In the face of invasions by Vikings, Muslims, and Magyars, kings and emperors
were too weak to maintain law and order. In response to this need for protection,
a new political and social system called feudalism evolved.
Feudalism was a loosely organized system of rule in which powerful local lords
divided their landholdings among lesser lords. In exchange, lesser lords, or
vassals, pledged service and loyalty to the greater lord. Warfare was a way of
life. Many trained from boyhood to be knights, or mounted warriors.
The manor, or lord’s estate, was the heart of the medieval economy.
Peasants and lords were bound by mutual obligation.
The peasant worked for the lord. In exchange, the peasant received protection
and a small amount of land to farm.
Serfs were bound to the land. They were not slaves, yet they were not free.
Serfs made up the majority of the population in medieval society.
Life was very harsh.
McWhorter Names Meaning and History
Variant of Scottish and northern Irish McWhirter.
Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-508137-4
McWhirter Name Meaning and History
Scottish (Ayrshire) and northern Irish: Anglicized form of Gaelic Mac an Chruiteir ‘son of the harpist or fiddler’, from
Gaelic cruitear ‘harpist’, ‘fiddler’.
Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-508137-4
Recorded in several forms including MacWhirter, McWhirter, MacChruiter, McChruiter, McQuarter, McQuirter, and
even Mewhirter, this is a surname of medieval Gaelic origins. It is generally considered to be Scottish, but we have
some reservations, as the earliest known recordings seem to be from Ireland. What is certain is that if the name is
Scottish, Ayrshire on the west coast would seem to be the place of origin, but that in its different forms it is equally
popular in the Irish counties of Armagh and Antrim. The derivation is clearly from the ancient Gaelic word "cruiteir"
meaning a harper or harpist, a word which appeared equally in early records of both Ireland and Scotland. As such the
surname is a metonymic or nickname for a musician. According to some authorities the nameholders belong to the
Clan Buchanan, and were hereditary harpists to the chiefs of the clan. This is possible although the Buchanans
originate from Stirling, quite some way in earlier times, from Ayr. It is also rather curious that whilst the name is
recorded in Northern Ireland as early as 1684, the first recording that we have in Scotland is not until 1749, when
Andrew M'Whiter of Kirkhobble, is so recorded. The name appears in the records of the state of New Jersey in 1734,
when Alexander McWhorter was born at Newark. He was an active participant in the later War of Independance (1776
- 1781). The name is now much associated with the famous Guiness Book of Records edited by Norris McWhirter.
What Medieval Castles Can Teach You About Web Security
Charlemagne tried to
exercise control over his
empire and create a
united Christian Europe.
He helped spread
Christianity to the
conquered people on the
fringes of the empire.
Latin learning in his
empire and strove to
create a “second Rome.”
Trial by Ordeal
Trial by Jury
Before Charlemagne, the Frankish Empire's court system was
considered very good. It did have a problem and that was how
someone was put to trial. Before Charlemagne, the Frankish
court system use trial by ordeal.
Trial by Ordeal meant that if you were a peasant and were
accused of a crime, to prove your innocence you had to grab
red hot metal rod and hold it. If your burns healed within three
days you were innocent, If not you were guilty.
Charlemagne didn't like that system. He thought it unfair to
expect a miracle to occur to prove your innocence. So
Charlemagne created a new system called trial by panel.
Under this system, a group of learned men would listen to the
testimony and look at the evidence and then pronounce guilt
or innocence. From this system of trial by panel we got our
own system of trial by jury.
What was a Knight? A knight was a special warrior. Most knights were of noble birth. You
didn't have to be a noble to become a knight, but it was a lot easier since you needed
money to get the training and to buy the armor. But anyone who proved themselves in
battle could be knighted. A knight pledged loyalty to their liege lord, promised to be brave
in battle and protect the church and those weaker than themselves, and to be courteous to
How did one get to be a knight? It was not easy. You started off by becoming a page. A
noble's son could start training to be a knight when he was seven years old. Nobles' sons
had to train with weapons of course, but they also had to learn how to ride a horse, how to
behave towards their liege lords and ladies, and even about music and the other arts. It
was just like going to school, only their teachers were the squires. Once they reached a
certain point in their training, they would be appointed as a squire.
A squire, who was generally a teenager, had a different set of duties. They had to teach the
pages of course, but they also had to wait on the knights. They continued their training in
battle, but also were assigned to a specific knight who completed their training. As a squire
you went into battle with the knight and fought at his side. This was where you proved if
you had the ability to be a knight. Once you had proved your ability, you were made a
knight in a very formal ceremony.
All pages, squires and knights had to follow an elaborate code of conduct. This was called
Chivalry. Knights existed between the year 800 a.d. and the year 1450 a.d. Knights were a
great means of fighting until guns and cannons replaced them.
Young Thomas has come to the castle to be a page. He's being given a basic education - nothing too fancy - as well as being
taught manners and how to be a knight. He serves Lord and Lady Sherwood food at the High Table, which is a great honor.
When Thomas is older, he'll be a squire like Baldwin who looks after a knight. Baldwin helps Sir Geoffrey dress and takes care
of everything from his master's weapons to his horse. Both Thomas and Baldwin hope to be a knight one day too.
If a squire is lucky, and has proved his worth, Lord Sherwood will 'dub him' a knight - with a tap of a sword on each shoulder -
at a special ceremony in the name of the king. Then he can call himself 'Sir'.
Camelot the Legend
The very name conjures up visions of chivalry and magic, romance and adventure. Back in the mists of time half way between
history and myth there came man to lead his people to glory - Arthur. Under the guidance of Merlin he drew the sword of
destiny from the stone and won the crown.
In British legend, Camelot was the capital of the kingdom of King Arthur. Cadbury Castle in Somerset, an isolated Iron Age hill
fort, is the site most often identified with Camelot. Archaeological evidence confirms that during the 6th century the fort was
occupied by a powerful British warrior chieftain. However, local folklore advances alternative sites at Camelford in Cornwall
and Winchester in Hampshire as the original Camelot.
King Arthur, Guinevere, Merlin, Lancelot, Camelot and Excalibur are names rooted in British
tradition and culture. Their stories have been recreated through centuries, from the poets and
romancers of France and Germany through the poetry of Tennyson and the music drama of
Wagner to successful stage and screen adaption. Local tales and folklore are spread over a vast
stretch of territory, from Scotland through Northern England and Wales to Cornwall, and
extending also into Brittany, where a great part of the legend is thought to have originated.
Early chroniclers believed that the seat of Arthur's power was the famed town of Camelot,
situated in the south-west. Modern research has shown that behind the figure of legend was a
real person of considerable historical significance.
The south west of England possesses a powerful tradition of independence, a strain of mysticism
taken from early Pagan times and modified by Christianity and a breathtaking combination of
scenery and climate. This area was the home of a man of greatness and fighting prowess who
became a folk-hero.
King Arthur is one of the greatest figures in English folklore.
According to legend he lived in the late 5th and early 6th
centuries at a time when Britain was the scene of the final
bloody struggles for domination between the Romano-British
Celts and the Saxon invaders. He is considered to have been
the leader in the defense of the south-western homelands.
Arthur was a Christian warrior, and led a band of 28 knights,
the legendary knights of the round table. One of these knights
was Lancelot, whose love for the beautiful Guinevere, the wife
of King Arthur is one of the best known Arthurian stories
resulting in the break up of the round table.
A historian writes;
"In this time of winter and destruction, there were brave men
among the Britons, who for many years held back the heathen
Saxons, striving with might and wisdom to preserve their
country, to maintain an orderly and decent system of
government, to preserve town, church and villa, to rescue the
beleaguered, and to bring peace to the land. Such a man was
King Arthur was a legendary British leader of the late fifth and
early sixth centuries, who, according to Medieval histories and
romances, led the defense of Britain against Saxon invaders in the
early sixth century. The details of Arthur's story are mainly
composed of folklore and literary. The legendary Arthur
developed as a figure of international interest largely through the
popularity of Geoffrey of Monmouth's fanciful and imaginative
12th-century Historia Regum Britanniae (History of the Kings of
Britain). Some Welsh and Breton tales and poems relating the
story of Arthur date from earlier than this work; in these works,
Arthur appears either as a great warrior defending Britain from
human and supernatural enemies.
Although the themes, events and characters of the Arthurian legend varied widely from text to text, and there is no
one canonical version, Geoffrey's version of events often served as the starting point for later stories. Geoffrey
depicted Arthur as a king of Britain who defeated the Saxons and established an empire over Britain, Ireland,
Iceland, Norway and Gaul. Many elements and incidents that are now an integral part of the Arthurian story appear
in Geoffrey's Historia, including Arthur's father Uther Pendragon, the wizard Merlin, Arthur's wife Guinevere, the
sword Excalibur, Arthur's birth at Tintagel, his final battle against Mordred at Camlann and final rest in Avalon. The
12th-century French writer Chrétien de Troyes, who added Lancelot and the Holy Grail to the story, began the genre
of Arthurian romance that became a significant strand of medieval literature.
A Norman knight slaying Harold Godwinson (Bayeux tapestry, c. 1070). The rank of knight
developed in the 12th century from the mounted warriors of the 10th and 11th centuries
Joining a Guild
There was a process to becoming a member of a
The first step was to be an apprentice : A young
boy, around the age of 10, would go and work for
a craftsman without pay to help learn the craft.
Later an apprentice became a journeyman , who
worked for a wages for a craftsman
. The Masterpiece
For a journeyman to become a master craftsman,
he had to complete a Masterpiece .
This was their audition for the guild to determined if
their work made the qualified enough to join the
guild and start their own business.
Then they could become a Master Craftsman and
own their own business (somewhere else!)
Richard I was King of England from 6 July 1189
until his death. He was known as Richard Coeur
de Lion or Richard the Lionheart because of his
reputation as a great military leader and warrior.
At some time around the 16th century, tales of
Robin Hood started to mention him as a
contemporary and supporter of King Richard the
Lionheart, Robin being driven to outlawry,
during the misrule of Richard's evil brother John,
while Richard was away at the Third Crusade.
Richard I: “He was a bad son, a
bad husband, and a bad king, but
a gallant and splendid soldier."
"Richard the Lionheart"
John Lackland (24 December 1167 – 19 October 1216)
was King of England from 6 April 1199 until his death. He
ascended to the throne as the younger brother of King
Richard I, who died without issue. John was the youngest
of five sons of King Henry II of England and Eleanor,
Duchess of Aquitaine, and was their second surviving son
to ascend the throne; thus, he continued the line of
Plantagenet kings of England.
Apart from entering popular legend as the enemy of Robin
Hood, he is perhaps best-known for having acquiesced in
1215 – to the barons of English nobility – to seal Magna
Carta, a document which limited kingly power in England
and which is popularly thought as an early step in the
evolution of limited government.
King John I
Hundred Years’ War,
Between 1337 and 1453, England and
France fought a series of conflicts,
known as the Hundred Years’ War.
Plague…just the word brings up thoughts of death,
destruction, the “end of times” and mass casualties.
Most of these are true descriptions of the pandemic that
spread through Europe during the 14th century,
commonly know as the Black Death. The Black Death was
at it’s peak from the years 1348-1350 and killed between
75-200 million people or 30 to 60% of Europe’s
population. These numbers are staggering even by
today’s standards. This disease was brought to Europe by
the fleas on rats that populated the many ships that
traveled along the trade routes from China and Asia.
Visiting the Paris Catacombs
As mentioned, the tunnels which make up the Catacombs of Paris is often called “maze-like” –
in fact, what lies under the city streets has been compared to Swiss cheese (or Gruyere, if you
No matter the cheese you choose, the Catacombs – although a worthwhile site to add to your
list of must-sees in Paris – aren’t an attraction you’ll want to tackle without some guidance.
St. Thomas Aquinas,
priest and doctor of
the Church, patron of
all universities and of
St. Thomas Becket, born in London,
England, on December 21, 1118, was
the Archbishop of Canterbury from
1162 until his murder in 1170 by King
Henry II’s knights. The king had
ordered his murder for refusing to
give the monarchy power over the
church. Becket’s death made him into
a martyr to followers of the Catholic
Church, and Pope Alexander
canonized him in 1173.
Justinian ruled the Byzantine
empire from 527 to 565. During
his reign, Justinian
• recovered provinces that
had been previously overrun
by invaders. The Byzantine
empire reached its greatest
size under Justinian.
• launched a program to
The church of Hagia Sophia
improved on earlier Roman
• reformed the law. Justinian’s
Code was a model for
medieval monarchs, the
Roman Catholic Church, and
later legal thinkers.
• used the law to unite the
empire under his control
Justinian ruled as an
autocrat, or sole ruler with
complete authority. He also
had power over the Church.
During the Mongol
period, the princes of
increased their power.
Moscow benefited from
its location near
important river trade
Moscow was made the
capital of the Russian
Ivan the Great and Ivan
the Terrible centralized
power and recovered