From the street to the brothel: following the go-between

Libro de buen amor

Associated to the practice of gossip, bartering, display and selling of her trinkets around neighborhoods and streets, the old woman was allowed into the female domestic spaces of late medieval Europe.

Two Rabbinic Views of Christianity in the Middle Ages

Picture of Medieval Jews

In the sessions of our section over the past decade, I introduced a significant distinction between two rabbinic attitudes in the Mediterranean countries during the Middle Ages of 12th and 13th centuries as to their view of Christianity.

Using Gems in Medieval Spells

Using Gems in Medieval Spells

David Porreca examines how the magical spells found in the Picatrix made use of precious gems.

‘Protecting the non-combatant’: Chivalry, Codes and the Just War Theory

Medieval War - Royal 16 G VI f. 427v Civil war in England - image courtesy British Library

The concept of chivalry, a traditional code of conduct idealised by the knightly class relating to times of both peace and war, dominated the medieval period and many of the scholars who contributed to the principle of jus in bello were in fact writing about chivalry.

From Legible Text to Magical Pattern: Arabic Inscriptions in Muslim and Christian Spain

From Legible Text to Magical Pattern: Arabic Inscriptions in Muslim and Christian Spain

The Arabic inscriptions in this building fascinated me, and led me down a long path of research that continues today over a decade later. Today I will present some of that research, showing you some of the other structures and objects that are adorned with the same inscription.

Herb-workers and Heretics: Beguines, Bakhtin and the Basques


During the Middle Ages and early Renaissance, the word beguine was used by women to identify themselves as members of a wide-spread and influential women’s movement. The same term was used by their detractors and overt opponents, with the highly charged negative meaning of “heretic.” The etymology of the term “beguine” and ultimate origins of the movement have never been satisfactorily explained.

Pigs and Pollards: Medieval Insights for UK Wood Pasture Restoration

Medieval Pigs

In this article, I examine the medieval evidence for how pig husbandry functioned in wood pasture in England.

BOOKS: The Feuding Families of Medieval and Renaissance Italy

The House of Medici - Its Rise and Fall

Put down the Godfather, turn off the Sorpanos, and check out the real Italian families of Medieval and Renaissance Italy!

Discrimination Against the Jewish Population in Medieval Castile and León

Map of Spain from 1700

I have tried to show the degree of discrimination suffered by the Jewish community in these two kingdoms in the Middle Ages through a deep analysis of the legal sources, lay as much as ecclesiastical, and also through documentary collections reflecting their practical application

The ‘Wiles of Women’ Motif in the Medieval Hebrew Literature of Spain

Jewish Women of Aragon dancing

Most famous of all, perhaps is the tale of the woman whose husband leaves for battle. Her lover then sends his boy to tell her he is coming to her, and she seduces the boy.

Writing the Antithesis of María of Aragón: Alvaro de Luna’s Rendering of Giovanni Boccaccio’s De mulieribus claris


Of the many works that form the canon of the debate on women in the fifteenth century, particularly in the Iberian Peninsula, there is a text that often omitted. This lesser known text was written by one of the most notorious figures in Spanish history: don Alvaro de Luna.

Christian Iberia: A Society Religiously Organized for War

Spanish Reconquista

Reconquista society in medieval Christian Spain is all too often considered through only economic and martial eyes. In this study of the prevelant cult of Santiago de Compostela (or St. James the Greater) I will demonstrate how medieval society meshed both war and religion.

Men Who Talk about Love in Late Medieval Spain: Hugo de Urriés and Egalitarian Married Life

Clandestine marriage. Decretales  of Gregory IX

In the last third of the fifteenth century, Hugo de Urriés’s work can offer the modern reader a very rare and informative perspective from the points of view of social history and history of ideas.

‘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.

Whose Golden Age? Some Thoughts on Jewish-Christian in Medieval Iberia

Christian and Jewish disputes

The medieval period in Spanish history has alternately been cast as a Golden Age of interfaith harmony and an example of the ultimate incompatibility of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish communities.

‘Royal’ pediculosis in Renaissance Italy: lice in the mummy of the King of Naples Ferdinand II of Aragon (1467-1496)

Ferdinand II of Aragon

Pediculosis seems to have afflicted humans since the most ancient times and lice have been found in several ancient human remains. Examination of the head hair and pubic hair of the artificial mummy of Ferdinand II of Aragon (1467-1496), King of Naples, revealed a double infestation with two different species of lice…

Organizing the Greed for Gain. Alfonso X of Spain’s Law on Gambling Houses

King Alfonso X of Castile

The “Ordenamiento de las tafurerias” is a law code about gambling, established by a certain Maestre Roldan in 1276 or 1277 CE (1314 / 1315 era hisp.)by command of King Alfonso X of Castile. It represents the most detailed and exhaustive regulation of gambling from the Middle Ages, providing useful information about the practice of gambling, the presumed or real problems connected to it, and the measures taken by authorities.

Between Official and Private Dispute: The Case of Christian Spain and Provence in the Late Middle Ages

Christian and Jewish disputes

Literary and historical evidence of religious disputes that took place between Jews and Christians during the Middle Ages exists in a varietyof sources.

El Cid, Cluny and the Medieval Spanish Reconquista

El Cid's statue

Rodrigo Díaz, better known by his title El Cid, has traditionally been portrayed as one of the great heroes of Spanish history, perhaps the perhaps the Spanish national hero par excellence.

The Most Dramatic Moment of the Middle Ages!

dramatic moment middle ages

An evil king versus a good king. They are half-brothers. It’s a fight to the death. In a tent!

Abandoned medieval settlement in Spain was devoted to growing grapes, archaeologists finds


Archaeologists have discovered an abandoned settlement in the Basque Country of Spain that seems to have been turned into a medieval version of a factory-farm in order to concentrate the cultivation of vineyards.

Managing the Commons: The role of the elites in the uses of common lands in the Midlands of the kingdom of Valencia during the Middle Ages

Valencia's Cathedral

In a recent paper, Danie Curtis has given a framework for classifying preindustrial societies in accordance with four variables, these are, the property, the power, the market of basic products and the modes of production.

Building the past through the eyes of the present: Were the Kingdoms of Medieval Spain a model of tolerance?

16th century map of Iberia

In this paper I am going to look at the ways in which contemporary concerns have shaped historians’ depictions of Medieval Iberian societies, and how that distant past is now used by politicians.

Illness and Disability in Twelfth and Thirteenth-Century Notarial Documents in Medieval Toledo

Toledo - Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0"

Their documents are symbolic not only of the transition from Muslim Al-Andalus to Christian Spain, but also give us insight into the real-time everyday interactions and events of transitional Toledo after the year 1085 AD between peoples of different cultures, religions, backgrounds and identities.

The Queen and her consort : succession, politics and partnership in the kingdom of Navarre, 1274-1512

Joan:Juana II of Navarre

This thesis draws attention to an exceptional group of sovereigns and demonstrates the important role that these women and their spouses played in the political history of Western Europe during the Late Middle Ages. It also highlights the particular challenges of female rule and offers new modes of analysis by focusing on unique areas of investigation which have not been previously examined

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