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The 14th Century

Although the 14th century was not a peaceful time for England, many churches and grand houses were built then which still remain today. The lovely church at Ocle Pychard in Herefordshire is a charming example, along with the Manor House at Castle Combe which is now a hotel set in idyllic grounds.

Grey’s Court is a popular historic place to visit which dates back to the 14th century. Carlisle Cathedral dates back to this era and in Scotland, Duart Castle has been home to the Macleans since 1360.

Some of the key events during the 14th century were:

1306 Robert Bruce was crowned King of Scotland
1307 Edward II was crowned King of England
1327 Edward III succeeded to the English throne
1329 Robert the Bruce was succeeded by his son David II as King of Scotland
1337 Hundred Years’ War with France began
1348 The plague killed almost half the population
1377 Richard II was crowned king
1399 Richard II was deposed and Henry IV became king

The long-raging war between England and Scotland was finally quelled in 1307 when Robert the Bruce gained final victory over the English forces of Edward II. A peace treaty was signed at Northampton in 1328 and Scotland finally regained its independence, which lasted for the next 300 years, after much bloodshed.

Edward II was born at Caernarvon Castle and he was created the first Prince of Wales. His rule as king lasted until 1327 when he was deposed by his wife Isabella, daughter of Philip IV of France. Some believe she and her lover, Roger de Mortimer, murdered Edward at Berkeley Castle while others maintain that Edward was simply held in captivity.

In 1327 Edward II and Isabella’s son was crowned King Edward III at Westminster Abbey and he went on to rule for 50 years. He was just 14 when he ascended the crown and he avenged his father by having Mortimer executed and his mother imprisoned for life.

During his reign he created the House of Lords, to separate the "commoners" who were representatives of the towns and shires in the House of Commons, from the Lords and Bishops.

North of the border, Robert the Bruce’s charismatic reign ended when he died of leprosy and his son, David Bruce, became King of Scotland in 1329.

In 1337, the Hundred Years’ War broke out between England and France when Edward III laid claim to the French throne. French naval ships attacked England at Dover, Southampton and in the Thames Estuary but were beaten back.

In 1348 the outbreak of the bubonic plague began. Known as the Black Death, it eventually went on to kill half the population of England and about one third of the population in Europe.

During the 1370s a new influence was introduced to the common people of England. Oxford scholar John Wycliffe realized that many citizens could not read the bible which was in Latin and organized the first translation into English. His radical religious ideas fueled the Great Rising in 1381 and led to many of his bibles being burned.

During this Peasant’s Revolt, citizens marched on London under the leadership of Wat Tyler, to protest the poll tax, end serfdom and demand equality and justice. In the ensuing violence, the rebels burnt John of Gaunt’s Palace and beheaded the Lord Treasurer and the Archbishop of Canterbury. John of Gaunt was the acting regent, as King Richard II was only 14 years old at the time.

The young Richard II stepped in to appease the rebels and they returned home, but feelings against him still ran high. Eventually Richard II was deposed in favour of Henry IV, who the rebels looked to for fair treatment and justice.

Much is known of life at this time thanks to the writings of Geoffrey Chaucer who wrote the Canterbury Tales.

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