Medieval & Renaissance History

The (Mis)Fortune of “Coga the Sheep”

Nick Groom— William Harvey’s understanding united conventional classical models with new post-Paracelsian thinking, investigating blood through physical observation and examination, rather than by deferring to ancient authorities. Following Harvey’s groundbreaking work, in 1656 the architect Christopher Wren pioneered hypodermic injections by intoxicating his dog with wine injected straight into its

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Pigs At Work

Jamie Kreiner— When much of the human world was in lockdown this spring, the animal world seemed to come out of its own kind of quarantine. Dolphins had a holiday in the Bosphorus. Mountain goats cruised through Llandudno. Wild boar munched their way through Haifa. These stories were so addictive that they

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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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