Jab over Java: Color Symbolization in Medieval Coats of Arms

Heraldry was an art born out of necessity and developed out of symbolic thought. Presentation by The Apocalyptic Knight Heraldic designs came into general use among European nobility in the 12th century. Systematic, heritable heraldry had developed by the beginning of the 13th century. Exactly who had a right to use arms, by law or[…]

Researchers Follow a 15th-Century Recipe to Recreate Medieval Blue Ink

The purplish-blue pigment, derived from a Portuguese fruit, fell out of use by the 19th century. By Theresa MachemerFreelance Writer In southern Portugal, an unassuming, silvery plant with small, green- and white-flecked fruit grows on the edges of fields and along the sides of roads. But when researchers stirred the fruit—called Chrozophora tinctoria—into a mixture of[…]

The Influence of Neighboring Cultures on Medieval Japan

Exploring the civilization of Japan from about 500 to 1700 C.E. Introduction Together, the Japanese islands make up an area about the size of Montana. Japan’s four large islands are Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu. Of these, you can see that Honshu is the largest and most centrally located. To the west, the Sea of[…]

A Medieval Goldsmith in His Shop

Petrus Christus’ artistic concerns are typical of painters of his time in the 15th century. By Christine Zappella PapanastassiouPhD Candidate, Renaissance and Baroque ArtThe University of Chicago Out Shopping Like many Northern Renaissance paintings, Petrus Christus’ Goldsmith in his Shop reveals its complexities to the viewer over time. At first, one sees a group of three people[…]

Wine-Bearers in Landscape – A Medieval Safavid Textile

This luxurious and exquisite silk fabric was woven in Iran during the 16th century reign of the Safavid ruler Shah Tahmasp I. By Nader SayadiPhD Candidate in Art History (Islamic Art and Architecture)The University of Texas at Austin Introduction Young men carry cups and long-necked bottles of wine in a lush garden. Fish splash in[…]

The Influences of Islam on Medieval West Africa

Exploring how Islamic faith and culture influenced West African culture. Introduction During the 7th century, the religion of Islam spread quickly through the Middle East and North Africa. In the 8th century, trans-Saharan trade brought Muslim merchants and traders to West Africa. Over the next few hundred years, Islam spread among West Africans. The new[…]

The History and Cultural Legacy of Medieval West Africa

Medieval cultures in West Africa were rich and varied. Introduction West African cultures are quite diverse. Many groups of people, each with its own language and ways of life, have lived in the region of West Africa. From poems and stories to music and visual arts, their cultural achievements have left a lasting mark on[…]

Dream Visions and Interpretation in Medieval Thought and Literature

Used by diverse writers throughout the Middle Ages, the dream vision as a form was as popular in the late medieval period as the novel is today. By Dr. Mary WellesleyResearch AffiliateBritish Library Introduction The dream vision was a rich and varied form which was put to multiple uses in the Middle Ages, although it[…]

Gambling And The Middle Ages – The History

The history of gambling as a favourite pass-time runs back to the medieval ages. People from all social strata indulged in this intoxicating practice. Medieval gambling still sustains its allure amidst the crowd. The History Of Gambling While gambling was the downfall of many, it was a central part of medieval lives. The modern age[…]

Medieval People in Town and Country: New Perspectives from Demography and Bioarchaeology

Examining the contrasts and interplay of rural and urban medieval societies. By Dr. Maryanne KowaleskiJoseph Fitzpatrick S.J. Distinguished Professor of HistoryFordham University Introduction Medievalists, especially medievalists in North America, pay far too little attention to the medieval 90 percent, above all the peasants, who vastly outnumbered the kings, popes, poets, mystics, preachers, and artists that[…]

Benvenuto Cellini’s Salt Cellar Renaissance Sculpture

This was an intellectual conversation starter—filled with meanings waiting to be decoded by an elite, art-literate audience. Introduction When a thief broke into the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna in 2003, one object in particular caught his attention. The gallery lights glinted off an intricately worked gold and enamel surface—this was the famous salt cellar by[…]

A History of the University of Cambridge since the 13th Century

In 1209, scholars taking refuge from hostile townsmen in Oxford migrated to Cambridge and settled there. Early Records When we first come across Cambridge in written records, it was already a considerable town. The bridge across the River Cam or Granta, from which the town took its name, had existed since at least 875. The[…]

Alma Mater Studiorum: A History of the University of Bologna since 1088

The University of Bologna saw the first woman to earn a university degree and teach at a university. Introduction The University of Bologna is a research university in Bologna, Italy. Founded in 1088 by an organised guild of students (hence studiorum), it is the oldest university in continuous operation in the world, and the first university in the sense of a[…]

Elements of Medieval Russian Life as Depicted in the Königsberg Chronicle

The manuscript starts with the beginning of the world and ends with the death of Konradin and Pope Nicolaus III. Its focus is the Holy Roman Empire. By John BeebeAuthorIvan Rezansky’s Adventures Overview One of my favorite medieval Russian manuscripts is the Radziwiłł Chronicle, also known as the Königsberg Chronicle. This book is considered to be[…]

A History of Medieval Novgorod

Novgorodian Rus’ and its inhabitants were much influenced by the Viking culture and people. Introduction The Novgorod Republic (several pronunciations and spellings)[1][2][3] was a medieval East Slavic state from the 12th to 15th centuries, stretching from the Gulf of Finland in the west to the northern Ural Mountains in the east, including the city of Novgorod and the Lake Ladoga regions of modern Russia. Citizens referred to their[…]

Cicero and the Roman Civic Spirit in the Middle Ages and Early Renaissance

There has perhaps been no other philosophic writer whose thinking was as closely connected with the patterns of civic life as that of Cicero. Whoever studies the influence of Cicero on later generations, will be surprised by the variety of effects which were produced in history by this one figure. Although modem scholars have frequently[…]

‘Trial by Combat’: Judicial Duels in the Middle Ages

It was the purpose of the duel to determine which of the parties was telling the truth in a judicial dispute. By Dr. Eric JagerProfessor of HistoryUniversity of California Los Angeles Introduction Trial by combat would seem to be a thing of the past, or something found in historical fiction like Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe or the[…]

Chivalry and Knighthood in the Middle Ages

The “code of chivalry” is a product of the Late Middle Ages, evolving partly from an idealization of fighting knights and partly from ideals of courtly love. Introduction Chivalry, or the chivalric code, is an informal and varying code of conduct developed between 1170 and 1220. It was associated with the medieval Christian institution of knighthood;[1][2] knights’ and gentlemen’s behaviours were governed by[…]

Democratic Parliamentarism in the Government of Early Medieval Iceland

Settlers left Norway and other regions to start fresh and arrange their world as nowhere else in Europe. By Irina Manea Introduction Early medieval Icelandic government, or Viking Iceland, has been termed an incipient form of democracy or democratic parliamentarism, however, the system was actually nothing like its European counterparts, be they medieval or contemporary. Historiography prefers the[…]

Medieval Games and Entertainment

Tournaments Ritualized battles were a medieval form of entertainment called tournaments or “tourneys” arising around the eleventh century, especially in France. They were not as popular in England until the era of Edward III. These mostly symbolic re-enactments mimicked actual battles at the time. When wars were absent or greatly decreased, the entertainment shifted from[…]

Famous Grammarians and Poets of the Byzantine Empire

Making a grammar book was one of the principal tools of Byzantine scholars to preserve the correct form of Classical Greek. Introduction Overview In the wake of the downfall of the Western Roman Empire and the intellectual collapse of Athens, Byzantine scholars engaged in preserving the Classical Greek language and its literature. Thus they became the guardians of a vanished culture. This article[…]

Grammar: From the Ancient Greeks to the Middle Ages

English sentence structure or grammar has been extraordinarily impacted by the ancient Greek and Latin models. By Dr. R GnanasekaranAssistant Professor, Department of EnglishKarpagam University Abstract In view of the fact that grammar is a central phase of instructing a language, many techniques have been adopted to instruct it effectively over the time. Right from[…]

Heimdall: Guardian of Asgard in Medieval Norse Mythology

The main literary source for Heimdall’s role in Norse mythology as a forefather would be the poem Rigsthula. By Irena Manea Introduction Heimdall is a mysterious deity of Norse mythology whose main attribute refers to guarding the realm of the gods, Asgard, from his high fortress called Himinbjörg found at the top of Bifröst, the rainbow bridge. He has the[…]

The Poetic Verbal Contest between Odin and Thor in Norse Mythology

They verbally duel in a so-called mannjafnaðr, a comparison of men, both trying their superiority. By Irina Manea Introduction The poem called The Lay of Greybeard (Old Norse: Hárbarðsljóð) is one story from Norse mythology that relates an intriguing verbal fight between two of its essential gods, Thor and Odin. The poem consists of 60 stanzas and is found complete in the 13th-century CE[…]

What Was Life Like for Women in the Medieval World?

A glimpse of the everyday challenges and triumphs medieval women faced during the Middle Ages. By Erin Migdol, Elizabeth Morrison, and Larisa Grollemond Introduction While depictions of the Middle Ages often revolve around knights, dragons, and fairy tales, the stories of how real people lived during this tumultuous time are often even more fascinating—particularly the[…]

Miniature Mosaics in the Byzantine World

The Byzantines began creating portable mosaic icons by setting small tesserae into wax or resin on wood panels. Introduction For many of us, the term “mosaics” evokes the soaring golden walls and ceilings of the Eastern Roman “Byzantine” Empire. But from approximately the twelfth to the fourteenth century, the Byzantines also began creating mosaics that[…]

A Work in Progress: Middle Byzantine Mosaics in the Hagia Sophia

These mosaics illustrate the ways Hagia Sophia became entangled in and responded to theological controversies and more. Introduction Who was the artwork’s patron? What were the artwork’s original meanings and functions? When art historians study a work of art, they ask questions about the artwork’s initial creation. But often, works of art and architecture change[…]

The Medieval Holocaust: Plague and Jewish Persecution in Germany, 1348-1349

The persecution and destruction of the Jews of Germany at the time of the Black Death. Introduction The Jews of Germany have suffered a great deal from persecutions over the centuries. The Holocaust of the 1940s, for example, ranks among the most brutal events in recorded history, but there were many other instances of oppression[…]