Travelers' Tales, Silk Road Gyrations, Black Death, Late Medievalism, Renaissance, Ming China

What years are late medieval? a. 476-900, b. 901-1300, c. 1301-1492 










After Philip IV of France died, his heir Charles IV left no hiers further by 1328, and the Valois family took over the French throne, but Edward III, King of England, also claimed the throne because he was Charles IV's nephew (in France only the male line was recognized), starting the Hundred Years War. England defeated France at the Battle of Crecy in 1346, then Edward III's son Edward the Black Prince (called so because of his trademark black armor) took the French king captive a decade later. Charles V became king, and regained some territory, then Charles VI was called the Mad because he was nuts, but a situation was arising in England that gave the French some breathing room.




Edward the Black Prince died a year before his father King Edward III, so Richard his 10-year old grandson became King Richard II. Trouble now, the Duke of Lancaster (Richard's cousin and a legitimate claimant to the throne) went into open rebellion and the Parliament supported him, because Richard was getting authoritarian. Lancaster successfully deposed Richard and became King Henry IV. Then Henry V of England struck at the Battle of Agincourt, and took Normandy in 1415.

While it seemed England would rule France by the end of this Hundred Years' War, no one predicted Joan. In 1429 Joan, driven by Christian visions that she was to be the Savior of France, led the French at the Battle of Orleans, starting a cascade of victories both diplomatic and battlefield, and by 1453 the English were expelled from France but for Calais. Joan did in fact die like a savior, having been captured by the English and handed over to pro-English French allies in Rouen, they tried her for witchcraft and burned her at the sake in 1431. The real reason they tried her was, just maybe, that she was saving her homeland and supporting the Dauphin, Charles VII.

JOAN OF ARC (15th)



In England the dynastic Wars of the Roses made it unlikely the English would be back in France for the time being, so Charles VII the Dauphin went to rebuilding the country. Now trouble came from the other direction, though, and those Habsburg alliance marriages were taking parts of Southern France, like Burgundy, and joining it with the Habsburg realm. Ain't feudalism great? For the rest of the 15th century, things became tense with each new marriage and coronation, until the coming of Francis I in 1515, when things got nasty.

Duke of Burgundy Charles the Bold was another issue in the Hundred Years' War. He ruled the territory between France and the Empire, and wanted to expand through whatever means. Wearing the Order of the Golden Fleece (r), he occupied Lorraine, angering France, and moved on Alsace, the cities of which sought aid from Switzerland. In 1476 he lost at Granson to a coalition, and then was killed in battle at Nancy the following year, leaving a 19 year old daughter behind. This amounted to a huge political marriage opportunity, and she married... Maximilian Habsburg of Austria. France and the Empire then split Burgundy up.






The Duchy of Burgundy, descendant of Lothair's Carolingian Middle Kingdom, reemerged too, notice all the yellow on the map above:

Picardy, Flanders, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Nevers, Burgundy proper (centered on Dijon) and Burgundy in the Empire... but this is

a map from 100 years after Dauphine and part of Savoy were removed from the Duchy of Burgundy




Historically, Arles on the Rhone was the capital of Burgundian realm,

note the Carolingian Romanesque church St. Trophime and tower on the right




Interlude: 50 of the most famous English and French Monarchs







Alfred the Great - 9th century


Clovis I - 6th century


Aethelstan - 10th century


Childebert I


Sweyn Forkbeard - 11th century


Chlothar II the Great


Aethelred the Unready

Wessex restored

Dagobert I - 7th century


Canute the Great


Clovis II the Lazy


Edward the Confessor

Wessex res. again

Chlothar III


Harold Godwinson


Theuderic III


William I the Conqueror


Childebert III the Just - 8th


William II


Charles Martel


Henry I - 12th century


Pepin the Short


Henry II


Carloman I


Richard I the Lionheart


Charlemagne - 9th century


John Lackland - 13th century


Louis I the Pious


Henry III


Charles II the Bald


Edward I Longshanks


Charles the Fat


Edward II Caernarfon - 14th c.


Odo of Paris


Edward III


Charles III the Simple - 10th


Richard II




Henry IV Bolingbroke - 15th c.


Louis IV


Henry V




Henry VI


Louis V the Lazy


Edward IV


Hugh Capet


Henry VI

Lancaster res.

Henri I - 11th century


Edward IV

York res.

Philippe I the Amorous


Edward V


Louis VI the Fat - 12th century


Richard III


Louis VII the Young


Henry VII


Philippe II Augustus


Henry VIII - 16th century


Saint Louis IX - 13th century


Edward VI


Philippe III the Bold


Mary I


Philip IV the Fair - 14th century


Elizabeth I


Philippe VI the Fortunate


James I - 17th century


Charles V the Wise


Charles I


Charles VI the Beloved


Oliver Cromwell - Lord Protector


Henry VI of England - 15th c.


Charles II


Charles VII the Dauphin

Valois res.

James II


Louis XI the Prudent


Mary II


Louis XII the Father of People


William III of Orange


Francis I the Restorer - 16th c.


Anne - 18th century


Henri IV the Green Gallant


George I


Louis XIII the Just - 17th cent.


George II


Louis XIV the Sun King


George III


Louis XV the Beloved - 18th c.


George IV - 19th century


Louis XVI the Restorer


William Henry


Napoleon I the Great - 19th c.






Edward VII - 20th century

Hanover / Windsor

Louis-Philippe the Citizen King


George V - 1910-1936


Napoleon III


Edward VIII - 1936


Georges Clemenceau


George VI - 1936-1952


Charles de Gaulle


Elizabeth II - 1952-Present


None other of note









When the Hundred Years were ended... the Wars of the Roses began




Apt subject for a Shakespearean play, Henry V was the son of the Duke of Lancaster who usurped the throne to become Henry IV with the support of the nobles. Now Henry V could focus on France and the Hundred Years' War, the longest war in history (but not the bloodiest by any means). Tragically, Henry V died unexpectedly and the tide turned against the English. His son, Henry VI, lost all the continental possessions but Calais, and had a mental condition to boot.



 Henry VI was getting worse, and Richard, Duke of York, his cousin, staked a claim in 1455, triggering Civil War called the Wars of the Roses, in which the Lancasters had a Red Rose and the Yorks flew a White Rose. Richard of York's son Edward IV obtained the throne with the help of "The Kingmaker" and most powerful peer of the time, Richard Neville, the Duke of Warwick. But then Warwick changed sides 9 years later, started an alliance, and Edward IV fled, only to return to defeat Warwick and Henry VI's son Edward, arrest Henry VI, lock him in the Tower of London. He was executed in 1471.


Edward IV ruled another 12 years till 1483, then in a cruel move, his brother Richard of Gloucester denied both his young sons the succession by locking them up in the Tower, where both died "mysteriously". and usurped the throne as Richard III. He reigned for 2 years until one person had had enough.



 Richard III usurpation of the throne was too much for Henry Tudor, a rival claimant and nephew of Henry VI. Heir of the house of Lancaster and the ancient Welsh royal house, he moved on Richard, and at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485, killed Richard ("A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!"), became Henry VII Tudor, founder of a new dynasty, and ended the Wars of the Roses by marrying Elisabeth of York, daughter of Edward IV, uniting the feuding houses.












Karl IV (Karel IV in Czech) promulgated the Golden Bull, whereby succession procedures were codified for 400 years. He also organized the states of the Empire into peace-keeping confederations, and establised the University of Prague (Charles University)- the oldest in the German lands. Though a German emperor, he is known as the Father of the Czech Nation today, along with Frantisek Palacky.

KARL IV, 14th century




Medieval Germans were not much interested in following a single leader- local rule reemerged in the 13th century










The Golden Bull was signed in Metz in 1356, specifiying three elector archibishops and four secular electors, to smooth out the process


(Mainz, Trier, Cologne, Palatine of the Rhine, Electors of Saxony, Brandenburg, and Bohemia)











Charles Bridge in Prague was built by the Habsburgs (Karl IV) in the 14th century, as well as the oldest university not only on


present day Czech soil, but on German soil anywhere- Charles University. The Astronomical Clock is another Prague landmark









The Habsburgs would be famous for their marriage alliances, it was said, "May others make war, you, lucky Austria, marry!"

Good marriages would raise the Habsburgs in 200 years to rule an empire on three continents under Charles V of Spain...

Descendents of the Habsburgs starred in the 80s cult classic, The Naked Gun





Pestky Habsburgs, Burgundians and Savoyards? Confederate for protection!


From Geneva, Lausanne and Montreux on the lake, to Bern the capital, to Lucerne Locarno and Lugano, to Zurich, Basel and Lake Constance,

this is a little country with a lot of international respect: the UN is based here and in New York, while meetings happen all over




William Tell was forced, in the Swiss story, to shoot an apple off his son Walter's head by a Habsburg

baliff of the court, equivalent to a cop, and this ignited Swiss desire for independence and self-sufficiency




You don't get to be much more free than in Geneva. When the 13 Old Cantons (which contained the important cities like Bern and Zurich)

reached out to other cantons and accepted them in alliances but left them internally autonomous, Geneva was a city-state among those

already autonomous cantons, within a country of confederated cantons! Notice the fountain that is the symbol of the city in the harbor




The Swiss spent the next 500 years collecting books and making watches and pocket knives




The Swiss Guard (with Halberd made famous in the Battle of Morgarten in 1315) is hired for special jobs

they wear the same uniforms they did in the 16th century- designed by Michaelangelo




They have been guarding the Bishop of Rome for over 500 years

Oath of the Swiss Guards: "I swear I will faithfully, loyally and honourably serve the Supreme Pontiff and his legitimate successors, and also dedicate myself to them with all my strength, sacrificing if necessary also my life to defend them. I assume this same commitment with regard to the Sacred College of Cardinals whenever the see is vacant. Furthermore I promise to the Commanding Captain and my other superiors, respect, fidelity and obedience. This I swear! May God and our Holy Patrons assist me!"



Heirs of the Vikings: Scandinavia

After the Vikings became Christian around 1000, Scandinavians built wooden stave (stah-vay) churches

St. Olaf Haraldsson utilized Christianity to support the centralization of the state of Norway




ST. OLAF II (11th century)

Olaf II was Norway's second king, and considered one of the greatest. He was given the title Norway's Eternal King after his death in battle in 1030. Other kings like Sverre Sigurdsson strengthened the monarchy in the 13th century, while Haakon IV extended Norwegian rule to Iceland and Greenland. The Althing, an assembly of all men, governed Iceland previously, the first example of a modern direct democracy.


CANUTE THE GREAT - 11th century

King of Denmark who led an expedition to England and occupied it, thus creating a great kingdom along the coasts of the North Sea, the likes of which would not be seen again for over 300 years, until the Union of Kalmar. Canute was the son of a Danish prince and Polish princess.




Nidaros Cathedral in Norway where St. Olaf's body is interred

The Swedish crown inherited Norway in the 14th century, then the Danish crown, and Dano-Norway was united until the 19th century




After Canute the Great's Danish kingdom separated, Scandinavia went through some permutations and then Margareta I, daugher

of King Haakon VI Magnusson of Norway and Sweden, secured the Danish crown for Olaf her son: The Union of Kalmar was born (1397)




While celebrated today, the Swedish nobles did not like the Union of Kalmar being run from Denmark- they rebelled various times

until 1523 when Gustav I Vasa broke Sweden away from the Union- after that it was Dano-Norway and Sweden




A map of Scandinavia with highlights




 Central Europe: PL/HU/CZ

Folllowing the Volkerwanderung, the Slavs remained in Eastern Europe, in tribes. The Bohemians and Moravians became the Czechs, and the Polanie, Wislani, Pomorzani and about 5 others became the Poles. Mieszko was the first king of Poland. In 966, he unified the realm and became Christian, inaugurating the Piast Dynasty of kings. The Ottonians of the Empire were wary of a unified Poland, but Mieszko obtained permission from the pope and a bishopric was begun at Gniesno (the Nest).

MIESZKO I - 10th century


BOLESLAW THE BRAVE - 11th century

King of Poland who did battle with the Empire over the province of Pomerania, and moved on Kiev, cradle of Russia, and etched his sword on the gate, which is now in a museum in Krakow. In 1024 he secured Poland's independence from these forces, as his grandson Kazimierz I had to, fighting invasion from Bohemia and Kievan Rus, while Boleslaw III Krzywousty (Wrymouth) in 1138 restructured the monarchy in such a way so that the king in Krakow would oversee autonomous relatives in the provinces. These nobles would manage their own affairs in the feudal way, which Krzywousty thought would be good for stability, but dynastic squabbles, Mongol invasion in 1241 and German advance took the kingdom into fragmentation until Kazimierz III.

Konrad of Mazovia, a feudal lord, invited the Teutonic Knights to his realm in the 13th century and gave them rights to help defeat the Prussian pagans. The Knights decimated the pagans and then built the huge castle of Marienberg for the Grandmaster, who then imposed on Konrad and other lords. In 1320, Wladyslaw I Lokietek (Elbowhigh) reunified the realm and his son Kazimierz III The Great "found Poland built of wood and left Poland built of stone." He compromised with Bohemia, and allowed Jews to settle in their own neighborhoods in Polish cities as a middle class. The last of the 400 year long Piast dynasty, the crown went to Louis I Anjou, King of Hungary, whose daughter Jadwiga married, at the behest of the Polish nobles, the Lithuanian Grand Duke Jagiello, who was crowned Wladyslaw II Jagiello in 1386.




The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was now the largest state in Europe, as Russia was under the Mongol yoke. Lithuania actually possessed much Ruthenian Russian territory all the way to Kiev, taken from the Golden Horde. But 20 years into Jagiello's reign, a showdown would occur between the Teutonic Knights and the Commonwealth at Grunwald (1410). The Commonwealth was victorius, and 50 years later, the Knights signed the Treaty of Torun acknowledging the Polish king, now Kazimierz IV, as their sovereign. The kings played the lesser nobles (szlachta) against the higher nobles (magnates), but by doing so they created the most democratic state since ancient times, with 1,000,000 eligible voters. The kingship was weakened though, in 1505, when under the Nihil Novi law, a single nobleman had the right to veto legislation in parliament (Sejm).

In Bohemia, the Czech Premyslid dynasty founded the country in the 9th century. "Good King Wenceslas" promoted Christianity and established ties with the Empire to the west, until he was martyred in 929. Today Wenceslas Square is at the center of the Czech capital. The Empire acknowledged Bohemia as autonomous, and in the 12th century gave the Premyslids the title of hereditary kings. One Premyslid king, Otakar, challenged Rudolf I of Habsburg for the title of emperor and the battle of Marchfeld ensued in which Otakar fell. The dynasty ended with Otakar's grandson in 1306. This seemed bad, but Johannes of Luxembourg married the sister and their son Karl IV (see above) made Prague a great capital of the empire in the 14th century.



JOHN WYCLIFFE, 14th century


JAN HUS (15th)

The son of Karl IV was authoritarian and inspired a revolt among the nobles. At the same time, Jan Hus, a Christian reformer who became angry, like Wyclifee, at corruption in the church hierarchy, attended the Council of Constance in 1415, called to end the Papal Schism (in which "Antipope" John XXIII called for a crusade against Pope Gregory VII and authorized the sale of indulgences in Bohemia to pay for it). At the Council, Hus was arrested and sentenced to death at the stake. His followers (the majority in Bohemia), erupted in revolt against Sigismund of Luxembourg, who promised Hus safe passage to the conference and betrayed him. The pope now called for a crusade against the Hussites, but it failed, and a compromise was only reached after the moderate faction of the Hussites turned on the radical faction, defeated it, and entered negociations. This is seen as a predecessor event to the Reformation, and featured Jan Zizka's of the radical Hussites throwing burghers out of windows when stones were throne at them as they paraded, called the "Defenestration of Prague."

Hungary became a state under the Arpad dynasty, named for its forerunner who led the Magyars into Europe and in their settlement of the Pannonian plains around 900. There was a vacuum there because the Avars were defeated by Charlemagne and then again by the Magyars at the Battle of Pressburg in 907, until they moved back to the Caucasus region. When the Germans defeated the Magyars in 955 at Lechfeld, Prince Geza became Christian, and his son Istvan became the first King of Hungary.

ARPAD - 10th century


ST. ISTVAN - 1000


The conversion of Istvan and his crowning as King of Hungary in 1001 helped made Hungary a European nation. He welcomed German help in building an economic and administrative structure, and many Germans moved to live in Hungary, as they do to this day. Translyvania was added to the Hungarian realm not long after, and both Magyars and Germans settled there. Arpad King Andras II extended rights to the nobility and church, much like John Lackland did, and even signed a Golden Bull, a Magna Carta like document, in 1222.

Bela IV, son of Andras II, was able to take back some royal power, because he was already Duke of Slavonia and Translyvania, and had converted pagan Cumans in the south. However, upon his coronation, the Mongols arrived and devastated Hungary. Bela survived the battle of Mohi, and when the Mongols unexpectedly left, he spent the rest of his years fortifying the land in case they ever returned. Fortresses were built, colonists invited from the Empire, and autonomy was granted to local lords to allow them to build buffer zones (like Byzantine Themes). Yet, while the Mongols never returned, that other Central Asian force would- the Turks. After Arpad and Istvan, Bela is considered a new founder of the Hungarian state, and defender of its people.

BELA IV (13th)



The Arpads ended in 1301, much like the Polish Piasts and the Czech Premsylids, and Louis of Anjou, nephew of Kazimierz III of Poland, became king of Hungary (and later of Poland).  After he died, Poland went to the Jagiellos and Hungary to Sigismund of Luxembourg, Holy Roman Emperor, King of Bohemia and of Hungary. Sigismund had to deal with a new threat in 1396, for the Ottomans were on the march. They arrived and smashed Sigismund's army at Nicopolis on the Danube, but then they left for 100 years to focus on destroying the Byzantines. (visit site)

The greatest outcome of Bela IV's division of the land into military units was the rise of nobleman Janos Hunyadi, voivode of Translyvania and military commander of the southern districts. To prepare for the Turks, he used Hussite like techniques, hand cannons and wagon trains, and mobilized peasant batallions, as well as professional, paid armies. When the Ottomans began plundering his march, Hunyadi's methods scored victories. When they came in force at the Battle of Varna (where Polish King Wladyslaw IV died in defence of Europe) and 2nd Kosovo (1448), they defeated Hunyadi, but then Hunyadi personally led the defense of Belgrade in 1456, attacked by Sultan Murad II himself. Pope Pius II called him "Christ's Champion," and when he died later of plague, the bells tolled for him every noon for a long time, and his victories kept the Turks at bay for 60 years.

JANOS HUNYADI, 15th century


MATTIAS CORVINUS, 15th century

Sometimes the son disappoints after a father is considered a great hero, as Hunyadi was. But his son Matthias Corvinus was elected as King of Hungary in 1457, and he enabled a brilliant Renaissance court to appear in Budapest. His famous library is still well regarded. Corvinus had no legitimate children, so Ulaszlo II was elected king, and his son Louis II would fall at the Battle of Mohacs in 1526.





During the Middle Ages, part of the Balkans, Croatia, was allied with Hungary

Notice Serbia (Servia), Bulgaria, Wallachia (Romania), Moldavia, Hungary (plus Croatia), the Crusader State

Empire of Trebizond, the shrunken Byzantine Empire, and the advancing Turks in Anatolia


Remember me, Simeon I, called the Great. My father was Boris I, the first king of Bulgaria. He adopted Christianity in 865, and we became Orthodox. He sent me to Constantinople for cultural learnings and to become a monk. Well, that wasn't for me. In 893 I returned and usurped the throne, then turned and attacked Constantinople, unsuccessfully, however. In 925, my title became Czar of All the Bulgars. I promoted learning, the Cyrillic alphabet, and under me the Bulgarian Empire prospered. After me the kingdom declined, fought with the Rus and with the Byzantines, who had this guy named Basil III the Bulgarslayer. Not a fan.

SIMEON I THE GREAT, 10th century


Remember me, the Croatian king who set the course to Catholicism when I was crowned by the pope in 1076. Doing this helped my country repel the Ottomans, and divided us from Orthodox Serbia. My country has a beautiful coastline called Dalmatia, though the capital, Zagreb, is in the interior. During the Middle Ages we allied with Hungary, and our two countries have a special relationship. We sent a viceroy called a Ban to Budapest. Ragusa, today's Dubrovnik, is considered the Jewel of the Adriatic. It was an independent city-state for many centuries.


Remember me, Grand Duke Stefan Nemanja, founder of the Serbian Kingdom and reorganizer of the Orthodox Christian Church in Serbia for all times to come. My son Sava finished this task. I saw the Byzantine Empire was in decline in 1167, and so I had new bishops appointed, with Serbian as the new langauge of liturgy, not Greek. Now we could understand more, and as Cyril and Methodius taught, we came to write in the Cyrillic alphabet as well. Later when the Ottomans tried to make us Muslim, the national identity fostered by the Serbian Church helped keep us whole. A left to become a monk when I was old, retiring to the beautiful Sudenica Monestary, which I founded in 1196.

Remember me, Kaloyan Asen, who revived the Bulgarian Empire 200 years after Basil the Byzantine overwhelmed it. There is a great monument to me in Veliko Turnovo in Central Bulgaria, my capital. The pope blessed my rule, but I turned to help the Byzantines against the Latin Crusader States after 1204. At Adrianopole, I defeated Baldwin I of Constantinople, inflicting damage to the Latin Empire. Bulgaria after me prospered. My successor Ivan Asen II took land all the way from the Black Sea to the Adriatic. When the Mongols came in 1242, they defeated us but left soon after, and later, in 1389 when Serbia stood up for Christ against the Ottomans, we helped.



Remember me, for I am Stefan Dushan, a national hero of Serbia. After our 1330 defeat of the Bulgars, I moved on Greece and was victorious. I took Macedonia too, and put forth Dusan's Code, reformatting law in the region. I elevated the Serbian Church from archbishopric to patriarchate, and constructed the Visoki Dacani Monestary as its new centerpiece. Under my son Stefan V, the empire fragmented, but the unity I provided lives on in the present day. I fought the Ottomans until the last year of my life, and we held them back. Visit Cetinje Monestary in Montenegro if you want to see me sometime.

Remember me, Lazar Hrebeljanovic of Serbia, who stood on the Field of the Blackbirds in 1389. Ottoman Sultan Murad ordered me and the Serbs and our allies to submit to their far greater strength, but we did not. We stood our ground, and they indeed vanquished us, becoming supreme in the entire Balkan peninsula. Belgrade remained Christian, but it would fall 60 years after we tried to stop the great invasion, despite Janos Hunyadi and the Hungarians trying to save it. We did our part and died valiently. Now Kosovo is sacred ground to us.



Remember me, Mircea the Old, first "king" (actually voivod) of the people you call the Romanians but I called the Vlachs (hence Wallachia). We named it Romania later on. I moved to Bucharest in 1385 and it became my capital. When the Ottomans came to my land, I paid them off so they would leave us alone in 1396, having seen what they did to the Serbs on the field of Kosovo in 1389. When a grandson of mine shifted allianced to Hungary, the Ottomans buried him alive.

Remember me, for I am Count Dracul, the one Bram Stoker called "Count Dracula," when he wrote a book about me and my nocturnal cravings for blood in the 19th century. Why would he do that? Well, when the Ottomans came to conquer my land of Wallachia in 1476, I fought back. My father Vlad II was part of the Order of the Dragon and sworn to defend Christianity. He and I are folk heroes in Romania today. Thing is, when my men captured those Turks, I had the prisoners impaled, 20,000 of them, on needle-thin stakes sticking 4ft. out of the ground. From ass through the gut organs and windpipe, and out through the mouth, the stake stuck them. There they sat for days, bleeding slowly to death. In the war for civilization, sometimes you have to put the fear in the invader.



Remember me, Stefan III the Great, most honored of all the Moldavians. Moldavia is a neighboring province of Wallachia, and though Vlad the Impaler was brutal, we could not stem the Turkish conquest- only delay it. As Voivod, I formed alliances with Wallachia to do this, and it ultimately failed. But I can say this, our example of resistance carried over to later centuries. When Michael the Brave led a revolt against the Ottomans in 1601, he remembered me. Today there is a small country in Eastern Europe called Moldova, heart of my realm, and they remember me by a statue in the capital, Chisnau.






Crusading did not end with the truce between Saladin and Richard the Lionheart after the 3rd Crusade. Other, rather sad affairs took place, including the Children's Crusade, in which 20,000 or so Christian kids with missionary intentions went to the Holy Land to peacefully convert Muslims to Christianity, only to be taken in and sold into slavery in the Middle East. In another crusade in 1204, instead of sacking Jerusalem or even getting to the Holy Land, the crusaders sacked the Byzantine capital instead, and placed their own man, Baldwin I of Flanders, as Latin Emperor.




Crusaders sacking Constantinople(!) in 1204, and setting up Crusader States on Byzantine territory




They used this fortress, Porphyrogenitus (Tekfur Sarayi), to manage their rule over the Byzantine capital

They brought over Count Baldwin of Flanders and crowned him Emperor Baldwin I in Hagia Sophia - but when he

put Catholic clergy into the churches, a revolt began and at the Battle of Adrianopole in 1205, Baldwin was killed by the Bulgars




New Crusader States: Idyllic Trebizond on the north coast of Anatolia hosted a Crusader State carved from Byzantium




A new Church of Holy Wisdom was built in Trebizond in 1461, later annexed by the Ottomans like the original.

The principality of Trebizond remained in Christian hands for a decade after Byzantium fell to the Turks




Another Crusader State was set up at Salonika (Thessaloniki) in northern Greece- as with Trebizond, ironically,

by separating them from Byzantium they were able to remain independent from the Ottomans for longer




What happened to the Byzantine state? It didn't die, it moved to Nicaea in Greece, where the great council was called in the 4th century that decided on the role of Jesus in the Trinity. After 30 years went by, the Byzantines attacked the Latin Empire to regain Constantinople, but failed to do so. In 1246 they took Salonika, and finally, Michael VIII Palaiologos arose to usurp the Byzantine throne and then form alliances with Italian cities like Genoa, the rival of Venice, the city which supported the Latin Empire. When Latin Emperor Baldwin II was on pilgrimage in Italy, Michael struck, taking Constantinople and reviving Byzantium in its ancient capital, in 1259. There it would live on for another 200 years.




For a few years, then, Nicaea was the capital and stronghold of the Byzantine Empire




Spain and the Reconquista

On this side of Europe, the Spanish Reconquista drives Muslims out over many centuries

In the east, the Teutonic Knights sometimes violently encouraged the Prussians to convert, while in Spain

the Reconquiesta was a Crusade against Muslims, and possibly Jews as well, who left for Central Europe




Medieval Games and the Military Arts

 Chess has been played since the 13th century- what are the kinds of pieces again? Castle and horsey? What else?




 Chess is played in modern times too, and it will also be played in the future




In the future, they will play other games as well



Check this site for the History of Gunpowder



First of all, it was cold. Second, there was plague. In your coat that protected you from the cold were little fleas. Sucked.

Remember Global Warming? Well, it used to be global cooling that was the problem (and will be again).

The Little Ice Age made things hard on Europeans. It started around 1300 and lasted 500 years to 1800.




This haunting ruin is the last thing left from the Viking culture on Greenland- when the Little Ice Age came they had

to abandon the island because agriculture was practically impossible- a scary thought- even VIKINGS couldn't handle it!




Brughel's Hunters in the Snow from 1565 shows the new environment Northern Europeans had to live in




The Frozen Themes was another piece of art from the Little Ice Age




Skating on the Main Canal of Rotterdam was painted just as the Little Ice Age was ending in 1800




Winter Landscape with Skaters from 1608 shows Dutch people having fun despite the cold




Even less fun than the cold was the mystery disease that showed up in Europe in 1347- but this had been there before,

800 years earlier- this is a pic of Constantinople during the "Plague of Justinian", who himself got it but survived





429 BC

Athens, Greece

Typhoid kills 75,000 during "Plague of Athens"


Roman Empire

Smallpox kills 30% of the Roman population


Byzantine Empire

Bubonic Plague kills 40% of Byzantine population



Bubonic Plague kills 50% of European population



Bubonic Plague kills many people



Plague kills 280,000


Plymouth Colony

Smallpox takes out many American colonists



Plague kills 25,000



Great Plague of London kills 100,000



Plague kills 40,000



Great Plague of Vienna kills 76,000



Measles kills many residents


New York City

Yellow Fever kills many residents




It started in China around 1340, was carried by Mongols and Turks across the Silk Road for 6 years, got

to the Black Sea, where Italian merchants picked it up as stowaway rats came with them to Italy.





Bubonic Plague, called the Black Death in Europe because of (look up)




Plague victims' grave in France- with half the people dying, they couldn't bury the bodies fast enough





Population 1300

Population 1400


85 million

75 million


91 million

97 million


79 million

59 million




Brughel's The Triumph of Death shows the chaos society is thrown into when the plague is killing everyone




The Danse Macabre from 1493 means in English "The Dance of Death"




Another kind of dance, but not really, is Ring Around the Rosey... at least half would in all likelihood fall down

The plague subsided by 1700, and in 1940 antibiotics were engineered to help treat symptoms of it when it does




China from Mongols to Ming

Remember me, for I tried to ease tension between the Christian and Mongol worlds. Last time, the Pope Innocent IV heard the Mongols were attacking the Abbasids from the east, just as the crusading spirit in Europe was waning, and he was worried. He inquired of the khan whether he wanted an alliance against the Muslim foe, and the khan replied that the Christians were next in line to feel the Mongol scourge. Didn't go well, therefore. So in 1287 I, a Nestorian Christian working for the Ilkhan of Persia who was about to invade the Holy Land and bring the Islamic forces there to heel, was dispatched to entreat the pope or the king of France to ally with him. They were not interested, and because Ilkhan Ghazan converted to Islam, famously, the matter was soon moot anyway.


I traveled like Marco Polo all around. I started in Morocco and went to Mali, Egypt, the Swahili Coast, Arabia, Russia, India and China, and many lands were welcome to me as a Muslim traveler. John Green on Crash Course said if he could be anyone in history, it would be me, because I explored all around the known world. I lived, in his terms, "an awesome life." Well, true, but I was shocked at women's nakedness in Africa, not very Muslim, after all, and at how 20 slave girls bring the chief his food during Ramadan of all times! They seriously need some sufis to come here and teach them.



While some Nestorian Christians went out east, not many Catholics did. But I did, to bring the message of Jesus, knowledge of the sacraments and the holy eucharist to the peoples of China and all along the way. In 1307, I established an archbishopric in Khanbaliq, as the khan was welcoming. I translated the Bible into Turkish, and baptized thousands of people. We built churches in China, but overall, the lasting effect myself and my followers had in the region was negligible. The Mongols wound up with Buddhism, and the Turks with Islam, while the Chinese followed the paths of Confucius, Lao Tzu and the Buddha. None of our buildings exist anymore, but that doesn't mean I didn't try.



I am Zheng He, eunuch, but I had a lot of drive anyway. I had the desire to command a fleet of treasure ships for my Ming masters, on the greatest seaborne adventure we knew of- traveling the WHOLE Indian Ocean route. No one had ever done it, now, in 1405, we would set off. Emperor Yongle wants me to take an army with me, just in case people at foreign ports in Malaya, India, Arabia or Africa get anxious at our wealth, and there is plenty of room to bring them- 25,000 of them. In Africa we picked up a giraffe and some other weird creatures, and the Chinese are sure to love it- it looks like a great dragon from folklore! My ships were floating cities, larger than Columbus' ships would be, 70 years in the future. Who knows, if we had sailed east instead of west, we might have found America.

ZHENG HE, 15th century






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