Britain in the Middle Ages
Overview
 
England in the Middle Ages concerns the history of England
History of England
The history of England concerns the study of the human past in one of Europe's oldest and most influential national territories. What is now England, a country within the United Kingdom, was inhabited by Neanderthals 230,000 years ago. Continuous human habitation dates to around 12,000 years ago,...

 during the Medieval period
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 — from the end of Roman rule in Britain through to the Early Modern period
Early Modern Britain
Early modern Britain is the history of the island of Great Britain, roughly corresponding to the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. Major historical events in Early Modern British history include the English Renaissance, the English Reformation and Scottish Reformation, the English Civil War, the...

. It is in this formative period that England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 emerged as a unified and political entity, and transformed over several centuries from a diverse, warring and fractious land of petty kingdom
Petty kingdom
A petty kingdom is one of a number of small kingdoms, described as minor or "petty" by contrast to an empire or unified kingdom that either preceded or succeeded it...

s, into one of Europe's most centralised, powerful and richest states.

Early Medieval England corresponds to Anglo-Saxon England, which began with the arrival of the Anglo-Saxons
Anglo-Saxons
Anglo-Saxon is a term used by historians to designate the Germanic tribes who invaded and settled the south and east of Great Britain beginning in the early 5th century AD, and the period from their creation of the English nation to the Norman conquest. The Anglo-Saxon Era denotes the period of...

 in southern Britain.
Encyclopedia
England in the Middle Ages concerns the history of England
History of England
The history of England concerns the study of the human past in one of Europe's oldest and most influential national territories. What is now England, a country within the United Kingdom, was inhabited by Neanderthals 230,000 years ago. Continuous human habitation dates to around 12,000 years ago,...

 during the Medieval period
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 — from the end of Roman rule in Britain through to the Early Modern period
Early Modern Britain
Early modern Britain is the history of the island of Great Britain, roughly corresponding to the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. Major historical events in Early Modern British history include the English Renaissance, the English Reformation and Scottish Reformation, the English Civil War, the...

. It is in this formative period that England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 emerged as a unified and political entity, and transformed over several centuries from a diverse, warring and fractious land of petty kingdom
Petty kingdom
A petty kingdom is one of a number of small kingdoms, described as minor or "petty" by contrast to an empire or unified kingdom that either preceded or succeeded it...

s, into one of Europe's most centralised, powerful and richest states.

Early Medieval England corresponds to Anglo-Saxon England, which began with the arrival of the Anglo-Saxons
Anglo-Saxons
Anglo-Saxon is a term used by historians to designate the Germanic tribes who invaded and settled the south and east of Great Britain beginning in the early 5th century AD, and the period from their creation of the English nation to the Norman conquest. The Anglo-Saxon Era denotes the period of...

 in southern Britain. In this period, the Brythonic
Britons (historical)
The Britons were the Celtic people culturally dominating Great Britain from the Iron Age through the Early Middle Ages. They spoke the Insular Celtic language known as British or Brythonic...

 kingdoms whose territories lay within the area of modern England were conquered by Jutes
Jutes
The Jutes, Iuti, or Iutæ were a Germanic people who, according to Bede, were one of the three most powerful Germanic peoples of their time, the other two being the Saxons and the Angles...

, Angles
Angles
The Angles is a modern English term for a Germanic people who took their name from the ancestral cultural region of Angeln, a district located in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany...

 and Saxons
Saxons
The Saxons were a confederation of Germanic tribes originating on the North German plain. The Saxons earliest known area of settlement is Northern Albingia, an area approximately that of modern Holstein...

 Germanic tribes
Germanic peoples
The Germanic peoples are an Indo-European ethno-linguistic group of Northern European origin, identified by their use of the Indo-European Germanic languages which diversified out of Proto-Germanic during the Pre-Roman Iron Age.Originating about 1800 BCE from the Corded Ware Culture on the North...

, from the contemporary Angeln
Angeln
Modern Angeln, also known as Anglia , is a small peninsula in Southern Schleswig in the northern Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, protruding into the Bay of Kiel...

 and Jutland
Jutland
Jutland , historically also called Cimbria, is the name of the peninsula that juts out in Northern Europe toward the rest of Scandinavia, forming the mainland part of Denmark. It has the North Sea to its west, Kattegat and Skagerrak to its north, the Baltic Sea to its east, and the Danish–German...

 areas of Northern Germany
Northern Germany
- Geography :The key terrain features of North Germany are the marshes along the coastline of the North Sea and Baltic Sea, and the geest and heaths inland. Also prominent are the low hills of the Baltic Uplands, the ground moraines, end moraines, sandur, glacial valleys, bogs, and Luch...

 and mainland Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

. Political takeover of other areas of England proceeded piecemeal and was not completed until the 10th century.

Similarly, the end of the medieval period is usually dated by the rise of what is often referred to as the English Renaissance
English Renaissance
The English Renaissance was a cultural and artistic movement in England dating from the late 15th and early 16th centuries to the early 17th century. It is associated with the pan-European Renaissance that is usually regarded as beginning in Italy in the late 14th century; like most of northern...

 in the reign of Henry VIII
Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII was King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. He was Lord, and later King, of Ireland, as well as continuing the nominal claim by the English monarchs to the Kingdom of France...

, and the Reformation in Scotland
Scottish Reformation
The Scottish Reformation was Scotland's formal break with the Papacy in 1560, and the events surrounding this. It was part of the wider European Protestant Reformation; and in Scotland's case culminated ecclesiastically in the re-establishment of the church along Reformed lines, and politically in...

, or else to the establishment of a centralised, bureaucratic monarchy by Henry VII
Henry VII of England
Henry VII was King of England and Lord of Ireland from his seizing the crown on 22 August 1485 until his death on 21 April 1509, as the first monarch of the House of Tudor....

. From a political point of view, the Norman conquest of England
Norman conquest of England
The Norman conquest of England began on 28 September 1066 with the invasion of England by William, Duke of Normandy. William became known as William the Conqueror after his victory at the Battle of Hastings on 14 October 1066, defeating King Harold II of England...

 divides medieval England into two distinct phases of cultural and political history. From a linguistic point of view the Norman Conquest had only a limited effect, Old English evolving into Middle English
Middle English
Middle English is the stage in the history of the English language during the High and Late Middle Ages, or roughly during the four centuries between the late 11th and the late 15th century....

, although the Anglo Norman language would remain the language of those that ruled for two centuries at least, before mingling with Middle English.

At the height of pre-Norman medieval English power, a single English king ruled to the borders with Scotland and Wales. After the Norman Conquest, Anglo-Norman
Anglo-Norman
The Anglo-Normans were mainly the descendants of the Normans who ruled England following the Norman conquest by William the Conqueror in 1066. A small number of Normans were already settled in England prior to the conquest...

 power intruded into Wales with increasing vigour. Southern England
Southern England
Southern England, the South and the South of England are imprecise terms used to refer to the southern counties of England bordering the English Midlands. It has a number of different interpretations of its geographic extents. The South is considered by many to be a cultural region with a distinct...

 had closer relationships with Normandy
Normandy
Normandy is a geographical region corresponding to the former Duchy of Normandy. It is in France.The continental territory covers 30,627 km² and forms the preponderant part of Normandy and roughly 5% of the territory of France. It is divided for administrative purposes into two régions:...

, Flanders
Flanders
Flanders is the community of the Flemings but also one of the institutions in Belgium, and a geographical region located in parts of present-day Belgium, France and the Netherlands. "Flanders" can also refer to the northern part of Belgium that contains Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp...

 and Brittany
Brittany
Brittany is a cultural and administrative region in the north-west of France. Previously a kingdom and then a duchy, Brittany was united to the Kingdom of France in 1532 as a province. Brittany has also been referred to as Less, Lesser or Little Britain...

, owing to relative proximity, than had the other regions.

Periodisation

  • Sub-Roman Britain
    Sub-Roman Britain
    Sub-Roman Britain is a term derived from an archaeological label for the material culture of Britain in Late Antiquity: the term "Sub-Roman" was invented to describe the potsherds in sites of the 5th century and the 6th century, initially with an implication of decay of locally-made wares from a...

     (5th to 6th centuries)
  • Early Middle Ages
    Early Middle Ages
    The Early Middle Ages was the period of European history lasting from the 5th century to approximately 1000. The Early Middle Ages followed the decline of the Western Roman Empire and preceded the High Middle Ages...

     (7th to 11th centuries): England, Scotland
    Scotland in the Early Middle Ages
    Scotland in the early Middle Ages, between the end of Roman authority in southern and central Britain from around 400 and the rise of the kingdom of Alba in 900, was divided into a series of petty kingdoms. Of these the four most important to emerge were the Picts, the Scots of Dál Riata, the...

    • Heptarchy
      Heptarchy
      The Heptarchy is a collective name applied to the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of south, east, and central Great Britain during late antiquity and the early Middle Ages, conventionally identified as seven: Northumbria, Mercia, East Anglia, Essex, Kent, Sussex and Wessex...

       (Anglo-Saxon England)
      • House of Wessex
        House of Wessex
        The House of Wessex, also known as the House of Cerdic, refers to the family that ruled a kingdom in southwest England known as Wessex. This House was in power from the 6th century under Cerdic of Wessex to the unification of the Kingdoms of England....

          (6th to 11 centuries)
    • Viking Age
      Viking Age
      Viking Age is the term for the period in European history, especially Northern European and Scandinavian history, spanning the late 8th to 11th centuries. Scandinavian Vikings explored Europe by its oceans and rivers through trade and warfare. The Vikings also reached Iceland, Greenland,...

      • House of Denmark
        House of Denmark
        The House of Denmark refers to the Danish kings of England, who ruled England from 1013 to 1014 and 1016 to 1042.In 1013 Sweyn Forkbeard, already the king of Denmark and of Norway, overthrew King Æthelred the Unready of the House of Wessex. Sweyn had first invaded England in 1003 to avenge the...

         (1013-1014; 1016-1042)
  • High Middle Ages
    High Middle Ages
    The High Middle Ages was the period of European history around the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries . The High Middle Ages were preceded by the Early Middle Ages and followed by the Late Middle Ages, which by convention end around 1500....

     (11th to 13th centuries): England
    • Norman rule (1066–1154
      Norman dynasty
      Norman dynasty is the usual designation for the family that were the Dukes of Normandy and the English monarchs which immediately followed the Norman conquest and lasted until the Plantagenet dynasty came to power in 1154. It included Rollo and his descendants, and from William the Conqueror and...

      )
    • House of Plantagenet
      House of Plantagenet
      The House of Plantagenet , a branch of the Angevins, was a royal house founded by Geoffrey V of Anjou, father of Henry II of England. Plantagenet kings first ruled the Kingdom of England in the 12th century. Their paternal ancestors originated in the French province of Gâtinais and gained the...

        (1154–1485)
  • Late Middle Ages
    Late Middle Ages
    The Late Middle Ages was the period of European history generally comprising the 14th to the 16th century . The Late Middle Ages followed the High Middle Ages and preceded the onset of the early modern era ....

     (14th and 15th centuries): England
    • House of Plantagenet
      House of Plantagenet
      The House of Plantagenet , a branch of the Angevins, was a royal house founded by Geoffrey V of Anjou, father of Henry II of England. Plantagenet kings first ruled the Kingdom of England in the 12th century. Their paternal ancestors originated in the French province of Gâtinais and gained the...

        (1154–1485)
      • House of Lancaster
        House of Lancaster
        The House of Lancaster was a branch of the royal House of Plantagenet. It was one of the opposing factions involved in the Wars of the Roses, an intermittent civil war which affected England and Wales during the 15th century...

          (1399–1461; 1470-1471)
      • House of York
        House of York
        The House of York was a branch of the English royal House of Plantagenet, three members of which became English kings in the late 15th century. The House of York was descended in the paternal line from Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York, the fourth surviving son of Edward III, but also represented...

          (1461–1470; 1471-1485)
  • Transition to Early Modern Britain
    Early Modern Britain
    Early modern Britain is the history of the island of Great Britain, roughly corresponding to the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. Major historical events in Early Modern British history include the English Renaissance, the English Reformation and Scottish Reformation, the English Civil War, the...

    : England and Wales
    Wales in the Late Middle Ages
    Wales in the Late Middle Ages covers the period from the death of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd in late 1282 to the incorporation of Wales into the Kingdom of England by the Laws in Wales Acts 1535-1542.-Death of Llywelyn:...

    • House of Tudor  (1485–1603
      Tudor period
      The Tudor period usually refers to the period between 1485 and 1603, specifically in relation to the history of England. This coincides with the rule of the Tudor dynasty in England whose first monarch was Henry VII...

      )
      • Elizabethan era
        Elizabethan era
        The Elizabethan era was the epoch in English history of Queen Elizabeth I's reign . Historians often depict it as the golden age in English history...

         (1558-1603)

Celtic kingdoms

The territories of the following early Brythonic kingdoms were absorbed into Anglo-Saxon and early medieval England:

High Middle Ages

post-1066
Norman conquest of England
The Norman conquest of England began on 28 September 1066 with the invasion of England by William, Duke of Normandy. William became known as William the Conqueror after his victory at the Battle of Hastings on 14 October 1066, defeating King Harold II of England...

 states
  • Norman England (1066–1154)
  • House of Plantagenet
    House of Plantagenet
    The House of Plantagenet , a branch of the Angevins, was a royal house founded by Geoffrey V of Anjou, father of Henry II of England. Plantagenet kings first ruled the Kingdom of England in the 12th century. Their paternal ancestors originated in the French province of Gâtinais and gained the...

      (1154–1485)

Late Middle Ages

  • House of Lancaster
    House of Lancaster
    The House of Lancaster was a branch of the royal House of Plantagenet. It was one of the opposing factions involved in the Wars of the Roses, an intermittent civil war which affected England and Wales during the 15th century...

      (1399–1471)
  • House of York
    House of York
    The House of York was a branch of the English royal House of Plantagenet, three members of which became English kings in the late 15th century. The House of York was descended in the paternal line from Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York, the fourth surviving son of Edward III, but also represented...

      (1461–1485)
  • House of Tudor  (1485–1603)

See also

  • Anglo-Norman
    Anglo-Norman
    The Anglo-Normans were mainly the descendants of the Normans who ruled England following the Norman conquest by William the Conqueror in 1066. A small number of Normans were already settled in England prior to the conquest...

  • Celtic Christianity
    Celtic Christianity
    Celtic Christianity or Insular Christianity refers broadly to certain features of Christianity that were common, or held to be common, across the Celtic-speaking world during the Early Middle Ages...

  • Childhood in Medieval England
    Childhood in Medieval England
    Childhood in Medieval England was determined by both social and biological factors. According to common law, childhood ranged from the birth of a child until he or she reached the age of 12. At this point, the child was seen as capable and competent to understand his or her actions, thus...

  • Economy of England in the Middle Ages
    Economy of England in the Middle Ages
    The economy of England in the Middle Ages, from the Norman invasion in 1066, to the death of Henry VII in 1509, was fundamentally agricultural, though even before the invasion the market economy was important to producers...

  • English historians in the Middle Ages
    English historians in the Middle Ages
    Historians of England in the Middle Ages helped to lay the groundwork for modern historical historiography, providing vital accounts of the early history of England, Wales and Normandy, its cultures, and revelations about the historians themselves....

     Important English historians and historical works from the Middle Ages.
  • Groans of the Britons
    Groans of the Britons
    The Groans of the Britons is the name of the final appeal made by the Britons to the Roman military for assistance against barbarian invasion. The appeal is first referenced in Gildas' 6th-century De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae; Gildas' account was later repeated in Bede's Historia...

  • History of Anglo-Saxon England
    History of Anglo-Saxon England
    Anglo-Saxon England refers to the period of the history of that part of Britain, that became known as England, lasting from the end of Roman occupation and establishment of Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in the 5th century until the Norman conquest of England in 1066 by William the Conqueror...

    —England between the 5th century and the Norman Conquest.
  • History of England
    History of England
    The history of England concerns the study of the human past in one of Europe's oldest and most influential national territories. What is now England, a country within the United Kingdom, was inhabited by Neanderthals 230,000 years ago. Continuous human habitation dates to around 12,000 years ago,...

  • History of Wales
    History of Wales
    The history of Wales begins with the arrival of human beings in the region thousands of years ago. Neanderthals lived in what is now Wales, or Cymru in Welsh, at least 230,000 years ago, while Homo sapiens arrived by about 29,000 years ago...

  • List of English chronicles
  • Medieval France
  • Norse activity in the British Isles
    Norse activity in the British Isles
    Norse activity in the British Isles occurred during the Early Mediaeval period, when members of the Norse populations of Scandinavia traveled to the British Isles for trade, raiding and settlement...

  • Scotland in the Middle Ages
    • Scotland in the Early Middle Ages
      Scotland in the Early Middle Ages
      Scotland in the early Middle Ages, between the end of Roman authority in southern and central Britain from around 400 and the rise of the kingdom of Alba in 900, was divided into a series of petty kingdoms. Of these the four most important to emerge were the Picts, the Scots of Dál Riata, the...

    • Scotland in the High Middle Ages
      Scotland in the High Middle Ages
      The High Middle Ages of Scotland encompass Scotland in the era between the death of Domnall II in 900 AD and the death of king Alexander III in 1286...

    • Scotland in the Late Middle Ages
      Scotland in the Late Middle Ages
      Scotland in the late Middle Ages established its independence from England under figures including William Wallace in the late 13th century and Robert Bruce in the 14th century...

      • History of Scotland
        History of Scotland
        The history of Scotland begins around 10,000 years ago, when humans first began to inhabit what is now Scotland after the end of the Devensian glaciation, the last ice age...

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