‘That melodious linguist’: Birds in Medieval Christian and Islamic Cosmography

Medieval Birds

“Birds,” writes Albertus Magnus, “generally call more than other animals. This is due to the lightness of their spirits.”

The Muslim Conquest of Byzantine Palestina – Monstrous Invasion or Peaceful Occupation?

Byzantine Palestine. Created by Haldrik

The Persian and Muslim invasions of Palestina brought with them large-scale changes to the whole region

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…

Two Rabbinic Views of Christianity in the Middle Ages

Picture of Medieval Jews

In the sessions of our section over the past decade, I introduced a significant distinction between two rabbinic attitudes in the Mediterranean countries during the Middle Ages of 12th and 13th centuries as to their view of Christianity.

Sword and Shield of God: Byzantine Strategy and Tactics Under Heraclius During the Last Persian War and First Arab War

Battle between Heraclius' army and Persians under Khosrau II. Fresco by Piero della Francesca, ca. 1452

Only Heraclius could have wielded these forces effectively against his foes to achieve victory; with any other Byzantine commander these revolutionary tactics would have been monumentally difficult if not unworkable.

BOOK REVIEW: “Defending the City of God” : A Medieval Queen, the First Crusades, and the Quest for Peace in Jerusalem, by Sharan Newman

Defending the City of God - Sharan Newman

This is my review of Sharan Newman’s latest book, Defending the City of God: A Medieval Queen, the First Crusades, and the Quest for Peace in Jerusalem.

Was a Woman the first editor of the Qur’an?


A new study suggests that Hafsa bint ‘Umar, one of the wives of the Prophet Muhammad, had a crucial role in editing and codifying the Qur’an and was likely the one of the first people to have kept a written version of the religious text.

The death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus in medieval Christian anti-Muslim religious polemics

Giovanni Bellini - Resurrection of Christ

Christians and Muslims argued, of course, and continue to argue about key issues of theology such as the nature of God (i.e., Trinity), revelation, the incarnation and divinity of Jesus, scripture, and the role of prophecy

Enemies of the Faith: Western Christian Views of Jews and Muslims in the Middle Ages

Mark Meyerson

When we deal with this kind of question it is easy to simply fall into the trap of regarding Muslims and Jews as simply others in the views of Western Europeans. But if you look at things more closely you realize that Western European Christians viewed Muslims and Jews rather differently

Medieval Friends: Chansons De Geste Ltd. – thematteroffrance.com

Chansons de Geste

This week on Medieval Friends, we’re featuring Thomas Motter’s website, thematteroffrance.com. Thomas is fluent in French, and has lived in Paris and Munich. He’s done extensive research on medieval French history with an emphasis on the Chansons de Gestes.

Muslims as Pagan Idolaters in Chronicles of the First Crusade

Image of the First Crusade

If the crusade is indeed a working out of God’s will, how does one fit it into the context of divine history?

Asserting Political Authority in a Sacred Landscape: A Comparison of Umayyad and Israeli Jerusalem

The Dome of The Rock Mosque, in the temple mount. Photo by David Baum

Maintenance of authority is of course the end goal, but how does political leadership ‘build’ political authority in the first place?

Blue Eyes in the Islamicate Middle Ages

blue eyes

Negative representations of blue eyes in Islamicate literature and art have been ubiquitous since the advent of Islam in the seventh century CE

Christian Iberia: A Society Religiously Organized for War

Spanish Reconquista

Reconquista society in medieval Christian Spain is all too often considered through only economic and martial eyes. In this study of the prevelant cult of Santiago de Compostela (or St. James the Greater) I will demonstrate how medieval society meshed both war and religion.

Whose Golden Age? Some Thoughts on Jewish-Christian in Medieval Iberia

Christian and Jewish disputes

The medieval period in Spanish history has alternately been cast as a Golden Age of interfaith harmony and an example of the ultimate incompatibility of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish communities.

Charlemagne minus Mohammed?

Charlemagne Mohammed

On 28th January it will be 1200 years since Charlemagne died in 814. His legacy was immense.

Ibn Wāṣil: An Ayyūbid Perspective on Frankish Lordships and Crusades


Ibn Wāṣil (604/1208-697/1298) was a relatively prominent scholar and administrator who had close links with the political and military elites of Ayyūbid- and early Mamlūk-period Egypt and Syria throughout his career.

Anesthesia Drugs in the Medieval Muslim Era


In the Middle Ages, Christian Europe was in a state of intellectual stagnation and the theological doctrine that pain serves God’s purpose and must not be alleviated militated against the improvement in methods of narcosis. Nuland points out that the Middle Ages in Europe were dark ages so far as advances in the pharmacology of anesthesia were concerned.

An abbot between two cultures: Maiolus of Cluny considers the Muslims of La Garde-Freinet

Majolus of Cluny

In July 972, Muslim raiders from the citadel of Fraxinetum (modern La Garde-Freinet) abducted Abbot Maiolus of Cluny and his entourage as they crossed the Great Saint Bernard Pass ( Mons Iovis ) in the western Alps.

Integrative Medicine: Incorporating Medicine and Health into the Canon of Medieval European History

Medieval medicine

Hitherto peripheral (if not outright ignored) in general medieval historiography, medieval medical history is now a vibrant subdiscipline, one that is rightlyattracting more and more attention from ‘mainstream’ historians and other studentsof cultural history.

El Cid, Cluny and the Medieval Spanish Reconquista

El Cid's statue

Rodrigo Díaz, better known by his title El Cid, has traditionally been portrayed as one of the great heroes of Spanish history, perhaps the perhaps the Spanish national hero par excellence.

Medieval Cookbooks: Something to Inspire the Medieval Cook in all of us!

The Medieval Kitchen - A Social History with Recipes

Baby it’s cold outside. Brrrrr! It’s January, snow is blowing, frost is nipping at your toes – it’s a great time to cook a hearty, hot meal. Want to make it even better? Try a medieval menu! Here are a few books to inspire the medieval cook in all of us.

Managing the Commons: The role of the elites in the uses of common lands in the Midlands of the kingdom of Valencia during the Middle Ages

Valencia's Cathedral

In a recent paper, Danie Curtis has given a framework for classifying preindustrial societies in accordance with four variables, these are, the property, the power, the market of basic products and the modes of production.

The Interaction between the Crusaders and Muslims in the East: Myth and Reality

Detail of a miniature of the king of France and his crusading army on a ship, approaching a fortress manned by Saracens.

Christianity and Islam have had their fourteen hundred-year relationship defined by the era of the Crusades, a period that has often been characterized as a disastrous clash between two societies.

Early Islam’s Contribution to Western Opthalmology


The prevalence of eye diseases in the Islamic lands resulted in a particular interest in the skilful diagnosis and treatment of eye diseases.

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