Cultural Exchange in the Languages and Literatures of Medieval Spain

Spanish crest from Valencia. Photo by Medievalists.net

Professor David Wacks’s fascinating discussion of the Iberian Peninsula and it’s incredible linguistic heritage.

Royalit: What Did Medieval Kings Read?

Great medieval kings

The @5MinMedievalist, Danièle Cybulskie,

The Ruin: The Past Dreaming of the Past

Stonehenge, Wiltshire, England. Stonehenge, Condado de Wiltshire, Inglaterra, August 12, 2014 (Wikipedia).

Danièle Cybulskie, the @5minMedievalist brings us a piece on Anglo-Saxon poetry.

Lost Works of the Middle Ages

Old Books - photo by David Flores / Flickr

Only a small fraction of the writings created in the Middle Ages have survived to the present day. Throughout the medieval period manuscripts would be destroyed or recycled, and in more recent centuries this process only worsened as fires, theft and neglect led to more losses. Many great works from the Middle Ages have been lost, with little hope that any copies survive. Here are five lost works that we would love to see again.

Five Favourite Middle English Romances

Dante Gabriel Rossetti - Arthur's Tomb: The Last Meeting of Lancelot and Guinevere (1860).

Danièle Cybulskie, the 5MinMedievalist, shares her five favourite Middle English romances – what are yours?

Who wrote this medieval literary classic?

medieval literary classic

Can you match these nine famous medieval authors to their works? See also: 10 Phrases that Originated in the Middle Ages

Can You Solve These Medieval Riddles?

saint aldhelms riddles

Test yourself with these ten riddles from the seventh-century, part of Saint Aldhelm’s Riddles, translated by A.M. Juster and published by the University of Toronto Press.

Number Symbolism in Old Norse Literature

numbers

It is generally agreed that some numbers such as three and nine which appear frequently in the two Eddas hold special significances in Norse mythology. Furthermore, numbers appearing in sagas not only denote factual quantity, but also stand for specific symbolic meanings.

Amorous encounters in Medieval French chess

Amorous encounters in Medieval French chess

The question I want to look at today is how chess is used in presenting these questions of love, of the amorous encounter, of the meeting between two people and the potential for feelings the might result from it.

Functions of Chess in Medieval French Literature

Functions of Chess in Medieval French Literature

Edward Mills examines the functions of the game of chess in medieval French literary culture.

BOOK REVIEW: Grendel’s Mother: The Saga of the Wyrd-Wife by Susan Signe Morrison

Books: Grendel's Mother by Susan Signe Morrison.

Grendel’s Mother tells the story of Brimhild, a child found abandoned in a boat on the shores of Denmark. Taken in by a fisherwoman woman and her husband, she is received as a blessing for the child they recently lost. There is nothing to identify her save for a few strange, and foreign items packed […]

Conception of Knighthood and Fifteenth-Century Chivalric Manuals

Chauser_knight_from_prologue

Chivalric writings like chronicles, romances and military handbooks, either in manuscript or in print, were popular and widely read in the latter half of the 15th century.

Snorri Sturluson: Viking Mythographer and Historian

Snorri Sturluson, drawn by Christian Krohg (1899)

I shall first tell you briefly about Snorri’s background and his education and discuss his Edda, where he appears as mythographer, among other things, and then tell you about his career as a politician and discuss his Sagas of the Norwegian Kings.

Horse Power: Social Evolution in Medieval Europe

Horse depicted in British Library MS Harley 1585 f. 69v

My research is on the development of the horse as a status symbol in Western Europe during the Middle Ages.

The Lady’s Man: Gawain as Lover in Middle English Literature

Sir Gawain, by Howard Pyle from The Story of King Arthur and His Knights (1903)

Gawain’s reputation as a philanderer precedes him; the best known example is the comment of Bertilak’s wife in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, whose disbelief that the famous and courteous Gawain could be alone with her and not crave a kiss is notorious

Of Wilderness, Forest, and Garden: An Eco-Theory of Genre in Middle English Literature

British Library : Cotton Nero A.x f. 129v

I posit that the components of the environment play a role in the deployment of the narrative by shaping the characters and influencing the action.

How Well Do You Know the Opening Lines of Medieval Literature?

Opening Lines of Medieval Literature

Test yourself by trying to pick which famous work of medieval literature these opening lines are from.

7 Things One Should Know When Dealing with Kings: The Icelander’s Version

Christian Krohg illustration in an 1890s edition of Heimskringl

Here is MaryAnn R. Adams’ winning advice on how to deal with Norse kings.

In Search of Guinevere

Queen Guinevere questioning Lancelot about his love for her

As a lifelong lover of Arthurian stories, I have always had a love/hate relationship with Guinevere. In some stories, she is the well-mannered and generous ideal queen; in others she is a jealous and spiteful adulteress. How can she be both? When did she change?

From the Middle Ages to Modernity: The Intersecting Supernatural Worlds of Melusine and Today’s Popular Culture

(Illustration to folio CXLI of L'Histoire de la Belle Mélusine published by Steinschaber in 1478 , depicting the scene of Remondin’s discovery of his wife’s animal-human hybrid form. The wall has been removed so that the reader, who knows she takes this form once a week, may see what is going on inside. Note that Mélusine is dressed as a noble lady and clearly has both human and animal body parts.)

This work contains many elements common to supernatural tales of its time-shape-shifting, magic fountains and marriages between humans and fairies – yet it is also surprisingly relevant to our own age, whose popular culture is saturated with modem myths and vampire love-stories.

The Snow Baby: A Cautionary Tale

A snow flake under the microscope - image by ZEISS Microscopy / Flickr

Most of the time, fabliaux are lighthearted and lusty, but occasionally they stray into dark humour, like ‘The Snow Baby’.

The Quirky Questions of Wynkyn de Worde

Chicken or egg? Photo by Ruben Alexander / Flickr

From the ‘chicken or egg’ question to age of a mouse, some of the riddles from England’s oldest joke book.

Celtic Mythology in the Arthurian Legend

Gundestrup cauldron

The aim of this thesis is to find out whether there are some aspects, themes or symbols of the pagan Celtic mythology that appear in the Arthurian legend and if so, what role they play there and to what extent they influence the legend.

The Mythical Ghoul in Arabic Culture

"Amine Discovered with the Goule", from the story of Sidi Nouman, of the One Thousand and One Nights.

Though the ghoul has origins as old as the Mesopotamian civilization, Arabs were largely responsible for popularizing it. Because Islam incorporated this being in its doctrine, the ghoul remained a source of fear and mystery in the Arab culture.

Monsters and the Exotic in Early Medieval England

Marvels of the East, opening, fol. 039v-040r, early twelfth century, Bodleian Library, University of Oxford

The dominant literate culture of early medieval England – male, European, and Christian – often represented itself through comparison to exotic beings and monsters, in traditions developed from native mythologies, and Classical and Biblical sources.

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