Pragmatic Literacy and Political Consciousness in Later Medieval England

Manuscript Colloquium 2013 Leiden University - photo by  Turning Over A New Leaf / Flickr

This article examines the profound impact that the concept of pragmatic literacy has had on the research methodologies of medievalists. Particular attention is given to the insight it has afforded historians of political culture who seek to better understand the nature of political consciousness in this period.

Ernst Robert Curtius: A Medievalist’s Contempt for the Middle Ages

Ernst Robert Curtius

I began work on this talk ready to vent against Curtius. I have resisted his hold on my thinking and on that of medievalists generally, but only after benefitting hugely from his great book.

Magna Carta and the English Historical Review: A Review Article

english historical review

As the most venerable of Anglophone historical periodicals, the English Historical Review has carried many new findings on Magna Carta. In what follows, I attempt a survey of this contribution.

Chronicles and Politics in the Reign of Edward II

Edward II - photo by Holly Hayes  / Flickr

Historians have tended to give more weight to sources such as governmental and legal records than to chronicles, not least because so many survive. They open up areas of history impossible to access through chronicles alone, and they also provide a much more precise and detailed political narrative.

Hero or Villain?: Two views on Simon de Montfort, Crusade Leader

Death of Simon de Montfort

There is perhaps no better medieval example of the phase ‘Truth is in the eye of the beholder’ than these two versions of the death of Simon de Montfort, the leader of the crusaders during the Albigensian Crusade.

Foundation Myths in Medieval and Renaissance Italy

Plaque of Regola, the VII rione of Rome. (Dailyphotostream.blogspot.com)

The 3 papers featured here looked at the development of the civic identities of Florence, Genoa and Rome through art, architecture and foundation legends.

Conflicting Perspectives: Chivalry in Twelfth-Century Historiography

Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des Manuscrits, Division occidentale, Français 226, fol. 256v, Bataille de Tinchebray (1106)

Historians have found the task of defining medieval chivalry to be an elusive task.

The Changing Story of Cnut and the Waves

Cnut and the Waves

There is famous story about King Cnut and the waves. However, most people know do not know the original version.

A Villain and a Monster – The Literary Portrait of Richard III by Thomas More and William Shakespeare

Richard III by  Wenceslaus Hollar (1607–1677)

The process of vilification of Richard III started at the end of the fifteenth century, when a well-planned policy of Tudor propaganda was set in motion by Henry VII himself, who commissioned a series of historiographical writings, mainly aiming at the solidification of the newly founded dynasty.

What was it like to be a Cow? History and Animal Studies

Medieval Cattle - British Library Oriental 5024   f. 177

This essay outlines where the history of animals is now, and suggests where it and the historiographical issues raised by the inclusion of animals in a study of the past might go in the future.

William Wallace: The Man Behind the Legend

A depiction of Wallace from H E Marshall's 'Scotland's Story', published in 1906. The scene shows a woman informing Wallace that the Scottish nobles have been massacred in a trap set at the Barns of Ayr. The original caption is, "Hold you, hold you, Brave Wallace! the English have hanged all your best men like dogs."

Wallace was a flesh and blood man who had no idea that he would one day become a national hero of Scotland and an international legend; however, in the right time and in the right circumstances, normal becomes exceptional and exceptional becomes legendary.

The Military Legacy of Richard the Lionheart

Statue of Richard the Lionheart - photo by wim hoppenbrouwers / Flickr

Authors look back at the entirety of the reign and reach two common conclusions: 1) he was a neglectful and mostly-absent ruler of England, but 2) he attained spectacular success in war, which was, after all, his primary interest.

Rethinking the Crusades

Gustave Dore crusades battle

Today, the Crusade influence can be seen across the world in novels, movies, sport teams and even restaurants.

Sacerdos et Predicator: Franciscan ‘Experience’ and the Cronica of Salimbene de Adam

salimbene

The Chronicle of the thirteenth-century Franciscan friar Salimbene de Adam is filled with an abundance of self-referential passages.

Microhistory and the Big Picture

A Poisoned Past

Microhistory draws us in with stories of compelling people, and teaches us more about history along the way. Done well, it can be the best of both worlds.

Writing About Richard III: Admissible Sources and Emotional Responses

richard-iii-face

What is it about Richard III that provokes an emotional response, when so many other British monarchs are of scant interest to twenty-first century people?

How an Early Medieval Historian Worked: Methodology and Sources in Bede’s Narrative of the Gregorian Mission to Kent

Venerable Bede

This dissertation examines the methods and sources employed by Bede in the construction of his account of the Gregorian mission, thereby providing an insight into how an early medieval historian worked.

Danish Ferocity and Abandoned Monasteries: the Twelfth-century View

Lindisfarne ruins - created by  Thomas Girtin (1775–1802)

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.

Satiric Vulgarity in Guibert de Nogent’s Gesta Dei per Francos

Gesta Dei per Francos

Attempts to characterize Guibert de Nogent (1053-1121) generally focus upon his Autobiography, not on his history of the First Crusade.

Scattered voices: Anthonis de Roovere and other reporters of the wedding of Charles the Bold and Margaret of York

Charles the Bold, duke of Burgundy, here around 1460 as Count of Charolais

Both sources are of great value for those who study the Bruges wedding, with the impact it had on its contemporaries, and the way in which our present-day picture of it came about.

The Anonymous of Bethune, King John and Magna Carta

King John

One of the most frequently met generalizations about King John is that he was unfortunate to have lived at a time when those authors who chronicled the events of their own day were churchmen

Chronicle of Pseudo-Turpin: Book IV of the Liber Sancti Jacobi

Chronicle of Pseudo-Turpin

The twelfth-century Chronicle of Pseudo-Turpin, also known as the History of Charlemagne and Roland, offers an ‘eye-witness’ account of events during the late eighth century.

Steamy Syrian Scandals: Matthew Paris on the Templars and Hospitallers

Templars

Matthew Paris is a major source of information on the Templars and Hospitallers. But we ask: ‘How far can this Mad Monk be trusted? Was he in the pay of the Evil Emperor?’

The Icelandic annals as historical sources

Iceland by Gerhard Mercator

Could it be that the annals had not been written year by year in an ongoing process after all? Equally important – did there exist other sources to events annotated in the notices which could be studied as exhibits to the annals?

‘Forget Your People and Your Father’s House’: Teresa de Cartagena and the Converso Identity

Teresa de Cartagena

Religion is a very important factor to take into consideration in discussions about the identity of the conversos [converts] or New Christians, an emerging group in 15th-century Castile.

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