Twentieth-Century Jewish Émigrés and Medieval European Economic History

Examining the significance of their intellectual contributions by uncovering the webs of meaning in which their work was suspended. Abstract This essay discusses the intellectual contributions of five Jewish émigrés to the study of European economic history. In the midst of the war years, these intellectuals reconceptualized premodern European economic history and established the predominant[…]

The Fear of Outsiders and Social Minorities in Medieval Europe

Of the many groups under pressure and persecution in this period were Jews, lepers, and homosexuals. Western Europe experienced a significant increase in discrimination against social minorities in the period conventionally labeled the long twelfth century.[1] This period was one of scholastic sophistication, urbanization, and consolidation of central secular and church power.[2] The very developments[…]

The Stone of Scone: Coronating Medieval Scottish Monarchs

Introduction The Stone of Scone (Gaelic: Lia Fail), also known as the Stone of Destiny or Coronation Stone, is a block of sandstone associated with the coronation ceremonies of the medieval monarchs of Scotland. These ceremonies were held at Scone, a prehistoric site in Perthshire. The Stone of Scone was removed from Scotland by Edward I of[…]

The Renaissance Queen Who Defied the Holy Roman Emperor

Queen Bona helps us understand how elite Renaissance women acquired, maintained, and negotiated power. Among the women of the European Renaissance, Bona Sforza is often stereotyped similarly to her aunt – the fabulous Lucrecia Borgia – as a dangerous and meddling femme fatale. Bona Sforza was the daughter of Gian Galeazzo Sforza, the Duke of[…]

A History of Water Cistern Engineering since the Ancient World

Cisterns were not only used to store water but also as underground chambers, hiding places for fugitives, burial places, and prison cells. Abstract The use of water cisterns has been traced back to the Neolithic Age; this paper thus presents a brief historical development of water cisterns worldwide over the last 5500 years. This paper[…]

How Plagues and Disease Have Influenced the Arts since the Ancient World

Throughout history, writers and artists have explored the impact of plagues and pandemics on humanity. One of the things about literature is that it always responds immediately to what’s happening in the environment, says Associate Professor Justin Clemens from the School of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne. “People started writing responses to[…]

An Introduction to Icons in the Medieval Byzantine Empire

Christians initially disagreed over whether religious images were good or bad, resulting in the iconoclasm controversy. What Is an Icon? In our time, we often refer to celebrities as cultural icons, pop icons, and fashion icons. Rebels are sometimes labeled iconoclasts. Icons are also the little images that populate the screens of our computers, phones, and[…]

The Chronological Periods of the Byzantine Empire

Introducing the periods of Byzantine history, with attention to developments in art and architecture. From Rome to Constantinople In 313, the Roman Empire legalized Christianity, beginning a process that would eventually dismantle its centuries-old pagan tradition. Not long after, emperor Constantine transferred the empire’s capital from Rome to the ancient Greek city of Byzantion (modern[…]

Giving at Christmas Time in the Middle Ages

Christmas gifts were a well-established part of the medieval year. The traditions of giving to the less fortunate is alive and well today and many of us will receive leaflets about Christmas charity campaigns through our doors this festive, and witness charity fundraising events whilst out and about. One tradition which has a long heritage[…]

Trotula: Medicine and Women in the Middle Ages

The “Book on the Conditions of Women” was novel in its adoption of the new Arabic medicine that had just begun to make inroads into Europe. Introduction Trotula is a name referring to a group of three texts on women’s medicine that were composed in the southern Italian port town of Salerno in the 12th[…]

Medieval Medical Prescriptions in the 15th and 16th Centuries

Knowledge preserved in medieval books enjoyed a longevity that extended beyond the period of the manuscript book. Abstract This article examines a fifteenth-century remedy book, Oxford, Bodleian Library, Rawlinson c. 299, and describes its collection of 314 medieval medical prescriptions. The recipes are organised broadly from head to toe, and often several remedies are offered[…]

The Advancement of Health Care in Medieval Venice

Venice’s embodied a unique combination that fostered innovation, entrepreneurship, and creativity. When Venetians invented quarantine in 1348, the government proclamation was based on the fact that this cosmopolitan city could put two and two together. The Venetian Republic had based its thriving economy on trade by sea and it became obvious that when foreign ships[…]

Gothic Cathedrals: Architecture and Divine Light

The Gothic style was popular throughout Europe from the 12th century through the 16th century. By Hillary SmithHistorian Introduction Gothic cathedrals are some of the most recognizable and magnificent architectural feats. With soaring towers and softly filtered light streaming through stained glass windows, everything about the Gothic cathedral is transportive and ethereal, lifting the gaze[…]

Great and Gruesome Medieval Trials

The relatively sensible approach to crime found in Ancient Rome gave way to something much different in the medieval world. Introduction The year is 897, and Pope Stephen VI has ordered the eight-month-old corpse of his predecessor removed from its vault at St. Peter’s.  The former, and very dead, pope is clad in his old pontifical[…]

Crime and Punishment in Medieval England

Surreal legal concepts ran amuck throughout the epoch. By Lloyd Duhaime, J.D.Duhaime Law The origins of English law, aka common law, are decidedly murky as they were based on unwritten customs, passed down from generation to generation. William the Conqueror (1028-87), Henry I, King Arthur and King Alfred, Canute (995-1035), Ethelbert and Edward the Confessor – all tried[…]

Dominating Castles in the Medieval English Landscape

Castles are best seen as an architectural expression of the social status of their owners. Introduction The traditional view of a medieval English castle is that it was designed for warfare, suggesting that medieval lords were perpetually either at war or preparing for it. Until recently castles were mostly studied by military men or at[…]

The Public Acceptance of Women as Leaders in the Middle Ages

It can be hard to estimate broad social trends in the Middle Ages, but some sources allow us to get pretty good samples. Inheritance vs. Appointment This is a question which people have struggled with for a very long time, as a case of disputed succession from fourteenth-century France shows. In 1341, the duke of[…]

An Introduction to Ancient and Medieval Chinese Calligraphy

In the general order of their appearance, there are: seal script, clerical script, cursive script, running script, and standard script. Art of the Line Calligraphy is the world’s oldest abstract art—the art of the line. This basic visual element can also hold a symbolic charge. Nowhere has the symbolic power of the line manifested itself[…]

Monsters, Marvels, and Mythical Beasts from Ancient Lore to Today

Monstrous figures continue to captivate today and remain a popular source of wonder and curiosity. What makes a monster? A monster is seen to be any creature that deviates from the norm…We feel pity and compassion, but we are also greatly unsettled. John & Caitlin Matthews, The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures, 2008 Introduction Monsters are[…]

Krak des Chevaliers: A Medieval Hospitaller Crusades Fortress

At its peak, Krak des Chevaliers housed a garrison of around 2,000, allowing the Hospitallers to exact tribute from a wide area. Introduction Krak des Chevaliers, also called Crac des Chevaliers, Ḥiṣn al-Akrād, literally “Fortress of the Kurds”), and formerly Crac de l’Ospital, is a Crusader castle in Syria and one of the most important preserved medieval castles in the world. The[…]

Medieval Medicine of Western Europe

The Western medical tradition often traces its roots directly to the early Greek civilization. Introduction Medieval medicine in Western Europe was composed of a mixture of existing ideas from antiquity. In the Early Middle Ages, following the fall of the Western Roman Empire, standard medical knowledge was based chiefly upon surviving Greek and Roman texts, preserved in monasteries and elsewhere. Medieval medicine is widely[…]

Classics Lost and Found: The Survival of Ancient Texts

The biggest factor for the survival or disappearance of classical texts is actually likely to be their use in medieval school education. Works written by ancient Greek and Roman authors have made a major impact on the world’s culture and society. They profoundly shaped medieval thought, as you can discover in Cillian O’Hogan’s article The Classical[…]

Serfdom in Medieval Feudal Europe

As the Western Roman Empire collapsed, landholders gradually transitioned from outright slavery to serfdom. What Is Feudalism? Let’s imagine that you’re a poor European farmer in the Middle Ages. Here’s the political situation: you don’t own the land you live on. It’s rented from a baron or a duke. You and your neighbors share a[…]

Labor Organizations in Ancient and Medieval Times

The interests of labor or how the lower orders earned their living or conducted their affairs was never well recorded. By Carroll D. Wright, J.D.United States Commissioner of Labor, 1885-1905 NOTE: This article, now in the public domain, was written by Mr. Wright in 1905 and the terminology reflects the time and usage in that[…]

A History of Heresy in Ancient and Medieval Christianity

The study of heresy requires an understanding of the development of orthodoxy and the role of creeds in the definition of orthodox beliefs. Introduction, Etymology, Definition Heresy in Christianity denotes the formal denial or doubt of a core doctrine of the Christian faith[1] as defined by one or more of the Christian churches.[2] In Western[…]

Medieval Science and Mathematics

Examining early medieval approaches to various types of knowledge we might consider today to be ‘scientific’ and early universities. Introduction The idea of science in the early Middle Ages is a broad one that encompasses many subjects. To understand this, we should think of the root of the word ‘science’, which comes from the Latin[…]

European Science in the Middle Ages

Roman and early medieval scientific texts were read and studied, contributing to the understanding of nature in the light of reason. Introduction European science in the Middle Ages comprised the study of nature, mathematics and natural philosophy in medieval Europe. Following the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the decline in knowledge of Greek,[…]

Till Eulenspiegel: Traveling Trickster of Medieval German Literature

There is a suggestion that the name is in fact a veiled pun on a Low German phrase translating to “wipe-arse”. Introduction Till Eulenspiegel is the protagonist of a German chapbook published in 1515 (a first edition of c. 1510/12 is preserved fragmentarily) with a possible background in earlier Middle Low German folklore. Eulenspiegel is[…]

An Introduction to Medieval Safavid Art and Architecture

Safavid art and architecture reflected the adoption of a Shi’a identity. Introduction to the Safavid Dynasty: Rise and Empire Brilliantly painted manuscripts. Exquisitely detailed miniatures. Fine silks. Complex, ornate palaces. The art of the Safavids is simply magnificent. The Safavids were a dynastic family that ruled over modern-day Iran. They sustained one of the longest[…]