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File:The High Middle Ages.jpg


Stretching roughly from about the Norman Conquest (1066 and All That) to the early 1300s, but most often imagined as about the 12th or 13th century, this is Era of The Crusades, Robin Hood, and fat, lecherous, irascible, but good-hearted friars. Also home to knights, beautiful princesses with anachronistic hennins, and tall, spire-tipped Gothic architecture (note that most versions of the story of King Arthur are depicted as if they were set in this era, though strictly speaking he belongs to Late Antiquity). Expect to see a corrupt churchman or two wandering the landscape burning witches, heretics, and pretty much anyone who doesn’t agree with him.

In actual history, this is the high spot between the Vikings and the Black Death. The modern nations began to take shape, and with them the foundations of the legal system and government bureaucracy. The first great European universities were founded as a renaissance began flickering into life, and then disaster struck. A combination of internal strife and climactic disaster, capped by the Black Death, brought the brief golden age to an end. Whole villages were swallowed up by the advancing wilds as civilisation retreated.

It is probably because it ended so badly that this period is remembered so well, the halycon days before the Black Death stalked the land, hence the idealised popular image of this time, which hasn't changed much in five centuries.

The setting is likely to be a mythologized Britain or France, though there are examples from farther afield. Jerusalem, which had pretty much been ignored since Biblical Times will now also be used as the stage for all sorts of spectacular battles involving scimitar-wielding Saracens and sinisterly handsome Knights Templar.

See The Middle Ages for the more fantasticated version of this trope.

WARNING: Do not confuse with the French "Haut Moyen Age", which is a phrase literally meaning the same thing as "High Middle Ages" but refers to the period before (roughly from 450 AD to 1000 AD).


Popular tropes from this time period are


Works set in this time period are

Film

Literature

  • Dante's Divine Comedy, sort of (Hell, Purgatory and Heaven are effectively other dimensions, but most of the characters Dante meets are his close contemporaries).
  • Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe (and all its film versions) and The Talisman (and its film version, King Richard and the Crusaders).
  • Kristin Lavransdatter, a Nobel Prize-winning three-volume epic by Sigrid Undset, set in medieval Norway, is one of the most realistic depictions of this time period in fiction, especially interesting for its examination of feminism and religion in medieval life.
  • Murder in the Cathedral
  • The Pillars of the Earth is set during 'The Anarchy', the 12th-century English civil war between King Stephen and Empress Matilda.
  • The Wild Hunt Trilogy is set during the reign of the sons of William the Conqueror.
  • Eleanor: Crown Jewel of Aquitaine, France from The Royal Diaries series.

Live Action TV

  • Robin of Sherwood, which is cited as being one of the most faithfully accurate depictions of this era in television history.

Theatre

Video Games

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