13th-century Mongol sabre discovered in Russia

Mongol sabre - image courtesy Yaroslavl State Museum

While Russian archaeologists were conducting a routine examination of an old sabre unearthed seven years ago in Yaroslavl, they discovered that the weapon dates back to the 13th century, making it to be oldest crucible steel weapon in East Europe.

Magna Carta: The Road to Runnymede

This is one of the two Magna Carta owned by the British Library (c) The British Library Board

A look at the creation of the British Library’s Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy exhibition.

Teenage Rebellion in the Middle Ages: How Salimbene de Adam became a Franciscan

Fransicans - by José Benlliure y Gil (1855–1937)

It is a popular story – the teenage son defying his parents and doing something very rebellious. It could be using drugs, getting a tattoo, or falling into with the wrong type of people. Back in the thirteenth-century, the rebellious son might become a Franciscan!

Sacerdos et Predicator: Franciscan ‘Experience’ and the Cronica of Salimbene de Adam


The Chronicle of the thirteenth-century Franciscan friar Salimbene de Adam is filled with an abundance of self-referential passages.

Discovering hidden music in the Bestiary of Love

Elizabeth Eva Leach

Elizabeth Eva Leach speaks on ‘Richard de Fournival Across the Disciplines’

Breaking the Mold: The First Woman in Italian Literature

Fabian Alfie

Active between 1260-1270, the woman known only as La Compiuta Donzella (the fulfilled damsel) attracted the attention of several male writers. Two of them were astonished that such wisdom could be found in a female.

The Papacy and Christian Mercenaries of Thirteenth-Century North Africa

Condottiero drawing by Leonardo da Vinci

Could one be a good mercenary and a good Christian at the same time?

With All For All: The Life of Simon de Montfort

With All For All: The Life of Simon de Montfort

This biography follows his life from his birth and upbringing in France until his defeat and death at the hands of the future Edward I.

The Mongol Empire: The State of the Research

Mongol Empire - illustration by Keith Pickering / Wikicommons

The study of the Mongol Empire has made enormous strides in the past two decades, and its most notable impact is the shift of seeing the Empire not only in national or regional terms but from a holistic perspective, in its full Eurasian context.

Bejewelled backdrop to coronations did not cost a king’s ransom

Westminster Retable

Research into England’s oldest medieval altarpiece – which for centuries provided the backdrop to Westminster Abbey coronations – has revealed that it cost no more than the rather unprincely equivalent of eight cows.

10 Creepy Things to See at the Louvre That Are Better Than the Mona Lisa

Catherine de Medici - Louvre

If you’re an ancient historian, a medievalist, or early modernist, there are so many other amazing pieces and works of art a the Louvre other than these two tourist staples. Here is my list of cool, creepy, unusual and better than the Mona Lisa at the Louvre in Paris.

Thirteenth-century Papal Bull repaired and digitized

Detail of the Papal bull, which consists of sheepskin or calfskin parchment. Credit: Don Erhardt

An extraordinary Papal document that’s nearly 800 years old has become a valuable teaching and research tool at University of British Columbia, thanks to a history instructor’s passion and the university library’s restoration efforts.

The City of London and the Magna Carta

17th century map of London

A brief, but enlightening, discussion of the intermingled histories of the City of London and Magna Carta.

Magna Carta: The Medieval Context and the Part Played by William Marshal

William Marshal - photo by Kjetil Bjørnsrud

Lord Judge highlights the real hero of 1215, William Marshal, who’s tireless campaigning and statecraft lead to the adoption of Magna Carta, ejected the French from British soil and secured the Plantaganet dynasty’s hold on the throne.

The Sounds that Animals Make – the Medieval Version

geese book

It seems that every parent at one time or another teaches their children the sounds that animals make. They did it in the Middle Ages too.

The Pied Piper of Hamelin: A Medieval Mass Abduction?

Pied piper

What really happened on June 26, 1284, in the German town of Hamelin?

The Morality of Misogyny: The Case of Rustico Filippi, Vituperator of Women

Gherardo di Giovanni del Fora (Florentine, 1444/45-1497), Chaste Women in a Landscape, Probably 1480s,

At the outset of his influential study on Rabelais, Mikhail Bakhtin makes an interesting observation. The scholar dedicates several pages to detail how the French author’s critical reception changed over time. Bakhtin illustrates how the attempt to comprehend an author can frequently be stymied by the cultural changes that occur across the centuries.

What Remains: Women, Relics and Remembrance in the Aftermath of the Fourth Crusade

The Fourth Crusade - the capture of Constantinople

After the fall of Constantinople to the Latin Crusaders in 1204 hundreds of relics were carried into the West as diplomatic gifts, memorabilia and tokens of victory. Yet many relics were alsosent privately between male crusaders and their spouses and female kin.

Places to See: Notre Dame – Part I

Western facade of Notre Dame Cathedral

Part I of my initial visit to stunning Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France.

An Apostolic Vocation: The Formation of the Religious Life for the Dominican Sisters in the Thirteenth Century

Dominican choir nuns of Notre Dame

The Dominican vocation sprang from complex historical understandings of the vita apostolica, and the Dominican women’s religio should be approached as part of these same contexts and perceptions.

A Byzantine lament for a lost wife


‘For a bond of incomparable love made us happier than all people, but the thieving and cruel hand of Hades cut the bond mercilessly. ‘

Picturing Maternal Anxiety in the Miracle of the Jew of Bourges

2 scenes from the Miracle of the Jewish Boy from Bourges, Lincoln Cathedral (

During the middle ages, one of the most popular and most frequently illustrated Miracles of the Virgin Mary was the Miracle of the Jew of Bourges. According to the text of the miracle, the Virgin saves a young Jewish boy after his father throws him into a fiery oven upon learning he attended a Christian mass.

Women do not sit as Judges, or do they? The office of Judge in Vincentius Bellovacensis’ Speculum

Vincent of Beauvais (Vincentius Bellovacensis)

It was Charles Homer Haskins (1870-1936) who coined the expression “Renaissance of the twelfth century”. Before him this expression referred more specifically to the Italian Renaissance of the fifteenth century as nineteenth century Swiss historian Jakob Burckhardt put it.

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