List of movies concerning history and literature of the Middle ages through Elizabethian times (500-1600AD)by Sherrill777 | created - 11 Feb 2013 | updated - 22 Dec 2015 | Public
This list attempts to collect and organize the best movies showing the history and literature of the Middle Ages through the Elizabethan period (500-1600AD). I created this with the idea that it would supplement a study of that time period, so will include documentaries, dramas and docu-dramas.
To make it easier to find what you may be interested in, I have created a table of contents (the # refers to the position of the 1st movie of the category) . Please be aware that some categories overlap. 1 - Byzantine Empire 9 - Medieval Legends 18- Persian Myths 24- Norse/Viking 37- Crusaders (1000-1300) 55- Early Renaissance (1300-1550) 78- Explorers 83- South America 94- Reformation 101- Henry VIII 109- Shakespeare 136- Elizabethan period 150- Far East (500-1600) 162- Feudal Japan
My criteria for this list is as follows: 1) The movie had to fall within the time frame 2) The movie had to have at least a rating of 6.0 from IMDb 3) It had to be at least theoretically possible to FIND the movie (on someplace like Netflix or Amazon).
Although I did my best to select movies that would be appropriate for at least a high school student (and I tried to get younger ages too), I have not watched the majority of the films on this list so make no guarantees about the quality or appropriateness of any film here. *Parental Discretion Advised*
Please see my other lists for other time periods.
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- Movies or TV
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1. Byzantium: The Lost Empire (1997– )
208 min | Documentary
John Romer recreates the glory and history of Byzantium. From the Hagia Sophia in present-day Istanbul to the looted treasures of the empire now located in St. Marks in Venice.
Star: John Romer
This list starts after the fall of the Roman Empire and the beginning of the Byzantine period. This TV series focused on the art and architecture of the period.
5. The Message (1976)
PG | 177 min | Adventure, Biography, Drama
This epic historical drama chronicles the life and times of Muhammad and serves as an introduction to early Islamic history.
I have not watched this, so could not say whether this movie tells of the birth of Islam from a Christian or Muslim perspective.
6. Charlemagne (1993– )
90 min | Action, Adventure, Biography
Young Charlemagns is placed on the Frankish throne in the middle of the 8th Century A.D. Despite having many powerful enemies he slowly unites the nations of Western Europe and rebuilds civilization on the ruins of the Roman Empire.
I'm not positive that this mini-series will be easy to find....
7. The Secret of Kells (2009)
Not Rated | 75 min | Animation, Adventure, Family
A young boy in a remote medieval outpost under siege from barbarian raids is beckoned to adventure when a celebrated master illuminator arrives with an ancient book, brimming with secret wisdom and powers.
Votes: 26,158 | Gross: $0.69M
8. Alfred the Great (I) (1969)
M | 122 min | Drama, History, War
While Old England is being ransacked by roving Danes in the ninth century, Alfred is planning to join the priesthood. But observing the rape of his land, he puts away his religious vows, to... See full summary »
9. Pope Joan (2009)
149 min | Drama, Romance
A woman of English extraction born in the German city of Ingelheim in the ninth century disguises herself as a man and rises through the Vatican ranks.
This begins the section on Medieval Legends.
10. Excalibur (1981)
PG | 140 min | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy
Merlin the magician helps Arthur Pendragon unite the Britons around the Round Table of Camelot, even as dark forces conspire to tear it apart.
Votes: 50,582 | Gross: $34.97M
There are numerous King Arthur movies and TV series, but I found a small selection of some of the highlights.
11. Merlin (2008–2012)
TV-PG | 45 min | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy
These are the brand new adventures of Merlin, the legendary sorcerer as a young man, when he was just a servant to young Prince Arthur on the royal court of Camelot, who has soon become his best friend, and turned Arthur into a great king and a legend.
13. The Sword in the Stone (1963)
G | 79 min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy
A poor boy named Arthur learns the power of love, kindness, knowledge and bravery with the help of a wizard called Merlin in the path to become one of the most beloved kings in English history.
Votes: 73,653 | Gross: $22.18M
14. The Mists of Avalon (2001– )
Unrated | 183 min | Drama, Fantasy
Based on the bestseller by Marion Zimmer Bradley It tells the story of the women behind King Arthur; including his mother, Igraine; his half-sister, Morgaine; his aunt Viviane, the Lady of ... See full summary »
15. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1949)
Not Rated | 106 min | Comedy, Family, Fantasy
A singing mechanic from 1912 finds himself in Arthurian Britain.
This Mark Twain classic doesn't exactly have a lot of history in it, but it is still a great story.
16. The Legend of Prince Valiant (1991–1994)
22 min | Animation, Adventure, Fantasy
After his castle is taken over, Valiant, Prince of Thule, has a dream, in which King Arthur calls him to Camelot. Valiant heeds the advice of the dream, and sets out on a quest to find the ... See full summary »
17. Tristan + Isolde (2006)
PG-13 | 125 min | Action, Drama, Romance
An affair between the second in line to Britain's throne and the princess of the feuding Irish spells doom for the young lovers.
Votes: 47,396 | Gross: $14.73M
18. The Singing Princess (1949)
76 min | Animation, Fantasy
An insane woman brings peace to her village by being the most ultimate singer around.
This starts the section on 'Persian Myths'. The majority of these tales come from '1001 Arabian Nights', stories compiled from the Islamic Golden Age.
20. Aladdin (1992)
G | 90 min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy
When a street urchin vies for the love of a beautiful princess, he uses a genie's magic power to make himself off as a prince in order to marry her.
Votes: 294,700 | Gross: $217.35M
21. The Thief of Bagdad (1940)
Not Rated | 106 min | Adventure, Family, Fantasy
After being tricked and cast out of Bagdad by the evil Jaffar, King Ahmad joins forces with a thief named Abu to reclaim his throne, the city, and the Princess he loves.
22. Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas (2003)
PG | 86 min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy
The sailor of legend is framed by the goddess Eris for the theft of the Book of Peace, and must travel to her realm at the end of the world to retrieve it and save the life of his childhood friend Prince Proteus.
Votes: 40,897 | Gross: $26.48M
23. The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973)
G | 105 min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Sinbad and his crew intercept a homunculus carrying a golden tablet. Koura, the creator of the homunculus and practitioner of evil magic, wants the tablet back and pursues Sinbad. Meanwhile... See full summary »
24. The 13th Warrior (1999)
R | 102 min | Action, Adventure, History
A man, having fallen in love with the wrong woman, is sent by the sultan himself on a diplomatic mission to a distant land as an ambassador. Stopping at a Viking village port to restock on supplies, he finds himself unwittingly embroiled on a quest to banish a mysterious threat in a distant Viking land.
Votes: 106,793 | Gross: $32.70M
This starts the section of Norse/Viking history and legends.
25. Horus: Prince of the Sun (1968)
Not Rated | 82 min | Animation, Action, Adventure
A boy with a mythical sword wants to protect a Norse village from an evil ice wizard and his minions, who destroyed his family's village. However, the villagers don't fully trust him and a mysterious girl with a dark secret befriends him.
Also Known as 'The Little Norse Prince'.
26. Valhalla (1986)
89 min | Animation, Adventure, Family
Through Loki's treachery, two children in the Viking age find themselves spirited away into the world of Norse Mythology.
27. Thor (2011)
PG-13 | 115 min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy
The powerful, but arrogant god Thor, is cast out of Asgard to live amongst humans in Midgard (Earth), where he soon becomes one of their finest defenders.
Votes: 606,540 | Gross: $181.03M
30. How to Train Your Dragon (2010)
PG | 98 min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy
A hapless young Viking who aspires to hunt dragons becomes the unlikely friend of a young dragon himself, and learns there may be more to the creatures than he assumed.
Votes: 554,097 | Gross: $217.58M
31. Wickie und die starken Männer (2009)
85 min | Action, Adventure, Comedy
The story of a young Viking boy who accompanies his father, the chief of their village, and his men on their adventures -- and often is the person who uses his wit and instincts to help the men in their times of need.
32. Beowulf (2007)
PG-13 | 115 min | Animation, Action, Adventure
The warrior Beowulf must fight and defeat the monster Grendel who is terrorizing Denmark, and later, Grendel's mother, who begins killing out of revenge.
Votes: 149,908 | Gross: $82.16M
86 min | Animation, Adventure, Family | Filming
In the year of the Lord, 859AD, King Erik Silverlock and his son travel to the Brittish islands to trade. After their ship goes missing, young Astrid Silverlock decides to find out the truth. It's an epic adventure story.
This is an upcoming film that might fit this time period. Maybe.
35. Ring of the Nibelungs (2004 TV Movie)
PG-13 | 184 min | Action, Adventure, Drama
The legend of Siegfried and Brunhild, loosely based on characters from the Norse sagas and the pre-Christian Germanic heroic motifs outlined in the Nibelungensaga.
36. When the Raven Flies (1984)
109 min | Action, Drama
An Irish man seeks vengeance against the vikings who killed his parents.
It looks like there is a re-make in the works.
37. El Cid (1961)
Approved | 182 min | Adventure, Biography, Drama
The fabled Spanish hero Rodrigo Diaz (a.k.a. El Cid) overcomes a family vendetta and court intrigue to defend Christian Spain against the Moors.
Votes: 10,847 | Gross: $26.62M
This film begins the section on European history from around 1000 AD to about 1300 AD.
38. Stealing Heaven (1988)
R | 108 min | Drama, History, Romance
In medieval Paris, a young religious scholar and the beautiful niece of a local patrician fall madly in love and consummate their passion for each other. In the religious uproar that follows, they are condemned and brutally punished.
39. The Lion in Winter (1968)
PG | 134 min | Biography, Drama, History
1183 A.D.: King Henry II's three sons all want to inherit the throne, but he won't commit to a choice. They and his wife variously plot to force him.
Votes: 25,195 | Gross: $0.02M
40. Ivanhoe (1997– )
270 min | Adventure, Drama, Romance
Ivanhoe returning from crusading in the Holy Land to England which is ruled by corrupt Prince John.
There are other movies of this name, but this one had the best ratings.
42. The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
PG | 102 min | Action, Adventure, Romance
When Prince John and the Norman Lords begin oppressing the Saxon masses in King Richard's absence, a Saxon lord fights back as the outlaw leader of a rebel guerrilla army.
Votes: 41,639 | Gross: $3.98M
45. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)
PG-13 | 143 min | Action, Adventure, Drama
When Robin and his Moorish companion come to England and the tyranny of the Sheriff of Nottingham, he decides to fight back as an outlaw.
Votes: 157,155 | Gross: $165.50M
There's also a parody of this called 'Men in Tights', if you like that sort of thing.
46. Kingdom of Heaven (2005)
R | 144 min | Action, Adventure, Drama
Balian of Ibelin travels to Jerusalem during the Crusades of the 12th century, and there he finds himself as the defender of the city and its people.
Votes: 237,422 | Gross: $47.40M
48. Becket (1964)
PG-13 | 148 min | Biography, Drama, History
King Henry II of England comes to terms with his affection for his close friend and confidant Thomas à Becket, who finds his true honor by observing God's divine will rather than the king's.
49. Arn: Tempelriddaren (2007)
R | 139 min | Action, Adventure, Drama
Arn, the son of a high-ranking Swedish nobleman is educated in a monastery and sent to the Holy Land as a knight templar to do penance for a forbidden love.
50. Brother Sun, Sister Moon (1972)
PG | 121 min | Biography, Drama, History
This is a dramatization of events in the life of St. Francis of Assisi from before his conversion experience through his audience with the pope, including his friendship with St. Clare.
Movie on St. Francis of Assisi
51. Francesco (1989)
PG-13 | 119 min | Biography, Drama, History
Docudrama about the life of St-Francis of Assisi
Movie on St. Francis of Assisi
53. Údolí vcel (1968)
97 min | Drama, History
Ondrej, a young boy who loves bees and bats, is introduced to his new mother, a woman much younger than his father. He brings her a basketful of flowers which she starts to throw in the air... See full summary »
54. Braveheart (1995)
R | 178 min | Biography, Drama, History
When his secret bride is executed for assaulting an English soldier who tried to rape her, Sir William Wallace begins a revolt against King Edward I of England.
Votes: 828,950 | Gross: $75.60M
55. The Name of the Rose (1986)
R | 130 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery
An intellectually nonconformist friar investigates a series of mysterious deaths in an isolated abbey.
Votes: 88,990 | Gross: $7.15M
57. Black Death (2010)
R | 102 min | Action, Adventure, Drama
Set during the time of the first outbreak of bubonic plague in England, a young monk is given the task of learning the truth about reports of people being brought back to life in a small village.
Votes: 39,093 | Gross: $0.02M
58. The Seventh Seal (1957)
Not Rated | 96 min | Drama, Fantasy
A man seeks answers about life, death, and the existence of God as he plays chess against the Grim Reaper during the Black Plague.
59. Canterbury Tales (2003)
52 min | Drama
An adaptation of six of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales in a modern setting.
There are other versions of this same title.
62. The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)
Not Rated | 114 min | Biography, Drama, History
In 1431, Jeanne d'Arc is placed on trial on charges of heresy. The ecclesiastical jurists attempt to force Jeanne to recant her claims of holy visions.
Votes: 32,092 | Gross: $0.02M
63. Saint Joan (1957)
Not Rated | 110 min | Biography, Drama, History
In 1456, French king Charles VII recalls the story of how he met the 17 year-old peasant girl Joan of Arc, entrusted her with the command of the French Army and ultimately burned her at the stake as a heretic.
64. The Advocate (1993)
R | 102 min | Crime, Drama, History
In medieval France, young lawyer Richard Courtois leaves Paris for the simpler life in the country. However, he is soon drawn into amorous and political intrigues. At the same time, he is ... See full summary »
Votes: 1,685 | Gross: $0.67M
Also known as 'The hour of the Pig'
65. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
G | 91 min | Animation, Drama, Family
A deformed bell-ringer must assert his independence from a vicious government minister in order to help his friend, a gypsy dancer.
Votes: 116,821 | Gross: $100.14M
66. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (I) (1923)
Unrated | 133 min | Drama, Horror, Romance
In fifteenth century Paris, the brother of the archdeacon plots with the gypsy king to foment a peasant revolt. Meanwhile, a freakish hunchback falls in love with the gypsy queen.
Votes: 3,944 | Gross: $1.02M
67. Dracula (1931)
Not Rated | 75 min | Fantasy, Horror
The ancient vampire Count Dracula arrives in England and begins to prey upon the virtuous young Mina.
I'm including this here because this time period is when Prince Vlad (whom Dracula is based off of) was alive.
68. Dracula (1992)
R | 128 min | Horror
The centuries old vampire Count Dracula comes to England to seduce his barrister Jonathan Harker's fiancée Mina Murray and inflict havoc in the foreign land.
Votes: 160,150 | Gross: $82.52M
69. The Life of Leonardo Da Vinci (1971– )
60 min | Biography
He was the creator and artist of the Mona Lisa portrait
Any biography of this man would probably do equally well.
70. The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965)
Approved | 138 min | Biography, Drama, History
The biographical story of Michelangelo's troubles while painting the Sistine Chapel at the urging of Pope Julius II.
71. Fetih 1453 (2012)
Not Rated | 162 min | Action, Adventure, Drama
After the death of his father Murat II, Mehmet II ascends to the Ottoman throne. After braving internal and external enemies, he decides to complete what he was destined to do - conquer Constantinople.
Votes: 53,288 | Gross: $0.07M
This movie may be hard to find
72. The Conclave (2006)
100 min | Biography, Drama, History
In 1458, five years after the fall of Constantinople to the Turk, eighteen cardinals met in Rome to elect a new pope. A 27-year-old Spanish cardinal, Rodrigo Borgia, learns to play a very dangerous game; how to survive his first conclave.
73. Tower of London (1939)
Approved | 92 min | Drama, History
In the 15th century Richard Duke of Gloucester, aided by his club-footed executioner Mord, eliminates those ahead of him in succession to the throne, then occupied by his brother King ... See full summary »
75. Princes in the Tower (2005 TV Movie)
Not Rated | 120 min | Drama
Sixteen years after the presumed deaths of the two boy princes held captive in the Tower, Perkin Warbeck makes his claim to the throne as the rightful King Richard. Did the younger brother ... See full summary »
76. The Borgias (2011–2013)
TV-MA | 50 min | Crime, Drama, History
In 15th century, pope Alexander VI tries to control all power in Italy with the help of his several sons, through murder, intrigue, war and marriage alliances.
77. Los Borgia (2006)
120 min | Biography, History
A portrait of the bloody dynasty that spawned a pope, Alexander VI, as well as the role model for Machiavelli's "The Prince," his son Cesare Borgia, and a legend of femme duplicity, daughter Lucrezia Borgia.
78. Christopher Columbus (1985)
360 min | Adventure, Biography, Drama
After his proposal to sail west to the East Indies is rejected by Portugal, Columbus overcomes court intrigue in Spain to gain support for his expedition.
This begins the section on explorers
Also look for the 'Biography' series to have an episode on this man.
79. Columbus: The Lost Voyage (2007 TV Movie)
120 min | Biography, Drama, History
The story of one of the most famous men in history. You might think you know him - the heroic and successful discoverer of America. Now think again.
80. 1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992)
PG-13 | 154 min | Adventure, Biography, Drama
Christopher Columbus' discovery of the Americas and the effect this has on the indigenous people.
Votes: 24,657 | Gross: $7.19M
82. Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972)
Not Rated | 95 min | Adventure, Biography, Drama
In the 16th century, the ruthless and insane Don Lope de Aguirre leads a Spanish expedition in search of El Dorado.
This begins the movies on South America during this time period.
84. The Road to El Dorado (2000)
PG | 89 min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy
Two swindlers get their hands on a map to the fabled city of gold, El Dorado.
Votes: 68,133 | Gross: $50.86M
85. The Mysterious Cities of Gold (1982–1983)
TV-Y7 | 28 min | Animation, Adventure, Family
A trio of kids must search throughout 16th Century South America for personal answers linked to the legendary El Dorado.
Nova (1974– )
The Great Inca Rebellion
TV-PG | Documentary, Biography
Recent archaeological research begins to reveal how a small number of Spanish fortune hunters could conquer the mighty Inca Empira. The evidences calls into question the accepted story of ... See full summary »
Star: Jay O. Sanders
87. Apocalypto (2006)
R | 139 min | Action, Adventure, Drama
As the Mayan kingdom faces its decline, a young man is taken on a perilous journey to a world ruled by fear and oppression.
Votes: 256,945 | Gross: $50.87M
88. Rapa Nui (1994)
R | 107 min | Action, Adventure, Drama
Tenuously based on the legends of Easter Island, Chile, this story details a civil war between the two tribes on the island: the Long Ears and the Short Ears. A warrior from the ruling ... See full summary »
Votes: 4,139 | Gross: $0.31M
90. The Royal Hunt of the Sun (1969)
G | 118 min | Adventure, Drama
The Spanish explorer Pizarro captures the Inca god-chief Atahualpa and promises to free him upon the delivery of a hoard of gold. But Pizarro finds himself torn between his desire for ... See full summary »
91. Quilombo (1984)
114 min | Drama
Palmares is a 17th-century quilombo, a settlement of escaped slaves in northeast Brazil. In 1650, plantation slaves revolt and head for the mountains where they find others led by the aged ... See full summary »
92. La otra conquista (1998)
R | 105 min | Drama, History
It is May 1520 in the vast Aztec Empire one year after the Spanish Conqueror Hernán Cortés' arrival in Mexico. "The Other Conquest" opens with the infamous massacre of the Aztecs at the ... See full summary »
Votes: 1,056 | Gross: $0.89M
Also known as 'The Other Conquest'
93. Luther (2003)
PG-13 | 123 min | Biography, Drama, History
During the early 16th Century idealistic German monk Martin Luther, disgusted by the materialism in the church, begins the dialogue that will lead to the Protestant Reformation.
Votes: 13,628 | Gross: $5.79M
As is appropriate, a movie on Martin Luther begins the section on the Reformation.
95. Martin Luther (1953)
Approved | 105 min | Biography, Drama, History
Biopic of German priest Martin Luther covering his life between 1505-1530 A.D. and the birth of the Protestant Reformation movement.
96. Martin Luther (2002 TV Movie)
TV-G | 115 min | Biography, Drama, History
Martin Luther is born into a world dominated by the Catholic Church. For the keenly spiritual Luther, the Church's promise of salvation is irresistible. Caught in a thunderstorm and ... See full summary »
97. Amazing Grace: The History and Theology of Calvinism (2004 Video)
257 min | Documentary
"This video series boldly, clearly, and winsomely sets forth the glorious, saving grace of God in its splendor and will help thousands to understand the gospel better and so to be filled ... See full summary »
98. John Wycliffe: The Morning Star (1984)
Not Rated | 75 min | Biography, Drama, History
The story of 14th century John Wycliffe, AKA "The Morning Star of the Reformation", who was the first to translate the Bible into English.
99. God's Outlaw (1986)
Not Rated | 93 min | Biography, Drama, History
A dramatized biography of William Tyndale, the 16th Century reformer determined to translate the Bible into English, which illegal act set him at odds with the Catholic Church, Sir Thomas More and King Henry VIII.
100. A Man for All Seasons (1966)
G | 120 min | Biography, Drama, History
The story of Thomas More, who stood up to King Henry VIII when the King rejected the Roman Catholic Church to obtain a divorce and remarriage.
Votes: 26,003 | Gross: $28.35M
This begins the section of King Henry the VIII.