The First Great Divergence?


The ‘Papal Revolution’ in late eleventh and early twelfth century western Europe and the unsuccessful campaign by Wang An Shi and his followers to reform the imperial administration of Song China at just the same time are regarded as critical turning points in their respective histories.

Game of Thrones – East and West, Constantinople and Rome, Emperor and Bishop

Alexander Evers

The following is a tale of the struggle between the Emperors of Constantinople and the the Bishops of Rome

KZOO 2015: Session #42 – Magna Carta in Context

British Library's Magna Carta, photo credit Joseph Turp

This coming week I’ll be featuring summaries on some of my favourites sessions and papers from #KZOO2015. I kicked off my first session on Thursday with the Magna Carta.

The Papacy and Christian Mercenaries of Thirteenth-Century North Africa

Condottiero drawing by Leonardo da Vinci

Could one be a good mercenary and a good Christian at the same time?

Thirteenth-century Papal Bull repaired and digitized

Detail of the Papal bull, which consists of sheepskin or calfskin parchment. Credit: Don Erhardt

An extraordinary Papal document that’s nearly 800 years old has become a valuable teaching and research tool at University of British Columbia, thanks to a history instructor’s passion and the university library’s restoration efforts.

Top 10 Antipopes

top 10 antipopes

A list of men who ultimately failed to become Pope.

Medieval Books for Christmas

The Middle Ages - Johannes Fried

It’s that time of year again – the mad scramble for the perfect Christmas gift for the historian, nerd, avid reader on your list. Here are a few suggestions for you – new releases for December and January!

Piracy and Papacy: The Legacy of Thibauld’s treasure

View of the Palais des Papes in Avignon, France. 17th century

Pirates and popes seem to be two things that simply would not intersect owing to both time and distance, but in 1357 intersect they did. The result was a court claim that resulted claims for damages that wound up providing us one of the finest medieval cities to survive today.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Reflections on the Renaissance Papacy

Emily obrien

In popular culture, the Renaissance papacy (c. 1417-1534) seems an intriguing mixture of highs and lows.

Unexpected Evidence concerning Gold Mining in Early Byzantium

Roman gold mine

One of the consequences of the decline of Roman imperial might was the shortage of slaves at state-run mines. Consequently, criminals were often sentenced to damnatio ad metallum. The need for gold especially soared when the gold solidus was introduced at the beginning of the fourth century.

King’s sister, queen of dissent: Marguerite of Navarre (1492-1549) and her evangelical network

Marguerite de Navarre - Statue of Marguerite of Angoulême, in the gardens of the city hall of Angoulême

This study reconstructs the previously unknown history of the most important dissident group within France before the French Reformed Church formed during the 1550s.

Women’s monasticism in late medieval Bologna, 1200-1500


This dissertation explores the fluid relationship between monastic women and religious orders. I examine the roles of popes and their representatives, governing bodies of religious orders, and the nunneries themselves in outlining the contours of those relationships.

Petrus Hispanus (circa 1215-1277) and ‘The Treasury of the Poor’

Pope John XXI (Petrus Hispanus)

The identity of Petrus Hispanus is a matter of some controversy. Part of the problem is centred on the fact that ‘Hispanus’ covers the general region of the Iberian Peninsula, referred to in medieval times as ‘las Españas’ (the Spains), incorporating both present day Spain and Portgual.

Does a Reformation End?: Rethinking Religious Simulation in Sixteenth-Century Italy

The Council of Trent, 1545 - 1563

A paper examining the Italian Reformation.

The Floating State: Trade Embargoes and the Rise of a New Venetian State

Neptune offering gifts to Venice - Giovanni Battista Tiepolo

This paper was given by Georg Christ and examined embargoes and state formation in the late medieval and early modern period in Venice.

Quiz: Medieval Popes

Medieval Popes

Can you guess who this Pope from the Middle Ages is?

Irish Hagiographical Lives in the Twelfth Century: Church Reform before the Anglo-Norman Invasion

Saint Brendan and the whale from a 15th century manuscript

In order to further disentangle the reality and fiction of this view of culture versus barbarity and of reform versus wickedness, I shall analyse twelfth-century Irish vitae.

Objections to Episcopal Elections in England, 1216-1272

Canterbury Cathedral

Objections to Episcopal Elections in England, 1216-1272 Katherine Harvey Nottingham Medieval Studies: 55 (2011), pp. 125-48 Abstract In August 1228, following the death of Stephen Langton, the monks of Christ Church, Canterbury assembled to elect his successor. Their choice was quickly made: within a month of Langton’s death Walter of Eynsham, a member of the […]

The Myth of Pope Joan

Pope Joan

The legend of Pope Joan is a myth whose origins can be traced to papal politics in the thirteenth century.

The Consolidation of Local Authority Through the Defense of the Church in the Royal Domain of France Under Louis VI


When Louis VI ascended to the throne in 1108 AD, he faced substantial challenges as the fifth monarch of the Capetian dynasty; he confronted the problem of stopping the general decline of the monarchy and achieved this in a way that reasserted the foundations of the crown as the sole dominant figure in the royal domain and a respected lord throughout the kingdom.

Pope vs State: The Medieval Catholic Church as an International Governmental Organization


The object of this thesis is to understand the nature of these power struggles and to demonstrate that the medieval Church functioned in many ways like a prototype IGO.

How the Saxons helped Charlemagne become Emperor

Charlemagne as emperor on this coin - Photo PHGCOM

What role did the Saxons have in Charlemagne’s imperial coronation?

Catharism and Heresy in Milan

16th century map of Milan

Evidence suggests that heresy in Lombardy proliferated during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, a period of upheaval in the structure and form of politics and society, especially in itscapital city. From 1117 Milan operated as a commune, securing independent jurisdiction at thePeace of Constance (1183).

Chronicles and historiography: the interrelationship of fact and fiction

Pope Clement V

This paper indicates some of the challenges posed by fourteenth-century chronicles while focusing on contemporary testimonies about Clement V, pope between 1305 and 1314.

Prophetic Statebuilding: Machiavelli and the Passion of the Duke

Cesare & Machiavelli

My interpretation of Machiavelli’s use of Borgia highlights the biblical resonances of Machiavelli’s account of the rise and fall of this exemplary new prince—a prince whom both his subjects and the Florentine himself call by the exalted title “Duke Valentino.”

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