Who gives the Middle Ages a bad name? They were bad, but without them history wouldn’t have been so interesting. Again like my article on the Top 5 Medieval People, this list is completely arbitrary. The villains of the medieval age are in my opinion:
Innocent IV – the implacable enemy of Frederick II. Innocent’s political ambitions tore Italy apart and prevented Frederick from fulfilling his (possibly enlightened) political ambitions.
John of Gaunt – the younger brother of the Black Prince, and terrible as a military commander (although a stickler for the rules of chivalry and not bad in single combat), and venal and worse as a politician and stand-in for his dotard father Edward III.
Bernard Gui – the famous Inquisitor and author of Practica Inquisitionis Heretice Pravitatis is an easy target as a hate figure – the archetypal oppressor and symbolic of what is always wrong with the Middle Ages – dogmatic, cruel repression. His reputation is cemented by being the baddie in Umberto Eco‘s The Name of the Rose.
William the Conqueror – gave us an Anglo-Norman aristocracy, French speaking until the fourteenth century to rule over us. Would England have been less riven by class divide if the English hadn’t been subject to a French ruling class for so long?
Henry V – a great tactician on the battlefield and a leader of men, but was his ambition to conquer France really a good idea? Consigned England to humiliating defeat at the hands of the French, and the disastrous Wars of the Roses.
A bit controversial maybe? I’d love to hear your comments.
I have started a new series of articles about Medieval warfare off in the Medieval (Middle Ages) History and Literature section of the site. It’s a subject which has always fascinated me, and which I think is often misunderstood – we tend to either think of glorious knightly cavalry charges or heroic yeoman archers and maybe that’s it. What I hope to do is get behind some of the myths that circle about war in the Middle Ages.
Here’s some more details from the publisher’s website.
Divided Houses is a tale of contrasting fortunes. In the last decade of his reign Edward III, a senile, pathetic symbol of England’s past conquests, was condemned to see them overrun by the armies of his enemies. When he died, in 1377, he was succeeded by a vulnerable child, who was destined to grow into a neurotic and unstable adult presiding over a divided nation.
Meanwhile France entered upon one of the most glittering periods of her medieval history, years of power and ceremony, astonishing artistic creativity and famous warriors making their reputations as far afield as Naples, Hungary and North Africa.
Contemporaries in both countries believed that they were living through memorable times: times of great wickedness and great achievement, of collective mediocrity but intense personal heroism, of extremes of wealth and poverty, fortune and failure. At a distance of six centuries, as Jonathan Sumption skilfully and meticulously shows, it is possible to agree with all of these judgments.
This looks quite interesting, but shame there are no screenshots or videos. Wonder how it will compare to Medieval Total War? The screenshots of their previous game HISTORYTM Great Battles of Rome, look very Total War like.
Here’s some info:
HISTORYTM Great Battles Medieval is based on the historical events of the Hundred Years War, the most famous conflict of medieval times fought between France and England that shaped the future of both countries for centuries to follow. It features Slitherine’s cutting edge graphic engine and a brand new game play system that allows players to be in complete control of massive armies. From the thunderous charge of the knights to the men-at-arms fighting for their lives in hand-to-hand combat, the game will recreate the epic feel of medieval battles, featuring thousands of characters simultaneously.
Licensed and TV supported by HistoryTM, one of the best known brands for factual historical programming.
As the English you will fight under the Black Prince, Henry V and other heroic characters from history, and as the French you fight for Joan of Arc and the King.
70 Medieval battles, including 26 historical encounters from the Hundred Years war, 1337-1453.
Command more than 20 different units all accurately researched and carefully modelled in amazing detail.
Customise your squads of archers, cavalry, knights, etc with over 100 unique fighting, combat and weapon skills.
Free form quest maps that allow players to decide when and where to fight within an historical framework.
Innovative Battle Card system that gives realistic bonuses and penalties in battle.
Multiplayer: join a game or host your own in 2 player head to head.
Extensive added historical documentary clips from the library of HISTORYTM TV channel.