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Pretty much the entire Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries, though in southern Europe this overlaps with The Renaissance. This is the period where chivalry is dying, and Macchiavellian nobles are killing off kings, queens, peasants, and each other with gusto (especially if they happen to be relatives), with recurrences of The Plague generally finishing off any survivors. This is the age of the Dance of Death, the Hundred Years War, the Wars of the Roses, The Spanish Inquisition, the early witchcraft trials, and Hieronymus Bosch. It just got as dark and edgy as Dark Age Europe again. Still, a common feature of fictions will be an idealistic character who looks forward to a day when society has left all this mediaeval darkness behind. (This character often is killed.)
The typical clothing will include Nice Hats, often of disturbingly complicated structure, and surprisingly low necklines among the women; among the men, yards and yards of cloth in the sleeves and disturbingly high hemlines. Both generously include lots of fur and velvet, at least among the nobility -- and lots of dirt, at least among the peasants. Splotches of blood are a not infrequent addition for both.
Outside certain aspects of The Renaissance, this is generally not regarded as a happy time -- and even that period tends to be darkened by poisoning Popes, manipulating courtesans, and murderous feuds among the noble clans.
Tropes associated with this time period include:
- Corrupt Church: The Spanish Inquisition is often portrayed as this.
- Deadly Decadent Court: The reason ladies of dubious virtue like Agnes Sorel, Elizabeth Shore, and Vannozza Catanei became powers in the state.
- The Dung Ages
- Feuding Families: For instance, the feuds between the Percys and the Nevilles, and York and Lancaster, which form much of the background of William Shakespeare's historical plays.
- Historical Domain Character: Of course. Richard III of England and Louis XI of France are favorites.
- Hundred Years War
- Joker Jury / Trial of the Mystical Jury: Both The Spanish Inquisition and the Vehmgericht vacillate between these two tropes.
- Medieval Morons: Often this occurs in the form of a proto-Renaissance inventor or philosopher being branded as a "witch" or "heretic" by the superstitious, close-minded aristocrats and/or mob.
- Nice Hat: When the tall headdresses, including the famous steeple headdress, were in vogue.
- Pimped-Out Dress: One of the most popular (both back then and as a stock costume now) was a dress with tight sleeves, a v-neckline, and trimming of an extravagant fabric (usually fur or velvet) on the cuffs, hem, and neckline.
- The Plague
Works set in this time period are:
- Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal
- Any version of the story of Joan of Arc (e.g., The Messenger, Le passion de Jeanne d'Arc, and George Bernard Shaw's Saint Joan)
- Sir Walter Scott's Anne of Geierstein and Quentin Durward
- Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre Dame
- Justin McCarthy's If I Were King
- Henryk Sienkiewicz's The Knights of the Cross
- Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose
- Connie Willis's Doomsday Book
- Blackadder: The first series.
- Assassin's Creed II
- Europa Universalis games typically begin in this timeframe.
- Medieval: Total War and its remake deal with this period (as well as the rest of the middle ages). The late period is characterized by combat with heavily armored units, but also with gunpowder and early cannons - and prompts some factions to begin thinking of crossing the Atlantic Ocean.