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


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.

Vice, Tyranny, Violence, and the Usurpation of Flanders (1071) in Flemish Historiography from 1093 to 1294

Baldwin VI, Count of Flanders & Hainaut

The earliest sources of the history of medieval Flanders do not agree on the origins of the counts. The earliest source, the so-called “Genealogy of Arnold [I],” credibly traces the counts’ origin to Baldwin I “Iron Arm,”…

Flandria Illustrata: Flemish Identities in the Late Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period

Jan van Eyck, Annunciation, 1434–1436. Wing from a dismantled triptych. National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.

This chapter discusses identity formation in early modern Flanders. It argues that policy makers and their intellectual agents transformed the perception of a province that had been divided by urban rivalries, civil war and conflicts with the Burgundian and Habsburg overlords, into a bastion of the Catholic Counter Reformation with strong ties to the Spanish King and his representatives.

Skirts and Politics: The Cistercian Monastery of Harvestehude and the Hamburg City Council

Medieval nun with skirt lifted

In 1482, Catharina Arndes lifted up her skirts in front of the archbishop’s chaplain. She was a respectable townswoman from Hamburg, and her action was carried out in defense of the Cistercian monastery of Harvestehude which was close to the city and where several of Catharina’s nieces lived as nuns.

Intellectual Cartographic Spaces: Alfonso X, the Wise and the Foundation of the Studium Generale of Seville

The University of Seville, est. 1505 - one of the legacies of Alfonso X's 1254 establishment of escuelas generales (general schools).

This dissertation, “Intellectual Cartographic Spaces: Alfonso X, the Wise and the Foundations of the Studium Generale of Seville,” I reevaluate Spain’s medieval history, specifically focusing on the role of Alfonso X and his court in the development of institutions of higher education in thirteenth-century Andalusia.

Bede’s Temple as History

The Venerable Bede Translates John by J. D. Penrose (ca 1902)

Another IHR paper, this time, a talk given about Bede’s writing and his interest in the image of the Temple and its relation to Christianity. This paper also examined how Bede’s views shifted over time. How did Bede view Judaism? Was he truly ambivalent?

Mythical Millenaries: The Victorian Quest for the Historical Alfred

Alfred infiltrates the Danish camp - Pictures of English History: From the Earliest Times to the Present Period (1868)

Now that we are learning to hear Asser’s voice not through the ears of the Victorians, but with our own ears, with no reason at all to fear the voice of an intelligent and sophisticated hagiographer, we will at last be hearing a voice which Alfred himself heard.

Ghost Commandery: Shaping Local Templar Identity in the Cartulary of Provins

templars seal

What makes the case of this cartulary particularly interesting is that the Templar house in Provins was not established until 1193, sixty years after André’s gift. In 1133, there were no Templars living in Champagne at all.

The Norman Conquest of England: The Alternative Histories


We take a look at two alternative histories of the Norman Conquest – Waces’s Roman de Rou and the Vita Haroldi

CONFERENCES: Arnold Fitz Thedmar: an Early London chronicler

London (c. 1650)

Another fascinating paper given at the Institute for Historical Research in central London. For those of you interested in chronicles, urban history and London, this paper was definitely for you. Ian Stone discussed his dissertation about thirteenth century London through the eyes of wealthy Alderman, Arnold Fitz Thedmar.

Constructing memory: holy war in the Chronicle of the Poles by Bishop Vincentius of Cracow


The Chronicle of the Poles by Bishop Vincentius of Cracow is a twelfth-century history of Poland and a recognised masterpiece of medieval scholarship.

Different roles of Empire(s) in the Universal Chronicle of Frutolf of Michelsberg

Chronicles of the Investiture ContestChronicles of the Investiture Contest

Frutolf, a monk of the Benedictine monastery of Michelsberg in Bamberg, wrote five years before his death in 1103 a universal or world chronicle of about 300 folios.

Medieval and Modern Concepts of Race and Ethnicity

medieval people - Harley 2278   f. 29v

In fact, while the language of race in the Middle Ages may often seem primarily concerned with descent groups, a closer look shows that this genetic component was often overshadowed by considerations of a different order.

The Friars Preachers: The First Hundred Years of the Dominican Order


When Dominic of Caleruega began preaching in southern France in the early 1200s, he would have had no idea of the far reaching influence that the band of men he would attract would leave such a broad and enduring influence on medieval history.

Why does Saladin have such good PR in the Medieval West?

Saladin -  by Gustave Doré

The story of Hattin and the Third Crusade is a very good read and it features a splendid duel, indeed almost a tournament, pitting Saladin against Richard the Lionheart. And to this exciting mixture is added a dash of sex

Rome, New Rome and Baghdad: Pathways of Late Antiquity


What I propose to do in this lecture is to discuss some salient features of Late Antiquity as a category in historical studies and then move on to the theme of Islam in Late Antiquity

History as Wonder

medieval wonder

Does the connection of wonder with changes and origins mean that history begins with wonder too?

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