Science and Religion in the Middle Ages

Science and Religion in the Middle Ages

Why did science and natural philosophy suffer such disparate fates in the two great civilizations of Christendom and Islam?

The End of the Ancient Other World: Death and Afterlife between Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages

The earliest portrait of Saint Augustine in a 6th century fresco, Lateran, Rome.

Peter Brown gives lectures on ‘Gloriosus Obitus: Death and Afterlife 400-700 AD’ and ‘The Decline of the Empire of God: From Amnesty to Purgatory’

The Western Calendar – ‘Intolerabilis, Horribilis, et Derisbilis’ – Four Centuries of Discontent

Month of October in a medieval calendar - British Library Egerton 3277   f. 5v

We, with our cut and dried view of time-keeping, we who gather together to celebrate events four hundred tropical years after they have occurred, are all to easily incline to overlook the real reason for all the fuss in the Middle Ages about calendar reform.

Neither Cursed Nor Possessed: Mental Abnormality in the Late Middle Ages

15th century image of Saint Thomas Aquinas

I plan to address the more formal ecclesiastical proscriptions regarding mental abnormality.

Embracing Death, Celebrating Life: Reflections on the Concept of Martyrdom in the Order of the Knights Templar

Detail of a miniature of the burning of the Grand Master of the Templars and another Templar. From the Chroniques de France ou de St Denis, BL Royal MS 20 C vii f. 48r

Although research on the concept of martyrdom during the era of the Crusades has gained considerable prominence, it has rarely been applied to the Knights Templar. This is surprising, as the Templars were the first military order and paved the way for a new monastic development; they were devoted to warfare only; and they, together with the other military orders, but unlike most Crusaders, established a permanent presence in the hostile environment of the Holy Land, consequently facing the threat of death both regularly and frequently.

Could Christ Have Been Born a Woman? A Medieval Debate

Jesus in Medieval Manuscript - British Library  Royal 6 E VII   f. 232v

There appears to have been continuing interest in questions about the sex of God, for in the 1150s Peter Lombard raised the issue in a new form, asking in book three of the Sentences whether God could have assumed humanity in the female sex.

‘Such a great multitude’: Biblical numerology as a literary device in Nauigatio Sancti Brendani

Darcy Ireland presents at the 50th International Congress on Medieval Studies

This presentation will begin by briefly summarizing the text, presenting evidence for its intended audience and purpose, defining Biblical numerology and outlining its role in Jewish and Christian textual traditions up to the early medieval period. Then the presentation will provide a handful of examples in the use of Biblical numerology in Nauigatio.

The Host in the late Middle Ages: superstitions, faith, miracles and magic

Miniature of the Institution of the Eucharist - British Library Egerton 1070   f. 113

The problem of taking and metabolizing Christ had been a major concern in Medieval times.

God is Great, God is Good: Medieval Conceptions of Divine Goodness and the Problem of Hell

Hellmouth  - miniature from the Hours of Catherine of Cleves

The medieval notions of goodness and hell seem to make God more a sadistic torturer than a caring parent.

Angels on Christmas trees and medieval ideas of hierarchy

christmas tree angel - photo by missteee / Flickr

In the fifth century, the medieval theologian Pseudo-Dionysius wrote the definitive work on angelic hierarchies, during which he asserted that there were nine orders of hierarchy, ranging from the most humble messenger angels to the most elevated archangels.

The Sincere Body: The Performance of Weeping and Emotion in Late Medieval Italian Sermons

The Magdalen Weeping - by Master of the Legend of the Magdalen, dated 1525.

In 1493 the well-known and controversial Franciscan preacher Bernardino of Feltre gave a series of Lenten sermons to the people of Pavia. On March 11 he dedicated an entire sermon to the necessity of contrition—or perfect sorrow over sin—in the rite of confession.

Corbie in the Carolingian Renaissance

Carolingian Aachen Gospels (c. 820)

This study opens with a historical account of Corbie from its foundation until the reign of Charles the Simple, which clarifies the political importance of the abbey and its relations with rulers and bishops.

Flee the loathsome shadow: Marsilio Ficino (1433-99) and the Medici in Florence

Marsilio Ficino - (c) Walker Art Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

This article examines the changing political landscape of Medicean Florence, from Cosimo de’ Medici (1389-1464) to his grandson Lorenzo the Magnificent (1449-1492), through the letters of the celebrated neo-Platonist philosopher Marsilio Ficino (1433-99).

Does a Reformation End?: Rethinking Religious Simulation in Sixteenth-Century Italy

The Council of Trent, 1545 - 1563

A paper examining the Italian Reformation.

The influence of conflicting medieval church and social discourses on individual consciousness : dissociation in the visions of Hadewijch of Brabant

Beguine - Des dodes dantz, printed in Lübeck in 1489.

This article examines the influence of the conflicting dis- courses in the medieval church and its social context on the subconscious experiences of Hadewijch of Brabant, a 13th century Flemish visionary, mystical author, vernacular theologian and Beguine leader

The Power of Word: Preachers in Medieval Dubrovnik

Franciscan Monastery - Dubrovnik, Croatia

In the pastoral of the Franciscan and Dominican orders preaching became the principal task of their mission. Preaching manuals represented the basis of the new art. The preachers also used sermon collections, Bible concordances and exempla collections.

The Friars Preachers: The First Hundred Years of the Dominican Order


When Dominic of Caleruega began preaching in southern France in the early 1200s, he would have had no idea of the far reaching influence that the band of men he would attract would leave such a broad and enduring influence on medieval history.

Did Purchasing Power Parity Hold in Medieval Europe?

1449 - Medieval Workshop - by Petrus Christus

This paper employs a unique, hand-collected dataset of exchange rates for five major currencies (the lira of Barcelona, the pound sterling of England, the pond groot of Flanders, the florin of Florence and the livre tournois of France) to consider whether the law of one price and purchasing power parity held in Europe during the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries.

The Medieval Understandings of Participation

Medieval Understandings of Participation

Richard Cross, Stephen Gersh and Douglas Hedley speaking at the University of Notre Dame

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.

Like Father Like Son? Henry III’s Tomb at Westminster Abbey as a Case Study in Late Thirteenth-Century English Kingship

The tomb of Henry III, Westminster Abbey, from the chapel of St

Who was this king, and who made this grand monument to him? An inscription around the edge of the upper tomb chest identifies its occupant as Henry III, the English king who died in 1272 after a reign of fifty-six years.

Jewish Shock-Troops of the Apocalypse

Picture of Medieval Jews

It would not be difficult to dismiss the legend of the Antichrist in its medieval manifestations as pure fantasy—analogous to such entertaining motifs as fire-breathing dragons, unicorns, enchantments and the like.

Approaches to paganism and uses of the pre-Christian past in Geoffrey of Monmouth and Snorri Sturluson

Decorated initials 'C'(umque) and 'K'(imbelinus) in Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia regum Britanniae. Photo courtesy British Library

The dissertation is a comparative analysis of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s and Snorri Sturlusson’s descriptions of paganism and uses of pre-Christian history. What was the function of these pre-Christian narratives, and what apporaches were used by the two authors to construct a complete image of the past, acceptable to their contemporary societies?

‘Just War’ and ‘Holy War’ in the Middle Ages


The current paper examines the issue of medieval war ethics from the perspective of the Byzantine case-study.

Least of the laity: the minimum requirements for a medieval Christian

Medieval laity

This article investigates the minimum level of religious observance expected of lay Christians by church authorities, and the degree to which legislation and procedures attempted to enforce these standards.

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