How Much Do You Know About the Middle Ages?

By: Gavin Thagard
Image: youtube

About This Quiz

It was a time of kings, crusades and courtly love - the Middle Ages had something for everyone! 

The Middle Ages is typically marked by the rise of the Christendom, and what a rise it was. Christianity would shape every aspect of life across Europe during this time as the pope in Rome became one of the most important figures and leaders in European society. However, this rise did not come without conflict, as bishops and clerics, who were sent to towns and villages across Europe, faced stiff opposition from local rulers who struggled with how much power to give the Church. These rulers were often in conflict themselves with other Christian rulers, so the Church could be a valuable ally if used correctly. 

Aside from local rulers, Christianity also faced a major threat from the south as another religion rose to rival it. This would play out in Spain as three distinct, yet similar, religions were forced to live aside one another. Then, of course, in Northern Europe, pagans often clashed with Christians until mass conversions started when these pagans mixed into Christian society. Despite the conflict, the cultural exchanges that took place between these different groups shaped the future of European society. 

If you think you know everything about European history, take this quiz and test your knowledge on the Middle Ages!

What period did the Middle Ages follow?

Rome fell to Germanic Tribes under the leadership of Odoacer in 476 C.E. This is widely regarded as the start of the Middle Ages.

According to legend, which British warrior led Britain against the Saxons?

The earliest tales of King Arthur can be traced to Geoffrey of Monmouth, a British cleric. He is known for writing one of the first historiographies of Britain in the 12th century.

Which religion spread across Europe during the Middle Ages?

The Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church dominated Christianity for most of the Middle Ages. However, with the Protestant Reformation, a new denomination emerged in Europe during the 16th century.

Which pope first sent missionaries to Britain to convert the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity?

Conversion to Christianity in Northern European countries was complicated. Christian missionaries allowed and often encouraged pagan followers to incorporate their own customs and culture into the Christian belief system. This created a unique mixture of Christian and Pagan culture across the region.

Which religion spread rapidly across southern Europe and the Middle East?

Islam was a religion founded in the 7th century that spread rapidly across the Middle East into Africa and Europe. These Muslims gave Christian Europe as much if not more trouble than the Pagans.

Which European group was known for raiding by sea across Europe?

The Vikings were excellent seafarers. They were known throughout Europe, traveling​ as far as the Mediterranean Sea and North America.

Which Frankish king was named Emperor by Pope Leo III?

Charlemagne was the first ruler to unite much of Europe after the continent fell apart with the Roman Empire. However, this new empire began to fall apart not long after his death.

Which system governed society during the Middle Ages?

Kings and queens sat at the top of the Feudalist system. Underneath them were barons, dukes and earls.

Who worked the land in the Feudal system?

Serfs were supposed to work the land to provide food to their lord and his vassals. In return, serfs were provided with protection and some basic rights that slaves would not have received.

Which military honor was granted by monarchs to warriors?

Knights followed a code of conduct known as chivalry. This code guided a knight's interaction with other classes in European society.

Who defeated the Great Heathen Army?

According to legend, the Great Heathen Army was led by the sons of Ragnar Lothbrok. They were avenging their father's death at the hands of a British king.

Who was the first ruler of Normandy?

Rollo was a Scandinavian warrior who raided during the 9th and 10th centuries. While in France, Charles III gave Rollo land in Normandy to defend France against other Viking invaders.

Who is believed to be the first person to reach the new world?

Leif Erikson was a well-known Icelandic explorer. It is widely believed that he established a settlement in Canada known as Vinland.

Who gave kings the right to rule?

Christianity shaped every aspect of life in the Middles Ages, which included deciding who would rule. However, this often led to conflict between the church and the state.

Who was the first Norman King of England?

When William launched his invasion of England, King Harold Godwinson was the greatest threat to his mission. However, William defeated Harold at the Battle of Hastings just one month after landing in England.

How did William Wallace die?

William Wallace supported Robert the Bruce against England in the First War for Scottish Independence. After the war ended, Robert became the King of the Scots, a position he held until his death.

What work did Geoffrey Chaucer write?

The Canterbury Tales followed pilgrims as they traveled from London to Canterbury. Each pilgrim had an opportunity to win a free meal if they told the best story.

What was the capital of the Byzantine Empire?

Serving as a cultural center for Christians for centuries, Constantinople fell to the Ottomans in 1453. Many scholars consider this to be the end of the Middle Ages.

Which country did the Muslims largely conquer in the early Middle Ages?

Modern Spain was shaped by the Middle Ages, as Muslims, Christians and Jews struggled to live beside one another. This period of Convivencia influenced Spanish political decisions as the modern world took shape.

What was the main reason Christians converted to Islam during the Middle Ages in Spain?

Muslims were surprisingly tolerant of Christians during their occupation of Spain. Christians were provided with many of the same rights that Muslims received. However, the high taxes caused many Christians to abandon their faith for economic gain.

What were the religious wars led by the Catholic Church into the Holy Land called?

The Crusades did little to solve the conflict between Christians and Muslims. However, it did unite much of Europe under the name of Christianity, as loyal followers sought eternal life through participation.

Which pope helped start the First Crusade?

Pope Urban II received a call to action from Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos. The Byzantine Emperor needed help with the Turks who were taking control of Byzantine land.

Which city was NOT a cultural center for Islamic scholarship?

Many of the famous works by ancient Greek philosophers disappeared from European society during the Middle Ages. However, they did survive in the Middle East as Muslims adopted ideas from these great thinkers, incorporating these works into their own beliefs.

Which architectural style was popular during the Middle Ages?

Gothic architecture had a towering presence characterized by high vaults held up by flying buttresses. This style of architecture originated in France around the 12th century.

Which country did Joan of Arc lead against England?

After helping the French achieve victory at Orléans, Joan was captured by England. She was tried for heresy and burned at the stake.

What was depicted in most art from the Middle Ages in Europe?

In Ireland and Britain, Insular art was the most common art produced. This style combined Celtic and Germanic art with Christianity as it swept across the region.

What was it called when someone paid a monk to pray for them after death?

Indulgences would be cited as a sign of corruption in the Catholic Church during the Protestant Reformation. However, during the Middle Ages, this practice helped spread the power of the Catholic Church.

Which disease ravaged Europe?

The Plague killed roughly 60% of the European population. The disease was spread by infected fleas.

Who signed the Magna Carta?

King John was forced to sign the Magna Carta by powerful barons in England. The charter was critical in the development of Western democracy.

What were castles a sign of?

Castles were extremely expensive to build, which was why extravagant castles were constructed by the wealthy nobility. The Tower of London is one of the most famous surviving examples of castles during this time.

Which empire spread across Europe to China?

The Mongol Empire initiated a period known as Pax Mongolica. During this period, communication and trade between Europe and Asia became much simpler.

Who was the great leader of the Mongol Empire?

After Genghis Khan died, the Mongol Empire began to fall apart. This was mainly because of internal conflict.

Which city became a powerful city-state?

Venice was founded in the 5th century by authorities in Northern Italy. Because of its location, the city became a wealthy trading center by the High Middle Ages.

What was the name for an association of craftsmen in a town?

Guilds were basically early examples of worker unions. They controlled hours of work and provided for poor or sick members.

What immediately followed the Middle Ages?

The Renaissance was seen as a return to a period of high culture or a rebirth. European art, literature and ideas expanded during this time.

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