Literature in an Apocalyptic Age; or, How to End a Romance

Yvain fighting Gawain. Medieval illumination from Chrétien de Troyes's romance, Yvain, le Chevalier au Lion

No literature of the Middle Ages has so successfully captured the imagination of recent times as has the medieval romance.

Senses of the Past: The Old English Vocabulary of History

Page from Beowulf, now at the British Library

How did the Anglo-Saxons think about history?

5 Fun Facts About Robin Hood

robin hood facts

Robin Hood has enthralled generations of readers and movie goers. This English outlaw-hero has become of symbol of freedom against tyranny, stealing from the rich to give to the poor. But who was Robin Hood? How much is grounded in myth and how much is reality?

The Priest and the Fox: Tricksters in Chaucer’s Nun’s Priest’s Tale

Chanticleer and the Fox in a mediaeval manuscript miniature

Although the figure of Reynard is prevalent in trickster lore, the primary trickster at play in the Nun’s Priest’s Tale may be not the fox but the teller of the tale, the Nun’s Priest himself who travels the road to Canterbury.

Movie Review: Tristan and Isolde

Tristan and Isolde, starring James Franco and Sophia Myles.

As far as medieval movies go, Tristan and Isolde definitely isn’t the worst I’ve seen. I was looking for a movie to watch after work, and I thought, hey, James Franco, Sophia Moyles, Henry Cavill, and Rufus Sewell, all directed by Ridley Scott?! – this can’t be that bad. Well, it was pretty bad, but it wasn’t the worst 2 hours of my life. So what went wrong?

Fourteenth-Century Weaponry, Armour and Warfare in Chaucer and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Gawain and the Green Knight

This essay attempts to re-appraise selected passages of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight from a wider military historical and archaeological perspective.

Hostages in Old English Literature

Byrhtnoth - photo by Andrew Barclay / Flickr

Hostages in Old English Literature examines the various roles that hostages have played in Anglo-Saxon texts, specifically focusing on the characterization of Æscferth in The Battle of Maldon.

What Is Medieval European Literature?

medieval armenian manuscript - Photo by Retlaw Snellac Photography / Flickr

It is a great pleasure for us to publish the first issue of Interfaces. A Journal of Medieval European Literatures, offering free availability for all.

Five Ways Gawain Kicks Lancelot’s Ass

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

Here are five ways in which Gawain shows Lancelot who’s boss!

What Does Normal Look Like?

Stephanie Trigg

Thomas Hoccleve was a fifteenth-century clerk and poet who suffered a mental breakdown around 1416. In his poem, which we now call Hoccleve’s Compleint, he describes his depression and anxiety about not being able to convince his friends and co-workers that he has recovered.

Is it better to be right or left-handed? The view from the 9th century

left handed - photo by Derek Bruff / Flickr

Was it really bad to be left-handed in the Middle Ages? Or was it better than being right-handed? The 9th century writer of all things unusual, al-Jahiz, weighs in.

A Comparative Analysis of the Concepts of Holy War and the Idealized Topos of Holy Warrior In Medieval Anatolian And European Sources

story of the crusaders

This thesis focuses on the relations between the idea of holy war and the portrayals of holy warriors in medieval narratives composed by those in the service of power-holders.

Pearl, translated by Sophie Jewett

Buy this ebook

We are very proud to offer our first ebook: Pearl, translated by Sophie Jewett.

Magna Carta Conference Offers New Insights Into The 800-year-old Document

British Library's Magna Carta, photo credit Joseph Turp

Magna Carta just celebrated its 800th birthday this past Monday. In honour of this incredible milestone, King’s College London, and the Magna Carta Project, hosted a 3 day conference dedicated to this historic document.

The Medieval Sleeping Beauty

medieval sleeping beauty - by Henry Meynell Rheam

I’ve since read an early version of the Sleeping Beauty story from the actual fourteenth century, and it’s much darker than the modern version, although it does hold an interesting secret for those who love the stories of the Round Table.

Genre Medievalisms: Geek Goes Chic!

Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in HBO's, 'Game of Thrones'. Photo courtesy of blastr.com (TV Guide)

Is Cersei a collection of bad medieval stereotypes? Have nerds gone mainstream? Were American cowboys a modern retelling of the medieval knight? Put down that comic, put away your bag of dice, and indulge your inner nerd.

Courtly Magic in the Middle Ages

British Library - Additional 10292   f. 87   Merlin gives letter to Pendragon and Uther

The possibility of the everyday use of magic by courtiers is emphasized by the employment of magic advisors and, very frequently, astrologists. The medieval court was a place for the elite, and thus the educated sector of society at this time.

Merlin: The Medieval Embodiment of Overcoming the Devil

Merlin and Uther Pendragon - British Library Royal 20 A II   f. 3v

Merlin, child of a demon and pious woman, first appears in late twelfth century literature and develops uncanny prophetic abilities and unnatural powers rooted in his supernatural heritage, transforming him into a mysterious figure empowered by knowledge and cloaked in dichotomies resulting from his mixed parentage.

Riddles in the Dark Ages

oldenglishriddles

Latin riddles depended on knowledge of a specific subject in order to be deciphered, while English riddles were often about common things like the weather.

The Strategy of Challenges: Two Beheading Games In Medieval Literature

beheading - British Library Royal 10 E IV   f. 208

The Middle English poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and its Old Irish ancestor The Feast of Bricriu recount a remarkable stranger’s challenge to the hero, in effect, ‘You can chop off my head if you’ll let me return the blow.’

Top Ten Superheroes of the Middle Ages

Medieval Superheroes

Even in medieval times they had stories and legends about people with extraordinary gifts – saints and warriors with special powers. Here is our list of ten superheroes from the Middle Ages.

’I’m gonna git Medieval on your ass’: Pulp Fiction for the 90s – the 1190s

Pulp Fiction medieval

We feel confident in asserting that there are any number of telling informative analogies between Pulp Fiction and medieval chivalric literature, particularly Arthurian romance.

Moses as a Germanic hero? Biblical Poetry in Anglo-Saxon England

Samantha Zacher

Samantha Zacher talks about Anglo-Saxon Jewish heroes.

Books of Art: 20 Medieval and Renaissance Women Reading

Saints Christina and Ottilia by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1506)

I love to read. I also love books depicted in art. I became fascinated with Medieval and Renaissance pictures of women reading or with books. I noticed while I was walking around the National Gallery, Musèe Cluny and the Louvre recently that there are many beautiful images of women reading or with books. Saints, sinners, and laywomen; I wanted to share a few of my favourites. Here are 20 works of art of women and their books

medievalverse magazine