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The Medieval Magazine: From Samhain to Halloween (Issue 39)

medieval mag 39It’s our Halloween issue – we take a look at the medieval origins of the festival. You can also read about what medieval ghosts said the afterlife was like, and read how Emperor Charles IV had a very spooky encounter in Prague Castle. Plus, read an interview with historian Dan Jones, and learn how being rich in the Middle Ages led to an unhealthy life.

From Samhain to Halloween

A guide to how a Celtic festival was the precursor to the modern-day celebration of Halloween, including the roles played by that the medieval feasts of All Saints’ and All Souls’.


What Medieval Ghosts can tell us about the Afterlife

People in the Middle Ages did tell tales of seeing and talking with ghosts. While these encounters could be quite scary, it was also an opportunity to learn about the afterlife. If one were to believe these ghosts, then you should expect to call your guardian angel Michael and that it was better to use oil lamps than candles.

Being rich in the Middle Ages led to an unhealthy life

In the Middle Ages only wealthy town people could afford to eat and drink from beautiful, colored glazed cups and plates. But the glazing was made of lead, which found its way into the body if you ate acidic foods. This has been revealed by chemical investigations of skeletons from cemeteries in Denmark and Germany.


The Emperor’s Spooky Night

Emperor Charles IV reveals in his autobiography what happened to him one night at Prague Castle, and how he saw a huge swarm of locusts.

St John’s Walk: What lies beneath?

Ongoing restoration work to St John’s Walk is adding important insights into the history of Hereford Cathedral.

Gore and glory: How Shakespeare immortalised the Battle of Agincourt

Shakespeare does not depict the Battle of Agincourt as simply “glorious”. The play repeatedly punctures its own representations of national unity and glory.

An Interview with Dan Jones

Historian and TV Presenter Dan Jones talks with Daniele Cybulksie about his new book on Magna Carta and about his next project.


Meet the Real Ulrich von Liechtenstein

If you’ve ever seen A Knight’s Tale, you’ll know that the titular knight takes on the name of Ulrich von Liechtenstein in order to joust on the tournament circuit and win the hand of his lady fair. What you may not have known is that there seems to have been a real thirteenth-century knight named Ulrich von Liechtenstein, who spent his youth jousting to win the heart (and body) of a capricious lady, and then wrote a book about it.

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