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Six Science Questions – Answers from the Sixth Century

Even in the Early Middle Ages people were asking scientific questions about their world. Here are six of these questions, and the answers that were provided by a Byzantine philosopher in the year 531.

Researchers discover a ‘Little Ice Age’ in the 6th century

‘This was the most dramatic cooling in the Northern Hemisphere in the past 2000 years.’

Fredegund’s Deadly Dinner

One of the great villains in Gregory of Tours’ The History of the Franks is Fredegund. The sixth-century Merovingian queen was responsible, according to Gregory, for a lengthy list of murders and attempt assassinations, including against her own family members. She even murdered those men who failed to carry out her assassinations.

The Justinianic Reconquest of Italy: Imperial Campaigns and Local Responses

This article examines a particular aspect of Justinian’s campaigns against the Ostrogoths in Italy, one that is often overlooked, yet one that is essential to the understanding of these wars

Barbarian envoys at Byzantium in the 6th century

We intend to focus on the possibility of deciphering a barbaric point of view regarding the relations with the Byzantine Empire, at the beginning of the Middle Ages, when the narrative sources that are available to us have a Byzantine origin, or, when referring to barbarian kingdoms in the West, they are profoundly influenced by Roman and Roman-Byzantine traditions.

How Well Do You Know the Sixth Century?

The sixth century was time time of Justinian the Great, the Merovingians and supposedly King Arthur. Here are ten questions about the people and events of this century – how many can you answer?

The Patriarch Alexios Stoudites and the Reinterpretation of Justinianic Legislation against Heretics

Using normative legal sources such as law codes and imperial novels to illuminate Byzantine heresy is a very difficult proposition. One of the great problems in the analysis of Byzantine law in general is that the normative legal sources rarely were adapted to subsequent economic, political, or social conditions.

The Frankish Pretender Gundovald, 582–585. A Crisis of Merovingian Blood

In the autumn of 582, a claimant to Frankish kingship named Gundovald landed in Marseilles, returning from exile in Constantinople with covert support from very powerful persons in the kingdom.

Christian Charm Discovered on 1,500-year-old Tax Receipt

A 1,500 year old papyrus fragment found in The University of Manchester’s John Rylands Library has been identified as one the world’s earliest surviving Christian charms.

A British legion stationed near Orléans c. 530?

Several recent books lead the reader to believe that Vita sancti Dalmatii, written in c. 800, records a legio Britannica (a British army) stationed near Orléans in c. 530. As this paper demonstrates, the only correct detail of this purported record is the word legio, and this may well have a non-military connotation.

Christianity and the Latin tradition in early Medieval Ireland

The Christianity which arrived in Ireland with the fifth-century missionaries was more than just a literate religion; it was very much a religion of the book.

Anglo-Saxon smiths and myths

Knowledge of the metalworking and jewellery-making abilities of the Anglo-Saxons has been much enhanced in recent years by metallurgical and other technical studies.

Rethinking Hardown Hill: Our Westernmost Early Anglo-Saxon Cemetery?

This paper reassesses the early Anglo-Saxon assemblage from Hardown Hill, Dorset. Wingrave excavated the objects in 1916 but apart from his 1931 report, and Evison’s 1968 analysis, there has been little subsequent discussion.

Did Halley’s Comet Convert the Irish to Christianity?

Many attribute the spread of Christianity in Ireland to St. Patrick. But Medieval history and scientific evidence dating back to 540 A.D. hint at a more cosmic reason.

Two King of Kings? Procopius’ Presentation of Justinian and Kosrow I

This paper investigates Procopius’ description of two of the most influential men of his era: the Persian emperor Kosrow I (ruled 531-579), and the Byzantine emperor Justinian (ruled 527-565).

Blended and Extended Families in Carolingian Charters

This is a summary of a paper on Carolingian charters and the relationship between step and blended families.

Making a difference in tenth-century politics: King Athelstan’s sisters and Frankish queenship

In the early years of the tenth century several Anglo-Saxon royal women, all daughters of King Edward the Elder of Wessex (899-924) and sisters (or half-sisters) of his son King Athelstan (924-39), were despatched across the Channel as brides for Frankish and Saxon rulers and aristocrats. This article addresses the fate of some of these women through an analysis of their political identities.

Boethius’s Misguided Theodicy: The Consolation of Philosophy

Anicius Boethius’s The Consolation of Philosophy (c. 524) is a bold attempt to reconcile the gravity of the author’s imprisonment and impending death with a world governed by a just God.

Byzantine monastery discovered the Negev Desert

An impressive Byzantine monastery dating to the late sixth-century has been discovered in the northern part of the Negev Desert in Israel.

Merovingian Diplomacy: Practice and purpose in the sixth century

The practise of diplomacy has not been much studied in Merovingian Gaul, although there are numerous works that deal with its political dealings with its neighbours and with the administration and culture of Gaul at this time.

The derivation of the date of the Badon entry in the Annales Cambriae from Bede and Gildas

The battle of Badon [Bellum Badonis], in which Arthur carried the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ for three days and three nights on his shoulders and the Britons were victorious.

‘Waiting Only for a Pretext’: A New Chronology for the Sixth-Century Byzantine Invasion of Spain

This article argues that the common modern version of the invasion, in which Byzantine forces arrived in 552, fought on the side of the usurper Athanagild until 555, and then fought against Athanagild for a brief period before concluding a treaty with him, is flawed and, relying on a more precise reading of the sources, proposes a new chronology and narrative, in which Byzantine forces did not arrive until 554.

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