#medieval history
qqueenofhades · 1 day
Thanks to the hard work of archivists at the British Library, there are 93 COMPLETE manuscripts relating to medieval and Renaissance women, including topics such as women authors, female patronage and book ownership, women's health, education and business dealings, female spirituality, and more, now fully online! You can look at them above, or download the catalogue directory.
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ancientorigins · 21 hours
How hard can it really be to build the perfect castle? Here are some of the biggest innovations in castle building anyone interested in finding out needs to know.
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"The desire to be 'accurate' suddenly disappears when sex isn't involved and it is actual interesting day to day minutiae," says Eleanor Janega, a medieval historian who teaches at the London School of Economics. "If the ('Game of Thrones') world was historically accurate, why isn't every single noble house or castle absolutely covered by huge gaudy, colourful murals? Why is it that this form of historical accuracy isn't important, but showing rape as endemic is?"
Other historians point out that, as prurient and gasp-worthy as something like a crude C-section death is, such butchery wasn't as prevalent as storytellers would have you believe.
"They were very keen on protecting mothers from harm," medieval history scholar Sara McDougall told Slate.
Texts from the time indicate that such extreme measures would usually be performed on women who had already died -- not, as in "House of the Dragon," a fully awake and alert woman with no clue what was about to happen to her.
Janega points out that, while medieval times were certainly not overkind to women or anyone else who wasn't rich, powerful and male, they weren't the burlesque of suffering we're so used to seeing on screen.
"'Accuracy' is always focusing on the distasteful aspects of a society, but never the pleasurable ones," she says. "(It) somehow always encompasses sexual violence and never things like, for example, the three field system, or fishing weirs. They don't really show how women other than the nobility are a dynamic part of the medieval workforce. Women are found in pretty much every facet of medieval work: as blacksmiths, running shops, brewing beer, in cloth production, running bath houses or in trading delegations addressing the court."
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suzannahnatters · 23 days
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all RIGHT:
Why You're Writing Medieval (and Medieval-Coded) Women Wrong: A RANT
(Or, For the Love of God, People, Stop Pretending Victorian Style Gender Roles Applied to All of History)
This is a problem I see alllll over the place - I'll be reading a medieval-coded book and the women will be told they aren't allowed to fight or learn or work, that they are only supposed to get married, keep house and have babies, &c &c.
If I point this out ppl will be like "yes but there was misogyny back then! women were treated terribly!" and OK. Stop right there.
By & large, what we as a culture think of as misogyny & patriarchy is the expression prevalent in Victorian times - not medieval. (And NO, this is not me blaming Victorians for their theme park version of "medieval history". This is me blaming 21st century people for being ignorant & refusing to do their homework).
Yes, there was misogyny in medieval times, but 1) in many ways it was actually markedly less severe than Victorian misogyny, tyvm - and 2) it was of a quite different type. (Disclaimer: I am speaking specifically of Frankish, Western European medieval women rather than those in other parts of the world. This applies to a lesser extent in Byzantium and I am still learning about women in the medieval Islamic world.)
So, here are the 2 vital things to remember about women when writing medieval or medieval-coded societies
FIRST. Where in Victorian times the primary axes of prejudice were gender and race - so that a male labourer had more rights than a female of the higher classes, and a middle class white man would be treated with more respect than an African or Indian dignitary - In medieval times, the primary axis of prejudice was, overwhelmingly, class. Thus, Frankish crusader knights arguably felt more solidarity with their Muslim opponents of knightly status, than they did their own peasants. Faith and age were also medieval axes of prejudice - children and young people were exploited ruthlessly, sent into war or marriage at 15 (boys) or 12 (girls). Gender was less important.
What this meant was that a medieval woman could expect - indeed demand - to be treated more or less the same way the men of her class were. Where no ancient legal obstacle existed, such as Salic law, a king's daughter could and did expect to rule, even after marriage.
Women of the knightly class could & did arm & fight - something that required a MASSIVE outlay of money, which was obviously at their discretion & disposal. See: Sichelgaita, Isabel de Conches, the unnamed women fighting in armour as knights during the Third Crusade, as recorded by Muslim chroniclers.
Tolkien's Eowyn is a great example of this medieval attitude to class trumping race: complaining that she's being told not to fight, she stresses her class: "I am of the house of Eorl & not a serving woman". She claims her rights, not as a woman, but as a member of the warrior class and the ruling family. Similarly in Renaissance Venice a doge protested the practice which saw 80% of noble women locked into convents for life: if these had been men they would have been "born to command & govern the world". Their class ought to have exempted them from discrimination on the basis of sex.
So, tip #1 for writing medieval women: remember that their class always outweighed their gender. They might be subordinate to the men within their own class, but not to those below.
SECOND. Whereas Victorians saw women's highest calling as marriage & children - the "angel in the house" ennobling & improving their men on a spiritual but rarely practical level - Medievals by contrast prized virginity/celibacy above marriage, seeing it as a way for women to transcend their sex. Often as nuns, saints, mystics; sometimes as warriors, queens, & ladies; always as businesswomen & merchants, women could & did forge their own paths in life
When Elizabeth I claimed to have "the heart & stomach of a king" & adopted the persona of the virgin queen, this was the norm she appealed to. Women could do things; they just had to prove they were Not Like Other Girls. By Elizabeth's time things were already changing: it was the Reformation that switched the ideal to marriage, & the Enlightenment that divorced femininity from reason, aggression & public life.
For more on this topic, read Katherine Hager's article "Endowed With Manly Courage: Medieval Perceptions of Women in Combat" on women who transcended gender to occupy a liminal space as warrior/virgin/saint.
So, tip #2: remember that for medieval women, wife and mother wasn't the ideal, virgin saint was the ideal. By proving yourself "not like other girls" you could gain significant autonomy & freedom.
Finally a bonus tip: if writing about medieval women, be sure to read writing on women's issues from the time so as to understand the terms in which these women spoke about & defended their ambitions. Start with Christine de Pisan.
I learned all this doing the reading for WATCHERS OF OUTREMER, my series of historical fantasy novels set in the medieval crusader states, which were dominated by strong medieval women! Book 5, THE HOUSE OF MOURNING (forthcoming 2023) will focus, to a greater extent than any other novel I've ever yet read or written, on the experience of women during the crusades - as warriors, captives, and political leaders. I can't wait to share it with you all!
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Safe conduct pass stating that the bearer is under the protection of the Mongol Empire, Yuan Dynasty, 13th century
from The Metropolitan Museum of Art
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tuulikki · 8 months
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artofhitjim · 1 year
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Hourly Comics day but the year is 1258.
I’m not super active on tumblr, please consider following me on Instagram or Twitter.
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wholesomecrusading · 1 year
Medieval monk who's only ever read the Bible reading his second book: Getting a lot of Bible vibes from this...
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uniquekindoftrash · 2 months
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golden ring of queen Teodora found in 1915. in Banjska Monastery
today it is kept in collection of National Museum in Belgrade
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blueiskewl · 4 months
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Metal Detectorist Discovers Medieval Wedding Ring  
Every metal detectorist dreams of unearthing something valuable. For one man the English countryside yielded an incredible find when he stumbled upon a medieval diamond wedding ring in "almost perfect condition" near Thorncombe, in the South West of the country.
Now the item is expected to fetch between £30,000 and £40,000 (Sold For: £38,000) when it goes on auction later this month.
David Board, 69, found the "stunning" ring on his second attempt at becoming a metal detectorist after a stint in the 1970s in which he scoured local beaches but found nothing of much consequence, a press release from auction house Noonans said earlier this week.
Board called the ring "a once-in-a-lifetime" find.
During a recent interview, he said: "There will probably never be another one like it. Back then, each ring was individual and unique, not mass produced like today. It's stunning."
Board took up metal detecting again in 2019. During the second day of a field search, he had almost given up when he got a signal on his metal detector by a footpath.
Initially, the culprit looked like a sweet wrapper but Board soon realized that it was a gold ring.
When he dug it up all covered in mud, Board said he thought it was just "scrap metal" and popped it into his pocket.
"It was once I got home and washed it off that we realized it was a lot better than we thought," he explained.
The ring is in "almost perfect condition," Nigel Mills, a consultant in coins and antiquities at Noonans, said in the release. The jewelery has a golden hoop of two entwined bands to symbolize marital union and an inverted diamond set into it.
Inside the band is a medieval French inscription that reads, "Ieo vos tien foi tenes le moy," translating as, "I hold your faith, hold mine," according to the auction house.
Due to the location of the find and the quality of the ring, Noonans' experts surmised that it's the wedding ring of Joan Brook, given to her by her husband, Thomas Brook.
Their marriage in 1388 brought great wealth to the Brook family, the release said, as Joan was the widow of Robert Cheddar, a wealthy cloth merchant and twice mayor of Bristol -- a city in western England.
It was at a time when medieval notions of chivalry and courtly love were at their zenith, concepts which the ring reflects, Noonans said.
Now known as The Lady Brook Medieval diamond ring, the item will be auctioned on November 29.
Board goes out three times a week, weather permitting, in hope of uncovering another great relic among the musket balls and King George I coins. "It will be amazing if I did," he responded, adding "you never know what the next signal is going to bring."
The discovery adds to a list of incredible finds by detectorists in the UK.
One amateur uncovered a haul of Bronze Age objects in a Scottish field in 2020, in what experts at the time called a "nationally significant" discovery.
And last year it was reported that a huge hoard of Iron Age gold artifacts had been found by a rookie detectorist in Denmark.
By Hafsa Khalil.
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elizabethan-memes · 3 months
Visiting museums and looking at the metalwork done with gold and silver really made me appreciate WHY Old Testament scribes and medieval poets go on and on about their gold bowls and their vessels and their cedar beams of this size and this size.
Like I'm already in awe at the craftsmanship and I live post-industrial revolution, when working people can have diamond engagement rings. (Not all, obviously). If I lived at a time when people had far fewer possessions because mass production was yet to be a thing, I too would never shut up about precious objects.
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qqueenofhades · 2 months
This is a very interesting story in its own right, especially if you're interested in the new techniques being developed to map/study medieval manuscripts, but just look at these utterly charming eighth-century doodles:
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(The bottom right need to be made into medieval cartoon characters immediately.)
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coochiequeens · 4 months
Technology just revealed a new name to women’s history.
For nearly 1,300 years, no one knew it was there. The name of a highly educated English woman, secretly scratched on to the pages of a rare medieval manuscript in the eighth century, but impossible to read – until now.
Academics have discovered the Old English female name Eadburg was repeatedly scored into the surface of the religious text, using a method that kept it hidden from the naked eye for more than 12 centuries.
The covert writing of the woman’s name was finally revealed when researchers at the Bodleian Library in Oxford used cutting-edge technology to capture the 3D surface of the ancient manuscript, a Latin copy of the Acts of the Apostles that was made in England between AD700 and AD750.
It is the first time this technology, capable of revealing “almost invisible” markings so shallow they measure about a fifth of the width of a human hair, has been used to record annotations on the surface of a manuscript.
“There are only a limited number of surviving early medieval manuscripts which contain clear internal evidence of a woman having created, owned or used them,” said Jessica Hodgkinson, a PhD student at the University of Leicester who made the discovery while researching her thesis on women and early medieval manuscripts.
“Most of these manuscripts are from the continent – it is much rarer to find evidence of this in surviving manuscripts which were made and used in the geographical area we now call England.”
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Writing Eadburg’s name on the book quietly asserted her power and high status at a time when only a few elite, highly educated women were able to write and read both Old English and Latin. “It’s a hugely significant and very powerful text – the word of God, conveyed through the apostles. And I think that might be at least part of the reason why somebody chose to write Eadburg’s name into it, so that she was close to that.”
It is not clear why the name was written so stealthily, with a drypoint stylus, rather than ink. “Maybe it was to do with the resources that person had access to. Or maybe it was to do with wanting to leave a mark that put that woman’s name in this book, without making it really obvious,” Hodgkinson said. “There could have been some reverence for the text, which meant the person who wrote her name was trying not to detract from the scripture or compete with the word of God.”
Significantly, she found Eadburg’s name passionately etched into the margins of the manuscript in five places, while abbreviated forms of the name appear a further 10 times.
This suggests it is likely to have been Eadburg herself who made the marks. “I could understand why somebody might write someone else’s name once. But I don’t know why you would write somebody else’s name so many times like that,” Hodgkinson said.
An Old English transcription, and tiny, rough drawings of figures – in one case, of a person with outstretched arms, reaching for another person who is holding up a hand to stop them – were also discovered etched on to the small book, which is barely bigger than an A5 pamphlet.
Hodgkinson hopes further study will reveal the meanings of these figures and the ancient transcription, which has so far proved impossible to translate.
She also hopes to eventually discover who Eadburg was. Certain features of the manuscript suggest the book was produced in Kent, where a woman called Eadburg was abbess of a female religious community at Minster-in-Thanet in the mid-eighth century. However, there are at least eight other known contenders for the role.
But whether or not these mysteries are ever solved, for Hodgkinson there is something very empowering and meaningful about the discovery of Eadburg’s name. “Still, to this day, there’s this human urge to leave a mark of your presence on something that is meaningful to you or is a record of where you’ve been,” she said. “We don’t know all that much about Eadburg, but now, because of this amazing technology, we’ve seen her name, we know she was there. She’s here, in this book – and it speaks across the centuries.”
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dailyhistoryposts · 1 year
Female Knights in Medieval History
While women have been fighting alongside men for all of history, they usually don't get the same recognition as their counterparts. Here are some cases where women did get accepted into chivalric orders, though they typically got a separate title. Some of the women were combatants, and some were not (but non-combatant men have been accepted in chivalric orders for just as long!)
Order of the Hatchet (12th century Spain) Orde de l'Atxa|Orden del Hacha was an entirely-female order created after women defended the Catalonian town of Tortosa from invaders. With most adult men off to war, the women fought with hatchets and other tools. Women of this order were given social and financial privileges, including tax exemptions.
Order of Saint-John (12th century Malta) A military religious order, the Order of Saint-John had female soeurs hospitalières and male frères prêtres who had essentially the same role in the order.
Teutonic Order (12th century Jerusalem) The Order of Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem accepted women primarily as consorores and hospitallers, in charge of supportive and medical services. However, these women did follow men to war to perform battlefield medicine.
Knights Templar (12th-14th century Jerusalem) The members of the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon admitted women for a number of roles. We know that when the final got around to writing down their rules, it included continuing the already standard practice of admitting women. Most Knights Templar were noncombatant, especially financiers.
Order of the Garter (14th-15th century England) Dedicated to the patron saint of England, Saint George, the Most Noble Order of the Garter admitted women regularly, often due to blue blood. However, women without high birth were admitted as well.
Order of the Ermine (14th and 15th century France) The L'Ordre de l'Hermine was directly inspired by the Order of the Garter and dedicated to upholding one's personal honor. It openly admitted men and women of any social rank, including the only known instance in Medieval history of a woman serving as Officer of Arms. This woman, Katherine Potier, was titled "Espy Herault".
Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary (13th-16th century Italy) A unique order that took up arms to pacify cities in the fractured Italian states. It was centered in Bologna and would admit women as fighters called militissa (literally 'female knight').
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suzannahnatters · 12 days
So here's one of the coolest things that has happened to me as a Tolkien nut and an amateur medievalist. It's also impacted my view of the way Tolkien writes women. Here's Carl Stephenson in MEDIEVAL FEUDALISM, explaining the roots of the ceremony of knighthood: "In the second century after Christ the Roman historian Tacitus wrote an essay which he called Germania, and which has remained justly famous. He declares that the Germans, though divided into numerous tribes, constitute a single people characterised by common traits and a common mode of life. The typical German is a warrior. [...] Except when armed, they perform no business, either private or public. But it is not their custom that any one should assume arms without the formal approval of the tribe. Before the assembly the youth receives a shield and spear from his father, some other relative, or one of the chief men, and this gift corresponds to the toga virilis among the Romans--making him a citizen rather than a member of a household" (pp 2-3). Got it?
Remember how Tolkien was a medievalist who based his Rohirrim on Anglo-Saxon England, which came from those Germanic tribes Tacitus was talking about? Stephenson argues that the customs described by Tacitus continued into the early middle ages eventually giving rise to the medieval feudal system. One of these customs was the gift of arms, which transformed into the ceremony of knighthood: "Tacitus, it will be remembered, describes the ancient German custom by which a youth was presented with a shield and a spear to mark his attainment of man's estate. What seems to the be same ceremony reappears under the Carolingians. In 791, we are told, Charlemagne caused Prince Louis to be girded with a sword in celebration of his adolescence; and forty-seven years later Louis in turn decorated his fifteen-year-old son Charles "with the arms of manhood, i.e., a sword." Here, obviously, we may see the origin of the later adoubement, which long remained a formal investiture with arms, or with some one of them as a symbol. Thus the Bayeux Tapestry represents the knighting of Earl Harold by William of Normandy under the legend: Hic Willelmus dedit Haroldo arma (Here William gave arms to Harold). [...] Scores of other examples are to be found in the French chronicles and chansons de geste, which, despite much variation of detail, agree on the essentials. And whatever the derivation of the words, the English expression "dubbing to knighthood" must have been closely related to the French adoubement" (pp 47-48.)
In its simplest form, according to Stephenson, the ceremony of knighthood included "at most the presentation of a sword, a few words of admonition, and the accolade." OK. So what does this have to do with Tolkien and his women? AHAHAHAHA I AM SO GLAD YOU ASKED. First of all, let's agree that Tolkien, a medievalist, undoubtedly was aware of all the above. Second, turn with me in your copy of The Lord of the Rings to chapter 6 of The Two Towers, "The King of the Golden Hall", when Theoden and his councillors agree that Eowyn should lead the people while the men are away at war. (This, of course, was something that medieval noblewomen regularly did: one small example is an 1178 letter from a Hospitaller knight serving in the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem which records that before marching out to the battle of Montgisard, "We put the defence of the Tower of David and the whole city in the hands of our women".) But in The Lord of the Rings, there's a little ceremony.
"'Let her be as lord to the Eorlingas, while we are gone.' 'It shall be so,' said Theoden. 'Let the heralds announce to the folk that the Lady Eowyn will lead them!' Then the king sat upon a seat before his doors and Eowyn knelt before him and received from him a sword and a fair corselet."
I YELLED when I realised what I was reading right there. You see, the king doesn't just have the heralds announce that Eowyn is in charge. He gives her weapons.
Theoden makes Eowyn a knight of the Riddermark.
Not only that, but I think this is a huge deal for several reasons. That is, Tolkien knew what he was doing here.
From my reading in medieval history, I'm aware of women choosing to fight and bear arms, as well as becoming military leaders while the men are away at some war or as prisoners. What I haven't seen is women actually receiving knighthood. Anyone could fight as a knight if they could afford the (very pricy) horse and armour, and anyone could lead a nation as long as they were accepted by the leaders. But you just don't see women getting knighted like this.
Tolkien therefore chose to write a medieval-coded society, Rohan, where women arguably had greater equality with men than they did in actual medieval societies.
I think that should tell us something about who Tolkien was as a person and how he viewed women - perhaps he didn't write them with equal parity to men (there are undeniably more prominent male characters in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, at least, than female) but compared to the medieval societies that were his life's work, and arguably even compared to the society he lived in, he was remarkably egalitarian.
I think it should also tell us something about the craft of writing fantasy.
No, you don't have to include gut wrenching misogyny and violence against women in order to write "realistic" medieval-inspired fantasy.
Tolkien's fantasy worlds are DEEPLY informed by medieval history to an extent most laypeople will never fully appreciate. The attitudes, the language, the ABSOLUTELY FLAWLESS use of medieval military tactics...heck, even just the way that people travel long distances on foot...all of it is brilliantly medieval.
The fact that Theoden bestows arms on Eowyn is just one tiny detail that is deeply rooted in medieval history. Even though he's giving those arms to a woman in a fantasy land full of elves and hobbits and wizards, it's still a wonderfully historically accurate detail.
Of course, I've ranted before about how misogyny and sexism wasn't actually as bad in medieval times as a lot of people today think. But from the way SOME fantasy authors talk, you'd think that historical accuracy will disappear in a puff of smoke if every woman in the dragon-infested fantasy land isn't being traumatised on the regular.
Tolkien did better. Be like Tolkien.
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The Ancient and Medieval American Mississippian culture 500-1500 AD
Going down a deep dive of the Mississippian mound culture of precolumbian United States.
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I knew some stuff about the topic, pretty basic and precursory information, but now I think I'm gonna do some more in depth research. It's just fascinating to learn how throughout the Mississippi river region and deep south there were large cities that rivaled medieval cities in Europe with populations in the tens of thousands. Cahokia Illinois for example.
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And they made all kinds of really cool artifacts
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They had trade routes all over North America. For example copper from the Great Lakes region, shells from the Atlantic and Gulf Coast, and Obsidian from Mexico. In addition their own goods have been found exported to archaeological sites all over North America.
Then around the 14th century the Little Ice Age started, which was basically a sudden drop in global temperatures lasting until the mid 19th century, which resulted in crop failures and famine worldwide. In addition large populations were already stretching the food resources and agriculture of the area. This resulted in the decline of urban culture among the Mississippians. At the time in Eurasia the same was happening, which helped bring about the Black Death. So there were hard times all around. The 14th century was a bad time to be alive almost everywhere. Final collapse occurred in the 16th century when smallpox swept through the Americas after European contact.
Unfortunately for us they had no system of writing, at least none that can be found. So we will probably never know their story and history as well as say the ancient Romans. All that we know is pieced together through archaeological findings and oral history of their modern descendants.
Anyway I'm gonna find some good audiobooks to listen to on the subject while I do my weightlifting.
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