The Struggle is Real: Where are the Medieval Economists?!

Dr. Daniel Curtis presenting his talk at, "Making the Medieval Relevant" at the University of Nottingham.

Another fascinating paper from “Making the Medieval Relevant” was given by Daniel Curtis, a specialist in Social and Economic History, and a professor at the University of Utrecht.

Capital and Corporal Punishment in Anglo-Saxon England

Jay Paul Gates

Jay Gates, Nicole Marafioti and Valerie Allen speak about Capital and Corporal Punishment in Anglo-Saxon England

BOOK REVIEW: The Tapestry by Nancy Bilyeau

The Tapestry by Nancy Bilyeau

Joanna Stafford, our intrepid ex-Dominican super sleuth is at it again. This time, she’s hurled straight into the midst of plotting and deception at Henry VIII’s court.

Prostitution in the Medieval City

Brothel scene; Brunswick Monogrammist, 1537; Gemäldegalerie, Berlin

Prostitution was a vice that was was considered a necessary evil because of “men’s lust”. Ecclesiastics felt that if brothels weren’t available to men in cities, they would find other inappropriate outlets for their entertainment. In an effort to curb potential problems, civic officials permitted prostitution to function within the city walls so long as it was regulated and turned a profit.

Cracking down on illegal gambling in Medieval Livonia

by Master Jean de Mauléon (c.1535)

Just like their modern day counterparts, medieval cities had to deal with their own criminal underworlds – the sex trade, gambling, and violence taking place within their walls. At the International Medieval Congress, held earlier this month at the University of Leeds, these issues were explored as part of session #706: Perceiving and Regulating Vices.

The Afterlife of the Dead: Reform in Attitude Towards Medieval Burials, Corpses and Bones

Rothwell Charnel Chapel. Photo courtesy of ITV.

The International Medieval Congress is taking place at the University of Leeds, I’m on hand this week to report on the conference. This blog post reports on my first session.

Imprisoning the Mentally Ill in Medieval England

imprisonment - Detail of a miniature of Bel Acueil in prison, being guarded by Vielle (old woman). British Library

What to do with mentally ill individuals who are violent? This is a question that modern and medieval societies had to deal with.

Pigs and Prostitutes: Streetwalking in Comparative Perspective

feeding pigs

‘No one shall keep pigs which go in the streets by day or night, nor shall any prostitute stay in the city.’

Medieval poaching site discovered in England

medieval deer hunting scene - British Library Egerton 1146   f. 5v

Archaeologists working in northern England have uncovered a stone-lined cess pit that was filled with dozens of bones from deer. The evidence suggests that they were dumped here by poachers.

Bishops and Their Towns

City of Lucca, Italy. Image via Flickr by bongo vongo.

Another #KZOO2015 post – this one examines Bishops and Their Towns.

Shadow of the Sword (The Headsman)

Eddie Marsan as the sleazy, evil Headsman's assistant, Fabio.

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau gives us a sympathetic Headsman in Reformation Austria, in the ‘Shadow of the Sword (The Headsman)’.

Of thieves, counterfeiters and homicides: crime in Hedeby and Birka

Lorenz Frølich. 1856. Rolf Krake jumbs over the fire

Material evidence of prehistoric crime is rare. A compilation of finds from Hedeby harbour however offers three case studies, where three different offences – thievery, counterfeiting and homicide – are likely.

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.

Four Kidnappings in Thirteenth-Century Aragon: Christian Children as Victims of Christian-Muslim Domination

Aragonia et Navarra, by Willem Janszoon Blaeu. Amsterdam: 1640

We don’t have to probe too deeply to identify the impetus for these acts: it was simple greed.

Capital and Corporal Punishment may have been rare in Anglo-Saxon England, researcher suggests

Skeletons under excavation at Walkington Wold - photo by Rod Mackey

A long standing belief about early medieval justice was that many offenders would be executed for serious crimes, or face punishments such as amputations for lesser offences. However, an examination of archaeological data suggests that these kinds of punishments were rare in Anglo-Saxon England.

How Witches Looked in Medieval Art

Hans Baldung - The Witches Sabbath (1510 AD)

I recently visited the British Museum and enjoyed their Witches and Wicked Bodies exhibit which runs until January 11th, 2015. It displays art depicting witches from the middle ages up to the late nineteenth century. This post looks at a few late medieval interpretations of witches and the artists behind these works.

Managing Criminal Women in Scotland: An Assessment of the Scarcity of Female Offenders in the Records of the High Court of Justiciary, 1524-1542

17th century map of Scotland

The records of Scotland’s High Court of Justiciary that run from 1524 to 1542 contain a remarkably low number of women charged with felonies and pleas of the crown, and reveal the justiciar’s reluctance to convict or execute female offenders.

Slippery When Wet: Madness and Eroticism in the Countess Elizabeth Bathory


The Countess Elizabeth Bathory, a 16th century Hungarian noblewoman, is purported to have killed and bathed in the blood of 600 virgin girls

The Names of Criminals in Medieval England

names criminal medieval England

Agnes Daythef, Henry Golichtly, Godwin Haluedeuel and Walter Litlegod – how did they get such names?

The Importance of Parks in Fifteenth-Century Society

Medieval deer park

In this paper, my aim is to consider the role of parks in the fifteenth century.

Peasant Anger and Violence in the Writings of Orderic Vitalis

Medieval Violence

This paper examines the representation of peasant anger in the writings of Orderic Vitalis. In his texts, Orderic often associates peasant anger with divine vengeance and just violence.

The Contours, Frequency and Causation of Subsistence Crises in Carolingian Europe (750-950)

Medieval harvest

The Contours, Frequency and Causation of Subsistence Crises in Carolingian Europe (750-950) Timothy P. Newfield Crisis Alimentarias en la Edad Media: Modelos, Explicaciones y Representaciones (Milenio, Lleida, 2013), pp. 117-172. Abstract The subsistence crises of Carolingian Europe have been widely overlooked in modern histories of the early Middle Ages. Detailed treatment has yet to be […]

INTERVIEW: A Conversation with SD Sykes about Plague Land

Burial of plague victims - The Black Death

My interview with fiction author, SD Sykes about her fantastic medieval crime novel, Plague Land.

The Floating State: Trade Embargoes and the Rise of a New Venetian State

Neptune offering gifts to Venice - Giovanni Battista Tiepolo

This paper was given by Georg Christ and examined embargoes and state formation in the late medieval and early modern period in Venice.

Extralegal and English: the Robin Hood Legend and Increasing National Identity in the Middling Sorts of Late Medieval England

Robin Hood statue outside of Nottingham Castle - Photograph by Mike Peel

The legend was clearly not the only work of popular culture in what I propose as the long fifteenth century, but it does serve as a very useful representation for examining the growth of Englishness.

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