middle ages

Otto the Great – Founder of the Holy Roman Empire

Otto the Great – Founder of the Holy Roman Empire

On November 23, 912 AD, Otto I, also referred to as Otto the Great, emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and founder of the Ottonian dynasty of German emperors, was born as the oldest son of the Duke of Saxony Henry the Fowler (“Heinrich, der Vogler” referring to a German poem „Herr Heinrich sitzt am Vogelherd…“ by Johann Nepomuk Vogl, 1835 [1]) and his second wife Matilda of Ringelheim. By the time of…
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Geoffrey Chaucer  – the Father of English Literature

Geoffrey Chaucer – the Father of English Literature

On October 25, 1400, English poet Geoffrey Chaucer passed away. Known as the Father of English literature, Chaucer is widely considered the greatest English poet of the Middle Ages.He is best known today for The Canterbury Tales and was the first poet to be buried in Poets’ Corner of Westminster Abbey. Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote  The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,  And bathed every veyne in…
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The Knights Templar and their Most Inglorious End

The Knights Templar and their Most Inglorious End

On Friday, October 13, 1307, King Philip IV of France ordered the Knights Templar grandmaster Jacques de Molay and scores of other French Templars to be simultaneously arrested under the accusation of various heredities. It is said that this very date sometimes spuriously is linked with the origin of the Friday the 13th superstition, because it was the beginning of the end of the powerful Knights Templar. The Origins of the Knights…
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Henry the Navigator and the Age of Discoveries

Henry the Navigator and the Age of Discoveries

On March 4, 1394, Infante Henry, Duke of Viseu, better known as Henry the Navigator, was born. He was an important figure in the early days of the Portuguese Empire and the Age of Discoveries in total. He was responsible for the early development of European exploration and maritime trade with other continents. Henry has become a legendary figure, and it is somewhat difficult to disentangle the historical facts from the heroic…
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Henry IV and his Walk to Canossa

Henry IV and his Walk to Canossa

On January 25, 1077, Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV arrived at the gates of the fortress at Canossa in Emilia Romagna beyond the Alpes to declare atonement and to pledge for forgiveness from Pope Gregory VII, who had excommunicated Henry earlier from church. Henry’s act of penance became known as the “Walk to Canossa”. It took wisdom, patience, and self-restraint. It was also a brilliant strategy because he basically forced the Pope to forgive…
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The Golden Bull and the Holy Roman Empire

The Golden Bull and the Holy Roman Empire

On December 25, 1356, the final chapters of the Golden Bull were decreed by the Imperial Diet at Nuremberg and Metz headed by the Emperor Charles IV. The Golden Bull fixed, for a period of more than four hundred years, important aspects of the constitutional structure of the Holy Roman Empire. It mainly regulated the modalities of election and the coronation of the Roman-German kings and emperors by the electors until the…
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Abu Ma’shar – the Greatest Astronomer of Baghdad

Abu Ma’shar – the Greatest Astronomer of Baghdad

On August 10, 787, Persian astrologer Abu Ma’shar, Latinized as Albumasar, was probably born. Abu Maʿshar thought to be the greatest astrologer of the Abbasid court in Baghdad. While he was not a major innovator, his practical manuals for training astrologers profoundly influenced Muslim intellectual history and, through translations, that of western Europe and Byzantium. He is known primarily for his theory that the world, created when the seven planets were in conjunction in the…
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Abbot Suger and the Gothic Style

Abbot Suger and the Gothic Style

On January 13, 1151, French abbot, statesman, historian and one of the earliest patrons of Gothic architecture, Suger passed away. The eastern end of the Basilica Church of St. Denis, built by Abbot Suger and completed in 1144, is often cited as the first truly Gothic building, as it draws together many of architectural forms which had evolved from Romanesque and typify the Gothic style. Suger was born of peasant parents at about…
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Basilios Bessarion and the Great Revival of Letters

Basilios Bessarion and the Great Revival of Letters

On January 2, 1403, Roman Catholic Cardinal Bishop Basilius Bessarion was born. The titular Latin Patriarch of Constantinople, Bessarion was one of the illustrious Greek scholars who contributed to the great revival of letters in the 15th century. One of the most learned scholars of his time, Bessarion spread knowledge of Greek language and learning by building a personal library that included a large collection of Greek manuscripts, by his patronage of…
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Gerbert of Aurillac and the Popularization of Science

Gerbert of Aurillac and the Popularization of Science

On May 12, 1003, Gerbert of Aurillac aka Pope Sylvester II passed away. A prolific scholar and teacher, he endorsed and promoted study of Arab and Greco-Roman arithmetic, mathematics, and astronomy, reintroducing to Europe the abacus and armillary sphere, which had been lost to Latin Europe since the end of the Greco-Roman era. He is said to be the first to introduce in Europe the decimal numeral system using Arabic numerals. Gerbert…
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