Category Archives: MEDIEVAL HISTORY

King John of England and the French invasion

King John of England and the French invasion


When Richard the Lionheart was killed by a crossbow bolt in France in April 1199, a French chronicler, no friend of the English monarch, wrote: “God visited the kingdom of the French, for King Richard died.” Richard had been a feared and victorious enemy of France, and few believed that his younger brother and successor, John, would be a match for the formidable and experienced French king Philip II, known as Augustus.

Medieval sense of humour

Medieval sense of humour

The passions of a violent society spill over into the sense of humour you will encounter. Yes, there is humour, lots of it, amid the violence and sexism. But whether you will find it funny is a quite a different matter. For example, here is a medieval joke. One merchant asks another, ‘Are you married?’ ‘I had three wives,’ the second merchant responds, ‘but all three hanged themselves from a tree in my garden.’ The first merchant retorts, ‘Pray, give me a cutting from this miraculous tree.’

Hammering the Celts, 1272 – 1330

Hammering the Celts, 1272 – 1330

Henry’s heir was a swarthy giant of 6ft 2in, as Provencal  (through his mother) as he was Plantagenet. Edward I (1272 – 1307) first heard of his father’s death when stopping in Sicily on his way back from a crusade. Such was his lack of urgency that he spent two years in France before arriving in England in 1274. Now aged thirty-five, he had rescued his father from the barons’ rebellion, but he had been an early supporter of de Montfort and understood the need for kingly power in a constitutional framework.

London homes in Shakespeare’s time

London homes in Shakespeare’s time

Thanks to decades of peace, English houses are no longer made for defence but for comfort. The newly rich may still build turrets, battlements and gatehouses but these are only for show or to make a new place look venerable, implying an ancient lineage for themselves. Many a country house still has a moat, though the fact that it seldom runs right around it should tell you that it is not to keep attackers at bay – or for you to water your horse in – but to keep fish for the kitchen.

Food and drink in the Middle Ages

Food and drink in the Middle Ages

The production, processing, and consumption of foodstuffs were a primary preoccupation of the medieval population. In the earlier unsettled period, the production was strictly for the household; later, with the development of towns and more stable settlements, there was the growth of markets and trade in foodstuffs. Throughout the period, the most important social activity was eating in the company of others; usually this was family, but often it was lord and retainers.