Genoa: The cog in the new medieval economy

View of Genoa by Christoforo de Grassi (after a drawing of 1481)

Journalist and author Nicholas Walton writes about medieval Genoa’s economy, trade and role in the Black Death. Walton recently published a book on Genoese history entitled, “Genoa: La Superba”

Papers on Medieval Prosopography: Session #47 at KZOO 2015

Pieter Brueghel - Kermesse (The Feast of Saint George)

Three fantastic papers on Prosopography from #KZOO2015.

Make-Up and Medicine in the Middle Ages

Medieval woman combing her hair

A look at cosmetics and make-up in the Middle Ages.

Medieval Books for Christmas

The Middle Ages - Johannes Fried

It’s that time of year again – the mad scramble for the perfect Christmas gift for the historian, nerd, avid reader on your list. Here are a few suggestions for you – new releases for December and January!

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.

Medicine and surgery in the Livre des Assises de la Cour des Bourgeois de Jérusalem

The Assizes of Jerusalem

The Livre des Assises, written in the thirteenth century in Acre, not only provides insights into the practice of medicine and surgery in the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem, but also suggests that the licensing and regulation of doctors reflected contemporary Islamic practice.

Turning Toward Death: The Medievals’ Terrestrial Treatment of Death in Art During the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries

Vanity and Salvation Hans Memling 1433 - 1494

Throughout the Middle Ages, religious iconography was a main theme of art and the Church heavily patronized works that embodied virtuous ideals. Art was often used as a religious implement in which the Church instructed the illiterate masses. However, art can also represent pain and trauma acting as an outlet for the artist.

BOOK REVIEW: Plague Land by SD Sykes

Plague Land by SD Sykes

My review of SD Sykes brilliant medieval thriller, Plague Land.

Living cheek by jowl: the pathoecology of medieval York

A panoramic view of York in the 15th century. A watercolour by E. Ridsdale Tate produced in 1914,

This paper aims to present the environmental context for disease combined with the human osteological record to reconstruct the pathoecology of medieval York.

Living la vita apostolica: Life expectancy and mortality of nuns in late-medieval Holland

Medieval Nuns

Living la vita apostolica: Life expectancy and mortality of nuns in late-medieval Holland Jaco Zuijderduijn (Utrecht University ) Centre for Global Economic History: Utrecht University, Working Paper No. 44, June (2013) Abstract Data on vital events of medieval women are extremely scarce. We use a dataset based on a necrology of nuns in late-medieval Holland […]

Sickness in the Nidaros Cathedral?

Sickness in the Nidaros Cathedral?

Up towards the ceiling vault of the Nidaros Cathedral, a number of artworks are hidden from public view. Many of the stone sculptures portray mythological animals and other scary creatures. In such company, one would imagine that human faces were also intended to evoke fear and anguish. Do they depict people with diseases?

The Red Sea and the Port of Clysma. A Possible Gate of Justinian’s Plague

Plague of Justinian

The aim of this study is to present the sea and land commercial routes of the Byzantine Egypt and their role in the dissemination of the plague bacteria Yersinia pestis from the Red Sea to Mediterranean ports. The Mediterranean port of Pelusium was considered as the starting point of the first plague pandemic…

The Vikings and Baron Dupuytren’s disease

Viking skull

Dupuytren’s disease (DD) is an ancient affliction of unknown origin. It is defined by Dorland as shortening, thickening, and fibrosis of the palmar fascia producing a flexion deformity of a finger.

Plague and Persecution: The Black Death and Early Modern Witch Hunts

witch burning

The century or so from approximately 1550 to 1650 is a period during which witch-hunts reached unprecedented frequency and intensity. The circumstances that fomented the witch- hunts—persistent warfare, religious conflict, and harvest failures—had occurred before, but witch-hunts had never been so ubiquitous or severe.

Phthiriasis: the riddle of the lousy disease

Medieval Lice

Of all the legendary and fantastic diseases of ancient times, phthiriasis, or the lousy (lisease, wvas the most intriguing and bizarre. In the corrupted humours of the sufferers of this disease, lice were believed to develop by spontaneous generation, and tumours full of these insects rose on the skin.

Integrative Medicine: Incorporating Medicine and Health into the Canon of MedievalEuropean History

Medieval medicine

Hitherto peripheral (if not outright ignored) in general medieval historiography, medieval medical history is now a vibrant subdiscipline, one that is rightly attracting more and more attention from ‘mainstream’ historians and other students of cultural history.

Integrative Medicine: Incorporating Medicine and Health into the Canon of Medieval European History

Medieval medicine

Hitherto peripheral (if not outright ignored) in general medieval historiography, medieval medical history is now a vibrant subdiscipline, one that is rightlyattracting more and more attention from ‘mainstream’ historians and other studentsof cultural history.

Stature and frailty during the Black Death: the effect of stature on risks of epidemic mortality in London, A.D. 1348-1350

The excavation site at East Smithfield. Hendrik Poinar, an evolutionary geneticist at McMaster, has identified the bacteria responsible for causing the 1348 Black Death. Photo reproduced courtesy of the Museum of London

Recent research has shown that pre-existing health condition affected an individual ’ s risk of dying duringthe 14th-century Black Death. However, a previous study of the effect of adult stature on risk of mortality during the epidemic failed to find a relationship between the two; this result is perhaps surprising given the well-documented inverse association between stature and mortality in human populations.

Fighting the plague in medieval towns

Engraving depicting the Saints Innocents cemetery in Paris, around the year 1550

A new article is revealing how French towns coped with waves of plague outbreaks and other diseases in the late Middle Ages. It reveals that in these towns they made vigorous attempts to improve hygiene, employ doctors and isolate those infected so they would not spread the disease.

Healthscaping a Medieval City: Lucca’s Curia viarum and the Future of Public Health History

The Politics of Health Reform from a Medieval Perspective

Healthscaping a Medieval City: Lucca’s Curia viarum and the Future of Public Health History G. Geltner (Department of History, University of Amsterdam) Urban History: 40, 3 (2013) Abstract In early fourteenth-century Lucca, one government organ began expanding its activities beyond the maintenance of public works to promoting public hygiene and safety, and in ways that suggest both […]

The diagnosis and context of a facial deformity from an Anglo-Saxon cemetery at Spofforth, North Yorkshire


Osteological analysis of the complete skeletal population identified one individual, Skeleton 177, who presented an abnormal and pathological swelling to the left facial bones. The following discussion describes these pathological lesions and presents a differential diagnosis based on visual, radiographic and histological examination.

Sickness and Sin: Medicine, Epidemics and Heresy in the Middle Ages

Medieval medicine 2

Disease was more common, as already unsanitary populations grew more crowded, culminating with the devastating Black Death. With mostly Church chronicles telling the story, and a sense of religion underlying everyday life, comparisons were bound to be drawn between plagues and unruly dissent. On the one hand sickness of the body and the other a corruption of the mind.

Understanding Pestilence in the Times of King Matthias

The Black Death 2

Even if medieval medicine was revealed to be powerless by the mass-scale epidemics of the mid-fourteenth century, the Black Death was far from ending the career of university-trained physicians or the continuation of their art.

Impregnable friendship : locating desire in the middle English ‘Amis and Amiloun’


Scholarship on Amis and Amiloun has generally been divided into two critical schools. The majority of critics have read the work as an exemplar of perfect friendship, overlooking (or ignoring) any trace of homoeroticism, citing the possibility itself as anachronistic, or explaining away its presence by offering historical or theoretical justification for intimacy among medieval men.

Plagues, Epidemics and Their Social and Economic Impact on the Egyptian Society during the Mameluke Period

Burial of plague victims - The Black Death

The study aims at shedding light on plagues and epidemics that hit Egypt during the Mameluke period through describing the plague disease and the plagues and epidemics that hit Egypt, and their social and economic effects on the Egyptian society, The study is based on some historical sources contemporary of the Mameluke period, especially the book “Al-Suluk li-marifatiduwal Al-muluk” by Al Maqrizi.

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