Friday, March 8, 2013

Historical Periods

by Jill Williamson

Today is our last freebie printable post day. *frown*

When I start thinking about writing a new story, I think about history. I ask myself what time period might I set the story in? Even if I'm writing fantasy, and I usually am. Not all fantasy stories have to be medieval. My Blood of Kings fantasy was medieval. And many popular fantasy books are set in that type of a storyworld. But I'm working on a Regency fantasy right now, and I'm having so much fun!

Here's a list of historical periods that are primarily from Europe and the Americas. But the inspiration doesn't end there. Our earth has a rich history. Think of all the time periods and locations you could model a story in. Asia. Australia. Africa. There is a lot of history to use for brainstorming a storyworld. And if you write historical, that's cool too.

Click here for the printable link: Historical Periods

The Stone Age - The Beginning to 2000 BC
The Bronze Age - 3600 BC–600 BC
The Iron Age - 1200BC–400AD
Barbarian Invasions - 300AD–700AD
Medieval - 400AD–1500AD
Renaissance - 1500AD–1700AD
Elizabethan (UK) - 1558AD–1603AD
Jacobean (UK) - 1603AD–1625AD
Caroline (UK) - 1625–1649
Interregnum (UK) - 1649–1660
Restoration (UK) - 1660–1688
Georgian (UK) - 1714–1830
Napoleonic Era (FR) - 1799–1815
Regency (UK) - 1811–1837
Victorian (UK) - 1837–1901
Edwardian (UK) - 1901–1910
Colonial - 1492–1775
Native American - 1492–1900
Revolution - 1775–1800
Turn of the 19th Century - 1795–1810
West - 1800–1890
Regency era in Europe/Federal era in the US - 1811–1820
War of 1812 - 1812
Antebellum - 1820–1861
Victorian UK/US - 1837–1901
Frontier - 1845–1916
South - 1860–1920
Civil War - 1861–1865
Reconstruction - 1865–1887
Turn of the Century - 1890–1915
World War I - 1914–1918
Interwar period - 1918–1939
Roaring Twenties - 1920–1929
Great Depression - 1929–World War II
World War II - 1939–1945
Post WWII - 1945–1950
Atomic Age - after 1945
Post-war era - 1946–1962
Cold War (Soviet Union and US) -1945–1989 or 1991
Space Age - after 1957
The Sixties - 1960–1969
Turbulent 1960’s/War in Vietnam
Post-Modern (Soviet Union and United States) -1973–present
Information Age - 1970–present
The Seventies - 1970–1979
The Eighties - 1980–1989
The Nineties - 1990–1999
The 2000s - 2000–2009
The Social Age - 2004–present
The Tens - 2010–2019
The Big Data age - 2001–present

What era intrigues you?


  1. Bodie Theone got me into WWII and post WWII! I love that history.

  2. I think a regency fantasy is one of the most brilliant things I've ever heard. I'm dying to read that book, Jill!

    1. I'm dying to write it! It's been done, though, the adult general spec market. Wona Hugo or a Nebula or something. Just ordered a couple books from Amazon to read to see what's out there.

    2. I'm writing a regency fantasy, but there is no magic. Instead of telepathy, they have a telegraph. I thought I was the only one. What is yours about? Can you tell us, or is it a secret?

  3. I love history from about the 1600's onward, and especially the 20th century, but I also like the medival times. :)

    My current WIP is in present day, so I guess "The Tens".

    Thanks for all the printables this week! They've been really helpful!

    1. You're welcome, Amanda. Doesn't the tens sound funny? I can't get used to it.

  4. Regency fantasy! That's very original :) My WIP is medieval fantasy.

    1. Love medieval fantasy, Hannah! Three Musketeers is a sort of Regency fantasy, though it's about the soldiers and not the high society people.

  5. Ooh, that sounds awesome, Jill! Now I want to read your book. :)

    1. Yay! If only I had time to write it. Why did I have to have four Spencer books, anyway... That's okay. I like Spencer. But he's no Mr. Darcy. lol

  6. Tee hee. "War of 1812 - 1812" made me chuckle. :)

  7. I have one story set in "the Tens," another in the 2050s somewhere, another in the West/Native American/Civil War, another in the Turn of the Century/World War I, and finally one set in Feudal Japan, which is basically 1185-1868. Yay for Historical Periods! xD

  8. Regency Fantasy!? I wants it now! (Seriously--sounds brilliant!)

    I'm in the process of stripping the vaguely-medieval setting/ecology from my world and infusing it with a tropical/Peruvian ecology and a Roaring-Twenties/Progressive-Era vibe. Because I'm cool like that. :P

    1. I love your idea too, Diana. You are cool like that. :-)

  9. I don't know why the medievals & fantasy is a golden match, it just is. But Regency fantasy sounds so cool! Love that time era just as the Victorian times

    1. Yeah, it's a popular genre. But I think these things move in cycles. In the 70s and 80s, science fiction and space opera was popular because of Star Wars and Star Trek. And then 80s and 90s went into fantasy big time. 2000s, dystopian. What next, I wonder?

    2. Maybe you'll set the trend with Regency fantasy ;)

  10. Antibellum, Civil War, WWII and Post WWII are the periods of history that fascinate me most (evidenced by the fact that I have stories set in all four time periods). It's strange to realize that none of the other time periods come to mind naturally for fantasy. A WWII or Civil War fantasy would be quite interesting.

    1. I think the reason most fantasies are set more in medieval times is because the medieval times already feel kind of fantastic. With the swords and fancy clothes and knights and stuff. The magic seems to fit right in.

      Also, not many people have attempted fantasies for WWII or the Civil War because it would be difficult to do. If the author were to undermine the tragedy of the Holocaust or something by accident, it would be really bad. The issues are kind of touchy still so many people might be offended. Nobody is offended if you say stuff about what happened in medieval times.

      That said, a WWII or CW fantasy would be pretty cool if it could be done without significantly changing what happened.

    2. Those sound cool, Leah!

      I agree, Anon. That era feels like a fantasy world. There's a lot of popular adult alternate history or historical fantasy that deals with WWII and the Civil War. Harry Turtledove does a lot of it. My father-in-law loves him.

  11. I like the 1700's and early 1800's in Europe. I know that was an age of passive women, but I love the clothes and the etiquette and everything. I love reading historical fantasy, but I don't really like writing it. I'll leave the past to the experts and stick with the future! Thanks for the post!

    1. You're welcome, Kaitlin! I like reading it too. :-)

  12. Civil war, revolutionary war, WW11, WW1, war of 1812, oh hec, all of them inspire me! XD

    1. I'm sensing some new story ideas might be coming on with the thoughts of all these different eras.

  13. World War II, and the Victorian time.

  14. Oooh! Thank you for posting these!!! I think the Medieval, Renaissance, WW1 and 2 eras are my inspirations :D Also the big data age.... of course :P But I love the Medieval era!!

  15. OOHHH! Cool!
    I honestly never knew that there was a stone age, a bronze age, and a iron age!
    Thanks kind of cool!
    Definitely going to look some of these up! Thanks!

  16. From Amo Libros:
    This is a great list!!! It's so nice to see it all laid out.

  17. From Amo Libros:
    Medieval has always been a love of mine, and my studies in Latin and stuff have given me a fascination for the Late Bronze Age/Iron Age in the Mediterranean. There are so many unsolved mysteries...and for a time that was so long ago, in some ways it was remarkably like our own.

  18. I love the Victorian era (my current WIP is kinda steampunk), but reading lots of fantasy has also given me a love for the medieval era. I have an idea for a fantasy story which I want to write next, but I'm now considering taking it out of the medieval setting I put it in - it feels too overdone.

  19. Medieval, renaissance, world war 2 and though this was not on the list, future!!!

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  21. From Amo Libros:
    Another thing I wanted to mention: Something I've realized in my classical studies is that ancient cultures (especially around the Mediterranean) were aware of each other. So despite the fact that you learn about Assyria and Babylon separate from Greece and Rome, they were not only aware of each other, but often had as much contact with each other as we do with countries like France and China today. So especially if you're doing a historical fiction, make sure you don't get so zoned in on your chosen culture that you forget who else was out there at the time, and that often they weren't so much "out there" as "next door".
    If you end up doing classical anything, I recommend this source for ancient literature and histories by ancient historians (who can give you a good picture of how they regarded things at the time):
    Don't worry, you can get stuff in English ;)