Medieval monastery destroyed by Islamic State

Saint Elijah's Monastery photographed in 2005. It has now been completely destroyed by IS

Saint Elijah’s Monastery – the oldest Christian monastery in Iraq, has been completely destroyed by forces from the Islamic State (IS), according to a report from the Associated Press.

Danish ferocity and abandoned monasteries: the twelfth-century view

Ruins of Lindisfarne - photo by _The Real McCoy /Flickr

Apart from brief accounts of attacks on Lindisfarne and Donemutha in the 790s, there are almost no accounts of Viking attacks on Anglo-Saxon monasteries in contemporary sources. There are however many in twelfth century sources, most of them fictive or largely so. 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

The Christmas Eve massacre of 986

Iona Abbey - photo by dun_deagh / Flickr

For the year 986, the Annals of Ulster records, ‘Iona was plundered by Danes on Christmas Eve, and they killed the abbot and fifteen men of the seniors of the church.’ What more can we learn about this attack and why it happened?

‘Crowned with Many Crowns’: Nuns and Their Statues in Late-Medieval Wienhausen

17th century image of Wienhausen monastery

The crowning of statues was a common practice in medieval cloisters, but at the north German convent of Wienhausen, the golden crowns of statues were confiscated by Observant reformers after the reformation of 1469.

The Heloise of History

Raymond Monvoisin depiction of Heloise in the 19th century

This thesis seeks to determine the historical role of the twelfth-century abbess Heloise, apart from the frequently cited and disputed letters exchanged between her and Peter Abelard.

Skriðuklaustur monastery: Medical Centre of Medieval East Iceland?

Excavation site of Skiðuklaustur in Iceland from the fifteenth century.  Photo by Christian Bickel / Wikimedia Commons

Skriðuklaustur monastery was the youngest of nine cloisters operated in Iceland during the Catholic period of the Middle Ages.

Medieval Lisbon: Jerónimos Monastery

Jerónimos Monastery, Belém, Lisbon. Photo by Medievalists.net.

Of the four medieval #placestosee in Lisbon, Jerónimos Monastery, Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, was my favourite. The monastery is located in Belém, a suburb of Lisbon, that is famous for the 16th century monastery, as well as for its world famous pastry shop, Pastéis de Belém…

Medieval Lisbon: Carmo Convent

View of the majestic Gothic tomb of King Ferdinand I (1345-1383), along with several other Gothic sarcophagi inside the Carmo Monastery museum. Photo by Medievalists.net

Part III of my series on Medieval Lisbon. This visit took me to Carmo Monastery and museum.

Priests found spiritual satisfaction by serving nuns, Stanford medieval historian says

A female scribe and male artist present their book to the Virgin Mary in this medieval manuscript, called the Guta-Sintram Codex (c. 1154). The Codex supports Fiona Griffiths' finding that men and women collaborated during this period of history. Photo by Claude Truong-Ngoc / Wikimedia Commons

A study of medieval texts and imagery by Stanford history Professor Fiona Griffiths counters commonly held beliefs about misogynistic practices in medieval Europe. Griffiths’ research reveals how some male clergy acknowledged and celebrated the perceived religious superiority of nuns.

Who Were The Celts? The British Museum Offers Answers with New Exhibition

Gundestrup Cauldron Silver  Gundestrup, northern Denmark, 100 BC–AD 1 © The National Museum of Denmark. The British Museum. Photo by Medievalists.net

The British Museum just opened its latest exhibit, Celts: Art and Identity this past Thursday, covering 2,500 years of Celtic history. The exhibit explores Celtic identity and how it eveolved from the time of the Ancient Greeks to the present through art, culture, daily life, religion and politics.

‘God Damn’: The Law and Economics of Monastic Malediction

Hildebert cursing a mouse. An image from the  12th century manuscript De Civitate Dei

Today monks are known for turning the other cheek, honoring saints, and blessing humanity with brotherly love. But for centuries they were known equally for fulminating their foes, humiliating saints, and casting calamitous curses at persons who crossed them.

The Origins of Cistercian Sign Language

monastic sign language

The present study begins with a discussion of the different forms of non-verbal communication used in early medieval monastic communities, with an emphasis on the sources for the use of sign language among Cluniac monks.

Exhibit: Magna Carta Through the Ages at the Society of Antiquaries of London

The Black Book of Peterborough. Photo by Medievalists.net

If you’re passing through London and want something to do that is very quick, free, and historical, check out this great little Magna Carta exhibit at Burlington House hosted by the Society of Antiquaries of London.

Rebirth and Responsibility: Cistercian Stories from the Late Twelfth Century

Cistercian monks at prayer at at work - University Library Cambridge Ms. mm 5.31. fol. 113

‘His face sadder, his look harsher, his speech more bitter, his movements slower…’ He was going from bad to worse.

‘To Love and Be Loved:’ The Medieval Monastic Community as Family, 400-1300

monks - Leaf from Barbavara Book of Hours, Walters Art Museum

This thesis expands how the medieval monastic family can be understood to parallel the traditional nuclear family founded upon the heterosexual union of husband and wife for the purpose of procreation.

Papers on Medieval Prosopography: Session #47 at KZOO 2015

Pieter Brueghel - Kermesse (The Feast of Saint George)

Three fantastic papers on Prosopography from #KZOO2015.

Teenage Rebellion in the Middle Ages: How Salimbene de Adam became a Franciscan

Fransicans - by José Benlliure y Gil (1855–1937)

It is a popular story – the teenage son defying his parents and doing something very rebellious. It could be using drugs, getting a tattoo, or falling into with the wrong type of people. Back in the thirteenth-century, the rebellious son might become a Franciscan!

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.

Environmental Crusading: The Teutonic Knight’s Impact After the Baltic Crusades

Malbork Zamek Krzyzacki. Wikicommons

Environmental archaeologist and Professor of Archeology at Reading, Dr. Aleks Pluskowski, examined Malbork and several other sites across Eastern and Northern Europe in his recent paper, The Ecology of Crusading: The Environmental Impact of Holy War, Colonisation, and Religious Conversion in the Medieval Baltic. Pluskowski is keenly interested in the impact the Teutonic Knights and Christian colonisation had on the region. His ambitious 4 year project on the ecological changes in this area recently came to a close at the end of 2014.

10 Creepy Things to See at the Louvre That Are Better Than the Mona Lisa

Catherine de Medici - Louvre

If you’re an ancient historian, a medievalist, or early modernist, there are so many other amazing pieces and works of art a the Louvre other than these two tourist staples. Here is my list of cool, creepy, unusual and better than the Mona Lisa at the Louvre in Paris.

Magic in the Cloister

Diagram of a magic circle for summoning spirits of the air

St. Augustine’s Abbey can be viewed as a centre of magical studies in the late Middle Ages because of the large and diverse collection of magic texts present in the library, the number of monks interested in unorthodox studies and the ways in which magic was integrated within the monastic context

Templar attitudes towards women

Templars

The rule of the order of the Temple took a traditional monastic attitude towards women, being strongly anti-feminine in tone, and seeing women as contaminating the brothers.

The Nun’s Crown

nuns crown

The nun’s crown, a white linen circlet with overlapping bands forming a cross worn over her veil, formed part of the dress of monastic women in northern Germany.

Strange Bedfellows : The Rise of the Military Religious Orders in the Twelfth Century

Military and religious life in the Middle Ages and at the period of the Renaissance (1870)

Although they were devout members of a pacifist religion, they were also its dominant military force. By the most basic tenants of Christianity, the Military Orders should never have existed.

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