‘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. (Dailyphotostream.blogspot.com)

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.

Finding Truth in the Myth of Lady Godiva: Femininity, Sex, and Power in Twelfth Century England

Lady Godiva by John Collier, c. 1897

Although it is now widely accepted that Lady Godiva never mounted her horse ‘bareback,’ the infamous Domesday Book documented she was indeed a landowner in Coventry. In isolation, this tale is a pleasurable story of risk-taking.

Enumerating the Battles, Skirmishes, and Naval Actions at the Siege of Acre

Philip Augustus and Richard I receiving the surrender of Acre

Hosler examines the many episodes during the siege, which involved Saladin’s Egyptian and Syrian troops, fighting against crusader forces that were eventually joined by kings Philip Augustus and Richard I.

12th-century copy of Consolation of Philosophy was written in Scotland, scholar finds

Dr Kylie Murray with the Boethius manucript - photo courtesy the University of Oxford

A twelfth-century copy of the ‘Consolation of Philosophy’ by Boethius, has been revealed to have been been written in Scotland, making it the oldest surviving non-biblical manuscript from that country.

Angels and the Antichrist: The Cardeña Beatus

Cardeña Beatus 1

Take a look inside the pages of the 12th century manuscript Cardeña Beatus

Philippa Langley: The End of Richard III and the Beginning of Henry I

Philippa Langley placing a rose on Richard's casket. Will Johnston - Leicester Cathedral.

Amidst all the excitement, and the whirlwind that was Richard III’s reburial in Leicester, I managed to catch up with one of the world’s most famous Ricardians, ‘the Kingfinder’, Philippa Langley.

The German Crusade of 1197-1198

Reconquest of Beirut, Alexandre Hesse, 1842

This article reconsiders the significance of the German Crusade of 1197-8, often dismissed as a very minor episode in the history of the Crusading movement.

Infidel Dogs: Hunting Crusaders with Usama ibn Munqidh

Battle between the Turks and the Crusaders  - The Hague, KB, KA 20 fol. 254v

Few works of medieval Arabic literature are as valuable to the student of Islamic perspectives on the Crusades as the Kitab al-I tibar or Book of Learning by Example by the Syrian warrior and man-of-letters Usama ibn Munqidh (1095–1188).

Danish Ferocity and Abandoned Monasteries: the Twelfth-century View

Lindisfarne ruins - created by  Thomas Girtin (1775–1802)

This article tries to explain why twelfth-century authors found it so important to invent stories of Viking brutality towards monks and nuns and what ideas and material they used to create their stories.

The Partition of a Kingdom: Strathclyde 1092-1153

Strathclyde kingdom - Wikimedia Commons

The last British king of Strathclyde, Owein, son of Dyfnal, died in 1018. At that time his kingdom stretched from Lennox, north of the Clyde, as far south as the Rere Cross at Stainmore in the North Riding of Yorkshire.

The Anglo-Saxon War-Culture and The Lord of the Rings: Legacy and Reappraisal

The Lord of the Rings - Aragorn

The literature of war in English claims its origin from the Homeric epics, and the medieval accounts of chivalry and the crusades.

The Lion’s Roar: Anger in the Dispute between Henry II and Thomas Becket

Henry II arguing with Thomas Becket

The purpose of this paper will be to analyze representations of anger in the sources on Becket’s life and the place of anger in the dispute, and to assess what that suggests about understandings and uses of anger in twelfth-century English politics.

‘De civitatis utriusque, terrenae scilicet et caelestis’: Foundation Narratives and the Epic Portrayal of the First Crusade

Siege of Antioch - from a 15th-century miniature painting.

My summary of a paper given at the Institute of Historical research on the accounts of Antioch and Jerusalem during the First Crusade.

‘Hag of the Castle:’ Women, Family, and Community in Later Medieval Ireland

Sheela-na-gig from the Fethard wall in Fethard, Co. Tipperary, Ireland, detail, 12th c.

In a letter written as part of his work for the Irish Department of the Ordnance Survey in 1840, Thomas O’Conor recorded his reaction to a “Sheela- na-gig” sculpture—the image of a naked woman shown exposing her genitalia (fig. 1)—that he saw on the old church at Kiltinane, Co. Tipperary.

Strange Bedfellows : The Rise of the Military Religious Orders in the Twelfth Century

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

Although they were devout members of a pacifist religion, they were also its dominant military force. By the most basic tenants of Christianity, the Military Orders should never have existed.

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.

Feminine Love in the Twelfth Century – A Case Study: The Mulier in the Lost Love Letters and the Work of Female Mystics

Heloise and Abelard - painting created in 1819

This article compares the twelfth-century writings of the secular mulier in the Lost Love Letters with the work of religious female ‘mystics’ to draw comparisons about the way these authors chose to express love.

Of sagas and sheep: Toward a historical anthropology of social change and production for market, subsistence and tribute in early Iceland

Medieval hunt - images of sheep

This dissertation deals with the formation of chiefdoms, communities, ecclesiastical institutions and state, and with production for market, subsistence and tribute in early Iceland in the context of climatic change and ecological succession.

Anatomy of a Crusade: The De Expugnatione Lyxbonensi and the Lisbon Crusade of 1147

The Conquest of Lisbon painting by Alfredo Roque Gameiro (1917)

This paper will argue that the author crafted the speeches largely after the fact, and that Raol was able to graft ecclesiastical crusade theory onto the siege. In effect, he was able to marry a military success to the growing body of crusade propaganda.

Crafting the witch: Gendering magic in medieval and early modern England

The Devil and witches

This project documents and analyzes the gendered transformation of magical figures occurring in Arthurian romance in England from the twelfth to the sixteenth centuries.

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

King Alfonso VIII 'the Noble' of Castile

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.

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