Top 10 Medieval Articles of 2011


In the last twelve months we have posted hundeds of articles and theses on many different topics about the Middle Ages. Here is the list of ten most popular articles we posted since January 1, 2011 – they include ones that deal with medieval sexuality, daily life and movies about the medieval period.

1. A Penis-shortening Device Described by the 13th Century Poet Rumi – by C.W. Moeliker, from Archives of Sexual Behavior – this article was by far the most popular one we posted in 2011, partly thanks to getting a mention from the popular website The Daily Beast.

2. Medieval Arab Lesbians and Lesbian-Like Women, by Sahar Amer, from Journal of the History of Sexuality - If the absence of a specific terminology to denote lesbianism in medieval Europe seems to have compromised the production of scholarship about same-sex love and desire among women, the existence of the label sahq and sihaqamusahaqat al-nisa’, or sahiqa (Arabic words for “lesbianism” and “lesbian,” respectively) in medieval Arabic writings did not result in a richer critical production….

3. Norse Drinking Traditions, by Christie L. Ward, from Alexandrian Company Symposium on Food and Festival in the Middle Ages – while there are many passing references in Old Norse literature and occasional bits of evidence in the archaeological record, there is far from a complete picture of Viking Age brewing, vintning, and drinking customs. In the course of this paper, evidence from several Germanic cultures will be presented to help fill out the evidence and provide a more complete view of this topic.

4. The Role of Riddles in Medieval Education, by Jean Lauand, from Revista Internacional d’Humanitats - All children love riddles and in every society, guessing games have their place in education, but in the Middle Ages riddles play a special role in Pedagogy.

5. Furnishings of medieval English peasant houses: investment, consumption and life style, by Christopher Dyer, from Patterns of Consumption and Standards of Living in the Medieval Rural World – Medieval peasant houses have been much studied in England in the last 60 years, and gradually the questions that have been asked have changed.

6. An Oppressive Silence: The Evolution of the Raped Woman in Medieval France and England, by Zoë Eckman – published on Medievalists.net – This paper will argue that the definitions of rape created and enforced by men gave rise to a masculine concept of rape that silenced the voice of the raped woman.

7. Based on a True History?: The Impact of Popular ‘Medieval Film’ on the Public Understanding of the Middle Ages, by Paul B. Sturtevant, PhD Dissertation, University of Leeds – This thesis examines the understanding of the Middle Ages among the UK public and the impact that popular big-budget films which depict the period have on that understanding.

8. The Crusaders through Armenian Eyes, by Robert W. Thomson, from The Crusades from the Perspective of Byzantium and the Muslim World – Armenians, both those in Cilicia who came into personal contact with the Crusaders and those in Greater Armenia who experienced the Crusades less directly, interpreted the arrival of the Frankish armies. How were the Crusades fitted into an Armenian worldview?

9. What’s Wrong with Early Medieval Medicine?, by Peregrine Horden, from Social History of Medicine – 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 or later medieval medicine. This paper attempts to rescue the period from its negative image.

10. “Was It Good for You Too?” Medieval Erotic Art and Its Audiences, by Martha Easton, from Different Visions: A Journal of New Perspectives in Medieval Art – One challenge of analyzing visual imagery using language is that the cultural filter of language itself inevitably nuances and reinterprets our initial nonverbal experience: applying words to images, we contextualize them, giving them shape, history, and meaning. Especially when the images in question have sexual content, the words selected to describe them can affect the way they are perceived…

Sharan Newman