Middle Ages in Seven Words (or Phrases)

Got Medieval has a story (about what the students thought of medieval) and a challenge (How would you sum it up?)

The story is charming and frustrating at the same time. And the end of that section made me smile.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t tell this story to shame my students–or, rather, I don’t tell it merely to shame my students (who you shouldn’t feel too bad for, since almost all of them left the course with A’s or A-‘s, because, hey, that’s Yale). I tell the story at cocktail parties to lawyers to make them feel better about what they don’t know about the Middle Ages. And I tell it here on my blog, because I’m actually curious about this one. If I had to boil it down to seven, what are the seven things that people ought to know about the Middle Ages?

My history buff son:
feudal lords, princes, priests, Crusades, armor, castles
“What defines the Middle Ages is warfare and kings. And priests.”

My first thoughts:
black plague, Church control, fall of women’s rights, Crusades, Magna Carta, laws, Vikings

It appears that there is a confluence of the Old English/Anglo-Saxon period with the Middle Ages by the reader. Being an Old English buff, I would not normally do that. It would be way more fun to separate them because then you get fourteen words.

I think I finally came up with

laws: common law, St. Augustine and Aethelred, Magna Carta
Church: Crusades, saints, and monasteries
rise and fall of women’s rights
black plague
books: kennings, alliteration, plays, romances
conquest: Romans, Angles, Saxons, Vikings, Normans

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