Early Medieval Chinese Presence in the Nubian and Abyssinian Kingdoms

Examining the visit of Du Huan to Molin-guo and Laobosa. Abstract This article focuses on the first Chinese whose presence in Africa is clearly documented. Due to the geographical curiosity of the T’ang dynasty, extracts of an 8th century travel report of a Chinese military officer, Du Huan, were documented and preserved. He visited Arabian[…]

A Global Middle Ages through the Pages of Decorated Books

Introduction Manuscripts and printed books—like today’s museums, archives, and libraries—provide glimpses into how people have perceived the Earth, its many cultures, and everyone’s place in it. Toward a Global Middle Ages: Encountering the World through Illuminated Manuscripts, a new book from Getty Publications, invites you to explore this theme, presenting a range of book types from[…]

Medieval Medicine: Astrological ‘Bat Books’ for Timing Patient Treatment

A handful of manuscripts remain which give researchers valuable insights into medieval science. Introduction Medieval doctors had to acquire a range of skills including an ability to read Latin texts, a working knowledge of the bodily “humours” and an understanding of the rudiments of blood circulation. Their diagnostic techniques were largely limited to examining a[…]

An Examination of Early Medieval Medicine

Come early medieval medicine has become real medicine, not scribal ignorance. Abstract The medical writings of early medieval western Europe c. 700 – c. 1000 have often been derided for their disorganised appearance, poor Latin, nebulous conceptual framework, admixtures of magic and folklore, and general lack of those positive features that historians attribute to ancient[…]

A History of Elective Monarchy since the Ancient World

Many kingdoms were elective historically, though the candidates were typically only from the family of the deceased monarch. Introduction An elective monarchy is a monarchy ruled by an elected monarch, in contrast to a hereditary monarchy in which the office is automatically passed down as a family inheritance. The manner of election, the nature of[…]

Lots of Leaking: Bloodletting since the Ancient World

It is claimed to have been the most common medical practice performed by surgeons from antiquity until the late 19th century. Introduction Bloodletting is the withdrawal of blood from a patient to prevent or cure illness and disease. Bloodletting, whether by a physician or by leeches, was based on an ancient system of medicine in[…]

How the Wealthy Reacted to the Medieval Bubonic Plague

The wealthy fled to the countryside, while the urban poor were forced to work on the front lines. Introduction Following the 1348 Black Death in Italy, the Italian writer Giovanni Boccaccio wrote a collection of 100 novellas titled, “The Decameron.” These stories, though fictional, give us a window into medieval life during the Black Death[…]

Religious Responses to the Black Death

People reacted with hopeful cures and responses based on religious belief. Introduction The Black Death of 1347-1352 CE is the most infamous plague outbreak of the medieval world, unprecedented and unequaled until the 1918-1919 CE flu pandemic in the modern age. The cause of the plague was unknown and, in accordance with the general understanding[…]

Medieval ‘Cures’ for the Black Death

Since no one knew what caused the disease, no cure was possible, but this did not stop people from trying what they could. Introduction The Black Death is the 19th-century CE term for the plague epidemic that ravaged Europe between 1347-1352 CE, killing an estimated 30 million people there and many more worldwide as it[…]

A History of Biological Warfare since Ancient Greece

We get our English word for poison or toxin form the Greek word toxikon. By Thomas J. JohnsonRetired Program Director, Respiratory CareLong Island University In Sophocles’ play Philoctetes (404 B.C.E.), he describes the main character Philoctetes as wounded by a poisoned arrow on his way to the Trojan War. This is the stuff of legend[…]

A History of Korean Architecture since the Neolithic Period

A history of architecture favoring practicality, frugality, and harmony with nature. Introduction Korean architecture refers to the architecture of Korea. The early stages of Korean architecture date to the Neolithic period; archaeological evidence of ondol, the unique Korean floor panel heating system, was found among the remains of the burnished plain pottery culture. For the[…]

Artistic Representations of Pregnancy and Birth since the Prehistoric World

Pregnancy and birth have been represented by human beings since pre-historic times in every form of human expression imaginable. By Elaine Carty, MSN, CNM, DSc (hc), CM Introduction Each second, approximately 4.3 births occur throughout the world. Some births bring happiness, others sadness. Many are wanted, many unwanted. Most babies are born into poverty, a[…]

Shakespeare’s Romans: Politics and Ethics in ‘Julius Caesar’ and ‘Coriolanus’

What is the context for Shakespeare’s Roman plays? Why did classical Rome capture the interest of people in Renaissance England? Introduction When William Shakespeare first staged his Roman tragedies Julius Caesar (1599) and Coriolanus (c. 1608), he did not introduce his audience to new stories. Rather, he reworked characters and events with which most of[…]

Julius Pomponius Laetus and the Medieval Revival of Classical Rome

Laetus emulated the life of the ancient Romans, living in a modest house on the Esquiline. Introduction Julius Pomponius Laetus, also known as Giulio Pomponio Leto, (1425 – 1498) was an Italian humanist, archaeologist, and Latinist who promoted the revival of ancient Roman classics and the traditions they represented. From his youth, he devoted himself[…]

The Medieval Spread of the Bubonic Plague

The plague, named the Black Death by later historians, had a devastating effect on the European population in the 14th century. Introduction The diffusion of crops and pathogens, including epidemic diseases like the bubonic plague, often occured along trade routes. The bubonic plague – named the Black Death by later historians – was caused by[…]

The Black Death and Early Public Health Measures in the Middle Ages

With no accurate knowledge about the disease and the way it was spread, what could be done in the face of such horror? ‘Cito, Longe, Tarde.’ Hippocrates and Galen are colossal figures in the history of medicine, renowned for their wise and innovative advice on medical matters. When it came to plague, they offered similar guidance, rendered[…]

Tales from a Medieval Plague Pit

We can now catch tiny pieces of DNA from ancient diseases and look for clues about how their genes have changed over time. Introduction The Black Death is without a doubt one of the most famous infectious diseases in history. Sweeping across Asia and Europe during the mid-fourteenth century, it reduced European populations by as[…]

‘Danse Macabre’: The Medieval Dance of Death

The Danse Macabre consists of the dead or a personification of death with dancing along to the graves. Introduction The Danse Macabre, also called the Dance of Death, is an artistic genre of allegory of the Late Middle Ages on the universality of death: no matter one’s station in life, the Danse Macabre unites all.[…]

Holy Innocents’ Cemetery: Mass Grave in Medieval Paris before the Catacombs

A mass grave since 1223, bodies were exhumed and the bones were moved to the Catacombs in 1786. Introduction The Holy Innocents’ Cemetery (French: Cimetière des Saints-Innocents or Cimetière des Innocents) is a defunct cemetery in Paris that was used from the Middle Ages until the late 18th century. It was the oldest and largest[…]

Reactions to Plague in the Ancient and Medieval World

People felt overwhelmed as it seems as though they believed that what had happened to others elsewhere could not possibly happen to them. Introduction Throughout history, epidemics and pandemics of plague and other diseases have caused widespread panic and social disorder even, in some instances, when the people of one region were aware of a[…]

Plagues of the Ancient and Medieval Near East, 562-1486 CE

The first definitive outbreak of plague was the Plague of Justinian as recorded by Procopius which killed an estimated 50 million people. Introduction Disease has been a part of the human condition since the beginning of recorded history – and no doubt earlier – decimating populations and causing widespread social upheaval. Among the worst infections[…]

Art and Architecture in Early Medieval India’s Gupta Period

The Guptas were ambitious rulers and by the end of the fourth century claimed dominance over a vast swathe of northern India. By Dr. Arathi MenonHistorian of Art and Architecture Introduction During the Gupta period (c. 320 – 647 C.E., named for the Gupta dynasty) there were tremendous advances in poetry, prose, and drama as[…]

Ancient India’s Madhubani Paintings: People’s Living Cultural Heritage

It is believed that King Janak, ruler of Mithila Kingdom in the 8th or 7th century BCE, asked that these paintings be developed for a wedding. By Chandra Shamsher Bahadur Singh Introduction Mithila, a region in the state of Bihar, northern India (and also stretching into Nepal), has an important tradition of knowledge in the form of[…]

How to Write an Article on the History of the Middle Ages

“Teachers and professors use articles to evaluate and assess the progress of students.” Historical articles are very important because they help tutors to test a range of skills which include interpretation and analysis, research, planning, and writing. Before writing a historical article, the student needs to study the question, understand what the question requires, gather[…]

Monastic Medicine: Medieval Herbalism and Science

Examining modern remedies derived from medieval monastic knowledge. Most people think of herbal medicine as a distinctly ‘alternative’ option – something that you might try for a cough or cold that won’t budge, but not for life-threatening illnesses. Medical historian Dr Johannes Mayer, however, takes it all much more seriously: he believes that the herbal[…]

Ancient and Medieval Religious Belief and Medicine

The spirits and gods were believed to make their presence known through disease. Introduction When people fall ill they inevitably ask: ‘Why am I ill?’ and ‘How do I get better?’ Throughout history, the answers have been sought and provided through a mixture of natural, spiritual and moral meanings. People have rarely understood illness through[…]

Medieval Chinese Art and Architecture at the Longmen Caves of Luoyang

The Northern Wei was the most enduring and powerful of the northern Chinese dynasties before reunification. Imperial Patronage Worship and power struggles, enlightenment and suicide—the 2300 caves and niches filled with Buddhist art at Longmen in China has witnessed it all. The steep limestone cliffs extend for almost a mile and contain approximately 110,000 Buddhist stone statues,[…]

‘A Thousand Years of Art’ at China’s Mogao Caves of Dunhuang

The ‘Caves of the Thousand Buddhas’ are a magnificent treasure trove of Buddhist art. A Trove of Buddhist Art The ‘Caves of the Thousand Buddhas’ (Qianfodong), also known as Mogao, are a magnificent treasure trove of Buddhist art. They are located in the desert, about 15 miles south-east of the town of Dunhuang in north[…]