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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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Debates about science and religion are rarely out of the news. Whether it concerns what's being taught in schools, clashes between religious values and medical recommendations, or questions about how to address our changing global environment, emotions often run high and answers seem intractable. Yet there is much more to science and religion than …
 
Dynasties Intertwined: The Zirids of Ifriqiya and the Normans of Sicily (Cornell UP, 2022) traces the turbulent relationship between the Zirids of Ifriqiya and the Normans of Sicily during the eleventh and twelfth centuries. In doing so, it reveals the complex web of economic, political, cultural, and military connections that linked the two dynast…
 
Despite the Talmud being the richest repository of medical remedies in ancient Judaism, this important strain of Jewish thought has been largely ignored – even as the study of ancient medicine has exploded in recent years. In a comprehensive study of this topic, Jason Sion Mokhtarian recuperates this obscure genre of Talmudic text, which has been m…
 
Richard G. Marks's book Jewish Approaches to Hinduism: A History of Ideas from Judah Ha-Levi to Jacob Sapir (12th-19th Centuries) (Routledge, 2021) explores past expressions of the Jewish interest in Hinduism in order to learn what Hinduism has meant to Jews living mainly in the 12th through the 19th centuries. India and Hinduism, though never at t…
 
The Dark Queens: The Bloody Rivalry That Forged the Medieval World (Bloomsbury, 2022) is the remarkable, little-known story of two trailblazing women in the Early Middle Ages who wielded immense power, only to be vilified for daring to rule. Shelley Puhak introduces readers to Brunhild, who was a foreign princess, raised to be married off for the s…
 
For nearly a century after the First Crusade captured Jerusalem, that ancient city became the nucleus of a several kingdoms and principalities established by the crusaders. At the political, social, and cultural heart of their subsequent history were a series of remarkable women who exercised power and influence in a way nearly unknown in western E…
 
Europeans have been writing about China for centuries–ever since The Travels of Marco Polo described it as a faraway and mystical kingdom. European thinkers like Voltaire and Montesquieu used China to support their own theories of political philosophy, then writers in early modernity tried to explain why China was falling behind–and then, with the …
 
Elizabeth Oyler and Katherine Saltzman-Li's book Cultural Imprints: War and Memory in the Samurai Age (Cornell UP, 2022) draws on literary works, artifacts, performing arts, and documents that were created by or about the samurai to examine individual "imprints," traces holding specifically grounded historical meanings that persist through time. Th…
 
Emma Natalya Stein's book Constructing Kanchi: City of Infinite Temples (Amsterdam UP, 2021) traces the emergence of the South Indian city of Kanchi as a major royal capital and multireligious pilgrimage destination during the era of the Pallava and Chola dynasties (circa seventh through thirteenth centuries). It presents the first-ever comprehensi…
 
To many the city might seem simply a large urban area to live within, but it actually forms an important political concept and community that has been influential throughout European history. From the polis of Ancient Greece, to the Roman Republic, to the city-states of the Italian Renaissance, and down to the present day. Modern concepts of democr…
 
Analyzing the spread and survival of Islamic legal ideas and commentaries in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean littorals, Islamic Law in Circulation: Shafi'i Texts across the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean (Cambridge University Press, 2022) focuses on Shāfiʿīsm, one of the four Sunnī schools of Islamic law. It explores how certain …
 
A Bowl for a Coin: A Commodity History of Japanese Tea (U Hawaii Press, 2019) is the first book in any language to describe and analyze the history of all Japanese teas from the plant’s introduction to the archipelago around 750 to the present day. To understand the triumph of the tea plant in Japan, William Wayne Farris begins with its cultivation…
 
Old English is the language you think you know until you actually hear or see it. Unlike Shakespearean English or even Chaucer’s Middle English, Old English—the language of Beowulf—defies comprehension by untrained modern readers. Used throughout much of Britain more than a thousand years ago, it is rich with words that haven’t changed (like word),…
 
In The Invention of Norman Visual Culture: Art, Politics, and Dynastic Ambition (Cambridge UP, 2020), Lisa Reilly establishes a new interpretive paradigm for the eleventh and twelfth-century art and architecture of the Norman world in France, England, and Sicily. Traditionally, scholars have considered iconic works like the Cappella Palatina and th…
 
Ibn Babawayh – also known as al-Shaykh al-Saduq – was a prominent Twelver Shi'i scholar of hadith. Writing within the first century after the vanishing of the twelfth imam, al-Saduq represents a pivotal moment in Twelver hadith literature, as this Shi'i community adjusted to a world without a visible imam and guide, a world wherein the imams could …
 
Cambodia is home to Angkor, one of the most important archaeological sites of Southeast Asia. Greater Angkor, the capital of the Khmer Empire, was a low-density city covered about a 1000 sq km and was the home of between 750,000 to 900,000 people in the 12th century CE. The urban complex was largely abandoned in the 14th and 15th centuries. Its cen…
 
The biblical commentaries known as Miqra’ot Gedolot have inspired and educated generations of Hebrew readers. Now, with the five volumes of the acclaimed English edition of Miqra’ot Gedolot, The Commentators' Bible—Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy—the voices of Rashi, Ibn Ezra, Nachmanides, Rashbam, Abarbanel, Kimhi, and other medie…
 
Today we talk to Sigurður Gylfi Magnússon about Wasteland with Words (Reaktion, 2010) and about microhistory as a method. Iceland is an enigmatic island country marked by contradiction: it’s a part of Europe, yet separated from it by the Atlantic Ocean; it’s seemingly inhospitable, yet home to more than 300,000. Wasteland with Words explores these …
 
The story of the “conflict thesis” between science and religion—the notion of perennial conflict or warfare between the two—is part of our modern self-understanding. As the story goes, John William Draper (1811–1882) and Andrew Dickson White (1832–1918) constructed dramatic narratives in the nineteenth century that cast religion as the relentless e…
 
Many readers know Lewis as an author of fiction and fantasy literature, including the Chronicles of Narnia and the Space Trilogy. Others know him for his books in apologetics, including Mere Christianity and The Problem of Pain. But few know him for his scholarly work as a professor of medieval and Renaissance literature. What shaped the mind of th…
 
Paul Moses, former Newsday city editor and senior religion writer, is a professor of journalism at Brooklyn College and the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He was the lead writer on a Newsday team that won the Pulitzer Prize. He is the author of The Saint the Sultan (2009, Doubleday) and An Unlikely Union: The Love-Hate S…
 
Nowhere on Earth is there an ecological transformation so swift and so extreme as between the snow line of the high Andes and the tropical rainforest of Amazonia. Because of that, the different disciplines that research the human past in South America have tended to treat these two great subzones of the continent as self-contained enough to be stud…
 
Dr. Lucy Donkin’s Standing on Holy Ground in the Middle Ages (Cornell University Press, 2022) illuminates how the floor surface shaped the ways in which people in Medieval Western Europe and beyond experienced sacred spaces. The ground beneath our feet plays a crucial, yet often overlooked, role in our relationship with the environments we inhabit …
 
This sourcebook provides the first systematic overview of witchcraft laws and trials in Russia and Ukraine from medieval times to the late nineteenth century. Witchcraft in Russia and Ukraine (Northern Illinois UP, 2020) weaves scholarly commentary with never-before-published primary source materials translated from Polish, Russian, and Ukrainian. …
 
Ayse Zarakol, Professor of International Relations at the University of Cambridge, is the author of Before the West: The Rise and Fall of Eastern World Orders (Cambridge University Press, 2022). Before the West offers a grand narrative of (Eur)Asia as a space connected by normatively and institutionally overlapping successive world orders originati…
 
The Mongol period (1206-1368) marked a major turning point of exchange - culturally, politically, and artistically - across Eurasia. The wide-ranging international exchange that occurred during the Mongol period is most apparent visually through the inclusion of Mongol motifs in textile, paintings, ceramics, and metalwork, among other media. In In …
 
Professor Rabia Gregory’s primary research interest is the history of Christianity in Medieval and Early Modern Europe. She approaches the study of religion through book history, material culture, and theories of gender. Her book, Marrying Jesus in Medieval and Early Modern Northern Europe: Popular Culture and Religious Reform, published by Ashgate…
 
Today I talked to Christopher Clohessy about his book Angels Hastening: The Karbalāʾ Dreams (Gorgias Press, 2021), When, on an autumn Medina night in 61/680, the night that saw al-Ḥusayn killed, Umm Salama was torn from her sleep by an apparition of a long-dead Muḥammad, she slipped effortlessly into a progression of her co-religionists who, irresp…
 
To date, scholars have skilfully discussed aspects of Polqar’s thought, and yet none of the existing studies offers a comprehensive examination that covers Polqar’s thought in its entirety. Isaac Polqar: A Jewish Philosopher or a Philosopher and a Jew? (Walter de Gruyter, 2020) aims to fill this lacuna by tracing and contextualizing both Polqar’s I…
 
The Bible as we know it today is best understood as a process, one that begins in the tenth century BCE. In The Making of the Bible: From the First Fragments to Sacred Scripture (Harvard University Press, 2021), a world-renowned scholar of Hebrew scripture joins a foremost authority on the New Testament to write a new biography of the Book of Books…
 
Most of us give little thought to the back of the book--it's just where you go to look things up. But as Dennis Duncan reveals in Index, a History of The: A Bookish Adventure from Medieval Manuscripts to the Digital Age (W.W. Norton & Company, 2022), hiding in plain sight is an unlikely realm of ambition and obsession, sparring and politicking, ple…
 
Islam's fourth caliph, Ali, can be considered one of the most revered figures in Islamic history. His nearly universal portrayal in Muslim literature as a pious authority obscures centuries of contestation and the eventual rehabilitation of his character. In Opposing the Imam: The Legacy of the Nawasib in Islamic Literature (Cambridge University Pr…
 
The emergence of self-government in the Jewish community in Eastern Europe has been a slow process, often encouraged by invitations of existing regimes and sometimes to escape state persecution. Nonetheless, the Jewish community has succeeded in establishing its autonomy as well as maintain a certain degree of control over its traditions. In this n…
 
For people in medieval England, the parish church was an integral part of their community. In Going to Church in Medieval England (Yale University Press, 2021), Nicholas Orme describes how parish churches operated and details the roles they played in the lives of their parishioners. While there was a considerable variety of experience over the cent…
 
In Female Monasticism in Medieval Ireland: An Archaeology (Cork UP, 2021), Dr. Tracy Collins writes the first archaeological investigation into female monasticism in medieval Ireland, primarily from the twelfth to sixteenth centuries. Weaving in early medieval evidence, textual sources, and examples from Britain and the continent, new consideration…
 
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…
 
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