For the longest time, medieval historical periods have been the favourite playground for romance writers – lords and ladies, knights, kings and queens and all the derring-do and darling, don’t, along with some really frightening civil wars led by slightly crazy to downright deranged princes and military advisors.
It’s the stuff of…oh, yeah. Books.
Personally, though, when I want to slip back into history, I push back a few more centuries, into the “ancient” periods, because they were way more fun.
I tend to focus in and around Britain and Europe, spreading out as far as the Middle East, just because there’s so much happening back then it takes a while to absorb it all. But just Europe, from around 5 B.C. to 7 A.D. is so rich in events and cultures it could take a lifetime to really appreciate it all.
The Romans were really hitting their peak around now. Their empire was the biggest it was ever going to reach, taking in most of Europe, as far west as the Hyperborean Islands (Britain), and the peace and order they maintained across that entire empire was spectacular for that day and age.
Then there were Vikings, who were just gearing up for their mass exodus of the Scandinavian region, reaching as far as the Americas. They would leave traces of themselves across the globe, with their stories, beliefs and some of their customs still lingering in western society today. Not bad for a culture that didn’t read or write.
The native Celts and Britons in Britain had a brief period of superiority after the Romans withdrew, when the land was theirs alone. It was this short few years, perhaps even a decade or two, when the real Arthur, if he existed, would have lived, ruled and lead the native tribes.
Also during these centuries, in Western Europe, the Angles, Saxons and Jutes were migrating into Britain in droves, claiming farm land and gearing up for what would eventually become the Anglo-Saxon invasion of Britain…and one of the two major sources of western Caucasian people. The Anglo Saxons would be the dominant culture in England until 1066 when they would be defeated at the Battle of Hastings by the new order: The Normans, who ushered in the Medieval period and an utterly new way of life.
…and this is just western Europe! Just think of all the yummy hero types these cultures and these times could produce. Mmm…