Queen Tamar: First Female Monarch of Medieval Georgia

She presided over Georgia’s greatest territorial expansion, taking advantage of the decline of other major powers in the region. Introduction Tamar was the queen of Georgia from 1184 to 1213 CE. She is considered one of the greatest of medieval Georgia’s monarchs, and she presided over its greatest territorial expansion, taking advantage of the decline[…]

Hindu Architecture at Rajarajesvara Temple in Tanjavur, India

The Rajarajesvara temple was built by one of the most successful rulers of the medieval period, Rajaraja Chola I. By Dr. Arathi MenonHistorian of Art and Architecture Introduction To see the Hindu god Shiva in the Rajarajesvara temple complex in Tanjavur, we must enter two impressive gateways, walk into a cloistered courtyard, past an enormous[…]

Analyzing an Ancient Indus Seal from Mohenjo-daro

Seals numbering in the thousands have been discovered in excavations of Indus cities as well as in sites in the Persian Gulf in southwest Asia. By Dr. Arathi MenonArt Historian Introduction Incised on this small stone (less than two inches across), we see a large figure seated on a dais surrounded by a horned buffalo,[…]

Brewminate 2020 Election Forecast

Brewminate’s running weekly forecast for the 2020 election. By Matthew A. McIntoshJournalist and HistorianBrewminate Editor-in-Chief Brewminate will be updating a forecast of the 2020 election on a weekly basis. The updates will be posted every Saturday at a minimum with possible updates daily with added commentary. We take an average across multiple polls in each state[…]

Zounds! What the Fork Are Minced Oaths and Why Are We Still Fecking Using Them?

From 16th-century playwrights to ‘The Good Place,’ wordplay has found clever ways to get around uttering profane and blasphemous language. Introduction What in tarnation is “tarnation?” Why do people in old books exclaim “zounds!” in moments of surprise? And what could a professor of linguistics possibly have against “duck-loving crickets?” I’ll get to the crickets[…]

Magna Ecclesia: A History of the Hagia Sophia

The aesthetic qualities of a geometric design are what most concern the twentieth-century work on Hagia Sophia. Introduction Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, constructed 532-537 CE, continues to be revered as one of the most important structures in the world. Hagia Sophia (Greek Ἁγία Σοφία, for ‘Holy Wisdom’) was designed to be the major basilica of the[…]

The Slicker Wars of Missouri: 19th-Century Vigilante Justice on the Frontier

Vigilance committees formed throughout the Missouri Ozarks, and spread to several areas within the state. Introduction During the mid-1800s, conflicts between outlaws and local vigilante groups spread across the Missouri Ozarks and became known as the Slicker Wars. The Missouri Ozarks is known for its bluffs, rivers, mountains, forests, and caves. During the 1840s, this[…]

The Bald Knobbers: 19th-Century Vigilantism in the Ozarks

The Bald Knobbers, who mostly sided with the Union in the Civil War, were opposed by the Anti-Bald Knobbers, mostly Confederates. Introduction and Background The Bald Knobbers were a group of vigilantes in the Ozark region of southwest Missouri from 1883 to 1889. They are commonly depicted wearing black horned hoods with white outlines of[…]

Pliny the Younger and the Elite in the Ancient Roman Empire

After serving one year on the staff of a Syrian legion, he began the long, imperial road through the cursus honorum. Introduction Pliny the Younger (61-112 CE) was the nephew of Pliny the Elder (23-79 CE), the author of the 37-volume Natural History. He had a remarkable political career, gained a reputation as an excellent lawyer and[…]

The End of the Roman Republic: Yielding Freedom to Autocracy

Augustus framed his autocratic takeover and control of the Roman state as a sort of democratic act. In 22 BC a series of political and economic crises buffeted the regime of Augustus, Rome’s first emperor. Augustus had won control of Rome’s Mediterranean empire in 30 BC after nearly two decades of civil conflicts, but his[…]

The Sicilian Revolt against the Second Triumvirate in the Ancient Roman Republic

30,000 slaves were captured and returned to their masters, with another 6,000 being impaled upon wooden stakes as an example. Introduction and Context The Sicilian revolt was a revolt against the Second Triumvirate of the Roman Republic. Occurring between 44 BC and 36 BC, the revolt was led by Sextus Pompey and ended in a[…]

Avenging Caesar: The Liberators’ Civil War in Ancient Rome

After the murder of Caesar, Brutus and Cassius (also known as the Liberatores) had left Italy and taken control of all Eastern provinces. Introduction The Liberators’ civil war (43–42 BC) was started by the Second Triumvirate to avenge Julius Caesar’s assassination. The war was fought by the forces of Mark Antony and Octavian (the Second[…]

Capturing the Architecture of American Agriculture – and a Passing Way of Life

For 45 years, David Hanks has photographed feed mills in every season and mood. By David HanksPhotographer “Why would anyone want to take pictures of a place like this?” That’s the question I often get when I enter the office of a feed mill or grain elevator, asking permission to make photographs on the property[…]

The 19th-Century Midwest Farmers Movement That Challenged Gilded Age Greed

The Grange was an agricultural brotherhood that sought to foster mutual self-reliance free from monopolies. Perhaps you’ve seen them on a leisurely weekend drive through the countryside—small white structures with the sign “Grange Hall.” Although the Grange is now a mere shadow of its former self, its legacy looms large in American history. As one[…]

Pawns of History: The Poetics of Russian Revolutionary Politics

The repression of political dissent in Czarist Russia led many future revolutionaries to literature as a gateway to political thought. I don’t know about the others, but I was in awe of the tenacity, durability, and fearlessness of human thought, especially that thought within which—or rather, beneath which—there loomed something larger than thought, something primeval[…]

What to Know to Understand the Russian Revolution of 1916-1917

The events that unfolded in Russia from the autumn of 1916 through the autumn of 1917 bent the arc of history in unfathomable ways. Now that the lush and prosperous years had come to Russia, the last thing she needed was war; they should have just said a Requiem Mass for that Archduke Franz Ferdinand,[…]

Medieval Conspiracy Theories: The Lepers’ Plot of 1321

The hysteria quickly spread and local authorities used it as an excuse to attack both Jewish and leper communities. Introduction The 1321 lepers’ plot was an alleged conspiracy of French lepers to spread their disease by contaminating water supplies, including well water, with their powders and poisons.[1] According to the American historian Solomon Grayzel, lepers[…]

Tweet, Tweet: ‘Twitter’ in the Medieval World

Exploring the medieval roots of the now-obsolete meaning of the word ‘Twitter’. Does Twitter have its origins in the medieval period? Well, in a literal sense, no. As far as we are aware, no medieval ships came close to being named BoatyMcBoatFace as a result of a ‘campaign’ of parchment scraps. Medieval people did not[…]

A Brief History of Campaign Paraphernalia from 1789 to the Digital Age

It can be as meaningful to the voters today as the brass buttons were to supporters watching the first president inaugurated in 1789. On April 30, 1789, enthusiastic onlookers filled the streets, dangled out of windows, and perched on rooftops to catch a glimpse of George Washington as he made his way through the streets[…]

Thomas Jefferson and the Judiciary: Federalists v. Republicans

Many radical Republicans pressured Jefferson and the Republican-dominated Congress to make war on the Federalist judiciary. In Thomas Jefferson’s mind, the first order of business for him as President was the establishment of a “wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another” but which would otherwise leave them alone to regulate[…]

The Whiskey Rebellion of 1794 as a Test of Federal Power and Jurisdiction

The Whiskey Rebellion was the first test of federal authority in the United States. It all started with a tax. What came to be known as the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794, or the Western Insurrection, took place over a period of time beginning in 1791 by most accounts. While some would say the roots go[…]

Alberti’s Late Medieval Revolution in Painting

Alberti’s De Pictura (On Painting, 1435) was the first theoretical text written about art in Europe. Introduction In a fresco (water-based pigment applied to fresh moist plaster) high on one wall of the Sistine Chapel, the aged Saint Peter kneels as he humbly accepts the keys of heaven from Jesus Christ standing before him. These[…]

Illuminating the Carolingian Era: The Artistic Diversity of Charlemagne’s Renaissance

These luxurious manuscripts were written and illuminated between the late eighth century and the first quarter of the ninth century. Abstract Comparing information from the ancient texts about the illumination of the manuscripts to the analysis of the components used to create colour in illuminations sheds interesting light. Our research team studied several manuscripts from[…]

Election and Service of the Doge in Medieval Venice

The title “doge” was the title of the senior-most elected official of Venice and Genoa. Introduction The Doge of Venice[1], sometimes translated as Duke (compare the Italian Duca), was the chief magistrate and leader of the Republic of Venice between 726 and 1797. Doges of Venice were elected for life by the city-state’s aristocracy. The[…]

Strategy and Manipulation in Medieval Elections

Exploring voting rules and electoral procedures used in the Middle Ages in both ecclesiastical and secular contexts. Abstract When developing electoral protocols, desiderata include a system which is transparent,non-manipulable, honest, and not open to strategizing. However, these desiderata are in tension with each other: Often, transparent electoral procedures are the least strategy resistant, and many[…]

St. Anthony’s Fire: Ergotism and Its Treatment in the Medieval World

It is less well-known than the Black Death plague but was constantly present throughout the Middle Ages. Introduction St. Anthony’s Fire (SAF) is an illness brought on by the ingestion of fungus-contaminated rye grain causing ergot poisoning (ergotism). The disease’s common name derives from the medieval Benedictine monks dedicated to that saint who offered treatment to[…]

Medieval Cures for Lung Disease, Gout, and Vertigo

Old English continued to be used a century after William’s victory at the Battle of Hastings. Even after the Normans conquered England, Old English (the oldest form of the vernacular) continued to be spoken throughout the country. It continued to be used in books produced in  monasteries there for at least a century after William[…]