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[…]

The Magyars, from Prehistory to Modern Hungary

Hungary’s traits are rooted in this a history of fluid borders, as well as the strong migratory tendencies of people of Hungarian ancestry. Introduction Hungarians or Magyars[5] are an ethnic group primarily associated with Hungary. The word Hungarian has also a wider meaning, because – especially in the past – it referred to all inhabitants of the Kingdom of Hungary irrespective of their[…]

Classical and Christian Conceptions of Slavery and Gender, and Their Influence on Germanic Gaul

Roman honor and shame became Christian virtue and shame. The Christian reinterpretation of the classical Roman dichotomy of “honor” and “shame” into “virtue” and “shame” in Late Antiquity did not benefit enslaved men and women equally. Enslaved men experienced a moral elevation of their suffering, which allowed them to recast their vulnerability as a strength[…]

The Yazidi: Religion, Culture, and Trauma

The future of Yazidism is unclear, but it will certainly never be the same again. Abstract The Yazidi are Kurdish speakers who have lived for centuries as farmers and cattle breeders, scattered about in Turkey, Syria, Iraq and the former Soviet Union. They shared the same fate as the Kurds when the areas were Islamized[…]

Economic Relations Between Europe and the World in the Medieval and Early Modern Eras

A vivid picture of the emergence of the global market and the beginnings of global competition. Introduction This article sketches the beginnings and central trends in the development of economic ties between Europe and regions outside Europe from 1450 to 1950. The focus is on the increasing diversity and volume of goods exchanged, and the[…]

Following the Paths of Viking Raiders from Norway to North America

Some wanted to explore and plunder, but others simply wanted to discover more fertile lands to farm and settle peacefully. By Jennifer Billock Introduction From 793 to 1066 CE, hearing the words “Viking” or “Norsemen” would put just about anyone on edge. The group was notorious for sailing their longboats into harbors and viciously attacking the people there—stealing all[…]

Viking Raids in England

Although the Vikings may have begun as little more than pirates in Britain, they would eventually arrive as great armies under skilled military leaders. Introduction The Viking raids and subsequent settlements define the period known as the Viking Age in Britain which had profound consequences on the development of the culture and language. The raids[…]

‘Murder Map’ Reveals Medieval London’s Meanest Streets

First digital map of the murders recorded by the city’s Coroner in early 1300s shows Cheapside and Cornhill were homicide ‘hot spots’, and Sundays held the highest risk of violent death for medieval Londoners. Stabbed by a lover with a fish-gutting knife. Beaten to death for littering with eel skins. Shot with an arrow during a[…]

Citizen v. John Foreigner: The Politics of Inclusion in Medieval England’s Urban Centers

John Medewall, bearing a very English-sounding name, describes himself as a foreigner, and as such at a disadvantage in a suit against a London citizen. In the late fifteenth century, John Medewall brought his petition before the chancellor at Westminster. He explained his dilemma. Purportedly written from his prison cell in London, he recounted how[…]

Transparency in Medieval Rulership

Monarchs and prime ministers have spent centuries working out which decisions need to be made in public. Theresa May’s decision to join missile attacks in Syria without first consulting the House of Commons has revived a long-running debate: when deploying the monumental powers of government, is the prime minister obliged to consult parliament – and if not,[…]

The Strategic Importance of Byzantine Constantinople

Built in the seventh century BCE, the ancient city of Byzantium proved to be a valuable city for both the Greeks and Romans. Introduction Built in the seventh century BCE, the ancient city of Byzantium proved to be a valuable city for both the Greeks and Romans. Because it lay on the European side of the Strait of[…]

Plagues of the Past

Many diseases have affected the outcomes of battles or the political leanings of a country, but few have had consequences on society that continue to be felt in the present age. The plague is one such disease and its most famous pandemic – the Black Death – has changed the history, culture, and science of[…]

The History of Body Armor, from the Medieval World to Today

There has been a true arms race, where every advance in body armor has required a more penetrating round to overcome it, before these more powerful rounds are again defeated by better body armor. By Sam BocettaProfessor of EngineeringAlgonquin Community College Introduction When writing about the history of military weapons and equipment, most people tend[…]

Siege Warfare in Medieval Europe

Siege tactics were a crucial part of medieval warfare. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction Siege tactics were a crucial part of medieval warfare, especially from the 11th century CE when castles became more widespread in Europe and sieges outnumbered pitched battles. Castles and fortified cities offered protection to both the local population and armed forces and[…]

The Medieval Law Merchant: The Tyranny of a Construct

Medieval commerce had little space for a specialized law, and merchants had little need for it. Abstract The story of a medieval law merchant has a strong hold on scholars interested in private ordering. Despite numerous historical works demonstrating the falsity of the myth, it continues to be discussed regularly in scholarship as if it[…]

Perspectives on Translating Medieval Law: The Norwegian Landslov of 1274

Strategies in translating the first national law-code of Norway, the Landslov from 1274, into English. Abstract This paper demonstrates strategies in translating the first national law-code of Norway, the Landslov from 1274, into English. One can argue the need to have Old Norwegian law in English to make it more accessible. To ensure that a[…]

Empress Wu Zetien: Bloodthirsty Ruler or Bad Press?

“She killed her sister, butchered her elder brothers, murdered the ruler, poisoned her mother,” the chronicles say. But is the empress unfairly maligned? By Mike Dash Most nations of note have had at least one great female leader. Not the United States, of course, but one thinks readily enough of Hatshepsut of ancient Egypt, Russia’s[…]

Attila the Hun: A Ruthless Scourge

His name was synonymous with terror among his enemies and the general populace of the territories that his armies swept through. Introduction Attila the Hun (reigned 434-453 CE) was the leader of the ancient nomadic people known as the Huns and ruler of the Hunnic Empire, which he established. His name means “Little Father” and, according to some historians,[…]

The Rise and Expansion of Islam in the Medieval World

The region had been freed from lingering influences of the Byzantine empire and was left to develop on its own. Introduction Although Islam is a sister religion of Christianity and Judaism, Christians are generally ignorant and contemptuous of its origins and beliefs. One might note that Muslims hold education and learning in high esteem. Like[…]

The Medieval Idea of Legitimacy and the King’s Two Bodies

The idea of the sacred nature of political power in the medieval world. By Dr. Lorena StuparuInstitute of Political Sciences and International RelationsRomanian Academy Abstract Based on Ernst Kantorowicz’s work The King’s Two Bodies, this paper intends to show that the idea of the sacred nature of political power, of the legitimacy which transcends the[…]

The Origins and Development of Medieval Christian Monasticism

There were two ancient Near-Eastern customs that contributed to the development of Christian monasticism. One must remember that the distinction between the tilled and irrigated fields surrounding the villages of Egypt and Syria was very clear. Beyond the fields was “the desert,” rocky and waterless land, with a sparse vegetation of brambles, nettles, and thornbushes,[…]

The Rise of the Western Church in Early Medieval Europe

During the first half of the sixth century, the Church had to face the difficulty of preserving itself under the rule of Germanic kings. Think about it for a moment. Christianity was not legally recognized and did not begin its real institutional evolution until 313, two years after the death of Diocletian, the emperor who[…]

A History of China from the Mongolian Interlude to the Republican Revolution (1279-1912)

The late Qing (Manchu) dynasty to the fall of Imperial China. Mongolian Interlude By the mid-thirteenth century, the Mongols had subjugated north China, Korea, and the Muslim kingdoms of Central Asia and had twice penetrated Europe. With the resources of his vast empire, Kublai Khan (1215-94), a grandson of Genghis Khan (1167?-1227) and the supreme[…]

An Overview of Prehistoric to Medieval China

The development of Chinese culture as it is still known today, via the Hundred Schools of Thought, pre-Imperialism and the formation of a unified China. Prehistory During the long Paleolithic period, bands of predatory hunter-gatherers lived in what is now China. Homo erectus, an extinct species closely related to modern humans, or Homo sapiens, appeared[…]

Ivan the Great, Grand Prince of Muscovy

He came into power at a time when Russian princes were still competing among themselves and struggling against the Tatars. Introduction The next strong ruler of Muscovy after Ivan I was Ivan III, who became known as Ivan the Great. Ivan became Grand Prince of Muscovy in 1462 and ruled until 1502. He came into[…]

Early Medieval Law: De Minimis Non Curat Lex

Two powerful and often conflicting legal systems had emerged. Early Development When the Germanic tribes entered the lands of the Western Roman empire, they brought many of their customs and traditions with them, among them being those customs and traditions that comprised their system of justice. The bases of those systems among the various peoples[…]

The Riot that Destroyed an Abbey’s Salmon Weir in Medieval Scotland

The sheriff of Stirling was ordered by the king to make the perpetrators reconstruct the abbey’s infrastructure within forty days and reimburse its losses. In summer 1365 armed inhabitants of the royal Scottish burgh of Stirling “violently and unjustly attacked and demolished the weirs and fisheries” belonging to Cambuskenneth, a convent of Augustinian canons located across[…]

A History of the Medieval Knights Templar

The order was formed c.1119 CE when seven knights, led by French nobleman Hugh of Payns, swore to defend Christian pilgrims in Jerusalem and the Holy Land. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction The Knights Templar, established c. 1119 CE and given papal recognition in 1129 CE, was a Catholic medieval military order whose members combined martial prowess[…]