Fireworks in Scotland date back to 1507, researchers find

Edinburgh Castle with fireworks in 2011 - Photo by weir thru a lens / Flickr

Previously experts believed that fireworks were first used in Stirling in 1566, however, new evidence suggests that it was actually around 59 years earlier and in the Scottish capital. It is thought that ‘fireballs’ featured in a great tournament staged by King James lV, which took place at the base of Castle Rock, in 1507, in the area which is now the King’s Stables Road.

Movie Review: Dangerous Beauty

Veronica Franco (Catherine McCormack) kisses her lover, Marco Vernier (Rufus Sewell) in, "Dangerous Beauty".

Late 16th century Venice, where a woman can be a nun, a wife or a courtesan. For Veronica Franco, the free spirited girl scorned by because of her lack of wealth, the choice is an obvious one…

Veronica Franco and the ‘Cortigiane Oneste’: Attaining Power through Prostitution in Sixteenth-Century Venice

Veronica Franco, painted by Domenico Tintoretto (1560–1635)

Franco was a published author, a poet, and counted the King of France among her lovers.

Caterina Sforza’s Experiments with Alchemy

Caterina Sforza

She collected over four hundred alchemical, medicinal, and cosmetic recipes, and corresponded with other alchemical adepts about materials and laboratory techniques.

Foundation Myths in Medieval and Renaissance Italy

Plaque of Regola, the VII rione of Rome. (Dailyphotostream.blogspot.com)

The 3 papers featured here looked at the development of the civic identities of Florence, Genoa and Rome through art, architecture and foundation legends.

Fashion Old and New: Weaving and Tailoring in the Early Medieval and Early Modern Period

Anglo Saxon pin beater made of animal bone. Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, 400-800 AD. Courtesy of Cotswold Archaeology.

Fashion fan? Interested in medieval and early modern textiles? Then this was your session. 2 papers from opposite ends of the spectrum: Early Medieval weaving and Early Modern Tailoring.

Dynastic Politics: Five Women of the Howard Family During the Reign of Henry VIII, 1509-1547

Portrait study of Mary, Duchess of Richmond and Somerset.

The Howards were the most important noble dynasty of Henry VIII’s reign. Tudor political history cannot be written without them; they lived their lives at its core, in the shadow of the Crown.

Witchcraft on the High Seas: The Voyage of King James and the North Berwick Witch Trials

The North Berwick Witches meet the Devil in the local kirkyard, from a contemporary pamphlet, Newes From Scotland

Being a man with a strong curiosity, James was personally involved with the witch trials, which was unusual for a monarch. More than one hundred people were arrested and accused.

Shadow of the Sword (The Headsman)

Eddie Marsan as the sleazy, evil Headsman's assistant, Fabio.

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau gives us a sympathetic Headsman in Reformation Austria, in the ‘Shadow of the Sword (The Headsman)’.

A Villain and a Monster – The Literary Portrait of Richard III by Thomas More and William Shakespeare

Richard III by  Wenceslaus Hollar (1607–1677)

The process of vilification of Richard III started at the end of the fifteenth century, when a well-planned policy of Tudor propaganda was set in motion by Henry VII himself, who commissioned a series of historiographical writings, mainly aiming at the solidification of the newly founded dynasty.

The Atlas Miller

RCC6

This gem in the history of cartography is the outcome of the combined efforts of the workshops of the first two ‘schools’ of Portuguese cartography

A Young Man’s Progress – The First Book of Fashion

Matthaus Schwarz fashion

A Young Man’s Progress is art work by London photographer Maisie Broadhead and fashion designer Isabella Newell in collaboration with Cambridge cultural historian Ulinka Rublack.

De Valette’s Battlesword

Jean Parisot de Valette

This Hospitaller sword is shrouded in mystery, but it is well known and it is, in any case, still in Malta.

Interview: Ben Miles on playing Thomas Cromwell in Wolf Hall

Ben Miles as Thomas Cromwell in Wolf Hall - Photo by Johan Persson

Was there ever a time that Thomas Cromwell, lord privy seal of England in the reign of Henry VIII, was not front and center in the culture?

Some Wise Advice from Francesco Guicciardini

Francesco Guicciardini Ricordi

Ten of our favourite maxims from the Italian Renaissance scholar Francesco Guicciardini

Tropical fire ants traveled the world on 16th century ships

fire ant  photo Rick Hagerty / Flickr

Thanks to a bit of genetic sleuthing, researchers now know the invasion history of the tropical fire ant, the first ant species known to travel the globe by sea.

The Female Consort as Intercessor in Sixteenth-Century Saxony

Dorothea of Saxe-Lauenburg

In the first part, I will examine how the consort’s position was defined in the 1537 coronation of Christian III and Dorothea of Denmark-Norway.

Visualizing the Body: A Symposium in Honor of the 500th Anniversary of Vesalius’ Birth

Frontispiece from De humani corporis fabrica, Basileae: 1543, by Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564

Thank-you to Kele Cable of the University of Minnesota for allowing us to post his Storify account of the Visualizing the Body Symposium, held in November 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.

The Universal Atlas of Fernão Vaz Dourado

FVD-11 001

Vaz Dourado authored at least four different nautical atlases, each of them including 20 maps, painted between 1568 and 1580, which is to say at the pinnacle of Portuguese cartography.

Eyewitness accounts of the 1510 influenza pandemic in Europe

Sick man in bed - Royal 6 E.VII, f.70

In 1510, there was little appreciation that a specific respiratory disease might have been recurring over centuries, but historians now believe that influenza had probably been circulating as an epidemic disease since as early as the 9th century AD, if not earlier.

A peasant is a peasant, is a peasant? : Medieval Maritime Peasant Lives

Medieval fishermen

A peasant is a peasant, is a peasant…or is s/he? Was the life of a peasant who lived in the coastal regions of England the same as that of the peasant who made his livelihood toiling on the land for his local lord?

A 16th century view of North America in the Vallard Atlas

vallard atlas north America

The scene above shows the second American map, which is of the East Coast of North America, and is one of the most significant of the Vallard Atlas.

Witchcraft Trials In Sweden: With Neighbours Like These, Who Needs Enemies?!

Olaus-Magnus - depiction of a witch 16th c.

Everyone has “that” neighbour on their floor, or street who they’d secretly love to move to Mars and never see again. Well, the Early Modern Swedes had a way of dealing with those kinds of nasty neighbours…

Move over Milan! Late Medieval and Renaissance Fashion in Venice

Cesare Vecellio's Venetian fashion

Milan may be Italy’s current fashion capital, but Venice had an important role to play in the development of the Italian fashion and textile industry since the late middle ages and renaissance period.

medievalverse magazine