Last Words from a Medieval Mother to her Son

Christine de Pisan instructs her son, Jean de Castel - from British Library Harley 4431 f.261v

Yesterday, I stumbled across a passage from the Liber Manualis, written by a ninth-century Frankish woman named Dhuoda to her fifteen-year-old son.

Parental Grief and Prayer in the Middle Ages: Religious Coping in Swedish Miracle Stories

The Mother of Allegranzia Appealing to Saints Aimo and Vermondo to Save Her Child -c.1400

This article focuses on expressions of bereavement and religious coping in medieval miracle stories from Sweden.

Picturing Maternal Anxiety in the Miracle of the Jew of Bourges

2 scenes from the Miracle of the Jewish Boy from Bourges, Lincoln Cathedral (

During the middle ages, one of the most popular and most frequently illustrated Miracles of the Virgin Mary was the Miracle of the Jew of Bourges. According to the text of the miracle, the Virgin saves a young Jewish boy after his father throws him into a fiery oven upon learning he attended a Christian mass.

Medieval Parenting Advice

medieval family - Royal 17 F IV   f. 232  British Library

For as long as there have been children, there has been parental advice. This week, let’s take five minutes to look at two Middle English texts that deal with advice

‘There is more to the story than this, of course’: Character and Affect in Philippa Gregory’s The White Queen

The White Queen

Philippa Gregory has critiqued gendered representations of Elizabeth Woodville and has stated that her 2009 novel The White Queen fictionalises Woodville’s history with the aim of challenging such depictions.

Replacing the Father – Representing the Child: A Few Notes on the European History of Guardianship

medieval baptism

There are medieval European varieties of guardianship that is closely connected to feudal forms of power relations. In English feudal society, where inheritance practice was largely dominated by the principles of primogeniture, the oldest male heir of a deceased father would become the ward of the feudal guardian.

Kissing Cousins: Incest and Sex Change in Tristan de Nanteuil

Chansons de Geste

In this paper I re-examine Blanchandine‘s sex change in light of its relation to the issue of incest; as I will show, incest is directly related to the sex change and also punctuates the narrative at other points. Tristan de Nanteuil depicts two sexual and/or romantic relationships between cousins…

Royal and Magnate Bastards in the Later Middle Ages: The View from Scotland

Medieval Children

Theory and Practice in Scotland and Elsewhere Medieval Scotland’s law on bastardy is set out in the lawbook Regiam Majestatem (c.1320)…In England things were different, as Michael Hicks has demonstrated. Admittedly, English heraldic practice eventually followed the French, and the formula ‘X bastard of Y’ is occasionally found for magnates’ bastards.

CONFERENCES: Count Hugh of Troyes and the Crusading Nexus of Champagne

Image of the First Crusade

This is my summary of a paper given at the Institute of Historical Research at the University of London.

Blended and Extended Families in Carolingian Charters

medieval Carolingian charter - Charter of Clothilde

This is a summary of a paper on Carolingian charters and the relationship between step and blended families.

Catharism and Heresy in Milan

16th century map of Milan

Evidence suggests that heresy in Lombardy proliferated during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, a period of upheaval in the structure and form of politics and society, especially in itscapital city. From 1117 Milan operated as a commune, securing independent jurisdiction at thePeace of Constance (1183).

Making a difference in tenth-century politics: King Athelstan’s sisters and Frankish queenship

Eadgifu of England/Wessex

In the early years of the tenth century several Anglo-Saxon royal women, all daughters of King Edward the Elder of Wessex (899-924) and sisters (or half-sisters) of his son King Athelstan (924-39), were despatched across the Channel as brides for Frankish and Saxon rulers and aristocrats. This article addresses the fate of some of these women through an analysis of their political identities.

‘Forgive me for all I have done and all I must do’: Portrayals of Negative Motherhood in George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords


I will argue that Martin both transgresses traditional high fantasy narratives but also employs other stereotypes found in general literature regarding motherhood and female power, often negative in tone.

‘Romeo and Juliet of Stonegate’: a medieval marriage in crisis

medieval marriage

The course of the case can therefore be reconstructed, issues touched by the case identified and educated guesses can be given about what happened to the principal actors after the case had been abandoned by the archbishop’s court.

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.

Youth and Old Age in Late Medieval London

Tower of London - Royal Menagerie

This article is concerned with the relationship between life stages and a person’s place in urban society. The two life stages studied here are the end of youth and the onset of old age, that is to say the two stages at either end of that period in life when men were most active economically, socially, and politically, when they were expected to build a family and run a business.

Looking in the Past for a Discourse of Motherhood: Birgitta of Sweden and Julia Kristeva

St. Birgitta of Sweden

This essay explores two parallel trajectories of mythic retrospection: medieval “myths” of the Biblical past (like Birgitta’s prophetic visions), and modern “myths” of the medieval past (like Kristeva’s survey).

Love and Marriage: Medieval Style

Detail of a historiated initial 'C'(oniugium) of a priest joining hands of a man and a woman.  Royal,  f. 375 detail

What may be even more surprising about medieval marriage is that it was (at least officially) very much based on mutual consent.

New book examines Medieval Muslim Motherhood

Maternity in Medieval Muslim

Modern discourse often casts science and religion as bitter enemies. But if you were to rewind roughly 12 centuries, you would find at least one worldview in which the two domains were considered symbiotic.

An Examination of the Family in ‘The Tale of Sir Gareth’

The Tale of Sir Gareth

This thesis investigates the theme of family interactions within Malory‘s ―Tale of Sir Gareth,‖ examining the tale itself as well as looking at several analogous Fair Unknown stories in order to determine if the theme is Malory‘s own or if it could have come from a probable source.

Sending Home for Mom and Dad: The Extended Family Impulse in Mamluk Politics


Although the biological sons of sultans did inherit their father’s positions, everyone, including the dying sultan and the son himself, knew that the son was functioning as a placeholder, since real power would then be assumed by one or even multiple commanders, either covertly, in which case the nominal sultan remained as a figurehead, or overtly, in which case the nominal sultan was deposed.

The Protocol of Vengeance in Viking-age Scandinavia


Violence, even murder, perpetuated this cycle of revenge. This code of retribution can be broken down further into the following dimensions: the individuals involved, the appropriate actions as deemed by Viking society, and any extenuating circumstances, such as supernatural strength or the wronged party’s reluctance to seek revenge.

Noble Women’s Position in the Capetian Dynasty

Miniature of pageant figures personifying the virtues expected of a queen of France, with Old Testament heroinnes gathered around a queen: Rachel, Leah, Rebecca, and Esther, with Prudence, Generosity, Justice, and Temperance below.

In this paper, I will try to show mainly the women’s position in the noble family and its marriage in the Capetian Dynasty which is considered as a typical feudal period.

Inquiring into Adultery and Other Wicked Deeds: Episcopal Justice in Tenth- and Early Eleventh-Century Italy

Sex medieval

This article suggests that Italian bishops often had recourse to spiritual penalties to exercise their coercive authority over serious offences during the tenth and early eleventh centuries.

“Her Husband Went Overseas”: The Legal and Social Status of Abandoned Jewish Women in Medieval Provence and Languedoc

Jewish women in Haggadah for Passover (the 'Golden Haggadah'')

This paper deals with the legal term ‘medinat ha-yam’ (meaning ‘overseas”) in Jewish law, which, among other things, refers to a husband abandoning his wife, and to debtors who refuse to pay their debts, and commercial partners who took someone else’s property out of their homeland.

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