The medieval era, often called The Middle Ages or the Dark Ages, began around 476 A.D. following a great loss of power throughout Europe by the Roman Emperor. The Middle Ages span roughly 1,000 years, ending between 1400 and 1450. In Spain, however, 1492 is considered the end of their medieval period and the beginning of the modern era.

The period was one of human expansion, centralization and great political upheaval and violence, resulting in the foundation of many modern European countries. It was also dominated by a surge in Christianity leading to the building of great cathedrals, clearing of large tracts of land by peasants, settling of new towns and villages, and building of great castles by local nobility.

The Medieval Era Timeline

Crusades

Knights and kings were attacking the Holy Lands of the Middle East in the name of God and with the blessing of the Christian Church during this volatile period, which is sometimes called the Golden Age of Chivalry. The goal was to drive the Muslim tribes out of Palestine so that they could control the sacred lands of Jesus and the Bible.

The crusades happened in waves over the centuries as power shifted between the Christians and the Muslims, who fought back and reclaimed their territories. Each crusade generally lasted for a year or more before the area was secured and the king could return home. By comparison, other expeditions into China or India could last two or three years.

By 1291, the Crusades were at an end and the crusading soldiers abandoned the area and returned home.

Military Orders

After conquering Jerusalem in 1099, an army was established to keep control of the city. This lead to the establishment of numerous military orders. These were a kind of association, group representation or affiliation to a particular leader, king or cause; though all orders served the Christian (Catholic) Church in Rome.

Secularism

The Age of Chivalry ebbed after several Crusades, in which Jerusalem was won and lost, and its focus was shifted toward vain and selfish pursuits. This lead to the fighting of great wars-mostly between England and France – due to bickering among royal houses and noble families of different nations. As these high-ranking sides fought, the class divisions grew deeper and the poor were further exploited in order to support the rich. Nobles weren't the only ones shifting to less ethical behavior. Knights began fighting for the love of a woman or, if she was married, for another man's wife and all his possessions.

Courts

By mid-1300 new orders like the Order of the Golden Fleece were formed by royal courts. While knighthood was once a noble profession, now knight becoming less effective in the battle are more often were simple sporting entertainment for royal families.

Religion became less influential and even trivialized by some courts, 1337 saw the beginning of the The Hundred Years War between England and France.

Downloadable Lesson Plans

Use the following downloadable lesson plans and worksheets to guide your classroom through a medieval journey before or after your visit to the castle!

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