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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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Today we are with Katherine Harvey, author of The Fires of Lust: Sex in the Middle Ages (Reaktion Books, 2021). An illuminating exploration of the surprisingly familiar sex lives of ordinary medieval people. The medieval humoral system of medicine suggested that it was possible to die from having too much--or too little--sex, while the Roman Cathol…
 
In The Fairy Tellers: A Journey into the Secret History of Fairy Tales (John Murray, 2022), Nick Jubber unearths the lives of the dreamers who made our most beloved fairy tales: inventors, thieves, rebels and forgotten geniuses who gave us classic tales such as 'Cinderella', 'Hansel and Gretel', 'Beauty and the Beast' and 'Baba Yaga'. From the Midd…
 
A unique, illustrated book that aspires to bring medieval history closer to the general audience will change the way you see medieval history, The Middle Ages: A Graphic History (Icon Books, 2021) busts the myth of the ‘Dark Ages’, shedding light on the medieval period’s present-day relevance in a unique illustrated style. This history takes us thr…
 
The Erotics of Grief: Emotions and the Construction of Privilege in the Medieval Mediterranean (Cornell UP, 2021) considers how emotions propagate power by exploring whose lives are grieved and what kinds of grief are valuable within and eroticized by medieval narratives. Megan Moore argues that grief is not only routinely eroticized in medieval li…
 
At the end of the fourth century, as the power of Rome faded and Constantinople became the seat of empire, a new capital city was rising in the West. Here, in Ravenna on the coast of Italy, Arian Goths and Catholic Romans competed to produce an unrivaled concentration of buildings and astonishing mosaics. For three centuries, the city attracted sch…
 
In the fourth century, clerics began to distinguish themselves from members of the laity by virtue of their augmented claims to holiness. Because clerical celibacy was key to this distinction, religious authorities of all stripes—patristic authors, popes, theologians, canonists, monastic founders, and commentators—became progressively sensitive to …
 
In Hindu Theology and Biology: The Bhagavata Purana and Contemporary Theory (Oxford University Press, 2020), Professor Jonathan B. Edelmann develops a constructive and comparative theological dialogue between Hinduism and Western natural sciences. Describing the Bhagavata tradition and Darwinism as worldviews, the author asks the question in the bo…
 
Shajar al-Durr--known as "Tree of Pearls"--began her remarkable career as a child slave, given as property to Sultan Salih of Egypt. She became his concubine, was manumitted, became his wife, served as governing regent, and ultimately rose to become the legitimately appointed sultan of Egypt in 1250 after her husband's death. Shajar al-Durr used he…
 
Part of the series CAHIM Connecting Art Histories in the Museum, Anna McSweeney's book From Granada to Berlin: The Alhambra Cupola (Kettler Verlag, 2020) is the story of an extraordinary survivor from the Alhambra palace in Granada, Spain: the Alhambra cupola, now in the Museum of Islamic Art in Berlin. The cupola, a ceiling crafted from carved and…
 
In her landmark new book Leaving Iberia: Islamic Law and Christian Conquest in North West Africa (Harvard UP, 2020), Jocelyn Hendrickson launches a searingly brilliant legal history centered on the question of how medieval and early modern Muslim jurists in Iberia and North Africa wrestled with various thorny questions of living under or migrating …
 
Ali ibn Abi Talib is arguably the single most important spiritual and intellectual authority in Islam after prophet Mohammad. Through his teachings and leadership as fourth caliph, Ali nourished Islam. But Muslims are divided on whether he was supposed to be Mohammad’s political successor and he continues to be a polarizing figure in Islamic histor…
 
By exploring the uniquely dense urban network of the Low Countries, Janna Coomans debunks the myth of medieval cities as apathetic towards filth and disease. Based on new archival research and adopting a bio-political and spatial-material approach, Coomans traces how cities developed a broad range of practices to protect themselves and fight diseas…
 
Today I talked to Anne F. Harris. Anne wears two hats: she's a medieval art historian and president of Grinnell College. We talked about her new book Medieval Art 250-1450: Matter, Making, and Meaning (Oxford University Press, 2021), which she co-authored with Nancy M. Thompson. We also discussed the significance and relevance of Medieval art today…
 
Shao-yun Yang's The Way of the Barbarians: Redrawing Ethnic Boundaries in Tang and Song China (University of Washington Press, 2019) challenges assumptions that the cultural and socioeconomic watershed of the Tang-Song transition (800–1127 CE) was marked by a xenophobic or nationalist hardening of ethnocultural boundaries in response to growing for…
 
This volume explores a core medieval myth, the tale of an Arthurian knight called Wigalois, and the ways it connects the Yiddish-speaking Jews and the German-speaking non-Jews of the Holy Roman Empire. The German Wigalois / Viduvilt adaptations grow from a multistage process: a German text adapted into Yiddish adapted into German, creating adaptati…
 
Today Crawford Gribben joins us to talk about his new book, The Rise and Fall of Christian Ireland (Oxford UP, 2021). Ireland has long been regarded as a 'land of saints and scholars'. Yet the Irish experience of Christianity has never been simple or uncomplicated. The Rise and Fall of Christian Ireland describes the emergence, long dominance, sudd…
 
How did it happen that, in the 13th century, Europe's largest library owned fewer than 2,000 volumes while Baghdad alone boasted of several libraries holding from 200,000 to 1,000,000 books each? In The Rise of the Arabic Book (Harvard UP, 2020), Beatrice Gruendler traces the story of the beginning of the revolution in book culture that happened in…
 
Students in twelfth-century Paris held slanging matches, branding the English drunkards, the Germans madmen and the French as arrogant. On Crusade, army recruits from different ethnic backgrounds taunted each other’s military skills. Men producing ethnography in monasteries and at court drafted derogatory descriptions of peoples dwelling in territo…
 
A scholarly yet accessible biography of the Third Karmapa Rangjung Dorje, one of the great historical figures of Tibetan Buddhism. Known for his mastery of teachings across sectarian lines, his treatises on medicine and astrology, and his work as spiritual advisor to the last Yuan emperor of China, Rangjung Dorje (1284-1339) is considered one of th…
 
Emerging some seven hundred years ago in Spain, the Zohar is considered 'the great medieval compendium of mysticism, myth, and esoteric teaching' and perhaps 'the highest expression of Jewish literary imagination in the Middle Ages' (from Arthur Green's Introduction, vol. 1, pg. xxxi). The twelve volume English translation and encyclopedic commenta…
 
Quest for Freedom is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and intellectual historian Quentin Skinner, Barber Beaumont Professor of the Humanities at Queen Mary University of London. Quentin Skinner is considered to be one of the founders of the Cambridge School of the history of political thought. This thoughtful, detailed…
 
The Consolations of History is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and Teofilo Ruiz, Professor Emeritus of History at UCLA. Teo Ruiz is a scholar of the social and popular cultures of late medieval and early modern Spain and the Western Mediterranean. He received the University’s Distinguished Teaching Award and was award…
 
Religion and Culture: A Historian’s Tale is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and Miri Rubin, Professor of Medieval and Early Modern History at Queen Mary University of London. After behind-the-scenes insights into Miri Rubin’s career path which led her from chemistry to working in an orthopaedic hospital to studying me…
 
Apocalypse Then: The First Crusade is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and Jay Rubenstein, Professor of History and Director of the Center for the Premodern World at the University of Southern California, and provides us with fascinating insights into medieval society. How did the First Crusade happen? What could have …
 
We are surrounded by more readily available information than ever before. And a huge percentage of it is inaccurate. Some of the bad info is well-meaning but ignorant. Some of it is deliberately deceptive. All of it is pernicious. With the internet always at our fingertips, what’s a teacher of history to do? In Why Learn History (When It’s Already …
 
Mozina’s Knotting the Banner: Ritual and Relationship in Daoist Practice (U Hawaii Press, 2021) weaves together ethnography, textual analysis, photography, and film, inviting readers into the religious world of Daoist practice in today’s south China by exploring one particular ritual called the Banner Rite to Summon Sire Yin, as practiced in centra…
 
In History and Salvation in Medieval Ireland, Dr. Elizabeth Boyle closely examines medieval Irish ideas regarding salvation history from 700 to 1200 CE through both Latin and vernacular texts for both ecclesiastical and secular audiences. Incorporating analysis from previously untranslated texts, her book delves into the use of narratives and figur…
 
In Islam and the Devotional Object: Seeing Religion in Egypt and Syria (Cambridge University Press, 2020), Richard J. A. McGregor, Associate Professor at Vanderbilt University, offers a history of Islamic practice through the aesthetic reception of medieval religious objects. Elaborate parades in Cairo and Damascus included decorated objects of gre…
 
As this book intriguingly explores, for those who would make Rome great again and their victims, ideas of Roman decline and renewal have had a long and violent history. The decline of Rome has been a constant source of discussion for more than 2200 years. Everyone from American journalists in the twenty-first century AD to Roman politicians at the …
 
An An Ise monogatari Reader: Contexts and Receptions (Brill, 2021) is the first collection of essays in English on The Ise Stories, a canonical literary text ranked beside The Tale of Genji. Eleven scholars from Japan, North America, and Europe explore the historical and political context in which this literary court romance was created, or relate …
 
The Ubiquitous Siva: Somananda's Sivadrsti and His Philosophical Interlocutors (Oxford UP, 2021) is a sequel to a volume published in 2011 by OUP under the title The Ubiquitous Siva: Somananda's Sivadrsti and his Tantric Interlocutors. The first volume offered an introduction, critical edition, and annotated translation of the first three chapters …
 
At first glance, medicine and poison might seem to be opposites. But in China’s formative era of pharmacy (200–800 CE), poisons were strategically deployed as healing agents to cure everything from chills to pains to epidemics. Healing with Poisons: Potent Medicines in Medieval China (U Washington Press, 2021) explores the ways physicians, religiou…
 
The early modern Mediterranean was an area where many different rich cultural traditions came in contact with each other, and were often forced to co-exist, frequently learning to reap the benefits of co-operation. Orthodox, Roman Catholics, Muslims, Jews, and their interactions all contributed significantly to the cultural development of modern Eu…
 
Rewriting Buddhism: Pali Literature and Monastic Reform in Sri Lanka, 1157–1270 (UCL Press, 2020) is the first intellectual history of premodern Sri Lanka’s most culturally productive period. This era of reform (1157–1270) shaped the nature of Theravada Buddhism both in Sri Lanka and also Southeast Asia and even today continues to define monastic i…
 
Muhammad has not only been at the center of Muslims discussions of prophethood but he has also been the focus for many Christians as well. In The Christian Encounter with Muhammad: How Theologians have Interpreted the Prophet (Bloomsbury, 2020), Charles Tieszen, Ph.d., University of Birmingham, introduces a wide variety of depictions throughout his…
 
Medieval Kashmir in its golden age saw the development of some of the most sophisticated theories of language, literature, and emotion articulated in the pre-modern world. James D. Reich's book To Savor the Meaning: The Theology of Literary Emotions in Medieval Kashmir (Oxford UP, 2021) examines the overlap of literary theory and religious philosop…
 
When we think about modern trade, we tend to think about the sea: port cities and large ships carrying goods back and forth. It’s a story that tends to put Europe at the center, as the pinnacle of shipping and maritime technology. Jagjeet Lally’s India and the Silk Roads: The History of a Trading World (Hurst, 2021) corrects this narrative. For Jag…
 
There's been a lot of resurgent interest in the Silk Routes lately, particularly looking at the cultural, political, and economic connections between "East" and "West" that challenge long held narratives of a world that only became interconnected in the last half millennium. Even so, it's been rarely appreciated how much of the history of Eurasian …
 
Today I talked to David Potter about his new book Disruption: Why Things Change (Oxford UP, 2021). Disruption is about radical change-why it happens and how. Drawing on case studies ranging from the fourth century AD through the twentieth century, we look at how long-established systems of government and thought are challenged, how new institutions…
 
Who is ‘Uthman ibn Affan, and why does he matter? Why was his election as the third successor to the Prophet Muhammad so controversial? In fact, why is he a controversial figure in Islamic history? Who killed him, and was his murder the fault of his own leadership and character flaws or was he a victim of the time and context he lived in, of the le…
 
In Festive Enterprise: The Business of Drama in Medieval and Renaissance England (University of Notre Dame Press, 2021), Dr. Jill Ingram merges the history of economic thought with studies of theatricality and spectatorship to examine how English Renaissance plays employed forms and practices from medieval and traditional entertainments to signal t…
 
Kathryn Smithies a medieval historian at the University of Melbourne, Australia, to talk about her new book, Introducing the Medieval Ass, out 2020 with the University of Wales Press. Introducing the Medieval Ass presents a lucid, accessible, and comprehensive picture of the enormous socioeconomic and cultural significance of the ass, or donkey, in…
 
In the West, the study of the phenomenon known as the Crusades has long been dominated by European concerns: European periodization, European selection of important moments and personages, and, most of all, European sources. In recent years, scholars such as Carole Hillenbrand, Paul Cobb, and Michael Lower have mined Arabic-language material with t…
 
Of the available sources for Islamic history published before the 9th century of the Christian Era, few are of greater importance than Kitab Futuh al-Buldan (The Book of the Conquest of Lands), by al-Baladhuri, a ninth-century administrator at the Abbasid court. The text has been heavily relied upon by scholars for centuries as they have compiled t…
 
In a world that purports to know more about the future than any before it, why do we still need speculation? Insubstantial speculations – from utopian thinking to high-risk stock gambles – often provoke backlash, even when they prove prophetic. Why does this hypothetical way of thinking generate such controversy? Gayle Rogers, author of Speculation…
 
In The Devil's Historians: How Modern Extremists Abuse the Medieval Past (University of Toronto Press, 2020), Amy S. Kaufman and Paul B. Sturtevant examine the many ways in which the medieval past has been manipulated to promote discrimination, oppression, and murder. Tracing the fetish for “medieval times” behind toxic ideologies like nationalism,…
 
Every Sunday, Christians all over the world recite the Nicene Creed as a confession of faith. While most do not know the details of the controversy that led to its composition, they are aware that the Council of Nicaea was a critical moment in the history of Christianity. For scholars, the Council has long been a subject of multi-disciplinary inter…
 
Today on the podcast, Ruth Mazo Karras, the Lecky Professor of History at Trinity College Dublin talks about her new book, Thou Art the Man: The Masculinity of David in the Christian and Jewish Middle Ages, out this year, 2021 with University of Pennsylvania Press. "How do we approach the study of masculinity in the past?" Ruth Mazo Karras asks. Me…
 
Any study of the Crusades — the religious wars waged by Latin Catholics to recapture the Holy Land — is primarily an exploration of men and their military deeds, with scant consideration of women, save perhaps the redoubtable Eleanor of Aquitaine who accompanied her husband, King Louis VII of France, on the Second Crusade. But the history of the Ch…
 
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