The Late Middle Ages was marked by difficulties and calamities including famine, plague, and war, which significantly diminished the population of Europe; between 1347 and 1350, the Black Death killed about a third of Europeans. Controversy, heresy, and the Western Schism within the Catholic Church paralleled the interstate conflict, civil strife, and peasant revolts that occurred in the kingdoms. Cultural and technological developments transformed European society, concluding the Late Middle Ages and beginning the early modern period. (Full article...)
Following William's return to Jerusalem in 1165, King Amalric I made him an ambassador to the Byzantine Empire. William became tutor to the king's son, the future King Baldwin IV, whom William discovered to be a leper. After Amalric's death, William became chancellor and archbishop of Tyre, two of the highest offices in the kingdom, and in 1179 William led the eastern delegation to the Third Council of the Lateran. As he was involved in the dynastic struggle that developed during Baldwin IV's reign, his importance waned when a rival faction gained control of royal affairs. He was passed over for the prestigious Patriarchate of Jerusalem, and died in obscurity, probably in 1186.
William wrote an account of the Lateran Council and a history of the Islamic states from the time of Muhammad. Neither work survives. He is famous today as the author of a history of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. William composed his chronicle in excellent Latin for his time, with numerous quotations from classical literature. The chronicle is sometimes given the title Historia rerum in partibus transmarinis gestarum ("History of Deeds Done Beyond the Sea") or Historia Ierosolimitana ("History of Jerusalem"), or the Historia for short. It was translated into French soon after his death, and thereafter into numerous other languages. Because it is the only source for the history of twelfth-century Jerusalem written by a native, historians have often assumed that William's statements could be taken at face value. However, more recent historians have shown that William's involvement in the kingdom's political disputes resulted in detectable biases in his account. Despite this, he is considered the greatest chronicler of the crusades, and one of the best authors of the Middle Ages. (Read more...)
Did you know...
...that a paillasse is a thin mattress filled with hay or sawdust and was commonly used in the middle ages?
...that a barbican is a tower or other fortification defending the drawbridge, usually the gateway?
...that a coif is a type of armored head-covering made out of chain-mail and worn under the helmet for extra protection?
...that a heriot is a payment owed to the lord of the manor by a serf’s family upon the serf’s death; usually the family’s best animal, such as a cow, horse or most commonly ox?
...that before 1066, it was noted in the Domesday Book, if one Welshman killed another, the dead man’s relatives could exact retribution on the killer and his family (even burning their houses) until burial of the victim the next day?
...that buboes are pus-filled egg-sized swellings of the lymph glands of the neck, armpits, and groin; typically found in cases of bubonic plague?
...that laws passed in the late 1300s aimed at maintaining class distinctions by prohibiting lower classes from dressing as if they belonged to higher classes?
...that Pier Gerlofs Donia, a 15th century Frisian freedom fighter of 7 feet tall was alleged to be so strong that he could lift a 1000 pound horse?
...that Edgar Ætheling was the last of the Anglo-Saxon Kings of England, but was only proclaimed, never crowned?
Mont Saint Michel, a small rocky tidal island in Normandy, is famous for its Benedictineabbey (spire pictured here) and steepled church (built between the 11th and 16th centuries) which occupy most of the island.