The Historical Context for the Protestant Reformation

To circumscribe the Reformation solely within the sphere of theological disputation is to mask the complexity of both its birth and afterlife. By Jay Gundacker and Sean Hallowell Martin Luther To understand the rapid spread of Luther’s ideas, a brief account of the role that the Church played in Medieval society is necessary. In the[…]

The Church in Medieval Europe

The Church dominated the culture and society of Medieval Europe so powerfully that its people thought of themselves as living in “Christendom” – the realm of the Christians. Introduction Overview Medieval Christendom was divided into two parts. The Christians of eastern Europe were under the leadership of the patriarch of Constantinople (modern day Istanbul, in Turkey). Those in[…]

Illuminated Manuscripts: A Step-By-Step Look at a Beautiful, Centuries-Old Craft

What place does the paper book have in our increasingly all-digital present? What place does the paper book have in our increasingly all-digital present? While some utilitarian arguments once marshaled in its favor (“You can read them in the bathtub” and the like) have fallen into disuse, other, more aesthetically focused arguments have arisen: that[…]

A History of Biology in Medieval Islam

The history of biology, built upon the thoroughness and insight of Aristotle and Galen, passed onto the Islamic Scholars, who added information drawn from every corner of the known world. Introduction By the 8th Century, most of Europe was deep in the Dark Ages, with only the Byzantine Empire preserving a few fragments of the[…]

Medicine in the Middle Ages

In this period, there was no tradition of scientific medicine, and observations went hand in hand with spiritual and religious influences. By Dr. Rachel HajarCardiologyHamad Medical Corporation Introduction Superstition is the poison of the mind Joseph Lewis “The glory that was Greece and the grandeur that was Rome” ended when Rome fell to Germanic tribes[…]

Beatus of Liébana: An Early Medieval Apocalyptic Illustrator

Beatus was an early medieval monk who set down to illustrate a collection of writings he had compiled on the Book of Revelations. In a monastery in the mountains of northern Spain, 700 years after the Book of Revelations was written, a monk set down to illustrate a collection of writings he had compiled about[…]

The Domesday Book: Counting a Person’s Worth in William the Conqueror’s England

The record is unique in European history and, packed full of statistics and snippets which reveal details of medieval life in England. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction Domesday Book was a comprehensive survey and record of all the landowners, property, tenants and serfs of medieval Norman England which was compiled in 1086-7 CE under the orders[…]

Medieval Heraldry: Personal Identity and Family Lineage

Heraldry began on the mid-12th century CE battlefield as an easy means to identify medieval royalty and princes. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction Heraldry, that is the use of inherited coats of arms and other symbols to show personal identity and family lineage, began on the mid-12th century CE battlefield as an easy means to identify[…]

Women in the Viking Age

Even in a male-dominated society, Viking women were far from powerless. By Emma GroeneveldHistorian Introduction Although women in the Viking Age (c. 790-1100 CE) lived in a male-dominated society, far from being powerless, they ran farms and households, were responsible for textile production, moved away from Scandinavia to help settle Viking territories abroad stretching from Greenland, Iceland, and the[…]

The Art of the Viking Age

Viking Age Scandinavians almost exclusively made applied art – aesthetically appealing and useful. By Emma GroeneveldHistorian Introduction Art made by Scandinavians during the Viking Age (c. 790-1100 CE) mostly encompassed the decoration of functional objects made of wood, metal, stone, textile and other materials with relief carvings, engravings of animal shapes and abstract patterns. The motif of the[…]

Exploring Medieval Theories of Color through Glass

An unlikely combination of artists, medieval historians, philosophers and scientists have converged to create an exhibition of glass artworks. What is colour? This is one of those big questions that unlock “treasure chests” containing centuries of riches. Reach in and there are jewels to be discovered – of classical learning, philosophy, science ancient and modern,[…]

Rare Blue Pigment in Medieval Woman’s Teeth Reveal Highly Skilled Artist

A new study posits the woman was licking brushes covered with pigments of lapis lazuli, a rare and expensive stone used to decorate illuminated manuscripts. By Brigit Katz In 2011, a team of scientists decided to study the teeth of a medieval woman who had been buried in Germany sometime between 1000 and 1200 A.D.[…]

How the Medieval Latin East Contributed to a Unique Cultural World

The Kingdom of Jerusalem did, in fact, make its own important cultural contributions. On 15 July 1099, the armies of the First Crusade, which departed from their European homelands about three years earlier, broke into Jerusalem and conquered it. This marked the beginning of an almost 200-year period in which the Holy Land was ruled[…]

The Relationship between Church and State since the Ancient World

The relationship between church and state is the institutional form of the relationship between the religious and political spheres. This relationship has taken a variety of forms historically and in the modern world from the state dominating religion to religion dominating the state and recent attempts to separate them. In most ancient civilizations this relationship was not clearly[…]

Zaida, Medieval Muslim Princess and Spanish Ancestor of the British Royal Family

The inter-marriage of Muslim families and the mingling with Christianity provides us with an interesting back story to a Muslim ancestor of the current British monarch. Zaida, a Muslim princess living in 11th-century Seville, is one of the most extraordinary ancestors of the British royal family. Zaida’s bloodline reached the English shores through her engagement[…]

The Reivers: Raids along the Medieval and Early Modern Anglo-Scottish Border

Their heyday was in the last hundred years of their existence, during the time of the Stuart Kings in Scotland and the Tudor dynasty in England. Introduction Border reivers were raiders along the Anglo-Scottish border from the late 13th century to the beginning of the 17th century. Their ranks consisted of both Scottish and English[…]

Three Wise Men in a Bed: Bedsharing and Sexuality in Medieval Europe

One of the biggest challenges facing medieval historians is interpreting the actions of individuals at a remove of several centuries. One of the biggest challenges facing medieval historians, and perhaps especially historians of medieval sexuality, is interpreting the actions of individuals at a remove of several centuries. Take, for example, the case of King Richard[…]

Relations between Late Antique-Early Medieval Armenia and the Byzantine Empire

The relationship between the Byzantine Empire and ancient Armenia was a constant and varied one with an equal mix of wars, occupations, treaties of friendship, mutual military aid, and cultural exchange. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction Regarded as a vital defence to the Empire’s eastern frontiers, emperors used various means of influence from outright takeover to gifts[…]

The Dawn of the Age of Print and the Adult Coloring Craze in the 15th Century

Its dizzy heights may have passed, but the fad for adult coloring books is far from over. Many trace the origins of such publications to a wave of satirical colouring books published in the 1960s, but as Melissa N. Morris and Zach Carmichael explore, the existence of such books, and the urge to colour the[…]

Kahina: Early Medieval Berber Warrior-Queen Standing against Arab Invasion

Kahina’s life is only known through later Arab historians writing on the Muslim conquest of Africa. Introduction Kahina (7th century CE) was a Berber (Imazighen) warrior-queen and seer who led her people against the Arab Invasion of North Africa in the 7th century CE. She is also known as al-Kahina, Dihya al-Kahina, Dahlia, Daya, and Dahia-al-Kahina. Her birth[…]

Guilds: Drivers of Manufacturing and Commerce in the Middle Ages

Guilds dominated local politics and influenced national and international affairs. Introduction Guilds existed throughout Europe during the Middle Ages. Guilds were groups of individuals with common goals. The term guild probably derives from the Anglo-Saxon root geld which meant ‘to pay, contribute.’ The noun form of geld meant an association of persons contributing money for some common purpose. The root also[…]

The Canon of Avicenna: Rabies in Medieval Persian Literature

A discussion of Avicenna’s 11th-century points of view on rabies and compare them with modern medical knowledge. By Dr. Behnam Dalfardi, et.al.Department of Internal MedicineShiraz University of Medical Sciences Introduction Rabies is an acute, progressive, and fatal anthropozoonotic infection of the central nervous system caused by viruses from the genus Lyssavirus and the family Rhabdoviridae[…]

The Hidayat: ‘Kabus’ (Night-Mare) in Medieval Persian Medicine and Research

Among the first three manuscripts written in Persian, Akhawayni’s Hidayat al-muta’allemin fi al-tibb was the most significant work compiled in the 10th century. By Dr. Samad EJ Golzari, et.al.Tuberculosis and Lung Disease Research CenterTabriz University of Medical Sciences Abstract Among the first three manuscripts written in Persian, Akhawayni’s Hidayat al-muta’allemin fi al-tibb was the most significant work compiled in[…]

Machiavelli Wasn’t Machiavellian: Nuances between Compromise and Contradiction

Machiavelli’s earlier book, Discourses on Livy, displayed strong support for free speech, a republican form of government, and compromise. By Paul MeanyStudent of Ancient and Medieval History and CultureTrinity College Dublin If you have ever studied Shakespeare, you might have heard your teacher use the word “Machiavellian” to describe amoral characters such as Iago from Othello or[…]

Medieval Mystic Margery Kempe and the Economics of Beer Brewing

This 15th-century mystic turned her hand to brewing the bubbly, and she wasn’t very successful. By Karl HagenIndependent Educational Consultant Near the beginning of her autobiography, the fifteenth-century mystic Margery Kempe relates her ill-fated attempts to make her worldly fortune. Among her mercantile ventures, she turned her hand to brewing: And than, for pure coveytyse[…]

A History of the Medieval University of Paris

The historic University of Paris first appeared in the second half of the twelfth century. Introduction The historic University of Paris (French: Université de Paris) first appeared in the second half of the twelfth century, but was in 1970 reorganized as 13 autonomous universities (University of Paris I–XIII). The university is often referred to as the Sorbonne or La Sorbonne after the collegiate institution (Collège[…]

Medieval Monasteries: Community Centers of Technology and Education

Monasteries were important centers of learning which educated the young and produced new technologies for agricultural and other needs. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction A medieval monastery was an enclosed and sometimes remote community of monks led by an abbot who shunned worldly goods to live a simple life of prayer and devotion. Christian monasteries had first developed[…]

Late Medieval Translation of Ancient Texts

During the fifteenth century, and notably in Italy, the art of translating was profoundly changed by Humanists as well as by a better knowledge of the Greek language and Greek texts. Practices changed and multiplied, while an increasingly intense theoretical reflection emerged regarding the very phenomenon of translation. Summary The Renaissance was a crucial period[…]

“Woe Unto Those Who Know Not How to Syllabificate”: The Languages of Medieval Law

Lawyers spoke their own language, even in the Middle Ages. When John of Salisbury (ca. 1115-1180) decried the dishonesty of lawyers in his Policraticus, he targeted the incomprehensibility of their legalese, complaining that “they snare simple men in nets of impenetrable jargon … ‘Woe unto those who know not how to syllabificate.’”[1] The sentiment expressed by John[…]