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The Medieval Magazine: The Lighter Side of the Middle Ages (Issue 44)

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Find out what was funny in the Middle Ages, plus articles on Guinevere, Norse kings, Glastonbury Abbey, the wives of Robert II of Scotland, and more…

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Revealing the Myths of Glastonbury Abbey

The real history of Glastonbury Abbey, renowned for its links to the legendary King Arthur, has finally been uncovered thanks to ground-breaking new research from the University of Reading.


Reformation ‘recycling’ may have saved rare painting from destruction

A rare medieval painting depicting Judas’ betrayal of Christ may have survived destruction at the hands of 16th century iconoclasts after being ‘recycled’ to list the Ten Commandments instead.

Bad for the Soul, Good for the Body: Religion, Medicine and Masturbation in the Middle Ages


In the early twelfth century, reported Gerald of Wales, a demon physically attacked a young monk. Whenever this monk prostrated himself in prayer, ‘an evil spirit approaches him, places its hands on his genital organs, and does not stop rubbing his body with its own until he is so agitated that he is polluted by an emission of semen.’ Otherwise, the young monk behaved well. Yet when Bishop Hildegard of Le Mans (1096-1125) considered the case, he ruled that the monk could no longer be considered a virgin, since he has been ‘polluted…through masturbation’ and has been tempted by the devil to consent to a ‘shameful act of fornication.’

The Lighter Side of the Middle Ages

Were all medieval writings dour and sullen, focused on religious piety or the often bloody lives of kings? While many works can be called that, some of the stories from the Middle Ages were meant to be funny. These include the fabliaux from France and the stories that make up The Canterbury Tales of Geoffrey Chaucer. There is also the Facetiae by Poggio Bracciolini, which was first published in 1471.

In Search of Alfred the Great: The King, The Grave, The Legend

Read an excerpt from the new book by Edoardo Albert and Katie Tucker

Book Review: The Lady Agnes Mystery, by Andrea Japp

Set at the turn of the fourteenth century, The Lady Agnes Mystery tells the tale of Agnès de Souarcy, a young, beautiful widow, who lives in Normandy with her daughter, Mathilde, and her adoptive son, Clément.

and more…

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