Chastity belts and birthing girdles

A sketch of a chastity belt from an early 15th century manuscript of "Bellifortis" - perhaps included as a joke.

Chastity belts have been the subject of schoolroom and music hall humour for as long as most of us can remember. But did they really exist and for the purpose suggested?

Creating a crusader saint: Canute Lavard and others of that ilk

Canute Lavard (died 1131), Danish prince and saint. Medieval painting in the church of Vigersted, Denmark. Photographer: Fredrik Tersmeden, Lund, Sweden (2002)

In the Middle Ages, saints were invoked before great, decisive battles, they sometimes participated directly themselves, and they did so more and more often after the eleventh and especially the twelfth century.

Saladin and the Problem of the Counter-Crusade in Medieval Europe

19th-century depiction of a victorious Saladin, by Gustave Doré.

The phrase Counter-Crusade is, obviously, a modern construct, but in 1144 the military situation in Syria did drastically change.

Support Structures in Crusading Armies, 1095-1241

Battle between the Turks and the Crusaders  - The Hague, KB, KA 20 fol. 254v

This thesis will examine the support structures in crusading armies from the First Crusade, launched in 1095, to the end of the Barons’ Crusade, in 1241.

Civic Knighthood in the Early Renaissance: Leonardo Bruni’s De militia (ca. 1420)

Statue ofe Francesco Ferrucci (1489-1530), Florentine condottiere

Leonardo Bruni’s aim in the De militia (ca. 1420) was to co-opt the most glamorous of medieval ideals, the ideal of chivalry, and to reinterpret it in terms of Greco-Roman ideals of military service.

Berserkir: a re-examination of the phenomenon in literature and life

Iron helmet from a Vendel era (550-793 AD) boat grave in Vendel, Uppland, Sweden. Displayed at the Museum of History in Stockholm. Photo by Mararie  / Wikimedia Commons

This thesis discusses whether berserkir really went berserk.

Good Dog/Bad Dog: Dogs in Medieval Religious Polemics

Four Dogs before a Doghouse;  Ms. Ludwig XV 1, fol. 50v. - Digital image courtesy of the Getty's Open Content Program

From its positive attributes, the dog became a Christian symbol for conscientious prelates and preachers who guarded the community from the devil and applied the dog’s curative properties to heal the community of sin.

The Ten Commandments in the Medieval Schools

Moses receives the Ten Commandments, depicted in a Carolingian manuscript circa 840

There was surprisingly little discussion of the ten commandments in the period between Augustine of Hippo (d. 430) and the schools that grew up in twelfth-century Paris, which specialised in teaching the Bible and theology.

Textile Consumption in Late Medieval Castile: The Social, Economic, and Cultural Meaning of Clothing, 1200-1350

Spanish clothing circa 1400, according to Costumes of All Nations (1882)

Focusing on the types of clothing imported into the realm, and using information from the royal accounts and tithes of a number of ports in the Bay of Biscay, I focus on issues of production and consumption in late medieval Castile and what this information tells us about the economic structures of the realm and on the exaggerated consumption of foreign cloth by certain groups within Castilian society.

God is Great, God is Good: Medieval Conceptions of Divine Goodness and the Problem of Hell

Hellmouth  - miniature from the Hours of Catherine of Cleves

Medieval views of both divine goodness and the doctrine of hell are examined and shown to be incompatible with our best understandings of goodness. The only manner in which God could be good to those in hell – by permitting their continued existence – is not sufficient to outweigh ‘the dreadful pains of eternal fire’.

Exploring Legal Multiculturalism in the Irish Sea

Isle of Man

This thesis explores the relationship between proto-democracy, multiculturalism, and state formation. In the introduction, I express the desire to ascertain how legal multiculturalism on the Isle of Man could be viewed as a product of the shared protodemocratic character of the Irish and the Norse legal traditions.

Magna Carta, the Rule of Law, and the Limits on Government

The opening lines of Lincoln Cathedral's copy of the 1215 Magna Carta

This paper surveys the legal tradition that links Magna Carta with the modern concepts of the rule of law and the limits on government.

The Law is an Ass: Reading E.P. Evans’ The Medieval Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals

medieval animal trials

In this essay I address a little-known chapter in the lengthy history of crimes against (nonhuman) animals. My focus is not crimes committed by humans against animals, as such, but a practical outcome of the seemingly bizarre belief that animals are capable of committing crimes against humans

Justice Fred Blume and the Translation of Justinian’s Code

Corpus Iuris Civilis

Justice Frederick H. Blume, attorney and long-time Justice of the Wyoming Supreme Court, single-handedly translated Justinian’s Code and Novels in the early twentieth century. His is the only English translation of the Code to have been made from the Latin version accepted as most authoritative.

The Law of Treason in the English Border Counties in the Later Middle Ages

England / Scotland border British Railways sign board by the east coast mainline, marking the border.  Photo by Callum Black / Wikimedia Commons

The formulation of a general and comprehensive law of treason by the English government in the mid-fourteenth century allowed northerners to impose harsh penalties on those who offended them most grievously.

Concerning Mass Graves: The use, development and identities within mass graves during the Scandinavian Iron Age and Middle Ages

The mass grave from the Battle of Visby at Korsbetningen, photographed during the 1905 excavation.

In this Master thesis, my aim is to investigate, compare and discuss the practice of dealing with the dead and their war gear during the aftermath of a battle or an armed engagement.

Institutionally Constrained Technology Adoption: Resolving the Longbow Puzzle

Longbows at the Battle of Agincourt

Historians have long puzzled over why this missile weapon—clearly superior to its alternative, the crossbow—was monopolized by the English for so long

On Heroes and Monsters: The Proposed Influence of the Aeneid on Beowulf

Beowulf fighting Grendel's Mother, from Siegfried, the hero of the North, and Beowulf, the hero of the Anglo-Saxons (1909)

The proposed study will take an indepth approach by examining two sets of passages to show that the similarities between the behaviors, descriptions, and lineages of the heroes and monsters are so precise that they exclude many other possible influences of Beowulf.

Berserk for berserkir: Introducing Combat Trauma to the
 Compendium of Theories on the Norse Berserker

Photo by Jakub T. Jankiewicz / Flickr

This thesis attempts to provide a brief overview of major pieces of the English-language scholarship concerning the Norse berserker. It tries to demonstrate consistent flaws in scholarly treatment and the hollow nature of many major theories and attitudes.

Municipal problems in mediaeval Switzerland

16th century map of Zürich, Switzerland

In Switzerland the chief cities were by this time either component parts of the Confederation or in alliance with it. Municipalities, therefore, entered into the borders of the higher state-craft and of diplomacy.

Zorita Castle: A Glimpse of Medieval life in a Spanish stronghold

Zoirta Castle - photo by doid from Madrid, España  / Wikimedia Commons

Amidst the olive tree-lined plains of central Spain is a remote Medieval castle overlooked by archaeologists until the arrival of husband-and-wife team Dionisio Urbina and Catalina Urquijo. What secrets are emerging from this bastion of history?

medievalverse magazine