13th century insult discovered etched into the walls of Nidaros Cathedral

Photo by Asbjørn Svarstad /   Dagbladet News


Sexual Violence in the Early Medieval West

Early Medieval Europe

What kind of acts do we consider as sexual violence in relation to the early Middle Ages? And in particular: does the phenomenon come down to a forced sexual act (in the broadest sense of the word, i.e. in a situation whereby somebody against the will of another person achieves sexual satisfaction)?

Between Subjects and Citizens: the Commons of England, c. 1300-1550

John Watt

The political, social and cultural conditions of later medieval England fostered a situation in which ordinary people could have remarkable political agency.

Alcohol and its Consumption in Medieval Cairo: The Story of a Habit

Beer - photo by abbyladybug /Flickr

Through the ages of Cairene history the alcoholic beverages, entangled in political and religious developments, depended more on prevailing doctrinal currents than on people’s habitual or taste inclinations. Therefore, the story of these beverages’ consumption is – not surprisingly – a turbulent one.

King Sverre on Drunkenness

broken bottle - photo by Jonathan Cohen / Flickr

Sverre Sigurdsson, a medieval King of Norway, tells his followers about the dangers of overdrinking.

New online database allows users to explore the families of Medieval England

Mapping the Medieval Countryside

Mapping the Medieval Countryside has announced that the beta version of their searchable English translations of inquisitions post mortem (IPMs) – a major source into the lives and legacies of thousands of families from the Later Middle Ages.

Scottish Witchcraft: Background and Practices

A Visit to the Witch, by Edward Frederick Brewtnall, 1882

Witch hunting became intensified in many parts of Europe during the Protestant Reformation, and especially so in Scotland.

The Experience of Growing Up in Medieval Society

Medieval Children - Omne Bonum - Royal 6 E.VII, f.67v (det). Wiki Commons.

This session (#508) was one of several at Leeds devoted to exploring childhood in the Middle Ages. Our presenters talked about the stereotypes of adolescence, and what the coroner’s rolls revealed about the deaths (and lives) of medieval children.

Imprisoning the Mentally Ill in Medieval England

imprisonment - Detail of a miniature of Bel Acueil in prison, being guarded by Vielle (old woman). British Library

What to do with mentally ill individuals who are violent? This is a question that modern and medieval societies had to deal with.

Pigs and Prostitutes: Streetwalking in Comparative Perspective

feeding pigs

‘No one shall keep pigs which go in the streets by day or night, nor shall any prostitute stay in the city.’

The Laws about Weddings in Viking-Age Gotland

medieval church on Gotland - photo by  Stella Hwang / Flickr

An important source about daily-life in Viking-Age Scandinavia is Guta Lag, a set of laws from the Swedish island of Gotland. This includes details on how weddings were to be conducted.

Having no Power to Return? Suicide and Posthumous Restlessness in Medieval Iceland

A medieval burial in Iceland - photo by Christian Bickel

The purpose of this study is to examine cultural conceptions of the possible afterlives of suicides in medieval (ca. 1200– 1400) Iceland.

John Rykener, Richard II and the Governance of London

Medieval London Quiz

Its narrative of cross-dressing, male prostitution, gay sex, clerical promiscuity and the like seems to offer a rare window onto late medieval sexuality and sexual mores.

Bishops and Their Towns

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

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

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.

Women, the Marketplace, and the Borough Courts: Evidence from Fourteenth-Century Colchester

19th century image of Colchester

By examining the frequency and types of infractions for which women were cited at court and, additionally, the complaints women brought in the first half of the fourteenth century, this essay aims to explore the legal and cultural implications of women’s representation in the borough courts.

Deviant Burials: Societal Exclusion of Dead Outlaws in Medieval Norway

Decapitation scene is from a text written by Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini (1405–1464)

Deviant Burials: Societal Exclusion of Dead Outlaws in Medieval Norway By Anne Irene Riisøy COLLeGIUM: Studies across Disciplines in the Humanities and Social Sciences, Vol.18 (2015) Abstract: In Norway, an outlaw was “placed outside the law” and, after the introduction of Christianity in the eleventh century, the worst kinds of outlaws, perpetrators described in terms revolving […]

Ritualized Violence against Sorcerers in Fifteenth-Century France


These tales of violence and sorcery reveal interesting interactions with renowned sorcerers in villages that had not yet become involved in the witch hunts that were beginning to break out in the mountains in eastern France

‘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.

Insults Hurt: Verbal Injury in Late Medieval Frisia

Hieronymus Bosch circa 1450–1516)

Abba’s wife had told Feye Scroer’s wife that Feye was to die very soon and had also been married to another woman all the while. If he were to die now, she said, he would be damned forever

Of thieves, counterfeiters and homicides: crime in Hedeby and Birka

Lorenz Frølich. 1856. Rolf Krake jumbs over the fire

Material evidence of prehistoric crime is rare. A compilation of finds from Hedeby harbour however offers three case studies, where three different offences – thievery, counterfeiting and homicide – are likely.

Incest in Early Medieval Society

Painting of Audovera's repudiation by Albert Maignan.

The question of what persons and why can have sexual relations with each other and consequently, can contract marriage, is of basic importance for the functioning of every society, irrespective of time, place and the degree of the society’s development.

The Viking women who disappeared

Ingeborg - Norse mythology - painting by Peter Nicolai Arbo (1831-1892)

Women played an important part in Viking Age society, and their role far exceeded that of mother and the ‘housewife’. Why, then, are they barely mentioned in the history books?

Mathematical games in Europe around the year 1000

Dice and Alquerque in Alfonso's book

This paper addresses the question: which board games could Gerbert have played? There are also astronomical games.

‘Segja Hvaða!’: Insults in Old Norse-Icelandic Literature


Often, a single case of níð will fulfill two of these purposes. In the end, they come down to achieving power and station through language, whether spoken or physical.

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