Stone fortresses with curtain walls, keeps, gatehouses and postern gates have existed in Europe for thousands of years before the Middle Ages. For instance, Mycenae on Crete (1350 BC) has all the characteristics of a medieval castle. Despite this, many scholars agree that the Normans were the ones to popularize castles in Europe, let alone medieval Europe. After all, the British Isles did not see many castles being built of stone until after the Norman Conquest of 1066…
The Deeds of Frederick Barbarossa written by Bishop Otto of Freising in the twelfth century sheds light on a general mood of the populace or theme of the Roman empire during this time. The general theme presented by Otto is the constant struggle for superior “divine” authority between Roman pontiffs and the emperors of the empire. Another minor theme is the struggle between reason and faith in the populace of the empire. Otto’s history on Frederick Barbarossa contains four books, the latter two being written by Rahewin, so this paper will focus primarily on the first two books of the history which were written by Otto.
To understand witchcraft persecution in the early modern period, or any topic in history, it’s useful to combine two spyglasses to get a broader scope, or use binoculars if you will. Witchcraft persecution in the early modern period was rampant across the world, but we’ll be directing our attention to two places–Germany, the Holy Roman Empire in Europe, and Guatemala, the Spanish Catholic colonial society in Central America–specifically.
Tod of Tod’s Worksop YouTube channel recently released a video wherein he discusses why filmmakers sacrifice medieval realism in movies. Today I want to share this video with you, partly because I believe Tod’s Workshop is a great YouTube channel worth sharing but mainly because I have some critique for this video that some medievalists and/or fantasy lovers might find interesting.
The classic fantasy knight is a wonderful invention, simple in design and easy to write. They are heroes of the battlefield, loyal to their kings, and there is a lot we can learn from the Middle Ages by reading about them. Generally speaking, however, they are very far from the real medieval knight and if they were presented more realistically we could learn a whole lot more. Not every knight was a hedge knight or a knight errant. Most of them had their sh*t together. So how can we make our fantasy knights more like the real knights of the Middle Ages? If there’s one thing reading dry history books and attending university lectures has taught me, it’s how to answer that question! So here are four ways you can make your fantasy knights a whole lot more realistic and historically accurate! And, thank the good gods, none of them have to do with tournaments and damsels in distress!
Like I often say, Columbus lived in the 15th century. He was a medieval thinker. He invited a bunch of people to his party and now we’re all wondering where in Dante’s Inferno we came from. For many people, things like Mordhau and Game of Thrones fulfill that service of telling us where we came from, even if unintentionally. The entire world as we know it with all its mountains and rivers existed in the Middle Ages. From Chang’an to Baghdad and Rome to London, the medieval world is vast and full of unfinished stories.
Hopefully this discussion can help to answer the question “who were some of the first Germanic pirates and without getting too gritty in the details what are some cool things to know about naval warfare in the Early Middle Ages?”
Welcome to this tour through early medieval naval warfare and Dark Age maritime activity. Our exhibition will begin with a brief yet formal chronological jaunt along some of the many notable accounts of early Germanic piracy and Anglo-Saxon navy activity. Then we’ll explore Dark Age naval strategy and tactics before we conclude with a broad analysis of the material culture of early medieval naval warfare.
Faith to one’s lord and loyalty to one’s lord can mean the same thing in everyday speech, but like most words “faith” and “loyalty” also have secondary definitions depending on the context. Today, we’ll be exploring these secondary definitions within the context of a hero, warrior or knight in the Middle Ages. In order to examine the differences between heroic loyalty and chivalric faith in this medieval context, we must first clarify the differences between the heroic and the chivalric in medieval literature.
George MacDonald is often credited as being the first fantasy author. Although he was born in 1824 and his works are much older than J.R.R. Tolkien’s or Michael Ende’s, flaunting MacDonald as the founder of fantasy is misleading and doesn’t explain where fantasy really came from. Today I want to talk about the origin of fantasy in a broader narrative, starting with the oral storytelling traditions of the ancients and ending with Michael Ende’s The Neverending Story.
In a time before accurate guns, hawking and falconry were the best means of catching avian prey besides the odd “lucky bows-shot” or trapping, and falconers put many delicacies on the tables of aristocratic families. But because of the cost of equipment and the vast amounts of time needed to train predatory birds for hunting, hawking was deemed an “upper-class sport”. The female falcon was favored over the male hawk or tiercel because they were larger and fiercer. The kinds of quarry peregrines would catch were partridges, pheasants, cocks, ducks, bustards, geese, herons, snipes, cranes, mallards and larger falcons would even hunt rodents such as hares. Also, smaller predatory birds like the merlin were useful for hunting smaller birds like larks, and the lark tongue was a delicacy among nobles and wealthier townsfolk.
In the later Middle Ages, with the rise of universities and cathedral schools in urban areas across Europe, regulated organizations began to professionalize the trade of the surgeon or barber-surgeon (Siraisi 18). In Venice, there was a College of Physicians by 1316 which focused on a wide range of different medical practices (Siraisi 18). Bloodletting, however, was by far the most common medical practice throughout the Middle Ages, especially as it was less painful than cautery, and since all humors were believed to be in the blood, and since it was believed that by “disordered complexion” these humors could transform into unwanted secondary humors, bloodletting, or phlebotomy, allowed these unwanted humors to be removed from the body before the liver could produce more clean, pure blood (Siraisi 139).
Today, dragons are everywhere. Dragons in the Middle Ages, too, were everywhere, but not on cotton T-shirts, video games and plastic cups from the dollar store. The medieval dragon existed in such things as heraldry, aquamanilia, architecture and folklore. Anyone can tell you what a modern fantasy dragon looks like, but do dragons in our society have the same function as dragons in the Middle Ages? What are the different magical and physical characteristics of dragons throughout history? In order to give these questions justice we’re forced to learn a lot about dragons as they were depicted in medieval Europe—learn how to tame them if you will. Then, we’ll have to remove ourselves from Europe to observe the majestic dragons of the East because it could potentially be argued that the dragons that swam and flew from Chinese, Persian and Turkish cultures did more to influence what we think of when we say “dragon” today than the dragons of ancient Greece and Rome. We’ll conclude by taking a look at a few modern fantasy dragons in popular entertainment and nitpick their differences from the dragons of the past.
For anyone who thinks long enough and doesn’t live in the jungle it’s impossible to deny that we’re moving into a new age. All the categories of time we capitalize today such as the Age of Discovery or the Age of Sail are products of humans not waiting for history to happen to them but of humans getting up out of their seats and making history happen to the world. A year ago I asserted that we’re living in the Second Renaissance, and in a newer post I even went as far as to say that we’ll soon be living in a Second Gothic Revival, for, like how classical Greece and Rome was the “golden age” of the First Renaissance, the Middle Ages is the “golden age” of the Second. Bear with me here.
Castles throughout the Middle Ages went through immense evolution, especially their defensive structures. This is because the defensive capabilities of the castle were its main reason for existing, and the castle needed to keep up with siege-craft technology which was evolving just as rapidly throughout the medieval period. In Late Antiquity, the Romans were masters of building defensive structures within several days while on campaign in Gaul and the British Isles. Such structures included walled barracks for the armies to sleep in and watchtowers known as burgus for defending roads and bridges, precursors to the Scottish pele which encompassed the border ‘twixt Scotland and England during the time of Robert the Bruce.
What I’m about to say may seem mad, but it’s also supposed to be entertaining so enjoy. Bring a bucket of salt with some fresh air in it.
Why is there a growing population of people becoming more interested in “medieval” realism in 2019? Why not stone age realism? My short answer is because the “medieval” is central to the Gothic Revival of the 21st century.
Nationality, culture, history and identity are all concepts in which the “medieval” for many plays a key role in shaping what they truly mean, especially in the West. The Second Gothic Revival is a product of the renaissances of the Modern Era.
In the first week of January 2019 I had the pleasure of asking one of grimdark’s rising new authors a series of questions. This interview was designed to allow us, the audience, to learn more about Jordan’s inspirations and, for people who are new to the genre, more about grimdark as well. I hope you enjoy! Also, Jordan has a website where you can learn even more: https://jordanloyalshort.com/
There’s a good reason why pedantic historians and enthusiastic students never cease to ask the question “why is the swordplay in “medieval” Hollywood movies still based off of 19th-century sports fencing and to-the-minute choreography when we have HEMA (historical European martial arts) and HAMA (historical African martial arts) practitioners and theorists promulgating translated combat treatises from the Middle Ages across the internet for the world to see?”
My brain quakes trying to understand why to this day we still don’t have a Hollywood movie that shows medieval sword fighting accurately. Now without mocking any movie that’s already been produced, let’s discuss what movies in the future will look like…