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Open the doors to medieval history! Discussions on history of the medieval period of the world, specifically Europe and Scandinavia. Hosted by Wendy Jordan, MPhil (Master's) in archeology from Cambridge University (UK) and BA in history from the University of Oklahoma. Produced by RDG Communications. Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/randy-gibson8/support
 
Ever wanted to understand the key themes driving over five hundred years of European history? In this album, architecture reveals the social, religious and economic fortunes of some of the most influential people between 1400 and 1900. By the end of the 19th century Queen Victoria presided over the vast British Empire. She looked out from London, the heart of her empire, with its buildings echoing Imperial Rome. Brussels’ architecture, like London’s, was also designed to show the world the p ...
 
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Royal Childhood and Child Kingship: Boy Kings in England, Scotland, France and Germany, c. 1050–1262 (Cambridge University Press, 2022) refines adult-focused perspectives on medieval rulership. Dr. Emily Joan Ward exposes the problematic nature of working from the assumption that kingship equated to adult power. Children's participation and politic…
 
Nomads: The Wanderers Who Shaped Our World (W. W. Norton & Company, 2022) by Anthony Sattin tells the remarkable story of how nomads have fostered and refreshed civilization throughout history. Moving across millennia, Nomads explores the transformative, sometimes bloody, sometimes peaceful and symbiotic relationship between settled and mobile soci…
 
In 1346, a catastrophic plague beset Europe and its neighbours. The Black Death was a human tragedy that abruptly halved entire populations and caused untold suffering, but it also brought about a cultural and economic renewal on a scale never before witnessed. The World the Plague Made is a panoramic history of how the bubonic plague revolutionize…
 
From roughly 1346 to 1353, Europe was paralyzed by the most fatal pandemic in recorded human history; the bubonic plague. The plague killed more than 60% of the total population in Eurasia. This is the backdrop of Giovanni Boccaccio’s The Decameron, a collection of short novellas completed in 1353. Robert Pogue Harrison is a professor of French and…
 
Empires of the Normans: Makers of Europe, Conquerors of Asia (Pegasus, 2022) by Dr. Levi Roach is a tale of ambitious adventures and fierce freebooters, of fortunes made and fortunes lost. The Normans made their influence felt across all of western Europe and the Mediterranean, from the British Isles to North Africa, and Lisbon to the Holy Land. In…
 
Often represented as a tradition of ancient origins, Shugendō has retained a quality of mystery and nostalgia in the public imagination and scholars as the “original” champions of mountain asceticism. In his monograph, A Path Into the Mountains: Shugendō and Mount Togakushi (U Hawaii Press, 2022), Caleb Carter challenges this conceptualization by e…
 
Silvia Schwarz Linder's Goddess Traditions in India: Theological Poems and Philosophical Tales in the Tripurarahasya (Routledge, 2022) is a study of the Śrīvidyā and Śākta traditions in the context of South Indian intellectual history in the late middle ages. Associated with the religious tradition known as Śrīvidyā and devoted to the cult of the G…
 
Celebrating Sorrow: Medieval Tributes to the Tale of Sagoromo (Cornell UP, 2022) explores the medieval Japanese fascination with grief in tributes to The Tale of Sagoromo, the classic story of a young man whose unrequited love for his foster sister leads him into a succession of romantic tragedies as he rises to the imperial throne. Charo B. D'Etch…
 
In addition to providing excerpts from classic tales of Japan’s warrior past, Samurai and the Warrior Culture of Japan, 471-1877: A Sourcebook (Hackett, 2022) draws on a wide range of lesser-known but revealing sources—including sword inscriptions, edicts, orders, petitions, and letters—to expand and deepen our understanding of the samurai, from th…
 
Information is everywhere. We live in an “Information” Society. We can get more of it faster, quicker, and in more different shapes and sizes than at probably any other time in history. Meanwhile, misinformation (a very old word) and disinformation (a neologism of the 20th century) have worked their way into our collective cultural lexicon. Like ev…
 
Inventing the Alphabet: The Origins of Letters from Antiquity to the Present (University of Chicago Press, 2022) by Dr. Johanna Drucker provides the first account of two-and-a-half millennia of scholarship on the alphabet. Drawing on decades of research, Dr. Drucker dives into sometimes obscure and esoteric references, dispelling myths and identify…
 
Beyond Exclusion: Intersections of Ethnicity, Sex, and Society Under English Law in Medieval Ireland (Brepols, 2022) offers a fresh look at the legal status of minorities in English Ireland. Through a detailed analysis of case studies gleaned from medieval court rolls, Stephen Hewer challenges the prevailing narrative of wholesale ethnic discrimina…
 
In Weeds and the Carolingians: Empire, Culture, and Nature in Frankish Europe, AD 750–900 (Cambridge University Press, 2021), Dr. Paolo Squatriti asks: Why did weeds matter in the Carolingian empire? What was their special significance for writers in eighth- and ninth-century Europe and how was this connected with the growth of real weeds? In early…
 
Galilee, the region where monotheism multiplied, where Christianity came into being, where Judaism reinvented itself, and where Islam won some of its greatest triumphs. Matthew Silver's two volumes--The History of Galilee, 47 BCE to 1260 CE: From Josephus and Jesus to the Crusades (Lexington Books, 2021), and The History of Galilee, 1538-1949: Myst…
 
The philosopher and biblical commentator Joseph Ibn Kaspi (1280–1345) was a provocative Jewish thinker of the medieval era whose works have generally been overlooked by modern scholars. Power and Progress: Joseph Ibn Kaspi and the Meaning of History (SUNY Press, 2019) by Alexander Green is the first book in English to focus on a central aspect of h…
 
There is only one surviving copy of The Life and Passion of William of Norwich, but its story continues to haunt us. When 12th-century monk Thomas of Monmouth learned of a young boy’s murder in his community, he accused his Jewish neighbors of the heinous crime. Over the course of two decades, he wrote a seven-volume conspiracy theory, building out…
 
The crossbow is an iconic weapon of the Middle Ages and, alongside the longbow, one of the most effective ranged weapons of the pre-gunpowder era. Unfortunately, despite its general fame it has been decades since an in-depth history of the medieval crossbow has been published, which is why Dr. Stuart Ellis-Gorman’s detailed, accessible, and highly …
 
Dr. Jackson W. Crawford is Instructor of Nordic Studies and Coordinator of the Nordic Program at the University of Colorado-Boulder. Crawford is the author and translator of The Wanderer’s Havamal and The Poetic Edda: Stories of the Norse Gods and Heroes. Both books are available from Hackett Publishing. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit mega…
 
Medieval and Renaissance Cyprus was a fascinating place of ethnic, cultural, and religious encounters. Following almost nine centuries of Byzantine rule, Cyprus was conquered by the Crusaders in 1191, becoming (until 1571) the most important stronghold of Latin Christianity in the Eastern Mediterranean—first under the Frankish dynasty of the Lusign…
 
The Kushnameh is unique, literally. Only one copy of the “Epic of Kush”exists, sitting in the British Library. Hardly anything is known about its author, Iranshah. It features a quite villainous protagonist, the tusked warrior Kush, who carves a swathe of destruction across the region. And it spans nearly half the world, with episodes in Spain, the…
 
Born in Tuscany in 1304, Italian poet Francesco Petrarca is widely considered one of the fathers of the modern Italian language. Though his writings inspired the humanist movement and subsequently the Renaissance, Petrarch remains misunderstood. He was a man of contradictions—a Roman pagan devotee and a devout Christian, a lover of friendship and s…
 
Manuscripts teem with life. They are not only the stuff of history and literature, but they offer some of the only tangible evidence we have of entire lives, long receded. Hidden Hands: The Lives of Manuscripts and Their Makers (Riverrun, 2021) tells the stories of the artisans, artists, scribes and readers, patrons and collectors who made and kept…
 
The ongoing debate surrounding who gets to determine the subjects of public commemoration, particularly in the form of statues, has become more heated over the past few years. In his timely book, A History of Love and Hate in 21 Statues (Aurum Press, 2021), Peter Hughes examines the long history of statues being used to articulate the values of rul…
 
In The Faddan More Psalter: The Discovery and Conservation of a Medieval Treasure Dr. John Gillis explores the conservation, construction, and context of an early medieval psalter discovered by chance in a bog at Faddan More, Co. Tipperary in July 2006. The different facets of this find are discussed in-depth, along with the pre-existing and newly …
 
Debates about science and religion are rarely out of the news. Whether it concerns what's being taught in schools, clashes between religious values and medical recommendations, or questions about how to address our changing global environment, emotions often run high and answers seem intractable. Yet there is much more to science and religion than …
 
Dynasties Intertwined: The Zirids of Ifriqiya and the Normans of Sicily (Cornell UP, 2022) traces the turbulent relationship between the Zirids of Ifriqiya and the Normans of Sicily during the eleventh and twelfth centuries. In doing so, it reveals the complex web of economic, political, cultural, and military connections that linked the two dynast…
 
Richard G. Marks's book Jewish Approaches to Hinduism: A History of Ideas from Judah Ha-Levi to Jacob Sapir (12th-19th Centuries) (Routledge, 2021) explores past expressions of the Jewish interest in Hinduism in order to learn what Hinduism has meant to Jews living mainly in the 12th through the 19th centuries. India and Hinduism, though never at t…
 
Despite the Talmud being the richest repository of medical remedies in ancient Judaism, this important strain of Jewish thought has been largely ignored – even as the study of ancient medicine has exploded in recent years. In a comprehensive study of this topic, Jason Sion Mokhtarian recuperates this obscure genre of Talmudic text, which has been m…
 
The Dark Queens: The Bloody Rivalry That Forged the Medieval World (Bloomsbury, 2022) is the remarkable, little-known story of two trailblazing women in the Early Middle Ages who wielded immense power, only to be vilified for daring to rule. Shelley Puhak introduces readers to Brunhild, who was a foreign princess, raised to be married off for the s…
 
For nearly a century after the First Crusade captured Jerusalem, that ancient city became the nucleus of a several kingdoms and principalities established by the crusaders. At the political, social, and cultural heart of their subsequent history were a series of remarkable women who exercised power and influence in a way nearly unknown in western E…
 
Europeans have been writing about China for centuries–ever since The Travels of Marco Polo described it as a faraway and mystical kingdom. European thinkers like Voltaire and Montesquieu used China to support their own theories of political philosophy, then writers in early modernity tried to explain why China was falling behind–and then, with the …
 
Elizabeth Oyler and Katherine Saltzman-Li's book Cultural Imprints: War and Memory in the Samurai Age (Cornell UP, 2022) draws on literary works, artifacts, performing arts, and documents that were created by or about the samurai to examine individual "imprints," traces holding specifically grounded historical meanings that persist through time. Th…
 
Emma Natalya Stein's book Constructing Kanchi: City of Infinite Temples (Amsterdam UP, 2021) traces the emergence of the South Indian city of Kanchi as a major royal capital and multireligious pilgrimage destination during the era of the Pallava and Chola dynasties (circa seventh through thirteenth centuries). It presents the first-ever comprehensi…
 
To many the city might seem simply a large urban area to live within, but it actually forms an important political concept and community that has been influential throughout European history. From the polis of Ancient Greece, to the Roman Republic, to the city-states of the Italian Renaissance, and down to the present day. Modern concepts of democr…
 
Analyzing the spread and survival of Islamic legal ideas and commentaries in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean littorals, Islamic Law in Circulation: Shafi'i Texts across the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean (Cambridge University Press, 2022) focuses on Shāfiʿīsm, one of the four Sunnī schools of Islamic law. It explores how certain …
 
A Bowl for a Coin: A Commodity History of Japanese Tea (U Hawaii Press, 2019) is the first book in any language to describe and analyze the history of all Japanese teas from the plant’s introduction to the archipelago around 750 to the present day. To understand the triumph of the tea plant in Japan, William Wayne Farris begins with its cultivation…
 
Old English is the language you think you know until you actually hear or see it. Unlike Shakespearean English or even Chaucer’s Middle English, Old English—the language of Beowulf—defies comprehension by untrained modern readers. Used throughout much of Britain more than a thousand years ago, it is rich with words that haven’t changed (like word),…
 
In The Invention of Norman Visual Culture: Art, Politics, and Dynastic Ambition (Cambridge UP, 2020), Lisa Reilly establishes a new interpretive paradigm for the eleventh and twelfth-century art and architecture of the Norman world in France, England, and Sicily. Traditionally, scholars have considered iconic works like the Cappella Palatina and th…
 
Ibn Babawayh – also known as al-Shaykh al-Saduq – was a prominent Twelver Shi'i scholar of hadith. Writing within the first century after the vanishing of the twelfth imam, al-Saduq represents a pivotal moment in Twelver hadith literature, as this Shi'i community adjusted to a world without a visible imam and guide, a world wherein the imams could …
 
Cambodia is home to Angkor, one of the most important archaeological sites of Southeast Asia. Greater Angkor, the capital of the Khmer Empire, was a low-density city covered about a 1000 sq km and was the home of between 750,000 to 900,000 people in the 12th century CE. The urban complex was largely abandoned in the 14th and 15th centuries. Its cen…
 
The biblical commentaries known as Miqra’ot Gedolot have inspired and educated generations of Hebrew readers. Now, with the five volumes of the acclaimed English edition of Miqra’ot Gedolot, The Commentators' Bible—Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy—the voices of Rashi, Ibn Ezra, Nachmanides, Rashbam, Abarbanel, Kimhi, and other medie…
 
Many readers know Lewis as an author of fiction and fantasy literature, including the Chronicles of Narnia and the Space Trilogy. Others know him for his books in apologetics, including Mere Christianity and The Problem of Pain. But few know him for his scholarly work as a professor of medieval and Renaissance literature. What shaped the mind of th…
 
Paul Moses, former Newsday city editor and senior religion writer, is a professor of journalism at Brooklyn College and the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He was the lead writer on a Newsday team that won the Pulitzer Prize. He is the author of The Saint the Sultan (2009, Doubleday) and An Unlikely Union: The Love-Hate S…
 
Today we talk to Sigurður Gylfi Magnússon about Wasteland with Words (Reaktion, 2010) and about microhistory as a method. Iceland is an enigmatic island country marked by contradiction: it’s a part of Europe, yet separated from it by the Atlantic Ocean; it’s seemingly inhospitable, yet home to more than 300,000. Wasteland with Words explores these …
 
The story of the “conflict thesis” between science and religion—the notion of perennial conflict or warfare between the two—is part of our modern self-understanding. As the story goes, John William Draper (1811–1882) and Andrew Dickson White (1832–1918) constructed dramatic narratives in the nineteenth century that cast religion as the relentless e…
 
Nowhere on Earth is there an ecological transformation so swift and so extreme as between the snow line of the high Andes and the tropical rainforest of Amazonia. Because of that, the different disciplines that research the human past in South America have tended to treat these two great subzones of the continent as self-contained enough to be stud…
 
Dr. Lucy Donkin’s Standing on Holy Ground in the Middle Ages (Cornell University Press, 2022) illuminates how the floor surface shaped the ways in which people in Medieval Western Europe and beyond experienced sacred spaces. The ground beneath our feet plays a crucial, yet often overlooked, role in our relationship with the environments we inhabit …
 
Ayse Zarakol, Professor of International Relations at the University of Cambridge, is the author of Before the West: The Rise and Fall of Eastern World Orders (Cambridge University Press, 2022). Before the West offers a grand narrative of (Eur)Asia as a space connected by normatively and institutionally overlapping successive world orders originati…
 
This sourcebook provides the first systematic overview of witchcraft laws and trials in Russia and Ukraine from medieval times to the late nineteenth century. Witchcraft in Russia and Ukraine (Northern Illinois UP, 2020) weaves scholarly commentary with never-before-published primary source materials translated from Polish, Russian, and Ukrainian. …
 
The Mongol period (1206-1368) marked a major turning point of exchange - culturally, politically, and artistically - across Eurasia. The wide-ranging international exchange that occurred during the Mongol period is most apparent visually through the inclusion of Mongol motifs in textile, paintings, ceramics, and metalwork, among other media. In In …
 
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