William of Normandy
Also known as 'The Conqueror', this Norman ruler conquered England in the years from 1066.
The census of England conducted by William of Normandy upon his conquest in 1066, to assess the population and tax base of the country.
The King of England at the time of the Norman Conquest. Traditionally believed to have died with an arrow through his eye.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Along with archers, these soldiers came to be favoured by leaders during the later Middle Ages, instead of armies of knights.
Along with pikemen, these soldiers came to be favoured by leaders during the later Middle Ages, instead of armies of knights.
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.
Raiders and traders of the 9th Century AD, who came from what is now Denmark, Sweden or Norway.
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.
Used to grind grain. In the Middle Ages, this was usually found near a stream which was used to power the device.
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.
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.
The honour code of the Medieval Knight. Involved protecting your lord, the weak, the church and being honourable towards women.
Invaders of the 4th and 5th Century AD, who were heavily responsible for the fall of the Roman Empire.
A person who was given the job of keeping the fields free from roaming animals. Often a job given to a child.
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.
The first stage of becoming a knight. Usually began at age 7, and involved being taught manners, basic fighting skills and some other skills.
The second stage of becoming a knight. Involving assisting a knight in battle, preparing and maintaining their equipment and learning martial [fighting] arts.
The act of being struck on each shoulder by a lord with a sword, to indicate that you have become a knight.
The process of attacking a castle, with the intention of either starving out the inhabitants or taking the castle by force.
The granting of land by a lord to one of his vassals. In return, the vassal would provide him with service and loyalty.
A gridded, spiked iron gate that could be lowered to provide protection for the entrance of 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.
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.
A castle gate that was able to be lowered and raised, in order to allow access over a moat.
Craftsmen and merchants would join these in an effort to protect their trade and guarantee quality workmanship.
A machine used in medieval siege warfare for hurling large stones or other missiles. Worked like a giant sling.
Device that used twisted rope to hurl objects at a castle. A type of large catapult.
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)
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.
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.
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.
A journey often taken by knights after being dubbed to a place considered sacred for religious purposes.
Also referred to as serfs and villeins. Poor farmers who worked and were often tied to the land.
Worked in the local church known as the parish, the smallest church district, usually in a village.
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).
A state of eternal life and union with God, in which one experiences full happiness and eternal life.
The eternal punishment of separation from God, reserved for those who die in mortal sin and are unrepentant.
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.
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.
Men who devote their time to praying, studying, and copying, and decorating holy books by hand.
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.
A tower or walled gatehouse on the approach to a castle, especially one at a gate or drawbridge.
Castle made of thick stone, the keep was protected by a palisade, defensive wall, moat and drawbridge
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.
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
Started in Spain, was a process of capturing, torturing, and killing non-Catholics to root out Heresy.
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.
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.
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.
The group of buildings which collectively form the dwelling-place of a society of monks or nuns.
A political and social system based on the granting of land in exchange for loyalty, military assistance, and other services. This was a system of reciprocal obligations, vassals would provide services to those above them. More powerful people would provide protection and land, to those below.
These paintings and stained glass windows displayed the taking of souls to heaven and hell. They were used to strike fear into the hearts of people during the Middle Ages and that fear would keep the Church powerful.
Narrow holes in the castle walls from which soldiers could fire arrows and crossbow bolts.
A notched parapet built on top of a wall, with alternating merlons and crenels for decoration or defense—as at the top of fortified castles.
Generally called the Early Middle Ages. The period of time where the Western Roman Empire collapsed and Europe was thrust into a so-called 'Dark Age'. Some people refer to this as the Dark Ages, due to the loss of knowledge, infrastructure, and government of the Roman Empire. The term can also make reference to the increased level of chaos and violence of the Early Middle Ages.
Larger settlements that began to grow in size and popularity towards the end of the Middle Ages. There were many reasons why they began to grow so rapidly, including trade, the growth of the middle class and also guilds.