The Life of Saint Euphrosyne of Połack

Alexey Kuzmich "Crying Euphrosyne of Polotsk" 1992, oil on canvas, 120,7 x 100 cm

Saint Euphrosyne (c. 1105-1167) was the granddaughter of the famous prince of Polack, Usiaslau (Vseslav) whose long reign (1044-1101) and many exploits – in particular his determined struggle against Kiev – made such an impression on his contemporaries that they refused to believe him to be an ordinary mortal

Royalit: What Did Medieval Kings Read?

Great medieval kings

The @5MinMedievalist, Danièle Cybulskie,

The Healing Power of a Garden – A Medieval View

A medieval garden - from British Library MS Royal 6 E IX   f. 15v

When it came to healthy living, medieval people were careful on what they ate. It was commonly believed that foods could offer good (and not-so-good) consequences to the body, but it was hard to remember what ailments a certain food could cure. In steps Henry of Huntingdon to offer us a poetic guide to the healthy and medicinal qualities of what you can find in a garden.

Friendship, Betrayal, War: “Soldier of God” Movie Review

Soldier of God - Rene, a French Templar Knight who survives the Battle of Hattin. Played by Tim Abell.

A Templar and a Muslim; their strange friendship is the premise of this week’s movie based in the 12th century immediately after the disastrous Battle of Hattin.

How the death of a Queen led to 68,000 people being fed

Queen Matilda depicted in the 1875 book 'The Queens of England or Royal Book of Beauty'

Here lies the distinguished Queen Matilda the second,
who surpassed both young and old in her time.
Pattern of morals, life’s adornment,
she was for all.

The Snake Motif in Viking Art: 10­th – 12th Centuries


A guest post by Armstreet on Snake motifs in 10-12th century Viking art

Did People Ice Skate in the Middle Ages?

Medieval ice skates made of bone on display at the Museum of London. Photo by Steven G. Johnson, Wikipedia.

How did medieval people pass the time during the coldest part of the year? I came across several instances of medieval people strapping on skates and taking a twirl (or a tumble!) on the ice. Here is how it all began!

Tall Tales: The Trouble with Tours

Nottingham Castle sitting atop its rock, a vast network of caves. Photo by

Tours. They can be great, or they can be cringeworthy and rife with misinformation. A great tour guide knows how to add a flourish or two to a story to keep the audience engaged and the history interesting. A bad tour guide invents things and hopes there isn’t a historian in the audience dismayed by the falsehoods they’re spreading to unwitting listeners…

The Duel between Guy of Steenvoorde and Iron Herman

Duel depicted in Military and religious life in the Middle Ages and at the period of the Renaissance (1870)

…both fought bitterly. But Guy knocked his adversary from his horse and kept him down easily with his lance as he was struggling to get up. Then his opponent, running nearer, ran Guy’s horse through with his sword, disemboweling it.

The Heloise of History

Raymond Monvoisin depiction of Heloise in the 19th century

This thesis seeks to determine the historical role of the twelfth-century abbess Heloise, apart from the frequently cited and disputed letters exchanged between her and Peter Abelard.

The ‘Miracle of Childbirth’: The Portrayal of Parturient Women in Medieval Miracle Narratives

14th century birth scene, from British Library Royal 2 B VII   f. 48

This paper explores how tales of difficult births found in medieval miracle narratives can contribute to our understanding of the experience of pregnancy and childbirth in twelfth-century England.

The Mad Norse King

King Sigurðr depicted by Gerhard Munthe (1849–1929)

What happens when the mental health of a medieval King of Norway declines and falls into madness? The story of Sigurðr the Crusader, who reigned for over 25 years, reveals a fascinating account of mental illness from the 12th century.

Financing the tribute to the Kingdom of Jerusalem: An urban tax in Damascus


After a brief introduction to legal taxation and Saljuq fiscal policy, the philological problems in the definition of a specific due, al-fissa, illegitimate according to the sharia, will be addressed along with its political function and history. This due was levied in Damascus for the tribute to the Kingdom of Jerusalem.

The Arrow of Sherwood by Lauren Johnson

Arrow of Sherwood by Lauren Johnson

My book review of Robin Hood tale, Arrow of Sherwood by Lauren Johnson.

How to destroy gods

Bishop Absalon topples the god Svantevit at Arkona - created by Laurits Tuxen (1853–1927)

In the year 1168 a Danish bishop destroyed three pagan gods. The story is told in Gesta Danorum, by Saxo Grammaticus, which has recently been entirely translated into English for the first time.

Movie Review: Tristan and Isolde

Tristan and Isolde, starring James Franco and Sophia Myles.

As far as medieval movies go, Tristan and Isolde definitely isn’t the worst I’ve seen. I was looking for a movie to watch after work, and I thought, hey, James Franco, Sophia Moyles, Henry Cavill, and Rufus Sewell, all directed by Ridley Scott?! – this can’t be that bad. Well, it was pretty bad, but it wasn’t the worst 2 hours of my life. So what went wrong?

‘Naked and Unarmoured’: A Reassessment of the Role of the Galwegians at the Battle of the Standard

15th century map British Isles - Photo: Brooklyn Museum

Accounts of the Battle of the Standard, fought in 1138 between the army of David I, King of Scots and the northern English forces rallied by Thurstan, Archbishop of York, have unvaryingly placed the blame for the Scottish defeat on David’s Galwegian warriors who, against armoured English ranks, fled in confusion.

Miracles from Medieval Iceland

saint thorlak - 15th century image of the saint, now found in the National Museum of Iceland - photo from Youtube

The first saint from Iceland was Thorlak Thorhallsson. The saga of his life reveals dozens of the miracles that were attributed to him after his death. Here are ten of these miracles, which reveal much about religion and daily life in medieval Iceland.

King Stephen’s Siege Tactics

Lincoln Castle - Photo by Gustavo Faraon / Flickr

I will describe Stephen’s siege tactics in three general areas: (1) indirect assault, (2) direct assault, and (3) non-weapon engineering.

Foundation Myths in Medieval and Renaissance Italy

Plaque of Regola, the VII rione of Rome. (

The 3 papers featured here looked at the development of the civic identities of Florence, Genoa and Rome through art, architecture and foundation legends.

Conflicting Perspectives: Chivalry in Twelfth-Century Historiography

Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des Manuscrits, Division occidentale, Français 226, fol. 256v, Bataille de Tinchebray (1106)

Historians have found the task of defining medieval chivalry to be an elusive task.

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