Major Events in Medieval English History

  A Brief Summary of Key Elements for the study of Old and Middle English Literature

Dr. Brian McFadden

Texas Tech University

ENGL 3302, 3372, 5301, 5303, 5334

Celts and Romans

c. 600 BC Prehistoric Celts inhabited British Isles (Q-Irish Gaelic; P-Brythonic, Welsh/Scots)

55 Julius Caesar invades Britain and is repulsed

54 Caesar returns, conquers area around the Thames and levies tribute

43 AD Claudius conquers the south of Britain

98  Tacitus publishes Germania

117-38 Hadrian conquers up to the neck of Scotland - builds fortified wall

211-17 Carcalla makes all free British Roman citizens; unifies region politically, but Britons, Picts, Celts still at odds

Romans and Germans

376 First Gothic movement into Roman territory

410 Sack of Rome

440's Rome recalls legions to defend the city; England left without protection against Picts and Celts

c. 449 Britons invite Angles, Saxons, Jutes as mercenaries

476 Fall of the Roman Empire in the West

The Apostle to the English

597 Gregory the Great sends Augustine to convert English

664 Council of Whitby settles controversy over the date of Easter

The Vikings and Alfred

First Viking landings in Wessex

First invasion of the Vikings at Lindisfarne

878 Alfred the Great negotiates Viking withdrawal in Treaty of Wedmore

886 Alfred fixes boundaries of Danelaw

The Benedictine Reform

c. 910 beginning of Benedictine monastic reforms on the Continent

957 Some initial resistance, but with the help of King Edgar (957-75), reforms began in earnest with the forcible reform of Winchester

Æthelred and the Danes

975 Edgar dies suddenly;  brief anti-monastic reaction

978 Aethelred II Unræd (often  called the "Unready," actually "ill-advised) takes the throne after murder of Edward ("the Martyr")

1002 St. Brice's Day Massacre - Aethelred orders murder of all Danes in England

1013 Aethelred flees; Canute the Dane controls England

1016 Æthelred  dies 23 April; his son Edmund "Ironside" wins a few battles, but dies in November; Canute acknowledged as King of England

1035 Canute dies; his two sons, Harold and Hardacnut, both die early

The End of Anglo-Saxon England

1042 Edward the Confessor succeeds as king; his choice of heir is supposedly William of Normandy

1066 Harold Godwinson claims throne on Edward's death

1085 William orders census of the kingdom ("Domesday Book"); rise of "feudalism"

Key Events in Later Medieval England

1154 Henry II - disputes over taxes, boundaries of civil and ecclesiastical power

1170 Murder of Archbishop Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral

1189 Richard I (Lionhearted) - goes crusading, dies 1199

1215 King John (1199-1216) signs Magna Carta; rise of parliamentary power

1216 Henry III (d. 1272) succeeds

1272 Edward I (d.1307) - court/legal reforms; conquers Scotland

1307 Edward II - reputed to be weak, influenced by favorites, prefers court life to business

1327 Edward III (effective 1330 after exiling/executing rebels) - strengthens civil courts vs. ecclesiastical courts; raises taxes, aggravates peasants

The Age of Chaucer

1336 Beginning of Hundred Years' War (actually 119 years, series of small wars) with France

1348-49 Bubonic plague outbreak; one-third of England's population dies

1351 Statute of Laborers - restricts movement and freezes wages of free workers

1362 English officially becomes language of the court, replacing French

1377 Richard II succeeds at age 10 under regency of John of Gaunt

1380's Peasant's Revolt (1381); rise of Wyclif, popular heresies, ecclesiastical reforms; Chaucer begins CT

1399 Henry IV (Lancastrian) deposes Richard; has difficulty dealing with rebellions and controlling Parliament

1400 Death of Chaucer; murder of Richard II

The End of Medieval England

1413 Henry V - wins victories in France and a lot of territory

1422 Henry VI - succeeds as infant; has bouts of insanity

1453 Battle of Castillon - England loses last of French territory

1455 Battle of St. Albans; first armed fight of Wars of the Roses

1461 Edward IV (Yorkist), grandson of Edward III, deposes Henry VI

1470 Henry recovers his reason and rules briefly

1483 Edward V (Yorkist) succeeds at age 13 and rules for two months

1485 Henry Tudor (technically Lancastrian, but see family tree above) defeats and kills Richard III at Battle of Bosworth Field, rules as Henry VII

Last modified IX Jan MMIX

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