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Royalty in the Middle Ages

Royalty in the middle ages encompassed not only kings and queens, but also a whole host of other figures including lords and ladies. Medieval royalty had a great deal of power in most areas of the world and the king had almost complete authority to punish and reward his subjects at will.

Royalty in the Middle Ages

The Kings and Queens of the Middle Ages

When learning about royalty in the Middle Ages, you may be interested in learning the names of some of royal figures. In fact, there are many different kings and queens from medieval times, some of whom are more famous than others.

Kings included:

  • Edward the Confessor, 1042 to 1066
  • King Harold II, 1066
  • King William I, the Conqueror, 1066 to 1087
  • King William II, Rufus, 1087 to 1100
  • King Henry I, 1100 to 1135
  • King Stephen, 1135 to 1141
  • King Stephen, 1142 to 1154 (between 1141-1142, Empress Matilda ruled in her own right)
  • King Henry II, 1154 to 1189
  • King Richard I, Lionheart, 1189 to 1199
  • King John, Lackland, 1199 to 1216
  • King Henry III, 1216 to 1272
  • Edward I, The Hammer of the Scots, 1272 to 1307
  • Edward II, 1307 to 1327
  • Edward III, 1327 to 1377
  • Richard II, 1377 to 1399
  • Henry IV, 1399 to 1413

Queens included:

  • Matilda of Flanders (Queen of William the Conqueror)
  • Good Queen Maude (Queen consort of King Henry I)
  • Queen Matilda (daughter of King Henry I; subsequently replaced by her cousin King Stephen )
  • Queen Matilda of Boulogne (Queen consort of King Stephen 1135-1154)
  • Eleanor of Aquitaine (Queen of Henry II)
  • Queen Berengaria of Navarre (Queen of King Richard I)
  • Isabelle of Angouleme (Queen to King John)
  • Eleanor of Provence (Queen to King Henry III)
  • Eleanor of Castile (Queen to King Edward I)
  • Isabella of France (Queen of King Edward II)
  • Philippa of Hainault (Queen consort of King Edward III)

The Life of Royalty in the Middle Ages

Now you know who some royalty in the middle ages were, but how did they live? During the middle ages, the manner in which castles were built and constructed evolved dramatically. From simple wood framing with a strong susceptibility to fire, castles evolved into massive stone structures.

While there were a variety of different architectural and design styles for castles in the middle ages, in general, it is safe to say many of the castles served a similar purpose during the time period: to provide a defense strategy. It was not until the castle evolved into the Tudor style late in the Middle Ages that the castles became more about comfort rather than protecting the kingdom.

The Power of the King

The king had virtually limitless power during the Middle Ages, although the pope did reign supreme. The king generally had an army able and willing to defend him. Early on, this army was made up of knights who would fight wearing suits of armor. However, only the wealthy who were relatively high on the social ladder could become knights due to the cost. As the system in the Middle Ages, called the (feudal system —link to the new article Feudalism in the Middle Ages), began to evolve, these knights began to pay "shield money" instead of fighting. This monetary collection allowed the kings to establish, maintain, and train a professional standing army.

With a limited or non-existent justice system in place in many parts of Europe and with his standing army, the king was generally the final word on whether a person would live or die. If someone displeased a member of the medieval royalty, that person would have a very good chance of finding himself imprisoned in a castle or executed by horrific means.

Lords, Ladies, and Feudalism

Because of the way the economy was set up and because of the relationship between the king and his protectors, the king and queen were not the only "royalty" during medieval time. Part of the fascinating history of this time period relates to the number of lords, ladies, noblemen, and others who held positions of high social standing.

Lords and ladies, for example, would live in castles or manner houses, often set on large tracts of farm land given to them by kings and queens and that were farmed by peasants as part of the feudalist economy.