Articles Features

10 Medieval Studies’ Articles Published Last Month

What’s new in medieval studies? Here are ten open-access articles published in June, which tell us about topics including which Vikings were the most violent and how much did people like the Prayer Book of Mary of Guelders in the 19th century.

This series on highlights what has been published in journals over the last month that deal with the Middle Ages. All ten articles are Open-Access, meaning you can read them for free. We now also have a special tier on our Patreon where you can see the full list of 43 open-access articles we found.


The evaluation of urinary signs and symptoms in medieval medicine

By Javier C. Angulo and Miguel Virseda-Chamoro

Continence Reports 

Medieval medicine established the basis of western sanitary knowledge. In an early period, the medical model was monastic and based mainly on botany. In High Middle Age (1000–1300 AD) classical Greek, Roman and Arabic sources were rescued by manuscript copiers, compilers and translators, especially in the Medical School of Salerno and in Toledo. The Arab and Hebrew knowledge was fundamental for this information recovery, that promoted the creation of the first medical universities in Europe (Montpelier, Bologna, Paris, Oxford, Salamanca) that spread the medical knowledge in Late Middle Ages. A non-systematic review is undertaken to analyze how urinary signs and symptoms were evaluated in medieval medicine, with emphasis in uroscopy and in the description in medical treatises of urinary symptoms; including incontinence, dysuria and retention, and their remedies in the form of oils, syrups and electuaries to restore the humoral balance.

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Jews, Lordship, and the Experience of Power in Early Eleventh Century France

By Tzafrir Barzilay

Journal of Medieval History

The article explores the views of Jews in the early eleventh century on issues of rulership and power through analysis of a Hebrew text known as the ‘1007 Anonymous’. The article opens with a discussion of this work’s account of practices of lordship, showing that its protagonist is presented as a lord. It then turns to examine papal involvement in the power struggles that characterised France, concluding that the protagonist’s appeal to the papacy was at the time a common practice. It moves on to analyse anti-Jewish rhetoric and its underlying political messages, presenting it as a manifestation of power narratives. Finally, the article reframes the Hebrew account as evidence of Jewish attempts to cope with the rise of new practices of rulership in early eleventh century France, and as depicting a Jewish-Christian dispute over the symbolic role (or lack thereof) of the Jews within this political dynamic.


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Violence as a lens to Viking societies: A comparison of Norway and Denmark

By Jan Bill, David Jacobson, Susanne Nagel and Lisa Mariann Strand

Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 

Comparing Viking Age Norway and Denmark, the article examines the primary proposition that as centers of authority become progressively more robust, violence will be proportionately contained. The article introduces a new approach in using indications of violence as a focal point to elicit broader social practices. The disciplines employed in this study – archaeology, osteology, philology, and sociology – are used together in the study of covariance of different indicators across a societal range. The indicators for assessing violence include skeletal trauma and weapon frequency. For assessing the steepness of the social pyramid, we use runestones, indicating variations in social stratification, and monumental constructions as a measure of power to command labor.

Among the findings: weapons and interpersonal violence in Norway was much more widespread than in Denmark, and the social pyramid in Denmark was progressively steeper and more complex than in Norway. “Official” executions accounted for the preponderance of violence in Denmark, while rare in Norway. Denmark was evidently a more “civilianized” society than Norway. The comparative research supports the primary proposition. The research, furthermore, suggests that Denmark and Norway were sociologically distinct societies, which accords with recent findings that the respective regions displayed distinct, though still similar, genetic profiles.

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Setting the record straight? Ernoul’s account of the fall of Jerusalem

By Peter Edbury


This paper argues that Ernoul’s account of the events of 1187 was composed as a direct rebuttal of some of the stories the author had heard circulating among the Westerners who arrived in the East on the Third Crusade. It is proposed that the text was largely conceived as an apologia for Balian of Ibelin, particularly regarding his political alliance with Raymond of Tripoli and his role as the chief negotiator in the surrender of Jerusalem to Saladin.

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Medieval Holy Sepulchre Chapels: Experience and Memory of Jerusalem

By Cecily Hennessy


This paper explores the rituals enacted in or connected with two medieval churches, one walrus ivory cross and a central topic of medieval devotion, Christ’s passion. During Easter Week these memorialised the site in Jerusalem dedicated to the burial of Christ, the holiest place in Christendom. It focuses on the physical elements, the spaces, the paintings and sculpture, the ceremonial objects and relics and the performative nature of rituals associated with them.


The Regularis Concordia, composed in Winchester at the end of the 10th century for the use of Benedictine monasteries included sung liturgical enactments based on the gospel accounts of Christ’s burial and resurrection. At the same time, in Saxony, the Abbey at Gernrode was founded for the use of women, secular canonesses, with a space in the south aisle that seems to have represented Christ’s place of burial and was later incorporated into two chambers evoking the Holy Sepulchre Chapel in Jerusalem. In the 12th century in Winchester Cathedral, a Holy Sepulchre Chapel was decorated with wall paintings depicting Christ’s death and resurrection.

Around this time, the walrus ivory cross known as the Cloisters Cross was created and appears to have been designed for use in the increasingly elaborate liturgical enactments. The paintings at Winchester Cathedral, the sculpture at Gernrode and the Cloisters Cross each evidence the significance of evoking Christ’s passion and how liturgical space and objects served to bring it to life.

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‘Pagan,’ a Blurred Concept: ‘Pagan’ Practices in Burchard of Worms’ Corrector sive Medicus

By Larissa de Freitas Lyth

Journal of Mediæ Ætatis Sodalicium 

This piece explores the concept of “pagan” and the idea of “pagan survivals” in Burchard of Worms’ Corrector sive medicus. The Corrector sive medicus, also known as Corrector Burchardi or Da poenitentia was written between the year 1000 and 1025 by Burchard, bishop of Worms, born around the year 965. The Corrector is a penitential manual, the 19th chapter of the Decretum, which recommended penance for those who performed unchristian acts such as murder, adultery, magical practices and others. This article discusses the blurry concept of “pagan” as an initial attempt to shed a light on Burchard’s understanding of magic. This article discussed the methodological problems of the idea of “pagan survivals” and “popular beliefs” and argues that trying to find the archaic origins of certain beliefs is not particularly useful to uncover the way medieval writers thought about and saw them.


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The Appreciation of the Illumination of the Prayer Book of Mary of Guelders until 1900 in Germany and the Netherlands

By Eef Overgaauw


The lavishly illuminated Prayer Book of Mary of Guelders (Berlin, SBB-PK, Ms. germ. qu. 42) was written in 1415 by Helmig die Lewe in the monastery of Marienborn near Arnhem. During the second half of the 19th century this manuscript gradually became known to historians of art in Germany and to church historians in the Netherlands. Its appreciation until c. 1900 depended on the point of view of its observers as well as on the gradual development of an art-historical vocabulary and the introduction of high-quality reproductions in scholarly publications.

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The Construction of Information in Medieval Inquisition Records: A Methodological Reconsideration

By Saku Pihko

Journal of Mediæ Ætatis Sodalicium 

A sophisticated epistemological approach is essential to the use of inquisitorial evidence. Historians have proposed various reading strategies based on the idea that it is possible to distinguish excess elements from inquisitorial sources that can be attributed to the deponents. This article uses examples from Languedocian inquisition records to challenge such interpretations. The construction of deposition records is framed in terms of information flow influenced by variables such as selection, interpretation, abstraction, and the reconstructive nature of human memory. Inquisitorial documents are approached as materially embedded amalgamations of abstracted information co-constructed by the deponents, the inquisitors, and the notaries. The argument is that this information originating from multiple sources became entangled and blends seamlessly in the extant documents, due to which the idea of sifting through inquisitorial evidence in search of a distinct excess or surplus is untenable as a methodological guideline. Instead, an holistic and stratified approach is proposed.

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An Unknown Survey in the Memoranda Roll of the English Exchequer, 1340–41

By Matt Raven

Notes and Queries 

This note draws attention to unpublished, and hitherto neglected, entries in the memoranda roll of the English exchequer for 1340–41. This record provides evidence that the fourteenth-century exchequer could and did compile detailed surveys of expenditure for the king of England at times of particular need, despite the fact its records were not compiled with this purpose in mind and that doing so was not its main function. The following paragraphs provide historical and historiographical context before the relevant section of the memoranda roll is analysed, and its significance established.

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Militarism in medievalism: the Prince of Thieves video game and the Gulf War

By Tess Watterson

Rethinking History: The Journal of Theory and Practice 

Medievalist video games are often embedded with complex modern militarism. Though the military-industrial-media-entertainment-network is a well-discussed issue in relation to video games, much of this work focuses on first-person shooters and representations of modern military combat. This same militarisation operates through more covert mechanics in medievalist video games – games set deliberately in a distanced, often fantastical, world – but the same logistical, schematic thinking and messaging is still hidden amongst the longbows and castles.


This article analyses this phenomena using the 1991 Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves Nintendo video game as a case study text within which two distinct military temporalities operate simultaneously: the 1991 Gulf War and the medieval crusades. It examines the legacies of crusading medievalism but with particular concern for militarism and hypermediacy, exploring the way the American military context of the early 1990s resonates through this game text, particularly through its conceptions of violence and the body of the soldier. The rhetorical power of normalising militarised logistical thinking is significantly increased when it also coalesces with medievalism, and even seemingly simplistic games like Prince of Thieves form a crucial part of the legacy that today manifests in hyper-realistic shooter games that perpetuate racialized violence.

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We found 40 open-access articles from June – you can get the full list by joining our Patreon – look for the tier that says Open Access articles in Medieval Studies.

See also our list of open-access articles from May