hastings had a very important incidence of European Middle Ages as it established the feudal system in England and gave way for feudalism in other parts of the Continent. Declaration of Magna Carta was also a very important event.
Commercial revolution of Europe after the last crusade changed the economical conditions of Europe. During the Great Famine of Europe in 13th century, a big mass of medieval people lost their life. One of the aftermaths of Great Famine was the increasing rivalry and bloodthirstiness of the members of nobility that was expressed by the event of the Hundred Years’ War between England and France.
Joan of Arc emerged as one of the most powerful, most loved and then most hated woman of the medieval period. The Black Death ate up around half the population of entire Europe. The Great Schism of late Middle Ages was the most important event of history that brought about a change in the social conditions of Europe along with the decreasing power of the Church.
The Fall of Western Roman Empire (476 AD)
The fall of Western Roman Empire is considered as the beginning of the Middle Ages. The last Roman emperor was Julius Nepos who was nominated by Eastern Emperor Zeno. Nepo’s rebellion magister militum Orestes dethroned Julius Nepos and declared his own son Romulus Augustus as the new Emperor of the Western Roman Empire. However, Odoacer invaded Italy and defeated Orestes and deposed Romulus Augustus on September 4, 476. He then invited Zeno to be the emperor of both Eastern and Western Empire. Zeno accepted the invitation while Julius Nepo was killed by his own soldiers in 480.
Charles the Hammer and the Battle of Tours (732 AD)
Charles Martel, also known as Charles the Hammer was a Frankish political and military leader who worked under the Merovingian Kings as the Mayor of the Palace. In 732 AD, he defeated Moorish invaders in the Battle of Tours which permanently ended the Islamic invaders and their expansion in western Europe. Charles Martel is considered as one of the founding fathers of feudalism and knighthood of Europe. He prepared the grounds for the establishment of Carolingian Empire. He was the grandfather of Charlemagne.
Charlemagne, the Emperor of Romans (800 AD)
Charlemagne or Charles the Great was a Frankish king who expanded the Frankish kingdom and covered almost all of the Western and Central Europe. He was declared as the Emperor of Romans in 800 AD and he enjoyed the empire successfully till his death. He associated his political steps with the Church and encouraged a revival of art, religion and culture with the help of the Church.
Treaty of Verdun (843 AD)
After his death, Louis the Pious was declared his successor who ruled as the Emperor of Romans. However, after his death, the Carolingian empire faced a Civil War because of the internal tussle between the three surviving sons of Louis the Pious who struggled for the emperorship. At last, the Carolingian empire was divided in three parts in August 843 AD through the Treaty of Verdun which ended the three years long Civil War.
The Ottonian Holy Roman Empire of Germany (962 AD)
Otto I was the successor of Henry the Fowler, the duke of Saxony who became the first Saxon Emperor. Just like his father, Otto I succeeded in protecting Germans against Magyar invaders. He chose to create a German monastery and this natural allegiance of German Church and Kingdom helped him to gain control over the rebellion dukes and establish his Ottonian Empire.
In 962 AD, the papacy of Italy invited him and declared him as the Emperor of Italy and he established his Holy Roman Empire.
The Battle of Hastings (1066 AD)
On 14th October 1066, William the Conqueror, the Duke of Normandy defeated the last Anglo-Saxon king Harold II. William the Conqueror established the Norman Empire and to protect his empire, he rewarded all his Norman supporters who fought for him in the war with large piece of land of England. He divided all land of England in manors and established the feudal system and manoralism.
Declaration of Magna Carta (1215 AD)
The Magna Carta Libertatum, or the Great Charter of Liberties of England was originally issued in 1215 AD. This charter is considered to be the first step towards the constitutional government of England. The Charter of Magna Carta restricted the power of the Emperor and proved the importance of a Constitution.
The Great Famine (1315-1317 AD)
Whole northern Europe suffered the Great Famine in 1315 which prolonged itself till 1317. During these two years of famine, a big portion of the population died of hunger and diseases. During those days of famine, crime rate increased to extreme and there were too many incidences of cannibalism, rapes, and infanticides. The Great Famine brought unrest in peasants and the members of nobility also suffered a setback and as a result, they became more bloodthirsty and gave up the oath of chivalry.
The Hundred Years’ War (1337 AD)
The Hundred Years’ War began in 1337 when the Kingdom of England waged war against the Kingdom of France. While there were many periods of peace and ceasefire between England and France during the period, however, this war was continued again and again in different conflicts till 1453.
The Black Death (1348-1350 AD)
The Black Death or the Black Plague proved to be the most threatening epidemic of the European Middle Ages that significantly weakened the feudal system and the Church of Europe. Huge masses of people met untimely death because of this plague and it significantly reduced the economic and political power of the kingdoms of Europe. In order to take advantages of the situations, peasants revolted against their manors and asked for better treatment. People got angry against the Church because no volumes of prayers could save them; while they also got angry against the government because the government was unable to help them either.
The Great Schism (1378-1417 AD)
The Church suffered the first jolt in 1054, when the Church was divided in Eastern and Western Christian Church. The Eastern Orthodox Church believed that the Western Roman Catholic Church was corrupt and exploitative.
The Western Christendom suffered much bigger jolt during 1378 to 1417, when there were three contestants for the Papacy. This internal tussle for ultimate power of papacy significantly reduced the influence and power of the Church over common people.