The Middle Ages

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This is the Fourteenth Century?

Era of the crusades, Robin Hood, and fat, lecherous (but good-hearted) friars. Also home to dragons, wizards, knights in shining armour, beautiful princesses with big headdresses and tall, spirally gothic architecture. Expect to see a Corrupt Churchman or two wandering the landscape burning witches, heretics, and pretty much anyone who doesn't agree with them. Also expect to see people comically dropping left and right from the Black Death. ("Bring out your deeeeaaaaa——" *Fall* *Splut!*)

If the story does not take place in some unspecified kingdom, the setting is likely to be a mythologized Britain or France, though Jerusalem, which had pretty much been ignored since Bible Times will now also be used as the stage for all sorts of flashy battles involving cutlass-wielding Turks and ruggedly handsome Knights Templar.

The Middle Ages lasted for about a thousand years, and fell into five periods: the ugly Sub-Roman period (the fall of Rome, the barbarian invasions, the rise of Islam, and so on), the pleasant Carolingian Renaissance, the ugly Viking/Hungarian invasions, the pleasant High Middle Ages, and the ugly period of the Black Death and its aftermath. The classic medieval tropes above are exclusively drawn from the High Middle Ages: the period which stretches, approximately, from 1066 to 1348.

The Trope Codifier for the High Middle Ages was the 19th century, when the Middle Ages were celebrated as the embodiment of Romanticism in the Romanticism Versus Enlightenment debate. Ancient Greece, meanwhile, had been cast as the embodiment of Enlightenment in the 18th century. In reality, Ancient Greece and the High Middle Ages were very similar societies: both valued philosophy, science, and engineering, but feared and used magic and loved to fight. Both also had slaves, and a de facto caste system; both had a mix of slave/serf and free farmers as the basis of society. The Greeks valued city living more, though (The Hunchback of Notre Dame notwithstanding), and were a mix of petty kingdoms, democracies ("democracy" meant "mob rule" for a very long time thanks to their example), and lawless autocracies; but Persia was feudal (and most of medieval material culture — knights, castles, tunics, pointy shoes, roses, rhyming poetry, princesses in towers wearing conical hats with veils, wizards with robes covered in holy symbols — is originally Persian). It's fair to say that the High Middle Ages and classical Greece would've understood each other well, if they'd interacted — while contemporary Romantics and Enlightenment-ists would both have reasons to dislike both societies.

For a version of medieval tropes that casts a wider and more accurate net, check out the constituent periods:

(Although even here, the three initial periods of the Middle Ages are sort of a blur.)

See also Ye Goode Olde Days for the excessively positive version and The Dung Ages for the excessively negative. When history has been abandoned altogether, you have probably made the epic voyage to The Time of Myths.


Popular tropes associated with this time period are:


Works set in this time period include:

Comic Books

Films — Animation

Films — Live-Action

Literature

Live-Action TV

Tabletop Games

Video Games

Web Comics

Western Animation

Alternative Title(s): Middle Ages

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheMiddleAges