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Archives for June 2014

The After Lives of Byzantine Art

In this lecture I will look at the ways in which Byzantine art was used at both ends of the Byzantine world. I will consider how we define art as ‘Byzantine’ and the ways in which the afterlives of these artworks have been manipulated, rewritten and reinterpreted in various settings.

Did Halley’s Comet Convert the Irish to Christianity?

Many attribute the spread of Christianity in Ireland to St. Patrick. But Medieval history and scientific evidence dating back to 540 A.D. hint at a more cosmic reason.

Spoiled or Splendid? Speculations on a Culinary Misgiving

In this essay, I intend to quickly present the case against the spoiled food of the Middle Ages, and then offer a few speculations as to why modern observers continue to perpetuate this distasteful myth.

The Medieval Life of the Colosseum

Archaeologist working on Rome’s Colosseum have discovered that the ancient landmark continued to be used throughout the Middle Ages, but not as a gladiatorial arena. Instead, it was used homes, workshops and even stables.

The Legend of the Pied Piper in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries: Grimm, Browning, and Skurzynski

This paper examines the changes that were made in the literary telling and retelling of the story of the Pied Piper during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, comparing the folktale “Die Kinder zu Hameln” (1816) by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, the poem “The Pied Piper of Hamelin”(1842) by Robert Browning, and the book What Happened in Hamelin (1979), by Gloria Skurzynski.

The ‘Living’ Sword in Early Medieval Northern Europe: An Interdisciplinary Study

This thesis explores perceptions of two-edged swords as ‘living’ artefacts in Anglo-Saxon England and Scandinavia between c. 500 and 1100.

Bathing, Beauty and Christianity in the Middle Ages

I realized that I needed to know much more about the attitude of the early Church to bathing, and how this evolved in the later Middle Ages. It turns out to be considerably more complex than one might suppose.

Why Barbarians Won’t Go Away

Why is it specifically the medieval era, or fantasy equivalents of it, that captivates the masses?

Animals in the Middle Ages: The Elephant

Here are ten interesting notes about medieval elephants

Old English Words for Relics of the Saints

This study begins with a review of some Latin terms and of certain material traits common to early medieval relic-cults, since these profoundly shaped the Old English vocabulary surveyed in the second part of the paper.

The effects of Viking activity on Scandinavian society

Three ways in which Viking raids and conquests in western Europe affected Scandinavian society are discussed

The Vikings in Normandy and Brittany

Dr David Petts (Durham University) tells us about his research in northern France: an area in which we know the Vikings to be elusive

15 Myths about the Middle Ages

People have some very wrong ideas about the Middle Ages.  Here is a list of fifteen of the strangest misconceptions about the medieval period

Deserted Medieval Villages to be protected

Several deserted medieval villages in Northamptonshire, will be officially protected as the British government has designated them as scheduled monuments.

The Khazars did not convert to Judaism, historian finds

It has long been believed that the Khazars, a central Asian people, converted to Judaism in the ninth or tenth century. However, a new article concludes that the conversion never took place.

The Transformers and the Middle Ages

‘My dear girl, I find it hard to believe that my data bank dates your costume to 542 A.D.’ – ‘Fashion is always a year behind Camelot out here in the countryside.’

Got Kids? Get Medieval

If you have kids or know kids who you’d like to expose to the Middle Ages, here are a few books you might like to explore over the summer holiday.

Claude, Duke of Guise and the Battle of Marignano, 1515

The Guise brothers, Claude, Antony and Ferry had become separated during the action. Antony frantically searched for his brothers.

Two King of Kings? Procopius’ Presentation of Justinian and Kosrow I

This paper investigates Procopius’ description of two of the most influential men of his era: the Persian emperor Kosrow I (ruled 531-579), and the Byzantine emperor Justinian (ruled 527-565).

The Sutton Hoo Helmet at the British Museum

Sue Brunning, curator at the British Museum, tells us about the famous Sutton Hoo Helmet, which can be found in Room 41 of the museum.

Demonic Magic in the Icelandic Wizard Legends

Saemund Sigfusson is the earliest of the Icelandic wizards. According to the annals he was born in the year 1056. He was educated in France and returned to Iceland in 1076 or 1078.

Battlefield tourism: meanings and interpretations

Battlefield sites are some of the most iconic locations in any nation’s store of heritage attractions and continue to capture the imagination of visitors. They have strong historic, cultural, nationalistic and moral resonances and speak to people on a national as well as a local scale.

The 700th Anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn

On June 24, 1314, Scottish and English armies fought the Battle of Bannockburn. Taking place near Stirling Castle in Scotland, the battle saw Robert the Bruce defeat the English ruler Edward II. The victory helped to re-establish Scottish independence from England in the 14th century.

Kingdom, emporium and town: the impact of Viking Dublin

In recent years the precise location and nature of Viking Dublin have been much debated. It is now generally accepted that there was a longphort phase from 841 to 902: a period of enforced exile from 902 to 917, and thereafter a dún phase.

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