Lost Works of the Middle Ages

Old Books - photo by David Flores / Flickr

Only a small fraction of the writings created in the Middle Ages have survived to the present day. Throughout the medieval period manuscripts would be destroyed or recycled, and in more recent centuries this process only worsened as fires, theft and neglect led to more losses. Many great works from the Middle Ages have been lost, with little hope that any copies survive. Here are five lost works that we would love to see again.

Conference Round-Up: Sowing the Seeds V: Measuring the Medieval Economy

The Money Changer and his Wife (1490).

On March 31st, I attended the fifth annual Sowing the Seeds: Measuring the Medieval Economy conference at Cambridge University, organised by Jordan Claridge and Alex Brown. It was a full day of discussion about the current research beng done in medieval economics, and a look ahead to the future.

A Journey to the Far North in the Ninth Century

Detail of a map of Scandinavia, created by Abraham Ortelius in the 16th century

The name Ohthere does not usually rank among the great explorers of the Middle Ages, such as Leif Eriksson, Marco Polo and Christopher Columbus. However, his exploits are very impressive, for he would sail into Arctic Circle over eleven hundred years ago.

Five Favourite Middle English Romances

Dante Gabriel Rossetti - Arthur's Tomb: The Last Meeting of Lancelot and Guinevere (1860).

Danièle Cybulskie, the 5MinMedievalist, shares her five favourite Middle English romances – what are yours?

Medieval Falconry: Birds and Lovebirds

Medieval falconry. Falconers with horse from, 'De arte venandi cum avibus', 1240-1250 – Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II wrote a treatise on, 'The Art of Hunting with Birds'

The 5MinMedievalist talks to us about the popular medieval sport of falconry!

The Medieval Story of Jesus’ Prison Cell

Prison of Christ in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre - photo by Patrick McKay / Flickr

Today it is one of the quieter corners of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, but hundreds of years ago the ‘Prison of Christ’ was one of the must-see spots for medieval Christian pilgrims.

Interview: Michael H. Roffer, author of The Law Book


The Law Book: From Hammurabi to the International Criminal Court, 250 Milestones in the History of Law, by Michael H. Roffer, explores 250 of the most fundamental, far-reaching, and often controversial cases, laws, and trials that have profoundly changed our world—for good or bad.

BOOK TOUR: On the Trail of the Yorks by Kristie Dean

Books: On the Trail of the Yorks by Kristie Dean

Today we’re hosting Kristie Dean’s “On the Trail of the Yorks” book tour, featuring Anne of Exeter.

Why Medieval Torture Devices are Not Medieval

The Iron Maiden of Nuremberg - this artefact was destroyed during the Second World War, but by then historians knew it was a fake.

When many people think about the Middle Ages they see it as a time when people were tortured by a wide collection of diabolical instruments. Whether it is the Pear of Anguish or the Iron Maiden, these torture devices are portrayed as medieval. The reality, however, is that many of these devices never existed in the Middle Ages.

Who wrote this medieval literary classic?

medieval literary classic

Can you match these nine famous medieval authors to their works? See also: 10 Phrases that Originated in the Middle Ages

The World’s Worst Fantasy Film: In the Name of the King

In the Name of the King movie poster. (Wikipedia)

What do you get when you mix Burt Reynolds, Jason Statham, Ray Liotta and Ron Perlman in a movie together? You get a horrible movie. Those worlds are never meant to collide, and never in a fantasy movie.

The Daily Life of a Medieval King

Charles V, king of France sitting on a throne in this 15th century depiction - British Library, MS Royal 15 E II f. 7

Have you wondered just what a medieval king did on a typical day? We actually do have an account of what it was like for King Charles V of France, thanks to Christine de Pizan.

The Medieval Magazine: The Medieval Academy of America (Volume 2 Issue 6)

medieval mag 58

We report from the Medieval Academy of America’s Annual Meeting, which was held last month in Boston – news from the conference, and reports on two papers given there. Also read about Queen Elizabeth of York, medieval riddles, a foot prosthesis from the 6th-century, and more.

Medieval Meets Modern: Stary Olsa Take on Rock Classics With a Medieval Twist

Stary Olsa. Photo courtesy of Stary Olsa by Vitali Frozen. August 2015.

A look at medieval musicians, Stary Olsa.

15th century house and shop for sale in France

Photo by Libre à Quimperlé / Wikimedia Commons

While you can buy this 15th century building for just 42 000 euros, it will require much more money for repairs and restoration.

Can You Solve These Medieval Riddles?

saint aldhelms riddles

Test yourself with these ten riddles from the seventh-century, part of Saint Aldhelm’s Riddles, translated by A.M. Juster and published by the University of Toronto Press.

Medieval Eyeglasses: Wearable Technology of the Thirteenth Century

medieval eyeglasses

It’s a common misconception that medieval minds regarded every little gadget with superstition and fear. Like us, medieval people loved wearable tech, and adapted useful gear – like sundials – to take with them on the go. In the thirteenth-century, Europeans were keen to get on board with the latest high-tech gadget to come out of Italy: eyeglasses.

Friendship, Betrayal, War: “Soldier of God” Movie Review

Soldier of God - Rene, a French Templar Knight who survives the Battle of Hattin. Played by Tim Abell.

A Templar and a Muslim; their strange friendship is the premise of this week’s movie based in the 12th century immediately after the disastrous Battle of Hattin.

Infertility in the Middle Ages

Drawing from a 13th-century manuscript of Pseudo-Apuleius's Herbarium, depicting a pregnant woman in repose, while another holds some pennyroyal in one hand and prepares a concoction using a mortar and pestle with the other.

For medieval people, success meant succession. Heredity was at the centre of law and order, from the king down through the ranks of society. As a result, the moment children reached marriageable age – and sometimes even before that – everyone’s focus was on their fertility.

The Medieval Magazine: Anglo-Saxon England (Volume 2 Issue 5)

medieval mag 57

We take a look at Anglo-Saxon England this week, including a Mercian Queen, and what happened to Britain’s plants and animals when Roman rule collapsed.

BOOK REVIEW – London: A Travel Guide Through Time by Dr. Matthew Green

London: A Travel Guide Through Time by Dr. Matthew Green

Love London? Then you will love this book. A fascinating trek through time looking the pivotal moments in London’s history.

A Viking Mess – Northmen: A Viking Saga Movie Review

Northmen: A Viking Saga. Photo by Variety.com

This week’s medieval movie is Northmen: A Viking Saga.

Interview with Nancy Goldstone, author of The Rival Queens

rival queens

It wasn’t until I was older, and writing European history, that I stumbled across a mention in the chronicle of Matthew Paris, a 13th century Benedictine monk, of the four daughters of the count of Provence who all became queens—queen of France, queen of England, queen of Germany (queen of the Romans), and queen of Sicily. Even from the little I was able to glean from the chronicle I could see that these women, who I had never heard of, exercised real power. Instantly curious, I went to find a book about them.

Discovering a Lost Medieval Town in Poland

A three-dimensional, artistic digital reconstruction of New Nieszawa/Dybow on the basis of non-invasive data (by J. Zakrzewski, S. Rzeznik, P. Wroniecki)

The 15th century city of Nieszawa, known by two names Nowa Nieszawa (New Nieszawa) or Dybów was a prosperous urban centre on the border of the Polish Kingdom and the Teutonic Order.

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