Danish ferocity and abandoned monasteries: the twelfth-century view

Ruins of Lindisfarne - photo by _The Real McCoy /Flickr

Apart from brief accounts of attacks on Lindisfarne and Donemutha in the 790s, there are almost no accounts of Viking attacks on Anglo-Saxon monasteries in contemporary sources. There are however many in twelfth century sources, most of them fictive or largely so. This article tries to explain why twelfth-century authors found it so important to invent stories of Viking brutality towards monks and nuns and what ideas and material they used to create their stories

Epiphany: Three Kings Day

The Three Magi, Byzantine mosaic c.565, Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna, Italy (restored 18th century). As here Byzantine art usually depicts the Magi in Persian clothing which includes breeches, capes, and Phrygian caps. Wikipedia

A look at the history behind Epiphany and Twelfth Night.

Drawings of Leonardo da Vinci to tour British Isles in 2016

The head of St Anne  - Leonardo da Vinci

Throughout 2016, ten of the finest drawings by Leonardo da Vinci in the Royal Collection will travel to four museums and galleries across the United Kingdom and Ireland in a new exhibition.

Edward I and the Appropriation of Arthurian Legend

King Arthur

I recount some of the various activities of Edward I where he appears to use Arthurian legend in a political context, making no attempt to draw conclusions about the nature of national identity in thirteenth century England, but rather to demonstrate the potential of this era for re-evaluation and reinterpretation by those interested in pursuing such matters.

Time and Clocks in the Middle Ages

Medieval Clock

What is told by hands, measured in sand, and announced with bells?

The Charters of the Cinque Ports – Are They Still Needed?

The Charters of the Cinque Ports

The heyday of the Cinque Ports was in medieval times when they provided a vital navy for the protection of the realm. Today, the Cinque Ports, and their charters, still exist.

Did people in the Middle Ages take baths?


A closer look shows that baths and bathing were actually quite common in the Middle Ages, but in a different way than one might expect.

An introduction to the investigation into the mental health of female medieval mystics

Catherine of Siena

While the Medieval ascription to madness is known, in the light of recent psychological and medical insights, I will explore alternative explanations for the extreme behaviour of devout women in the Middle Ages.

Continental Women Mystics and English Readers

Julian of Norwich - Statue of Julian on the front of Norwich Cathedral, holding the book Revelations of Divine Love

In 1406 Sir Henry later Lord Fitzhugh, trusted servant of King Henry IV, visited Vadstena, the Bridgettine monastery for men and women in Sweden. Vadstena was the mother-house of the Order of the Most Holy Saviour and had been founded by the controversial continental mystic St Bridget of Sweden, who had died in 1373 and had been canonized in Fitzhugh was so impressed by what he saw that he gave one of his manors near Cambridge as the future site for an English Bridgettine foundation.

The Scrope and Grosvenor Controversy, 1385-1391

The Azure a Bend Or - the cause of the heraldic uproar. (Wikipedia)

Caught at an event wearing the exact same outfit as someone else? Well, what if you wore the same coat of arms to a battle? In 1385, King Richard II of England invaded Scotland with his army. During this invasion, two of the king’s knights realized that they were using the same coat of arms.

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