Res et significatio : The Material Sense of Things in the Middle Ages

Sacramentary of St. Gereon, Cologne,

This essay serves as an introduction to Friedrich Ohly’s life and work and offers an analytic orientation to the methodological and historical questions taken up by this special issue of Gesta dedicated to medieval conceptions of significationes rerum (the signification of things).

Cecco D’Ascoli and Church Discipline of Natural Philosophers in the Middle Ages

Cecco D’Ascoli

Probably the only natural philosopher of the Middle Ages to be burnt at the stake at the behest of the Church was one Francisco degli Stabili (c. 1269 – 1327) in Florence in late 1327.

The Psychology of Natural and Supernatural Knowledge according to St. Thomas Aquinas

1476 --- St. Thomas Aquinas from  by Carlo Crivelli --- Image by © National Gallery Collection; By kind permission of the Trustees of the National Gallery, London/CORBIS

For some 50 years now, I have been studying the texts of St. Thomas on cognition. Over the years periods of intensive study of the texts have alternated with periods of reflection without reference to concrete texts and long periods in which the topic lay fallow, because I was occupied with other concerns.

Elisabeth of Schönau: Visions and Female Intellectual Culture of the High Middle Ages

Elisabeth of Schönau - altar

Elisabeth of Schönau (1128/29-1164/65) was a Rhineland Benedictine who wrote numerous visionary texts. These works addressed local problems in the cloister and community, reform within the Church, and theological questions.

Do Animals Go to Heaven? Medieval Philosophers Contemplate Heavenly Human Exceptionalism

Reynard the Fox, wearing a bishop's mitre and carrying a crozier, preaching to birds, including falcons, chickens, geese, a stork and a swan.  From British Library Royal 10 E IV

Beginning in about the second century C.E., Christian philosophers reflected upon the nature of human beings, our purpose on earth, and our path to the promised afterlife. In the course of these reflections, they considered our relationship to nature, and the non- human animals that share our world.

Manuel II Palaeologus in Paris (1400-1402): Theology, Diplomacy, and Politics


The end of the fourteenth century found the Byzantine Empire in a critical state.

Experience and Meaning in the Cathedral Labyrinth Pilgrimage

Cathedral Labyrinth

A medieval design based in Sacred Geometry principles, this unicursal path through concentric circles is a metaphorical container for spiritualjourneying.

The dissemination of visions of the otherworld in England and northern France c.1150-c.1321

Medieval visions of the otherworld

This thesis examines the dissemination of visions of the otherworld in the long thirteenth century (c.1150-1321) by analysing the work of one enthusiast for such visions, Helinand of Froidmont, and studying the later transmission of three, contrasting accounts: the vision of the monk of Eynsham (c.1196), the vision of St. Fursa (c.656) and the vision of Gunthelm (s.xiiex).

Reading the Ancients: Remnants of Byzantine Controversies in the Greek National Narrative

Michael Psellos (left) with his student, Byzantine Emperor Michael VII Doukas. Codex 234, f. 245a, Mount Athos, Pantokrator Monastery/ Κώδ. 234, φ. 254α, Άγιον Όρος, Μονή Παντοκράτορος

In the eyes of his contemporaries, as Anna Komnene suggests in her Alexiad, Italos was a pagan wolf in the clothing of a Christian sheep, anxious to overcome Christianity in favour of Hellenic (i.e. pagan) philosophy

An Ideal Marriage: Abraham and Sarah in Old English Literature


Offers a look at how Bible characters Abraham and Sarah are treated in the old English literature. How their marital relationship is portrayed; Neglect in the character of Sarah; Development in the character of Abraham; How the old English literary writers treated Abraham.

Criminal Behaviour by Pilgrims in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Period

Pilgrim on the Way of St. James (Jakobsweg) - 16th century image

In the early and high Middle Ages, an introspective religiosity was predominant and supported by Benedictine and Cistercian monks; thus, pil- grimages to holy places were neither as popular nor practiced as they were in the period from the late Middle Ages onwards.

From Triumphant to Suffering Jesus: Visual and Literary Depictions of the Crucifixion, 300-1200

Images of Christ  - 12th c.

By the twelfth century in both literature and art the form of the suffering Christ was supplanting the form of the conquering Christ.

The medieval principle of motion and the modern principle of inertia

1476 --- St. Thomas Aquinas from  by Carlo Crivelli --- Image by © National Gallery Collection; By kind permission of the Trustees of the National Gallery, London/CORBIS

Aquinas’s First Way of arguing for the existence of God famously rests on the Aristotelian premise that “whatever is in motion is moved by another.” Let us call this the “principle of motion.” Newton’s First Law states that “every body continues in its state of rest or of uniform motion in a straight line, unless it is compelled to change that state by forces impressed upon it.” Call this the “principle of inertia.

Cambridge University Library plans to buy Codex Zacynthius

Codex Zacynthius - photo courtesy Cambridge University Library

Cambridge University Library wants to raise £1.1m to purchase the Codex Zacynthius, a medieval manuscript that offers new insights early Christianity.

Society and the Supernatural: A Medieval Change

medieval supernatural

The supernatural has become what Renan said it was: ‘The way in which the ideal makes its appearance in human affairs.’

Mary Magdalene, Partner or Prostitute: An in-depth study of the transformation of Mary Magdalene in church history

Late 15th century image of Mary Magdalene

I will examine current popular fictional and non-fictional works that assert the resurrection of Mary Magdalene, her position in the Christian story and her authority.

Biblical nationalism and the sixteenth-century states

Gutenburg Bible - photo by UB Kassel /Wikimedia Commons

Biblical nationalism was new because pre-Reformation Europeans encountered the Hebrew Bible through paraphrases and abridgments. Full-text Bibles revealed a programmatic nationalism backed by unmatched authority as the word of God to readers primed by Reformation theology to seek models in the Bible for the reform of their own societies.

How did Christians view the Rise of Islam?

Dome of the Rock depicted in the 19th century

When Muslim armies came out of Arabia in the 630s and 640s, Christian writers of the time saw it a sign that the Apocalypse had come.

Two Augustines?


Beyond the decision to keep what Christians call the Old Testament, probably the only positive Christian contribution to Jewish-Christian relations from the patristic era was Augustine’s ‘witness doctrine.’

Happiness and the Psalms

The Winchester Psalter - Psalm 26

Throughout Anglo-Saxon England, on each day of the year, at all hours of the day, thousands of men and women sang the psalms.

The Transformative Nature of Gender: The Coding of St. Brigit of Kildare through Hagiography

Brigit of Kildare

The Transformative Nature of Gender: The Coding of St. Brigit of Kildare through Hagiography Liliane Catherine Marcil-Johnston Master of Arts, The Department of Theology, Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada December (2012) Abstract This study examines how gender is portrayed in the hagiographic tradition surrounding St. Brigit of Kildare. In particular, it provides an in-depth look […]

Death and Retribution: Medieval Visions of the End of Judas the Traitor

Sinful Clergy burning in Hell (Rood Screen)

Although being described in the Book of Job as “the land of gloom and chaos” (“terra ubi umbra mortis et nullus ordo” Iob 10:22), Hell for Christian tradition was not a region of disorder and chaos, but a realm of well ordered justice.

The Storie of Asneth and its literary relations: the Bride of Christ tradition in late Medieval EnglandThe Storie of Asneth and its literary relations: the Bride of Christ tradition in late Medieval England

Joseph and Asenath

This is a study of the fifteenth-century, “Storie of Asneth,” a late-medieval English translation of a Jewish Hellenistic romance about the Patriarch, Joseph, and his Egyptian wife, Asneth (also spelled Aseneth, Asenath).

The Final Countdown: A Historiographical Analysis on Language in the Year 1000 A.D.


We must now begin to ask ourselves what led to this increase in millenarian belief that the world would end between either 1000-1033 A.D.; 1033 being the 1000th year anniversary of the death of Christ. From the evidence provided in the first hand accounts of religious figures in the early eleventh century, it can be argued that this millenarian idea was not uncommon throughout Europe.

The Pagans and the Other: Varying Presentations in the Early Middle Ages

Death of Saint Bruno of Querfurt.

The Pagans and the Other: Varying Presentations in the Early Middle Ages Ian Wood Networks and Neighbours, Volume One, Number One (2013) Abstract This paper discusses the position of the pagan ‘Other’ in medieval thought, arguing that although Paganism was alien to the Christian, churchmen wanted above all to bring the pagans into the Christian […]

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