Kissing Heaven’s Door: the Medieval Legend of Judas Iscariot

The Betrayal with Judas kissing Christ and soldiers standing by.  British Library Harley 1782   f. 6v

When we consider Judas Iscariot as he appears in the Bible in modern terms, we might think along the lines of a pantomime villain.

Curse or Blessing: What’s in the Magic Bowl?

Incantation bowl with an Aramaic inscription around a demon. Now on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen (2011)

I intend to look at magic bowls in order to see how and for what purpose they were used, and to get a glimpse at the way they worked and what hidden treasures can be found within them.

The Iconography of ‘Husband-beating’ on Late-Medieval English Misericords

Misericord, St Mary's church, Fairford
A woman beating a man, grabbing his hair.
15th C. possibly taken from Cirencester Abbey. Photo by Julian P Guffogg /

More misericords depicting husband-beating survive in England than in other European countries, and their artistic profusion is mirrored in the rich vernacular tradition for which violent wives proved a favoured subject.

The English way of war, 1360-1399

Anointing of Pope Gregory XI. Battle of Pontvallin (1370). Bibliotheque Nationale MS Fr. 2643

This thesis challenges the orthodox view that the years 1360 to 1399 witnessed a period of martial decline for the English.

The Problem of Old Debts: Jewish Moneylenders in Northern Castile

View of Belorado in sepia from its castle - photo by  FranzPisa / Wikimedia Commons

Focusing especially on Jewish moneylending, the article explores economic relations between Jews and Christians in Northern Castile at the turn of the fourteenth century.

Teaching Tolkien’s Translations of Medieval Literature: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Sir Orfeo and Pearl

Gawain and the Green Knight tolkien

J.R.R. Tolkien, the medievalist who became the father of modern fantasy literature, translated many poems out of Old English, Old Norse and Middle English into carefully versified modern English

The last rex crucesignatus, Edward I and the Mongol alliance

Eleanor of Castile sucks the poison out of Edward I of England

This study explores the crusading efforts of Edward I, King of England (1272– 1307), in the last decades of the thirteenth century.

American Medievalism: Medieval Reenactment as Historical Interpretation in the United States

Kathryn Michel/Briatiz D'Andrade at Pennsic

This thesis will examine how the Middle Ages are historically interpreted and portrayed in the United States.

Florentine merchant companies established in Buda at the beginning of the 15th century

Buda during the Middle Ages, woodcut from the Nuremberg Chronicle (1493)

The scope of the present article is to analyze the activity of these merchant companies through various sources housed by the Florentine National Archives and place them in the context of Florentine long distance trade.

The Life of Medieval Students as Illustrated by their Letters

Teaching at Paris, in a late 14th-century Grandes Chroniques de France

The intellectual life of the Middle Ages was not characterized by spontaneous or widely diffused power of literary expression.

‘Spurred on by the Fear of Death’: Refugees and Displaced Populations during the Mongol Invasion of Hungar


Sensitized by the grim headlines which daily announce the appalling plight of twentieth-century refugees in eastern Europe, I was motivated to investigate the behavior and conditions of medieval refugees fleeing the Mongols.

Hair and Masculinity in the Alliterative Morte Arthure

King Arthur as one of the Nine Worthies, detail from the "Christian Heroes Tapestry" dated c. 1385

This essay examines the use of forced hair cutting in the late fourteenth‐century alliterative romance, Morte Arthure, to show how it is used to develop characters that reflect the tension surrounding the English king Richard II and the tyranny that characterized the final years of his reign.

Locks of Difference: The Integral Role of Hair as a Distinguishing Feature in Early Merovingian Gaul

Childebert depicted in the 19th century, by  Jean-Louis Bézard

The aim of this paper is to understand the meanings that the Franks ascribed to hair and, in this quest, it will survey the different interpretations of hair that existed in sixth century Gaul.

Pets in the Middle Ages: Evidence from Encyclopedias and Dictionaries

Miniatures of Canis Maior (Larger Dog) and Canis Minor (Smaller Dog), in tables from Ptolemy's Almagest.

How, then, did people in the High and Late Middle Ages categorize the relationships between people and animals?

Teaching Magna Carta in American History: Land, Law, and Legacy

Magna Carta replica and display in the rotunda of the United States Capitol, Washington, D.C.

I invite readers to consider the place Magna Carta holds in American heritage. My aim is not to demonstrate without flinch or pause that Magna Carta brought us to this day, or that Magna Carta is the ‘mother ship’ of liberty, but rather to explore how Magna Carta was woven into the American fabric.

Teaching Historical Theory through Video Games

Sid Meier's Civilization IV

The potential of video games for teaching history is receiving increasing recognition. However, the greatest emphasis is on their use as tools in secondary education. The few studies focusing on undergraduate education demonstrate the use of games to create an immersive historical experience with counterfactual options.

Simply Walking into Mordor: How Much Lembas Would The Fellowship Need?

fellowship of the ring

The Fellowship of the Ring were supposed to travel from Imraldis to the forges of Mt. Doom in order to destroy the One Ring of Sauron.

Medieval Queens and Queenship: the Present Status of Research in Income and Power

This representation of Margaret of Anjou comes from Illuminations From the Books of the Skinners Company, AD 1422. It was entered in the roll of the fraternity of Our Lady in 1475.

This paper presents some thoughts and conclusions on the state of a multidisciplinary field of Medieval Studies, queens and queenship, concentrating mainly on issues of income and power.

Last Laughs: Torture in Medieval Icelandic Literature

Hrafnkels saga

Medieval Icelandic literature is full of violence, calculated and reasoned violence, narrated in such a way as to focus largely on issues of personal honor and justice, less so on the spectacle of blood so common in the modem Hollywood action film.

Literature in an Apocalyptic Age; or, How to End a Romance

Yvain fighting Gawain. Medieval illumination from Chrétien de Troyes's romance, Yvain, le Chevalier au Lion

No literature of the Middle Ages has so successfully captured the imagination of recent times as has the medieval romance.

Secret Gestures and Silent Revelations: The Disclosure of Secrets in Selected Arthurian Illuminated Manuscripts and Arthurian Films

excalibur film

This paper explores visual language and iconic systems central to the representation of the Arthurian cycle in thirteenth and fifteenth century Gothic illuminated manuscripts and in two Arthurian films; its focus is the theme of courtly love and crucial revelations of the secret or hidden.

The Justinianic Reconquest of Italy: Imperial Campaigns and Local Responses

Gothic war map - created by Cplakidas / Wikicommons

This article examines a particular aspect of Justinian’s campaigns against the Ostrogoths in Italy, one that is often overlooked, yet one that is essential to the understanding of these wars

Malory’s Arthur and the Politics of Chivalry

The Death of King Arthur by James Archer (1823–1904)

The jury is back and the verdict is in. In Thomas Malory’s Le Morte Darthur, a major reason the Round Table falls is that its political apparatus and the chivalric ethos in which that apparatus is grounded are inadequate for maintaining a stable kingdom.

Senses of the Past: The Old English Vocabulary of History

Page from Beowulf, now at the British Library

How did the Anglo-Saxons think about history?

Reporting Scotland in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle

The initial page of the Peterborough Chronicle, marked secondarily by the librarian of the Laud collection.

The aim of this paper is to explore the changing way in which the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle reports events in northern Britain, beyond the Anglo-Saxon territories, in the hope of gaining a better understanding both of events in that region and, perhaps more interestingly, the way in which the Chronicle was constructed.

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