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.

‘Black Men and Malignant-Looking’: The Place of the Indigenous Peoples of North America in the Icelandic World View

Inuit - My Life with the Eskmo (1922) - Vilhjalmur Stefansson

As they headed back to the ship they saw three hillocks on the beach inland from the cape. Upon coming closer they saw there were three hide-covered boats, with three men under each of them.

Medieval Baltimore: Using American Medievalism to Teach about the European Middle Ages

Baltimore - photo by Tony Brooks / Flickr

The article describes the experience of teaching undergraduate college students the history of Medieval Europe through individual research projects using the city of Baltimore (USA), its buildings, monuments, museums, and the professional medievalists working and residing in the area.

Magna Carta: The Road to Runnymede

This is one of the two Magna Carta owned by the British Library (c) The British Library Board

A look at the creation of the British Library’s Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy exhibition.

The Universal Atlas of Fernão Vaz Dourado

FVD-11 001

Vaz Dourado authored at least four different nautical atlases, each of them including 20 maps, painted between 1568 and 1580, which is to say at the pinnacle of Portuguese cartography.

A 16th century view of North America in the Vallard Atlas

vallard atlas north America

The scene above shows the second American map, which is of the East Coast of North America, and is one of the most significant of the Vallard Atlas.

Vikings in Manitoba?

Vikings in Manitoba

Manitoba bound? Not likely!

Bad Heritage: The Vikings in North America

Vikings in Newfoundland - photo by Douglas Sprott / Flickr

I’ll propose that few times are more Immemorial than the medieval, which I think helps explain why the North American Norse have been promoted so heavily. It’s not just their priority among European arrivals; it’s that they’re medieval arrivals.

Thousand-year-old crucible provides more evidence of the Vikings in Canada’s Arctic

Baffin Island - photo by Mike Beauregard / Flickr

Although it was found about fifty years ago, archaeologists have just determined that a small stone container discovered on Baffin Island in Canada’s Arctic region was actually part of metallurgical equipment used by the Vikings around the year 1000 A.D.

Vikings Red with Blood and Dead: White Martyrs and the Conquest of the American Frontier

Kensington stone  Flikr

In 1898, a Swedish American immigrant unearthed a mysterious stone from a Minnesota farm field.

Did Marco Polo go to Alaska?

marco polo map - Library of Congress

A set of documents, brought to United States by an Italian immigrant, may reveal new details about Marco Polo’s travels in Asia, including that he possibly explored and mapped Alaska.

Viking Canada

Norse long house recreation, L'Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. Photo by D. Gordon E. Robertson

Newfoundland is at the heart of what we may consider to be ‘Viking Canada.’

Christopher Columbus’ flagship may have been found

19th century painting of Christopher Columbus on Santa Maria in 1492

An underwater archaeological search may have discovered the Santa Maria, the flagship of Christopher Columbus when he sailed across the Atlantic reaching the New World in 1492.

Arctic encounters between Norse and Natives

Norse Native contact in Arctic

Contact between the Norse and Native peoples in Canada’s Arctic was more extensive and earlier than first believed, according to recent archaeological evidence.

Why did Vinland fail?

Norse long house recreation, L'Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. Photo by D. Gordon E. Robertson

Brigitta Wallace, one of the leading scholars on the Vikings in North America, examines why their settlements failed.

North America’s First Contact: Norse-Inuit Relations

Inukshuk in Nunavut - photo by Xander/Wikicommons

The interaction between the Norse and Inuit was sparse, at times hostile, and could have possibly doomed the Greenland colonies to extinction.

Vínland and Wishful Thinking: Medieval and Modern Fantasies


Reevaluating the wishful reality of the Vinland islands requires that the stories of the Vinland journeys be squarely situated in the context of the world geographic system adopted by those who told those stories.

The Vínland sagas as propaganda for the Christian Church


Over the last two centuries, the Vínland Sagas have become some of the most discussed of Medieval Nordic documents. There are arguments about every aspect of the sagas: What the name Vínland means, if Vínland existed, where it would have been geographically, and how much of their content is historically accurate.

L’Anse aux Meadows was a ‘temporary base camp’ for the Vikings in North America, study finds

Reconstructed boat at L'Anse-aux-Meadows

A new study of the archaeological remains from the only confirmed Viking settlement in North America argues that it was never meant to be a long-term settlement. It is also very likely that it was the home to at least one Norse woman.

19th-Century Gothic Revival House for Sale in New York

Davenport House

For those looking for a little medieval in their home, this estate near New York City is considered one of America’s best examples of Gothic Revival architecture.

The Crusades Go Global: Crusading in the 16th Century

Spanish Conquistadors

Today I will argue that the crusades, an already well-established, world-historical movement went global in the 16th century.

An island archaeological approach to the Viking colonization of the North Atlantic

Vikings in the North Atlantic

The present paper is a brief exploration of the application of methods commonly used in the archaeological study of the Pacific and Mediterranean islands to the expansion of the Vikings across the North Atlantic during the ninth to eleventh centuries AD.

How Not to (Re)Write World History: Gavin Menzies and the Chinese Discovery of America

1421: The Year China Discovered America

The author’s attempt to rewrite world history, however, is based on a hodgepodge of circular reasoning, bizarre speculation, distorted sources, and slapdash research.

The Secret Society: Descendants of Crypto-Jews in the San Antonio Area


The history of the converso Jews began in medieval Catholic Spain, which was constantly wracked with anti-Semitism that, many times, led to mass conversions or massacres of the Jewish population.

From Cabot to Cartier: The Early Exploration of Eastern North America, 1497–1543

The replica of John Cabot's ship The Matthew. Photographed at its home berth, adjacent to the SS Great Britain in Bristol harbour. Photograph by Chris McKenna

The first European explorers to make contact with North America did so far to the north of the area contacted by Columbus, and their voyages would almost certainly have taken place regardless of the success or failure of Columbus

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