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Middle Ages

Kings and Court

History >> Middle Ages for Kids

The King's Court

The king's court is a term that describes the king's council and household. The court travelled with the king wherever he went. The king would seek advice from the wise (hopefully) men of his court which would include relatives, barons, lords, and members of the church such as bishops.

The name "court" comes from the fact that most kings held court and made judgments. They would hear certain complaints and issues, especially issues between the most powerful barons and lords. Then they would make decisions with the help of their council.


Alfonso X of Castile from the Libro des Juegas

Visiting His Subjects

The king's court often traveled around the kingdom so the king could see first hand what was going on in his realm. When the king showed up, the local subjects were expected to provide food, entertainment, and accommodations. This could be very expensive and not all kings were welcome.

How was a king chosen?

Kings came into power a number of different ways. In many cultures, the right to rule was considered part of the king's blood. When a king died, his eldest son would become king. This is called hereditary succession. If the king didn't have an eldest son, then his brother or another male relative may be appointed king. Sometimes kings came into power through assassination or by conquering lands in war.

Of course, no king could rule without the support of his nobles and lords. In many ways, the king was elected by these powerful men. In some countries there was a council that chose the king such as the Witan council in Anglo-Saxon England.

Coronation

New kings were crowned in a special ceremony called a coronation. During the Middle Ages the coronation was a religious ceremony where a leader from the church, such as the pope or a bishop, crowned the king. Kings were often anointed with holy oil to demonstrate their divine right to rule.

Queens

During the Middle Ages, queens were generally not allowed to be the sole monarch. There were a few exceptions including Empress Matilda of England and Isabella I of Spain. However, many queens held power and influence over the land such as Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine and Margaret of Anjou.

How did kings make money?

Some kings were wealthier than others, but all kings needed money to rule. They had to pay for their daily living needs as well as for armies and wars. Kings collected money in a number of ways. One way was to go to war and pillage other lands. Other ways included fees charged to their lords and taxes levied on the people. Some lords paid the king "shield money" instead of going to war. This way the king could hire his own soldiers for war. Kings had to be careful not to overtax the people or the peasants would revolt.

Keeping Power

Once a person was crowned king, they spent a lot of their time trying to stay king. It wasn't that easy. Often times there were close relatives and powerful nobles who felt that they should be king. It was especially difficult to manage large empires because it took so long for messages to travel throughout the kingdom. Kings spent a lot of time making sure that their lords remained loyal and didn't become too powerful.

Interesting Facts about Kings and Court in the Middle Ages Take a ten question quiz about this page.

More subjects on the Middle Ages:

Overview
Timeline
Feudal System
Guilds
Medieval Monasteries
Glossary and Terms

Knights and Castles
Becoming a Knight
Castles
History of Knights
Knight's Armor and Weapons
Knight's coat of arms
Tournaments, Jousts, and Chivalry

Culture
Daily Life in the Middle Ages
Middle Ages Art and Literature
The Catholic Church and Cathedrals
Entertainment and Music
The King's Court

Major Events
The Black Death
The Crusades
Hundred Years War
Magna Carta
Norman Conquest of 1066
Reconquista of Spain
Wars of the Roses

Nations
Anglo-Saxons
Byzantine Empire
The Franks
Kievan Rus
Vikings for kids

People
Alfred the Great
Charlemagne
Genghis Khan
Joan of Arc
Justinian I
Marco Polo
Saint Francis of Assisi
William the Conqueror
Famous Queens


Works Cited

History >> Middle Ages for Kids





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