Medieval & Renaissance History

Medieval Strategy? The Great “Leper Conspiracy” of 1321

Steve Tibble— Researching the development of the crusader states helped me appreciate the sensitive and sophisticated nature of medieval strategy. But it also demonstrated how extraordinarily disappointing human beings could be—and still are, of course. At the end of the crusades, the Templars were suppressed by King Philip the Fair.

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Reflections on Africans in Gothic Sculpture, part 2

Images of Justice and Power Jacqueline E. Jung — In the choir of Magdeburg Cathedral, the black Saint Maurice, carved and painted around 1250, stands with his co-patron Catherine as complementary opposites; together they indicate the plenitude of this Christian ecclesia in both its Militant and Triumphant aspects. (Read more

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Medieval Strategy? Do Fish Need Bicycles?

Steve Tibble— It is easy to see medieval warfare and politics as being long on activity, but chronically short on reflection. To misquote the 1970s feminist rallying cry, it is pretty obvious that hairy, unwashed medieval warriors needed strategy every bit as much as a fish needs a bicycle. Or

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Echoes of Edward in British Politics

Tom Licence— As Edward the Confessor lay dying in 1066, according to his contemporary biographer, he foresaw the Norman invasion and England’s downfall within a year. Sir Winston Churchill, in his History of the English-Speaking Peoples, alludes to this prophecy at the end of his account of Edward’s reign. “The

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The High Middle Ages

Steven Ozment— If experimentation and preservation characterized the early Middle Ages, self-discovery and definition marked the high Middle Ages (1000–1300). In this period Western people began to assert their identity as they came to know and impose themselves on others. Two larger developments made this possible. The first was the

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The Letters of King Henry III

David Carpenter— King Henry III of England, the son of King John, reigned for fifty-six years from 1216 to 1272, one of the longest reigns on record. He was nine when he came to the throne, sixty-five when he died. We know more about Henry, on a day-to-day basis, than

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Reflections on Africans in Gothic Sculpture, part 1

Saint Maurice in Magdeburg  Jacqueline E. Jung — The stunning sandstone sculpture of Saint Maurice made for Magdeburg Cathedral around 1250 – representing the fabled fourth-century leader of the Roman army’s Theban Legion, who allowed himself and his men to be killed for their embrace of the new Christian faith

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International Relations at the Field of Cloth of Gold

Glenn Richardson— That the Field of Cloth of Gold did not bring in its wake a universal peace of Christendom to match the high-flown rhetoric of the occasion does not prove insincerity on every side, nor that such ambitions were not serious – as has been the traditional reason for

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Christian Ecumenism in the Crusades

Steve Tibble— The main Christian groups in the crusader states were the Greek Orthodox, the Syrian Orthodox, the Armenians, the Maronites and, particularly once colonial rural settlement began to gather pace in the second quarter of the twelfth century, the Frankish Catholics. Religious bigotry was far less prevalent than one

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The Discovery of Merlin

Anne Lawrence-Mathers— Merlin the Magician, like his name, was a creation of the twelfth century. This is no attempt to deny the existence of earlier Welsh sources, but Myrddin the princely bard of the Cymry, driven mad by a disastrous battle and expressing himself in cryptic poetry, needs to be

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