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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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Nicole Archambeau, associate professor of history at Colorado State University, talks about her book, Souls under Siege: Stories of War, Plague, and Confession in Fourteenth-Century Provence (Cornell University Press), with Peoples & Things host, Lee Vinsel. The book explores how the inhabitants of southern France made sense of the ravages of succe…
 
Maimonideanism, the intellectual culture inspired by Maimonides’ writings, has received much recent attention. Yet a central aspect of Maimonideanism has been overlooked: the formal reception of the Guide of the Perplexed through commentary. In Rewriting Maimonides: Early Commentaries on the Guide of the Perplexed (de Gruyter, 2018), Igor H. De Sou…
 
In Opening Kailasanatha: The Temple in Kanchipuram Revealed in Time and Space (U Washington Press, 2020), Padma Kaimal deciphers the intentions of the monument’s makers, reaching back across centuries to illuminate worldviews of the ancient Indic south. By focusing on the material form of the complex—the architecture, inscriptions, and sculptures, …
 
Southern Italy was conquered by the Norman Hauteville dynasty in the late eleventh century after over five hundred years of continuous Byzantine rule. At a stroke, the region's Greek Christian inhabitants were cut off from their Orthodox compatriots in Byzantium and became subject to the spiritual and legal jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic popes.…
 
Wolfgang Muller, Marriage Litigation in the Western Church, 1215- 1517 (Cambridge University Press, 2021). From the establishment of a coherent doctrine on sacramental marriage to the eve of the Reformation, late medieval church courts were used for marriage cases in a variety of ways. Ranging widely across Western Europe, including the Upper and L…
 
Ever since her triumphant debut in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, the Wife of Bath, arguably the first ordinary and recognisably real woman in English literature, has obsessed readers--from Shakespeare to James Joyce, Voltaire to Pasolini, Dryden to Zadie Smith. Few literary characters have led such colourful lives or matched her influence or capacity…
 
Medieval manuscripts are our shared inheritance, and today they are more accessible than ever—thanks to digital copies online. Yet for all that widespread digitization has fundamentally transformed how we connect with the medieval past, we understand very little about what these digital objects really are. We rarely consider how they are made or wh…
 
Wout J. van Bekkum's The Religious Poetry of El'azar Ben Ya'aqov Ha-Bavli (Baghdad, 13th C.) (Brill, 2022) is a comprehensive edition of Hebrew hymns composed by Eleazar the Babylonian, a prolific composer and scholar who lived in 13th-century Baghdad. His poetic language and style show much affinity with contemporary Sufism. Learn more about your …
 
Medieval Arabic sources are full of references to the Banu Sasan (Sons of Sasan) and the Ghuraba' (Strangers), an enigmatic but captivating group who begged, told fortunes, trained animals, and practiced medicine throughout the Islamic world from the mid-7th century onwards. These groups constitute peoples who would later come to be known as the Ro…
 
Seekers of the Face: Secrets of the Idra Rabba (the Great Assembly) of the Zohar (Stanford UP. 2021) opens the profound treasure house at the heart of Judaism's most important mystical work: the Idra Rabba (Great Gathering) of the Zohar. This is the story of the Great Assembly of mystics called to order by the master teacher and hero of the Zohar, …
 
In Jews, Food, and Spain: The Oldest Medieval Spanish Cookbook and the Sephardic Culinary Heritage (Academic Studies Press, 2022), Hélène Jawhara Piñer presents readers with the dishes, ingredients, techniques, and aesthetic principles that make up a sophisticated and attractive cuisine, one that has had a mostly unremarked influence on modern Span…
 
In Poisoned Wells: Accusations, Persecution, and Minorities in Medieval Europe, 1321-1422 (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2022), Tzafrir Barzilay explores the origins of the charges of well poisoning leveled at European minorities in the later Middle Ages. Barzilay asks how the fear took root and moved across Europe, which groups it targeted, wh…
 
How should one dwell in endtime? In this SPIDER-spun web of a book, Wendi Adamek guides readers to the visual and textual traces left by Buddhist nuns, monks, and devotees on mountainsides in Baoshan, north central China, and through them, the soteriology of Buddhism in the medieval world. The convents have vanished and the stones weathered, but th…
 
In this latest publication in the TII Heritage series, the long prehistory of Kells and its hinterland is shown to be written on the landscape in foundation trenches and boundary ditches, pits, post-holes, hearths, and myriad other marks of human life, which were discovered along the route of the M3 Clonee to Kells motorway project and recorded by …
 
In Kabbalah and Sex Magic: A Mythical-Ritual Genealogy (Penn State University Press, 2021) a provocative book, Marla Segol explores the development of the kabbalistic cosmology underlying Western sex magic. Drawing extensively on Jewish myth and ritual, Segol tells the powerful story of the relationship between the divine and the human body in late…
 
Identities and Ideologies in the Medieval East Roman World (Edinburgh UP, 2022) examines ideas, beliefs and practices of identification in the medieval East Roman world Approaches ideology and identity in the Byzantine world from different perspectives, top-down, bottom-up, and outside-in, and from various disciplinary perspectives including histor…
 
Mary Channen Caldwell in her new book Devotional Refrains in Medieval Latin Song (Cambridge University Press 2022) opens up new avenues for investigation by centering the refrain as an area of focus in which to analyze Latin songs through the Middle Ages. Throughout medieval Europe, male and female religious communities attached to churches, abbeys…
 
Humans love stories. And no collection of stories is more beloved worldwide than the Middle Eastern folk tales known as One Thousand and One Nights. The original collection only contained about 40 stories. It was compiled into a manuscript sometime between the 8th century and the 14th century during the Islamic Golden Age. The stories were made pop…
 
For centuries, the Crusades have been central to the story of the medieval Near East, but these religious wars are only part of the region’s complex history. As Nicholas Morton reveals in The Mongol Storm: Making and Breaking Empires in the Medieval Near East (Basic Books, 2022), during the same era the Near East was utterly remade by another serie…
 
Games can act as invaluable tools for the teaching of the Middle Ages. The learning potential of physical and digital games is increasingly undeniable at every level of historical study. These games can provide a foundation of information through their stories and worlds. They can foster understanding of complex systems through their mechanics and …
 
In 874 CE, the eleventh Imam died, and the Imami community splintered. The institutions of the Imamate were maintained by the dead Imam's agents, who asserted they were in contact with a hidden twelfth Imam. This was the beginning of 'Twelver' Shiʿism. In Agents of the Hidden Imam: Forging Twelver Shi‘ism, 850-950 CE (Cambridge UP, 2022), Edmund Ha…
 
A gulf of centuries separates the Byzantine Empire from the academic field of Byzantine studies. The Invention of Byzantium in Early Modern Europe offers a new approach to the history of Byzantine scholarship, focusing on the attraction that Byzantium held for Early Modern Europeans and challenging the stereotype that they dismissed the Byzantine E…
 
When he was in his late 30s, the Italian poet Dante Alighieri got himself into some serious political trouble and was exiled from his beloved Florence. While in exile, he wrote one of the world’s greatest literary works, the Divine Comedy. In the story, Dante, the main character, must pass through the nine circles of Hell, climb Mount Purgatory, an…
 
The Kingdom of Rye: A Brief History of Russian Food (U California Press, 2022) unearths the foods and flavors of the Russian land. Preeminent food studies scholar Darra Goldstein offers readers a concise, engaging, and gorgeously crafted story of Russian cuisine and culture. This story demonstrates how national identity is revealed through food—and…
 
During the thirteenth century, the Persian naturalist and judge Zakariyyāʾ Qazwīnī authored what became one of the most influential works of natural history in the world: Wonders and Rarities. Exploring the dazzling movements of the stars above, the strange minutiae of the minerals beneath the earth, and everything in between, Qazwīnī offered a cap…
 
“All men must die”: or “Valar Morghulis,” as the traditional Essos greeting is rendered in High Valyrian. And die they do – in prodigious numbers; in imaginatively varied and gruesome ways; and often in terror within the viciously unpredictable world that is HBO's sensational evocation of Game of Thrones. As acclaimed medievalist Professor Carolyne…
 
Frans Camphuijsen explored records from the law courts of York, Paris, and Utrecht and used them as a base for Scripting Justice in Late Medieval Europe: Legal Practice and Communication in the Law Courts of Utrecht, York, and Paris (Amsterdam University Press, 2022). Late medieval societies witnessed the emergence of a particular form of socio-leg…
 
A history of pastoral nomads in the Islamic Middle East, Nomads in the Middle East by Beatrice Forbes Manz (Cambridge University Press, 2021) charts the rise of nomadic power from the formation of Islam through the Middle Ages, when Mongols and Turks ruled most of the region, to the decline of nomadic power in the twentieth century. Offering a vivi…
 
The Tattvasaṃgraha of Śāntarakṣita: Selected Metaphysical Chapters (Oxford University Press, 2022) collects excerpts from a massive encyclopedic work of the late period of Buddhism in India. Translator Charles Goodman has selected sections of this Sanskrit text which cover debates over the existence of prime matter, God, and an immaterial soul, as …
 
The Religion and Rituals of the Nomads of Pre-Islamic Arabia: A Reconstruction Based on the Safaitic Inscriptions (Brill, 2022) by Ahmad al-Jallad presents evidence for religious identity and ritual practices among the Safaitic-writing nomads of pre-Islamic Arabia. For this evidence, al-Jallad relies on a large corpus of rock-carved inscriptions in…
 
Today Jana Byars talks to her PhD advisor Guido Ruggiero about his latest monograph, Love and Sex in the Time of Plague: A Decameron Renaissance (Harvard University Press, 2021) over the meaning of love in the early Renaissance. As a pandemic swept across fourteenth-century Europe, the Decameron offered the ill and grieving a symphony of life and l…
 
The Japanese provincial city of Ichijōdani was destroyed in the civil wars of the late sixteenth century but never rebuilt. Archaeological excavations have since uncovered the most detailed late medieval urban site in the country. Drawing on analysis of specific excavated objects and decades of archaeological evidence to study daily life in Ichijōd…
 
In the thriving urban economies of late thirteenth-century Catalonia, Jewish and Christian women labored to support their families and their communities. The Fruit of Her Hands: Jewish and Christian Women's Work in Medieval Catalan Cities (Penn State Press, 2022) examines how gender, socioeconomic status, and religious identity shaped how these wom…
 
In Don't Think for Yourself: Authority and Belief in Medieval Philosophy (U Notre Dame Press, 2022), Peter Adamson provides an answer to a question as relevant today as it was in the medieval period: how and when should we turn to the authoritative expertise of other people in forming our own beliefs? He challenges us to reconsider our approach to …
 
How social networks shaped the imperial Chinese state China was the world’s leading superpower for almost two millennia, falling behind only in the last two centuries and now rising to dominance again. What factors led to imperial China’s decline? The Rise and Fall of Imperial China: The Social Origins of State Development (Princeton UP, 2022) offe…
 
In his fascinating and painstakingly research new book Messianic Ideas and Movements in Sunni Islam (Oneworld Academic, 2022), the noted scholar of Islam Yohanan Friedmann details the religious thought and political movements of multiple actors who made messianic claims in premodern and modern Islam, spanning sites including South Asia, North Afric…
 
The Sea in the Middle: The Mediterranean World, 650-1650 (U California Press, 2022) presents an original and revisionist narrative of the development of the medieval west from late antiquity to the dawn of modernity. This textbook is uniquely centered on the Mediterranean and emphasizes the role played by peoples and cultures of Africa, Asia, and E…
 
Treason and Masculinity in Medieval England: Gender, Law and Political Culture (Boydell Press, 2020) by Dr. E. Amanda McVitty presents a groundbreaking new approach to the idea of treason in medieval England, showing the profound effect played by gender. Conflicts over treason tormented English political society in the later Middle Ages. As legal a…
 
We don’t even know the real name of the 11th century author Murasaki Shikibu. But we do know that her book, The Tale of Genji, is arguably one of the most influential Japanese texts to date. Genji quickly captured its readers’ imaginations with political intrigue and court drama, but it can also be read as an astute critique of Japanese elite socie…
 
The Gift of Rumi: Experiencing the Wisdom of the Sufi Master (St. Martin’s Press, 2022), written by Dr. Emily Jane O’Dell was published by St. Martin’s Press in 2022. In this rich and insightful book, Dr. O’Dell takes us through her own spiritual and physical travels, as well as gives us historical and Islamic mystic context to help us understand a…
 
Martha Rampton, Trafficking with Demons: Magic, Ritual, and Gender from Late Antiquity to 1000 (Cornell University Press, 2021) explores how magic was perceived, practiced, and prohibited in western Europe during the first millennium CE. Through the overlapping frameworks of religion, ritual, and gender, Martha Rampton connects early Christian reck…
 
Italian court culture of the fifteenth century was a golden age, gleaming with dazzling princes, splendid surfaces, and luminous images that separated the lords from the (literally) lackluster masses. In Brilliant Bodies: Fashioning Courtly Men in Early Renaissance Italy (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2022), Timothy McCall describes and inte…
 
What comes to mind when we think of swans? Likely their beauty in domestic settings, their preserved status, their association with royalty, and possibly even the phrase ‘swan song’. Dr. Natalie Goodison’s Introducing the Medieval Swan (University of Wales Press, 2022) explores the emergence of each of these ideas, starting with an examination of t…
 
Great poetry or beautiful prose if often capable of challenging and delighting readers far more than dry, bland language. But why is that? Dalā’il al-Iʿjaz, or Indications of Inimitability, is a hugely influential Arabic text about exactly what it is that makes beautiful language beautiful. Its author, Abd al-Qāhir al-Jurjānī, used a theoretical, a…
 
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…
 
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