A Kids’ Guide to the Middle Ages
The Middle Ages were filled with drama. This era came after the collapse of the Roman Empire. Various power-hungry leaders were jockeying for power in creating their own empires. None of them would last. What makes this period so interesting is how chaotic it was, which is why kids love to read and hear about the time of knights, kings, and swordplay. Usually they discover many things, like the noble class, King John and the plague or the Black Death.
Here is a guide to the medieval era that will make your kid take notice.
What Is Considered to be the Middle Ages?
Historians refer to a time in European history from 400 to 1500 A.D. The Great Roman Empire and the Renaissance were no more. They usually divide the Middle Ages into three smaller periods: Early, High, and Late Middle Age.
Who was Fighting?
People in Europe were battling against the Islamic Empire in an effort to take back the Eastern Mediterranean, especially Jerusalem, for the Christian religion. Crusades is how they referred to the wars.
The Feudal System
This system consisted of kings, lords, knights, vassals and peasants. The people who were part of the church played a key role. People born into certain groups rarely moved to another level. It was the law and a great way for the upper class to maintain control over the lower class. The lower class worked for the upper class, which lived in castles and had personal servants.
The Divine Right
Kings felt God anointed them and it was their “divine right” to rule. That is why when new kings were installed they were usually the sons of the King. The bigger and stronger the castle, the more wealthy the person who had it built. The poor lived in huts made from sticks, straw and mud.
The Church in Medieval Times
Religion had a great influence over the people. The upper class and lower class had different beliefs. The peasants believed that the harder they worked the more of their money they gave to the church, and the more they served the church, the better their after-life would be.
Our Fairy Tales
A good number of our fairy tales told today came out of this era as well. The characters are usually set in castles and lived at a time that was considered to be in the Renaissance period.
This time was also when Vikings first appeared. They were mostly from Scandinavia and began around the 400s AD to raid boats in the Mediterranean Sea. The Vikings attacked the Atlantic coast of southern France and the eastern coast of England to get their bad reputation.
Chaos Would Come
Europe would suffer through wars and disease, like the bubonic plague. It spread along the Silk Road from China to Europe killing millions of people and causing the collapse of many empires. By the 1400s, the plague was gone but Europe looked like a different place. The wars were over as well. By then the period was coming to an end.