BECK index

MEDIEVAL EUROPE 1250-1400 has been published.
For information on ordering click here.


Crusaders and Byzantine Decline 1250-1400

Crusaders Defeated 1250-1300
Byzantine and Balkan Decline 1250-1350
Byzantine and Balkan Decline 1350-1400

Eastern Europe 1250-1400

Hungary 1250-1400
Bohemia 1250-1400
Poland 1250-1400
Lithuania 1250-1400
Russia under the Mongols 1250-1400
Russian Orthodox Church 1250-1400

Catholic Ethics 1250-1350

Bonaventure’s Ethics
Ethics of Thomas Aquinas
Roger Bacon and Moral Philosophy
Ramon Llull’s Spiritual Writings
Lives of Saints
Franciscans and the Spirituals
Béguines and Marguerite Porete
Dominicans and Eckhart’s Mystical Unity
Duns Scotus and William of Ockham

German Empire 1250-1400

Germany and the Empire 1250-1313
Germany under Ludwig and Karl IV
Austria 1250-1400
Swiss Cantons and Confederation 1250-1400
Teutonic Knights, Prussia, and Livonia

Scandinavia 1250-1400

Denmark 1250-1400
Sweden 1250-1400
Norway 1250-1400
Iceland 1250-1400
Icelandic Sagas: Eyrbyggja and Njal

Castile, Aragon, Granada, and Portugal 1250-1400

Castile’s Alfonso X and the Zohar
Castile 1284-1350
Castile’s Pedro I and Civil War
Castile 1369-1400
Aragon 1250-1336
Aragon’s Pedro IV
Granada 1250-1400
Portugal 1250-1400
Juan Manuel’s Examples and Ruiz’s Good Love

Italian City States 1250-1400

Milan and the Visconti 1250-1400
Venice and Padua 1250-1350
Venice 1350-1400
Genoa and Pisa 1250-1400
Florence 1250-1336
Florence 1336-1400
Siena and Caterina
Rome and the Papal State 1250-1303
Rome and the Papal State 1303-1353
Rome and the Papal State 1353-1400
Sicily and Naples 1250-1400

Dante and Marsilius

Dante’s New Life and Banquet
Dante on One Government
Dante’s Inferno
Dante’s Purgatory
Dante’s Paradise
Defender of Peace by Marsilius of Padua

Petrarca and Boccaccio

Petrarca, the Poet Laureate
Petrarca’s Ethical Humanism 1345-53
Petrarca in Italy 1353-74
Boccaccio’s Early Work
Boccaccio’s Decameron
Boccaccio’s Illustrious Men and Famous Women
Salutati's Humanism

Low Countries and Burgundy 1250-1400

Flanders under France 1250-1320
Flanders under France 1320-1400
Brabant, Liege and Guelders 1250-1400
Holland, Hainault and Friesland 1250-1400
Ruusbroec and Groote

France and National War 1250-1400

Louis IX and Philippe III 1250-85
Philippe IV and His Sons 1285-1328
Philippe VI at War 1328-50
Jean II at War 1350-64
Charles the Wise 1364-80
Charles the Mad 1380-1400
Romance of the Rose
French Theatre to 1400
Machaut’s Poetry

England, Scotland, and Ireland 1250-1400

Henry III and Parliament 1250-72
Edward I, Ireland and Wales 1272-90
Edward I and Scotland 1290-1307
Scotland and Robert Bruce 1306-29
Scotland 1329-1400
Edward II and the Ordinances 1307-27
Edward III and National War 1327-50
Edward III and Prince Edward 1350-77
War Taxes and the Peasants’ Revolt 1377-81
Richard II 1381-99
Ireland 1327-1400

Mystics, Wyclif, Gower, and Chaucer

Mystics: Rolle, Hilton, and Juliana
The Cloud of Unknowing
Wyclif and the English Bible
Pearl, Purity, Patience, and Sir Gawain
Piers the Plowman
Gower’s Confessio Amantis
Chaucer and His Poetry
Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales

Summary and Evaluation

Eastern Europe
Catholic Ethics
Northern Europe
Western Europe
British Isles
Evaluating Medieval Europe 1250-1400


Chronological Index 750-1300 CE


      In the second half of the 13th century the pious King Louis IX of France led two more disastrous crusades, but by 1291 the Muslims had defeated and driven European crusaders out of Palestine. The Byzantine empire collapsed under pressure from the new Ottoman empire in Turkey, but Constantinople managed to overcome the Latin Christians and return to its Orthodox faith. Yet by 1400 the Byzantine empire had shrunk to not much more than Constantinople.
      Parliament developed under England’s Henry III. His son Edward I battled Scotch patriots led by William Wallace, and Robert Bruce became the first king of independent Scotland. Alfonso X of Castile was called Learned for his enlightened policies, but he could not prevent the civil war that followed him. France’s Philippe IV struggled with Pope Boniface VIII over taxing the clergy, and he also ended the Knights Templar.
      In the 14th century the knights and powerful kings turned their aggression against other European nations or city states or in struggles for power within their states. While Italian cities experimented with democracy they were also challenged by despots. The navies of Venice and Genoa struggled for power. Guelfs supporting papal power often came into conflict with Ghibellines who backed the secular power represented by the Holy Roman Emperor. Voltaire would later point out that this crowned head was neither holy nor Roman nor an emperor. Karl IV of Bohemia managed to bring some reforms. The Swiss cantons became independent and formed a democratic confederation in order to avoid wars. England engaged in a major war against France that would last more than a century. Enrique made alliances to overthrow Pedro the Cruel in Castile. Yet the Muslims held on to Granada in the south during this period, and Portugal developed its monarchy. Aragon intervened in Sicily and other islands.
      The universities were thriving and would spring up in more cities. By their deaths in 1274 the Dominican Thomas Aquinas and the Franciscan Bonaventure had created the intellectual equivalents of the great cathedrals by synthesizing Aristotelian philosophy with Christian doctrines into systematic and comprehensive theology. Roger Bacon while pioneering scientific and technical development wrote his moral philosophy before he was confined to a dark prison for fourteen years. Ramon Llull wrote in Arabic to try to convert Muslims and worked on his own integration of comparative religion and spiritual psychology. Petrarca initiated the important humanist movement. Dante in poetry expressed his love in a spiritual way, and he wrote his masterpiece Commedia in Italian. Boccaccio and Chaucer also developed great literature in the vernacular languages by entertaining with stories that sometimes had moral messages.
      The Christian church was the most powerful social institution in medieval Europe, but it was being challenged by monarchs of stronger nations. Marsilius and Ockham argued for the separation of church and state. The Bible was translated into the language of the common people, and Wyclif in England challenged the power of the Church that used its worldly powers in political conflicts. He proposed disendowing the Church of its worldly possessions so that it could focus on its spiritual work. The popes spent seventy years at Avignon favoring the French. After Pope Gregory XI finally returned to Rome in 1377, the Church was divided the next year when two popes were elected, one by Italians and the other by the French cardinals. The Great Schism with two popes would last forty more years.
      Europe was developing at a fast pace, but there were setbacks in the 14th century and violence that makes historians cringe. As the population and prosperity were increasing, the bubonic plague came to Europe in 1348 and killed off a third of the people. Ignorant people used this and other excuses to persecute Jews. Some questioned whether they were being punished for their sins and even flagellated themselves. Peasants in France and England revolted against the heavy taxes that supported the wars, but they were crushed by armed knights.
      Russia was under the domination of the Mongols. Lithuania became a great nation before Jogaila became king of Poland and converted to Christianity, changing the religion of Lithuania also. Hungary, Bohemia, and Poland developed monarchical power. Scandinavia was ending the era of the great Icelandic sagas, but Denmark, Norway, and Sweden were united by Queen Margrete in the Kalmar union of 1397. The 14th century also had some notable female saints such as Birgitta of Sweden, Caterina of Siena, the Béguine Marguerite Porete, and Juliana of Norwich. Meister Eckhart taught in Germany, Ruusbroec in Belgium, and Rolle and Hilton in England. The English also contributed The Cloud of Unknowing and the spiritual poetry of Piers Plowman and John Gower, both of whom criticized the wars. They wrote about the dangers of the seven deadly sins of pride, envy, anger, laziness, greed, gluttony, and lust and the virtues that provide solutions. The mystics recommended love, humility, prayer, and meditation as ways to experiencing God.

BECK index