Europe in 1346
This article is intended for non-western readers or western readers that are not familiar with the middle age.
In 1346, the kingdom of France is ravaged by the hundred year war and just lost the battle of Crecy.
Knight Templars have been arrested thorough Europe, its last remaining members are in hiding or joined other orders.
Hailing from Avignon, pope Clement VI recently launched a crusade to fight heretics abroad.
Dark times nurtures dark thoughts and dark thoughts nurtures heresy.
Soldiers being in short supplies the inquisition have to recourse to ask for outside help.
Your character is amongst the soldiers god has chosen for this task.
In 1346, Europe is torn apart by power struggles.
The society is divided in three classes, the ones who work, the ones who fight and rule (the nobles) and the ones who pray (the religious).
Nobles inherit their lands and have a strong dominion over their people. They can edict laws and raise taxes. Their responsibility is to oversee their lands and protect their people from invaders. They organise the police, the army and the economy.
Kingdoms are constituted of lords who follow a King, also chosen by heredity.
Kings have their own lands, but are usually not the wealthiest lords of their realm. They have limited powers over the lords they oversee and power struggles inside a kingdom are constant.
Kings can edict laws, raise taxes and launch wars, but they can only do so with the support of their lords.
Nobles are very careful about their reputation, which will influence greatly their relations with their neighbours, that's why the unwritten law of honour is a defining factor in the medieval society.
Lords will follow their king in combat with their troops not because the law obliges it, but because honour command it.
The main powers in western Europe are France, England, the Holy Roman empire (Germany), Castile (Spain) and the Pope.
There is in a war between England and France that just started and there is a power struggle between France, the Holy Roman Empire and the Pope.
The Pope is the head of the catholic Church and since all Europeans are firm believers, he uses this influence to take political power from Kings. Popes are elected by the cardinals (highest members of the church)
The current Pope have been strongly supported by France and he is based in Avignon instead of Rome.
Christendom is still fighting against the Islamic world, Arabs have reclaimed the holy land (Jerusalem and some surrounding cities). The current crusade started in 1343 didn't mobilise as many soldiers as it used to.
Part of Spain is controlled by an Arabian king, it will take a hundred year before Spain reconquers the entirety of his land.
In the middle age, religion is the foundation of society. Every European is a firm believer and follower of the Catholic church.
They will go to the local church every Sunday to listen to a sermon, not attending would be frown upon and can lead to social exclusion.
The Church is the cement between all European nations, while each nations have their own languages, all ecclesiastics can speak latin it is the only international language.
The Church holds the social aspect of society, they open hospitals where the poor and the sick can live for free for a certain period of time to be taken care of by monks.
Monasteries accept anyone in their order, so it is a great refuge for outcasts and orphans. As long as you follow the rules of the monastery, you will be fed and sheltered.
The few existing schools are held by Monks and the vast majority of books have been copied by them.
The Church keeps track of time (bells are rung every hours to indicate the time) and keep every records of birth (baptism) and marriages.
Faith is a very strong drive of society, to a point where people are willing to go to war and die in the crusades only because the church says god will pardon their sins. Wealthy nobles are spending fortunes to buy pardons from the church.
Anyone willing to join the church can do so either as part of the secular or regular order.
"Secular" members of the church follow the rules of the church and become priests, they are part of the "main branch" of the church and have to organise prayers.
"Regular" members will join as Monks and follow specific rules related to the order they have chosen, they usually decide to recluse themselves in remote monasteries.
Secular members may chose to also be regular members and vice versa.
The French and English royal families are tightly intricate by countless marriages, to a point where the current King of England, Edward III of England is arguably the legal King of France.
French Nobles on the contrary chose Philip VI to be the king of the France, both claims to the throne being equally arguable.
After much tensions, Edward III of England launched a war against France that will last for a hundred years. Their troops first met on the battlefield at Crecy (nothern France) and it was a major defeat for France.
A typical medieval army consists of infantry, archers and cavalry.
Infantry and archers are trained soldiers, while cavalry consists mostly of nobles.
Canons barely exist, they have been used only once in the battle of Crecy but had little to no impact, to a point where most reports of the battle don't mention them. Early firearms haven't been invented yet.
Crossbows are forbidden against Christians.
A typical Knight wears a full chain mail armour, full plate armours haven't been invented yet. They fight on horseback with lances, shields and swords.
The majority of troops were infantry. Recruited through feudal obligations to Lords, hired for money, or brought in as part of mercenary companies, these men were the massed ranks filling battlefields and the soldiers garrisoning towns and castles.
Though there were standards for the equipment men were meant to bring when mustered, the results were mismatched and haphazard. Infantrymen were not wealthy. They wore whatever scraps of armor they could get, the most common and important being metal helmets. Most carried a sword, a mace or an axe for close quarters fighting. Those forming battle lines usually had spears or polearms with which to gain reach on their opponents and fend off cavalry.
In 1346, architecture is dominated by the Gothic style.
Each books are handwritten by Monks mostly and on parchment, paper already exists but is considered a vile material and hence only used for low quality documents. Printing will not be invented before a very long time.
Medicine is very backward, it relies on the theories of humoral types and dissections of corpses are forbidden. Hygiene is almost inexistent, sewers are very rare. In this regard as well as in many others, the Islamic world is much more advanced than Christendom.
Glass is very rare, it is only used for the most expensive buildings, cheaper building use windows made of oiled parchment, bare holes in the wall or don't have windows at all.
Several counties will mint their own coins out of gold and silver, banknotes do not exist yet and the only banking institutions are held by monastic orders. The first privately owned banks start to appear in Italy.
The American continent have not been discovered yet, Christendom buy good from China through the silk road without knowing where they come from.
Besides the book written by Marco Polo, knowledge of Asia is almost inexistent.