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William of Normandy

Also known as 'The Conqueror', this Norman ruler conquered England in the years from 1066.

1066

The year in which William of Normandy conquered England.

Domesday Book

The census of England conducted by William of Normandy upon his conquest in 1066, to assess the population and tax base of the country.

Harold Godwinson

The King of England at the time of the Norman Conquest. Traditionally believed to have died with an arrow through his eye.

Bayeaux Tapestry

Commissioned by Bishop Odo, the brother of William the Conqueror, to commemorate his victory over the English. Actually a tapestry, it was completed in the years after 1066.

Motte and Bailey

The type of castles which were constructed by William the Conqueror to assert his authority upon the conquest of Britain.

Edward the Confessor

The childless and highly religious king of England, prior to Harold Godwinson, whose throne was contested by three leaders.

Steward

The person left by a Feudal Lord as his lieutenant on a manor should he be away. This person oversaw the running of the estate.

Bailiff

The person chosen by a lord to come and oversee the running of a particular village. His job involved being in charge of justice, managing the finances, undertaking building projects and collecting rents or taxes.

Reeve

The second in command to a bailiff, his job was to enforce the laws of the manor.

Bubonic Plague

A deadly disease that spread across Asia and Europe in the mid-14th century, killing approximately 20% of the population. Also known as 'The Black Death'. Spread by fleas on rats.

Pikeman

Along with archers, these soldiers came to be favoured by leaders during the later Middle Ages, instead of armies of knights.

Archers

Along with pikemen, these soldiers came to be favoured by leaders during the later Middle Ages, instead of armies of knights.

Heresy

The crime of preaching things that were against the teachings of the church.

Blasphemy

Saying or doing something that was contrary to the teachings of the Church. Taking God's name in vain is considered to be the most common form of this.

Vikings

Raiders and traders of the 9th Century AD, who came from what is now Denmark, Sweden or Norway.

Longships

The shallow bottomed ships favoured by the Vikings.

Fallow

The term for 'leaving empty'; part of the Medieval 3 field system. A field was left empty in order to allow it to regain nutrients.

Mill

Used to grind grain. In the Middle Ages, this was usually found near a stream which was used to power the device.

Confession

An act which was seen as necessary in order for sins to be forgiven. It involved going to a priest and receiving forgiveness or a penance.

Vassal

A person under the protection of a feudal lord to whom he gave service and loyalty, for which he will receive a fiefdom [land] and protection.

Oath of Fealty

An oath sworn before God, which proclaimed your loyalty to your lord. This made you a vassal.

Act of Homage

The act of kneeling before your lord to reinforce your loyalty to him. Part of the Medieval feudal system.

Chivalry

The honour code of the Medieval Knight. Involved protecting your lord, the weak, the church and being honourable towards women.

Barbarians

Invaders of the 4th and 5th Century AD, who were heavily responsible for the fall of the Roman Empire.

Hayward

A person who was given the job of keeping the fields free from roaming animals. Often a job given to a child.

Tithe

A 1/10 tax paid by all Christians to the church in the Middle Ages. It was on 'first fruits', and usually paid in produce, but later it could be in the form of money.

Page

The first stage of becoming a knight. Usually began at age 7, and involved being taught manners, basic fighting skills and some other skills.

Squire

The second stage of becoming a knight. Involving assisting a knight in battle, preparing and maintaining their equipment and learning martial [fighting] arts.

Dubbing

The act of being struck on each shoulder by a lord with a sword, to indicate that you have become a knight.

Siege

The process of attacking a castle, with the intention of either starving out the inhabitants or taking the castle by force.

Fiefdom

The granting of land by a lord to one of his vassals. In return, the vassal would provide him with service and loyalty.

Portcullis

A gridded, spiked iron gate that could be lowered to provide protection for the entrance of a castle.

Curtain wall

The name given to the walls surrounding a castle.

Merlons and Crenels

Also known as 'crenelations', these were the fortifications at the top of most castles. They allowed archers and defenders to shoot, but to be protected.

Machicolations

Overhanging sections of a castle, which were found at the top of walls or towers. They were also known as murder holes and would be used to drop objects like rocks and boiling oil on enemies.

Drawbridge

A castle gate that was able to be lowered and raised, in order to allow access over a moat.

Guilds

Craftsmen and merchants would join these in an effort to protect their trade and guarantee quality workmanship.

Trebuchet

A machine used in medieval siege warfare for hurling large stones or other missiles. Worked like a giant sling.

Mangonel

Device that used twisted rope to hurl objects at a castle. A type of large catapult.

Siege Tower

A large, moveable device, which was used to draw up against castle walls and to allow access to besieging troops.

Hanged, Drawn and Quartered

A medieval punishment generally reserved for traitors. It would involve a man being hanged by the neck, then his entrails removed with a knife (drawn) and his body cut into four pieces (quartered)

Ducking Stool

A Medieval punishment which was usually used against women. It involved being placed on a stool on a long lever and being repeatedly dipped into a river or pond.

Stocks

A lever, which allowed people to be punished through having their neck and wrists immobilised. People would then throw objects at them. Usually used for minor offences.

Knight

An armoured soldier mounted on horseback.

Battle of Hastings

A battle involving the armies of the king of England Harold Godwinson and the invading Norman armies lead by William the conqueror.

Pilgrimage

A journey often taken by knights after being dubbed to a place considered sacred for religious purposes.

Peasant

Also referred to as serfs and villeins. Poor farmers who worked and were often tied to the land.

Pope

The head of the Roman Catholic Church.

Parish priest

Worked in the local church known as the parish, the smallest church district, usually in a village.

Sacraments

Sacred rituals performed by the Catholic church. There are seven: baptism, confirmation, marriage, communion, penance, holy order (that is, becoming a priest), and the last rites (words spoken at the death bed).

Purgatory

Limbo, a way station between heaven and hell where persons could atone for their sins.

Heaven

A state of eternal life and union with God, in which one experiences full happiness and eternal life.

Hell

The eternal punishment of separation from God, reserved for those who die in mortal sin and are unrepentant.

Indulgences

Selling of forgiveness by the Catholic Church. The remission of sins granted to people by the Catholic church for money. It was common practice when the church needed to raise money.

Peasants revolt

A rebellion aimed at achieving social and economic reform for the suppressed lower classes of Medieval Europe. Eventually led to the end of the Feudal system in England.

Monks

Men who devote their time to praying, studying, and copying, and decorating holy books by hand.

Charlemagne

King of the Franks (French) and Holy Roman emperor. Through a series of military conquests he established the Carolingian Empire, which encompassed all of France and parts of Germany and Italy.

Barbican

A tower or walled gatehouse on the approach to a castle, especially one at a gate or drawbridge.

Palisade

Fortification consisting of a strong fence made of stakes driven into the ground.

Stone Keep

Castle made of thick stone, the keep was protected by a palisade, defensive wall, moat and drawbridge

Concentric Castles

Containing successive rings of walls. This was the final development of castles. It had an outer wall and an inner wall with lots of towers and at least 2 gatehouses.

The Crusades

A series of military expeditions in the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries by Western European Christians to reclaim control of the Holy Lands from the Muslims

The Inquisition

Started in Spain, was a process of capturing, torturing, and killing non-Catholics to root out Heresy.

Lord

In the middle ages, a noble who owned and controlled all activities on his manor.

Manorialism

A system that described the economic system that supported feudalism. It was between landlords and their peasant laborers during the Middle Ages; exchanged labor for access to land.

Guilds

These were an important part of city and town life. They were
exclusive, organisations; (e.g. Merchants and Craftsmen)
created to preserve the rights and privileges of their members.

Illumination

Before the invention of printing all books had to be written out by hand. This was a time-consuming and labour-intensive process, and could take months or years and refers to the use of bright colours and gold to embellish initial letters or to portray entire scenes.

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