The Church as a Woman: The Gendered Rhetoric of the Feminine Divine

Illumination from the Liber Scivias showing Hildegard receiving a vision and dictating to her scribe and secretary

This study investigates just a small aspect of the subject, namely Hildegard’s use of gendered rhetoric in her portrayal of the personified church.

Epiphany: Three Kings Day

The Three Magi, Byzantine mosaic c.565, Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna, Italy (restored 18th century). As here Byzantine art usually depicts the Magi in Persian clothing which includes breeches, capes, and Phrygian caps. Wikipedia

A look at the history behind Epiphany and Twelfth Night.

Care of relics in early medieval Rome

Sancta Sanctorum in Rome - Photo by Diana / Wikipedia

Hidden in a dark corner of St. Peter’s shrine, Pope Sergius I (687–701) found a silver box so blackened with age that he was at first unsure whether it was indeed made of silver.

The Story of Exodus: The Anglo-Saxon Version

Crossing of the Red Sea depicted in the 15th century  Nuremberg Chronicle

The clever authors of these Anglo-Saxon biblical poems knew their audiences, engaging readers and listeners by retelling Old Testament stories in an epic way that was both familiar and beloved.

Advent in the Middle Ages

My Star Wars Advent Calendar - Sadly, this delicious tradition isn't medieval.

Advent in the Middle Ages

Walk this Way: Two Journeys to Jerusalem in the Fifteenth Century

Depiction of Jerusalem in the 15th century, by Hartmann Schedel

This paper appraises place pilgrimage to Jerusalem in two late-medieval English texts: The Itineraries of William Wey and The Book of Margery Kempe.

Ring Out the Old: Medieval Bells in England

Rabbit tolling church bells from the medieval devotional Book of Hours

Of the bells that survive, the oldest may be in St. Chad’s Church in Claughton in Lancashire.

Sacrificial Magic and the Twofold Division of the Irish Ritual Year

Samhain Candle - photo by Alison Leigh Lilly / Flickr

The historical development of St. Martin’s Day in Ireland, and its relationship with the more ancient festival of Samhain is examined, revealing circumstances that saw much of the ritual nature of Samhain being adopted within a Christian context in the medieval period.

The End of the Ancient Other World: Death and Afterlife between Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages

The earliest portrait of Saint Augustine in a 6th century fresco, Lateran, Rome.

Peter Brown gives lectures on ‘Gloriosus Obitus: Death and Afterlife 400-700 AD’ and ‘The Decline of the Empire of God: From Amnesty to Purgatory’

Necromancy from Antiquity to Medieval and Modern Times

The Witch of Endor, by the Master of Otto van Moerdrecht, 15th century

In the Old Norse saga there is peculiar technique of divination called utiseta that is practised on burial mounds.

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.

Kissing Heaven’s Door: the Medieval Legend of Judas Iscariot

The Betrayal with Judas kissing Christ and soldiers standing by.  British Library Harley 1782   f. 6v

When we consider Judas Iscariot as he appears in the Bible in modern terms, we might think along the lines of a pantomime villain.

Demon Possession in Anglo‐Saxon and Early Modern England: Continuity and Evolution in Social Context

A miniature in the British Library Yates Thomson MS 26, with Saint Cuthbert's hand healing a paralytic

Sometime between around 687 and 700, a distraught father brought his raving son, in a wagon, to the island of Lindisfarne, where the holy relics of Saint Cuthbert were kept.

Medieval Pilgrimages: It’s All About the Journey

medieval pilgrimage - detail of miniature showing the Lover, dressed as a pilgrim, setting off on his pilgrimage.  British Library Egerton 1069   f. 145

For medieval people, faith was more than just an abstract idea, it was tangible in the works they made to glorify God, and the relics they could see with their own eyes. An integral part of this tangible form of faith was the pilgrimage: a spiritual journey to visit a holy site.

Genoa: The cog in the new medieval economy

View of Genoa by Christoforo de Grassi (after a drawing of 1481)

Journalist and author Nicholas Walton writes about medieval Genoa’s economy, trade and role in the Black Death. Walton recently published a book on Genoese history entitled, “Genoa: La Superba”

How to destroy gods

Bishop Absalon topples the god Svantevit at Arkona - created by Laurits Tuxen (1853–1927)

In the year 1168 a Danish bishop destroyed three pagan gods. The story is told in Gesta Danorum, by Saxo Grammaticus, which has recently been entirely translated into English for the first time.

What is a Psalter?

What is a Psalter - St. Albans Psalter from the 12th century

Because they didn’t contain the entire Bible, psalters were nice and portable, making good girdle books for the devout – or those concerned with showing off – to carry with them.

Portable Christianity: Relics in the Medieval West (c.700–1200)

14th century purse reliquary

Relics thus typify the characteristic dynamic of medieval Christianity—a repeated refreshing and renewing of an ancient tradition that was endlessly culturally creative.

Can We Talk About Religion, Please? Medievalism’s Eschewal of Religion, and Why it Matters

Photo by Geraint Rowland / Flickr

With this essai I would like to advocate for a reconsideration of religion as an essential topic for medievalism studies.

Performing the Seven Deadly Sins: How One Late-Medieval English Preacher did it

British Library Yates Thompson 21   f. 165   Seven Deadly Sins

Some preachers, it is true, shunned certain of the rhetorical embellishments characteristically recommended in the artes predicandi.

Medieval Jews on Christianity

medieval Jewish manuscript - British Library Additional 14761   f. 35   The Simple Son

Whatever medieval Jews said, or thought, about Christianity, one may be sure that very little of it was good.

Margery Kempe and her Autobiography

Margery Kempe's autobiography - British Library

Margery Kempe was a self-proclaimed holy woman, visionary, mystic and medieval pilgrim. She is also unique because although she was not proficient at reading and writing, she was determined to record her visions, journeys and spiritual experiences

Embracing Death, Celebrating Life: Reflections on the Concept of Martyrdom in the Order of the Knights Templar

Detail of a miniature of the burning of the Grand Master of the Templars and another Templar. From the Chroniques de France ou de St Denis, BL Royal MS 20 C vii f. 48r

Although research on the concept of martyrdom during the era of the Crusades has gained considerable prominence, it has rarely been applied to the Knights Templar. This is surprising, as the Templars were the first military order and paved the way for a new monastic development; they were devoted to warfare only; and they, together with the other military orders, but unlike most Crusaders, established a permanent presence in the hostile environment of the Holy Land, consequently facing the threat of death both regularly and frequently.

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.

How Christianity came to Europe

Saint Remigius baptizes Clovis, in a painting of c. 1500

During the Middle Ages nearly all the lands of Europe converted to Christianity. In this short guide, we take a look at how various lands adopted Christianity, including by means of missionary efforts, politics and warfare.

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