[[quoteright:293:[[Disney/SleepingBeauty http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/This_Is_The_Fourteenth_Century.JPG]]]]
[[caption-width-right:293:''This'' is the Fourteenth Century?]]

-> ''The Middle Ages designates the time span roughly from the collapse of the Roman Empire to the Renaissance and Reformation . The adjective "medieval," coined from Latin medium (middle) and aevum (age), refers to whatever was made, written, or thought during the Middle Ages...Medieval authors, of course , did not think of themselves as living in the "middle"; they sometimes expressed the idea that the world was growing old and that theirs was a declining age, close to the end of time.''
-->-- '''The Norton Anthology of English Literature''', Vol. 1, "Introduction: The Middle Ages"

Era of the crusades, Myth/RobinHood, and fat, lecherous (but good-hearted) friars. Also home to [[OurDragonsAreDifferent dragons]], [[SquishyWizard wizards]], [[KnightInShiningArmor knights in shining armour]], [[EverythingsBetterWithPrincesses beautiful princesses]] with big headdresses and tall, spirally gothic architecture. Expect to see a {{Corrupt Church}}man or two wandering the landscape [[BurnTheWitch burning witches]], heretics, and pretty much ''anyone'' who doesn't agree with [[KnightTemplar them]]. Also expect to see people comically dropping left and right from [[ThePlague 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 [[YouFailHistoryForever mythologized]] UsefulNotes/{{Britain}} or UsefulNotes/{{France}}, though [[UsefulNotes/{{Israel}} Jerusalem]], which had pretty much been ignored since BibleTimes will now also be used as the stage for all sorts of flashy battles involving cutlass-wielding [[ArabianNightsDays Turks]] and ruggedly handsome [[UsefulNotes/TheKnightsTemplar 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 TropeCodifier for the High Middle Ages was the 19th century, when the Middle Ages were celebrated as the embodiment of {{Romanticism}} in the RomanticismVersusEnlightenment debate. AncientGreece, meanwhile, had been cast as the embodiment of [[UsefulNotes/TheEnlightenment 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 (TheHunchbackOfNotreDame 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:
* DarkAgeEurope
* TheLowMiddleAges
* TheHighMiddleAges
* TheLateMiddleAges

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

See also YeGoodeOldeDays for the excessively positive version and TheDungAges for the excessively negative. When history has been abandoned altogether, you have probably made the epic voyage to TheTimeOfMyths.

!!Popular tropes associated with this time period are:
* AristocratsAreEvil
* BlackKnight
* ChristianityIsCatholic: Though it would eventually be throughout most of Central and Western Europe, in Eastern Europe and the Near East, Orthodoxy was more prevalent; yet is much less common in fictional works. (And officially, the final split came in 1054, and reunification was seen as a viable possibility until 1204.)
* CourtlyLove
* TheDungAges
* ErmineCapeEffect
* EverythingsBetterWithPrincesses: There weren't ''really'' many more then than now.
** Except a lot of small kingdoms have been eaten up since then and a number of states have changed from kingdoms to republics, so there were a lot more reigning princesses. There may be girls today who, if you assumed the continuance of feudal law, would in fact qualify as princesses, but who work as waitresses and don't know they are titular princesses. (To be pedantic, many of the smaller states (especially the ones in the UsefulNotes/HolyRomanEmpire) were neither kingdoms nor principalities, so their "princesses" would technically have been "duchesses," "palatine countesses", "electresses" and possibly "marchionesses." Still, [[IncrediblyLamePun it's close enough for government work.]])
* FeudalOverlord
* GorgeousPeriodDress: Except for (ugh!) [[MedievalMorons Ye Peasants]] and one or two of the more self-denying Churchmen. Look for puffy, slashed sleeves and trunk-hose among the men, though these were really [[TheRenaissance Renaissance]] fashions.
* HistoricalDomainCharacter: Even when they happen to be [[Disney/RobinHood talking lions]].
* HornyVikings
* KnightInShiningArmor
* MedievalMorons
* NiceHat: When the tall headdresses, including the famous steeple headdress (or ''hennin''), were in vogue.
* NoWomansLand: When the setting is TheDungAges.
* PimpedOutDress: Lots of [[PrettyInMink fur]], silk, and velvet for the nobility (though the last was not actually invented until very late in the period).
* ThePlague
* {{Swashbuckler}}: One of the two classic periods for the setting.
* VestigialEmpire: UsefulNotes/TheRomanEmpire was still around, based in Constantinople. In fact, historians often define the Middle Ages as the period from the fall of the Roman Empire in the west (476) to the fall of the Roman Empire in the east (1453). Restoring TheEmpire is a popular scenario, especially in [[StrategyGame Strategy Games]].
** It also should be noted that it took several centuries after the fall of the Roman Empire for the general population to accept that the Empire was really gone. This applies to both the eastern and western empires.
* YeGoodeOldeDays
* YeOldeButcheredeEnglishe: Though actually rarer than one might expect in most serious modern works, 'tis more common in older ones. ([[Literature/{{Ivanhoe}} "'˜By the light of Heaven!' said Prince John to Hubert, 'an thou suffer that runagate knave to overcome thee, thou art worthy of the gallows!'"]])
!!Works set in this time period include:

[[AC:Comic Books]]
* ''ComicBook/DemonKnights''
* ''ComicBook/JohanAndPeewit'', as well as its MorePopularSpinoff ''Franchise/TheSmurfs''
* ''ComicStrip/PrinceValiant''

[[AC:Films -- Animation]]
* {{Disney}}
** ''Disney/SleepingBeauty'': "After all, this ''is'' the fourteenth century."
** ''WesternAnimation/TheSwordInTheStone''
** ''Disney/TheHunchbackOfNotreDame''

[[AC:Films -- Live-Action]]
* ''Film/AlexanderNevsky''
* ''Film/ArmyOfDarkness''
* ''Film/{{Braveheart}}''
* ''Film/TheCourtJester'' (Stated to be in the reign of [[YouFailHistoryForever King Roderick I.]] of England.)
* ''Film/{{Dragonheart}}''
* ''Film/{{Dragonslayer}}''
* ''Film/KingdomOfHeaven''
* ''Knights of the Cross'' based on the novel of the same name.
* ''Film/{{Ladyhawke}}''
* ''Film/{{The Name of the Rose}}''
* ''Film/{{The Seventh Seal}}''
* ''Film/TheVirginSpring''
* All [[Film/{{Excalibur}} permutations]] [[Film/FirstKnight of]] KingArthur.
* All permutations of RobinHood.

* ''Literature/DoomsdayBook''
* Michel Pagel ''Le roi d'août'' (''The King of August''), a novelized version of the life of Philip II Augustus with fantastical elements (dryads especially). Quite historically accurate (except for the obvious Fantasy).
* ''Literature/{{Wolfbreed}}'' takes place during this time period and deals with UsefulNotes/TheTeutonicKnights' conquest of Prussia...[[OurWerewolvesAreDifferent and werewolves.]]
* ''Literature/CatherineCalledBirdy'' and ''The Midwife's Apprentice'', both by Karen Cushman.
* ''Literature/TheKnightsOfTheCross'' by Henryk Sienkiewicz.

[[AC:Live-Action TV]]
* The first ''Series/BlackAdder'' series.
* ''[[Series/CovingtonCross Beverly Hills 902 A.D.]]''
* Most TV and movie adaptations of KingArthur, despite the "correct" setting being immediately post-Roman Britain. This is because the earliest written versions of the legend were written in the Middle Ages and given a [[AnachronismStew "contemporary" makeover]].
* ''Series/TheMysticKnightsOfTirNaNog''
* Most TV and movie incarnations of ''RobinHood''.
* ''Series/WorldWithoutEnd''

[[AC:Tabletop Games]]
* ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'' in most of its incarnations.

[[AC:Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/AssassinsCreedI''
* ''VideoGame/AssassinsCreedII'' (since the game takes place in TheLateMiddleAges Italy, it overlaps with TheRenaissance)
* ''VideoGame/CastlevaniaLordsOfShadow''
* ''VideoGame/CrusaderKings''
* ''VideoGame/DantesInferno''
* ''[[VideoGame/MedievalTotalWar Medieval: Total War]]'' and ''[[VideoGame/MedievalIITotalWar Medieval II : Total War]]''.
* ''VideoGame/KingdomComeDeliverance''
* ''VideoGame/KnightsOfHonor''
* ''VideoGame/KnightsOfTheRound''
* ''VideoGame/ChivalryMedievalWarfare''

[[AC:Web Comics]]
* ''Webcomic/GetMedieval''

[[AC:Western Animation]]
* ''Creator/{{Disney}}'s WesternAnimation/AdventuresOfTheGummiBears''