How to Make Medieval Artists’ Tools

Cennino Cennini, Madonna and Child with Angels and Saints, Galleria Moretti

by Danièle Cybulskie If there’s one thing medieval people loved, it was writing educational treatises. Sometimes, these were a little on the fantastic side – like bestiaries or travel literature – but other times, they were extremely useful how-to manuals. I particularly love the how-to manuals because they can teach us so much about medieval […]

BOOK REVIEW: The Anglo-Saxons in 100 Facts by Martin Wall

Book: The Anglo Saxons in 100 Facts

Looking for a “historical beach read” this summer? Look no further. Martin Wall’s latest book, The Anglo-Saxons in 100 Facts brings pre-conquest England to life in a chronological series full of interesting, humorous and gruesome facts about the Anglo Saxons.

Isabelle of Angoulême: Jezebel of the Middle Ages?

Isabella of Angoulême's Tomb Effigy, Fontevraud Abbey

Matthew Paris (d.1259) said in one of his chronicles of the history of England that, ‘she ought to be called a wicked Jezebel, rather than Isabel.’

The Herbal Cures of Hildegard von Bingen – was she right?

A 12th century depiction of Hildegard of Bingen

There is a 1 in 10,000,000 chance that Hildegard von Bingen was just making up her list of medical cures based on herbs and plants.

Did Medieval People Believe in King Arthur?

By Danièle Cybulskie If you’ve ever had your doubts that King Arthur was a real, living, breathing human being at some point, you’re not alone. Despite the many, many histories that “prove” that Arthur was definitely this or that – tenacious Briton, Roman military man, leader of hunky Sarmatians – the evidence is pretty thin. […]

Becoming a Prince: Prince Arthur’s early life and his training to be king

prince arthur

Within a month of his birth on 20 September 1486, Prince Arthur was separated from his family and living in a nursery at Farnham Palace in Surrey.

Anglo-Saxon Motte and Bailey Castle for Sale

Anglo-Saxon Motte and Bailey Castle for Sale

This Anglo-Saxon motte and bailey is located on a smallholding in the village of Ewyas Harold, Herefordshire and has recently been put on the market. It is of considerable interest because it was one of only three sites constructed prior to the Norman conquest.

Can you move in armour? An Experiment in Mythbusting

Drawing Copyright Nicholas Baptiste

In this video we have recreated the deeds of the famous knight Jean le Maingre, known as Boucicaut, which were put in writing in the early 15th century.

Medieval Mysteries: Miscellanies and Mix Tapes


By Danièle Cybulskie In thinking this week about the medieval mysteries we’ll never solve, it struck me that one of the most fun questions that I – and everyone else who loves medieval books – ponder is why the particular stories in them are put together the way they are. Most medieval manuscripts that aren’t […]

Travel Tips for the Medieval Pilgrim

medieval travel tips

William Wey, a 15th century pilgrim, gives his travel tips for those going to medieval Jerusalem.

Book Review: Assassin’s Creed: Trial by Fire


By Danièle Cybulskie Assassin’s Creed: Trial by Fire, a compilation of the first five comic books in the new Assassin’s Creed series, comes from the same writers that brought us the immensely popular Kill Shakespeare, a comic series that playfully wreaked havoc with Shakespeare’s canon, while drawing in a whole new audience to his plays. Written […]

Medieval Cooking Tips

Cracking an egg - photo by Daniel Novta / Flickr

From boiling vegetables to smelly pots, here are 10 medieval cooking tips from the 10th century.

Christine the Astonishing

Christina the Astonishing from 1630 Fasti Mariani calendar of saints Image by Patrick3Lopez

By Danièle Cybulskie This week, I read the story of Christine the Astonishing for the first time (in Medieval Writings on Female Spirituality, translated by Elizabeth Spearing), and it struck me that while it’s meant to be the story of a holy woman’s life, it also gives us an intimate look at what was likely […]

The Medieval Magazine (Volume 2 Issue 19)

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Welcome to our first issues under new editors Sandra Alvarez and Danielle Trynoski. We’re bringing you a bigger, better issue, with more features, articles, books and travel than ever before.

How to Cheat on a Virginity Test

Lovers in Bed - from British Library MS Sloane 2435 f. 9v

During the Middle Ages a woman’s virginity was highly prized. A lady was expected not to have sex until she was married, and that her wedding night would be a kind of test to show that she had remained ‘pure’. However, if she did have sex before, was there a way she could cheat on this test?

The Fantastical Shoemaker and the Head of Death

Detail from list of shoemakers by Niccolò di Giacomo da Bologna

By Danièle Cybulskie This week, I came across one of those great medieval stories that is just too good not to share: “The Fantastical Shoemaker of Constantinople”. This twisted tale comes from Walter Map’s twelfth-century miscellany De Nugis Curialium or Courtiers’ Trifles, and all quotes you’ll find below come from Richard Sowerby‘s reader-friendly translation in the great collection […]

The Poetry of Trauma: On the Crécy Dead

Edward III Counting the Dead at Crécy

By Danièle Cybulskie Time and again, I’ve heard medieval knights referred to as “killing machines”, bred for a lifetime of battle and destruction. Difficult as it may be, it’s critical to for us to remember that every one of the men mired in mud and blood on the battlefield was not a machine, but a […]

The Medieval Magazine: Jeanne de Valois (Volume 2 Issue 18)

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From a French queen to the descendent of a Scottish king, this issue covers a lot of ground. Read about magic tricks, advice for pregnant women, Thomas Becket’s elbow and more.

Exhibit: Shakespeare In Ten Acts at the British Library

Shakespeare's First Folio 1623. British Library Photo by Clare Kendall

This year marks the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare (1564-1616). The British Library has honoured his contribution to English literature and the stage in a celebratory exhibition that runs until September 6th. British Library curators, Julian Harrison and Zoë Wilcox, have crafted an impressive exhibit that covers Shakespeare’s importance in ten acts.

The Medieval Way of Cooking Octopus

Grilled octopus - photo by Alpha / Flickr

‘This is a vile fish of no value; therefore cook it the way you want.’ ~ Liber de Coquina, a 14th century cookbook.

Which Of The Seven Kingdoms Do You Belong To?

wintefell seven kingdoms

Take this quiz and find out where you’d live in Westeros…unless you’re part of the Night’s Watch of course.

Epistolae: Letters of Medieval Women

Seals - Photo by Michael Coghlan/Flickr

Like a lot of historians, I’m hugely interested in reading primary sources – the words of medieval people themselves – but it can often be difficult to find them. Lucky for us, Dr. Joan Ferrante and her team have made a website that features letters to and from medieval women, all translated into English, all for free.

The Ideal Medieval Hospital: St. John of Jerusalem

British Library Royal 6 E VII f. 70

Let’s take five minutes to look at what may be the most famous hospital of the Middle Ages: The Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem

The Medieval Magazine: Crime in the Middle Ages (Volume 2 Issue 17)

Buy this issue of the Medieval Magazine

This week we take a look at crime in the Middle Ages, offering five accounts of murder from medieval Oxford as well as the strange history behind the tale of the Pied Piper.

Where You Should Live – a Medieval Guide

15th centuyr home bieng built - from Pier de Crescenzi, Livre des prouffitz champestres et ruraulx

A civilized and intelligent man should choose, in the city as well as the country, the place most advantageous for the time of the year, pleasant, delightful, charming where he may build, where he may devote his efforts to farming, where he may relax with his artistic interests, where he may, in sum, commune with the gods themselves, an easy accomplishment for a man of the greatest integrity and learning.

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