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Characters of the British Middle Ages

Early Britain     Saxons, Danes, and Normans     Plantagenet Kings     Tudor England     Stuart England     Scotland    
European Middle Ages    

Early Britain (56 b.c. to 784 a.d.)

Invasion of Julius Caesar to the first Viking Raids on Saxon England

CharacterDates Short Biography
Caswallon fl. 54 B.C. Celtic chieftain in Britain who resisted Julius Caesar's invasion.
Saint Alban died 304 First martyr of England. Killed for hiding a priest in his home.
Vortigern fl. 488 Celtic prince who usurped the throne of Britain. Invited Hengist and Horsa to England.
Sir Galahad fl. 500 Knight of the Round Table. Noblest and worthiest of the knights.
Sir Gawain fl. 500 Knight of the Round Table. Famous for his encounter with the Green Giant.
King Arthur 460-510 Legendary king of the Britons.
Sir Perceval fl. 500 Knight of the Round table. Raised by his mother who didn't want him to be a knight.
Boadicea died 61 Queen of the Iceni. Led the largest revolt of Celtic Britons against the Romans.
Saint Patrick 389-461 Kidnapped as a child and brought to Ireland, spread Christianity there.
Saint Brigid 451-525 Patron Saint of Ireland (with Patrick). Founded a monastery at Kildare in Ireland.
Hengist and Horsa died 488 Two Jute princes invited to Britain in order to help fight the Picts.
Augustine of Kent died 604 Sent by St. Gregory to Britain to preach to the Saxons. Converted Ethelbert.
Bertha 539-612 Christian princess who married the Saxon King, Ethelbert. Helped convert him to Christianity.
Ethelbert 552-616 First Christian Saxon king. Invited St. Augustine to Kent to preach in Britain.
Saint Cuthbert 634-687 Bishop at Lindisfarne. Helped to unify the Celtic and Roman Churches.
Venerable Bede 672-735 Monk at Jarrow. Scholar and author of The Ecclesiastical History of English People.
Saint Mungo fl. 540 Early Christian missionary to Scotland.
Saint Columba 521-597 Missionary who helped to Christianize Scotland. Founded a monastery on Iona in Scotland.
Saint George 275-303 Patron saint of England. Legendary soldier who fought a dragon and died a martyr's death.


Saxons, Danes, and Normans (802 to 1154 a.d.)

Egbert the Saxon becomes first King of Wessex to Death of the Last Norman King

CharacterDates Short Biography
Egbert the Saxon 770-837 United the Saxon and Anglo kingdoms into a federation to resist the Danes.
Guthrum died 890 Danish king defeated by Alfred the Great. Agreed to become Christian and settle in England.
Alfred the Great 849-899 Noblest of Saxon kings. Fought the Danes and made peace. Built churches and schools.
Athelstan 895-939 Grandson of King Alfred. Fought the Danes and Celts at the Battle of Brunanburh.
Elfrida fl. 960 Saxon queen, wife of Edgar, mother of Ethelred. Thought to be involved in stepson's murder.
Saint Dunstan 909-988 Influential archbishop at the court of Edgar of England.
Ethelred the Unready 968-1016 Ascended to the Saxon throne at a young age and was ineffective against the Danes.
Edmund Ironside 988-1016 Eldest son of Ethelred the Unready, fought Canute for the throne, but then died.
Canute 994-1035 Danish King of Britain. Married Emma, widow of his enemy, Ethelred the Unready.
Emma of Normandy 988-1052 Norman princess, wife first of Ethelred, then of Canute. Mother of Edward the Confessor.
Godwin 1001-1053 Influential Earl of Wessex during reigns of Canute and Edward Confessor. Father of Harold.
Hereward the Wake fl. 1066 Saxon rebel who led resistance to William the Conqueror for many years.
Harold Godwinson 1022-1066 Son of Godwin. Ascended to the Saxon throne when Edward the Confessor died childless.
Tostig Godwinson 1026-1066 Brought an army of Vikings to fight his brother Harold Godwinson, at Stamford Bridge.
Edward the Confessor 1004-1066 Last Saxon king of the Wessex line. Raised in Normandy with William the Conqueror.
William the Conqueror 1028-1087 Won the crown of England at the Battle of Hastings. Ruled forcefully, but justly.
Margaret of Scotland 1045-1093 Young wife of Malcolm Canmore. Pious and noble queen. Mother of Maude the Good.
William II 1056-1100 Son of William the Conqueror. A bad and brutal king. Killed in the New Forest.
Saint Anselm 1033-1109 Archbishop of Canterbury under William Rufus and Henry I. Feuded with both kings.
Maude the Good 1080-1118 Scottish wife of Henry I. Grandmother of Henry II. Patron and benefactor to poor.
Henry I 1068-1135 Competent son of William the Conqueror who reigned 35 years. Left throne to Matilda.
Stephen 1096-1154 Profligate grandson of William the Conqueror who usurped throne from Matilda.
Matilda 1102-1167 Daughter of Henry I who fought Stephen for the throne. Her son Henry II became king.
Saint Hugh 1140-1200 Patron of Lincoln. Known for his charity, dedication to education, and protecting Jews.


Plantagenet Kings (1154 to 1485 a.d.)

Henry Plantagenet claims throne of England to War of the Roses

CharacterDates Short Biography
Thomas a Becket 1118-1170 Appointed archbishop by Henry II, but strove for an independent church. Martyred.
Henry II 1133-1189 Reclaimed throne of England after chaotic reign of Stephen. Founded Plantagenet dynasty.
Richard I 1157-1199 Son of Henry II. Spent almost his entire reign crusading and fighting in France.
Robin Hood fl. 1200 Leader of a band of benevolent brigadiers who stole from the rich and gave to the poor.
Eleanor of Aquitaine 1122-1204 Wife of Henry II, Queen of Aquitaine. Led life of high drama and adventure.
John I 1167-1216 Wicked king who murdered his nephew and usurped the throne. Signed the Magna Carta.
Archbishop Langton 1150-1228 Archbishop who rallied opposition to King John and forced signing of Magna Carta.
Richard de Wyche 1197-1253 Appointed by the Pope against the wishes of Henry III. Faithful servant of the poor.
Simon de Montfort 1208-1265 French nobleman who led resistance to Henry III, laid foundations of Parliament.
Henry III 1207-1272 Blundering king whose government was in the hands of Simon de Montfort.
William Wallace 1272-1305 Commoner who led resistance to Edward I's conquest of Scotland.
Edward I 1239-1307 Competent and decisive king of England. Reformed government, pacified Wales and Scotland.
Edward II 1284-1327 Very weak and profligate son of Edward I. Lost all his father's holdings in Scotland.
Robert Bruce 1274-1329 Scottish nobleman who claimed the crown and led resistance to England at Bannockburn.
Philippa of Hainault 1313-1369 Wife of Edward III, and mother of 13. Intervened at siege of Calais in favor of citizens.
The Black Prince 1330-1376 Excellent general who ruled alongside his father, Edward III. Victor at Poitiers.
Edward III 1312-1377 Reigned for nearly 50 years. Invaded France, and won the Battles of Crecy and Calias.
Wat Tyler died 1381 Leader of a peasant rebellion during reign of Richard II. He was killed during talks.
John Wycliffe 1335-1384 Early proponent of reform in the Catholic Church. Favored power of state over church.
Geoffrey Chaucer 1340-1400 Wrote the first widely read epic poem in the English language, The Canterbury Tales.
Richard II 1367-1400 Son of the Black Prince. Reigned after Edward III. Deposed by Henry Bolingbroke.
Henry IV 1367-1413 Son of John of Gaunt. Assumed the throne after Richard II was deposed.
Owen Glendower 1359-1416 Last Welshman to be crowned Prince of Wales. He led an unsuccessful Welsh revolt.
Henry V 1387-1422 Led a victorious army of longbowmen against France at Agincourt.
Jack Cade died 1450 Led a rebellion against Henry VI's government. Rebels looted London, and many were killed.
Duke of York 1411-1460 Aspirant to the throne in early years of War of the Roses. Killed in action with eldest son.
Earl of Warwick 1428-1471 Primary figure in War of the Roses. Changed sides from York to Lancaster. Killed at Barnet.
Margaret of Anjou 1429-1482 Ruled in place of the weak Henry VI. Led armies against the Yorkists. Exiled after Hexham.
Edward IV 1442-1483 Son of the Duke of York. Became King of England when other aspirants were dead or exiled.
Richard III 1432-1485 On death of his brother Edward IV, he killed his nephews and usurped the throne.
Margaret Beaufort 1441-1509 Mother of Henry Tudor. Benefactor of Cambridge University.


Tudor England (1485 to 1603 a.d.)

Henry Tudor defeats Richard III at Bosworth Field to Death of Queen Elizabeth

CharacterDates Short Biography
Henry VII Tudor 1457-1509 Descendent of John of Gaunt, who fought Richard the Usurper for the throne.
Thomas Wolsey 1471-1530 Rose from humble station to Chancellor of England. Stalled on Henry VIII's divorce.
Anne Boleyn 1502-1536 Second wife of Henry VIII, mother of Elizabeth. Executed when she fell from grace.
Thomas Cromwell 1489-1540 Minister under Henry VIII who encouraged his divorce and dissolved the monasteries.
James V of Scotland 1512-1542 Father of Mary Stuart. He was defeated in battle and died shortly after Mary was born.
Saint Thomas More 1478-1543 Lord Chancellor under Henry VIII. Fired and executed when he opposed Henry's divorce.
Margaret Roper 1501-1544 Daughter of Thomas More. Primary support for him throughout his ordeal.
Henry VIII 1491-1547 King of England, famous for marrying and dispensing with six wives.
Lady Jane Grey 1537-1554 Cousin of Edward VI, executed for conspiracies engineered by ambitious relatives.
Thomas Cranmer 1489-1556 Archbishop of Canterbury under Henry VIII. Broke with Rome. Founded Anglican Church.
Mary I 1516-1558 Eldest daughter of Henry VIII. Tried to restore Catholicism to England.
Sir Humphrey Gilbert 1537-1583 Sea-faring adventurer. Founded the first English colony in the new world, in Canada.
Sir Philip Sidney 1554-1586 Favorite of Queen Elizabeth's court. Was a poet, soldier, courtier, and adventurer.
Mary, Queen of Scots 1542-1587 Queen of Scotland. Deposed and exiled. Held captive by Queen Elizabeth.
Robert Dudley 1532-1588 Favorite courtier of Queen Elizabeth. Granted many favors, but not much power.
Sir Martin Frobisher 1535-1594 Explored much of Canada in search of the Northwest Passage. Fought in the Armada.
Sir Francis Drake 1540-1596 Notorious adventurer. Sailed around the world, harassed Spanish ships. Fought in Armada.
William Cecil 1520-1598 Minister of Queen Elizabeth throughout her entire reign.
Edmund Spenser 1552-1599 Elizabethan era poet. Wrote The Faerie Queen.
Earl of Essex 1566-1601 Favorite of Queen Elizabeth. Involved in a conspiracy and died in prison.
Elizabeth I 1533-1603 Led England through tumultuous age of reformation and exploration. Reigned 45 years.
John Knox 1533-1603 Religious leader in Scotland who embraced Calvinism; founder of Presbyterian Church.
John Davis 1550-1605 British explorer who sought a Northwest Passage through Canada.
William Shakespeare 1564-1611 Greatest dramatist in the history of the English language.
Sir Walter Raleigh 1552-1618 Courtier of Queen Elizabeth. Explorer, mastermind of the Jamestown colony in Virginia.


Stuart England (1603 to 1714 a.d.)

James Stuart ascends to throne of England to Death of Queen Anne

CharacterDates Short Biography
Francis Bacon 1561-1626 Chancellor of England and advocate of the scientific method.
Guy Fawkes 1570-1606 Explosives expert of the infamous "Gunpowder Plot" to blow up Parliament.
Henry Hudson 1575-1611 Explorer who discovered Hudson Bay and other parts of North America.
Arabella Stuart 1575-1615 Cousin of James Stuart. Prevented from marrying by jealous relations.
James I 1566-1625 First Stuart king of England. Competent, but unable to work with Parliament.
John Smith 1580-1631 Adventurer and early settler at Jamestown. Rescued by Pocahontas.
Samuel de Champlain 1580-1635 Founded French colonies in the St. Lawrence seaway and Great Lakes region.
Archbishop Laud 1573-1645 Governed the Church of England during the reign of Charles I. Unpopular with parliament.
Charles I 1600-1649 Second Stuart king. His quarrels with parliament led to civil war and his execution.
Robert Blake 1599-1657 Military commander turned admiral who took leading role in the Anglo-Dutch wars.
Oliver Cromwell 1599-1658 Parliament Army leader who formed Commonwealth government after death of Charles I.
Princess Elizabeth 1596-1662 Daughter of James I. Married Elector of Palatine, but lost duchy in Thirty Years' war.
John Milton 1608-1674 Poet, author, and friend of Cromwell. His famous work is Paradise Lost.
Charles II 1630-1685 Restored to the throne after death of Cromwell. Ruler during Great Fire and Plague.
John Bunyan 1628-1688 Author of A Pilgrim's Progress, a widely-read allegory of spiritual awakening.
George Fox 1624-1691 Founder of the 'Religious Society of Friends,' better known as Quakers.
William III 1650-1702 King of Netherlands. Called to be king of England when James II was deposed.
Samuel Pepys 1633-1703 Famous diarist during reign of Charles II; mentions Plague, Great Fire, and much else.
Queen Anne 1665-1714 Last of the Stuart queens. Reigned during the War of the Spanish succession.
Duke of Marlborough 1650-1722 Most renowned general of his age. Prevailed against the French at the Battle of Blenheim.
Lady Russell 1636-1723 Wife of Lord Russell, who was executed for opposing the restoration of Charles II.
Sir Isaac Newton 1642-1727 Outstanding scientist. Made great breakthroughs in physics, optics, and mathematics.
Daniel Defoe 1661-1731 Author of the well-known Robinson Crusoe and Moll Flanders.


Scotland (483 to 1707 a.d.)

Union of Picts and Scots under Kenneth Macalpine to the Act of Union

CharacterDates Short Biography
Saint Mungo fl. 540 Early Christian missionary to Scotland.
Saint Columba 521-597 Missionary who helped Christianize Scotland. Founded a monastery on Iona in Scotland.
Margaret of Scotland 1045-1093 Wife of Malcolm III of Scotland. Pious and noble queen. Mother of Maude the Good.
William Wallace 1272-1305 Commoner who led resistance to Edward I's conquest of Scotland.
Robert Bruce 1274-1329 Scottish nobleman who claimed the throne and led resistance to England at Bannockburn.
Sir James Douglas 1286-1330 Associate of Robert the Bruce. Fought in Wars of Scottish Independence.
James V 1512-1542 Father of Mary Stuart. He was defeated in battle and died shortly after Mary was born.
Mary, Queen of Scots 1542-1587 Queen of Scotland. Deposed and exiled. Held captive by Queen Elizabeth.
John Knox 1533-1603 Religious leader in Scotland who embraced Calvinism; founder of Presbyterian Church.
Jenny Geddes fl. 1637 Commoner who led a rebellion against Church of England in Scotland.
Young Pretender 1720-1788 Grandson of James II, led Jacobites in bid to restore Stuarts to the throne of England.
Flora MacDonald 1722-1790 Heroine who helped Bonnie Prince Charles escape from Scotland.
Adam Smith 1723-1790 Leading theorist of modern capitalism. Wrote The Wealth of Nations.
Robert Burns 1759-1796 Romantic poet who wrote in a Scottish dialect. National poet of Scotland.
James Watt 1736-1819 Inventor of the steam engine and founder of the Industrial Revolution.
Sir Walter Scott 1771-1832 Author best known for novels set in Scotland.


European Middle Ages (500 to 1650 a.d.)

Conversion of Clovis to the Thirty Years' War

CharacterDates Short Biography
    Christian Conversion and the Holy Roman Empire
Clovis 466511 Founder of the Frankish kingdom. Converted to Christianity by his wife Clotilda.
Wittekind fl. 780 Leader of Saxon resistance to Charlemagne. After years of struggle, accepted baptism.
Charlemagne 742814 First Holy Roman Emperor. Unified most of Western Europe into a Frankish Empire.
Saint Stephen 9751038 First Christian king of Hungary. Defeated pagans and united Magyar clans.
Henry the Fowler 876936 United rival German duchies in a confederation to resist the Magyars.
    Vikings and Norsemen
Rollo the Viking died 931 Viking Leader who was granted the Dukedom of Normandy if he became Christian.
Rurik 830879 Norseman who ruled over a Slavic tribe on Volga. First Russian monarch.
    The Moslem Threat and the Crusades
Charles Martel 686741 Frankish king who defeated the Moors at the Battle of Tours.
Peter the Hermit 10501115 Monk who instigated the First Crusade by preaching against Moslem Turks.
Barbarossa 11221190 German warrior king and crusader. Campaigned in Italy and Germany for many years.
St. Louis IX 12141270 Crusading king. Canonized as a saint for his concern and compassion for the poor.
Don John of Austria 15451578 Hero of the naval battle of Lepanto. Briefly governed Spanish Netherlands.
Mohammed II 14321481 Ottoman Sultan who conquered Constantinople and much of the Balkans.
Solyman 14941566 Most famous Ottoman Emperor. Extended Ottoman's reach to the Balkans and North Africa.
Eugene of Savoy 16631736 Superlative Austrian general. Drove Turks out of Serbia and fought France during the War of the Spanish Succession.
    Church-State Conflicts
Saint Benedict 480547 Established the Benedictine order of monks. Founded the monastic movement in Europe.
Pope Gregory VII 10201085 Tested wills with Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV over lay appointment of bishops.
Catherine of Siena 13471380 Saint who helped resolve the Papal schism of the 14th century.
Joan of Arc 14121431 Led the French army to victory at the Siege of Orleans, then burned at the stake.
    Renaissance
John Gutenberg 14001468 Invented printing press. Improved types, inks and methods. Printed first Bible.
Lorenzo de Medici 14491492 Banker and power broker of Renaissance Florence. Great Patron of the Arts.
    Reformation
Martin Luther 14831546 Leader of the Protestant Reformation. Raged against indulgences and clerical abuse.
Charles V 15001558 Holy Roman Emperor who ruled Austria, the Low Countries, Spain and Italy.
Richelieu 15851682 Influential Minister of Louis XIII. Consolidated royal power and crushed dissenters.
William the Silent 15331584 Hero of the Dutch Revolt. Led resistance to the Inquisition and Spanish tyranny.
Henry IV of France 15531610 Popular Huguenot king who converted to Catholicism, but decreed religious toleration.
Gustavus Adolphus 15941632 Renowned Protestant general during the Thirty Years War. King of Sweden.
    New World Exploration
Marco Polo 12541324 Traveller from Venice who spent 30 years at the court of Kublai Khan in China.
Columbus 14511506 Sailed across Atlantic Ocean and discovered the Americas.
Vasco da Gama 14601524 Sailed from Europe to the Orient by sailing around the Cape of Good Hope.


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