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

Matejko_Christianization_of_Poland

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.

Investigating ‘peasant conversion’ in Ireland and Anglo-Saxon England

A miniature in the British Library Yates Thomson MS 26, Bede's Prose Life of St Cuthbert, depicting Cuthbert's meeting with Boisil at Melrose

It is somewhat surprising that we find very little in the way of propaganda bent on stressing positive changes that Christianity could bring, propaganda of the kind that Bishop Daniel of Winchester scripted for Boniface in the oft-cited letter which he advised the missionary to lure converts by contrasting the economic prosperity of Christian communities with the backwardness of the non-Christian.

Christianization of Early Medieval Societies: an Anthropological Perspective

Conversion of the Saxons - Guizot, François Pierre Guillaume, A Popular History of France From The Earliest Times

Conversion of early medieval Europe may be discussed as a continental process or as a series of local events having their specific characteristics.

The Afterlife of the Dead: Reform in Attitude Towards Medieval Burials, Corpses and Bones

Rothwell Charnel Chapel. Photo courtesy of ITV.

The International Medieval Congress is taking place at the University of Leeds, I’m on hand this week to report on the conference. This blog post reports on my first session.

A Precious Ancient Souvenir Given to the First Pilgrim to Santiago de Compostela

Santiago de Compostela

All of us who have made pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwest Spain – three for me – are often reminded of their visits by the souvenirs they bring home.

Julian of Norwich: Mystic, Theologian and Anchoress

Julian of Norwich

Very little is known of her actual life, not even her real name. We do know she wrote two texts in English on her visions and their meaning

Cathar or Catholic: Treading the line between popular piety and heresy in Occitania, 1022-1271

The Murder of St Peter the Martyr, by  Giovanni Bellini

This paper will explain the origins of popular piety and religious reform in medieval Europe before focusing in on two specific movements, the Patarenes and Henry of Lausanne, the first of which became an acceptable form of reform while the other remained a heretic.

How to travel to the physical and heavenly Jerusalem without leaving home

Jerusalem

By the fifteenth century numerous accounts of the holy places circulated in Western Europe, many of them in Latin, a few in various vernaculars such as French and Middle Dutch.

Trees in the Middle Ages

Trees in the Middle Ages

What did medieval people think of trees? Here are a few observations about the role trees played in the spiritual and cultural life of the Middle Ages.

Late Medieval Enclosed Gardens of the Low Countries

Late Medieval Enclosed Gardens of the Low Countries

In the late Middle Ages and Early Modernity an artistic phenomenon emerged in a feminine religious context, particularly in the Low Countries and the Rhineland: the so-called Enclosed Gardens.

Bishops and Their Towns

City of Lucca, Italy. Image via Flickr by bongo vongo.

Another #KZOO2015 post – this one examines Bishops and Their Towns.

Margery Kempe and the People on the Periphery

The first page of the Book of Margery Kempe - British Library Add MS 61823

There are few medieval texts I find so entertaining as The Book of Margery Kempe, the fifteenth-century story of a seemingly ordinary woman of Bishops Lynn, England, whose life was transformed by visions of Jesus. T

The Remembrance of the Deceased in the Traditional Polish Culture of the Middle Ages

This skull illustrates the office of the dead, the officium defunctorum, in the Gualenghid’Este Hours by Taddeo Crivelli (d. ca. 1479).

In the Middle Ages, Polish Christian holidays remained consistent, except for minor temporary deviations. They included the basic structure of pre-Christian rituals. Yet, traces of the old Slavic ritual calendar can be clearly identified in the Polish and Czech sources from the fourteenth- and fifteenth-centuries.

Papers on Medieval Prosopography: Session #47 at KZOO 2015

Pieter Brueghel - Kermesse (The Feast of Saint George)

Three fantastic papers on Prosopography from #KZOO2015.

Parental Grief and Prayer in the Middle Ages: Religious Coping in Swedish Miracle Stories

The Mother of Allegranzia Appealing to Saints Aimo and Vermondo to Save Her Child -c.1400

This article focuses on expressions of bereavement and religious coping in medieval miracle stories from Sweden.

‘Que lo lean literalmente’: Clerical Ignorance and a Late Medieval Wedding Ceremony

medieval wedding

There is ample evidence that in late-medieval Spain a vast number of priests charged with carrying out the Church’s everyday liturgical responsibilities were undereducated and had little or no capacity in that language.

Angels and the Antichrist: The Cardeña Beatus

Cardeña Beatus 1

Take a look inside the pages of the 12th century manuscript Cardeña Beatus

David Nirenberg on ‘Religion and Violence’

David Nirenberg

Do the respective claims of the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic holy texts contribute to the violence between the various communities that read them? Or do they provide a basis for solidarity between the three Abrahamic religions?

Medieval mysticism or psychosis?

Margery Kempe's autobiography - British Library

Alison Torn investigates the strange case of Margery Kempe

medievalverse magazine