First Year: The Middle Ages

A knight in a modern-day joust re-enactment.
Once you finish with ancient times, you'll move on to the next big era of human history: the Middle Ages. You'll already know quite a few things about the Middle Ages: kings and queens lived in castles, knights defended them, a lot of people died from the Black Death... in this chapter you learn about all of that and more.

Just like your ancient civilisation from outside Ireland, in this chapter you will learn a lot of different things about life in the Middle Ages. The story starts with the Norman invasion of Ireland in 1169. The Normans are the people you will study, and they had taken over large parts of Ireland and Britain by the 1200s.

What does "medieval" mean?
Sometimes you might hear about the "medieval" times, or you might hear someone talking about "medieval castles" or something like that. Medieval just means "from the Middle Ages". 

Continue to The Renaissance

Go back to First Year

  • The Normans coming to Ireland.
  • What evidence we have about them.
  • The Feudal System.
  • Medieval castles: motte and bailey, stone castles, attacking and defending.
  • Medieval lords and ladies (People in History)
  • Medieval knights (People in History)
  • Medieval manors - farming, tower houses.
  • Medieval cities and towns - merchants and craftsmen, markets and fairs, crime.
  • Medieval Architecture (Gothic and Romanesque)
  • Medieval monasteries - monks (People in History)
  • The Black Death.

Click here for advice and tips on answering exam questions.


1. Mention two consequences for Ireland of the coming of the Normans in the 12th century.
    (2011 HL)

2. During the Middle Ages what was a knight? (2015 OL)

3. Name two stages of the training of the knight. (2011 HL)

4. What was the role of the guild in a medieval town? (2010 HL)

5. Name two defensive features of a Norman castle. (2009 HL)

6. Explain one of the following terms from the Middle Ages: (2008 HL)
              Charter;       Curfew;       Pillory

7. Explain one way that soldiers might have tried to capture a castle during the Middle Ages.
    (2012 OL)

8. State two dangers faced by people who lived in medieval towns. (2010 OL)

9. In a medieval monastery what was a cloister? (2015 HL)

10. Why were spices so important in the Middle Ages? (2015 OL)


    2012 HL, Q.6A 

    1.  In the medieval monastery what was the role of the abbot? (2)

    2.  Explain two of the following terms related to the knight during the Middle Ages: (2x2)
             Page;       Dubbing;       Chivalry;       Jousting.

    3. Give two reasons why the annual fair was popular during medieval times. (2x2)

    4. Write an account of two of the following: (10x2)
           (a) Duties of the lady of the castle.
           (b) Training of the medieval craftsman.
           (c) Life of a serf on a medieval manor.


    A medieval feast at a castle.
    Until now, you've had one People in History question per chapter. But with the Middle Ages, there are quite a few. Click on the links below to get the one you want. Each of them can appear in either Higher or Ordinary Level.

    The lord or lady of a medieval castle. 
    (2010 HL, 2008 HL)

    A serf on a medieval manor. (2015 HL, 2007 HL)

    A knight in a medieval castle. (2014 OL, 2011 OL)

    A monk in a medieval monastery. (2008 OL)

    A craftsman in a medieval town.

    The Middle Ages
    This site gives you a long list of Middle Ages topics to learn more about, from the Bayeux Tapestry to mythical beasts.

    BBC History: The Magna Carta
    The BBC has everything you want to know about the Magna Carta, complete with facts, photos and a quiz.

    The Jews in the Middle Ages
    This site might help you with Religion as well as History. Learn about how the Jews lived during the Middle Ages, and what challenges they faced.

    Medieval Children
    There's a lot of reading in this one, but it goes into great detail on what life was like for children and teenagers during the Middle Ages.

    Build a Medieval Castle
    Build your own medieval castle with styrofoam. There are also steps for making a castle out of wood, which you might be able to do in a Woodwork class some time. Be very careful following any of these steps, and make sure an adult is involved if you even try to make one from wood.

    Bunratty Castle Medieval Banquets
    Bunratty Castle in Co. Clare holds re-enactments of medieval banquets and feasts. Eat like a lord would!

    The Black Death
    Learn some more about the Black Death here.