Today in Medieval History, February 17

On this day, February 17, in medieval history:

  • 1461 – The Second Battle of St. Albans: One of the battles fought during the Wars of the Roses. On this particular day, the Lancastrian army led by the Queen Margaret of Anjou defeated the Yorkist faction led by the Earl of Warwick. The Lancastrians freed King Henry VI who had been taken prisoner by the Earl.
  • 1500 – The Battle of Hemmingstedt: The Battle of Hemmingstedt occurred south of the village of Hemmingstedt, near the present-day village of Epen-Wohrden, in northern Germany. Duke Friedrich and Duke Johann attempted to subdue the peasantry of Dithmarschen, who had established their own republic along the coast of the North Sea. The peasants, who were a well-armed and well-organized militia, used their knowledge of the terrain to defeat the Dukes’ armies.

Medieval History Term of the Week: Husbandry


1) the cultivation and production of edible crops or of animals for food; agriculture; farming.
2) the science of raising crops or food animals.

From Walter of Henly on Animal Husbandry, c. 1275:

Sort out your cattle once a year between Easter and Whitsuntide—that is to say, oxen, cows, and herds—and let those that are not to be kept be put to fatten; if you lay out money to fatten them with grass you will gain. And know for truth that bad beasts cost more than good. Why? I will tell you. If it be a draft beast he must be more thought of than the other and more spared, and because he is spared the others are burdened for his lack. And if you must buy cattle buy them between Easter and Whitsuntide, for then beasts are spare and cheap. And change your horses before they are too old and worn out or maimed, for with little money you can rear good and young ones, if you sell and buy in season. It is well to know how one ought to keep cattle, to teach your people, for when they see that you understand it they will take the more pains to do well.

Today in Medieval History

On this date, January 28th, in medieval history:

  • 814 – Charlemagne dies at Aachen
  • 1457 – Henry VII is born
  • 1547 – Death of Henry VIII

The following account of Charlemagne’s death is from the king’s long-time friend and courtier, Einhard:

Toward the close of his life [813], when he was broken by ill-health and old age, he summoned Louis, Kigi of Aquitania, his onlv surviving son by Hildegard, and gathered together all the chief men of the whole kingdom of the Franks in a solemn assembly. He appointed Louis, with their unanimous consent, to rule with himself over the whole kingdom and constituted him heir to the imperial name; then, placing the diadem upon his son’s head, he bade him be proclaimed Emperor and is step was hailed by all present favor, for it really seemed as if God had prompted him to it for the kingdom’s good; it increased the King’s dignity, and struck no little terror into foreign nations. After sending his son son back to Aquitania, although weak from age he set out to hunt, as usual, near his palace at Aix-la-Chapelle, and passed the rest of the autumn in the chase, returning thither about the first of November [813]. While wintering there, he was seized, in the month of January, with a high fever Jan 22 814], and took to his bed. As soon as he was taken sick, he prescribed for himself abstinence from food, as he always used to do in case of fever, thinking that the disease could be driven off , or at least mitigated, by fasting. Besides the fever, he suffered from a pain in the side, which the Greeks call pleurisy; but he still persisted in fasting, and in keeping up his strength only by draughts taken at very long intervals. He died January twenty-eighth, the seventh day from the time that he took to his bed, at nine o’clock in the morning, after partaking of the holy communion, in the seventy-second year of his age and the forty-seventh of his reign [Jan 28, 814].

Medieval Timeline: Today in Middle Ages History

On this day, December 25, in medieval history:

  • 800 – Charlemagne crowned Holy Roman Emperor
  • 875 – Charles the Bald crowned Holy Roman Emperor by Pope John VIII
  • 1066 – William the Conqueror crowned King of England at Westminster Abbey in London
  • 1085 – William the Conqueror commissions the creation of the Domesday Book
  • 1100 – Baldwin I crowned King of Jerusalem

Today in Medieval History

On this day, November 5, in medieval history:

  • 1251 – Dedication ceremony is held for Hailes Abbey in the presence of King Henry III, his brother Richard, and Queen Eleanor.
  • 1439 – Antipope Felix V (Amadeus VIII) is elected by the Council of Basel-Ferrara-Florence. The Catholic Encyclopedia actually dates his election on the 30th of October, while other sources say November 5th.
  • 1556 – Battle of Panipat; Mughal Emperor Akbar defeats Samrat Hem Chandra Vikgramaditya.

Timeline: Today in Middle Ages History

Battle of Bouvines - Medieval History - Middle Ages History - King Philip II of France - Holy Roman Emperor Otto IV - King John of EnglandOn this day, July 27, in medieval history:

  • 1214 –  Battle of Bouvines: King Philip II of France defeated the forces of Otto IV (Holy Roman Emperor), the count of Flanders, and King John of England, in effect establishing a stronger position for the French monarchy

Read contemporary accounts of the Battle of Bouvines.

Most sources I’ve read mark the date of the battle as July 27. According to the account of the Minstrel of Reims written around 1260, he puts the date a couple of weeks earlier than that, around July 12.

“In this way the battle ended and the King with great rejoicing returned to Tournai with all his prisoners while the Flemings were in great mourning. This defeat occurred in the year of Our Lord 1214, in the month of July, on the second Sunday.”

The Marchiennes account of the Battle of Bouvines, most likely one of the first accounts of the battle written, mentions the month of August as the date of the battle.

“In the year of our Lord 1214, on the sixth calend of August, something worthy of remembrance occurred at the bridge of Bouvines, in the confines of the Tournaisis. In this place, on one side, Philip, the noble King of the Franks, had gathered a part of his kingdom.”

Medieval Timeline: Today in Middle Ages History

On this day, June 24, in medieval history:

  • 1148 – A general council of Christian princes and military leaders was held at Acre, where it was decided that all available forces would be used to conquer the city of Damascus. Read the account from William of Tyre as he recalls the fiasco at Damascus.
  • 1314 – Battle of Bannockburn: Robert I (the Bruce) of Scotland defeated the English led by King Edward II
  • 1340 – Battle of Sluys: In one of the opening conflicts of the Hundred Years’ War, the English navy destroyed France’s fleet, ensuring that France could not invade England and that the war would mostly be fought on French soil

Timeline: Today in Medieval History

Wat Tyler - William Walworth - King Richard II - English Peasants Revolt - Medieval England - Medieval History - Middle Ages HistoryOn this day, June 15th, in medieval history:

  • 1330 – Birth of Edward (“The Black Prince”), Prince of Wales and eldest son of King Edward III of England
  • 1381 – Death of Wat Tyler, leader of the English Peasants’ Revolt; Sir William Walworth, the mayor of London, killed Wat during a meeting with King Richard II

*image shows William Walworth striking down Wat Tyler