Battles and Wars of the Middle Ages

Introduction

Wars. Battles. Conflicts. These problems have been occurring for centuries, but some of the wars that have shaped the world of today occurred during the Middle Ages, which was between the years of 472 A.D.- c. 1500. Over time, the effects of these wars have greatly shaped civilizations from all across the face of Europe, from the discovery of mathematics to the changing of the countries’ borders. War has been a great scourge and a way to discover new technologies, being both good and bad. Wars in the medieval ages were different from the wars of today, and the battles of wars of our past still affect us and who we are today.

There were three main wars during the Middle Ages that greatly changed the world today. The three main wars were the Crusades, the Norman Invasion of 1066, and the Hundred Years’ War. All of these wars occurred during the Middle Ages, but one of these wars officially ended some years afterwards. The wars of our past have left a large mark on the modern world.

Norman Invasion of England

"Battle of Hastings." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Hastings
"Battle of Hastings." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Hastings

In the Norman Invasion of 1066, the Normans, now the people of present-day Normandy in Northern France, were led by a king named William II (Battle1066, para. 1). William claimed the English throne after King Edward died. He was a distant cousin of Edward and explained that Edward had promised him the throne when visiting France in 1051. He even told people that his claim had been accepted by King Harold II, ruler of England at the time of the invasion, in 1064, when Harold had been blown into the Norman shore by a storm. William invaded England to become King and take, by force, the throne from King Harold.
The Normans finally conquored the English forces at the Battle of Hastings (Battle1066). The Battle of Hastings occurred on October 14, 1066 near the town of Hastings, England. The King of England, King Harold II, died trying to protect his country, but failed in the end. The conquering of the Saxons in England ushered in an almost century-long reign by the Normans, who lost power in 1154. But, during the rule, Old English, spoken by the Saxons, French, and the Normans, merged together to form a new language called Middle English. The hierarchy of England spoke French while the common person spoke Middle English. Canterbury Tales was the first book to be written in Middle English, allowing the common person to be able to read stories. Canterbury Tales is famous for one main reason.

A tapestry, or large piece of cloth with a woven design, known as the Bayeux Tapestry depicts the Battle of Hastings. Historians say that it is probably the most accurate depiction of the Battle of Hastings considering everything written about the battle in the following years was often biased towards one side or the other. The Bayeux Tapestry is about seventy meters long, though some say that there are as much as eight meters missing! Also, the tapestry has embroidered Latin words by its pictures instead of French or Old English, the common languages of the time. The Bayeux Tapestry still exists today, and resides in a museum in Normandy, France (Hastings1066).

The Crusades



"Crusades." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crusades
"Crusades." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crusades

The Crusades were a series of nine bloody wars over the city of Jerusalem in Israel (Macdonald, Bergin & Salariya, pg.6). The first crusades began in 1095, and the last crusades ended in 1291 (Crusader Timeline). These wars were fought between the Christians of Europe and the Muslims of the Middle East. In 1094, the Pope, a very influential leader in world affairs at the time and the head figure of the Catholic church, declared that Jerusalem must be plucked from Islamic hands, and that all Christians who went and lived would be hailed as heroes, and those who died would enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Needless to say, many people joined the fight. After about a year, many European Christians mobilized to take the city of Jerusalem.

The city of Jerusalem was important in the religions of Christianity and Islam for various reasons. Islam, Jerusalem is where Muhammad became enlightened. In Christianity, the city of Jerusalem is where Jesus Christ, the Savior, lived his life, according to the New Testament of the Bible. Both Christians and Muslims wanted to control the holy town, so they went to war over it. In the end, the Muslims took the city back (Crusader Timeline).
The Crusades were wars, nonetheless, and wars are usually viewed as malicious. In the end, some good did come out of the Crusades. Returning Christians from the Middle East brought back new technologies, concepts, and materials. Some examples of things Europe got from the Middle East are mathematics, chemistry, and irrigation. As you can see, the Crusades weren’t all bad (Macdonald, Bergin & Salariya, pg.28).

Hundred Years’ War

The Hundred Years’ War started in 1328, and, officially, ended in 1659 with the reclaiming of lost territories by the French (Otherside para. 3 and 50). Most of the fighting stopped around 1450, but all territories weren’t reclaimed by their original countries until 1659.The war started after the English king claimed the French Crown after the death of the French king. Even though the claim was supported biologically, the English king, being related by marriage to one of the king’s relatives, the people of France thought this to be an outrage, and war between England and France erupted. The war would go off and on, and would pause for different reasons over the course of almost one and a quarter centuries (Otherside para. 16). Old empires, unknown to the average person of today, but affecting world affairs back then influentially, would change the borders of today’s countries and leave a scar on the face of Europe forever.

During the course of the Hundred Years’ War, a large expansion of disease, known as the Black Plague, spread over the countries and kingdoms of Europe. The Black Plague killed millions of Europeans over the course of about one hundred years. French and English soldiers were no exception to the death toll, and occasionally armies lost so many men that they had to pull out. This greatly affected how the war was fought, where in Europe the battle took place, and when it occurred. The Black Plague was one of the great factors that affected the Hundred Years’ War.

The English began the war with great sweeping victories over the French and Burgundians with a new kind of weapon, known as the longbow. The longbow was, basically, a very large bow-and-arrow, but much stronger and more accurate (Infotrac para. 6). The longbow originated in Wales, a western part of England, and revolutionized warfare for the next two centuries, up until the introduction of the rifle which replaced the longbow in the 1500s and 1600s (Infotrac para. 10). The longbow was so effective because of its range. This allowed more soldiers to fire from greater distances, keeping more people out of harm’s way. But, the French and Burgundian soon developed tactics that defeated the power of the longbow, and English victories soon went on the decline. In the end of the Hundred Years’ War, England lost all of its territory in continental Europe, and the Duke of Burgundy lost his kingdom to the French. The borders of France shifted, affecting the face of our globe today. The Hundred Years’ War also affected medieval society by involving soldiers that were only in their teens, along with their fathers. It also became the destruction of many works in France that had been written before the war. The Hundred Years’ War heavily affected our world.

Conclusion

These three wars were some of the most important wars throughout the Middle Ages. These wars heavily affected history and the societies of the countries involved, even leading to the elimination of some countries, like Burgundy. Borders were changed, and many people lost their lives. The effects of those wars were imperative to the world today, with many new technologies being discovered during the battles and afterwards. In the end, war is a bad thing, but they sometimes change the world for the better.

Works Cited
Battle of Hastings 1066 Introduction. Web. 14 Mar. 2011. <http://www.battle1066.com/>.
Bayeux Tapestry. Web. 14 Mar. 2011. <http://hastings1066.com/>.
"Crusades - Timeline." The Crusades. Web. 07 Mar. 2011. <http://crusades.boisestate.edu/timeline/1095-1099.shtml>.
“Hundred Years' War." THEOTHERSIDE - Nord/Pas-de-Calais. Web. 25 Feb. 2011. <http://www.theotherside.co.uk/tm-heritage/background/100yearswar.htm>.
“Hundred Years’ War.” World Book. 2005.
Macdonald, Fiona, Mark Bergin, and David Salariya. You Wouldn't Want to Be a Crusader!: a War You'd Rather Not Fight. Brigton, BNI: Book House, 2005. Print.
"Simple but Deadly: in the Century before Guns, the Longbow Brought a Lethal Efficiency to Medieval Warfare and Gave England an Early Advantage in the Hundred Years' War." GaleNet. Web. 08 Mar. 2011.
"Strategy (military) :: Medieval Strategy -- Britannica Online Encyclopedia." Encyclopedia - Britannica Online Encyclopedia. Web. 25 Feb. 2011. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/568259/strategy/272990/Medieval-strategy.



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