Invasions and Conquests in the High Middle Ages
The Viking and Hungarian invasions in Western Europe ceased by the beginning of the High Middle Ages, while the Muslim rule in Sicily and Southern Italy collapsed. However, at the same time Europe saw the invasions of the Normans (descendants of the Vikings who settled in today’s Normandy in northern France in 911), Mongols and Ottomans.
The Norman Conquest of Southern Italy mostly took place during the 11th century, while the Norman Conquest of England began with the invasion of William the Conqueror in 1066. In 1169, the Normans invaded Ireland and at the same time subdued Wales and Scotland and replaced the Anglo-Saxons as the ruling class. Eventually the Normans began to identify themselves as Anglo-Normans but during the Hundred Years’ War they already identified themselves as English. In 1130, after capturing Sicily and Southern Italy from the Saracens Roger II of Sicily established the Kingdom of Sicily which besides Sicily encompassed the whole Mezzogiorno region of Southern Italy and until 1530 the islands of Malta and Gozo. However, the Normans held Kingdom of Sicily only until 1194 when it passed to the Hohenstaufens through marriage.
The Mongol Invasion in the early 13th century had the greatest impact on Eastern Europe where Kievan Rus was at the time at its height. The Mongol forces decisively defeated the Kievan army in the Battle at Kalka River in 1223 and invaded the Kievan Rus in 1237-40 which afterwards ceased to exist. The Mongol Invasions also greatly affected Hungary, Poland, Lithuania, Bulgaria and Serbia. However, the Mongol Invasions in the mentioned countries ceased after year 1241 when Batu Khan returned to the Mongolian Empire because of the death of the Great Khan, Ogedei Khan despite being victorious against King Bela IV of Hungary in the Battle of Mohi.
The expansion of the Ottomans who were a major threat to the weakened Byzantine Empire started at end of the High Middle Ages. The founder of the Ottoman Dynasty, Osman I extended the Ottoman territory to the Byzantine frontiers and captured the Byzantine city Bilecik in 1299. The city of Bilecik was the first of many Byzantine cities and villages captured by the Ottomans in the Late Middle Ages and marked the beginning of the rise of the Ottoman Empire which extended its power over the Eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans in the 14th and 15th centuries.
The period of the High Middle Ages also saw the first European conquests and expansion out of Europe. The Crusades resulted in the establishment of the Crusader states in Syria and Palestine, while the Vikings settled in Iceland, Greenland and even reached North America.