The Feudal System in Medieval Europe

Night of August 4th, abolition of feudality and fiscal privileges, by Léopold Morice / Wikimedia Commons The term “feudal system” came into use to describe a hierarchy of relationships which were embraced in medieval Europe, involving fief-holders of different ranks. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 12.03.2018 Public Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief Introduction Harold swearing oath on[…]

Turkey: On the Mythical Origins of Coffee

The mythical origins of coffee, are steeped in legend and topped with a creamy dollop of speculation. By Dr. Trish Nicholson Social Anthropologist and Historian Introduction What is certain is that the lush-leaved trees and their precious berries– bright red or green while fresh – originate in East Africa, most likely Ethiopia, where the Kaffa[…]

A History of the Coffeehouse

Caffinets as the one pictured by Thomas Allom and described by the Rev. Robert Walsh, (1772-1852) in Constantinople / Public Domain Coffeehouses have always served as centers of social interaction. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 12.03.2018 Public Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief Introduction Café de Flore – Quartier Saint Germain, Paris / Photo by Armaud 25, Wikimedia[…]

The Chymist’s Trade Card: When 18th-Century Pharmacy Usurped Alchemy

An 18th-century trade card reveals a lot more than its owner might have intended. By Julia Nurse / 10.26.2017 Collections Researcher Wellcome Library Imagine entering the shop of chymist (the word ‘chemist’ was not used until 1790) Richard Siddall as it appears on his trade card from around 1750. If the representation is at all[…]

Illuminated Manuscripts, Illuminating Medicines

From hunting rare bugs to harvesting the world’s most expensive plant parts, conservator Cheryl Porter will try almost anything to learn more about pigments from the past. These colours weren’t only used to illuminate manuscripts and paintings – they were also important medicines, and artists would often source the raw materials for their work from[…]

Modern America and Magna Carta

Exploring the role of Magna Carta in the politics and popular culture of modern America. From The Simpsons and Jay-Z to the American law courts and the ‘War on Terror’, discover the significance of Magna Carta in the USA today. By Dr. Matthew Shaw / 03.12.2015 Librarian Institute of Historical Research School of Advanced Study University of London[…]

Early America and the Magna Carta

The Magna Carta (originally known as the Charter of Liberties) of 1215, written in iron gall ink on parchment in medieval Latin, using standard abbreviations of the period, authenticated with the Great Seal of King John. / British Library, Wikimedia Commons From the early colony of Pennsylvania, to the American Revolution, the Declaration of Independence and the Bill[…]

Yaoyotl: Aztec Warfare

An almost life-size terracotta Aztec Eagle Warrior, one of the elite warrior groups in the Aztec military. 13-15th century CE, from Tenochtitlan. (National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City) / Photo by Dennis Jarvis, Flickr, Creative Commons The military commander-in-chief was the king himself, the tlatoani. By Mark Cartwright / 03.18.2015 Historian Introduction The Aztecs engaged in warfare (yaoyotl) to acquire territory, resources,[…]

Human and Non-Human Sacrifice in Aztec Religious Practice

 / An Aztec ceremonial knife with a cedarwood handle and flint blade. The figure of the handle is covered in turquoise and shell mosiac and represents an Aztec Eagle knight. 1400-1521 CE. (British Museum, London) / British Museum, Creative Commons This was a strictly ritualized process which gave the highest possible honor to the gods and was regarded[…]

Why the 1918 ‘Spanish Flu’ Defied Both Memory and Imagination

Books, music, artworks and memorials help ensure that victims of pandemics are remembered. But while the Black Death, AIDS and Ebola outbreaks are firmly part of our collective cultural memory, the Spanish flu outbreak has not been. Medical historian and author Mark Honigsbaum explains why. By Dr. Mark Honigsbaum / 10.25.2018 Lecturer in Medical History[…]

The ‘Blue Terror’: British Troops and Cholera in 19th-Century India

As Indians began to rebel against colonial rule, the British accused them of spreading cholera, little imagining who was really to blame. The terrors that confronted one colonist show how alarming the outbreak had become. By Anna Faherty / 06.06.2017 Associate Lecturer University of the Arts London India, 1857. In a British enclave, Katherine Bartrum watches her[…]

The ‘Horns of Moses’ in Artistic, Literary, and Archaeological Context

Why, in many representations, do we see Moses with horns? Lecture by Dr. Thomas Römer / 02.05.2009 Professor of Biblical Studies Collège de France Introduction Any self-respecting scholar of the Bible has to examine the question of literary genres, which is one of the methodological tools of biblical research. Therefore, to prepare this lecture that I am giving[…]

Stone Tools at Arabian ‘Crossroads’ Present Mysteries of Ancient Human Migration

Hand axes from the site of Saffaqah, Saudi Arabia. (Palaeodeserts/Ian R. Cartwright) Hominins made stone tools in central Arabia 190,000 years ago, and the hand axe technology raises questions about just who they were. By Brian Handwerk / 11.29.2018 early 200,000 years ago, at the confluence of two long-vanished river systems in the heart of Arabia,[…]

Stone Tools Date Early Humans in North Africa to 2.4 Million Years Ago

Archaeological excavation at Ain Boucherit, Algeria. Mathieu Duval, Author provided Ancient stone tools found in what is now Algeria show early humans likely spread across Africa more rapidly than first thought.    By Dr. Mathieu Duval (left) and Dr. Mohamed Sahnouni (right) / 11.29.2018 Duval: ARC Future Fellow, Griffith University Sahnouni: Archéologue et professeur, National Center for Research on Human Evolution (CENIEH) When did early humans first arrive in[…]

Typhoid Mary: The Cook Who became a Pariah

A healthy-seeming cook gained unwelcome notoriety as Typhoid Mary, unwittingly spreading disease to co-workers and employers. Ultimately, the New York authorities took extreme measures to protect the public. By Anna Faherty / 06.29.2017 Associate Lecturer University of the Arts London New York, 1907. Mary Mallon spreads infection, unaware that her name will one day become synonymous with[…]

The Stranger Who Started an Epidemic in 19th-Century New Orleans

A huge expansion of the population of New Orleans created the perfect environment for the spread of yellow fever, and recent immigrants were those that suffered most. Doctors put this down to their “loathsome” lifestyles, but science was eventually to find another culprit. By Anna Faherty / 06.15.2017 Associate Lecturer University of the Arts London[…]

From Plymouth to the Indian Removal Act

Creative Commons Welcoming tribes to conquering settlers. By Josh Stewart / 04.17.2017 Genocide is the systematic destruction of peoples based on ethnicity, religion, nationality, or race. It is the culmination of human rights violations. There are numerous examples of genocide throughout history, some being more infamous than others. For example, Hitler and the Jewish Holocaust is probably[…]

How the Inkas Governed, Thrived, and Fell without Alphabetic Writing

The last emperor, Sapa Inka Atahualpa / Wikimedia Commons The Sapa Inka (emperor) governed Tahuantinsuyu both efficiently and profitably. What’s more, he did so without alphabetic writing, for the Inkas never invented this. By Dr. Christopher J. Given-Wilson / 11.20.2018 Professor of History University of St. Andrews Between the 1430s and the arrival of the Spanish in 1532,[…]

Charlemagne: Imperator Augustus, King of the Franks

Charlemagne, portrait by Albrecht Dürer / Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Wikimedia Commons His was the first truly imperial power in the West since the fall of Rome. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 11.30.2018 Public Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief Introduction Charlemagne (742 or 747 – January 28, 814) (also Charles the Great [1]; from Latin, Carolus Magnus or Karolus Magnus), son of King Pippin the[…]

Frankish Expansion and Transition in Early Medieval Europe

Front of a Frankish casket / Photo by John w. Schulze, Wikimedia Commons Their expansion continued until the 8th century CE, during the time of Charlemagne, when the Frankish territory occupied most of Western Europe. By Cristian Violatti / 12.23.2014 Historian Introduction Frankish Bird-Shaped Brooch, second half of 6th century CE. This brooch would have been[…]

From Game of Thrones to Steven Pinker: Just how Lawless Were the Middle Ages?

Castillo de Zafra / Photo by Borjaanimal, Wikimedia Commons Medieval men and women were caught up in a Hobbesian pre-state society where violence was unrestrained and regularly went unpunished. Just how accurate is this perception? By Dr. Sara M. Butler / 08.15.2017 Professor and King George III Chair in British History The Ohio State University NOTE: This[…]

Ancient Trade Connections between West Africa and the Wider World

The archaeological evidence is clear, but the mechanisms of diffusion are still not entirely understood. By Dr. Sonja Magnavita Research Associate Commission for the Archaeology of Non-European Cultures (KAAK), Bonn, Germany Abstract The long-standing, more mythical than fact-based assumptions about ancient trade contacts between West Africa and the wider world prior to the Arab conquest[…]

Trade in the Ancient Phoenician World

A Phoenician-Punic ship from a relief carving on a 2nd century CE sarcophagus / Photo by NMB, Wikimedia Commons The Phoenicians established themselves as one of the greatest trading powers in the ancient world. By Mark Cartwright / 04.01.2016 Historian Introduction The Phoenicians, based on a narrow coastal strip of the Levant, put their excellent seafaring skills to good[…]

The Rise and Fall of Ur in Ancient Mesopotamia

Ruins in the Town of Ur, Southern Iraq / Photo by M.Lubinski, Flickr, Creative Commons Ur was an established city by 3800 BCE continually inhabited until 450 BCE. By Dr. Joshua J. Mark / 04.28.2011 Professor of Philosophy Marist College Introduction Ur was a city in the region of Sumer, southern Mesopotamia, in what is modern-day Iraq. According to biblical tradition, the[…]

The Fertile Crescent: The ‘Cradle of Civilization’

A map illustrating the various political states within the Fertile Crescent c. 1450 BCE / Image by Свифт/Svift, Wikimedia Commons Virtually every area of human knowledge was advanced by these people. By Dr. Joshua J. Mark / 03.28.2018 Professor of Philosophy Marist College Introduction The Fertile Crescent, often called the “Cradle of Civilization”, is the region in the Middle East[…]

The Holocaust in Ukraine, 1941-1944

Executions of Jews by German army mobile killing units (Einsatzgruppen) near Ivangorod, Ukraine / Wikimedia Commons The Holocaust is organically and integrally connected to the attempt to conquer Ukraine. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 11.28.2018 Public Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief Introduction The Holocaust in Ukraine took place in Reichskommissariat Ukraine during the occupation of the Soviet Ukraine by Nazi Germany in World War II.[5] Between[…]