The Middle Ages

Texts Contexts
  43-ca. 420 Romans conquer Britons;
Brittania a province of the Roman Empire
  307-37 Reign of Constantine the Great leads to adoption of Christianity as official religion of the Roman Empire
ca. 405 St. Jerome completes Vulgate, Latin translation of the Bible that becomes standard for the Roman Catholic Church  
  432 St. Patrick begins mission to convert Ireland
  ca. 450 Anglo-Saxon conquest of
Britons begins
523 Boethius, Consolation of Philosophy (Latin)  
  597 St. Augustine of Canterbury's mission to Kent begins conversion of Anglo-Saxons to Christianity
ca. 658-80 Cædmon's Hymn, earliest
poem recorded in English
731 Bede completes Ecclesiastical
History of the English People
? ca. 750 Beowulf composed  
  ca. 787 First Viking raids on England
871-99 Texts written or commissioned by Alfred 871- 99 Reign of King Alfred
ca. 1000 Unique manuscript of Beowulf and Judith  
  1066 Norman Conquest by William I
establishes French-speaking ruling class
in England
  1095-1221 Crusades
ca. 1135-38 Geoffrey of Monmouth's
Latin History of the Kings of Britain gives
pseudohistorical status to Arthurian and
other legends
  1152 Future Henry II marries Eleanor
of Aquitaine, bringing vast French
territories to the English crown
1154 End of Peterborough Chronicle,
last branch of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
? ca. 1165-80 Marie de France, Lais in
Anglo-Norman French from Breton
ca. 1170-91 Chrétien de Troyes, chivalric romances about knights of the Round Table 1170 Archbishop Thomas Becket
murdered in Canterbury Cathedral
? ca. 1200 Layamon's Brut 1182 Birth of St. Francis of Assisi
? ca. 1215- 25 Ancrene Wisse 1215 Fourth Lateran Council requires annual confession. En glish barons force King John to seal Magna Carta (the Great Charter) guaranteeing baronial rights
ca. 1304- 21 Dante Alighieri writing
Divine Comedy
ca. 1340- 1374 Giovanni Boccaccio active as writer in Naples and Florence ca. 1337- 1453 Hundred Years' War
  1348 Black Death ravages Eu rope
ca. 1340- 1374 Francis Petrarch active as writer 1362 English first used in law courts and Parliament
1368 Chaucer, Book of the Duchess  
  1372 Chaucer's first journey to Italy
1373-93 Julian of Norwich, Book of
ca. 1375- 1400 Sir Gawain and the Green Knight  
  1376 Earliest record of performance of cycle drama at York
1377-79 William Langland, Piers
Plowman (B-Text)
ca. 1380 Followers of John Wycliffe
begin first complete translation of the Bible into English
1381 People's uprising briefly takes
control of London before being
ca. 1385- 87 Chaucer, Troilus and
ca. 1387- 99 Chaucer working on The Canterbury Tales  
ca. 1390- 92 John Gower, Confessio Amantis 1399 Richard II deposed by his cousin, who succeeds him as Henry IV
  1400 Richard II murdered
  1401 Execution of William Sawtre, first Lollard burned at the stake under new law against heresy
ca. 1410- 49 John Lydgate active  
ca. 1420 Thomas Hoccleve, My
1415 Henry V defeats French at
ca. 1425 York Play of the Crucifixion  
  1431 English burn Joan of Arc at Rouen
ca. 1432- 38 Margery Kempe, The Book of Margery Kempe  
ca. 1450- 75 Wakefield mystery cycle, Second Shepherds' Play  
  1455-85 Wars of the Roses
ca. 1470 Sir Thomas Malory in prison working on Morte Darthur  
ca. 1475 Robert Henryson active  
  1476 William Caxton sets up first
printing press in England
1485 Caxton publishes Morte Darthur, one of the first books in English to be printed 1485 The earl of Richmond defeats the Yorkist king, Richard III, at Bosworth Field and succeeds him as Henry VII, founder of the Tudor dynasty
ca. 1510 Everyman  
  1575 Last performance of mystery plays at Chester