I set out to commit 3-5 dates per century to memory in order to later be able to use them as reference points for my understanding of history. This way I will slowly work my way back through the centuries, as far as I feel like it is useful to go. If you missed the posts so far, have a look here, here and here.
I’m getting into uncertain waters here. The 14th century especially gave me trouble as most events remembered by history seemed to be natural catastrophes such as bad weather, famine and the plague. I guess it makes sense that if people were so preoccupied with surviving, not much else happened but it’s still difficult for me. The 13th century was a bit better. I recognized quite a few names and events, such as the Reconquista, Genghis Khan and the Crusades. The 12th century really got me in trouble though. While the list on Wikipedia is about a mile long, most names don’t mean anything to me. I think the main message I took away is that the 12th and 13th Century were all about the Crusades. That’s something I guess.
To give some perspective on the grand schemes of things: The classical antiquity lasted until about 500 AD, the middles ages covered 500-1500 AD and the modern period began in 1500 AD. This means that we are now safely ploughing through the late (1300-1500) and high middle ages(1000-1300). Let’s see what we have.
1315-1317 Great Famine
1337-1453 100-year war
1347-1351 The black death kills about a third of the European population. Also, the medieval warm period is replaced by the little ice age.
1358 the Hanseatic League is founded
1389 The Ottoman empire conquers the Balkans in the Battle of Kosovo, marking their appearance as a serious thread to Europe
1204 The 4th Crusade sacks Constantinople
1206 Genghis Khan comes to power, marking the beginning of the Mongol Empire which would become to be the largest continuous land empire in history
1212-1492 the Reconquista
1223 the Signoria of Venice is founded
1250 Emperor Frederick II dies
1122 Concordat of Worms – this might not be the best date but I chose it to represent the constant power struggle between the worldly rulers and the Papacy. Also, I had heard of it before as opposed to all the other fights, councils and agreements.
1129 the Knights Templar are founded
1170 Thomas Becket is murdered
1187 Salah ad-Din conquers Jerusalem
I have to admit that I am currently having trouble putting things together. I don’t know enough about the people and events listed here to really understand their significance and link them into the bigger picture. I think once I am done with this I will find myself some books on both the middle ages and the early modern era to fill the gaps.