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The (Attempted) Alliance of Alfonso VIII of Castile and Valdemar II of Denmark: the Infante Fernando’s Marriage Reconsidered

This paper presents the evidence for a lost marriage alliance between Castile and Denmark, contextualizes the marriage within the larger framework of Alfonso VIII’s international relations, and finally, demonstrates that the match can help to underscore the importance of crusading lineages in the affairs of the Castilian royal family.

Beyond the Border. The aristocratic mobility between the kingdoms of Portugal and León (1157- 1230)

During the reigns of Fernando II and Alfonso IX, the kingdom of León became home to several Portuguese aristocrats. Their relations with the Galician and Leonese nobility helped them create many cross-border ties and a powerful network of family-based relationships which heavily influenced the course of the main political conflicts of this period.

Petrus Hispanus (circa 1215-1277) and ‘The Treasury of the Poor’

The identity of Petrus Hispanus is a matter of some controversy. Part of the problem is centred on the fact that ‘Hispanus’ covers the general region of the Iberian Peninsula, referred to in medieval times as ‘las Españas’ (the Spains), incorporating both present day Spain and Portgual.

Late Medieval Knight Reflecting on his Public Life: Hugo de Urriés (c. 1405-c. 1493), Diplomacy and Translating the Classics

This article focuses on Aragonese courtier Hugo de Urriés’s public profile by means of analyzing the critical points derived from examining his personal, political, cultural and historical stands making use of an invaluable primary source, his letter to Fernando the Catholic in the early 1490s.

A Peripheral Matter?: Oceans in the East in Late-Medieval Thought, Report and Cartography

It is something of a truism that the Ocean Sea {mare oceanum in medieval texts and cartography) marked out a real and conceptual periphery for medieval Western Europeans.

The Physicality of Service in German Ideas of Knighthood, c.1200-1500

Jörg’s memoir is a particularly informative example of how one knight understood his own calling to knighthood and his practice of it. The medieval knight had a voice, and although precious few memoirs like Jörg’s exist, knightly perspectives inform a considerable breadth of primary materials.

Medieval Mean Girls: On Sexual Rivalry and the Uses of Cosmetics in La Celestina

The prevalent use of cosmetics among women fast became a topic for moralist discourse, both inside and out of the Peninsula.

MOVIE REVIEW: Order of the Holy Grail (Captain Thunder)

This is a review of the Spanish medieval film: Captain Thunder or Order of The Holy Grail (El Capitán Trueno y el Santo Grial)

Two Rabbinic Views of Christianity in the Middle Ages

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

‘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

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)

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

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.

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