In this issue of The Medieval Magazine we take a look at surprising rise of Stephen of Blois to become the King of England, just three weeks after the death of Henry I; ten unusual weapons from the Middle Ages, and what was funny in 13th century Iceland.
How to Become a King: Stephen’s rise to the English throne
Unless you were the son of a king, the most difficult job to obtain in the Middle Ages was to become a king. Even if you were shrewd and had the support of strong armies, the chances of successfully seizing the throne were often very low. Yet, in 1135 a count named Stephen of Blois was able to become the King of England. Here is his story of success.
Ten Strange Medieval Weapons
￼What were some of the more unusual weapons used by medieval armies? We put together a list of the strangest weapons that were ever used (or even designed) in the Middle Ages.
This made them laugh in 13th century Iceland and Norway
We tend to think of the Middle Ages as grotesque and dreary. However, 13th century elites made use of laughter quite deliberately – and it resounded most loudly when it was at someone else’s expense.
How Climate Change in Asia brought the Black Death to Europe
A group of Norwegian and Swiss researchers have uncovered links between climatic changes in central Asia and repeated outbreaks of the Bubonic plague in Europe, starting with the Black Death in the 14th century.
Priests and the Black Death
As news of outbreaks of disease continues to swirl around the world, I keep being reminded of the bravery of the caregivers who bring comfort and aid to the sick and the dying. In the Middle Ages, this would have been local healers, but very often priests, who would have been called to visit people near death in order to hear their confessions, and administer their last rites
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