The 13th Century

The thirteenth century was one of those bright moments in the history of the world where it seemed that there was hope that joy and reason would triumph over the evils of the world. In these wonderful years before the Black Death, women owned and ran business, ruled nations, wrote poetry, military treatise and transformed the world through the dangerous idea of romantic love.

Within Christianity, Thomas Aquinas took the philosophy of Aristotle and Maimomides and refreshed Christian thought in the west, followers of Francis of Assisi were helping humanity to discover the holiness and special dignity of animals.  The Holy Roman Empire had successfully resisted the Mongols and welcomed Jews into the Empire with open arms, letting them setup villages of their own and building walled ghettos to protect them from harm.  Queen Blanche ruled France well in her husband's absence, celebrated by her contemporaries for her courage, wisdom and poetry.

Jewish thought and philosophy was flourishing in the wake of Maimomides and the publication of the Kabalah. With the recapture of Jerusalem by the Moslems, they once more could walk in their spiritual home and their merchants were warmly welcomed in Arabia.

The Islamic poet Mevlanna, known to us as Rumi, would emerge as one of the great voices of love.  While the Caliphate was crumbling, the Fatimids in Egypt were emerging as a world power as were the Turks.  In the crumbling castles of the Assassins, scholarship flourished and mathematics pushed to new heights.

India saw the emergence of the Bhaki reform of Sanātana Dharma (Hinduism) and the great teacher Madhva was welcomed both by the Hindu princes and the Moslem Sultans in Delhi as he traveled the subcontinent spreading a teaching and philosophy comparable to that of Thomas Aquinas in Europe. 

Chronology and relevant information

1181 St. Francis of Assisi born

1188 Blanche of Castile, later Queen of France born (she was a troubadour) governed France during minorship of Louis IX and during his absence (Seventh Crusade)

1198 Innocent III, founder of Papal States elected pope. Organizer of disasterous 4th crusade

1199 birth (in dispute) of Acharya Madhwa

1200 Growth of lay education, including schooling in local languages

1204 4th Crusade takes Constantinople, Pope excommunicates all those who participated.

     John I of England looses Normandy and surrounding area to King Philip Augustus of France


Parzifal written by Eschenback

    Tristan written by Strassburg

1211 first Franciscan sanctuary, forming Franciscan Order

    Founding of Poor Clares, order of nuns following Franciscan precepts

1212 Spain reconquers most of the Iberian peninsula

          Francis of Assisi tried to travel to Syria

1214 Francis of Assisi tried to travel to Morocco, illness while in Spain

        Roger Bacon advance scientific reasoning by concrete observation

1215 Fourth Lateran Council, recognizing Eucharist and Penance as sacraments, and power of Papacy over Kings. Organized disastrous 5th crusade

         Magna Carta

1216 Dominican Order founded by St. Dominic of Spain

1219 Francis present at siege of Damietta, and talks with Sultan

1222 Hungarian King András, Golden Bull (hungarian magna carta) Diet: hungarian parliament

1223 First first crèche, or praesepio, setup by St. Francis.

        Louis VIII, son of Philip Augustus, rules for three years and conquers most of southern France. Fails in efforts to take Bretonny

1224 Francis received the stigmata

1225 St. Thomas Aquinas born

1226, Francis finished Canticle of the Sun and dies

        Louis IX, son of Louis VIII, becomes King of France, reigning over period of relative internal peace. Later canonized for piety (Queen is Margaret)

1228 Frederick II leader of 6th crusade, negotiates for control of Jerusalem, succeeds, becomes King of Jerusalem, is excommunicated for dealings with the infidel.

1237 Mongols invade Russia

1240 Mongols enter Kiev and create a new state on the Volga.

1241 Mongols invade Hungary (King Belé IV)

1242 Bonaventure (later saint) enters Franciscan order, becomes 7th general of order

        Margaret, daughter of King Bela IV and Queen Mary Lascaris of Hungary born. She is dedicated to God's services should Hungary survive Mongols. First is housed at Dominican convent at Veszprem, at the age of three, then later on an island in the Danube near Buda in a convent built by her father.

1244 Thomas arrives in Cologne,

1245 Thomas Sent to Paris, Albertus Magnus assigned as teacher

1248 Thomas returned to Cologne

1249 Capture of Damietta by 7th Crusade under Louis IX.


    The prose Tristan is completed

    Crusade ordered against Frederick II, who attempts to take control over central Italy, Frederick dies.

1252 Queen Blanche dies

1252 Papacy approves use of torture for religious disobedience

1257 Thomas became a Doctor of Theology (same day as St. Bonaventure)

1261 Byzantine Empire retakes Constantinople

1265 Dante Alighieri is born

1267 Florentine Giotto, famous naturalist painter begins modern tradition in painting

1268 Charles of Anjou defeats heirs of Frederick II, gains Sicily

1270 St. Margaret of Hungary, daughter of King Bela IV, dead at 28

1272 Edward I of England, Henry III’s son, establishes Parliament as a Feudal court for the King

1274 St. Thomas Aquinas dies






The high middle ages