Making the Medieval Relevant: Crossing Boundaries: Interdisciplinary Studies on Disease and Disability

Dr. Christina Lee - Crossing Boundaries: Interdisciplinary Studies on Disease and Disability

A summary of a paper given by Professor Christina Lee at the University of Nottingham’s “Making the Medieval Relevant” Conference.

The End of the Ancient Other World: Death and Afterlife between Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages

The earliest portrait of Saint Augustine in a 6th century fresco, Lateran, Rome.

Peter Brown gives lectures on ‘Gloriosus Obitus: Death and Afterlife 400-700 AD’ and ‘The Decline of the Empire of God: From Amnesty to Purgatory’

Penal enslavement in the early middle ages

Passage from Gregory of Tours’s Historia Francorum - image from Provenance Online Project  / Flickr

In the specific form it took during the medieval period, penal enslavement therefore amounts to a strikingly new phenomenon. How did such a system come about, and what functions did it serve?

Medieval Lisbon: Castelo de São Jorge

Walking along the castle walls, you can see the red and green flag of Portugal whipping in the wind alongside the black and white flag of the city. Photo by

Above Lisbon’s skyline of colourful tiled houses and red roofs lies Castelo de São Jorge, a dominating, but beautiful, 11th century fortress in the heart of this vibrant city…

Who Were The Celts? The British Museum Offers Answers with New Exhibition

Gundestrup Cauldron Silver  Gundestrup, northern Denmark, 100 BC–AD 1 © The National Museum of Denmark. The British Museum. Photo by

The British Museum just opened its latest exhibit, Celts: Art and Identity this past Thursday, covering 2,500 years of Celtic history. The exhibit explores Celtic identity and how it eveolved from the time of the Ancient Greeks to the present through art, culture, daily life, religion and politics.

Reporting Scotland in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle

The initial page of the Peterborough Chronicle, marked secondarily by the librarian of the Laud collection.

The aim of this paper is to explore the changing way in which the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle reports events in northern Britain, beyond the Anglo-Saxon territories, in the hope of gaining a better understanding both of events in that region and, perhaps more interestingly, the way in which the Chronicle was constructed.

Sexual Violence in the Early Medieval West

Early Medieval Europe

What kind of acts do we consider as sexual violence in relation to the early Middle Ages? And in particular: does the phenomenon come down to a forced sexual act (in the broadest sense of the word, i.e. in a situation whereby somebody against the will of another person achieves sexual satisfaction)?

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”

Movie Review: Tristan and Isolde

Tristan and Isolde, starring James Franco and Sophia Myles.

As far as medieval movies go, Tristan and Isolde definitely isn’t the worst I’ve seen. I was looking for a movie to watch after work, and I thought, hey, James Franco, Sophia Moyles, Henry Cavill, and Rufus Sewell, all directed by Ridley Scott?! – this can’t be that bad. Well, it was pretty bad, but it wasn’t the worst 2 hours of my life. So what went wrong?

Investigating a Murder: The Case of the Justinianic Plague in Scythia Minor

medieval skull - photo by Todd Huffman / Flickr

The study beforehand applies a logical scheme of analysis over a possible presence of the Justinianic plague in the province of Scythia Minor.

BOOK REVIEW: Genoa ‘La Superba’: The Rise and Fall of a Merchant Pirate Superpower by Nicholas Walton

Book cover: Genoa ‘La Superba’: The Rise and Fall of a Merchant Pirate Superpower by Nicholas Walton

While most books about Italy have been dedicated to tourist hubs like Milan, Florence, Rome, Sicily and Venice, Genoa with its rich history, rugged landscape, and tenacious residents, has been given only a passing mention.

Christianization of Early Medieval Societies: an Anthropological Perspective

Conversion of the Saxons - Guizot, François Pierre Guillaume, A Popular History of France From The Earliest Times

Conversion of early medieval Europe may be discussed as a continental process or as a series of local events having their specific characteristics.

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.

Magna Carta Conference Offers New Insights Into The 800-year-old Document

British Library's Magna Carta, photo credit Joseph Turp

Magna Carta just celebrated its 800th birthday this past Monday. In honour of this incredible milestone, King’s College London, and the Magna Carta Project, hosted a 3 day conference dedicated to this historic document.

Fashion Old and New: Weaving and Tailoring in the Early Medieval and Early Modern Period

Anglo Saxon pin beater made of animal bone. Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, 400-800 AD. Courtesy of Cotswold Archaeology.

Fashion fan? Interested in medieval and early modern textiles? Then this was your session. 2 papers from opposite ends of the spectrum: Early Medieval weaving and Early Modern Tailoring.

Beyond the Medical Text: Health and Illness in Early Medieval Italian Sources

Coin of Liutprand, King of the Lombards

The vast majority of surviving evidence for health care, medicine and attitudes to illness in early medieval northern Italy comes not from traditional medical texts, but legal, hagiographical and archaeological sources.

‘Such a great multitude’: Biblical numerology as a literary device in Nauigatio Sancti Brendani

Darcy Ireland presents at the 50th International Congress on Medieval Studies

This presentation will begin by briefly summarizing the text, presenting evidence for its intended audience and purpose, defining Biblical numerology and outlining its role in Jewish and Christian textual traditions up to the early medieval period. Then the presentation will provide a handful of examples in the use of Biblical numerology in Nauigatio.

Bishops and Their Towns

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

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

Human-Bovine Plagues in the Early Middle Ages

ox book of durrow

In other words, when spreading among cattle, a now-extinct morbillivirus episodically colonized and spread in human populations during the early Middle Ages.

Katherine of Alexandria: Decline of an Empire

Katherine martyred on the wheel

According to hagiographers, (C)Katherine was a princess, the daughter of Roman governor named Constus. She was well educated, beautiful and highly intelligent. She converted to Christianity at the age of 13 or 14 and caught the eye of the Roman Emperor, Maxentius (278-318 AD).

Incest in Early Medieval Society

Painting of Audovera's repudiation by Albert Maignan.

The question of what persons and why can have sexual relations with each other and consequently, can contract marriage, is of basic importance for the functioning of every society, irrespective of time, place and the degree of the society’s development.

Plague, Settlement and Structural Change at the Dawn of the Middle Ages

Plague of Justinian

The plague of Justinian definitely hit the coastal areas of the lands surrounding the Mediterranean as well as the inland areas connected with the sea

Early Historic Scotland to 761

The question that concerns us now is how the kingdom came into being. The best-known story is that Fergus Mór mac Erc, a king of Dál Riata who died in AD 501, led the migration.

Historian discovers evidence of malaria from the Early Middle Ages


In his paper, ‘Malaria and Malaria-Like Disease in the Frankish Empire, c.450-950, Timothy Newfield examines over fifty references to illnesses which appear in Merovingian and Carolingian sources

BOOKS: Medieval Ireland


In celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, here are some great books on medieval Ireland!

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